May 2011 Archives

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Today we present the final entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

This is a review of considerations for civilian dress for basic self defense in most areas. Be advised some of these suggestions may be illegal where you live, follow all laws when dressing defensively.

The goal of this article is to re-think basic aspects of normal street clothes and minimize any possible negative aspects of normal street clothes for purposes of self defense.

An important consideration to this task is understanding your own personal Threat Matrix.  A Threat Matrix is the likely risks you personally have to face in your day to day life.  Are you an ordinary citizen in a middle income neighborhood?  Are you a working man or women in a rougher part of town?  A high profile business or media personality?  You will all have slightly different most likely threatening scenarios and you need to plan your wardrobe (notice the beginning of the word, it says war!) accordingly.  With the knowledge that a violent incident is likely to be launched within two seconds time, you need to build up a plan of action from that first second onwards that gives you the highest probability of survival.

A related development in this discussion in the marketplace of products catering to those interested in self-defense is the commercialization of “combat sports,” there has been a slew of clothing and other products marketed to fans of sports like “mixed martial arts.” These products have features such as short pants with special seams and moisture-wicking material designed to enhance comfort while performing these activities.   Like most “fadish” fashion accessories, most of these products have more bark then bite and brands like Tap Out and Bad Boy cater to a certain demographic that James Wesley, Rawles would surely refer to in jest as “mall ninjas.”  

Full disclaimer, the author trains in “mixed martial arts” and can wholeheartedly recommend a previous Survival Blog post on the subject.

This article is focused on non-sport clothing and gear for everyday carry.  What my fellow martial artists and I use to train and sweat in at the gym doesn’t correspond to what we would like to dress in every day.

Let's start from the bottom:

1) Socks.  Some combat veterans would argue that comfortable socks are your second most important clothing (ask your local Vietnam vet!).  These days short sports socks designed to wick moisture away are a good bet. Keeping your feet comfortable and dry aids in minimizing distractions or possible discomfort.  For those of us “very good” at cooling our bodies down with sweat black socks tend to keep the best color for the longest period of time.

2) Wear gel foot insoles in your shoes.  Gel insoles are not just for grandpa, they aid in protecting your feet and joints when walking or running long distances and can cushion the impact in the event of needing to make a large jump.  Be sure they do not slip excessively in the shoes you wear while running.

3) Shoes.  There are tons of options available for shoes but in light of needs for self-defense, I suggest the lightest non-boot steel toed shoes you can find.  Not only does this protect your foot from heavy objects, it makes a formidable self defense tool capable of stopping the largest of attackers with a minimum of effort.

4) Wear pants that provide as much leg range of motion as possible. God knows I love skinny jeans but I can't kick or knee strike in those for the life of me.  Make sure the hips have a wide range of motion. Optional pants are BDU style such as made by Blackhawk that have extra pockets, built-in tourniquets for each leg, and ultra secure waist and pockets.  Non-camouflage versions of these pants are to be preferred over military style pants in the interests of attracting the least amount of attention from onlookers in your day to day activities.

5) Just as important as your pants is your belt.  I recommend trainer or rappelling capable belts made out of strong nylon material with metal belt buckles.  I find it highly unlikely that you may have to use the belt for rappelling purposes, however if you are trained in how to safely use it the functionality is there and in an emergency the belt can be removed and the heavy metal buckles can be used as a self-defense weapon.

6) Belt mounted horizontal knife sheaf.  In this wear a legal sized foldable knife with a quick release button.  Knives with a slight serrated edge are to be preferred over simply straight knives. Depending on the type of area that you live you may want to get a carbon steel blade over a stainless steel blade.  With a magnesium based fire tool, carbon steel blades can make sparks to light kindling whereas a stainless steel blade cannot.  There are compelling reasons to consider a fixed-blade knife for this purpose, just be aware that state and local laws for the length of the blade can vary considerably or in some draconian places be outlawed completely.  

7) Keychain tools.  A bare minimum of keychain tools is a) a multitool, b) an LED flashlight.  Others may wish to add a "rape whistle."  These whistles are not just suitable in signifying an emergency, they can also initiate a signal to action or get someone's attention. A Kubotan pen or even more devious since it is not normally considered capable of being used as a weapon, the ubiquitous sharpie pen marker is made with a hard and indestructible plastic that would suit this purpose well.

8) Shirts / Hoodies.  Some of the best new technology include shirts that are "slash proof" against knives and other sharp objects. Although these products mainly protect against a slashing motion and not a stabbing attack, the level of protection this offers is better then nothing and can be instrumental in saving your life in a life and death situation. Look at for products.  I am also fond of the Condor hoodie jacket with multiple arm pockets, rear back pockets, and moisture resistant material.

9) Jacket's with lots of pockets.  The more stuff you can carry on your self without a backpack the better. This will help help you carry other items such as a) ear plugs, essential for hearing protection in a CCW or firearm situation, b) comfort items such as a power bar, eye drops, lip balm, c) Swedish fire starters, d) larger flashlight such as a Surefire Defender with the ability to temporarily blind or hurt assailants, e) a few condoms wouldn't be a bad idea, especially since they have outdoor survival potential for holding water and are highly elastic. I also like having a few essential first aid items on my person at all times.  This includes a few Tylenol or Ibuprofen, sterile gloves, antibiotic ointment, and gauze. 

10) Gloves.  Protecting your hands is extremely important.  I don’t know about you but I can only watch newsreels of WWII or Vietnam combat troops without any hand protection whatsoever with trepidation!  Slash, fire, and cut resistant gloves are essential for the modern day war fighter and those concerned with personal safety.  Consider motorcycle or Wiley gloves with plastic or carbon knuckle protectors to give your punch the extra oomph.

11) Large frame shock proof sunglasses.  Protecting your eyes in a violent situation is not optional.  When I was assaulted last year by hoodlums they started it with a mace attack to my eyes.  Wearing eye protection allowed me to continue to see and react to the situation. The brand military users seem to prefer to protect their eyes from IED blasts are by Wiley.  I wore those when I was attacked too.

12) Hat.  A good hat protects your eyes from the glare of the sun and can deflect strikes to the head.  I suggest styles a) help you blend into your local area such as sport team hats, b) aid in inconspicuously camouflaging you in the local environment.  To be inconspicuous might mean they are not in an obvious military style camouflage pattern but olive green, black, or coyote tan.

As mentioned earlier, dressing for self defense means being inconspicuous about it.  When I see someone I don’t know wearing a Gracie Jiu-Jitsu or Muay Thai branded t-shirt, advertising to the world what they likely train in, I shake my head in disbelief at the bad OPSEC.  Although some would argue wearing a "Tae Kwon Do Champion" T-shirt might dissuade would be attackers from an assault the truth is all too often just the opposite of such an assumption.  An example of this is if you have ever attended a Halloween party where the kids (or adults, it's a thin line these days!) dress as a karate kid or ninja they are certain to be messed with by someone who thinks they are bigger or badder then the Karate Kid.  

This concludes my article on "rethinking" how to use everyday clothing to help you rather then hamper you, for self-defense.

June 7th (one week from today) is the Book Bomb Day for the new book The Simplicity Primer, by Patrice Lewis. You'll probably recognize Patrice's name from either her excellent Rural Revolution blog, or from her WorldNet Daily columns. Please wait until June 7th to order the book, to create the maximum media buzz. I got an early review copy of the book, and I'm about halfway through reading it. It is set up in a 365-day format, but only someone with extreme self discipline will be able to resist reading through the book in just a few sittings. It is as wonderful book chock full of common sense, practical ideas and actions to take to make and keep our lives simple! This is a book where you will want to get yourself a cup a tea, a notebook and pencil, and curl up on the couch for an hour or so. Often as I read it, I would think,"This is a great idea, Patrice." or while reading of her words of wisdom, "Yes, Patrice, I've often thought that way, it is so refreshing to finally see someone express it. You go, woman!" The main thrust of Patrice's book is: to make right choices. In America we take pride in the fact that we have the Freedom to choose as we wish. Most everything in life that comes our way gives us a choice on how we could act: attitudes, work ethic, finances and relationships. Our choices can empower us for a productive, contented life or can drag us down into a life full of heartache, financial and relational difficulties and complexity. Patrice's book gives many examples of how to choose wisely each of these areas of life which in turn will keep our lives simple and at peace. This book is a great reminder for many adults on how to reevaluate and simplify our lives. I especially, recommend it for your older high schoolers and college students, because they are in the process of choosing their life's path and many of their decisions will affect their whole life. They would benefit greatly from Patrice's wisdom. The Simplicity Primer would be a great high school graduation gift. Please mark you calendar for June 7th. We will post a link for ordering, a few hours before the big event.

I recently read two of the Crispin Trilogy books out loud to our young'uns as a supplement of our World History Studies: Crispin: The Cross of Lead and Crispin: At the Edge of The World third book in the trilogy: Crispin: The End of Time. We are awaiting its arrival from Amazon. Though these books are not exactly SurvivalBlog material, there is much information to be gleaned from them. As a homeschooling mom, I also wish to promote some very good reads for other moms to investigate. The books take place around 1358 A.D. in England during the Hundred Years War--about 15 years after the Black Plague killed one out of three people throughout Europe. This is approximately 150 years before the Reformation so there is a lot of reference to the Catholic church, which I found to be very interesting in learning more about its practices and its control that it had on the lives of the people in the Feudalistic society that Crispin lived in. This story gave a very good lesson on the economics of that day which demonstrated how though "free" the peasants were truly enslaved and impoverished by their lords. In actuality, the lords were enriched through the peasants' starvation. The story is about a 14 year old boy, whose mother dies. He finds himself, without understanding why, being labeled as a Wolf's head, which means anyone can kill him at any time. He escapes death in many adventures and searches for the reason of why he was labeled as such. In the process, he meets a wild man who takes him under his care and teaches him some survival skills: music by which he can earn money, knife and sword fighting, archery, use of snares to catch the King's hares for food. What amazed me was how little they needed to survive: one set of clothes, a knife and sword and the recorder for music. They often went two to three days without eating and then they only had maybe one meal per day. I highly recommend this book for your fifth grader on up. This is a book to read out loud to your older Elementary school age children so that you know what is in the story and so that you can foster conversation. There are a few ugly scenes of fighting and death, but it is reality. I'm big on reality as long as its explained and put into proper perspective and discussed so the children know our family values. I highly recommend these books as a supplement for your medieval history studies. Adults will also enjoy these books. You are not too old to read them.

Markets Fret About Euro 'Slow-Motion Car Crash'

U.S. Debt Ceiling Is Like ‘Playing With a Tactical Nuclear Weapon’: Former Comptroller General

L.M.W. sent this: Why a Hedge Fund Comprised of Junior Congressional Democrats Should Outperform the Market By 9%. L.M.W.'s comment: "I'll bet you didn't know that it's legal for Congresscritters and Senators to use inside information to play the stock market. Did you? Yes, indeed, acting on inside information, which would get anyone else caught doing it arrested and charged with a felony, is perfectly legal for the people who write the rules. Interestingly, junior Democrats seem to be doing the best at milking this scam."

Mary F. forwarded this link: Utah Law Makes Coins Worth Their Weight in Gold (or Silver)

Items from The Economatrix:

Contracts to Buy Homes Falls to 7-Month Low

Gas Prices Dip Before Holiday, But Above a Year Ago

Global Economic Rebound Weakens On Quake, Oil Price, European Debt Crisis

F.G. mentioned this news article about institutionalized school test cheating from New York City: Teachers hostage to 'success'

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Several readers sent this bit of Nanny State news: Albemarle Road church fined $100 per branch for excessive tree pruning

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Married Couples Are No Longer a Majority, Census Finds. (SurvivalBlog's G.G. sent the link.)

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J.D.D. flagged this bit of news: Five People Arrested in D.C. for Dancing At U.S. Monument

“How wind turbines are supposed to supply the grid of a heavily-industrialized country is never fully explained, but it doesn't need to be. Wind power is not based on reason, but faith: These aren't generators, they're prayer wheels for New Age iBuddhists." - Tamara, Editor of the View From The Porch blog

Monday, May 30, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I especially liked the February, 2001 SurvivalBlog article about Forever Preps. I now have enough salt to last me forever in Mylar lined buckets. That includes regular salt for salt curing. I need saltpeter. I have dry bleach, hand tools, skills, and Jesus. I’m working on the rest. As a matter of fact, within my extended family we have four medical people, a fireman, a teacher, a banker, an accountant, HVAC technician, mechanic, farmer, baker, trucker, engineers—we don’t exactly have a butcher or candlestick maker, but my son tends to his own deer and fish and I have made plenty of candles!  What works for me may not appeal to you but I’m on a tight budget now so here goes.

I have several health issues, so I have plenty of prepping to do. I think I finally have a handle on the high blood pressure, cholesterol, gout, diabetes, and GERD. I’ve lost 5 pounds in the past five months, blood pressure-perfect, A1C is 6.4—waiting on cholesterol and gout results. The doctor wanted to know if I’d been exercising so I told her yes.

The truth is, I’ve been working long hours at the store and have been raising chickens for meat, eggs and feathers. That means building a coop and run. I got my ideas from here and here, and here My framework is all PVC—3 pieces 1 ½” for base and 5 pieces of ½” for ribs . I used 2 pieces of ¾” plywood, hardware cloth, screws, hardware, lath, 2” x 2”s, clear and aluminum building panels for the 4’ x 8’ x 4’ coop and chicken wire for the 8’ x 10’ x 2’ covered run again PVC framing-8 pieces of ½”. I can easily expand this run for more birds.  I used a skill saw, drill, hand tools, and a borrowed jig saw. I had three pairs of hands to help. Since my latest batch of Buff Orpingtons are only three months old, I haven’t installed nesting boxes yet. I plan to install in the area below the roost. There’s plenty of room in the 4’ x 4’ roost for more birds so I can raise more in my bathtub on newspaper and flaked pine shavings. They are covered by aluminum screening anchored with scrap boards and warmed by a 100 watt light bulb. The screen keeps them from flying out when they get six weeks old or older and keeps the inquisitive cats out if the door gets left open. My work at the store allows me to get a few dollars worth of nickels a week and recycle all the newspapers I care to. (To use for mulch or TP in hard times because Sears doesn’t publish a Big Book any more.)

I’ve been gardening, canning, drying and freezing for years. I have plans to raise rabbits for meat and fur. Right now, we only have a pet rabbit for learning.  We catch and use rainwater when possible. My son and I ask friends and clients for used barrels. We have a spring and ponds. I need to get an alternate way to pump water. My son and a friend of mine are the fishermen. My son and I hunt. I think we should learn to trap also. If I could talk my son and daughter into letting me have sheep for meat, wool and cheese and goats for meat, milk and cheese, I’d be happy—besides, they would mow the grass instead of a gas guzzler or even a reel mower. (Boy, was that fun growing up!) My daughter helped me get my son on board with a root cellar. She has agreed to supply the labor this summer. I did manage to talk my son into a raised bed for carrots and potatoes. He even suggested silt fence from a home center instead of boards. You will need additional stakes to fit your area, heavy duty stapler, and a sledge hammer to pound the stakes into the ground.  I was lucky and got all the peat moss I needed on clearance. I had compost and also added vermiculite. 

See the book Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre by Brett L. Markham. The potatoes are growing berserk. If I could talk my dad into letting me farm his land, I’d have self-sufficiency in sight. I want sheep, goats, llamas, ducks, geese, horses and cows. We had chickens, pigs, ducks, horses and cows when I was growing up. We raised most of our own vegetables and grain also. I could raise enough food for the livestock and the family too. Yes, I learned how to plow with a horse and a tractor. My 25 year old Troy Bilt tiller needs another engine. So, in other words, I’d have the ‘beans’ covered. 

For the ‘bullets’, I buy cases of ammunition on sale from big box stores or online with tax returns. As long as that lasts…I have a .22 LR (with 3,000+ rounds), a 12 gauge semi-auto shotgun with interchangeable chokes that takes 2 ¾” – 3 ½” shells (I've accumulated 575+ shells of assorted types), a  .32 Special revolver (150 rounds), 35# right hand and 40# left hand recurve bows, edged weapons from 2 ¼” folders to a 40” fencing foil, slingshots, and have plans to buy a crossbow. I need to stockpile arrows and bolts. I’m also growing bamboo arrows. Bamboo is very invasive. There is a good Instructables article on making arrows out of bamboo. I prefer to grow my own feathers [for arrow fletching] instead of buy them. My son also has a 75# compound bow, guns including a black powder pistol and .243 Winchester rifle. He also has blades that range from large folders to a 2-handed claymore. I know how to reload shot shells and my son wants to learn rifle reloading. We are saving brass and shells to that end.  Before leaving ‘Bullets’ I’d like to add a few words about security. I really appreciated Chino’s Retreat Security article. My budget does not include razor wire topped chain link fencing. I plan to use rocks in aluminum cans but they may be suspended by waxed dental floss. Cans would be painted on the away side. My son has planted holly bushes. We also have wild blackberries.

For barter, I sew and have a treadle ready to convert my machines. I bought one at an antique shop and got tubing, connectors and shaft collars from McMaster. I also found the instructions for that project. I couldn’t bring myself to sand a plastic hand wheel.  I have fabric stockpiles from before Wal-Mart’s closing of the fabric department at $1 and $2 per yard. Don’t forget sewing needles, machine needles, and thread. I also do many types of needlecraft—you’ll need yarn or roving to spin. I could also barter chickens, eggs, feathers and so on. I was a math teacher. My son is strong and can do many types of labor. Right now he’s a landscaper. He can also weld, do auto repair, body work, masonry, and carpentry. My daughter is a cosmetologist but since I’ve taught my kids all they would pay attention to. She can install flooring, plumbing, cook, clean, and do most of her own auto repair as well! Their dad, a Navy SEAL, has passed away.  He served in Vietnam and was the only one of us not in Scouting. We are teaching my grandchildren everything they can understand also.

Now for the Band-Aids: I grow many of my own herbs but triple antibiotic ointment does not grow on trees. However, there are plenty of dollar type stores that can supply gauze, alcohol, peroxide, adhesive bandages, etc. $5 dollars a week can buy a lot at those places. When I run out of a bottle of cinnamon for metabolism support, I buy two. At the end of 5 years I’ll have enough for another 5 years, if I don’t forget to buy two when I run out of the first bottle. Same for all the other OTC meds my doctor has me on for various conditions. Go for the twin packs at the big box store. If your goal is to be ready in less than five years for five years of lean times, then you’ll have to adjust your plan accordingly. Don’t forget to rotate! I wish I had the budget to buy it all up front, but I don’t so I do the best I can and try not to worry about the rest. I cannot grow my prescription medications so I’m trying to reduce the need for them.

This post will be brief, and pointed. I've written on this topic before, but I feel convicted to repeat the warning: The time to relocate to a lightly-populated rural region is now.

SurvivalBlog reader Larry C. recently sent this web page link: Congressman Roscoe Bartlett Warns: 'Those Who Can, Should Move Their Families Out of the City. That article includes a link the excellent two-hour Urban Danger documentary. It correctly identifies the nation's power grids as the lynchpin. Please watch that documentary, and pray about relocating to the American Redoubt.

If you feel convicted to move, then don't hesitate. Move soon, so that you will have time to settle in and develop a large garden, livestock, orchards, and other key resources for self-sufficiency. Trust in God's providence.

Those of you old enough, like myself, who grew-up in the 1950s and 1960s, saw a lot of television Westerns. Today's youth call guys who play sports "heroes" and many, not all, of them, give sports a bad name, for their behavior off the field.

Two of the things I liked about television Westerns, and Westerns on the silver screen, were the ol' fashion Single Action Army revolvers, and the lever-action rifles most gunfighters and good guys carried and used. I still remember my first lever-action rifle - it was a Daisy Red Rider BB gun, and I'm sure I put tens of thousands of BBs through that little gun. And, even today, I have a Red Rider BB gun - just for fun.

Over the years, I've owned Winchester and Marlin, lever-action .30-30 rifles, and they were solid performers. I've taken deer with lever-action .30-30 rifles. There are a lot of makers who produce .30-30 lever-action rifles these days. One in particular, that I really like is the Rossi Rio Grande .30-30 rifle. First of all, if you've followed my articles over the years, and on Survivalblog, you know I enjoy a good deal on a gun - but the gun has to be a solid performer, as well as being easy on the pocket book.

The Rossi Rio Grande offers accuracy, performance and practicality for a lifetime of fast, lever-action shooting. The Rio Grande has a tubular magazine that holds 6 rounds of .30-30 ammo, and one in the chamber. My sample was in blue with a hardwood stock and forearm. They also offer a stainless steel version with a camoflage stock. The Rio Grande weighs in a 7 pounds but it felt lighter than that and it balanced extremely well. A nice rubber recoil pad is on the butt of the stock - I have never found the .30-30 round to "kick" very much, however, the recoil pad is there to help absorb any perceived recoil.

Topped with a buckhorn rear sight and bead front sight, it allowed for a fast sight picture for up-close and personal hunting in thick brush. There's also a sliding button safety. The lever-action was as smooth as any lever guns I've owned over the years. It takes some practice to be able to operate the lever while keeping the rifle shoulder - anyone can get the hang of it, with a little bit of practice. [JWR Adds: Youths should be trained to operate a lever action rifle from the shoulder from the very first time they shoot it. If you lower the butt to your waist during target practice then you will develop a bad habit that will likely recur in the stress of hunting or in combat. Perfect practice makes perfect!] Empty brass was ejected cleanly to the right, and I had no malfunctions of any type during my test and evaluation.

Some lever-action .30-30 rifles don't come with, or allow use of a scope. The Rio Grande came with a Weaver-style sight base installed on the top of the receiver, should you elect to mount a scope. Personally, given the limited distance you'd want to use a .30-30 round, I've never mounted a scope on any lever-action .30-30 rifle.

The only .30-30 ammo I had on-hand to test in the Rio Grande, was the Buffalo Bore "heavy" 190 grain jacketed flat nose bullet. This round is not designed for deer hunting, as are other .30-30 rounds. Tim Sundles, who owns and operates Buffalo Bore Ammo, designed this round to reliably kill elk or moose-sized game. A .30-30 can now be carried as a defensive tool in grizzly country and will be much more effective in stopping a grizzly attack than any other .30-30 round in the world. Even though the BB .30-30 round is not designed to kill a deer - it will - it will kill three or four of 'em with one shot, if you line 'em up just right - we're talking serious penetration.

What makes the Buffalo Bore round so potent is the 190 grain Hawk bullet, that is designed with a harder core and thicker than normal jacket, so the expansion is minimal, thus insuring very deep penetration, which is needed to break large bones and destroy organs deep inside big game. This load generates an impressive 2,100 FPS from a 20-inch barrel - which is the length of the Rio Grande's barrel. Buffalo Bore has added a new dimension to the old .30-30 round with this potent offering.

Personally, I wouldn't go out looking to hunt the big brown bears with a .30-30 lever-action rifle. However, if that's all I had, and the gun was loaded with the BB round, I wouldn't feel under-gunned. I don't see any problems using the Rossi Rio Grande and the BB round, if you want to hunt moose and elk - at close range - and we're talking 150-yards or less - and closer is better.

I had problems zeroing the rear sight for elevation on the Rio Grande. Using the BB ammo, the rounds were hitting too high. I lowered the rear sight elevator as low as it would go, but it was still hitting too high for a 150-yd zero. I removed the rear sight elevator and the gun was hitting dead-on for me. Now, don't take this as a bad sign against the Rio Grande. I've had numerous .30-30 rifles that had to have the rear sight elevator removed to get them to hit to point-of-aim at 150-yds. If you don't believe me, next time you're in a gun shop, take a look at some of the used .30-30s they have, bet you'll see a lot of 'em with the rear sight elevator missing.

I also had to remove the Weaver-style scope mount in order to see the rear sight, with it lowered. Rossi obviously used Loc-Tite on the screws of the sight base, I buggered-up one of the screws trying to remove it - tight, real tight! Again, don't deduct any points from the Rossi Rio Grande because of this, I've had the same thing happen on other makes of rifles when the rear sight elevator was removed - I couldn't clearly see the rear sight in total. It's just one of those "things."

If you elect to shooting lighter, regular .30-30 ammo, in either 150 grain or 170 grain you probably won't have to remove the rear sight elevator in order to zero the gun. The Buffalo Bore ..30-30 load is heavier and thus is shoot higher. Just make sure that you zero your gun with whatever load you decide to carry. For most small to medium sized deer, the 150 grain jacketed round nose soft point loads from most makers will suffice. If you need a little bit more knock-down power for larger deer, then go with a heavier bullet.

Remember I said that the Rio Grande came with a nice rubber butt pad? Well, I'm glad it did. The Buffalo Bore 190-gr rounds were screaming out of the barrel, and there was a bit more recoil than I thought there would be. I guess Rossi knew what they were doing when they added a recoil pad.

I carried the Rio Grande and and off during deer season last year. However, I didn't get out and hunt hard, and I didn't hunt often. All I ever saw were Does. Of course, the weeks leading up to deer season, I saw all kinds of bucks out there. Never fails - come opening day of deer season and all the bucks disappear. I usually have some bucks in my front yard before deer season, but this past deer season, non came in, and neither did any Does. I never fired a shot during deer season.

Now, I'm not advocating that you go out and purchase any type of lever-action .30-30 rifle as your one and only survival rifle. A lever-action gun is slow to reload, and they carry a limited amount of ammo. However, if you want to supplement your arsenal, with a close-range, .30-30 lever-action rifle for filling the stew pot, then the Rossi Rio Grande is a gun you should take a look at. And, like all Rossi products, they are usually discounted. My local gun shop was selling the Rio Grande for $350. That's far below the retail price of $549 - I'm not saying all gun shops will sell the Rio Grande this low, but check around. I'm a sucker for a good shooting gun, and one at a good price. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

James Wesley:
When I constructed my home six years ago I decided to add a storm shelter in a surprising location (at least for me). I noticed the front stoop and porch already had a full foundation and adjoining basement wall and I only needed to add a single additional wall to create a reinforced concrete bunker with concrete roof, at minimal cost. I also included a 2'x3' opening into the basement that provided access to the concrete bunker. Although the inside area isn't large (4' x 8') it is completely surrounded by 8" of reinforced concrete that could survive any tornado. I had an electrical outlet installed during construction so the possibility of lights, heater, or radio is within easy reach providing the power stays on. The main problem is how to referee my two cats and two dogs in the case of a storm. Sincerely, - T.R.S.

Two Letters Re: Maps Can Save Your Life

My Topo is a web site where you can get custom topographic or aerial view maps centered on whatever point you want.  The laminated ones are good quality (I haven't seen their other offerings up close).  Seems like it might be useful. Sincerely, - Colby M.

At you can download a digital copy of  maps in whatever scale you want and with whatever information you want for free. You will need to print it out yourself or take it to someone who has a plotter to print the large scale maps (i.e. 24" x 36"). The best part about it is unlike the DeLorme Gazetteer, it is free and you can download only the maps you want.  - Hal D.

Reader Robert R. alerted me to this "must read" article: Guns Stolen in Violent Gilroy [California] Home Invasion Found. Robert noted: "The man was assaulted and bound as he arrived home at 9 p.m.  They struck when they could hide in the darkness near his home, when he was most vulnerable (exiting his vehicle/entering home).  One of the suspects knew the man and was his neighbor.  Good OPSEC and situational awareness are very important in preventing crimes.  Good lighting around the home and cutting down on any vegetation where someone could hide is a good measure to take to prevent these kind of ambushes. In this story the man is lucky because he survived and he is getting all his guns back.  When things get worse in the future, gangs will target people who live alone, or in single family ranch properties.  They are geographically separated and the criminals know they have all the time in the world to torture, rape, rob, and murder you and your family. Be a very hard target!"

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F.J. spotted a web page that shows a novel variation on the classic "Chicken Tractor".

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A reminder that Lulu's free shipping offer ends on May 31st. This includes the SurvivalBlog 5-Year Archive CD-ROM. If you use coupon code FREESHIP305, you will save about three bucks.

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K.A.F. sent this: Two Men Caught Dismantling Manteca [California] Railroad Tracks Hoping to Cash in on Metal

"When it is time to bury your guns, it is actually time to dig them up." - An anonymous poster at The FALFiles Forums

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

How often have you heard yourself or others along with you on a road trip mutter four letter words when your GPS unit directs you to a road that isn’t there?  Or worse yet, you end up on a trail in the wilderness that your brand new hand held GPS unit does not have on it?  The next question that comes to mind is, where am I and how do I get to where I need to go?  In the best of circumstances there are detour signs and friendly road side workers that can direct you back to a known route.  However, if you are stuck relying on yourself and those around you, knowing some basic land navigation and orienteering skills can be of the utmost importance.  There are several important reasons to take maps along with you even when in familiar territory, and they can be a versatile tool or a life saver in a sticky situation.  Maps can indicate your position in relationship to the territory and offer a source of information for routes to a planned destination, as well as give you an indication of significant features along the way.  Knowing which maps to have, what tools to have with them, and how to employ them could mean the difference between your head stone being in the place of your choosing or being in the hands of Mother Nature and her husband Mr. Murphy.

The most basic terrain maps, such as those found in road maps (Rand McNally is a common one) are generalized and tend to show terrain on a higher scale, meaning the “zoom” is way out.  This means that although you see a larger area, the map will not give much detail about any specific point or location.  While these are great for interstate and highway navigation, they often will leave out valuable information for someone traveling on foot or by less-traveled routes and local roads.  They will also rarely give a grid of latitude and longitude by which to find your location given GPS readouts or by less technical means.  More detail can be found in state or local atlases and gazetteers such as those published by DeLorme, which will have a basic area map split into a grid, and detailed maps for each grid.  These books are inexpensive and offer a far greater detail (larger scale) for any area the atlas covers.  (Note: small scale means that the ratio of the distance on the map to the true distance on the ground is small, e.g. that the denominator is very large.  The commonest example of a small scale map is a world globe which it has a diameter of one foot has a denominator of about 5280x4000 or 22,000,000. ) They will have latitude and longitude markers, rural or seasonal roads, and may have some major hiking trails listed, such as the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail.  However, smaller waterways, gradual elevation changes, and lesser known terrain features will be omitted from the map, possibly frustrating the traveler looking for a water source or place of refuge.  Perhaps the most detailed (excluding the awesomely powerful and all seeing-eye of Google Satellite Maps) will be those from the United States Geological Survey.  These maps can provide  scales of up to 1:24,000 which will show all local terrain features, to include known springs, mines, caves, and several other markers that would often go unnoticed to the average traveler.  They will also indicate changes in elevation with contour lines, showing how a hill or valley is shaped and how steep or gradual the terrain is.  While it is nearly impossible without modern technology to carry any number of these maps, and would probably not be advisable unless one had a need for extra rough toilet paper, having one for the planned travel areas or habitation location is a resource without rival. 

Table of map scales with pros and cons for each type:




Small (1:250,000)

-Shows large area
-Helpful for longer distance estimation
-Shows full extent of large terrain features (mountain ranges, rivers, deserts)
Usually has latitude and longitude grid

-Shows only major land marks
-Little to no specific detail


-Potentially shows entire area of operations/travel
-Has most major terrain features marked
-Will show primary routes (interstates and highways)
- Usually has latitude and longitude grid
longitude grid
-May have northing and easting grids
-Usually has township and range grids

-No specific terrain details beyond well known or major features
-Difficult to use for foot travel
-May not have alternative routes or local roads


-Has most specific area detail
-Will show most terrain features including seasonal ones
-Will show private roads and utility corridors
-Good for both foot and motorized travel
-Will have local declination listed
- Usually has latitude and longitude grid
-May have northerling and easterling grids
-Usually has township and range grids

-Small field of view for each map
-Difficult to carry enough for a large area
-Contains more symbols and unusual markings

Note: Scale depicts map units to actual units; 1:50,000 would be one inch on the map is equal to 50,000 inches on the ground.

Once the desired scale is determined for the map to be used, there are several things to be done before using it.  Foremost, if the map does not contain a legend for what the various symbols mean, it is haphazard at best.  Imagine a map that used happy faces and sad faces to mark flowers and land mines, but did not indicate which was which.  One might have a bouquet or a tourniquet depending on interpretation of the symbols.  Fortunately there are many common symbols on maps, and while not universal, will help familiarize the reader with what the markings mean.  The USGS web page, at, has a large catalogue of common symbols found in most types of maps.  Another consideration before placing the map in use is a means of marking and navigating with it.  It is recommended that the map be laminated or placed in a clear plastic cover that will not shift in relation to the map.  If the map is covered in a medium that allows the map to shift, the markings made on the cover will not hold their relationship to the map and could cause errors in navigation.  Additional points of reference or changes can be added to the map as well as routes marked without permanently marking or altering the original map once it is laminated.  If this were a map you trusted your life to, exposure to the elements would also be a consideration for how it is handled and protected.  Folding will degrade the legibility and may remove grid lines, so rolling would be the preferred method for storage.  Fly fishing rod cases, especially when you plan on fishing as well, are ideal weather resistant places to store a map without risk of damage.  A clear plastic protractor can function to find grid coordinates, work as an improvised compass (the marking kind, not the north finding kind) and determine distance both in a straight line and over a route.  Most of these protractors work with a wide scale of maps, but insure that the proper scale is used when indexing on the map.

Proper employment of the map can also be a problem, with orientation done automatically for us with modern GPS devices.  There are two distinct times when a map is employed, and both require different orientation positions in relation to the reader.  When planning a route or debriefing a situation, it is far easier to read the map with the legend and grid right side up.  Reading and locating grids are easier and faster if you are not doing it up-side down or from the left or right.  However, while using the map to navigate, always orient the map to the ground; i.e. the “compass rose” on the map (the north facing arrow) should face north.  This is not always right side up and depending on the location and map; the rose may be skewed in any direction.  Always find true north and face the map accordingly.  There will be declination marks on any USGS or official map that instructs how many degrees off the “true North” bearing is from the “magnetic North.”  Be sure that when the map is oriented that this adjustment is made.  Declination is given in a positive number when true north is east of magnetic north, and given in a negative number when true north lies to the west.  Most compasses will have a bezel ring that allows the user to set declination while the compass is at rest.  (Note.  Declination changes with time so make it a practice to check the date(s) of the map(s) that you are intending to use and then look up the current declination.  Many other map features such as roads, trails, water courses etc. may also change with time so check you maps carefully to ensure that the critical features have not change between the date of the aerial photography and the present time.) Practice taking out the map and orienting it to your direction of travel and take notice of how your perspective can change.  When your situation changes and the world is stricken with an epidemic of killer bunnies, knowing how to employ the map properly and being able to quickly relate your location to the map and where your planned direction of travel lies on the ground will be especially useful.

You can never be lost, as long as you know where you are.  Where you are is always going to be determined by your relationship to other objects and terrain features around you, whether it is an arroyo in Death Valley or a mountain crest in the Cascades.  With any map of the area you are in, you can find your location using this relationship and a compass.  If, for instance, you find yourself off a known trail in a heavily wooded area, find the closest large terrain features.  This could be a large creek, or a hill top higher than the others surrounding it.  Whatever prominent land marks you have identified, orient the map to true north and shoot an azimuth to the identifiable points.  An azimuth is an imaginary line from you to the known point starting from the center of the compass.  Where the line exits the compass and crosses the degree marker (or mils if your map is in mils, most are not) on the compass is your azimuth.  Once you have two azimuths, and you have located the two land marks on the map, draw lines from the known points along a reverse azimuth until you can see a point of conversion.  The reverse azimuth is a bearing from the known point to you, 180° off from the original azimuth.  For example, if your azimuth to Mt. Rainier is 107°, the reverse azimuth from Mt. Rainier to you is 287°.  Remember to add or subtract the declination when going from magnetic degrees to grid (or true north) degrees.  The point of conversion will be your location, which will be more exact if the two objects are at right angles from each other in relation to you.  A protractor will also be of great use when plotting these lines on the map, and can do reverse azimuths for you, no math needed.  There are other methods for finding your location with just a map and compass, research and try each one to find the fastest and most easily applied one for the circumstances you plan to operate in.  If you ever do find yourself lost in the wilderness, and help is on the way, staying in place will be your best bet.  However, when the vampire gold fish hybrids are gorging themselves on the blood of emergency responders, it will be comforting to know that you are able to locate your position on a map.

Maps are one of the foremost planning tools, used for routes, defensive positions, and reconnaissance among several other things. While using the map to determine a route, take into consideration first what your objective is.  If the aliens were to invade and start slaying humanity with trans fats and bio-engineered tomatoes, what are you looking for in the route?  It might be slightly different than one you might use to evacuate from a hurricane or tsunami.  Every route will have common features such as your rally point, where a group of individuals can converge into a team, typically centrally located and along the way towards the objective.  While it can be advantageous to have the rally point at a well known or established land mark, mission may dictate that it be well concealed and offer cover.  As long as each member of the group can find the location on their own, the rally point need not be the intersection of I-5 and I-8.  Another commonality will be rest points, where there should be a source of water and shelter.  This could be a cache point, but if you end up on an alternate route, dependence on a pre-staged source may become a serious short fall.  This is another situation where the small scale maps will be of assistance, allowing alternate and primary routes to pass small springs or year round creeks.  Mountainous terrain or terrain that has steep hills and valleys can prove a problem for travelers, more so when confined to roads due to the mode of transportation.  It may be best to avoid these places completely as alternate routes are often not readily available.  Passes, bridges, and other bottle necks are encountered far more often in these types of terrain as well, leaving a traveler with no alternate route.  Occasionally, through well established interstate corridors, maintenance roads and Forest Service or logging roads will follow the course of the public routes.  Forest Service roads and other decommissioned roads will still be marked on current USGS maps in many cases, however while conducting route recon you might spot several that have been purposefully removed.  Placing these items back on your map is one more ace in the hole if the need arise.  Keep in mind that the map used in planning is not perfect, and may omit a detail that your planning might deem essential information.  This is one of many reasons why reconnaissance goes hand in hand with mission planning, long before the execution order is issued.

Reconnaissance is another area where a map is one of the most critical tools.  If the planned route is not properly researched, both on the table and in the real world, it is a plan to fail.  When using a map for route recon, focus on the mission priorities first.  While the map may indicate a choke point or a danger area, these may turn out to be safe and passable areas based on a practiced movement through them.  Other terrain features not described properly on the map may turn into hazards, such as a road cut through a large rock formation, creating an artificial valley that would leave a group vulnerable to ambush.  Ensure that the map used in planning, or an exact copy, is used while making these observations.  Another valuable insight that recon can provide is changes in terrain.  After a flood, earthquake, or other major natural disaster, rivers may change course and what were once passable bridges may now have become obstacles.  If patrolling around or near your position, always denote on the map what differences are observed, even if they seem unimportant.  Proper reconnaissance and detailed map review can change the direction of an operation from doomed to successful based on a few simple observations.  Once the reconnaissance is completed, all members of a group should be briefed in detail for all primary and alternate routes, most importantly, the rally points and check points where a group can converge if members become separated.

Maps can indeed change the outcome of your survival, and are critical tools for preparedness.  With proper selection and implementation, they become an essential part of everything from a camping trip to a well planned and executed route out of danger.  However, the best tools in the world are only as good as the hands that wield them.  This being the case, become familiar with the map you choose and how to read it quickly and assess the terrain in relation to what is printed.  Know how to use a compass and practice finding locations using it and the map, research which way works best for you.  Identify what your objective is and what considerations first before assigning the route, and carefully reconnoiter every step of the movement.  Orienteering meets and competitions will offer a large area to practice and several knowledgeable individuals to draw experience from.  Most of all, prepare for everything, and know that your preparations will only go so far before being able to think on your feet saves the day.  Improvise, adapt, and overcome.

Dear JWR:
First let me say I don't consider myself a expert.  However I have studied on the subject and would like put  forth what I have gleaned from my research.

1 Weather patterns shift.  When I was a kid in Louisiana  you never heard of a tornado's there.  Now they are commonplace.
2 Stick built houses (2 by 4 construction) and trailers cannot stand up to even a weak twister.
3 Even in a weak storm the flying debris is deadly.

I also found out that a large numbers of deaths were caused by this lethal debris as people were waiting for the last second to get into their shelter/safe place.
So why were people waiting so long to get into their shelter or safe place?  The answer is simple, they are not comfortable places to be.
Again why is that so?  There are several contribution factors to this.  Most are smallish.  8'x10' is considered large for a shelter.  They are not (usually) maintained well.  The outside ones are usually dank and have bugs etc. because of this lack of maintenance.

The inside ones are (usually) considered a waste of space, are cramped and lack ventilation.
In my opinion the #1 reason is the lack of information/contact with the outside world!  Prior to going into the shelter you are glued to the television watching the progress of the storm.  This is especially true at night. 

Think about it, prior to going into your shelter, you have television, radio, weather radio, telephone, cell phone, computer and Internet.  Also you have things like HVAC, water, bathroom etc., IE comfort.  When you enter (most) shelters all of that is gone.
After the first time you have sat in your man made cave under the stress of a deadly storm coming and nothing happens, Your mind makes it hard to repeat the process until the last moment.

I understand the cost of a shelter.  (That is the reason most are smallish.)  But with a little pre-planning you can turn the uncomfortable to bearable.
For those dealing with an preexisting structure a outside shelter will probably be the least expensive.

For the outside shelter:
Run in a couple antenna wires for a small television and or a radio.  Think about a hard line telephone or cell phone repeater antenna.  Install a solar powered shop light, and/or vent fan.  Add a bench or a couple folding chairs and that should work. Just make it work for you.
Note: For those that live in areas with high water tables, there are several integral (one piece) shelters that are made of steel or fiberglass that will greatly reduce the water issue.

For the inside safe room it's usually less expensive to deal with this during construction.  A lot of people put it under the garage since you have to have a slab floor for that already.
I took the approach of turning one of the basement bedrooms into a safe room.  I was able to take advantage of three existing concrete walls, and only had to add one concrete wall and a slab roof.  This gave me a nice sized bedroom and full bath under a "hard" roof.  I had it preplanned for HVAC, television and radio antenna wires, hard line telephone.  After construction I added emergency lighting.

This may not be the best approach for some but it worked for me.
Bottom line make your shelter/safe room as comfortable as you can so that you and your family won't mind going in there.  Kids especially will be nervous.  You may think about pre positioning coloring books or something to take their mind off of what is actually going on.  The stress of the weather event itself will be bad enough.  You family, especially the kids,  don't need the added stress of being in a "scary" place. - Wolfgang

I understand and agree with your position regarding the "One Gun" debate. I have no desire to challenge or question yesterday’s article on the topic. I do have a question on your thoughts about the new Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle. What is your opinion regarding the concept behind this type of gun? I know they are marketing this as the "the gun to have if you can only have one" and I am not asking about that aspect of it. I see this gun as being versatile and an asset to anyone who has small arsenal. Do you think this would adequately fill the roll of the "precision shooting / hunting rifle" in your list of four guns that constitute a minimum battery for a prepared family? I have already filled the first 3 categories on your list and have been considering this new Ruger rifle to fill the 4th. Thank you, - J.D.V.

JWR Replies: I own one of the new Ruger Gunsite Scouts, and I can tell you that it is very well executed. It is a very handy gun. The adjustable length of pull stock and flash hider are brilliant. (Most of the other "Scouts" on the market lack a flash hider.) My only complaint is that it uses proprietary magazines that are presently made only buy Ruger. (A hint to C-Products and Mag-Pul: Please start making 5s, 10, and 20s for the Ruger Scout!!!)   The Ruger factory-made magazines presently sell for $64 to $70 each!  I sorely wish that they had used an existing military magazine, such as the FN/FAL magazine.  With the same cash that it takes to buy 10 spare 10 round Ruger factory magazines, you could buy a brand new Glock Model 21 with night sights or couple of SKS carbines!

I would consider Ruger Gunsite Scout a particularly good option for folks who live in semi-auto deprived states.

Rachel F. mentioned an interesting video about a couple that lives very close to the land.

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Congressman Ron Paul: The Last Nail - Floor Speech (May 25, 2011). The Defense Authorization Act or H.R. 1540, aka" The Forever War Act", was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives May 26th with a vote of 322 to 96.

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U.S. to propose mandatory vehicle 'black boxes'. I hadn't heard that most vehicles already had post-crash decelleration event data recorders (EDRs), and that for several years the Lexus brand cars have recorded pre-carsh events. (Presumably including vehicle speed.)

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A man's castle, under code enforcement siege. (Thanks to M.E.W. for the link.)

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Speaking of castles, this doies not bode well: Self-Defense Case: Pharmacist Guilty.

"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, [and] giving of thanks, be made for all men;

For kings, and [for] all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;

Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

For [there is] one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." - 1 Timothy 2:1-5 (KJV)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Consider this possible scenario: Let’s imagine for a moment that nuclear fallout or a tornado is approaching your home. If you said to your child, “Stop what you are doing- go to the basement right now!” - would he obey without question or hesitation? Would he even pay attention to your voice if he were deeply involved in a video game or a text message? Would he whine “WHYYYYY? Do I HAAAAVE to? It’s not faaaair. Bubba got to play longer than meeeeee!” Would your daughter pout, glare at you, and sulk if she had planned to go to a party instead of to the basement? Would your toddler know how to “hush and be still” on command, or would he strain against your arms and accelerate into a loud temper fit? What decisions do I need to make right now, if I really believe that some time in the perceivable future, events may occur which will require my family to function as a tightly-knit team, whether we decide to stay put and dig in or in the event we need to make a mobile evacuation.  The groundwork we lay today may mean life or death tomorrow.

I share these concerns from a position of experience. I am the father of nine children, three grown and raised, six still at home.  We have put these following principles to the test while traveling in hazardous conditions, preaching in ghettos and foreign (dangerous!) countries, and being in natural disaster zones. Our family has spoken at home-schooling and preparedness conferences about developing a lifestyle that fits the times in which we live. This is not a time to be numbed by addiction to amusement, stuffed with junk food in our bodies and brains, or to be slackers in our child training. Public school will not teach these principles to your children. You must or they will not survive.

With this in mind, let’s take a reality check.  The first priority is to establish authority. This may step on some toes but home was never designed by the Creator to be a democracy, but a benevolent theocratic dictatorship. God rules, then Dad in cooperation with Mom, period.  Children must see and know that Dad and Mom are under God’s authority.  Under God, children must obey their parents. If this chain of command does not exist in your house, fix it. Buck up men; you are not in position to win a popularity contest but to lead your family to overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. This is not always fun or “happy”. It requires a stiff backbone, the ability to say “No!” and mean it. These principles apply to Moms too.  Good Moms are not “sappy” pushovers. As a popular movie stated- walk tall and (when necessary) carry a big stick. Children from wimpy parents become narcissistic whiners, unfit for counting on in hard times. This is not to say that respectful (again I emphasize respectful!) appeals cannot  usually be brought to the table for consideration and negotiation- after all, I did state this is a “benevolent dictatorship”- but ultimately the authority must be firmly established in the home.  Passive or active rebellion, complaining, or whining are deadly enemies. Right heart attitudes are your ultimate survival tool. Read one chapter each night from the Bible book of Proverbs for some great attitude adjustment and family survival training.

After establishing authority, you can focus on intensive Spiritual Preparedness. This is achieved by attending to three training areas:

  • Scripture Memory- We live in a day of great deception and an appalling lack of common sense. People run around the country chasing the latest faker proclaiming a revival or “rapture”, while Bibles sit on shelves gathering dust or are watered down by publishers for political correctness. And profit. Consider another scenario: There is no “rapture” before the stuff hits the fan and the world becomes increasingly chaotic. Natural disasters and wars increase. Churches are either targeted for attack or are succeeding because of compromise. Your children are separated from you, like Daniel and the three Israelite children, Moses, or Joseph. This nightmare has happened to children throughout history and is reality currently throughout the world. How will your children stand for truth without you? By grounding them firmly on the Word of God today, while there is time. How do you do this? The same way you eat an elephant- one bite at a time.  Use the KJV for its poetic vocabulary and look up the words you don’t understand. Mental gymnastics are good for you. Keep small pocket-sized whole Bibles on hand for easy transport- keep in mind ¾ of the Bible is before the Gospel of Matthew and these Hebrew Scriptures are not disposable, according to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:17-21. Choose “thought chunks” or chapters rather than isolated verses that can be manipulated by deceivers. Use a rhythm or a tune, then add one phrase per day, repeat what was learned on previous days. Start with Exodus 20 - the Ten Commandments verbatim (it will thoroughly mess up your theology - it did ours!) After accomplishing this, go on to Psalm 91 and 23 (protection), Matthew 5, 6, and 7 (the Sermon on the Mount), Matthew 24 (current events), Genesis 1 (the true Origins of the Species) - the possibilities are endless. We are about 3 chapters into the book of 1st John and will be finishing the book by summer’s end. Why is this such a big preparedness priority?
  • We must hold fast to the faith as it was once delivered to the first-century culturally Hebrew saints and be prepared to be Kingdom witnesses, Kingdom ambassadors, and if He wills, Kingdom martyrs.
  • We must return to “ancient paths”- Apostolic foundational doctrine versus fragmented self-help, “touchy-feely” modern heresy rampant in the modern church.
  • We must preach with actions louder than our mouths. Put up or shut up.
  • Our children need to discern between the few true sheep - friends who have right actions, and the many wolves in sheep’s clothing - enemies who say one thing and do another. They will smile in your face and plan your destruction. Peer-dependent wimps are tomorrow’s traitors.

These statements are not in agreement with the majority “false unity” movement who makes statements about “laying aside doctrinal differences” to promote a one-world homogenous religion that offends no-one and promotes a New Age Gospel. The truth causes division. There is still only One Way, Truth, and Life. Follow Him and live eternally.  His followers love and obey His commandments. His Precious Blood is the only payment for our sin. Because of His loving sacrifice, we owe Him our full obedient worship. Period.

  • Character Training- In our home we have a few forbidden phrases:  “I’m bored….”, “Its’ not fair…”, and responding to a command with a whining “Why?” or “Why not?” top the list. Another parental pet peeve is comparative statements like, “Sister got two wobbly widgets and I only got one”. A parent of nine would go crazy (and broke!) keeping everything equal and to be honest, we have watched parents who try. They inevitably raise whining, self-centered, covetous hellions. This does not set the stage for great teamwork, now or in the future.  These families do not make great neighbors, let alone brethren in fellowship.

One solution we have found for building right heart attitudes is community service.  There are always elders who need snow-shoveling, widows who need weeding, and new mothers who could use a spare hand. By being community servants, you build community solidarity and favor- necessary preparedness tools in hard times.

Where do we start, you ask? In the Bible book of II Timothy chapter 3 it says “Know this: in the last times perilous times shall come. People shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce breakers, false-accusers, lacking self-control, violent, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof…ever-learning but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth…”  Does this sound like front-page news?

Start by expecting your children to be capable of living the opposite of this. Expect them to be unselfish, appreciative of what is theirs’, humble, obedient, respectful, pure, kind to their brothers and sisters. Expect them to keep their word and have integrity, to refrain from slander,
to be willing to defend the weak but accept persecution for His sake, to have righteous friends. Expect them to be loyal to their faith, their family, and their country. Expect them to be truth-seekers.  Set the bar high, live it in front of them, and expect them to follow your example, more than your words. If you don’t like the way your children act, look closely at the way you act around them. (Ouch-painful, but true for us all!) Reward the good, discipline the evil. Simple.

  • History and Heroes of the Faith- Our children need to know their origins. They are not animals. They are also not the latest, greatest thing that ever happened. They are part of a long chain of people who have been faithful. The history of our country is sadly neglected in the public education system. It is up to families to introduce their own children to the foundations of freedom and liberty secured by the sacrifice of patriots and martyrs throughout history. The writings of Charles Carleton Coffin have been indispensable in exposing the hand of God in the battle for liberty. Read aloud The Story of Liberty and his other well-written sequels. Read the stories of remnant movements, missionaries, and martyrs throughout history. The DVD series The Seventh Day is eye-opening and fascinating.  Our family is particularly interested in the history of World War II, the birth of modern Israel, and the connection of blessing or cursing upon nations who stand with or against her. For some excellent historical fiction about this era and the issues, read the Zion Chronicles and Zion Covenant series by Brock and Bodie Thoene. Our country is not exempt from the Scriptural pattern of blessing or cursing and our current foreign policy is a good reason to focus on preparedness.

As foundations are laid in spiritual preparedness, the next priority is …
Practical Preparedness:

  • Plan- This is the subject of many preparedness conference speeches and dozens of books, but little emphasis is placed on the family. Can you believe we have been invited to speak about preparedness at home-school conferences which are not family-friendly?! What an oxymoron! Okay, here goes another scenario: What if your wife was shopping, your older children were taking some little ones to visit a relative and a national alarm was sounded. Is there a designated meeting place? Would everyone know where to go? How to get there? How to communicate effectively? What to do if they can’t communicate?

One method we have found indispensable in a large family is “the buddy system”. Since early childhood each child has been assigned to another child who is about five years younger as a delegated authority. They take care of daily responsibilities pertaining to this child. In the morning they see that their buddy is properly groomed, served breakfast, and supervised throughout the day. If we go to a restaurant or to visit another family, they get their buddy’s plate, cut the meat, watch their manners, wash hands before and after, and hold their hand when leaving or crossing the street.  On an everyday basis, this sense of order presents an excellent testimony to our community; we like to rock the perspective that children need to be disorderly, loud, and self-centered.  Not true! Once again, community favor is an important survival tool! In the event of an emergency, each “big child” needs to know where their buddy is and get them to safety. Backpacks with emergency supplies are prepared to provide for each “big child” and “little buddy” team. It would be our hope to be together throughout any emergency, but in the event this plan fails, each big buddy is a competent delegated authority who would protect and defend his/her buddy. Because the relationship was formed over years of service and set in place by the parents, the correction and leadership of the “big child” has been deeply respected. This is enforced by Mom and Dad.

These backpacks contain, among other things: A 2-person dome tent, a large but lightweight sleeping bag (sharing “buddy” heat is simple with toddlers), a water filter, clothing and diapering gear if necessary, vitamins and snacks, meds and first aid equipment, whistles, signal mirrors, fire-starting gear, a multi-tool, small Bible and child-friendly survival manual, mini-coloring books and colored pencils with sharpener for distraction, fishing line and hooks, snare wire, rope, mess kit, etc. By the way, all this is done in a way that is very non-threatening and pro-active. We do not live fearfully and we do not promote this with our children.

  • Drills - Practice makes perfect. Everyone has been in a building when a fire alarm goes off. Everyone is expected to assist the disabled or helpless, leave in an orderly manner, form up at a previously designated location, wait for a headcount and an announcement of “All clear”. How about home-evacuation drills? Each “big child” takes their buddy and backpack, and then meets at the designated area where Dad and Mom take a headcount. This is a great time to practice (with adult supervision and safety harnesses) ladder evacuations if children sleep on a second or third floor. If you have a “safe house” location, practice hiking there on-foot during various seasons and place “caches” at strategic locations. Make it an adventure with prizes for timing and skill. Debrief and learn from mistakes. Some drill suggestions are:
  • No grid electricity week - All “from scratch” food made on alternative cookers, “bucket brigade” laundry (Teams of a big child and buddy washing clothes using one wash bucket, one rinse bucket and a clean plunger as an agitator, hang on line to dry), use LED lanterns for light with solar re-chargers (These are a great improvement over smelly fire-hazard lanterns).
  • Outdoor Living Week - We typically do this with others in the Fall in association with the Biblical Feast of Booths (Sukkot)- the original ancient annual preparedness conference-but it would be great to do once each season to work out the “bugs” and mistakes. This is a great time to practice “fort-building”.
  • First aid drills and scenarios - Kids love to be the “victim”.
  • Hunting season - a big event in our house. We use everything, including the antlers!
  • Paintball - This would be fun on your own property and a great socially acceptable reason to build “foxholes” and other strategic places…
  • Rendezvous and/or Appleseed shoot participation - Learn history, mountain man skills, and safe weapon handling.
  • Other Outdoor Activities - Go on bike trips, canoeing, cross-country skiing, pack-animal outfitting, white water rafting; develop skills in alternative transportation. Practice crossing shallow water with walking poles in summer for “heat relief”. Take long “wagon walks” with little ones- buy a wagon with all terrain tires equipped to carry over 1,000 lbs. These would be indispensable for families! And if you have babies, get an ergonomically designed backpack made for hiking with small children, including the accessory rain-cover and insulated snug sack. Get panniers for the family dog and put it to work.
  • Skills - I may be preaching to the choir here, but if this helps one family it is worth repeating. We have to get back to basics! Instead of being a “preparedness junkie”, wouldn’t it be smarter to just retain the everyday skills and lifestyle common our grandparents just a few generations ago? Developing a sustainable homesteading lifestyle - even by growing container gardens in the city - is better than thinking you will suddenly become “Rambo” in a crisis. Stop living a “fast food” lifestyle, no matter where you live. Start somewhere.  Start preparing meals from scratch, baking bread, learn what is edible and medicinal in the wild spaces around you, unplug the cable television, video games, etc. Purchase real, durable child-sized tools, sturdy boots, leather child-sized work gloves and let them work with you rather than always playing. Look for the gifts in your children and equip them to operate in them.  We have a daughter who hunts, tans the hides, butchers and cooks the venison, and dances ballet. We have a son who hunts mushrooms and catches his daily limit of fish, and is an expert cook on a barbecue or an outdoor wood-fire. He is also an amazing evangelist. Every child has special gifts. Look for the talents in each one, as these are important survival resources.

In summary, teach by example. The thing I have learned (sometimes the hard way) is that children are watching everything we do, say, react to, and then they will imitate our actions-good or bad. They overhear our conversations with others. They hear what we say when we hit our thumb with the hammer. They see whether we treasure our wife as the Messiah adores His Bride or if we treat her like a doormat or a workhorse. They don’t need to see us absorbed in fearful preparations, worried about what we will do if someone comes to “take our stuff”. They need to see us living a life of faith and prudence, using discernment in our speech and actions, loyalty and generosity in our friendships, and courage in adversity. Children and unbelieving neighbors are watching us and following our example. They are looking for answers. Our priority must be our responsibilities as Kingdom ambassadors in a time of great darkness. We need to shine a clear light. If hardship becomes more intense in future days, we will be thankful to have used our time wisely in giving our children the best chance to flourish in spite of adversity. If things improve, (unlikely, but always possible) our children will have learned to enjoy adventure, function with optimal life-skills, and they will be a worthy contribution to the leadership of our future communities, congregations, and our nation. We can store a warehouse full of beans, an armory of ammo, and a vault of precious metals but eventually it will all burn. The only thing we can hope to take into eternity with us is our children.

First, a big thanks for all you do to educate and enlighten us! My day is not complete until I have had my SurvivalBlog fix (one of my good habits!).  

I whole-heartedly support your gun is a tool analogy, and that having just one gun is like having just one tool in the box. Where we would differ is in how to build a suitable battery of firearms to fill most needs – much like a plumber’s tool box will look different from a auto mechanic’s. Under the cover of YMMV, those of you who have escaped to the American Redoubt, will have different needs from those of us stuck in more populated areas. The need for a precision shooting / hunting rifle doesn’t play in my semi-rural area (although that doesn’t mean you can have my Remington 788 in .308 Winchester). We also may have different physical capabilities that make some options unsuitable. Most of what I discuss below is an expansion or re-ordering of your recommended battery:
1)      Shotgun. While one gun is never enough, a good shotgun is the multi-tool of the firearms world. With the right barrel/ammunition combination you cover small game, upland birds, waterfowl, defense, and medium game. Add a rifled slug barrel and sabots, and this list expands to include any large game or dangerous animal in North America out to 150 yards (see this month’s American Rifleman magazine for a look at the performance of the latest generation of slugs). I am partial to your recommendation of the 12 gauge Remington 870, but I have also had great results with the less expensive Mossberg 500. I would further expand the recommendation to include 20 gauge guns for those folks that have trouble with weight or recoil.      

Everyone should own at least one shotgun, even if it is a single shot. Just view this video of Clint Smith running an H&R/NEF to see what a trained person could do with a single shot.

2)      Defensive Handgun. To me concealment is the key factor of the handgun; otherwise I would walk around with a shotgun or battle rifle slung on my shoulder. I understand your (and my Father’s) love of the .45 ACP, but the world of defensive handguns no longer begins or ends with calibers that start with 4. Modern ballistics have advanced viable weapon status down to even the lowly .380. I also buy-in to the thought (my undying admiration of John Moses Browning not withstanding) that the best handguns ever made are being made today. That means there are scores of guns, from a good dozen manufacturers that would fill this need nicely. The most important consideration is finding a gun that fits you and your wallet. Additional note: revolvers still work!

3)       .22 Rifle. I would greatly expand the list of options here. When you look at the main uses of this weapon (game getting, practice, and pest control) even a single shot would fill the bill. Think about your dad’s old Winchester 67. Also, my experience with both the Mossberg Plinkster and the Remington 597 would have me put them in line with the Marlin 60 for those on a budget.

4)      High Powered Rifle. I define this as anything that can reach out and touch something in the 250+ yard range. This includes your battles rifles (with additions below), your precision shooting / hunting rifle, a myriad of surplus military guns (Enfield, Springfield M1903, Mosin Nagant, K31 Swiss, Arisaka, Carcano…), the ubiquitous lever gun, and even a single shot Handi-rifle. If a battle rifle is your choice for this category you can’t go wrong with any of your .308 or 7.62x39 recommendations. But, I will commit the heresy of adding .223/5.56 to the list. I would include not only most M4geries, but the Ruger Mini-14 or Mini-30 and even the Kel-Tec SU would work as budget alternatives.  

I will end just as you did: “Be sure that you also budget for training ammunition and instruction, regardless of your choice in guns. Tools without training are useless.” - Terry P.

Peter Schiff: "You are going to see riots in the streets". (Thanks to Bob G. for the link.)

Fed Gave Banks Crisis Gains on $80 Billion Secretive Loans as Low as 0.01%. (Thanks to Pierre M. for the link.)

C.D.V. forwarded this item: Foreclosure sales slow, but remain very high Huge backlog of distressed properties means any housing recovery is a long way away. Here is a brief quote: "Sales of homes in some stage of foreclosure declined in the first three months of the year, but they still accounted for 28 percent of all home sales — a share nearly six times higher than what it would be in a healthy housing market."

Items from The Economatrix:

US Durable Goods Biggest Decline in Six Months

80 Ways to be Frugal and Save Money

Welcome to Debtor's Prison, 2011 Edition

Gold Prices Set Euro and Pound Sterling Records, Major Currencies All "Vulnerable"

G.G. flagged this: The Most Dangerous Cities in America. (All of them are nowhere near the American Redoubt.)

   o o o

45 Seconds: Memoirs of a Joplin ER Doctor from May 22, 2011

   o o o

Loyal content contributor F.G. sent this: Police on radio scanner apps: That's not a 10-4

   o o o

Courtesy of John in Ohio: Mark Zuckerberg's new challenge: Eating only what he kills (and yes, we do mean literally...)

   o o o

Yankee Prepper sent us this to file this under "Emerging Threats": Mexican officials seize ‘narcotank’. (The linked video is also enlightening.)

"If there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, [or] if there be caterpiller; if their enemy besiege them in the land of their cities; whatsoever plague, whatsoever sickness [there be];

What prayer and supplication soever be [made] by any man, [or] by all thy people Israel, which shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and spread forth his hands toward this house:

Then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and do, and give to every man according to his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou, [even] thou only, knowest the hearts of all the children of men;)

That they may fear thee all the days that they live in the land which thou gavest unto our fathers." - 1 Kings 8:37-40 (KJV)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Please pray for the folks in Joplin, Missouri, where there are more than 230 people missing. The recent satellite photos show horrendous destruction. The latest headline: Search for missing tornado victims enters fourth day.


Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

The following is intended to introduce some free computer resources to use for disaster planning. Topics covered are Bug Out Route planning, neighborhood  resource identification, and offline data back up.

My background includes growing up in the Arizona desert. Living forty miles from town and two miles to the nearest neighbors encourages one to be self reliant. Later in life I moved to and still live in the Pacific Northwest. During most of this period I was in complacent consumer mode. After the birth of my two children I began to question my abilities to provide for my family in an emergency or tough time. Around the time of the tech stock crash in 2000 I began to question the path of our nation and its political and economic choices. Fast forward to the pop of the housing bubble. That event spurred my quest for answers and leads us to today.

There are two free programs I will cover using for disaster preps and planning. One is Gadwin Systems PrintScreen. The other is
WinHTTrack, an open source offline browser.

Gadwin PrintScreen has the ability to save images to a file or capture portions of anything viewable on your screen to a JPEG.
These can also be saved in a numeric sequential order for ease of identification.

WinHTTrack allows the user to assemble entire web sites for offline  use. This is a powerful tool that comes with responsibilities. Sites such as offer an archive of their site for purchase but also encourages offline backup by other means [as long as it is for private, noncommercial use.]. The other consideration is the usage of bandwidth. Whomever is hosting the site your are considering downloading is paying to keep their site up and may have bandwidth caps or fees based upon the amount of data transmitted.

Setting up Gadwin PrintScreen will only take a few moments after installation. Get to the properties or options menu in Gadwin while it is running. Set your hotkey. The hotkey is what will be activating the capture. A common hotkey is the "Prt Scr" button. Check the preview captured image box. Under the source option box check rectangular area. Under destination option box check copy captured area to file. Also check automating naming and set the filename to the number 0. Doing this will begin naming files as 0001, 0002, 0003 an so on as you save them. Set the Capture  Directory or destination folder as well. Under image menu set as JPG. Hit "OK". Upon pressing the hotkey an instruction should appear showing you how to size the area to be captured. 

This only covers web browsing map interfaces as I have chosen not to use Google Earth.

One use for this tool is probably already obvious to many of you.

Go to your favorite online mapping tool or web site. I use Google maps. Personally I began from a regional view and began setting and saving files/pictures as I zoom in. You may get to a point where everything you want will not fit on one JPG. At this point I find my focus point and using the map tool move it to a far lower or higher corner and screen capping that. Keep moving your focal point around your four corners and capturing those images until you have made a satisfactory assembly of images. For vehicle route mapping I tend to use a standard map view. For area specific maps I use the satellite view. These settings are visible in the upper right area of the map.

Clearly making a bug out map is one use here. The following is of the most use to those of us living in major metropolitan areas. While browsing a specific map area to the top and right of the screen there will be a menu to check a few selections. The one that will be most valuable to the bug out in a vehicle is the traffic box, put a check mark next to it. An overlay will appear showing the live traffic flows for the viewable area. To the bottom left there should be a box saying live traffic and small text saying "change". When you change the times you can cycle by day and time to simulate morning or evening rush hours in your area. I have had varying effectiveness with this setting.

Many have said it before but here it is again: If you and yours are going to relocate, then do it before the majority of the population decide to flee in a panic.

Google Maps also enables one to type in the starting point and destination for a suggested route. The information given by this auto trip planner is valuable. You can set it for car, bike, or foot travel. It also notes car travel minimum and maximum predicted times with traffic. You are easily able to interface with the map and "drag" your route away from areas you wish to avoid and toward predicted safer lanes of travel. Every time you do this it will refresh distance and predicted travel time. It is easy to create several folders of screen captures on your pc to hold individual routes and means of travel. The wise choice here is to verify as many of these routes as you can physically. It may be as simple as a picnic with the family or a new route to the hunting camp. To put ones trust in an untested route is asking to get stuck in a bad spot.

Another valuable use for the browser maps is scouring your neighborhood, region or retreat for visible resources, threats, and unknown avenues of travel. An example is a friend just moved into a new house and looking online at his house showed me his neighbor owns a pool, relatively uncommon for the Northwest but an item of note. Several blocks away but invisible from the street are a few homes with large undeveloped backyards. In time of shortages, the owners of those parcels might me agreeable to someone planting that ground with vegetables, in exchange for a share of a crop.

During neighborhood walks you may notice fruit or nut bearing trees and berry vines on public land. These can be noted on your map with a simple mark in the Paint program that comes with many operating systems. Resource awareness and becoming friends with your neighbors at the same time. There may be areas or neighbor that receive a mark for one or more reasons. Perhaps evidence of unsavory activity or even the presence of arable land. Fresh water is worth noting, especially if it is not visible from the street.

The next step is for intermediate users. GIMP is an open source photo editing program that uses layers just like a well known photo editing program. With it you can now take your captured images and combine them to build large medium resolution images.

 You see where I am going with this. Four screen captures assembled into one image comes to 19"x13" at 72 dots per inch on my pc. This covers 3 block to the North and South and 6 blocks to the East and West. At this resolution viewing at 100% cars can be identified by their color but not make and model. Houses, driveways, and greenspaces can be seen but not in great detail. An additional benefit of Google maps is the auto labeling of businesses, parks, and streets.

For the budget minded prepper consider printing out sixteen 8"x11" black and white pages and pasting them on some cardboard. The next step up is a 25"x25" b+w laminated at Kinko's for $16. A 25"x25" color laminated is $41. The final destination is a 50"x50" color laminated map that runs $184.

This is not my area of expertise but I am also attempting to define perceived threat or awareness areas. Part of this includes lines of travel, fields of fire from my home and block, as well as effort required to seal off areas from vehicle traffic.

For the more advanced computer user let us consider WinHTTrack. Part of the power of this program is the ability for it to set filters for file type and size.  In the help menu of this program you will find a robust  "how to" that will allow you to download portions of web sites for personal use. There are examples of good/bad scan rule interactions as well. WinHTTrack will not download Flash or Javascript well or at all.

It is up to the individual to use good judgment when using this tool. When set on below dial up speeds you will be able to assemble large amounts of text and pictures over the course of one nights sleep.

At the end of the day it should also be considered what to do with and how to manage this data. Consider printing, burning a CD or purchasing several USB flash "thumb" drives for data redundancy. Every member of the family could easily carry 4+GB of information for as little as $12. That might be most or all of the families pictures, documents, plans, maps, and collected reference material. This article does not cover data security but it is a major consideration if personal, financial, or medical documents are digitally backed up.


I often read suggestions in survivalist and shooting forums that run something like this: "If you had to choose just one gun to handle all your tasks, then what would it be?" A lively debate then ensues, usually marked by extreme opinions, running the gamut from pipsqueak calibers, to elephant guns. These debates go on, endlessly. The result is a confusing muddle that does little to educate folks that are new to shooting as to what is truly practical. What prompted this post is that recently received a "one gun solution" article entry for SurvivalBlog's writing contest, which I politely declined to post. (That one had recommended buying just a Glock 19 pistol.)

The "one gun" debates are spurious starting points for any logical discourse. Alarmingly, some people take this talk seriously, and in doing so, they usually end up opting for the Lowest Common Denominator. They often end up pushed toward a .22 rimfire rifle, a 12 gauge shotgun (often a single-shot) or a 9mm handgun. The reality is that there is no "one size fits all" solution. Owning just one gun is like owning a tool box containing just one tool for all your household and automotive repair tasks. Which one tool would it be: A hammer? A screwdriver? Pliers? A hacksaw? Remember, you can only choose one tool.

To be realistic, the minimum number of guns needed for a family preparedness firearms battery is four:

  1. A semiautomatic battle rifle. I prefer 7.62mm NATO, such as a FAL clone, AR-10, or HK91 clone. For someone on a tight budget, a used SKS or an AK might suffice.
  2. A .22 rimfire rifle. I prefer the stainless Ruger 10/22. If compactness is a key issue, then buy a Marlin Papoose. For someone on a tight budget, a used Marlin Glen field Model 60 .22 would suffice.
  3. A large caliber handgun. If concealment is a key factor, then get a Glock Model 30 or a XD .45 Compact. Otherwise, make is a Glock 21 or a full size XD .45. For someone on a tight budget, a used Argentine Ballester Molina or Sistema Colt .45 ACP would suffice.
  4. A precision shooting / hunting rifle. My top choice is the Savage Model 10FP in .308 Winchester. For someone on a tight budget, a sporterized Mauser would suffice.

An optional fifth gun would be a pump action 12 gauge shotgun with both bird hunting and riotgun barrels. (Such as a Remington Model 870.)

There is simply no way for one gun to handle everything from shooting garden pests to big game, and self defense in both concealed carry and "reach out and touch someone" modes. Yes, there are some versatile guns out there, but they would be compromises. For example, a Kel-Tec SU-16 .223 could be considered an adequate rifle that is marginally concealable. Ditto for the new .308 Kel-Tec RFB bullpup. But in attempting to handle all functions with one gun, it wouldn't perform those functions as well as a purpose-built gun.

Now if I were hypothetically forced to "grab just one gun and run" for some reason, it would probably be something like the RFB. But if budget were the constraint rather than "what you can carry on your back", then I would recommend buying a small battery of guns, as I outlined above. (And, as I noted, there are some very modestly-priced alternatives.)

I'm sure that will folks will chide me, saying that they can get by with just a bolt action rifle. Well perhaps you might. But if I'm ever faced with superior numbers, then I want to have power, accuracy and repetitive fire at my disposal. I also want the flexibility of having concealability for some guns, and some chambered in quiet low power cartridges that are suitable for small game and pest shooting. Again, there is no "one size fits all" solution available in one gun. That is my view, and as they say, "Your mileage may vary." Your budget might also vary, so plan your purchasing wisely. Don't shy away from buying used guns if they are in good condition. Not only are they less expensive, but odds are that you will be buying from private parties, so that adds to your privacy.

A reminder, in closing: Be sure that you also budget for training ammunition and instruction, regardless of your choice in guns. Tools without training are useless.


While I enjoyed the article written by Jason A., there were minor points that stuck out to me. As a professional chef who has completed numerous food safety courses, many of them the same that health inspectors must take to be certified, Jason's list of final food temperatures and cooking suggestions were a good start, but had some potentially precarious recommendations.

Washing fruits and vegetables will rarely remove all the pesticides and bacteria, unless you use a food sanitizing liquid such as bleach water, which you may or may not have in such a situation. Washing removes any exterior contaminants, such as dirt, mud, rocks, etc. However, picking from a polluted field and washing the produce will do you no good and could seriously injure or kill you. Washing is still a good habit to use, but it cannot remove everything dangerous. Inspect the source or field first, if possible.

For meat temperatures, cooking "at" any temperature is relatively unimportant. Cooking "to" a final internal meat temperature is the important number. Obviously, cooking at 140 degrees will not allow you to reach an internal temperature of 165. Cooking at virtually any temperature higher than the desired final temperature will. The bottom line is, for any meat (beef, chicken, fish, etc) in a questionable situation, the final minimum internal temperature for safe consumption is 165 degrees, according to the USDA. The meat may finish with a grayish color, but some meats begin and end gray at virtually any temperature, depending upon the animal's diet. However, it is relevant to know that a 165 degree internal temperature is sometimes overkill. Whole pieces of meat (not including chicken) that have not been ground are generally quite safe at 145 degrees, according to the USDA's recently updated guidelines from a couple of days ago.

Ground meats are another set of rules. E-coli is killed at 155 degrees, and is the final minimum temperature for any ground meat, other than chicken.

Chicken is yet another different story. Optimally, a 165 degree internal temperature, ground or whole, taken at the bone, is the safest way to go. If you do not have a thermometer, cooking the meat "until juices run clear" is a reasonably safe bet.  It was done that way for quite some time prior to thermometer usage. However, it is not always a safe alternative because any one person's definition of "clear" can vary vastly to another person's.  Also, waiting for a clear juice depends upon whether there are bones in the chicken.  Chicken bones can cause juices to run pink until a much higher temperature, even though the chicken is cooked.

Fish also has its own set of guidelines. Again, in a questionable situation, cook until completely opaque and preferably 145 degrees. Granted, in almost every case this will resort in very dry fish, but better dry than you being sick or dead. The term "flakey" is a little too vague unfortunately. Each fish has a different internal muscle structure and will become flaky at different final temperatures, if at all.

Hopefully this can educate folks out there. These are temperatures that are listed by the USDA as safety minimums. There are numerous other temperatures for "degrees of doneness," such as rare, medium rare, etc. Those are an entirely different article, though. - David B.

Senator Rand Paul speaks out in opposition to renewal of the misnamed PATRIOT Act.

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An interesting History Channel documentary: How The States Got Their Shapes. Note that one segment on Montana includes a SurvivalBlog reader. (I haven't been given permission to name names, but you might be able to guess which Montanan this is.)

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Enemy at gate? Not in this case. (Thanks to N.R. for the link.)

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Obama: We're Working on Gun Control 'Under the Radar'. (Thanks to K.A.F. for the link.)

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This article has some downright scary implications: Liquid Medicine: Controversial call to add lithium to drinking water for mental health. Wow! A quote from Buckaroo Banzai just popped into my head: "Lithium is no longer available on credit."

"The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is often difficult to verify their authenticity." - Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, May 26, 2011

With the recent spate of tornadoes in America's Heartland, (the death toll in Joplin is now at 124) and a new round of Icelandic volcanic ash clouds threatening northern Europe, it is time to re-double our preparedness efforts. Prepare and pray hard!


Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As the saying goes “preventive medicine is the best medicine”, this can be said for many aspects in life. Why wait until something happens to fix it? Why not perform proper maintenance procedures so you don’t have to fix it? Frankly, before I became a prepper, I’ve always found this approach to be best. It can save you time, money, frustration. Even if something is going to break no matter what, with preventive procedures, you can sometimes see it coming, therefore fixing or changing a part. From a prepper’s perspective, preventive measures are a necessity. The U.S. military puts an emphasis on Preventive Maintenance Checks and Services (PMCS). Throughout the rest of this essay, all preventative measures will be termed PMCS.

Preventive Maintenance

When it comes to machinery, PMCS must take place. The last thing you need when disaster strikes is to hop in your bug out vehicle and realize you’re low on fuel and the battery is dead. When it comes to vehicles, generators, freezers, or anything that is a complicated system, you need to perform PMCS and keep a record of it. When it comes to vehicles, whether tractors, cars, pickups or SUVs, you can keep the record book with the vehicle. For items such as generators or tools, keep them in a filing cabinet for easy tracking. Some items that should be checked include:s
Oils/lube, Fuels, Filters
Belts, Batteries, Fuses
Plugs (spark or glow), Tires/wheels, Specialty tools
Check your owner’s manual or with the original company to find out when you should perform PMCS, with what specific parts, and where to find all of the proper parts and tools. When it comes to tools, they also need PMCS. Visually inspect all parts for cracks, tears, bends, or partial pieces. Simple tools such as a hammer will not help you if the head is ready to break off of the handle. Remember to sharpen blades and teeth, oil moving parts, and always clean and dry your tools to prevent rust.

Preventive Medicine

Once the SHTF, making appointments to see you doctor are probably not going to happen. Even if you have a medical professional in your group, some supplies will not be available. Those supplies that are available will eventually run out.

Dentistry: I personally am one of the worst when it comes to taking care of my teeth and gums. I’ve also paid for it. Brushing your teeth is not enough. You should brush your teeth first thing in the morning, in the afternoon, and before bed. Flossing needs to be a part of your brushing routine. Full flossing of every space should be done in the evening, prior to brushing. After flossing, use a mouthwash so you don’t push anything back into spaces, and then brush. Throughout the day most people have snacks. After eating, use dental soft picks. These can be purchased fairly cheap and are found at many stores.

Lifestyle: TEOTWAWKI or not, a healthy lifestyle should be sought. You don’t have to be a gym junkie either. Sports are a great way to get some exercise. Some prefer hiking or bicycling. The point is to be active and flexible. However, bulking up like Arnold doesn’t do you much good if you’re eating steaks and burgers, then finish it off with a smoke. While the science of nutrition is difficult to understand, there are some basics that make it easy. Check out to help plan better meals. This shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: drop your bad habits! Tobacco is the big one, but anything else that you can’t handle in moderation. This could be alcohol, caffeine, or sweets.

Medicine: Take care of any health concerns now. Lifestyle changes can change some of these issues. Diabetes type 2 and high cholesterol are a few of the conditions that could be managed better, or even resolved, by lifestyle changes. For medical concerns that can’t be resolved be lifestyle changes should be looked at before it’s too late. If you’ve been putting off a surgery, you just might have to live with your current condition if the SHTF today. Make sure that you are updated on all of your medications and have a stockpile. If you have any sort of condition that requires an apparatus such as canes or braces make sure that you have extras or extra pieces. Most of us will be doing quite a bit of work outside. Have a good supply of lip balm, sunscreen, insect repellant, and foot powder. If you’re sunburned or have blisters on your feet, this makes survival rough. These are simple steps that you can take.

Sanitation: This section is extremely important for people that bug out somewhere where there is no house. This could be out in the woods or on someone’s property. The first is on defecation. One simple idea is the cat hole. The cat hole is good for on the move or for one person for no more than one day. Dig a hole 12 inches in diameter and 6-7 inches deep. Do your business in hole and cover it with the dirt that was removed. This is also helpful for OPSEC being that if it was out in the open, you may give away your location. If you plan to stick around a spot for one to three days, use a straddle trench. Dig out a rectangular area 1 foot wide, 4 feet long, and 3 feet deep. After use, cover the excrement only. Once the trench is filled to 6 inches below the ground, cover the rest with the remaining dirt. One trench is good for up to 25 people. I wouldn’t recommend a burnout barrel latrine unless you are in a large camp with security. Basically, somewhere where everyone knows you are there anyway. This consists of a wooden bench with a hole in it over the top of a metal barrel cut in half. All openings must be covered so vermin cannot get in. Once the barrel is half way filled, drag it out from the enclosure and at least 10 feet away. Add 3 inches of a fuel mixture containing one part gas and four parts diesel. Set on fire and monitor. Once all of the waste is gone, clean and sanitize the barrel and return it to the enclosure. When it comes to urination, this needs to be put into the ground as well. For males, dig out an area 4 feet wide, 4 feet long and 4 feet deep. Place metal tubes 8 inches into the pit and fill with stones and gravel. Place funnels on the tops of these tubes to be used as urinals. For females, construct the same pit but instead of pipes, use a barrel. Place it 8 inches into the pit with gravel underneath and around it. Place a wooden seat on top of the barrel.

For other liquid wastes such as bath water and dishwater, dig out another area that is 4 feet wide, 4 feet long, and 4 feet deep. Place a barrel with a perforated bottom 6 inches into the pit. Then dig out four trenches from the pit starting at one foot deep and ending at 2 feet deep. They need to be 6 feet long and one foot wide. Fill all of this with gravel. When it comes to trash, I don’t like the idea of burning. It is an announcement to people of where you are and what you may have. I also imagine that many people will be recycling and reusing heavily thus reducing the amount of trash produced. Start off with a pit that is 8x8x8 feet. As you dump your trash in, make sure to cover it with at least 6 inches of dirt. This will cover smells and hopefully deter vermin. Always make sure that all of your areas are clearly marked for present and past areas. You do not want to dig in an area that is filled with trash or excrement. Guidelines for latrines are 50 feet away from living/sleeping areas, 100 feet from water sources, and 300 feet from food storage/preparation areas. For garbage areas they need to be 100 feet from food storage/preparation areas and water sources. Always make sure that these areas drain away from water sources, on level ground, and well above water tables.

Food: Getting food poisoning is no fun. I’ve had it a few times. Always be aware of what you are eating. Just because something looks like a food you know, it may not be. It may also be poisonous. Wash all fruits and vegetables before consumption. Even if you are going to cook them, there could be critters or dirt on them. They may have pesticides as well. When it comes to meats here are some guidelines on cooking temperatures: beef, lamb, and goat needs to be 170 degrees in the center or until uniformly brown. Pork needs to be cooked at 165 degrees and until no longer pink. Poultry should be cooked at 170 degrees or until juices run clear. Fish needs to be cooked until 140 degrees or until it is flakey. Rabbits and squirrels should be cooked at 180 degrees. Cats and dogs? I’m hoping I won’t ever have to find out.

Water: If you aren’t lucky enough to have a filtration system there are some basic techniques that will make your water safe to drink. First up is boiling. Pass the water through a filter or fabric in order to get rid of sediment. Bring the water to a roaring boil for one minute. Once cooled, it is safe to drink. You can also use bleach. Use 8 drops per gallon if the water is mostly clear. If the water is mostly cloudy, use 16 drops of bleach. Once again, make sure to pass it through some sort of material as a filter first. Also, look at where you are getting water. If you come across two ponds and one of them have algae, mosquitoes and other wildlife that is probably the safe one. It’s the water source that has no life that should raise a red flag.

Preventive Measures
Security: Don’t wait until the SHTF to come up with a security plan. Start one now. Find out where certain positions will be and what weapons are needed. Figure out how you are going to set up your schedules.

Land: Every year property owners cut back their grass and trees and bushes because fire season is coming. This is something that should always be taken care of. Fires can happen any time of year. Look at your land and figure out where you are going to situate things. If you are going to put in more gardens or a trash pit after the SHTF, figure out where those places need to be now. Go so far as clearing those areas.

Investments: The US could face an economic collapse tomorrow, or in ten years. No one knows when it is coming but we all know that it will come. There is a lot to be said for investing in tangibles and stocking up on food and fuel. For preppers that are younger and are not already financially secure, food and fuel isn’t enough if you’re renting an apartment with no BOL and TEOTWAWKI is still fifty years out. I would first recommend getting a college education and a secure job. Learn how to make investments. The stock market may not be the greatest place to invest, but talk around to others that are knowledgeable and ask for advice.

Family and Friends: I had talked to my wife about prepping and to no surprise she thought I was crazy…at first. I approached her slowly and gradually showed her all of the problems in the world and how they could pan out. Then I introduced her to the scary thought of the “bad men.” She is the one who keeps asking me when I’m going to take her out shooting again. She wanted a garden in this year so she could practice. She came around. Make sure that you get your immediate family on track. When everything is falling apart around you, you do not want this to be the time to start talking prepping. Get your kids involved in prepping activities such as fishing, hunting, gardening, canning, and sewing. Also be aware that there are some people that will think you are nuts no matter what. These same people could be a danger to you before and during TEOTWAWKI. Make mental notes of who these people are and make sure to not talk “prep” with them.

Preventive actions are much like prepping. You are preparing for the worst, but making the best of it right now.

Hi James,
I've been putting together a blog illustrating well-drilling methods and machinery called The Jack Line. Although I'll cover early powered drilling machinery at some point, the emphasis right now is on hand-powered well drilling and hand-built drilling machinery. I hope people can find it useful. There is much more material to be added as time permits. - Jeff B.

Ah, yes, the inevitable rush into tangibles: Belarus snaps up TVs, fridges as ruble plunges. (Thanks to Diana V. and Jay H. for the link.)

QE2 was a bust. (A hat tip to John R. for the link.)

Linda U. sent this report from Texas: Record farming, ranching loss seen. (Stock up on cotton socks and jeans, since cotton prices are likely to skyrocket in 2012.)

Why The “Is QE 3 Coming?” Debate Is A Moot Point. (Thanks to John R. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Eurozone Woes May Boost Gold

Foreclosure Flood May Not Have Crested Yet

45% Of US Foreclosed Homes Said Are Damaged And Not Habitable Without Renovation

New-home Sales Up, But Pace Remains Sluggish

Phill K. sent a link to an interesting story about insulin that can be stored at room temperature.  

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Voting with our feet: Americans Try to Outrun State, Local Tax Hikes. Wyoming (which has no personal income tax) and some of the other American Redoubt States are looking better and better.

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C.R.W. spotted this over at Jim Sinclair's web site: Wanted – Farming Couple in Tanzania

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Lousy Timing Department: Just as hundreds of thousands of people in the central United States are having their lives devastated by tornadoes, Hollywood is about to release a movie that appears to malign people that build tornado shelters. Why is it that Hollywood screenwriters so consistently portray preparedness-minded people as lunatics?

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Loyal linking legion member K.T. sent this heapin' helpin' of Hotel Sierra: A Bofors in Your Backyard. (I want one of these for the ranch... I shall not covet.)

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!" - Dr. Seuss, I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew, 1965

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

JRH Enterprises is running a Memorial Day Week sale on AN/PVS-14 night vision monocular/weapons sights. This is the lowest price that they have ever offered on 3rd generation Pinnacle Autogated scopes. These are brand new mil-spec factory units that come with their original data sheets and a five year warranty. Standard units are available for only $2,795 and and upgraded versions with a higher line-pair count (like the one we use here at the Rawles Ranch) are available for $3,150. The current sale ends next Wednesday, so order soon!


Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I see little difference between a SHTF situation and a TEOTWAWKI situation in terms of self defense. The mission is identical; protect our family from predators whether it be for a month or years. Same challenges, same tactics, same end result. I will concede that the longer chaos prevails, then the greater desperation and violence we could expect. But, may I submit that if forced to use lethal force, a bullet doesn't know the difference between a killer, rapist or looter. The end result is the same. No matter where you live.
The variables and subsequent permutations of survival security tactics are endless when such a broad subject is addressed, although the psychology of mob/group behavior is unlikely to alter. For this reason, I've tried to capture the probable situations we might encounter in a very general manner based upon the adverse behavior and intentions of mobs and how we should/could take advantage of such behavior. The tactics herein though, are purely that of a Marine, i.e., do whatever it takes, with whatever we've got, to get the job done.
To rely solely on a retreat's remoteness as the foremost and most critical factor for lengthy survival safety could be a mistake unless, perhaps, the site is so far removed that not even the locals are very familiar with the area. Having said that, location is only the first entry in the survival equation. The second, and equally important entry in the equation, is to place a defensive value of the sites tactical suitability. Bluntly put, if we cannot defend our retreat for a few hours or a day, there is no point in trying to exist in the middle of nowhere and storing food for six months sustenance. Thus, remoteness, of and in itself, is a big plus only so long as it can be defended. Critical natural terrain  and site conditions and/or lack of a tactical defense plan can offset the remote advantage.
Most of us live in houses that, as one blogger here once said, are "defensive disasters". He was right! Even though my house is constructed of concrete blocks, I'm a well trained US Marine,  know how to use (and own) firearms, it's still not defensible, to a point.
Major factors that would dominate the outcome of any attempted hostile entry to my home are mob psychology,  probable scenarios and my defensive and offensive tactics. The type of construction materials used in the construction of my house, while interesting, would not, in my opinion, be a determining factor. I submit that the same holds true for you too. It's obvious that a determined, trained and professionally-led attacking military force, with a siege mentality, would prevail no matter where we live. But that's not a probable scenario, so it's not really worth considering. It's interesting that military planners of major conflict engagements, both offensive and defensive, consider many of the same factors that we, of necessity, must also consider. If on the defensive for example, the Commander will have a well thought-out defensive plan, and will take advantage of any weakness and execute a counter attack. The substantial differences of course, are scale, skill and discipline.
Here are some, but not all, significant tactical survival factors we must consider, not necessarily in the order of their importance:
1. Mob psychology
2. Human assets, number, skill level, mindset and determination
3. Site location, accessibility, visual prominence and neighbors
4. Site terrain, topography, obstacles, field of fire and cover/concealment
5. Situational awareness, surveillance and detection
6. Planning and rehearsal, (such as field exercises)

Dissecting the first tactical survival factor, the mob psychology/mentality. This causes people to succumb to violence, and dangerous, extreme behavior in groups, large or small encourages anonymity. ("It's not my fault, everyone was doing it...") The group encourages individuals to behave in ways  they wouldn't in a normal environment. And, they believe they cannot be held responsible for acts that cannot be traced back to them. Such groups are likely to engage in looting "without any consequences" due to political chaos or a law enforcement vacuum in the aftermath of natural or man-made disasters. And, therein lies the crux of mob psychology:"without any consequences".  The last thing the group want is resistance or painful consequences of any kind.

In a civil unrest situation hoodlums look for easily accessible, vulnerable "easy-pickings". They'll bypass pockets of resistance. In the [1992] Rodney King Trial Verdict riots in Los Angeles and it's suburbs, the only structures that were spared from active looting by large gangs were some stores owned by armed Korean Americans. Their bold stand discouraged large gangs of hoodlum looters, who have a highly developed sense of self preservation, and they moved on. Wal-Marts and other large chain stores were ransacked. Many homes and businesses were easy marks to loot however with absolutely no consequences or risk to the hoodlums; those were all ransacked.

The looters were discouraged by resistance. Some examples of this can be seen in YouTube videos titled LA Riots-Don't steal from Koreans, and  LA Riots-Looters Gone Wild. To be unable or unwilling to defend the family home and allow them access to roam the house is especially dangerous. My conclusion is that I must take advantage of the weaknesses of mob psychology. Also, at the very least I must present what appears to be a determined, armed defense. And, if  that doesn't work, then I'll shoot. I have no other option.
Tactical survival factor number two, human assets, number, skill level, mindset and determination. By human assets, number, I mean how many persons are available and prepared to carry a weapon and stand exposed, outside, guarding the house in a professional manner. (Note: This move is entirely dependent on security factor number four) The primary mission is to avoid shooting anyone, but instead, intimidate and warn interlopers your home is well defended, to keep them as far away as possible, and to psychologically encourage them to move on. This cannot be done as effectively from the front door of a house. The threat would not look as ominous to the hoods. Two armed defenders, boldly standing guard, look a great deal more dangerous than one. If instead of leaving, the interlopers advance in a hostile manner and you believe  your life and family are threatened,  you and they have run out of peaceful options. The use of firearms, mindset, skill and determination is your option.
To be able and competent to shoot another person will require you to mentally practice that option. mindset comes first. This isn’t difficult. Before every practice and show the Blue Angels sit down at a conference table, close their eyes and all together fly their mission mentally. The flight leader gives the command vocally for every evolution they fly. The pilot’s hands move precisely as if they were flying their aircraft. This is how they prepare to ensure an automatic response to the leaders commands in the air. Their brain responds exactly as it will when they’re actually flying later. They’ve pre-set it. It doesn’t know the difference!
Since the brain cannot tell the difference between imagining a nasty confrontation or experiencing a real situation, we can mentally pre-set our brain to cope automatically in a variety of situations, locations and conditions. What this amounts to is using our imagination to resolve unwanted situations before they ever occur. Actively imagine specific possible situations: imagine yourself resolving them and then visualize a positive outcome.
There is another aspect to mental preparation that could easily help you avoid an ugly confrontation. After you’ve pre-set your brain when and how to respond, and to what degree, your demeanor will reflect your quiet confidence. Once you’ve acquired “MINDSET”,  a predator will not mistake you for an easy mark. You won’t look like a push over. This may give you a better than even chance to be left alone. This is a far better outcome than being involved in bloodshed. By repetitive visualization again and again in resolving the threat, when, or if, deadly force is ever necessary, you will have programmed your brain to shoot without hesitation and without moral scruples or reservations. You will have already thought about the morality of shooting another and determined that if you must, you must.
Mindset  has saved the lives of thousands of military and civilian police forces when seconds count. I was trained in  the Marine Corps to commit extreme carnage on other human beings without hesitation. I play the hand I'm dealt, whether I like it or not. I’ll scoot if I can, but if I can’t I’ve already pre-set my brain that if  you threaten my life, or my family, I’ll shoot without hesitation or second thought; I will kill you.  It’s a done deal. This is my mindset. Without this firm, unwavering commitment, my weapon would be useless scrap iron. I submit the bottom line is this: if you’re not willing to mentally and physically train, yours would be too.
But, what if they're armed? I've already run through that probable scenario and what option I will take. mindset at work. So, I must ask you what is your option if looters challenge your several warnings and are advancing in a hostile manner?  They may be armed, unreasonable, untrained and undisciplined. In my opinion, that makes them even more dangerous. Again, what option do you have other than to take care of business and shoot. And, keep shooting until they've left your property. It's not possible to negotiate with evil people and their evil intentions on the spur of chaos. You have something they want and believe they have the necessary force to take it. When you're unwilling or unable to use lethal force, you have nothing to bargain with! And, if you let em' get right up in your face, it's too late. BTW, if you're unwilling to use lethal force when necessary, it's my opinion you shouldn't have any firearms on site. Otherwise, when they ransack your house, you'll also be arming the bad guys.
Tactical survival factor number three: Site location, accessibility and visual prominence just about speaks for itself. Site location safety will have a direct relationship to time. Remote locations have both good and bad points. One factor seems probable; the further from population centers, the fewer groups seeking loot. At least, initially. In the sense that a remote location should not experience difficulties in the early days of chaos simply because other properties that are close to population centers will be more convenient to ransack with less effort and without any consequences. I foresee the destructive spread of these bands to be something like an explosion with the predators gradually spreading further and further away from the population center until the most distant properties require more effort than the potential gain.
The downside to a remote location are: few, if any, basic utility services available (most of which are nice, but not absolutely essential), medical assistance may be distant and difficult to reach safely, neighborhood mutual aid may be uncertain or delayed during chaotic periods. You might also not have more than one capable shooter in residence. Two or more shooters alters the equation entirely; for the good. For long term safety, the more trained shooters, the better.
If, instead of living at a remote location you live in a typical suburban location, and plan to remain there if the SHTF, you gain some and lose some. The most important gain is the number of people, that are trained, armed, able and willing to protect the neighborhood. That alone is a huge force multiplier. Offset, in part, by the greater number of participants in an out of control mob. Nevertheless, they'll  behave and react the same as any other mob intent on looting. Mob psychology, any more than human psychology will not change. They'll be after the easy pickings, initially in large shopping malls stealing everything from household appliances to televisions, clothing, jewelry, food; whatever can simply be picked up and carried away, with impunity. When the riots spread to suburbia, the same mob psychology rules of resistance and defense would apply. As you saw in the news video clips, the Koreans were left alone. I mention the Los Angeles riots, which were localized to only a few square miles reinforce mob psychology bent and how the Korean's coped, successfully. The size of the mobs became huge because they erupted in congested, urban neighborhood areas. Shopping malls and suburban residential neighborhoods were all within easy walking distance. The mobs formed very quickly. National Guard and Marines were deployed as soon as it was possible to quell the riots, rape and looting. This was not a widespread SHTF situation. But as history shows, we can expect to be repeated.
A SHTF event is an entirely different animal. In that circumstance a peculiar situation would rapidly develop in my neighborhood. We would, without any pre-planning or lengthy discussion, band together and form a defensive perimeter. In the absence of police, we would take the law into our own hands for self protection and instinctively form a loosely organized, armed group. Call it "Tribal Psychology", if you will. It's my belief that it would be repeated throughout the land and remain in force until the people were convinced the government was back in control. And, not before.
Every neighborhood has a variety of skills that could be put to use to the defensive tribe's advantage. If the chaos were to be prolonged, eventually, some degree of local law and order with penalties for infractions would be discussed, modified and accepted by the residents. Depending on how long the SHTF condition existed, only the fittest and most prepared would survive. For a while.
Tactical survival factor number four, "Site terrain, obstacles, fields of fire and cover and concealment" demand attention, especially in large, remote sites. Terrain, topography and obstacles dominate fields of fire, cover and concealment. If for example, your house is in a dense forest with trees very close, the house may be difficult to see but predators can use the trees as cover and concealment as they approach it. In that instance the trees are definitely not your friend. The foundation of a good defensive position is to keep the opposition as far away as the terrain allows with good fields of defensive fire. Marines call it "a killing ground" because that is exactly what it becomes. Ideally, the site is large enough to clear some trees.  If that isn't an option, then guard dogs can be used to give warning. The downside is that barking dogs are always a sign of human habitation. But, I don't see a realistic alternative. As always, I wouldn't attempt to raise a defense from inside a house unless it was specially built to defend. That means you will have to construct some exterior fighting positions for your cover. In suburbia, where terrain would not be a factor, the neighbors' firepower when added to yours will convince interlopers it's not a good idea to press their luck in that neighborhood.
"Terrain" considers the natural features, configuration and topography of your site. Obstacles address man made and natural obstructions or impediments that diminish line of sight or hinder free, easy movement. Does your house or property:

  • Back-up to a very steep hill or cliff
  • Have a body of water adjacent
  • Have any kind of perimeter fence
  • Have a steep, but navigable incline in front, back or adjacent
  • Have a twisty access road
  • Have an easily an access road that is easily found and identifiable with evidence of frequent use
  • Have an access road viewable by neighbors
  • Have a useful field of fire towards the access road or in any other direction
  • Have any exterior close-in blind spots due to obstructions
  • Have any cover and/or concealment that an interloper could use
  • Abut other occupied properties
  • Have game tracks suitable for your use
  • Have telephone or electric lines leading to your property
  • Have any exterior walls without a window.

If you answered yes or no to any of these then a plan should be made and executed, to either negate it's value to an intruder or capitalize and improve it to your advantage. As you can see, the permutations are endless. Assigning a priority to adjust, remove, improve or construct a terrain feature or obstruction should consider the rule that we must try to keep intruders as far away as is possible with little, or no cover and maximum field of fire. I've mentioned that no house is defensible and not to try too impress intruders or defend from the inside of the house. It's a simple, relatively inexpensive matter to construct fighting positions at strategic points from concrete block with the cells filled with concrete and then camouflage it. We do not fight fair. If we can somehow find a way to channel intruders down a path or to area that has minimum, or no cover, then we got em'. Barbed wire [and even thorny bushes or vines] can be very useful in that regard. With good tactics consistent with your property's terrain and obstacles you have tilted the odds decidedly in your favor. It's good start. If you are uncertain about how to do this then it would be prudent to get some expert advice; since failure is not an option.
Tactical survival factor number five, "Situational awareness, surveillance and detection". If your retreat is out in the boonies, then you'll have to learn and practice covert scouting and surveillance day and night utilizing the game trails and natural pathways on your property and find safe observation sites with concealment and good escape routes. That means you'll have to know every wrinkle and obstacle on your property. But, you know, its fun and interesting discovering how wonderful nature can be on your own piece of land. By instituting a round the clock scouting schedule, if that’s possible,  you'll be in a better position to detect intruders, warn them if that’s your choice, and if necessary, fight them knowing what you're up against. Without surveillance and detection you may have given the advantage of surprise to the predators. Private warning signals would be most appropriate utilizing gun shots, bells, police whistles or any other device that could be heard from your scouting perimeter to your retreat house warning of an event that requires their immediate attention. That might mitigate some of the loss of surprise. After giving, or while giving a warning, the scout would have to beat feet, post haste, to shooting positions close to the house. That calls for physical effort. Maybe a lot of effort. No surprise there!
A suburbanite, in a similar case, has the advantage of numbers to spread the load of surveillance, detection and opposition. There seems to no doubt that there will be very little time between detection and invasion, thus visual armed opposition must be immediately available, if not already on standby.
Finally, Tactical survival factor number six, "Planning and rehearsal". The critical aspect in planning is to imagine any and all possible disruptive events that might occur; then conceive a plan to correct the deficiency. A sort of "what if this happens…..what am I gonna do about it"! Gosh, here we go again, back to mindset. By imagining possible problems, thinking the problem over, sooner or later you're going to figure out a way to successfully resolve it. If, or when the problem arises, you already have a solution. I'm a great one for making punch lists, which is a list of "To Do" items, problems that need a fix, actions that should be taken and reminders. Like my anniversary date! I submit that its not easy, but its quite important you start a punch list. Make a separate page for each major item that's important for your safety and survival. Then, start listing potential problem areas that might occur in each scenario. Scratch them off as you complete each one. It's like solving a big problem; which is really just a lot of smaller problems in a paper bag. Reach in the bag and solve the small problems, one at a time. Pretty soon the bag is empty and the big problem no longer exists. It's really that simple. My dad taught me that. When the next nasty problem arises, as it will, you'll not be overwhelmed and glad you know how to solve it.
Rehearsals can be challenging, but fun if you involve the whole family. Even hot, sweaty troops enjoy field exercises. First, define the problem so  the whole family understands exactly what it is. Then, tell them your solution and how you want it handled. Now, rehearse and practice the solution in real time. Set goals. Make it a timed rehearsal to see how long it takes to complete. Award points based upon excellence, speed, ingenuity and meeting the necessary requirements. Make them physically and mentally challenging. Take a break. Have a picnic. Rehearse another. Give prizes! The old adage "the harder you work, the luckier you get" applies. A Marine would say "the harder we train in peace, the less blood we shed in war".  They're both absolutely true.
In suburbia, I doubt rehearsals would be welcome. I've discussed, in a fashion, how we'd establish a defensive perimeter with three experienced, armed neighbors. It will probably take an incident that the television news show video of mobs and ensuing riots for my neighbors to get serious. It's my belief that my shooter friends unconcern at this time will be balanced by their determination and expertise when SHTF. Semper fi to my brothers.

I recently had a discussion with management at the Clarkston, Washington Wal-Mart [in eastern Washington, on the Idaho state line.] The General Manager has definitely got a finger on the pulse of consumers.  They have a huge display set up at the entrance to the store of freeze dried food [in #10 cans] from Augason Farms.  The display was an island two pallets wide and 8 pallets long.  They offer a full line of freeze dried foods from alphabet soup to Whole Egg Powder and whole raspberries.  They also had a display of breakfast and dinner emergency cases of food. 

They also have heirloom seeds in #10 can and a separate section in the food isles for when the special display goes away.  They also had mid-isle pallet display of storage food in food grade plastic buckets.  They carry oatmeal (quick & rolled), white rice, long grain brown rice, sugar,  corn meal and flour.  Over 60 items on the shelf. No shipping!  Prices are competitive.

They are carrying Tomato Powder-hydrates to form paste and we especially like the Vitamin C Orange drink.

Manager stated this display was "His" baby and didn't know of any other stores in the area (the Inland Northwest) carrying these products.  I'd bet a dollar if the sales are good the other stores will follow based on Wal-Mart revenue numbers the last 8 quarters. They will be motivated to find niche products with wide appeal. I doubt that Target stores [headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota] would follow suit because they won't even sell toy guns. - B.H. in North Central Idaho.

JWR Replies: From what I've read, the Augason storage foods are sold by dozens of stores, primarily in the northern Rockies and the Great Basin. The correlation with the American Redoubt States is hardly surprising. I did a search using Augason's Store Locator page, and also found their products are sold at a variety of outlets in 11 western states--most heavily in Utah. No great surprise there either, as the company is headquartered in Salt Lake City.

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Thank you very much for your help with my inquiry about storing grain and mylar bags. I have acquired some mylar bags from the US.  Your blog is a tremendous source of information but of course most the suppliers mentioned in the blogs and advertising on the blog are in America.

As stated in my original e-mail I am very new to prepping and have spent countless hours on the net trying to find a source of supply of items here in Australia.  No doubt countless preppers do the same thing attempting to find the things they need in their own country.  So I have a suggestion  -  if it is possible  -  to help preppers in other countries.  Would it be possible to set up a data base or a section on the blog where people in countries other than America could post where they can source things in their own country?
For example:  Taking Australia – which is pretty important to me personally  -  Where can you find Fuel stabilizer,  Food grade buckets,  Mylar bags, various grains in bulk,  anything in bulk even canned goods, grain mills  -  the list is endless.

If preppers in Australia for instance had a site where they could list the what, where, the cost (for comparison between suppliers)  and web site to obtain items, other people could find this information without trying to do it from scratch on their own.

Some things cannot be sourced locally.  I found for instance that there is not an agent for Country Living grain mills in Australia.  If you want one of their grain mills you have to bring it in from the US at around $120 to $140 postage. That sure adds to the price.

But many things are available if you know where to look. I sure need some help and I bet that readers of your blog all around the world could benefit greatly from a source of information for their own country.

Thanks again, - Warren

JWR Replies: To share information and to organize "group buys", I recommend using forums like these, which are extant:

And for any readers who live in countries that do not yet have a prepper forum, launch your own! Starting and moderating a forum isn't rocket science, and forum software is available free or at very low cost. You can be the first to set up forums anywhere in the world where there are a significant number of preppers. Based upon SurvivalBlog's visitor map, it is safe to assume that prepper forums are needed in many countries including South Africa, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Romania, Greece, Turkey, Israel, India, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan. Again, I encourage you to take the initiative, and start them. Once you do, I'll be happy to give you some publicity in SurvivalBlog.

Money Magazine: Another Economic Crisis Coming. (Thanks to J.B.G. for the link.)

Seniors Have Lost 32 Percent of Their Buying Power Since 2000

Reader Robert H. recently found this message waiting for him when he re-visited an Internet shopping site, after a three month absence: "Please note that the price of Great Lakes Select Honey, Clover, 32-Ounce Bottles (Pack of 3) has increased from $16.75 to $23.08 since you placed it in your Shopping Cart. Items in your cart will always reflect the most recent price displayed on their product detail pages." (That is a 37% increase!)

Items from The Economatrix:

Summers Raises Spectre of Second Dot Com Bubble

China Prepares to Launch Gold ETFs as Utah Becomes First State to Make Gold & Silver Legal Tender

Day of Reckoning for Commercial Real Estate in 2012

Tam, over at the View From The Porch blog comments on disaster preparedness: It's A Twister, Auntie Em! Edition.

   o o o

Un-Easy Rider: Peter Fonda encourages his grandchildren to learn long range shooting.

   o o o

Pierre M. sent a link to some dramatic photos: Grimsvotn Volcano Erupts in Iceland.

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Reader K.N.B. wrote to mention that Calumet, Oklahoma was just struck by a tornado, and it has been reported that Calumet Industries (recently mentioned in SurvivalBlog) has suffered some damage. Please keep the folks there in your prayers. If any of you have recently placed orders with Calumet Industries then please be patient, as there are sure to be some delays.

   o o o

Geoff S. was the first of several readers to mention this: Supreme Court Rules California Must Free Tens of Thousands of Inmates.

"Do not yearn too much for a sword made by a famous smith.  This is because even if you give a good man a sword worth ten thousand coppers, he will not be able to beat a hundred men each holding a spear worth a hundred coppers." - Asakura Takakage Toshikage, 1462-1482

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

All survivalists, indeed all citizens everywhere, should give proper thought and consideration to the threat posed by Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) and Radiological agents, particularly chemical agents as they are the most likely to be encountered in dozens of possible situations. It is a fact of life that chemicals are everywhere, be they in surplus military storage depots, the local chemical plant down the road, the chemical laden train moving through the county, the semi hauling a tank filled with chemicals, or the nefarious terrorist who has finally realized that all he needed to make some very nasty blood agents was a basic high-school/college level education in chemistry, some basic lab equipment, and precursor chemicals easily ordered online or common found in any college chemistry class. The main defense against NBC threats is knowledge, knowledge which leads to preparations. You have to understand the potential threats and realize what steps need to be taken to prepare/counter them.

I believe there is a certain degree of overlap with preparations for chemical agents and preparations for radiological/biological hazards, and since my knowledge has to deal with chemistry/chemicals rather than specific biological hazards, I will refrain from making too many remarks about biological hazards and instead go with what I know, chemistry/chemicals. Suffice to say, while there are no guarantees in life, the gas mask and NBC suit that buy you time to leave an area rich with VX contamination, should also buy you time to leave an area that has just been contaminated by Anthrax or some other biological agent, that said, I’d still much rather have a full self-contained breathing apparatus when dealing with a biological hazard.

With that in mind, I'll discuss the "C" aspect of NBC warfare.

Broadly speaking there are three primary ways to encounter chemical agents:

Industrial/Military Accident

For regular citizens not actively deployed in a hostile foreign nation or fighting in some other context, the most likely way to encounter a chemical agent is through some sort of industrial accident, be it corporate negligence or equipment failures causing a release at a chemical production/storage facility (as was the case in Bhopal India in 1984 where the leakage of an isocyanate killed 3,000 and injured over 500,000), the derailment of a train carrying chemical agents (as was the case in Graniteville, South Carolina in 2005 where chlorine gas killed several and injured several hundred), or some mishap in the disposal of military held chemical stockpiles (supposedly several bases/facilities throughout the USA are in the process of incinerating or otherwise neutralizing chemical agents, thus creating a potential for a leak/accident, particularly in the transportation process).

It is a fact of life that each and every day there are thousands of trucks on the road hauling tanks filled with chemicals that could kill or sicken thousands if the trucks were to crash, and the tanks were to rupture, in a populated area. It is also another fact of life that there are easily dozens if not hundreds of trains operating on a daily basis that are loaded with similarly dangerous chemicals. In the United States we have been fortunate in that we have avoided major chemical releases along the lines of what happened in Bhopal, India in 1984, although as time goes by, infrastructure begins to wear down, communities become more complacent about what is going on at the local plant, officials become increasingly corrupt, etc, numerous factors may exist for a potential chemical disaster…

At any rate, we should certainly be aware of the daily risk posed by trucks and trains. The main ways to mitigate the risk posed by industrial/military accidents would be to keep a quality gas-mask (with a quality filter) handy in your home and your vehicle, for everybody who lives in your home and everybody who regularly rides in your vehicle, know how to recognize the signs of a chemical incident (to be addressed shortly), know how to properly use your gas mask (to be addressed shortly), and know what your gas mask can and cannot do for you (to be addressed shortly).

It is worth noting that my father was injured in an industrial chemical accident, decades ago, and was incapacitated for over a week after just a few seconds of exposure to a choking agent (specifically he was sprayed in the face with phosgene). Even if you are not outright killed by a chemical agent, a few seconds exposure may leave you an incapacitated chemical casualty for a week or longer


Soldiers in war are exposed to the ever-present threat that an enemy nation may resort to using chemical weapons, particularly fast acting fast dissipating agents (such as Hydrogen Cyanide), that would give a tactical advantage and possibly help sway the course of a battle. However, if you are a serviceman or servicewoman you have doubtlessly endured hours of instruction on NBC defense, although it may help you to continue reading and perhaps learn a few new things. At any rate, exposure via war is pretty much self-explanatory. However, I will address a few aspects about which specific agents people may expect to encounter in a war context, and the particulars of the chemical weapons use policies/doctrines of certain nations.

For example, due to their military doctrine, it is highly likely American citizens (at least those near areas of active combat/fighting) will be exposed to Russian chemical weapons in the event Russians ever invade the USA. Furthermore, any American citizens acting as insurgents/rebels against an occupation by Russians or similarly oriented communist forces (anybody trained/educated by the Russians/Soviets) will likely be exposed to chemical agents. Such issues will be addressed shortly…


Terrorists, the modern bogeymen, few know who they are, where they will strike, or when they will strike. All we know is that they are out there, likely living seemingly normal lives until the point where they make their move to secure their seventy-two virgins. The anthrax scare during the last decade was pretty much a whole lot of brew-ha-ha about nothing, because a few elected officials receiving contaminated letters does not translate into a regional crisis that could infect millions.

Simply stated, whoever was behind the anthrax scare, all they were going for was a psychological victory, their choice of delivery system pretty well proved that they were not out to infect and kill millions. Because well-meaning survivalists and decent American citizens are not the only ones with access to the internet, I am going to refrain from discussing what would have been an optimal delivery system for dispersing anthrax to maximize the causality rate. Suffice to say that the choice the anthrax terrorist made, that of mailing letters to a few officials, revealed that they were not serious about infecting the masses, but rather wanted to scare/terrorize the masses.

However, with all of that said, the terrorist chemical threat is potentially serious because some chemical agents (agents that can kill within minutes if not sooner) can be prepared with commonly available chemicals that have legitimate industrial/commercial uses and thus are easily obtainable, by anybody who has access to basic laboratory equipment. With a few thousand dollars to procure commonly available chemicals, access to a chemical laboratory equipped to at least basic college standards, and a few days time, I could prepare enough chemical agents to cause at least tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of chemical casualties in a major urban area. Again, for security purposes, I will refrain from discussing what agent/s I am referring to, what the precursor chemicals are, and what the optimal method of dissemination is, suffice to say that the threat is potentially very real and it is simply our good fortune that terrorists have not already figured it out.

So, now that you understand that the threat is real, you may be asking, “well what can I do about it?” and fortunately for you, yours truly has an answer…

First, you need a quality gas-mask… Allow me to discuss those that I have experience with…

M40 Field Protective Mask
I have personal experience with the M40 field protective mask and I find the mask quite adequate, with the only possible drawback being that it is a two eye-piece mask instead of a one eye-piece mask, so there is something of a gap or a blind spot in your vision, unlike the new commercial gas masks and some [U.S. Air Force masks]. However, many of the new commercial gas masks take odd commercial filters that are expensive and hard to find, and they may or may not be compatible with a ballistic helmet. I can say with one hundred percent certainty, my M40 field protective mask is fully compatible with my ballistic helmet, it fits comfortably with the helmet, it uses commonly available 40mm standard NATO filters, and with the filter mounting on either the left or right side (as opposed to the front with some gas masks) I can actually shoulder my rifle and aim down the sights. Note that even with a gas mask mounting a filter on the other side, you will still have to get used to cheek placement in regards to how you use your iron sights, it can be a bit tricky at first and some folks may find it easier to just go with an EoTech type sight when using a gas mask. The M40 gas mask also has a provision for using a special tube to drink out of a gas-mask. You can also purchase an adapter kit that will let you hook up your gas-mask to a water bladder, although you must make certain that the water bladder is rated for use in an NBC environment and make sure that your water bladder tube is rated for use in an NBC environment. It is also worth mentioning that you can change the filter without having to remove the mask.

The main drawback of the M40 gas mask is that it is typically expensive when you can find it (usually $200-$300 dollars), although I was able to buy mine in gently used condition for less than $70 dollars because a major urban police department was apparently switching over to something else (probably some new, untested, and incredibly expensive commercial mask, with the bill being footed by the tax-paying citizens) and they were getting rid of the masks that had doubtlessly been given to them for free by the US Army. Supposedly the military is in the process of shifting away from the M40 field protective mask due to the mask’s physical weakness against blister agents (specifically issues with the mask suffering corrosion due to blister agents). However, for reasons I will be addressing shortly, I don’t believe blister agents are likely to be encountered.

One final warning, try to be reasonably certain your mask isn’t stolen military property. To my knowledge soldiers still have to account for their gas masks and they’re not treated like canteens or magazine pouches where if you “misplace” or “lose” it, you get to cut Uncle Sam a check and all is forgiven. Losing a gas mask isn’t as severe as “losing” a rifle or “losing” night vision optics, but if you “lose” your gas mask you’re going to have some problems. There are a lot of M40 field protective masks on the surplus market and they are probably okay to buy. However, if you come across an M50 joint service general purpose mask, unless it is the commercial/police version of the mask, the item is probably stolen government property.

The M50 is said to be replacing the M40 even though most soldiers have yet to see an M50 mask. My best friend, who is active duty, has informed me that most Marines still have the M40 field protective mask although many of them have at least had basic exposure to the M50 joint service general purpose mask. That said, there shouldn’t be too many M50 masks legitimately available for sale because the mask hasn’t even been fully phased into service with the Marine Corps, let alone the Army, as is the intention/plan (the Marines and Army are to both receive the mask). That stated, I will be keeping his eyes open for the first opportunity to legally obtain an M50 joint service general purpose mask. From what I've has read, the military version (M50) is to be preferred to the basic commercial/police version (FM50) because it is more adaptable for use in combat and it has more options/features such as linking to a hydration bladder or a canteen. That said, another commercial version, the C50 looks as though it may be promising. I will be placing the lawful acquisition of either an M50 joint service general purpose mask or a C50 mask, or failing either of those, the FM50 mask, high on his priority list for the near future. If and when successful, I will evaluate the mask and give it a thorough review.

Czech M10 and U.S. M17 Series Gas Masks
I don’t have a whole lot of positive things to say about a gas mask that uses cheek filters that require taking the mask off when it comes time to switch the filters. This is true of the Czech M10 and U.S. M17 series gas masks. (The M10 is a clone of the M17.) Maybe there’s something wrong with me but the idea of taking my mask off in a chemically compromised environment, or an area rich with radiological hazards, so I can spend several minutes switching the filters, seems rather counter-intuitive. What the M10 gas mask has going for it is that it is inexpensive, readily available, and it doesn’t interfere with wearing a ballistic helmet or shouldering/aiming a rifle because it has internal cheek filters instead of the standard 40mm NATO filter that is used by almost every other gas mask. That said, the M10 gas mask should only be considered as a “stop gap” gas-mask, or the “until I can find and afford a better one” gas mask. The M10 gas mask might also function well if the only anticipated threats are CS or CN riot control agents.

M15 Israeli Masks
These are the new style of Israeli surplus gas masks, much more comfortable than the older style (which I would only recommend for those on a tight budget or with nothing better), but they suffer from many setbacks common to gas-masks made primarily with civilians in mind. The filter is in the front and it greatly interferes with the ability to shoulder/aim a rifle, probably because nobody expected somebody wearing a civilian gas mask to need to shoulder/aim a rifle. The main advantage to this mask is that it is cheap (at least they were cheap when I bought four of them back in 2006 for about $100 dollars for all four, each coming with a filter). In regards to filters they use the friendly 40mm NATO standard filter. Also, unsurprisingly, this civilian gas mask does not fit well with a ballistic helmet and leaves the wearer uncomfortable. Obviously the mask was designed with the idea in mind that regular civilians would be sitting around doing nothing other than avoiding exposure to a chemical threat, instead of trying to shoulder/aim a rifle or operate with a ballistic helmet on. I also have an old style Israeli surplus gas mask that predates the M15 series and I find it too uncomfortable to consider seriously recommending for anything other than a “stop gap” gas mask until something better can be obtained. If you can obtain old style Israeli surplus gas masks for perhaps $10 dollars each (with filters), they might be worth considering as “hand out” gas masks or “shelter in place” gas masks, or a gas mask for tucking into the drawer at the office. However, the M15 Israeli gas mask should be considered for those roles if they can be obtained at a reasonable cost.

Commercial Masks
I don’t know much about the various commercial gas masks on the market other than that they appear to be pretty reliable and useful with their single one-piece lens design (very common with commercial gas masks). However, they also tend to use specialized and often mask specific commercial filters that are likely to be expensive and certainly difficult to find in any situation where the supply chain has broken down or otherwise been interrupted. Another mark against commercial gas-masks is that they are generally very expensive (anywhere from $200 to $350 dollars for the basic mask with one single filter) whereas a surplus M40 field protective mask can be obtained (if you shop smart and find a good deal- such as the case with the mask I purchased) for under $70 dollars. Ultimately it will be a matter of your budget, your needs, and your personal preference.

However, I would like to give one final caveat in regards to the commercial masks, while they are supposedly rated for deadly agents (blood agents, blister agents, choking agents, nerve agents) and not just less-than-lethal agents such as CS (tear gas), they seldom find themselves in situations where they might be put to a serious test. They may or may not perform as rated by the company. If a few hundred masks fail then the company has to worry about some lawsuits. If a few hundred or a few thousand American military issued gas masks fail on soldiers in the field, then the Pentagon, Department of Defense, and possibly the Congress and President have to worry about a major scandal on their hands. Gulf War syndrome aside (something that I believe is real and something that I will discuss later), US military issue gas masks/NBC gear probably function as rated/declared. However, from personal experience, there is only one thing I can declare with absolute certainty: The M40 field protective mask protects the user from CS tear gas. I know this firsthand as his M40 field protective mask worked fine when I was in a room filled with CS tear gas. I have also conducted tests with the M15 Israeli gas mask and can certify that the gas mask, with the proper filter, provided fine protection against CS tear gas.

I tend to believe the US military surplus masks will reliably protect against lethal agents (blood agents, blister agents, choking agents, nerve agents, etc) because they were issued in times when the threat of an enemy attack using chemical weapons was a very real prospect (i.e. Gulf War 1 and depending on what you believe about Iraq’s supposed weapons programs, Gulf War 2). If hundreds of thousands of American personnel had gone into combat with less than adequate masks and been killed or incapacitated by sarin, soman, hydrogen cyanide, mustard, etc, it would have caused a huge uproar across the entire USA. If a few thousand soldiers or contractors bought their own commercial masks which they then used and experienced mask failures, the worst the company could expect would be a few dozen lawsuit or perhaps a few hundred lawsuits (depending on how many soldiers used them and had them fail). If government issued military masks were to fail, it could very well cost dozens of senators/congressmen their seats/careers, cost multiple generals their careers/pensions, and become a huge scandal. Gulf War Syndrome aside, it is my opinion that US military surplus NBC gear (designed/manufactured from at least the 1980s onward, 1990s is better) will provide the protection as stated.

Also, don’t forget to obtain a number of equipment decontamination kits for decontaminating any equipment (i.e. your expensive battle rifle or your night vision optic) that might become exposed to chemical contaminants. I was able to find a pack of four decontamination kits at a gun show for just five dollars. The DECONTAMINATION KIT, INDIVIDUAL EQUIPMENT: M295. It would be a shame if you had an awesome gas mask, a great NBC suit, and you avoided dying from a nerve agent attack, only to die a few hours later after you left the chemically rich environment, removed your suit, and then touched your still-contaminated rifle. Obtain proper decontamination kits and follow the instructions (that come with the kit) for how to use properly use the kit.

So now that you’re well on your way to selecting a gas-mask you may wonder what to do with it once you get it? Well first you need to realize what your gas mask can and cannot do for you… The gas mask does not function as a self-contained breathing apparatus that enables you to stay in an area with no oxygen/air due to the oxygen having been displaced by a chemical/gaseous agent. A gas mask filters out certain chemical/biological hazards enabling you to breathe filtered air. That stated, you still need air/oxygen to breathe. If all of the oxygen in the air has been displaced by chemicals you will suffocate, even if you have a gas mask on.

I’m not sure how to state it any simpler than that, if you are in a confined area you need to get out of the confined area because an area with a limited amount of air could rapidly become an area with no air due to the air/oxygen being displaced by gas. Gas masks do not generate oxygen; they simply filter contaminated air so you can breathe filtered air.

If you’re looking for a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA -- which means you have your own supply of oxygen to breathe from) as opposed to a gas mask then by all means look for one, but such devices are outside the scope of this article and as I have no personal experience with a self-contained breathing apparatus (other than those of the underwater variety, i.e. SCUBA variety) I shall refrain from commenting on which self-contained breathing apparatus does this or that in regards to NBC protection.

I also want to stress that a gas mask by itself does not provide full protection against certain agents (nerve agents, blister agents, etc) because those agents will either be absorbed through the skin (nerve agents) or will burn exposed skin (blister agents).To achieve optimal protection against a nerve agent you need to be wearing a complete NBC suit (with the hood, the gloves, and the boot covers) in addition to a gas mask with a filter rated for a nerve agent (even then you need to be aware that many filters, especially commercial filters, may only provide 20-40 minutes of protection in an area rich with certain agents before they are compromised, the idea is that you get out of Dodge). There’s one thing about nerve agents I really want to hammer home, nerve agents quickly saturate filters. Ditto for blister and blood agents. [So you will need lots of spares and will need to practice changing them rapidly.] It is worth noting that the mask itself should be immediately changed after use if it was exposed to hydrogen cyanide. Against most of the nastier agents the life of filters is often measured in a few hours or less. If you're going to spend a lot of time in a chemically rich environment you're going to need to be able to change filters and you're going to need to know how to change filters in a chemically contaminated environment (a technique useful to know, but one that would not be my first choice--my first choice would be getting out of Dodge).

When selecting a gas-mask make sure that it fits comfortably and is properly sized for your face. You’re going to have to make sure you can obtain a proper seal and it will entail just a little bit of work… Gentlemen, if you’re sporting a beard then now is the time to shave because you will be unable to obtain a proper seal unless you are clean shaven.

When testing for a proper seal have a friend standing by just in the event you become panicked upon being unable to breathe and end up requiring assistance getting the mask off (this may happen the first time you try to obtain a proper seal). Make sure that the filter connector (the place where you screw the filter into the mask) is open and unobstructed. After donning the mask and adjusting the straps to assure it fits comfortably you will then place your hand over the filter connector and attempt to breathe.

You should be able to exhale but unable to inhale and every time you attempt to inhale the mask should slightly collapse in towards your face (try this several times to make sure you are indeed unable to breathe and thus have obtained a proper seal). Note that if at any time during the procedure you feel panicked by a lack of being able to inhale, remove your hand from the filter connector and breathe normally. If necessary your assistant can help you in removing the mask if you feel panicked by being unable to breathe or if you are beset with a sudden claustrophobic attack due to having a gas mask on your face (it may take some getting used to for some people).

Once you have a proper seal without a filter the next step is to make sure you can obtain a proper seal with a filter. I know that conventional wisdom states that you don’t want to open a filter until you are ready to use it; however I believe that if you’re going to have a gas-mask ready at hand you’re going to have to have the filter opened, on the mask, and ready to go. The gas mask I keep in my bed-room has a filter on it, ready to go, otherwise it wouldn’t be particularly useful (try donning a gas mask, unsealing/uncapping a filter, and then screwing the filter into place when under stress, all while holding your breath with your eyes closed, you’ll see the merit in keeping your gas mask ready to go).

Speaking from my own personal experience I had a standard 40mm NATO filter, unsealed and open, sitting on my closet shelf for about four years and when I finally screwed it into place on the gas mask and used it in a room filled with CS tear gas, it worked beautifully. That said, I wouldn’t necessarily rely on that filter as my “go to filter” for protection against anything more serious than CS tear gas, because it has already been used to filter one chemical agent, it may have a diminished ability to provide protection against other chemical agents (i.e. lethal agents).

However, I have no problem with the idea of using an unsealed and opened filter, that has never been exposed to any sort of chemical agent, as a “go to filter” that is kept in place on the mask to wait for the situation that you hope never comes. I don’t doubt that an open and unsealed filter will provide the protection it is rated to provide because I have seen the filters do that (although only in regards to CS tear gas, I have never been exposed to nerve agents, blood agents, blister agents, choking agents, etc).

Filters that I have opened/unsealed and exposed to CS tear gas go into the pile labeled  “save these for use testing future gas mask” and they will stay there, serving that function, unless there is a dire emergency.

To make sure you have a proper seal with the filter on the mask, make sure you open and unseal the filter (you don’t want to suffocate yourself by trying to breathe through a sealed filter), then carefully screw the filter into the filter connector on your mask. After you have done those things you should don the gas mask and then place your hand over the opening on the filter (the opening that was previously covered by the seal that you removed before donning the mask).

Again, as was the case with the seal test without the filter in place, you should be able to exhale but you should not be able to inhale, when you inhale you should be unable to breathe and the mask should slightly move inwards to your face. After doing this inhale/exhale business two or three times (being able to exhale but not inhale) it should feel as though you are unable to breathe and that you are suffocating (because if you have a proper seal you won’t be able to breath while blocking the intake for the filter). Simply remove your hand from the filter opening and breathe normally. If you encounter any problems remove your mask immediately or have your friend help you remove it.

Once you’re satisfied that you can safely and effectively obtain a proper seal with your gas mask and that you can breathe properly with the filter in place, I suggest that you wear the gas mask around (at first without a filter in place, later with an open filter in place- use a filter at your discretion, depending on your supply of filters) so you can become acclimated to the burdens of operating while wearing a gas-mask. Try shouldering a rifle, try aiming with your rifle, try aiming your pistol, if you have access to a shooting range where people won’t give you funny looks for wearing a gas mask, trying shooting while wearing your gas mask. You might be surprised how difficult it becomes to do something as simple as shouldering a rifle or properly aiming a rifle. If you have a gas-mask with a filter that is off to one side or the other you will certainly appreciate it. If your gas mask filter is in front of the mask you’ll probably be cursing yourself and wishing that you had obtained a gas mask with a side-mounted filter.

If you really want to have some fun try doing some light exercises or household chores while wearing the gas-mask, it will help get you used to wearing one. Although I would again like to remind the readers that the purpose of a gas mask is not to allow you to go about business as usual for the next 6-12 hours or however long it may be, the purpose is to buy you the time needed to get out of the chemically (or biologically) contaminated area. Even still, it will help if you have some basic conditioning for operating in a gas mask, not to mention it will help gauge your overall physical condition and probably help boost your physical condition to a degree.

That said, if at any time while wearing a gas mask you ever feel panicked for any reason, be it difficulty breathing or an attack of claustrophobia, remove your gas mask or have your friend help you remove it (one of my gas-mask rules is that you shouldn’t use gas masks when alone, the only exceptions being emergencies or if your training is sufficient that you know how to avoid suffocating yourself). There have been instances where people had difficulty breathing while wearing gas masks and they believed it was because they had been exposed to contaminants, giving them all the reason in the world to believe they needed to keep their gas masks on, when the problem was that they had failed to unseal the filter connected to the mask.

So now that you know how to properly obtain a seal and how to safely wear a gas mask you might wonder what sort of agents are you likely to encounter?

There are several broad categories of chemical agents and they can be broken down as follows: Blood agents, Nerve agents, Choking agents, Blister agents, and Irritant/Disabling agents

Blood Agents
These agents operate primarily via inhalation (theoretically you could also ingest them) and they are absorbed into the bloodstream. Death can often result within several minutes depending on the manner of exposure and the level of exposure. Death is usually caused by respiratory failure. One of the most useful (from a tactical perspective) is Hydrogen Cyanide, although there are other blood agents (such as cyanogen and cyanogen bromide).

A key sign of exposure to a blood agent is the breathing cycle is stimulated to such a severe level that the exposed individual cannot hold their breath. According to Jared Ledgard in A Laboratory History of Chemical Warfare Agents, violent convulsions usually follow within 30 seconds of cessation of respiration starting after 1 minute of exposure. One of the early indicators of exposure is a rapid increase in heart rate combined with the onset of deep breathing. Death will usually occur within 5 minutes of inhalation of a lethal level.

It is my opinion that in a war with a major power, blood agents (specifically Hydrogen Cyanide) are very likely to be encountered. For protection against blood agents, for the most part, a gas mask with a quality filter will suffice, although blood agents can quickly compromise many filters. Fortunately hydrogen cyanide is usually neutralized by nature in normal weather conditions within 60-120 seconds, although it can persist for upwards of 12 hours in colder weather (cold as in approximately 40 degrees). Make sure that you are not relying on a charcoal based filter as they are insufficient/ineffective against most blood agents.

Be aware that the cyanide agents (i.e. hydrogen cyanide, cyanogen, etc) can be absorbed through the skin although the primary method has always been intended to be inhalation. Note that basic clothing will provide some level of protection against hydrogen cyanide although an NBC suit is to be preferred. Also note that if all you have is basic clothing and you are exposed to hydrogen cyanide (or other blood agents), you must carefully strip off your clothing and dispose of it as soon as you can safely do so. You must also be aware that exposure can occur via the eyes of other mucous membranes. If you are decontaminating after exposure to a blood agent and you fail to decontaminate properly, and then rub contaminated hands or fabric over your eyes, you may very well have just exposed yourself via your mucous membranes.

Basic clothing will probably buy you a few moments to get out of an area although you want to make sure as little skin as possible is exposed (blood agents aren’t as nasty as blister agents in getting through clothing - so additional layers may be worth the effort here), and you’re also going to have to accept that you’re going to need to strip down and dispose of your clothing in a very timely fashion. You’re also probably going to have to part with your footwear unless your footwear was covered by chemical covers or you are able to properly decontaminate your footwear. As an aside, I wouldn’t ever wear any previously contaminated clothing and I would only wear the footwear if I had no alternative and had thoroughly decontaminated the boots in question.

As an additional note, realize that hydrogen cyanide is lighter than air; it will naturally rise to higher locations.

Author’s opinion - Likely to be encountered in war, very likely to be encountered via terrorism since blood agents are easy to synthesize, less likely to be encountered via industrial accidents (depends on how bad infrastructure decays). Due to the doctrines of several major militaries, hydrogen cyanide (and other blood agents) will likely be very freely used in any conventional war fought in North America (more on this later).

Nerve Agents
These agents basically kill by interfering with an enzyme known as Acetylcholinesterase that allows the body’s nerve system to send out the right messages/impulses in a timely fashion so your muscles relax. With a nerve agent binding to the site of the enzyme and crowding out the proper enzyme so it cannot bind to the site, your nervous system is unable to send the proper messages to make your muscles relax. The end result is that your muscles continually contract, to the point where you die.

Nerve agents include (but are not limited to) to so-called G agents (so named because they were originally designed/developed by the Germans) primarily Tabun, Sarin, and Soman.

Nerve agents have been known to be able to contaminate vegetation, water, and even become absorbed into vegetation. Extreme care should be taken when entering any area that may have been exposed to nerve agents.

Possible indicators of exposure to nerve agents- Runny nose (without congestion and without sore throat), tightness in the chest, difficulty breathing, stomach cramps, loss of control of bowel functions (i.e. defecating in your pants), loss of bladder control (i.e. urinating in your pants), profuse sweating, muscle weakness, muscle cramps, tremors, any uncontrollable muscle twitching/spasms, etc.

Nerve agents can range from the VERY persistent VX agent (which can linger on the ground, on surfaces, in puddles of water) for literally MONTHS, to the much less persistent Sarin, which may only persist few several hours (outdoors) and even less on a warm sunny day (according to Ledgard). Additionally, as Ledgard points out in his book A Laboratory History of Chemical Warfare Agents, 4 MILLIGRAMS of Sarin can kill five soldiers and it can kill them within minutes of being disseminated. Soldiers exposed to non-lethal amounts of sarin will become incapacitated within 10 minutes of exposure and will be unable to perform their normal duties as soldiers. Anybody exposed to a lethal dose will be dead within 10 to 60 minutes.

Readers should note that Sarin is far less toxic than VX, the only good thing about Sarin (if you could even call it good) is that it tends not to be persistent (except in confined areas such as bunkers, buildings, trenches, etc). Also note that Sarin is heavier than air and will be particularly deadly/persistent in enclosed areas, especially if they are low lying areas. VX vapor is also heavier than air and as an agent, VX is particularly likely to be encountered in liquid form (i.e. a shell loaded with VX liquid being burst over the top of a trench or a fixed position).

In all cases exposure to a lethal dose is fatal. However, according to Jared Ledgard in A Laboratory History of Chemical Warfare Agents some people have a natural immunity to low and/or chronic doses. Furthermore, it seems that his view of Gulf War Syndrome is similar to my view. It is my belief that Gulf War Syndrome is the result of exposure to of nerve agents (possibly soman) at levels that were not sufficient to kill or immediately incapacitate and were possibly even too low to be immediately/readily detectible. It is probable that soldiers away from immediate combat areas were not suited up or they were allowed to remove their suits after the Republican Guard was smashed and the ground campaign to liberate Kuwait was over, meaning they would have had the opportunity to be exposed to low levels of nerve agents from Iraqi chemical depots that were being destroyed or had just been destroyed. Exposure to even low levels of nerve agents, levels below that at which you become an immediate chemical casualty, can cause long-term problems (and there are documented cases of low level exposure to nerve agents causing a decades worth of health problems).

It is worth noting that there is a window of treatment for exposure to nerve agents, approximately 5-15 minutes long, although knowing about the antidote (atropine/pralidoxime- along with diazepam/valium to mitigate the convulsions) is almost a moot point since the military is not fond of handing out their atropine/pralidoxime combopens. And even so, some nerve agents (such as Soman) are not impacted by oxime, not to mention that you would have to be absolutely sure that you or the person you are injecting with the combopen has been exposed to a nerve agent or else you’re essentially poisoning them with atropine.

I have some advice for nerve agents, avoid them at all costs. If you’re a trained EMT, paramedic, Navy corpsman, Army medic, RN, physician’s assistant, a physician, or even perhaps a chemical engineer, and you know what you’re doing and can legally obtain atropine, then it might be worth considering obtaining the items. However, if you’re just a regular guy or gal reading this to learn about gas masks and some basic defense ideas, please resist the urge to rush out and try to obtain an atropine-oxime combopen from one of your military buddies. If you’re really concerned about nerve agents and you’re not going to stop preparing until you have a few combopens, then please get some serious education and training. (You might be able to get such training via the Red Cross or via a State Defense Force/State Guard depending on the state you live in and whether or not your state governor maintains a State Defense Force).

If you are going to be exposed to a nerve agent you must note that a mere gas mask alone will not provide proper protection. You will ideally want to have a self-contained breathing apparatus (NBC rated and protected from direct exposure to NBC agents) in addition to a full NBC suit, NBC hood, gloves, boot covers, etc), failing that you will want a full NBC suit (gloves, hood, boot covers, etc) with a gas mask and filter specifically rated for nerve agents. If all you have is a gas mask it is better than nothing but be aware, be very aware, of the simple fact that nerve agents do not have to be inhaled to cause death, indeed in many instances they operate more rapidly/effectively if absorbed through the skin.

Author’s opinion- In a war situation VX is most likely to be encountered in an “area denial” role since it will contaminate an area for weeks/months at a time, causing enemy personnel to generally avoid the area, funneling them through other areas. In the tactical/operational role it is most likely that Soman and/or Sarin will be encountered. The production of nerve agents requires complex laboratory equipment, reasonably skilled/educated personnel, reasonably controlled/regulated precursors, and as such they are not likely to be encountered outside of a war/military setting. Not to mention that any storage/delivery system worth its salt (i.e. an artillery shell or an aircraft bomb with a binary storage/delivery mechanism) wouldn’t be particularly easy for any idiot to whip up in their basement. Granted that the cult in Japan launched a Sarin attack on the subway but their Sarin was low quality, if they had been using military grade Sarin of a higher purity, and/or if they had a better delivery system, the resulting death toll may have been dozens of times higher.

Choking Agents
These agents incapacitate/kill by interfering with the exposed person’s ability to breathe. They are not to be confused with riot-control agents that cause discomfort. Rather choking agents cause a build-up of fluids in the lungs which ultimately leads to death by suffocation. The two most common are chlorine and phosgene.

At this time I should mention that my father was exposed to phosgene in an accident at a chemical factory (specifically, he was sprayed in the face by a stream of phosgene) and was incapacitated for several weeks. Generally speaking there is no treatment for phosgene exposure other than to keep the exposed person calm and let them rest, aside from administering oxygen to reduce the impact of pulmonary edema, although virtually all those exposed to a lethal dose will be dead within 48 hours. It is not for nothing that phosgene accounted for almost 80% of all of the chemical/gas fatalities in the First World War.

Fortunately most choking agents, such as phosgene, have fallen out of favor in most major militaries; unfortunately it is because they have been replaced with things that are arguably at least twenty times worse. Phosgene is virtually impossible to detect by smell, no test strips are available to detect it, and generally you have to wait for people to exhibit signs of exposure to know that you are in an area rich with phosgene. Immediately after the gas is inhaled there should be coughing, choking, feelings of tightness in the chest, nausea, and vomiting. However, it remains possible that phosgene may be encountered in some capacity because it is very easy to produce. Although it should be considered that any hostile nation capable of putting an army in North America is going to be capable of supplying them with better chemical agents than phosgene.

The other main choking agent is chlorine, which could easily be encountered in an industrial accident and indeed it was encountered when a train derailed in Graniteville South Carolina (in 2005) and released 60 tons of the gas.

Chlorine gas is unlikely to be encountered in a war although it is certainly possible that an air or artillery strike may damage/destroy an industrial facility where chlorine is stored, causing its release. Fortunately a simple gas mask (no need for an NBC suit) will protect against chlorine gas. Also it is worth noting that chlorine (like phosgene) is heavier than air (get to high ground if trying to avoid chlorine or phosgene).

Your basic quality gas mask will provide protection against phosgene and chlorine, there is no need to don your full NBC suit.

Author’s opinion - You are unlikely to encounter a choking agent in a war situation, you may encounter them in a terrorist situation because it would be relatively easy for terrorists to cause a spill/leak at an industrial facility. Likewise the potential exists for a genuine accidental leak/spill or a transportation accident resulting in a release of a choking agent. If you keep your gas mask ready at hand in your vehicle you should have adequate protection against the possibility of an industrial/transportation accident involving a choking agent.

Blister Agents
These agents are primarily used to incapacitate/maim/disfigure although they can kill. They primarily are intended to incapacitate and cause casualties, in addition to having a very nasty impact on morale due to the manner in which they cause casualties. The exposed soldier seldom dies (although death can occur from exposure under certain circumstances).

Blister agents are typically very persistent especially in dry/cold areas. They are known to be able to penetrate standard clothing, rubber, vegetation, some plastics, and even some NBC suits (standard US NBC suits generally do not prevent all blister agent penetration, allowing some penetration, with the result being some degree of blistering or worse). The only solution to that problem is to regularly change your NBC suit or utilize a special full body polymer suit (although this will destroy your combat effectiveness).

Blister agents are horrible and viciously disfiguring to any exposed to them. Fortunately they are about a century old and are mostly obsolete, aside from the fact that they are very useful as an area denial weapon since they have such a high level of persistence. According to Jared Ledgard, during the First World War a British soldier sat down on a patch of grass that unbeknownst to him contained several droplets of mustard gas and within hours he had severe blister burns on his buttocks and back.

Blister agents primarily burn the skin and cause damage to the mucous membranes (eyes, lips, mouth, ears, nose, rectum, genitals, etc). Yes blister agents can cause chemical burns on the genitals, not a pleasant prospect.

There have been accounts of blister agent chemical munitions (i.e. artillery shells) that were dumped into the ocean following the end of the First World War causing blister burns on people who discovered the shells throughout the 1990s-2000s.

Blister agents have no real cure, antidote, or treatment (other than the potential for skin grafts to deal with the skin ruined by blister burns), and that is part of what makes them truly terrible weapons. Fortunately blister agents are easily detectible by commonly available military indicator paper (check the surplus market or check survivalist circles) although if exposed symptoms of exposure may take 2-6 hours to manifest themselves in the case of the mustard gases while exposure to Lewisite will result in symptoms manifesting themselves almost immediately.

There is some good news as far as blister agents are concerned. Specifically, I am of the opinion that blister agents are unlikely to be encountered outside of trench warfare. Unless the USA is invaded and it bogs down into trench warfare, you as an American/Canadian survivalist are unlikely to encounter blister agents. The critics of the M40 field protective mask who suggested it may have a weakness for blister agents are forgetting a few things, one of those things being that trench warfare is pretty much a thing of the past. If you’re being hit with a blister agent it is probably because you’re in a trench/static position which begs the question, “why are you in a static position?” Blister agents just aren’t that useful at this day in age, although they would make a very effective psychological weapon for a defending force to use against an attacking force, causing soldiers to worry not about a quick and painless death but rather a horrible and painful disfigurement.

Also, please note- sulfur mustard vapor, nitrogen mustard vapor, and Lewisite vapor are all heavier than air, they will naturally settle in low areas.

Author’s opinion - You’re much more likely to encounter nerve agents and blood agents (in a war/invasion context) and choking agents (in an accident/terrorism context) than you are to encounter blister agents in any context. That said, if for some reason you come across artillery shells that look like they were produced when Woodrow Wilson was halfway through his second-term, don’t go near them!

Irritant/Disabling Agents
These agents are primarily used for crowd/riot control or for “civilian law enforcement” purposes, -please excuse my use of the term “civilian law enforcement” I probably should have said “citizen peace officer operations” but our society is a far-cry from the days of Sheriff Andy Taylor, so I picked a term I felt more fitting. Anyway, I’m not here to preach about political issues…

Your basic irritant/disabling are not designed to kill you but they can kill you if they displace a sufficient amount of oxygen, leaving you an insufficient amount of oxygen to breathe. Your gas mask will protect you against the harmful effects of all known irritant/disabling gases, such as CS tear gas and CR gas. However, you still need to have oxygen to breathe because your mask operates as a filter, filtering out the gas, it doesn’t produce oxygen for you.

You don’t need an NBC suit to obtain protection from irritant/disabling agents, all you need is a quality gas mask (indeed you could probably get by with a 1960s or 1970s gas mask but why chance it, get a quality gas mask and you’re set for irritating agents and other agents).

Expect to encounter irritant agents from any variety of sources. In a post collapse situation you might find a number of individuals who were previously on some SWAT team have suddenly realized that they don’t have any stocks of food, medicine, water, etc, but they have some rather neat weapons, close quarters combat training, and a lot of tear gas that was previously stored in their station. They might decide to try to smoke people out of their home with CS gas, shooting them as they exit. Likewise any random thug might get the idea to do such a thing.

It is possible, but unlikely, that you will encounter CR gas, CR being a riot control agent that was used mainly in South Africa in the 1980s to put down the uprisings in the townships and homelands. Strictly speaking CR is non-lethal but it is recognized as toxic and since it is approximately 10 times more powerful than CS tear gas it is capable of causing instant incapacitation. In poorly ventilated areas (i.e. confined spaces- think indoors/basements/bunkers/etc) death may result in several minutes due to suffocation and pulmonary edema. The most common and immediate affects of CR gas exposure will be blindness (temporary), coughing, struggling/gasping for breath, and tremendous panic. If exposed to the agent you should remain calm and begin your chemical reaction drill (to be covered shortly). If you panic and begin inhaling large amounts of CR gas, expect it to induce further panicking and expect it to possibly/probably incapacitate you.

Patriots can use disabling/irritant agents to their advantage in numerous situations. It is possible that CS tear gas canisters can be rigged with trip wires to cover certain areas of approach, so the good guys can focus their initial fire on attackers coming from one main area and cover it accordingly. Likewise, if you arrive at a bug-out location and find that squatters have taken up residence, you might consider using CS tear gas to flush them out (as much as I'm a fan of dynamic entry and room to room fighting, I recognize that such tactics usually pose a major risk of suffering casualties, and the local hospital may be a charred ruin at this point). Once you flush them out you can either negotiate with them or deal with them as you see fit. That said, if you deploy CS gas canisters into your bug out location and flush out a nun and six orphans from the county orphanage, you might want to think about helping them because A- it’s the Christian thing to do and B- you can probably trust them not to try to cut your throat in your sleep. If you deploy CS gas and a half-dozen outlaw bikers come running out, you might want to think about neutralizing them as they’re exiting your structure, because trusting publicly declared criminals would be the height of folly.

I'd also like to point out that in many states (check your state/local laws) it is legal for law-abiding citizens to purchase and possess CS tear gas. Indeed, in accordance with the laws of my state, I lawfully possess multiple canisters of CS tear gas. I have also tested several of canisters and was sufficiently impressed with the results. Patriots would do well to buy three or four “clear out” CS gas canisters from as they are readily available and only about $16 dollars per canister. Note that while the canisters have “best by” dates printed on them, I used a canister that was 2.5 years expired and it was sufficient to cause myself a rather nasty experience. For safety purposes I conducted my test with others nearby ready to intervene if necessary, fortunately they did not have to intervene. I don’t recommend testing CS tear gas on yourself but he also doesn’t recommend against it. As a free man (or woman) in a free land (well to be correct -- a previously free land -- but I’m not here to preach about that) you are free to decide whether or not you test CS tear gas on yourself. However, if you’re going to do it, please make sure you won’t be violating any state or local laws governing the release of such gases, and above all make sure you can do the test safely. I had my mask with me (I was wearing my mask before I removed it and exposed myself to the gas) and I also had other people nearby ready to intervene if I needed them. After I removed my mask and exposed myself to the CS I had the option of being able to put my mask back on, clear my mask, and resume using my mask, leaving the area, or having my friends intervene to help me. If you want to see the impact CS tear gas can have then feel free to test it as long as you do so legally and safely.

Author’s opinion- You are likely to encounter disabling/irritant agents in the context of high-style home-invaders/attackers who were formerly members of police tactical units or who happened to be in the right place at the right time to loot police armories of their stockpiles of disabling/irritant agents (especially CS tear gas). You are likely to encounter CS tear gas from a variety of private citizens (but as long as you’re not trying to invade a man’s ranch you’re unlikely to be tear gassed by him or his family members). However, you are not likely to experience a disabling/irritant attack by terrorists (except terrorists of the “specialist/one-issue” variety, such as earth-first types, who may deploy such agents at select facilities to try to bring the facility to a standstill and gain attention for their cause. The Islamic Jihadist types are unlikely to use disabling/irritating agents as such agents do not produce the desired results, they don’t bring the dread that blister agents bring due to the prospect of maiming/disfiguring, they don’t bring the death toll that blood/nerve agents bring, all they do is cause people to feel compelled to remove themselves from the impacted area. Likewise industrial accidents are probably unlikely as CS tear gas is not something that is made at your local chemical plant, as it is a specialty item that is likely manufactured at a small number of centrally located plants.

As a final note, I would like to take the time to repeat one very important thing, disabling/irritant agents can kill you if they displace enough oxygen in the enclosed area where you happen to be located. In such a situation you would die from suffocation due to a lack of oxygen in the air. That said, in regards to most disabling agents, there properties are such that they are not designed to kill through direct exposure (only through displacing air/suffocation). That doesn’t rule out the possibility of somebody who is already weak due to illness or advanced age, becoming even weaker due to CS tear gas exposure and succumbing to their illness from it (in other words, if you have pneumonia or any sort of lung ailment, avoid exposure to disabling/irritant agents).

To Summarize
A quality gas mask is sufficient to protect you from most threats posed by BLOOD agents, CHOKING agents, and IRRITANT/DISABLING agents. Note that some blood agents can cause exposure via the skin, basic clothing will help mitigate the risks but a quality NBC suit (with gloves, hood, boot covers) is the best way to go.

An gas mask, in conjunction with full NBC gear is required for basic protection against NERVE agents and BLISTER agents. When I say basic I mean just that, basic, because optimal protection would be provided by either an NBC rated self-contained breathing apparatus or a military vehicle’s positive overpressure-based filtration system. Let me put it this way, as cramped and uncomfortable as the Soviet/Russian BMP-2 is supposed to be, I’d much prefer to be inside a BMP-2 during a nerve gas attack as opposed to walking around outside and having to rely on my gas mask and NBC suit.

At any rate, make sure you know what your filter is rated to do and how long it is rated to last with a given agent. Be prepared to have to change your filter and/or NBC suit at least once if you plan on lingering in a chemically rich area for half a day or longer, depending on the agent/s the area is contaminated with. If you’re anticipating having to do such things, make sure you know how to properly change a filter in a chemically contaminated environment and make sure you have provisions made for being able to safely change your NBC suit (nothing would be worse than stripping off your NBC suit in an environment rich with something such as nitrogen mustard or VX).

I should also take this opportunity to mention that if you have a charcoal based filter it will typically be neutralized by normal environmental conditions in about one week’s time, even without exposure to any chemical agents, just due to the impact a normal environment has on charcoal. Once you open your sealed charcoal based NBC suit, you have one week to use it before it is neutralized regardless of whether or not it is exposed to a chemical agent. Also recall as I stated earlier, some agents are not resisted very well or at all by charcoal based devices.

Now that you have some basic background information about the categories of agents and signs of exposure, how can you recognize a chemical attack and what should you do if you recognize or suspect a chemical attack is underway or you are entering a chemically rich area?

First of all you have what is called your chemical/gas reaction drill… If you or anybody in your team suspects or recognizes a chemical/gas situation, at any time, you or anybody in your team should by all means call it out. You will loudly shout, GAS! GAS! GAS! (yes- shout it three times), after that you will immediately close your eyes and stop breathing. You will then don your gas mask (with your unsealed, open, and ready to use filter already screwed in place on it), make sure it is on tight, and then exhale hard once or twice to clear it of any possible particles, then you breathe normally.

But how will you know when to call out a gas situation? There are many different ways in which a gas situation may be recognized…

Some agents have distinct odors (it would be too time consuming for me to discuss every possible odor of every possible agent, not to mention you would probably forget them, if you want to learn more about the particular smells of particular agents then please purchase a copy of Jared Ledgard’s book A Laboratory History of Chemical Warfare Agents in which he gives a detailed analysis of all of the main chemical warfare agents, even touching on the colors, odors, etc, of those that have colors and/or odors). As far as odors are concerned, a general rule is this, “if you smell something you probably shouldn’t smell, you’re in trouble.” If you’re in the field tending to chickens and all of the sudden a fighter-bomber zips by overhead and moments later you’re smelling bitter almonds, you need to call out GAS, GAS, GAS, go into your drill, and get out of the area because you’re probably in trouble (bitter almonds is usually indicative of a cyanide agent, especially hydrogen cyanide). I decided to mention that specific smell because hydrogen cyanide is an agent that I expect is very likely to be encountered in any war/invasion scenario. However for every agent that has an easily discernable/distinct odor it seems there is another agent that is odorless…

Some agents have distinct colors although just as many agents are colorless. A good general rule for determining a chemical attack via the color or lack of color of an agent could be as follows… If any sort of attack aircraft flies overhead and sprays any colored liquid, assume it is a chemical attack and react accordingly. If an aircraft drops a bomb and it explodes in the air and you see liquid it is almost certainly a chemical attack. If the aircraft drops a bomb and there either is no explosion or a very subdued explosion, with nothing present after (i.e. no liquid can be seen) it is almost certainly a chemical attack in the form of a colorless vapor or a colorless liquid. When an aircraft is using a bomb you should see some sort of conventional explosion, or the warhead should be splitting open and releasing cluster/sub-munitions, it shouldn’t be a subdued and barely evident conventional explosion, if it is then it is indicative that the warhead was probably a chemical warhead and the shell had limited conventional explosive power.

If a shell or warhead bursts over your area and you see a less than spectacular explosion, nobody was impacted by fragments or any sort of cluster/sub-munitions, then you must assume it was a chemical attack and immediately go into your chemical reaction drill.

If you ever encounter animals, such as chickens, cows, horses, deer, cats, dogs, birds, etc, that are dead with no signs of external trauma (i.e. no gunshot wounds) then you should assume they were killed by chemical (or biological) agents and immediately go into your reaction drill. If you are part of a group of six individuals moving through a field an area and you come towards a clearing where you can see a half-dozen dead deer and a few dead song-birds, you should immediately call out, “GAS! GAS! GAS!” and go into the rest of your reaction drill. Then you should get away from that area.

The same goes for encounters with human bodies that show no signs of external trauma. The immediate assumption should be that they were killed by chemical or biological agents.

It is also possible to obtain detection strips that are specific to certain agents and will change colors when exposed to certain agents. However, it is worth noting that some agents (i.e. Phosgene) are not capable of detection via detection papers. It is also possible to use electronic equipment to detect gas.

Why are chemical agents something to worry about? Would anybody dare use them in modern war? Well they’re something to worry about because some of them are so deadly that an amount that can fit on the tip of a pin can kill you in a minute if it is placed on your skin. As to the question of whether or not anybody would dare to use them in a modern war, consider what happened in the Iran-Iraq war, although arguably that had a lot to do with the fact that the war bogged down into trench warfare. However, that isn’t to say that a frustrated counter-insurgency force won’t resort to using chemical weapons, as the Soviets allegedly did in Afghanistan in the mid-late 1980s.

Standard Soviet doctrine allowed for and encouraged the liberal use of fast-acting and non-persistent agents, such as Hydrogen cyanide. The benefit to hydrogen cyanide is that it is neutralized within 1-2 minutes in normal weather conditions, so if an attacking force bombards the enemy with hydrogen cyanide just before the attack begins, they force the defenders to mask up and fight in masks (diminishing their morale and combat effectiveness) while the attackers typically won’t have to mask up and can arrive unhindered by masks/NBC gear, taking the fight to the enemy, within just a few minutes after the end of the bombardment.

The idea was that hydrogen cyanide would be used against targets situated along the Soviet axis of advance, while persistent agents (such as blister agents and in some cases nerve agents) would be used against installations/facilities key to NATO conducting a proper defense, but that whose seizure was not key to the Soviet advance. Supposedly the Soviet Union has dissolved and collapsed but the utility of hydrogen cyanide has not diminished. For an army looking to pepper the enemy with an agent that is very lethal but very quick to be neutralized by normal weather conditions, they need look no further than hydrogen cyanide. It would cost an army virtually nothing to use hydrogen cyanide as the threat to their own personnel is virtually non-existent, the cost of the agent itself is ridiculously low, and it is easy to deliver in a fashion (i.e. artillery) that doesn’t expose friendly personnel to excessive risks (as might be the case with planes using spray tanks).

Blood agents are very effective for tactical use to help clear the way for a rapidly advancing army, while nerve agents are effective for hitting areas that the army is not advancing through and is mainly concerned with denying the use of such areas to the enemy. In that sense, both blood and nerve agents are likely to be encountered in an war/invasion situation.

You mat ask yourself why I have devoted very little to discussing decontamination procedures. The answer is very simple and I hope the reader will try to understand my reasoning. The decontamination procedures can vary widely depending on the agent and the type of exposure/contamination. The decontamination procedures for the various agents are different, although there will always be some similarities… The main similarities being that you need to get out of the contaminated area, get out of your contaminated clothing/NBC suit (when you can safely do so- and without exposing yourself to any contaminants that may be on the outside of your NBC suit), change your gas mask filter, and probably decontaminate the outside of your gas mask. Don't forget to use decontamination wipes on any/all contaminated equipment (rifle, scope, magazines, etc).

As for the specific procedures for the specific agents, if you want to find an exhaustive list of what the procedures are, I strongly suggest that you obtain a copy of Jared Ledgard’s book, A Laboratory History of Chemical Warfare Agents. I know I have repeatedly referenced that book throughout this article but it is a very handy book to have if you want to learn more about chemical agents. He gives a detailed analysis of each agent, signs of exposure, possible treatments, the chemical properties, etc. Although this author has one request to make since Ledgard also gives a step by step process for how to prepare every chemical agent he discusses. My request is to heed Ledgard’s advice and my advice and refrain from attempting to produce any of the agents covered in his book.

It is my sincere hope that you have been able to take away something worthwhile and useful from this article and that you will take the threat posed by chemical agents seriously. My main regret is that I am unable to discuss the specific threats of specific biological agents and radiological hazards because his area of interest has tended more towards chemistry/chemicals instead of biology or other areas. At some point in the future the author may give a review of the M50 joint service general purpose mask (military or commercial version) depending on whether or not he is able to obtain one.

Jim --
Thanks for all that you do and the many able contributors to your site.  This evening, Sunday, 05/22/2011, I am listening to the "live audio feed" of the Jasper County and Joplin, Missouri, law enforcement scanner traffic.  As I am listening, the various agencies are dealing with the aftermath of a deadly tornado that hit Joplin.  As a former police officer I have been through this sort of event. However, listening to their radio traffic is eye-opening, even for me.  I am getting a new perspective on many of the nuances of dealing with a catastrophe of this sort.  They are dealing with gas leaks, trapped individuals, medical emergencies, numerous deceased victims and numbers of newly homeless folks. 

By the way, I am very impressed with the officers and emergency responders that I am listening to.  My hat is off to them.  Your readers may be too late to listen to these events in Missouri that are unfolding but many of them might like to listen in on the next disaster.  Believe me, just listening will help them consolidate survival plans of their own.  Once people from around the country hear of some local disaster, they can go to and see if they can locate a nearby emergency services agency whose radio traffic is available as a "live audio feed" and listen in. - S. in Kansas

Dear Jim,
I disagree with [SurvivalBlog Editor at Large] Mike Williamson's opinion on boats as a bugging out survival alternative. With proper planning, thought and equipment selection; as well as the appropriate "ships stores", and with all the knowledge necessary to any other solution to the problem, the right boat will allow you to avoid many of the perceived problems associated with a complete breakdown of society. It's no easier or harder than any other subject, just different and less common. Just look at the volumes of material on your site, the problem is never solved and there is never a perfect solution; just new knowledge and different views. That having been said, I will agree with him in one area; the historical definition of a boat is: "A large hole in the water that you will continually try to fill with money"; particularly true if it's a "state of the art" recreational boat. The same may be said of a "cabin in the woods".

Let's look first at the benefits of a boat; not a ski-boat, pontoon boat, river boat, houseboat or little boat of any kind. Not a plastic "yacht" or it's dingy; not a sail boat smaller than 60' and not a small fishing boat or motor-sailor, but a "retired" commercial fishing trawler from 45 to 60 feet in length. You can buy one of these for conversion to private use for as little as $30,000 or as much as you can afford to spend. Most of these boats were constructed in the 1950s, 1960s or 1970s. These are real survival boats; not glitzy plastic floating condos, but rugged ocean going work boats. They are like a basic semi-truck versus a custom mini-van. Some are wood, some are steel and some are fiberglass; although the wood and steel versions are more common, and for this purpose wood is the most desirable. Why? Among many other reasons, wood floats and the other materials sink. You can hammer a nail or put a screw into wood with a screw driver and they will hold. It's not the case with either steel or fiberglass. Wooden boats are much easier to heat, and ride better in rough water. If you are not worried about cosmetics, you don't have to varnish them, paint them, or buff them (but you probably will). If a bullet or something else pierces the hull below the waterline, you can pound a tapered wood plug into the hole with a hammer to stop or slow the leak. All large boats leak, get used to it. That stray or directed bullet could damage something inside the boat, but it could do the same thing to your four wheeled BOV.

If you can keep fresh water (rain) out of the bilge, wooden boats won't rot below the water line. Salt water actually preserves the wooden hull. Any boat run aground, or into something below the surface can be damaged. Wooden boats are easier to fix, should that happen, than either fiberglass or steel. A little research into this will show you the pros and cons of each material, but my preference is wood, for this purpose. Most of these wooden fishing trawlers have hulls that are two structural layers of wood that are each 1" or more thick.

Most fishing trawlers of these lengths range in width (beam) from 13' to 18', have a pilot house above decks containing a small galley (usually with a diesel fired stove), head and sleeping quarters, a small engine room, very large fuel tanks (usually 2,000 or 3,000 gallons or more) and huge unused open spaces (fish holds) beneath decks. They generally don't have mouse driven computerized auto-pilots and electronic charting systems, although you can add them. The fish holds can be remodeled into sleeping quarters, heads, refrigerated storage, etc., etc., etc.                 

They ride deep in the water, and have a draft (the depth of the hull beneath the water) of 6' to 8' . Most have only one diesel engine, and one or more diesel generators. They travel slowly (about 7 to 9 knots) about 10 or 11 miles per hour. Some burn as little as 2 or 3 gallons of fuel per hour, giving them tremendous range. They are all powered by very reliable commercial diesel engines, and many often exceed 30,000 hours of operation between engine overhauls. They have tremendous load carrying capacity, with much more voluminous hulls than pleasure boats. They are built for function, not glitz or speed. Because of their deep draft, they are much safer than pleasure boats in rough water. In case you're wondering, there is no boat of this type that will outrun any pirate. The idea here is out of sight, out of mind. The ocean is a big place, without too many residents; shouldn't be too difficult to find a little privacy, and the vast majority of other boats will be looking for the same thing, not trying to take over yours. Boaters are used to assisting other boaters. When selecting a survival group, boaters may be a better choice than many others.

Volumes can be written on equipment and stores for a boat, but with the exception of a water maker and some other items that are unique to boats, it's not much different than equipping a retreat in the Rawles style. Employ the same thought processes to a boat. You can do it with the latest technology, or remember that it all worked before the latest and greatest "high tech invention", and still will. Grow boxes can be put on deck, dehydrated and canned foods-extra fuels below decks. Weapons are weapons, very little different here, although a negligent discharge here could "sink" your dreams. A power boat will eventually need fuel, just like any other vehicle that moves under its own power, although 3,000 gallons of fuel will last a long time, and won't go bad. If a sail is rigged onto a trawler, it can be called a motor-sailboat, and would be the best partial solution to this problem, but provide one more opportunity for mechanical failure and maintenance. (Another topic for another time.) Keep it simple, solve the problem. You're trying to survive, not dress up for the upcoming Obama ball; but wait --maybe we actually are.

If you don't like your neighbors, or the horde cometh, pull up anchor or untie from your moorings and leave. Once off shore, neither is as great a threat; but as with bugging out in any form, you must have a plan and know where you're bugging out to; you can't stay in the Bug Out Vehicle forever - no matter what it is. Some longer than others, a boat maybe the longest. Charts instead of maps, the terminology of equipment is different but solutions similar. When the initial upheaval passes, return with a plan, or stay in that little cove off the northwest inside passage a little longer. When you return you and yours will still be alive to worry about it and deal with it; whereas otherwise you may not. If your main interest is avoiding maintenance and investment in your survival, stay home in the basement and buy a couple of granola bars.

Remember, this type of "retreat" can be moved to avoid the crowd, whereas your little piece of heaven in northern Idaho, cannot. The down side is, this one can also be stolen or sunk. But that little cabin in the woods can be burned down, well poisoned, overrun and made uninhabitable. - Tom H.


James Wesley:
Just a quick note: Many of your readers may believe a boat is a good Bug Out Vehicle - and they may well be correct. The 1,000 Days web site chronicles the 'adventure' of living at sea for over 1,000 days.

This may be of interest to everyone planning long term food storage and related subjects. - D.E.K.

JWR Replies: My view of boats lies somewhere between yours and with Mike Williamson's. Properly, boats should be seen as means of transportation, rather than as retreats. They are vehicles, not destinations. Unless you have a truly viable intended destination (or preferably several), then except for millionaires, a "well-stocked" boat is just a great way to eventually starve. This is analogous to the many letters that I get from readers who say that they plan to equip RVs as their "alternative to buying a retreat". There simply isn't enough room for a three+ year food supply on most boats, and there certainly isn't enough deck space an to raise crops. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you can be self-sufficient on a boat. Your intended landfall(s)--preferably at an inland brackish water port--will be crucial. Without a good destination, with friends waiting there, the law of averages is sure to catch up with you.

Paulette suggested this: Beginner Basics: Fitting a Backpack

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More Nanny Statism: USDA fines family four million dollars for selling bunny rabbits. Thanks to Dann for the link.

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Some pointed humor, over at the Paratus Familia blog: Patient Zero

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Loyal content contributor F.G. flagged this: Armed With Stone-Tipped Arrows, Hunters Stalk Their Inner Cave Men

"Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites. ... Society cannot exist unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere, and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters." - Edmund Burke

Monday, May 23, 2011

My interview on Saturday May 21st, 2011 with Barbara Simpson on KSFO is now available as a streaming audio here. Click on the 6-7 p.m. hour. It will only be available for the next five days.

I like big knives, folders or fixed blade models. I've found over the years that, you can accomplish more tasks with a big knife, than you can with a smaller knife. Of course, that's not to say that, small knives don't have their place - they do! My personal preference is for bigger knives, and one reason I like bigger knives is that they are usually built stronger.   I was on-board when Kershaw Knives started their new ZT Division. The ZT stands for "Zero Tolerance". And, I've toured the Kershaw plant several times, to know that, Kershaw has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to making outstanding blades. If the knife doesn't stand up to the Kershaw quality control, it doesn't leave the factory. Way back when, I did a shop tour of Kershaw's operation - when they were much smaller than they are today. Kershaw had one gal, who's sole job was to do a final inspection on each knife before it was boxed-up and shipped out. I found many knives sitting in a bin that didn't pass muster. And, I couldn't find any flaws in the knives I was looking at, until she pointed them out to me. Most were simply cosmetic flaws of some type.   Today, Kershaw has a small army of employees that check each and every knife before it leaves the factory. At any point along the production line, an employee can pull a knife and send it on it's way to the reject bin.

Kershaw is in a new plant - a huge plant - and they turn out (well, okay I promised not to tell) a "lot" of knives each month. When Kershaw moved into their new plant, they were already making plans for expanding the operation - I have to get up there for another tour of the place one of these days.   The ZT Division of Kershaw was started for the sole reason of producing military-grade cutlery for our troops, as well as law enforcement personnel, who demand and expect a little bit "more" than the usual. To this end, ZT is producing some extremely tough fixed blade and folding knives - some would call 'em U.S. Marine tough - and I don't have a problem with that. If you want something broken, then give it to a U.S. Marine, and if there's a way to break it - they'll figure it out.   I've tested quite a few ZT knives since Kershaw started this division, and I've been impress with the toughness of these knives. One particular folder really caught my attention. It's the Model 0300 - that's it - no name, just a model number. The 0300 was designed in collaboration with ZT and Strider Knives, and it's a true combat folder, to be sure. What I like about the 0300 is that, it has the SpeedSafe assisted opening for quick, one-handed deployment. Just push on the ambidextrous thumb stud or pull back on the blade protrusion and the knife is ready for action.   [JWR Adds: Be sure to consult your state an local laws on "automatic" and "assisted opening" knives before ordering.]

The 0300 has a blade made out of one of the super steels - S30V, with a Tungsten DLC coating for a black, non-reflective finish to cut down on glare. S30V is really a remarkable stainless steel - it holds and edge a very, very long time. It is a little hard to re-sharpen when it gets dull, but I don't have a problem with a steel that holds an edge a long, long time. Blade length on the 0300 is 3.75" - and I find that's just about perfect for my needs. The blade is very wide, too - so it can do some serious damage if used for self-defense purposes.   Handle scales are good ol' G-10 that is 3D machined with Titanium liners - you aren't gonna break the handle scales on this hummer. I like the thick handle scales, too - they allow a solid grip on the 0300. Overall length of the 0300 is 5.625" - but it looks bigger than that. Matter of fact, the entire knife looks bigger than it actually is.   The weight of the 0300 is 8-ounces. Yes, that is heavy for a folder, but it was designed to be super-tough, and it will hold up to all kinds of abuse and use. There is also a pocket/clothing clip, that can be switched from one of 4 different positions for right or left pocket carry, or tip up or tip down carry. A 3/8" hex head pivot shaft nut makes field adjustments on blade tension possible with a minimal of tools in the field, should the blade tension work loose - not likely, but anything can happen under the harsh conditions of combat or survival.

 When the blade is fully locked when open, it can only be released by pressing the frame-lock (style) liner to the side, which is located in the handle scales. The frame-lock liner lock is actually part of the frame's liner. This is a very secure method of locking a blade open on a folder. On the 0300 - this is a massive locking-liner - stout - just like the entire knife is.   The 0300 is ready-to-go out of the box. If you need a super-stout folder for military, law enforcement or survival use, then this knife will sure fill all those needs, and then some. I did find that the knife is slightly better suited as a slasher as opposed to a stabber - however, it can perform both functions with aplomb. This folder is also made in the good ol' USA - and that's important to a lot of folks.  

Now for the bad news - at least as far as I'm concerned. I some how managed to lose my 0300 some time ago, and haven't had it replaced. the 0300 doesn't come cheap - it retails for $325 - and as I always mention, quality doesn't come cheap - you buy buy a lesser knife, with a lesser blade steel, and you'll have a lesser knife.[JWR Adds: The lowest I've seen them advertised is $236, via mailorder.] If you want something that will hold up to anything you can throw at it - then take a close look at the ZT 0300. One of these days, I'm going to replace my lost 0300 - if you want a knife that will never let you down, then take a close look at the 0300.   In future articles, I'll review some of the other fixed and folding blades that Kershaw ZT offers - and they currently have quite a crop of cutlery that they are turning out in this tactical division. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Dear Jim,
My in laws had a 46-foot Dolphin Catamaran for a while.  This is in current dollars a near $1 million state of the art boat, with sails, diesel engines, GPS, auto-pilot, radios, staterooms, the works.

I've got moderate experience in several types of boats, from pocket fishing types to speed boats and small sport sailboats.

They were constantly having to replace "canvas" (usually nylon, fiberglass or Kevlar on boats these days), lines, electronics and do engine work.  Nearly every letter from aboard was about the latest round of maintenance, the need for safety lines while at sea (including a man overboard incident), rough weather, mechanical failures at sea, keeping watch during such problems.

Pontoon boats are a form of catamaran, and almost proof against swamping, unless shot full of holes, though that is fairly easy to do.  As I've noted previously, there's no cover nor concealment on open water.

Small boats carry almost nothing.

Large boats carry a lot less than many people think.

Unless one has a classic 18th Century wooden pinnace, with crew, including carpenters, maintenance is expensive, time consuming, and takes tools or a port.  On second thought, it does even then.

Life on a boat is not some happy-go-carefree existence of drifting along watching the lesser castes starve.  It requires, if anything, more work than a landed lifestyle.  If it was so cheap and easy, more people would do it.

If one has a definite bug out destination in mind, a boat would certainly be one means to consider.  It is not, however, the solution to any other problem.  It is a hole in the water that one must pour money into to maintain, even when not in use. That money can better be spent on beans, bullets and band aids, a chunk of land, tools, etc.

Like the "get a light plane and pilot's license" threads in SurvivalBlog in the past few years, there's much more involved than a casual glance suggests, and I believe even experienced boat owners are underestimating what's involved. 

I'd like to see comment on this subject from experienced Naval boat and ship handlers.  I suspect they'll be a lot less sanguine than many readers. - Michael Z. Williamson, SurvivalBlog Editor at Large


Al this debate on the best DIY refrigeration method [for insulin] omitted a key question: What is the real shelf life for insulin, if you keep it properly refrigerated? Thanks, - J.E.C.

JWR Replies: Definitive data is available in this diabetes journal article: How Long Should Insulin Be Used Once a Vial Is Started?. The article notes the following from a pharmaceutical manufacturer for refrigerated, unopened bottles:

"Lantus was found to meet stability criteria for at least 24 months when stored between 36 and 46°F (2 and 8°C) (Aventis, data on file). Accelerated stability testing at 77°F (25°C) revealed a slight loss in activity by 9 months. Testing at 95–102°F (35–39°C) for 1 month revealed an increase in impurities without loss of activity. Lantus should be stored in a refrigerator to maintain the labeled expiration date. In the absence of refrigeration, unopened vials of Lantus should be discarded after 28 days."

Regarding this statement in a recent article [by M.G.M.] :

"To test your body's need for iodine, you place a drop on your wrist or foot, if it absorbs within four hours, your body is in need of iodine. (You will want to slowly build up [with an incrementally larger area of skin covered], over months so as not to disrupt your thyroid), if the mark stays close to eight hours, then you are sufficient in iodine. Your body will soak it up if you need it."

This is an old wives' tale. The visibility of iodine on the skin is influenced by a great many things, but least of all by the amount of iodine already in the body.

This paper contains the following text:

"From the published data, the skin iodine patch test is not a reliable method to assess whole body sufficiency for iodine. Many factors play a role in the disappearance of the yellow color of iodine from the surface of the skin. For example, if iodine is reduced to iodide by the skin, the yellow color of iodine will disappear because iodide is white. In order to regenerate iodine on the skin, one needs to apply an oxidant such as hydrogen peroxide, complicating the test further. The evaporation of iodine from the skin increases with increased ambient temperatures and decreased atmospheric pressure due to weather conditions and altitude. For example, the yellow color of iodine will disappear much faster in Denver, Colorado at 5,000 feet above sea level then Los Angeles, California at sea level, irrespective of the amount of bioavailable iodine."

The data in the paper also suggests that this test can't work as described, because the body will absorb far more iodine than it needs.

That paper references this paper which states:

"The percentage of iodine penetration through the skin is the same, irrespective of whether the cells have a high or low vitality, or are dead, and irrespective of the direction of penetration. Activity of the cells, therefore, does not seem to be indispensable for the penetration of iodine."

That seems pretty conclusive. - P.N.G.

Boosters suggested a 2009 documentary that is now available free on YouTube: Why Gold & Silver?. This is a great video that features commentary from experts like Mike Maloney, Robert Kiyosaki, Congressman Ron Paul, David Morgan, Jason Hommel, James Turk, Bill Murphy, and even the irascible Mogambo Guru (Richard Daughty). BTW, this is a great video link to send to your relatives who scoff at hedging into precious metals and other tangibles.

David D. liked this piece by Paul Krugman: Making Things in America

Our friend Kevin S, sent this from Lew Rockwell's site: Libertarianism versus Statism

Also from Kevin comes the latest from the French LEAP think tank: Global systemic crisis - Confirmation of a Major Alert for the second half of 2011 – Explosive fusion of world geopolitical dislocation and the global economic and financial crisis

Items from The Economatrix:

Regulators Shut Two Banks in Georgia; 42 Shuttered This Year

Prices at Gas Pump Painful for 1 in 4 Americans

Unemployment Falls in Three-Quarters of US States

My sincere thanks to the several SurvivalBlog readers who have made their 10 Cent Challenge voluntary subscription payments via Bitcoin. (Our Bitcoin address is: 1K7Gk6kqX6psSWDJaRV6pyDH7dwZuvqtUB.) Please support the Bitcoin movement. If we can use mechanisms like Bitcoin and traditional barter instead of the banking system, then we will starve the banksters and regain some of our economic freedom.

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Larry C. was the first of several readers to recommend this one-hour documentary: College Conspiracy.

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I recently received a review copy of the Tactical Point Shooting video. This is a classic from 1992 (back in the VHS tape days) that has just been been re-mastered onto DVD. This fascinating video features SurvivalBlog's own Pat Cascio, the late John McSweeney, and Sheriff Jim Wilson. The DVD also has some commentary from the late (and legendary) Colonel Rex Applegate. By the way, Pat Cascio studied under Rex Applegate for several years. At a special introductory price, Pat is offering new DVD for sale directly. Send a check or money order fro $12.95 to: Pat Cascio, P.O. Box 342, Sweet Home, OR 97386. The 12.95 price includes shipping to the United States and APO/FPO addresses.

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From idle pleasantries to at-your-throat rage in just 24 Hours: Cruise Ship Crew Reportedly Faced Hostile Passengers After Engines, Electricity Fail. Reader Matt M. notes: "This was a perfect example of a Micro TEOTWAWKI Experiment."

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More from the City of Brotherly Love: After Altercation, Philadelphia Police Say They Won't Look the Other Way on Open-Carry Gun Owners. "Inconvenienced"? They drew down on and threatened to kill a citizen who was simply exercising his rights. That is hardly being "Inconvenienced". Just one more reason to move to a gun-friendly state. (A tip of the hat to KAF for the link.)

"Economic and political prosperity are not the final measures of human progress. The Rome of Trajan was immeasurably more splendid than the Rome of the Scipios; yet the progress had been downwards nevertheless. If the object of our existence on this planet is the development of character, the culminating point in any nation's history is that at which it produces its noblest and bravest men." - James Anthony Froude, The English in the West Indies

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Would you like to provide a good meal for your family and know where the meat has come from and who has handled it and not have to rely on going to the grocery store to purchase it?  Well that was me a few years ago.  I was concerned about the safe handling practices of store bought meat as well, the cost of the store bought meat.  I really wanted to be able to take pride that I could grow and process my meat and not have to rely on the grocery store.  I already process deer so I thought this couldn’t be much different.  It really isn’t.  The killing is the only part that I truly hate, but that part is extremely quick.  If you live in a suburban neighborhood, then you can most likely still have “pet” rabbits.  We also make raised garden beds from the little pellets that are conveniently deposited into a waiting wheel barrel. We add worms found in the yard to the garden beds and have very nice rich soil the next season once the worms do their job. 

Before obtaining your rabbits, you will need some basic equipment: 1 cage per adult rabbit, 1 feed trough and water dish or bottle per rabbit and then you will also need 1 or more nesting boxes for your does.  If you have just one doe, then one nest box will be fine.  If you have two does, then depending on your breeding routine you might be able to get away with just one box or you could decide on keeping two nest boxes.  Nest boxes can be made or purchased.  When we first got our rabbits we picked up some cages, water bottles and nest boxes from where we got the rabbits at. 

You will need to start off with some good breeding stock of a meat breed.  In rabbits you can line breed (breed siblings) for a few generations before you start seeing genetic problems.  I personally have chosen to start with non related stock.  You can start breeding your doe or does as early as 4-1/2 months of age.  We have found rabbits are extremely easy keepers and have been very healthy for us.  We have purchased our stock from local animal auctions and off craigslist as well. 

We chose on the New Zealand breed of rabbit.  They have a good meat to bone ratio.  They are the typical Easter bunny rabbit, you know the white bunny with red eyes.  Some people like breeds that produce various colors and such.  But for me my bunnies all look the same so I don’t focus on getting attached to one particular rabbit.  My son who is now five thoroughly enjoys them as well.  He knows that what happens to them and where they end up, but he also knows that just two weeks after butchering time a new batch of bunnies will be born to play with.  He is there around us when we are butchering.  When he was younger we would just leave him inside to watch cartoons and we would tell him what we were doing, but after time went on he prefers to be outside watching us during the butchering.  We want our son to know where his food comes from and not to be afraid of it.  Someday his life could depend on it. 

We have one buck and one doe that we regularly breed.  Their names are Max and Ruby. (If you have little ones, you might recognize those names from a cartoon.)  We have Ruby in a larger cage than necessary, but that is just because I choose to keep the litter with the mother until the day of butchering.  During the summer I do not want them crowded and overheating.  We butcher our bunnies at 8 weeks of age.  Some people do it as early as 6 weeks and other wait until 11 or 12 weeks.  We have found that if we allow them to get older then the skin gets tougher to skin out and the meat is a little tougher.  Rabbit meat is a very lean meat.  There is generally some loose fat between the hide and the shoulders and again some between the hide and the belly.  You won’t find any inside the actual meat though.    Rabbit can be utilized in any chicken recipe.

Make sure that you keep your rabbits housed where they will have adequate shade and a roof over their heads to shelter from the sun, rain and other elements.  Rabbits are very easy keepers.  Our rabbits our housed outside with a roof over their heads and we use a privacy fence to block the wind from the west and there is a garage to their north to block the north wind.  During the summer there is a large shade tree that provides them with a cool shady spot and during the winter we will tack up plastic over the remaining sides of their cage.  The plastic can be left up or allowed to cover the cages in times of nasty storms in the winter.  You always take the doe to the bucks cage.  You can just stand around and watch to ensure that your buck has successfully completed his deed.  We usually allow him three times during this visit, then put your doe back in her cage.  Do NOT keep them in the same cage on a permanent basis.  If you do you will never know when to expect a litter.  Then if you want to ensure a larger litter put the doe back in with the buck twelve hours after the first breeding.  Rabbits ovulate based on sexual stimulation and they can ovulate once every twelve hours.  So this is the reason to re-breed your rabbit twelve hours later.  Now is the hard part, just waiting.  The gestation period is 29 to 33 days.  Each doe will have a very regular schedule as to how many days she will go before producing her kits.  My doe goes 30 days exactly.  About five days before you are expecting the kits to arrive place the nest box in her cage.  Depending on the temperatures, I may add hay, straw or pine shavings to her box as well.  If it is very cold, then I will fill the nest box up completely, the doe will make the nest in there and pull out any excess she doesn’t want.  We will check on our doe various times per day when she is due so we know exactly when she has her kits.  The doe we have is very trusting and does not mind if and when I mess with her nest and kits.  We have had other does in the past who have been aggressive in regards to us checking out their babies.  Those does went bye bye very soon as I do not enjoy being scratched or bitten.  Mostly though, New Zealand rabbits are extremely gentle. 

After your babies have arrived you will need to check out the nest box to make sure that there aren’t any dead babies in there or any uneaten afterbirth.  Remove all the nasties and then just check on and count the babies each time you feed and water your doe.  Rabbits cannot pick up their young the way a cat or dog can so if a baby gets out of the box there is no way for the mommy to put it back.  You will have to move them back to the box or they will die.  Also, if you go out one day and you find a dead cold looking kit on the cage, go ahead and put it back in the middle of the nest box with the other kits.  I have found babies like this and thought they were dead, but after placing them back in the nest box, they came back to life.  So do not count a "dead kit" as dead unless it is cold and dead.  Ideally there needs to be at least three kits in the litter for the babies to be stay warm enough together.  Once I did have a litter of only two babies during the fall, they did make it just fine.  When the babies are three weeks old you can remove the nest box and continue to watch them grow. 

When the babies are six weeks old is when I like to breed the doe.  Then two weeks later your babies are 8 weeks old and we butcher.  This routine will allow the mother to keep her young with her and also allow her to have a two week rest period before she kits again.  This routine also keeps you from having to keep a cage just for weaned babies.  I really like this schedule as it keeps me from having to move the babies to another cage.  I keep one buck and one doe at this time.  This schedule allows us to have up to one rabbit per week as I butcher a litter of rabbits every ten weeks.  Rabbits usually have 7-12 bunnies per litter.

When we butcher the rabbits, we prefer to can the meat now, as opposed to freezing it.  We do still freeze some, but the canned rabbit has such a wonderful flavor and it is also extremely tender. 

We have chosen the raw pack method with the meat still on the bones due to it being simpler and more time saving.  Cut up your rabbits so that you have good size pieces.  Add those to your quart jars.  Add one teaspoon of salt to each quart.  Do not add any liquid.  Allow a 1-1/4” headspace per jar, add your lids and bands and process for 75 minutes at 11 pounds of pressure in your pressure canner.  The flavor and texture is completely different from fresh or frozen to canned rabbit.  Yummy!

Having two does and one buck will provide your family with up to two rabbits per week all year long. 

First, thank you so much for such a worthwhile resource for prepping and other useful information.
Regarding the recent article on M1911 series pistols, I could not help but cringe when I repeatedly read to release the slide and let it slam on an empty chamber.  It is my understanding that there is no better way to mess up a trigger job than repeated slamming the slide forward on an empty chamber.  The action of releasing the slide without a round being stripped off of a magazine to buffer the force will cause damage to the surfaces of both the hammer and the sear.  Since a nice and crisp trigger pull heavily depends on these surfaces being precise, it is in the 1911 owners best interest to not allow the slide to fall on an empty chamber repeatedly.
With that being said, it is required to release the slide on an empty chamber while performing a function check of the 1911.  The checks should be performed before purchasing any used 1911, and probably any new 1911.  No factory or gunsmith will produce 100% perfect firearms 100% of the time!  Please make sure that you have asked the firearm’s owner for permission to perform these checks before running through the list. 
The procedure to function check the 1911 is as follows:
1)      Ensure that the firearm is unloaded.  Remove the magazine.  Lock the slide back and visually inspect the chamber.  Put your pinky finger into the chamber.  Make absolutely, positively sure that the firearm is unloaded!
2)      Still treat the firearm as if it is loaded, being aware of muzzle position at all times.  Safety, safety, safety!
3)      Basic firing test: Slide forward and hammer cocked.  Hold firearm as if you were going to fire.  Pull trigger.  Hammer should drop.  If you repeat the test with a pencil inserted into the barrel eraser side first, the pencil should be propelled out of the barrel when you pull the trigger.
4)      Half-cock notch test: with slide forward, and hammer in released position, pull hammer back until you hear the first click.  This is the half-cock notch.  With safety disengaged and firearm gripped as if to fire, pull the trigger.  The hammer should not drop, unless it is a series 80, in which case the hammer will drop, but not with enough force to fire.
5)      Sear reset and engagement test: Perform the basic firing test above, but continue to pull back on the trigger.  Fully pull back on slide and release.  Hammer should be fully cocked, and should not follow the slide forward.  Release trigger and pull again- the hammer should fall.  To test the sear’s engagement, lock the slide back and grip the pistol normally.  Release the slide with the slide stop, allowing it to slam on the empty chamber.  The hammer should not follow.
6)      Thumb safety test:  Hold pistol in normal firing grip with slide forward, hammer cocked, and thumb safety engaged.  Pull the trigger.  The trigger should not move much, if at all, the hammer should not fall and there should not be any movement of internal parts.  The trigger should come to a hard stop.  If it is mushy, there may be sear movement.  Release the trigger and disengage the thumb safety.  The hammer should not fall.
7)      Grip Safety Test: With the hammer cocked, slide forward, and thumb safety off, hold the pistol so that you are not depressing the grip safety.  Pull the trigger.  Trigger should not move much, if at all, and the hammer should not fall.
8)      Disconnector Test:  Grip gun in normal firing grip with slide forward, hammer cocked, and thumb safety disengaged.  Pull slide back ¼” with other hand.  Pull trigger – the hammer should not fall.  Repeat the test, but pull the slide fully to the rear.  Allow the slide to move forward slowly, pulling the trigger every ½” of slide movement.  The hammer should not fall until slide is fully forward.
9)      Barrel Lockup:  With the slide fully forward, attempt to push in on the barrel hood.  There should be very little movement, if any at all.  Try to push the muzzle to the rear.  There should be no discernible movement.
10)   Slide Lockback on Empty Magazine: Start with slide fully forward.  Insert a magazine that you have verified is empty through look and feel.  Pull slide fully to the rear and release.  The follower on the magazine should trip the slide stop, and the slide should stay locked open.  Repeat the test with each magazine you will be using with this pistol.  Note: some magazines will not function correctly with one pistol, but work perfectly fine with another.  Find out which ones your pistol likes!
11)   Magazine drop test:  Load a verified empty magazine into your pistol.  Depress the magazine catch button.  The magazine should drop freely from the pistol with no drag and no harsh scraping sound.  Repeat with each magazine you will be using with your pistol.
If your pistol fails any of the preceding tests, there is probably something wrong with the internals and it should be checked by a gunsmith ,ASAP. 
Now everyone should celebrate the 100th anniversary of this wonderful pistol and go purchase one as soon as you can! - Don in Virginia

Reader "TinCan" sent this, over at Eatocracy: Give squirrel a whirl

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I couldn't help but be reminded of the classic 1931 Fritz Lang film, "M", with Peter Lorre: Crazy Military Tracking Tech, From Super Scents to Quantum Dots. Here is a quote: "Imagine walking up to a target and patting him on the back with a clear liquid on your hand. He might never notice it, but you’d be able to see — and follow — him from a distance using night vision goggles. Oregon-based Voxtel makes a product, “NightMarks,” that can do just that. NightMarks are tiny nanocrystal quantum dots that can be hidden in clear liquids and seen only through a sensor like night-vision goggles."

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My eldest son forwarded this: Drivers in West Palm, Delray shot in 'bump and rob' attacks.

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Some gun owners in Mexico defy the law to defend themselves. (Thanks to Chad S. for the link.)

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Home births jump 20 percent in four years. The highest rate is of course in one of the American Redoubt States. Thanks to KAF for the link.)

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd, and know my [sheep], and am known of mine.

As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep." - John 10:11-15 (KJV)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As my husband excitedly plans how to care for our family if disaster strikes and  how to live on bare minimal amounts of food, I am preparing my heart for caring for my family during hard times.  I know that my job is maintaining the emotional presence of my family during the hard times that we may face. These are things that we can all inexpensively incorporate into our lives now and reap the benefits from.  I am also happy to tell you that these are things that you can use around your house every day, and will also bring enjoyment and healthy to your daily lives.

Diatomaceous Earth - This organic mineral dust has so many uses. We have used  it for long term food storage such as wheat berries, corn and oats (and anything else you would like bugs to stay out of). We sprinkle this through all of our goods before storing (no need to rinse them before using).  Not only is it an effective insecticide for plants and food, but can also be used for filtration, absorbing spills, blood clotting activator, bed bug killer and heat resistant material.  It is widely used in the farming community and natural health community as an organic de-wormer (for pets, sprinkle on food or mix into water).  We take a heaping spoonful at least twice a day in water and drink, our children take it as well.  Parasites are a problem for humans as well, and if not treated, nutrient absorption is not as effective.  This is the cheapest way to treat this problem.  There is no "proper dosage", as it is completely harmless.  A 50 pound bag is available for around $50 at a farm supply store.  Note: Buy only "food grade" Diatomaceous Earth. We use this for all of our pets, our chicken coop, and sprinkled on our chickens to kill lice, mites and fleas. Sprinkled around garden plots to keep bugs out (make sure not to get on flowering buds of vegetables, as it will kill bees.) For the ladies, it is also used as a great clay mask to absorb oil from skin. Wear a mask when transferring it, so that you do not breath in the dust.

Iodine - I could write a whole paper on why we should all have iodine supplements.  It can be used to protect thyroid glands from radiation. (See the SurvivalBlog archives.)

For survival use - It is a widely used antiseptic that when painted on the skin prior to surgery kills 90 percent of bacteria within 90 seconds.  Another great use is as an antiseptic in drinking water.  The thyroid gland needs this to make thyroid hormones that regulate metabolism and for development of the brain and body. (There are many studies available that show the health rates and lower cancer rates of the people of Japan, who eat seaweed which is high in iodine.) The health benefits are numerous. 

We used to get iodine from our food sources, but because our cows don’t eat grass anymore and our soils are depleted, many of us are lacking this mineral. Even if you do get sufficient intake of this, chlorine and fluoride in our water inhibits absorption.   It is a prescribed drug (per the FDA), so when you go to purchase it, it will be labeled “Not for internal consumption.”  To test your body's need for iodine, you place a drop on your wrist or foot, if it absorbs within four hours, your body is in need of iodine. (You will want to slowly build up [with an incrementally larger area of skin covered], over months so as not to disrupt your thyroid), if the mark stays close to eight hours, then you are sufficient in iodine. Your body will soak it up if you need it.  We do this a one time a week to check our levels.  There are many health problems associated with not having enough iodine.  I would encourage you to do your research on this topic, especially if you have hypothyroid issues. Since taking iodine, I have had an increase in energy, lost weight and had more balanced hormones. My body was definitely lacking. Caution: Too much iodine can be more detrimental as too little, so use it sparingly! If you are leery of using this [via skin absorption], then take sea kelp supplements or eat more seaweed. It is still needed for water purification, radiation protection and wound care.  I would recommend Lugol's 2% Iodine Solution. Check with a doctor first if you are on prescriptions or have other health concerns.

Melatonin - when the heart rate stays increased from stress, the body slows its production of melatonin which regulates sleep.  It instead produces chemicals such as adrenaline to keep your body awake.  We are packing melatonin because we know that in tough situations we may not be able to sleep.  Especially if we are taking shifts that our bodies are not used to sleeping because we are on lookout duty.  Sleep is crucial we all know, but we know how cranky we get without it, so this is preventative to keeping others around us happy as well!  This is something simple and will come in handy!

Natural Stress Relievers

As a trained naturalist, I would like to share with you ways in which you can keep your families moods elevated the way that God intended, without a prescription for Prozac.  As a wife and mother I have taken my calling from God to care for my family.  Through planning for hard times I have found myself stumbling for answers and on my knees praying that God gives me the wisdom to keep them safe, and to somehow find happiness amidst the storms in life that may come.

I have read much mentioned that I should be packing puzzles and games to keep my family busy and their mind off of what will happen during times of disaster.  I would like to not just keep there minds off of what is going on, But help them face it and cope with it so that they may find true meaning and happiness and know that all is well no matter what we find ourselves facing.

I know that many of you have prepared for hard times and have everything ready to go. But have you taken time to think about how shocking this will be, even though you KNOW it is coming? How will your body react?  How will you explain this to small children? 

Number one: Stress is not good for the body. How will you counteract it?

  • Words of encouragement, Bible verses, speak out truths to your loved ones, have Biblical inspirations ready to read.
  • A 20 second hug. Slows the heart rate, gives a feeling of calmness and belonging.
  • Pack stuffed animals and silky blankets, even for your older children!
  • Have journals for each member of your family to sketch and write their feelings

Have a box packed with essential oils and spray bottles ready to mix: (I buy mine from   They have great prices and great products.)

Lavender - treats anxiety, depression, fatigue, anti-bacterial, anti-viral properties, eczema, wounds, nervous disorders, head lice, joint and muscle pain, skin ailments.  Research confirms that when lavender is inhaled it produces  calming and sedative effects and also assists in pain management. Lavender has been widely used in past wars on the battlefields when traditional medicines were scarce!

Tea tree oil - a natural mood and healthy hormone stimulant, anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-septic, balsamic (boosts absorption of nutrients,) cicatrisant (heals wounds more quickly,) expectorant (helps expel congestion from the body during cold or bronchitis) and anti-fungal, insecticide.  Another great thing about tea tree is that it is sudorific which means that it helps the body rid itself of harmful toxins. Besides infections, another cause of illness is accumulation of toxins in the body.

Peppermint oil - known as the “worlds oldest medicine,” it is a must in your emergency kit.  It treats indigestion (including morning sickness and motion sickness and IBS), respiratory problems, headache, nausea, fever, stomach and bowel spasms and pain.  It contains nutrients including iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, copper, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Its also used for dental care, respiratory  and digestive problems (anti-spasmodic), stress reducer, has been used to treat UTIs, relieves pain, helps blood circulate, helps reduce fever, removes dead skin and excess oil, kills lice and removes dandruff and helps build up the immune system.

Ylang ylang - used to reduce frustration and soothe the nerves, a known aphrodisiac, reduces insomnia and helps combat anxiety and depression.  Also known to stimulate hair growth and equalize sebum production in the skin.

Our family has developed a blend of essential oils that we always spray in our homes.  People always tell me that they love the smell of our house and think of us when they smell lavender. I take this scent with us wherever we go. I do this because growing up as a child my dad was a truck driver on the road for weeks.  There were eight of us kids, and we all fought over his pillow when he wa away from home because that was the smell of our dad.  I want my kids to know the smell of their home, the smell of safety and love….to bring back feelings of peace. I will send bottles of this with them when they leave home someday.

Bug spray blend- mix with one half pint of Witch Hazel in spray bottle and enjoy. Keep out of eyes!
1/2 teaspoon citronella essential oil       
1/2 teaspoon eucalyptus essential oil
1/2 teaspoon lavender essential oil         

Have a massage therapy kit, with alcohol for sanitizing, a foot washing kit, lotion, and small cards with massage instructions.  This will help relieve headaches, tension, promote healthy digestion, to relax back tension (after working all day chopping wood, and how to relieve a cramped muscle).  I have used and experienced myself with massage therapy and would encourage everyone to pick up or print off some simple massage techniques.  Even doing hand and foot massages during high stress times will protect your body from the increase in harmful hormones during the stress response and actually help the body heal. Do some research on the benefits of massage therapy!

The world is falling apart around us.  The economy is in shambles and the moral fiber that once made this country great has been reduced to nothing but tattered rags.  The once individualistic American who mistrusted government is now willing to give everything over to government for a modicum of false safety.  The entrepreneurial and innovative American has been boxed in by tough regulations and taxes.  In short, the American spirit is being snuffed out by the modern progressivism that has taken hold of our once great country.

Amidst all this doom and gloom and with little prospect for a bright future, I decided to go back to school and get a certification to do what I’ve discovered is my life’s passion.  My thought process was simple, if I’m stuck in the American hand basket and our final destination is some hot place other than the beaches of Miami, why not make the most of the time left I have living in the world as we know it before I am faced with the end of the world as we know it.  If someone is willing to pay me to do what I enjoy doing…why not be certified to do it?  Who knows, maybe my grim outlook is wrong and I will have all the advantages that my parents and grandparents had to build a good life, although I highly doubt I’m wrong.

One of the classes I took this past semester was a communications class.  Despite my already completed BA, I was expected to take a rudimentary communications class that was populated with hard working immigrants who were barely able to speak English.  Despite the obstacles of the class, the professor communicated very well and actually taught some really valuable information.  One communications theory we learned and spent a significant amount of time discussing was a communications theory called Group Think.

"Reaching consensus in a group is often confused with finding the right answer". – Norman Mailer

Group Think, in a nutshell, is a theory which states that, in an effort to make decisions without conflict, the various viewpoints held by individual members of the group are conformed to the general viewpoint, thus stifling debate.  In theory it sounds true; practically we’ve all experienced it.  When was the last time you made vacation plans with several other families or tried to organize a church fundraiser with a committee of people?  The classic example of Group Think we discussed in class was the decision by NASA to launch the space shuttle Challenger [on January 28, 1986].  Some scientist at NASA presented the team with objections and advised the decision makers to postpone the shuttle launch.  Facing another embarrassing delay, the NASA decision makers succumbed to Group Think and seven astronauts lost their lives. Conflict is avoided and the best course of action is not always the course of action actually taken. 

Group Think can arise from three different sources: group cohesiveness, structural faults, and situational context.  Group cohesiveness is the force that binds the group together, whether it is an emotional glue or common task.  Group Think can arise from structural faults in the group.  These faults can be, but are certainly not limited to, the insulation of the group, lack of impartial leadership, or the similarity of the group members’ social backgrounds and ideology.  Finally, the situational context of the group can lead to Group Think within the group.  Again, this is not an exhaustive list but some external situations include highly stressful external threats, recent failures, excessive difficulties on the decision-making task, and moral dilemmas.  Group cohesiveness, structural faults, and situational context all put pressure on the group and could cause Group Think to set in. 
How do you know if your group is falling victim to Group Think?  Irving Janis, the leading researcher who developed the Group Think theory, observed eight symptoms of group think.

  • Illusions of invulnerability; creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
  • Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
  • Rationalizing warnings that might challenge the group's assumptions.
  • Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, biased, spiteful, impotent, or stupid.
  • Self-censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
  • Illusions of unanimity among group members; silence is viewed as agreement.
  • Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of "disloyalty"
  • Mind guards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information

How do you avoid Group Think?  This question is debated among the various experts and psychologist who study Group Think.  Seven different ways of avoiding Group Think have been devised.

  • Leaders should assign each member the role of “critical evaluator”. This allows each member to freely air objections and doubts.
  • Higher-ups should not express an opinion when assigning a task to a group.
  • The organization should set up several independent groups, working on the same problem.
  • All effective alternatives should be examined.
  • Each member should discuss the group's ideas with trusted people outside of the group.
  • The group should invite outside experts into meetings. Group members should be allowed to discuss with and question the outside experts.
  • At least one group member should be assigned the role of devil's advocate. This should be a different person for each meeting.

Why should the readers of SurvivalBlog be interested in a communications theory?  What does this theory have to do with prepping?   Have you organized a mutual assistance group (MAG)? Then expect to see some Group Think.  Many articles posted in this blog describe different methods of organizing a MAG and what exactly are the requirements for their specific MAG.  I remember one article not too long ago that had very harsh and unbending rules in order to be a part of this particular MAG.  After learning about this theory of Group Think, I would be concerned about being in that guys MAG. 

So, how does one form a MAG and avoid Group Think.  It seems that some of the methods outlined above violate some of the cardinal rules of prepping.  Secrecy is king in the prepping world.  To give any indication to non-preppers the type of prepping you and your MAG are doing would make you vulnerable and potential targets.  So the directions to consult outside experts wouldn’t really apply.  Or would it?
Differing opinions in a group is a necessity when setting up a MAG.  Sure there needs to be the common purpose and even a common religion.  But each member of your MAG must have a different background.  The different backgrounds assure diversity of thought.  To take it one step further, expert consultation must also be a part of your MAG’s modus operandi.  How do you do this and still maintain your secrecy?  While we still have the internet, one could use some of the many discussion boards to seek other preppers opinions.  You maintain anonymity and get outside advice. 

There must be a devil’s advocate in your MAG.  Or better yet, have each member of your MAG cultivate the devil’s advocate spirit.  As Glenn Beck constantly says, “Question everything.”  Developing your ability to think critically helps you assume the role of devil’s advocate.  When your MAG meets, don’t take things or a certain opinion as a given.  Try to examine all sides of the coin.  Question your conclusions.  Ultimately, the questioning has to stop somewhere and a decision has to be made.  To avoid Group Think, I would recommend excluding the MAG leader from the discussion and debate process.  After discussion and debate, come up with possible solutions.  Then present the possible solutions to the MAG leader.  By doing this, the MAG leader will have an unbiased opinion of the solutions, untainted by the discussion and debate.  He/she will be able to see the pros and cons of each solution and will make a decision without the pressures of Group Think.

Another practical application to the Group Think theory is applying it to the prepper theory in general.  It is accepted wisdom on that one needs to prepare for a grid down situation.  While I agree with the grid down threat, it seems to me to be a small threat and certainly not the only threat that needs to be examined.  What real world experience makes one think that we are going to lose all electricity and be thrown back into the dark ages?  Standard reading for the prepper crowd is Patriots; my compliments to the author.  While the story is great fiction, will the world collapse as Mr. Rawles has written it?  Will the American government totally collapse?  Will electricity go out and technology cease to exist?   What is the likelihood that we will have to walk around in our BTUs with a battle rifle flung over our shoulder?  Have survivalblog readers become subject to Group Think? 

Consider the fiction of 1984 or Brave New World or Atlas Shrugged.  None of those books have complete societal collapse as the end state. (Atlas Shrugged sort of does, but not in the same way as Patriots.) Rather, these famous dystopias present a world where government is all knowing or all intrusive.  Is there any prepper out there who has prepared for Big Brother watching you?  Recent stories in the news have the government moving in the direction of 1984; a mileage tax where the government installs a GPS on your car and taxes miles driven; nationwide text message alert system that gives the government access to your phone and number; Drudge refers to Sec. Janet Napolitano as Big Sis. 

What preparations are you making to contend with an all-knowing government?  One can hope society and government collapses under its own debauched weight as Rawles’ fictionalizes.  In some ways life would be easier without government and electricity than life with all an all knowing tyrannical government. Personally, I would rather plow fields with a horse and wooden plow than contend with Big Brother.  So what if government doesn’t fail and Big Bother is watching you?  Then what?  Have you prepared for that situation?  You have the battle rifle and the thousands of rounds of ammo.  But in order to travel to and from work, you have to pass through check points.  Carrying your gun is a definite no-no?  How will you protect yourself?  What weapon will you carry?  These are just some of the questions I have when thinking about prepping for a tyrannical government.

My preparations have taken a different course as of late.  I’ve become convinced that the dark powers directing the destruction of our country will not allow things to totally collapse.  They will maintain control and I will have to learn how to survive in a more tyrannical world.  I’m challenging the common wisdom with my questions, but am I hoping that by doing so, I’m avoiding falling into Group Think.   I’m trying to look at thisof the normal preppers box and come up with ideas.  But I need help.  I would like to throw out the topic seek outside advice. 

How does one prep to live in a world with an all intrusive government?  What preparations need to be made if we are faced with a Big Brother situation?

Dear Editor:
Robert M. should also look at a propane refrigerator such as found in campers.  It only takes enough gas to run a pilot light to keep things cold.  A 20 pound propane cylinder will last us several seasons and also do the cooking.  A  200 gallon tank would last for several years if it were only used to cool your medications.  I have seen used propane refrigerators going for next to nothing when people scrap out old campers.  - Bob P.

Hi There,
Kudos to the author who wrote about off-grid electric refrigerators for storing insulin; other options he may wish to consider as part of his contingency planning include: - Propane powered refrigerators.  These tend to be very efficient, particularly if you get a model with a lid that opens upward (like a chest freezer) rather than outward (like most household fridges).  If propane figures heavily into your prep plans for heating or cooking, it is only logical to include high efficiency refrigeration to the mix.  Even if it does not, it bears looking into as another cost effective option. - Frio bags.  These are made by the Frio company in a number of sizes and configurations for the express purpose of keeping insulin cool without refrigeration, using evaporative cooling.  The bags are soaked for several minutes in water and the small crystals inside absorb this water, slowly evaporating it over many hours and keeping the insulin inside cool.  While not quite as cold as a good fridge for long term storage (years), I personally know diabetics that have used them to keep insulin cool in some of the hottest deserts on earth for weeks and months at a time.   Best regards (and hoping my stored insulin lasts longer than TEOTWAWKI) - L.J. 

Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the letter, Diabetic Preparedness - Storing Insulin in a Grid Down World, by Robert M, , a couple of other options might be a kerosene powered refrigerator, or a solar ice maker.

The kerosene powered refrigerator, using 1/4 gal of kerosene per day, would allow a 55 gallon drum to power it for 220 days, and four drums on a pallet would power it for 880 days, over two years.

The solar ice maker mentioned at this web site,, produces about 50 Kg of ice each day.

Mr Rawles, 
I follow your blog often and it is a wealth of information that I pull from often. I would like to respond to Robert M. and his issue with insulin. I to have the same problem because my son in a Type 1 diabetic and I would rather die than see him suffer a slow painful death from lack of insulin should TEOTWAWKI happen. As an professionally licensed master electrical contractor for years that has/is experimenting with both wind and solar. I would like to share my findings on this with your readers in the future but the experiment is ongoing for use with pressure water, well pumping and communications. I would though, like to offer some immediate suggestions to Robert.  

First off, if at all possible do not use any kind of motor. If you have to use a motor only DC and certain AC types with a soft start, this I will discuss in a later letter. When using any type alternative power system, any motor or resistance devices like electric heaters or incandescent light bulbs are the biggest drain on a power system either on or off grid, but motors are by far the worst of the three.   

Robert should invest in a propane refrigerator like a Diamond or other quality brand (not an inefficient camper multi fuel type) and not depend on electricity for insulin storage This is what I use to store my sons insulin that I have been storing up in quantity along with rechargeable batteries for his insulin pump and hundreds of syringes an slow acting insulin should the pump fail. I am in the electrical business (well not so much since 2008 LOL) and I would never depend on electricity for my sons insulin storage and as a result his life. Added note: the Diamond LP refrigerator is EMP proof! A double win.  

I have my refrigerator connected to a 1,000 gallon LP tank filled to its 80% maximum of 800 gallons. This will run that 17 cubic foot refrigirator for 12 years if I use it for nothing else! The LP will also store that long. The only other thing I have connected to the LP tank is a very small very efficent 2.5KW 120V Generac camper style generator to use only to supplement my solar panels and wind mills when needed. It can also be used to direct power the 120 VAC soft start well pump to fill a 500 gallon static tank that we can pump water from at 50 psi with a 12V DC pump to two houses and four bathrooms. I do not use a 120 volt motor to distibute the water when off grid, but again I'll write more on that later.  

I also would like to suggest you find a doctor like I have that is awake and will over prescribe the insulin your wife needs for life so you can save 3 or 4 bottles a month until you can store up what you need for several months. My doctor also prescribed a six month one-time purchase for my son because "he was leaving the country" and we needed it to take with him. Though insurance will not pay for it, I am sure your wifes life is worth it. It was a big cost to me but well worth it. You then can use those six months worth of bottles to rotate out with the new that you purchase always having a supply within expiration dates.  

Good luck Robert and all the others like us that have loved ones that suffer from this or any other drug-dependant disease. - Mike W.

This post sums up what a lot of people have been thinking: You Might Be A Psychopath If…

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The shortages continue: Drugs For Critically Ill In Short Supply. (Thanks to C.D.V. for the link.)

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Ay, ay, ay: CDC Warns Public to Prepare for 'Zombie Apocalypse'. How could the CDC use such absurd, illogical imagery to promote a family preparedness campaign? They must have let a few overpaid publicity consultants run amok. Be very careful when you ask PR people to "Do something bold, to catch attention." Did they ever! (Thanks to Steve C. for the link.)

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Trapper Mike suggested a short video: Highway numbers aren't random.

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Islands in the stream: The extraordinary homemade dams holding back the Mississippi as desperate residents try to save their homes

"The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD [is] sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the LORD [are] right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD [is] pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the LORD [is] clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD [are] true [and] righteous altogether.

More to be desired [are they] than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." - Psalm 19:7-10 (KJV)

Friday, May 20, 2011

A recent Live Science article, “The Draw of Doomsday: Why People Look Forward to the End” mentions SurvivalBlog. But like most mainstream media reports, it both denigrates and misinterprets the value of preparedness.


Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I have spent time and money on food and water preparation, on preparing my family plan for emergency situations that might last an extended period of time. I have purchased and prepared medical and hygiene supplies, trying to cover as many areas as I could. Even with this much preparation, there was still one other important issue I needed to address.

In a true TEOTWAWKI situation, a major concern for me and my family is electrical power. This concern isn’t centered on the ability to watch television, listen to music, or even cook food. Those are what I would consider the “perks” of having electricity in such a situation. No…our need is centered on another main fact of our lives…the need for medicinal storage. You see, my wife is type 1 diabetic and requires insulin in order to remain active, healthy, and…well…alive. Insulin is temperature sensitive medication and being unable to store it in ideal conditions puts my wife at a tremendous health risk…one I am not willing to take. We needed a refrigerator and a means to power it…period.

Why is this so important? Here are some facts around insulin storage. It is important to note that these findings are based on my own research and any conclusions you reach should be based on research you have done yourself. Never take someone else’s word for it. Learn the essentials for yourself.

According to the insulin packaging from the manufacturer of the insulin my wife uses, unopened vials of insulin must be kept at temperatures between 36 - 46 degrees Fahrenheit.  Opened and in use insulin vials should be kept at room temperature between 59 - 86 degrees Fahrenheit for easier distribution into the bloodstream. Storing insulin in conditions outside of recommended levels can drastically reduce the effectiveness of that insulin. For example, if it is too cold, insulin can form clots and become useless. If it’s too hot, the insulin loses potency and takes more of it to be effective.  Where we live, if the grid went down for an extended period of time at the wrong time of the year, temperatures could exceed 100 degrees easily. That would drastically reduce the effectiveness of my wife’s insulin. This means that, without a means to refrigerate her insulin, my wife would have to use higher dosages of “weaker” insulin in order to maintain her blood sugar levels. The use of higher dosage amounts would result in a much quicker depletion of her insulin stockpile. Not a very pleasant scenario to think about when faced with the uncertainty of when we would be able to get more insulin for her…if ever. Making it last as long as possible is extremely important.

I had many discussions with my wife on this subject and spent time and money to tackle this area of concern. I have looked at and investigated different options to cover this need for continued electrical power. A key factor for us was being able to begin preparations without breaking our bank account.  We wanted to be able to prepare for tomorrow, but still live and enjoy today.

Below is my assessment of some of the options I have weighed over the past year and my reasons for not choosing them. Once again, keep in mind that my decision is not a final decision that works for everyone. It is the decision that best fits my family from a financial and practical point of view. Your situation may be different and you may feel another option best fits your individual needs.

Generator power: It is completely unrealistic for us, as a family, to afford the major investment of buying a quality generator. Not only does this approach require the investment in the generator itself, it also requires an investment in fuel supplies. The costs of containers for fuel storage, fuel stabilizer, and other safety considerations really start to add up quickly. More importantly, this option is a rather noisy approach. In a true TEOTWAWKI scenario, I don’t want to be drawing attention to the fact that I have power. In an urban environment, a noisy, gas powered generator would be easily noticed and tracked. I would be an instant target for those looking to get something for nothing or simply looking for someone to raid and take what they can from them.

Manual Generator (human power): There is not much I can say here. We have all seen the “bicycle generator” videos. Just too much effort required for minimal results. It may be a cheaper way to go, but the output is not worth the energy I would have to spend to get it. I think I would die of starvation before I could pedal enough power to charge my battery array on which I plan to run a refrigerator.

Wind Turbine: Again, this option requires some investment and know-how that I am not willing to put my time and effort into. Although this option produces free energy, it also requires a lot of material cost that quickly goes above our budget. There are other factors against this option as well. Where I live, the wind is sporadic at best and I would not consistently get the rotation speed I would require to repeatedly recharge my battery array of choice. The high profile of a wind turbine is, once again, a security issue. It is a major attention grabber that I can’t afford to have around in an urban environment. Drawing that level of attention is extremely dangerous when most people around us have not bothered to prepare at all. Again, why make my family targets for those looking to get something for nothing, those raiding others in hopes of gaining supplies.

Photovoltaic (PV) Panels: This brings us to my final option, one that makes the most sense to me and my family from both an economic and strategic position. We get 280+ days of sun where we live. There is virtually no noise, and if set up properly there are ways of properly concealing solar panels from plain sight. In our neighborhood, we have large back yards and high block wall fences separating one house from the next. These high block wall fences enable me to ground mount my panels low enough to the ground and at the correct angle to capture the most amount of southern sun and still keep them from being visible from the street or from a neighbor’s back yard. After discussing this option with my wife, it seemed the most sensible way to go.

I started by purchasing a pre-fabricated set of solar panels from a local hardware chain (45 watts, total). This set was a good investment as it gave me all the tools I needed in order to gain a better understanding of what solar power is all about and how it works. The system came with 3-15 watt solar panels, a charge controller (which is vital and keeps the batteries from over-charging or over-depleting), and two 5 watt [DC] fluorescent lights on 12 foot cords. The set also came with various cords for use with the charge controller which allows for direct connection to recharge 3, 5, 6, and 9v appliances and devices. It also has a 12 volt cigarette lighter plug (like those found in your car), so a 12 VDC appliance can be plugged directly into the charge controller if needed. I charge my iPod Nano and my cell phone on it regularly without issue.

This 45 watt system will produce an average of 2.25 amps per hour during daytime hours (roughly 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Using a mulitmeter, I have actually taken panel output readings at various times of the day, several different days during different seasons to support the 2.25 amps average. Some hours it is less (like early morning and late afternoon) and sometimes it produces more (like the hours between 9:30 am and 3:30 pm). This is enough output to maintain my pair of deep cycle marine batteries.

This is where things get a bit on the technical side. We have to figure out the capacity of the battery bank and maximum load (the amount of power that can be used in a given hour) for that array. Each of the marine deep cycle batteries is rated at 105 amp hours each (210 total amp hours). Research has indicated that in order to preserve and extend battery life, you really want to use only 80% of that available power. That would give a total of 168 amp hours (210 x .80). To determine the maximum hourly amp load level, take that 168 and divide it by 24 (20 is the recommended load time used in these type of calculations, but assuming it will be used around the clock is to error on the side of caution). This gives a total hourly amp load of 7 amps. The total load is impressive, but you need to remember that the actual load should not exceed the solar panel array’s ability to recharge the battery bank. As I stated earlier in this article, the panels put out an average of 2.25 amps per hour over the 10 hours of daylight that are strong enough to generate power via the solar panels. That’s 22.25 amps every day (10 x 2.25). Not a bad starting point.

The next step was to find a refrigerator that would not completely drain the battery bank in the process of preserving my wife’s medication. I settled on a 1.7 cubic foot refrigerator without freezer. The freezer free option helps maintain a lower power consumption profile as it does not require a compressor to run in addition to the cooling fan and motor. This means that there are fewer cycles during which the refrigerator motor is actually running to cool down the unit…meaning it probably uses less power than the specifications have defined…great news. This refrigerator not only has plenty of storage space for my wife’s insulin medication, it also provides options for other food storage in a true TEOTWAWKI scenario. Being able to preserve other foods is always a bonus in a long-term TEOTWAWKI scenario.

Back to power consumption and maximum load. This particular refrigerator model runs on an amazingly low 80 watts. In order to figure out the amp load this refrigerator consumes, take the watts (80) and divide that by the current it will use in 120 Volt AC power. This gives a value of .67 amps. At that rate, running this refrigerator 24 hours per day would use only 16.08 total amps of power from the battery bank. Remember that the motor is not running all the time, so actual power consumption is realistically less, but use the maximum consumption in equations to be safe. In the 10 hours of direct sunlight available on average in my area and at the average panel output of 2.25 amps per hour, this results in getting a satisfactory 22.25 amps in 10 hours. This is 6.42 amps more than the refrigerator consumes all day. This allows the battery bank to remain at full capacity each and every day.[JWR Adds: To be accurate: An 80 watt demand (at 110 VAC) pulls almost 7 amps per hour. (80 divided by 12.6). Volts x Amps = Watts. Also, as SurvivalBlog Reader "Mabs" has pointed out, a 6 volt golf cart deep cycle battery can only be drained 50% without hurting the battery. In a pinch 70% can be drained but doing this adversly affects battery longevity. Keep in mind that inverters are inefficient, so you would need a substantially larger system to provide 80 watts of AC power, 24 hours per day. You must carefully match the size of the inverter to your intended loads. Even when at "idle", inverters draw significant current. The bigger the inverter, the bigger the current draw, so choose wisely. My advice is that for the sake of simplicity and efficiency that you set up an entirely DC system, using a compact DC-powered refrigerator, such as those made by Engel. When set to 40 degrees they only draw about 1 Amp. You can also keep a small inverter on hand to plug in for occasional use of small AC power tools.]

What I have discussed here is a basic PV system. Solar panel array systems are scalable. I can add more and more panels as time goes by to increase my load closer to my battery bank's limit [without deep cycling]. More panels will allow me to use my battery array for more than just the refrigerator. I can run lights and and small appliances with the confidence that my battery array can and will be fully charged by a larger solar panel array. The more panels I add, the more amps they will charge my battery bank during the daytime. [JWR Adds: This would require a charge controller to avoid battery overcharging, an inverter of adequate size (to handle AC loads), and a well-maintained battery bank of sufficient size to match the scale of the system.] The key for me was to build an initial system that would cover our main need, to preserve my wife’s medication. After that, I can comfortably add to it as time and money allows.

I have come to the sobering realization that only I can do the things that will best protect my family. I could not allow myself to be aware of such a serious issue and not do something about it. There is nothing wrong with preparation. God willing, nothing will ever happen and my wife will continue to get her insulin in the mail on schedule as expected. If that’s the case, I’ve got a really nice beer refrigerator I can use during football season. If something does happen, I can feel better knowing I have put my wife and family in the best position to survive. Thank you and God bless.

Dear James,
I read your blog weekly.  Very good stuff. 

Regarding the recent article Surviving TEOTWAWKI with Infants and Toddlers, by M.A., I just wanted to add couple things, being a mom of five. 

Having things like Tiefu (for headaches, pains, sinuses), acidophilus (for stomach woes, can be used with infants and will put an end to diarrhea) Otic solutions for inner ear pain (there is no way to sooth a baby in ear pain without this stuff), Vertifree for children and adults with symptoms of vertigo caused by allergies and such.  Castor Oil for muscle pains.  Having the same bracelet can also work instead of tattoos.  One can also stock up on a small box of age appropriate toys.  

I think another good thing is develop a quiet spirit/mind/body.  Don’t expect your kids to wig out and they won't.  Start training your babies to be quiet.  This is not done by force, but by being a quiet person yourself.  With toddlers play games like hide and seek and reward for being a good and quiet hider.   Lots of rewarding: hugging, reading, playing things they like to play are much better than punishments.  Even a harsh look can bring a child's morale down, so always keep encouraging.   Involve little ones in everything so they know they are a part of the “team” and then reward.   Peace, - Deirdre

Mr. Rawles,

While I agree, of course, with Steve V.'s assertion that firearms need to be handled safely, people should be familiar with their firearms, and training is a good thing; I very much disagree with the assertion that operating the slide of an automatic pistol the correct way is "an extremely bad habit".

First, his complaints about what happens when racking a slide with thumbs on opposite sides of the slide and facing opposite directions aren't very valid in my opinion. The notion that a shooter's hand and arm conceal the pistol making it "hard to see exactly where the muzzle is pointing" is silly. Even with a small-frame Glock 26 or 27 I can still see the muzzle when operating the slide. But I don't have to even see the muzzle to know where it is pointing because the hand on the pistol grip is indexed and I know where my fingers point without having to actually see them. Almost any man, woman, or child can stretch out their arm and point their index finger and know where their arm and finger are pointing without looking at them.

Also, at no time does the muzzle point "along or into the left lower forearm". Even if I had forearms like Popeye, this would not happen. The pistol is pointed downrange, the left hand is on the slide, well behind the muzzle, and every other part of the left arm is farther back than the hand.

Second, I manipulate a pistol up high in my field of view so that I can see the pistol, the environment, and potential adversaries all at once. Manipulating the slide the way that Steve prefers when the pistol is up high in the shooter's field of view is nearly impossible (which is why he recommends the low 45-degree position). You have to either turn the right wrist to the right (for a right-hand shooter) in order to effectively grasp the slide with the off hand or you have to contort your arms to bring your forearms parallel with each other with the elbows nearly together in order to keep the pistol pointed ahead and get your off hand onto the slide with the thumb-forward grip that was recommended.

If you do see someone pointing a pistol to their left or right while manipulating the slide -- regardless of their approach to manipulating the slide -- it is a training issue and should no doubt be corrected. But that doesn't mean that a mechanically inefficient or awkward approach that is better only for the range should be preferred. - Jeff in Georgia


Mr. Rawles,
The article by Steve V. leaves me with some concerns for the general populace.  I have spent my entire adult life in public service, serving both my country (13 years) and my state (13+ years), always carrying a weapon. 

My concerns are the way Steve V. has individuals pulling the slide to the rear; “With the left hand, reach over the slide (your thumbs should now both be pointing in the same direction – forward, but on opposite sides of the weapon), and with thumb and forefinger grasp the slide near the muzzle. Pull the slide back and lock it open.”  This does multiple things wrong in my book.  One, it places your hand operating the slide close to the muzzle.  No plan survives first contact!  With a sympathetic response, one could be missing a finger and thumb or parts thereof.  Second, you only have one finger and only a portion of your thumb on the slide to obtain your grip.  Third, you are potentially placing your body, dripping blood, or clothing over the ejection port and possibly in the chamber.  And fourth, this only allows you to hold the weapon vertical, as in a firing position or cant it to the left; both ways again cause possible problems and more malfunctions if your intent is to clear a malfunction.

Steve V. states that “most people rack the slide by holding the pistol in the right hand, grasping the rear of the slide with the other hand in a manner such that the thumbs are pointing in opposite directions on the same side of the weapon,” is an extremely bad habit.  I completely disagree and argue the following reasons.  One, your hand operating the slide is nowhere near the muzzle and is rear of the ejection port, clearing it of any self-induced malfunctions or injuries.  Two, you have four fingers on the right and most of your palm on the left of the slide making a C clamp.  Blood is slippery and the more friction area you have between you and the slide the better.  Three, this forces you to either have the weapon upright or allows you to cant the weapon to the right allowing anything you don’t want, i.e. a spent casing, to fall free.  Obviously to the right is preferred.

Muzzle Discipline.  This is a taught technique or an allowed bad habit from the start.  Weapons are always down range or pointed downward (cover/ready position) with the finger off the trigger until necessary.  Even when clearing a malfunction, loading, unloading, or reloading, the muzzle faces the enemy.  It is muscle memory and if taught from the start is second nature.  All should be taught never to flag (point, cross, etc.) your buddy with the muzzle, always keeping in mind weapons are inherently dangerous.  That said, good guys walk in front of other good guys in the heat of the moment.  Your finger should be off the trigger and if you are up on target, lower [your muzzle to a] ready [position] if this happens.  After they pass, move if necessary, and re-acquire/re-engage your target.

Final thought when clearing your weapon.  One, drop the magazine allowing it to hit the ground or floor!  No need to train a bad habit by grabbing it as it drops.  If you do, you have the potential of grabbing an empty in combat.  Let it drop!  Two, rack the slide three times to the rear, locking the slide to the rear on the third time.  If you do it three times, you shouldn’t be tempted to try and catch that round as it comes out, yet again another bad habit.  After locking the slide to the rear, visually inspect the chamber and the magazine well for anything. 

Practice doesn’t make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect!
Stay safe and when in doubt, empty a magazine!  Or two. Regards, - T.F.

More than a dozen blog readers suggested this must read piece: Hedge Farm! The Doomsday Food Price Scenario Turning Hedgies into Survivalists. Here is a quote from the article: "When asked if this is an end of the world scenario, the hedge-fund manager replied, “It really is. I tell my fiancée this from time to time, and I’ve stopped telling her this, because it’s not the most pleasant thought."

Reader Stephen M. wrote to mention: "One of my favourite indicators as to economic health is the Baltic Dry Index.  It is simply a measure of the shipping costs to move dry goods on the sea.  It does not include oil.  If the index is up then they are moving dry commodities.  If it is falling the economic scene is deteriorating.  It is a pretty good measure. JWR Adds: I have a link to the Baltic Dry Index at my Investing Recommendations static page, along with some other useful charts and links.

C.D.V. spotted this over at Zero Hedge: UK And US Data Shows Stagflation Threat Deepening - Asian Gold Demand Remains Very High

Hedge Funds Show Lowest Net Long Silver Positions since February 2010

Too Big to Fail? Geithner Says No. (A hat tip to KAF for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Scorched Earth Policy by Bankers in Silver

Treasury to Tap Pensions to Help Fund Government

Financial Repression Coming to America

Lulu is offering free shipping until the end of May. This includes the SurvivalBlog 5-Year Archive CD-ROM. Use coupon code FREESHIP305.

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Lynn G. sent this: US official: growing threat from solar storms

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An amazing collection of disaster pictures: Mississippi Floodwaters Roll South. (Thanks to Pierre M. for the link.)

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KAF sent this: Equine Herpes Outbreak Hits Western U.S. States

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Reader Lynn G suggested: In the bleak light of the Depression: Rare colour photographs of the era that defined a generation

"Don't mistake coincidence for fate." - Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Mr. Eko, Lost, Season 2

Thursday, May 19, 2011

There are now more than 2,100 archived SurvivalBlog Quotes of the Day. My sincere thanks to the many readers that have e-mailed me their favorite quotations. BTW: Please keep them coming! If you have a favorite quotation with a confirmed attribution, then please e-mail it to me. To avoid repetition, please first do a search for the author's name and a key word from the quote, using our Search box. Thanks!


Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

For more than two decades, I have carried a variety of weapons ranging from revolvers to suppressed HKs, regularly shooting more than 30,000 rounds a year. (Our rich Uncle Sam has a lot of ammo). As a result, my colleagues and I spent a lot of time handling a variety of firearms. I witnessed more than one negligent discharge by these experienced professionals and have given a lot of thought about how to reduce this possibility. Too many shooters and bystanders are inadvertently injured or killed by poor safety practices.

Long experience has shown very few people know how to safely pull the slide back on a semiautomatic pistol and on those pistols without a decocking lever, almost no one knows how to safely lower a cocked hammer. Do you carry a 1911 series ‘cocked and locked’?  Have your ever verified the integrity of your pistol’s mechanical safeties? Do you even know how many safeties are on your pistol?

Before shooting any firearm in training, you should perform functional safety checks. Because the Browning designed short recoil Colt M1911A1 .45 ACP pistol (and its many variants) is commonly owned and has multiple safeties, I’ll use it as an example. The difficulty in safely lowering an external hammer is often used as an excuse to avoid weapons with such. With a little practice, external hammers can be lowered safely and with ease.

Many of the following safety checks and techniques are applicable to any firearm. A right handed shooter is presumed but these techniques are easily reversed for the left handed.

1. Remove the magazine and eject the round from the chamber (1911s should be carried with a round in the chamber, hammer cocked, and slide safety engaged). Because the slide safety also locks the slide, this condition is often called cocked and locked. Lock the slide open. Make certain the ejected round didn’t slip back into the chamber. Look into the chamber and verify that it is indeed empty. Put the ejected round and magazine into your left hand pocket out of the way. Now how did you eject the round? The human body is biomechanically very efficient in an opposing action with the arms. As a result, most people rack the slide by holding the pistol in the right hand, grasping the rear of the slide with the other hand in a manner such that the thumbs are pointing in opposite directions on the same side of the weapon. This is an extremely bad habit for several reasons. When holding it thusly, the muzzle points to the left and perhaps behind the shooter. The slide and barrel are concealed beneath the left hand and arm making it hard to see exactly where the muzzle is pointing. On the firing line, it often points toward the shooter on your left. Now where did that muzzle just point? Did you point it at a team member, a bystander, your spouse or child? Remember and practice the rule ‘Never point a firearm at anything you do not wish to shoot.’ Well, you probably just did. The muzzle tracks an even bigger wobbly arc with weak shooters (who are even more prone to use this method). Another reason this is a bad habit is that the muzzle points along or into the left lower forearm. An negligent discharge into the arm at this angle would be worse than awful. If you are one of the many who clear your pistol like this, don’t expect to shoot with me.

2. With the magazine removed and safely in your pocket along with the ejected round, release the slide and let it go forward into battery on an empty chamber (you did let it snap closed, didn’t you?). If you cleared the pistol earlier using the method just described, try it this way. Hold the pistol in your right hand and point it forward and down at a 45 degree angle. You can easily see where the muzzle is pointing, right? With the left hand, reach over the slide (your thumbs should now both be pointing in the same direction – forward, but on opposite sides of the weapon), and with thumb and forefinger grasp the slide near the muzzle. Pull the slide back and lock it open. Some slides have friction ridges near the muzzle, now you know why. Notice at no time did you handle the pistol in an uncontrolled manner nor did the muzzle track a wide arc. Oh yes, this is much harder because it is biomechanically weaker and the action unpracticed. If you see the wisdom in what was just described, you will probably have one of those bad habits to overcome.

3. With the slide locked open, once again look into the breech and verify the chamber is empty. Peer down into the empty magazine well and check for lint or other debris. Have a close look at the condition of the breech face, extractor, and ejector. Now turn the muzzle toward your head and look down the barrel in order to check for obstructions, dirt, and lint. Is there excessively oil anywhere? Any debris? If so, these conditions must be remedied before firing (fix this right away before continuing). If the pistol is carried/transported in an open muzzle end holster or loosely in a purse or bag, this check is even more essential. Paper clips, gum, dirt, and all sort of other debris find their way into barrels. Catastrophic failure and most likely injury will result from shooting any firearm with an obstructed barrel.

4. Pointing the pistol in a safe direction, ease the slide back until the slide lock clicks off, then release the slide and let it slam closed on the empty chamber. If you routinely ease the slide closed, this is another bad habit that may carry through when charging the pistol with a live round. Easing the slide forward will guarantee a jam when charging many firearms from the magazine. Manually loading a round into the chamber and dropping the slide closed on it is another bad practice. I am convinced this puts undue stress on the extractor.

5. With the slide now closed on an empty chamber, point the firearm in a safe direction and squeeze the trigger. The hammer will fall and its face should be against the rear of the slide. A blow to the hammer in this condition with a loaded chamber could result in a discharge. With your trigger finger off of the trigger and along side the frame, Place the side of your free hand thumb on the top of the hammer and top rear edge of the slide. Roll and wedge your thumb between the hammer and rear of the slide to ease the hammer back slightly to the first click (but not to the fully cocked position). Apply a little forward force on the back of the hammer trying to move it toward the muzzle. It should not move. This is the half cock safety. With the hammer at half cock, a blow such as dropping the weapon on the hammer theoretically should not result in a discharge. I have never trusted the half cock position.

6. Point the empty pistol in a safe direction and rack the slide cocking the hammer. Did you remember to hold the slide at the muzzle between your thumb and forefinger? Engage the slide safety. Most 1911s also have a grip safety.  Hold the pistol in a shooting manner with the grip safety engaged and squeeze the trigger. The hammer should not fall. Now you know the slide safety works independent of the grip safety.

7. Point the empty pistol in a safe direction and disengage the slide safety. It is a little awkward but without engaging the grip safety, squeeze the trigger. The hammer should not fall. Now you know the grip safety works independent of the slide safety.

8. Point the empty pistol in a safe direction and with the hammer cocked, use the muzzle grip technique to ease the slide back out of battery about 1/4 inch. Hold it in this position. With the slide safety and grip safety disengaged, pull the trigger. Again the hammer should not fall. Now you know the slide disconnect safety works. The purpose of this safety is to prevent a partially chambered round from being fired.

9. Thusfar, the hammer has been lowered by pulling the trigger. I shall now describe how to safely lower the hammer on a firearm not equipped with a decocker lever. Many people both cock and lower the hammer with their thumb pad (thumbnail facing rearward). Remember earlier I had you cock the pistol using the slide, not your thumb? There was a reason for this. Thumb pad cocking and decocking works most of the time but should your thumb slip off the hammer with a loaded chamber, a discharge will occur. Point the empty cocked pistol in a safe direction. Hold the pistol in a shooting manner with slide and grip safeties disengaged. Place your free hand thumb perpendicular to the grip with the bottom of its joint facing toward the rear of the slide. Slip it in this manner between the rear of the slide and hammer. Force the hammer back slightly with the back of the thumb. Pull the trigger. The hammer is blocked from falling. Roll your thumb up counterclockwise just slightly to ease the hammer forward a little bit clearing the sear catch position. Release the trigger and continue to roll and pull your thumb up, easing the hammer down. By releasing the trigger before completely lowering the hammer, the half cock safety is engaged providing another measure of safety against a hammer slip. This takes some practice and you might pinch your thumb when first practicing. With practice, the hammer can always be safely lowered to the half cock position without pinching. Make a practice of cocking the hammer using the slide. If you must lower the hammer, then use the thumb block technique.

There are many ways negligent discharges occur. In my experience, they most often occur following dry firing after cleaning or other maintenance. I have no problem with dry firing and most modern pistols can withstand quite a bit without failure. After cleaning, performing maintenance and/or dry firing and reloading, holster the weapon and don’t mess with it again until ready to shoot. I repeat, after dry firing and reloading, put the weapon in the holster and don’t mess with it until ready to shoot again! By doing this simple thing, the possibility of negligent discharge is almost eliminated.

May your shooting always be for pleasure and never in fear or anger. 

I just wanted to share one note on the recent boat bug-out letter. There is actually one company I know of that makes fast pontoon boats (more of a combination speed/pontoon boat).

Check out Manitou Pontoon Boats.

I've seen some amazing video footage of these boats turning on a dime, and they have very high J.D. Power ratings. Note that I work for a company that does work for them, but don't gain anything from recommending them. - V.T.


After reading the articles on watercraft and some of the great insight put forth, I need to throw out this for food for thought. During my years working in law enforcement, being in bad situations, and learning from outlaws while working undercover, they ways they think both as aggressor or defender,  you learn to think out different survival situations and their resulting solutions.  I have lived in 15 different states all over the mainland U.S. and Hawaii for the last 50 years.  

One survival scenario that reoccurs to me is the need to have a fallback retreat. One that has the best usage of terrain and gives the advantage to the defender.  In looking back thru history, high ground was always a primary consideration, but another that is seldom mentioned is the use of of  islands, whether they be in a river, lake,  sea scenario, or accessed over a bridge. 

No matter where I have lived, be it in the northern, southern, or coastal states, I have the ability to find a "castle with moat"  defensible areas that deserve consideration. My belief is that what I might lack in numbers can be made up for in a significant amount by the ability to make the assault on a island a lot more negative to a potential attacker.  I first discussed this option with friends in Northern New Mexico, while hunting deer, who during the hunting season would swim a half mile to an island in a large mountain lake in order to escape the hunters, we enjoyed their natural ability to escape a threat.   I always have felt do what nature provides to most animals, the instinct to survive by utilizing what's available to them.

There are plus and minus arguments for this scenario, but for a person needing to think and more importantly react beyond the Golden Horde's willingness to pick you as a target, you might want to need to consider this option.

1. Most islands be they in a river or a lake or even a coastal location, will be vacant, and able to be occupied in a time of need. This takes the use of a boat to a better level by getting you away from the ground pounders and out to position that cannot be attacked on foot or by a motor vehicle. In addition it reduces, or may eliminate a on foot stealth approach. It now requires a potential attacker to first secure a type of boat in order to get to you.  In a situation where people are in a firefight from a defensible position on land, versus a attacking group in a boat(s) my money goes with the defenders every time.   The thought of going against anyone while in any type of boat is a reality check to say the least.  
2. Most islands will contain trees, shrubs, as a means of concealment and maybe some wildlife as a potential food source. Also should you have some high ground on the island it may add even more advantages to your defensive chances.  You also will  have a endless water supply unless you pick a coastal island. 
3. A direct attack requires the attacker to win in the first attempt (my premise) as they will be open to continuous fire even in an attempted retreat.  I pity most people trying to go against a defensive group on land while they are attacking from a boat. I will show no quarter to anyone even if they give up and are retreating, as I do not want to fight them on another front.
4. Attacks at night pose even more problems for attackers then it does for defenders, I am not going to weigh in using night vision.   
5. Unlike a land retreat it will be almost impossible to probe or infiltrate the island and return with intelligence prior to an assault.  
6. Using dogs for perimeter warning -- an island ensures they will not be wandering off.   

On the negative side:

1. Requires you to bring most of what you may require for a long term siege situation.
2. You will be isolated, but that's applicable to most other options also.
3. Will have to maintain/retain the ability to move back to mainland after the threat is reduced or gone.
4. The ability to gather food, and other items are going to be limited.
5. Bug out from an island may be harder to do or limited.

I admit there are items not addressed here, but the intent is to bring more options to the awareness of everyone who is trying to "make do with what you have, where you are."  This is a no cost addition to you survival plans, other than some prior planning and locating. God bless this country, and all of you who now follow him or will in the future.

- John in Arizona 

James Wesley:
Regarding the recent letter In Praise of the MAK-90, that there were a few slightly erroneous statements made which I wish to clarify: 

Most Norinco MAK-90s (as well as newer Russian/Bulgarian AK family rifles) use Double Hook triggers (not disconnectors), which at the top of the single piece of steel that is the trigger itself (which makes up the trigger/axis pin-bracket/primary sear), operates as the direct primary (semi-auto) sear to the hammer's release during trigger-pull.  And trigger-slap has nothing to do with double or single hook triggers, but with the disconnecter itself (a different part sitting within the trigger assembly).

Trigger slap is the side-effect of a disconnecter spring that is much too stiff or a disconnecter that sits too low in the trigger-assembly (or has the rear fin that pushes down on the back of the trigger as the hammer is pushing against it during hammer reset).

Anyone with a Tapco G2 (which come in both single/double hook flavors) installed on their AK will notice that this design has no trigger slap, nor do any of the newer Bulgarian/Russian AK trigger assemblies.  Double hook triggers usually lend themselves to better single-stage "target" trigger pulls, whereas the single hook triggers usually offer a more military-style 2-stage trigger pull.  All AKMs will work with single-hook triggers, but not all receivers will accept double-hook triggers, though a few minutes with a Dremel cutting wheel can add a second "cut" to the trigger-cutout in the receiver, if not already there, to accommodate it (just by looking at and copying the single-hook cutout as seen on the other side of the hole).

As for the 1.5mm vs the 1mm receiver thicknesses, the 1.5mm was the result of production with less-than-stellar quality steel (see softer-steel used in many Yugoslavian M70s).  The 1.5mm was to make up for the loss of strength with sub-standard steel, mostly during the era when the former Yugoslavia did not have access to high-quality ordnance-grade steel; not that China had this problem but they went with more-than-needed steel anyway. 

1mm receivers made properly with in-spec steel (and properly heat-treated) will literally outlast every other part of the rifle (long after the lands are shot smooth even in a chromed bore).  So-called "heat fatigue" does not necessarily concern the AKM receivers (as much as axis-pin hole fatigue or rear trunnion walking from the BC slamming into it...but again this is really only a problem in non-heat-treated receivers) as they do not heat up nearly as much as the barrel/gas-block/gas tube and, again, if properly heat-treated, it's a non-issue.  American companies such as Global Trades (Armory Inc.), Nodak Spuds, et. al. make fine 1mm receivers that are of high-grade steel and are properly and fully heat-treated.

Remember: Even stamped-receiver AKMs still have forged/milled front and rear trunnions where all the lockup and abuse happens.

I have nothing against Norinco produced AKs, as they (MAK-90s and Polytech Legends) are of high quality fit and finish and every one I've seen/handles/shot has been superbly machined, blued and assembled.  However, I'm not a huge fan of them as they do have firing-pin springs (one more thing to potentially fail).  They can, over time, cake up with dirt, crud, fowling and binding up the spring and so forth and cause shallow primer strikes from a short firing pin strike (subsequently causing misfires).  The only real drawback is slightly more care is required when cleaning out the firing-pin and channel in these rifles.

And while the heavier barrel is nice for slightly more resistance to heat-buildup and harmonic dampening, the addition of the 1.5mm receiver makes the weapon heavier than it needs to be.  And for me, personally, though they do have slightly-less felt recoil (if properly braked), they do not balance or mount as well as a Com-Bloc AKM-type rifle.  That is, however, purely my personal preference.

For those wanting to tighten up their AK's groups, I suggest using good ammo. I like Golden Tiger as it's proper .311" dia. and is boat-tail, which carries better at and beyond 300 meters.  For premium low-flash and high-accuracy, go with the Hornady Steel line loaded with V-Max bullets.  I've also had decent groups with the Barnaul/Bear series of 7.62x39 ammo), and increasing your sight-radius always helps.  A few things to look at in that regard, Tech-Sights and the Dog Leg Scope Rail (with Peep sight/Optional) from Texas Weapon Systems.

Most, with proper technique, should see their groups go from 50% to 200% tighter.  It truly is more than just a moderately accurate rifle, all things considered.  Most "battlefield pickup" AKs that many of our troops have seen/handled have been around for decades and have had tens if not hundreds of thousands of rounds through them, so the bores are, let's just say, less than crisp at that point (even though they're still running like swiss watches after so much shooting).  That's where part of the bad rap in accuracy comes from.  Crummy ammo would be another big negative as well as the average standard sights.

Shoot 50,000+ rounds through any rifle and tell me how it groups then.

But if you've shot a Russian/Bulgarian type AKM with a new/newish Steyr-made cold-hammer forged barrel (or clone) and proper ammo/sights, you'd know what I'm talking about when I say they are at least fairly accurate weapons.  And they still carry plenty of authority at 500 meter range, if employed correctly. I hope this helps, - Kyrottimus

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) sent this: George Soros dumps $800 million gold stake. (JWR Adds: Don't be surprised if Soros quietly buys back in to the market, this summer. He is famous for trying to move markets, and later capitalizing on those moves. )

Is Another Housing Crash Coming?

Oil prices fall on disappointing economic data

Ted in Nashville sent this: Abandoned Houses Leave Neighborhoods in Limbo

Foreclosures Prompt Four U.S. Cities to Sue Banks for Mowing, Home Repairs. (Thanks to Vitus for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

US Homebuilding, Manufacturing Slump in April

World on Course for Next Crisis, Says Gordon Brown

Dow Sheds Nearly 1% as US Inflation Rises

There are several new retreat property listings at our spin-off web site:

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G&K flagged this: Is This The Year The Atchafalaya River ‘Captures’ The Mississippi?

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Trevor wrote to mention that the 8th Annual Porcupine Freedom Festival will be held June 20-26th, 2011, in New Hampshire. You can register on-line. (Use coupon code TREVOR for 20% off registration "and some swag").

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"Tom Nobody" recommended a site with a lot of good home canning information:

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Simon Black (of the Sovereign Man blog) chimed in on the recent Indiana court case: Indiana Supreme Court Dispenses with Magna Carta, Constitution. Meanwhile, we read more bad news, at the Federal level: Supreme Court OKs warrantless searches. This is just one more reason that the 10 Amendment movement is sure to continue to grow.

"There is, of course, a slightly more sinister reason to develop a sudden interest in agriculture. Last year, Marc Faber recommended to anyone: "Stock up on a farm in northern Norway and learn to drive a tractor." He sees a "dirty war" on the horizon, playing on fears of a biological attack poisoning food supplies. Those sort of fears drive capital into everything from gold (recently at an all-time high and a long-time safe haven for investors with currency concerns) to survivalist accoutrements. In this particular case, one might buy the farm in order to avoid buying the farm." - Foster Kamer, The New York Observer, May 17, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As parents of twin infants, we recognize that our situation is far less defensible, far less mobile, and far more vulnerable in general in the event of a societal breakdown. However, we love our boys and they will be extremely useful on the farm one day, so we’ve decided to keep them around anyway. Below are some steps we have taken to prepare ourselves as parents of infants, with their future state as toddlers and children in mind. 

Avoiding Separation

  • Being able to sufficiently care for your children is a requirement even in a Great Depression or hyperinflation period. Social services such as Child Protective Services (CPS) may not shut down even though your family is out of an income. Stocking up on basic requirements in many sizes such as shoes, and simple clothing staples can help combat questions of your suitability as parents even if you are in a bad place economically.  Many parents during the Great Depression were forced to send their children to live with other relatives or families.
  • Have your child’s documents (passport, birth certificate) in a secure place in your bug out bag. Photocopy these documents and keep those copies in a plastic pouch that can be worn by your child during a large-scale and/or hectic evacuation. Also place a family photo in this pouch as well as your name and you can add your general bug out location if time allows.
  • Keep an identical set of temporary tattoos in your bug out bag for your entire family plus an extra. In the event of a chaotic evacuation, have every person (children especially) put on their tattoo on their hand or wrist. This is a quick and easy way of identifying a child as your own. It is also a good way of describing your child if he or she is lost.  Without bathing, these can stay on for up to a week. The extra tattoo can be helpful in finding your lost child by showing it to people who may remember “the child with the flower on her hand” even once yours has faded. The identical marking can be helpful during a dispute about “whose child is this?” Emergency evacuations are very vulnerable times for families and opportunistic kidnappers know this.  Children are often kidnapped during these chaotic times. It is important to be prepared for this.
  • Know your rights when it comes to speaking with social workers about allegations. Desperate times cause people to act desperately. According to the HSLDA, Home schooling families are currently targeted by Child Protective Services.  This situation could be expected to get worse in heightened security "police state" situation.


  • Consider buying formula even if you are exclusively breastfeeding. Formula can be purchased with a shelf life of a year or more. This should get the typical infant most of the way to solid foods. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend buying enough for exclusive formula feeding for a year if you are breastfeeding, but formula can be used as extra calories in place of milk as they are being weaned and we chose to consider worst-case scenarios such as temporary or permanent separation from the mother in the case of arrest, illness, or death. Also consider that poor nutrition and stress can interfere with a mother’s milk supply. There are many companies that will send free formula samples such as Similac’s Strong Moms campaign, which will send free formula samples to as many addresses as you sign up for.  Enfamil has similar programs, and generic formula can be bought relatively cheaply when coupons are used. 
  • Remember to buy bottles and sippy cups to accommodate your growing baby as he or she begins to drink things like water and juice as they are available.
  • A manual food grinder is handy to have as well, it will help wean your child onto adult food, which is extremely important.
  • Vitamins are the first component to degrade in stored food. Remember to keep liquid vitamins for you small child. Many vitamins last 2-3 years in the liquid form, so keep a rotating supply of vitamins. Remember to purchase vitamins that contain iron, such as poly-vi-sol with iron, or better, a supplement that contains minerals as well. Solid vitamins store longer, and can be dissolved and given to a child if necessary, but know the appropriate dose for your child’s age and weight so that you can eye-ball it at the very least.  Vitamins and minerals are particularly important to a growing child.


  • Babies grow fast- consider buying sizes ahead of warm clothes, socks, undershirts…etc. An inexpensive way to do this would be to shop consignment stores after-season sales.  We recently purchased odd sized winter coats at Walmart’s winter clearance rack, enough to get them through elementary school.
  • Shoes are another clothing item to stock up on. While boots or sandals sizes cannot be predicted, rest assured, your child will go through every single sneaker size. One way to be prepared for hyperinflation or a societal collapse is stocking up on simple sneakers in all children’s sizes. If you buy them at an excellent sale you will certainly be saving money in the long run as this is also a good way to combat inflation.
  • Learn simple sewing methods to sizing up or sizing down clothing.
  • It is important to note that infants and toddlers do not regulate their body temperatures as well as adults, and therefore a backup outfit and blankets are helpful to have in the bug-out bag of an infant.
  • Infants can be potty trained once they can walk, so try potty training as soon as possible.


  • Consider buying an infant backpack for situations where travel is required, either in an on-foot evacuation or day to day travel. Free hands are necessary to do work, carry water or goods, or even a firearm.  If you own a stroller already, you know how useless it will be in a TEOTWAWKI scenerio.
  • These backpacks may be rated for children up to three years old, but carrying a three year old on your back in addition to a bug out bag is no simple feat for a man or a woman. Build the upper body strength necessary to carry your growing child by taking hikes with you baby in his or her backpack.
  • A crying baby or toddler can make you a target in a large unhappy group and can bring attention to your family when it is important to go unnoticed. If you have an infant, keep a pacifier in your bug out bag. If you have a toddler, keep an interesting toy or book.


  • While fevers are a helpful mechanism of our bodies’ defenses, infants can get fevers during the course of normal sickness that can get so high as to cause brain damage or death. Have a thermometer and enough fever reducers such as Motrin or Tylenol. A fever of 104 degrees F and below can be helpful to the defeat of a sickness, however, above 104, puts an infant or child at risk of other problems.
  • Know the dosing for an infant in mg/ml for drugs such as antibiotics and fever-reducing medications…keep a chart that goes by weight and age. Even if you are stocking up on infant medications as well, these typically do not last as long because they break down in solution. Also as your child grows and you run out of supplies you may have to make due with adult medications. Keep this chart handy with other survival information and documents.
  • Children, specifically infants become dehydrated more easily than adults, particularly when they are sick. Dehydration is potentially life threatening and can occur due to sickness. Pedialyte is a brand name rehydration fluid which is designed to replace fluids along with electrolytes. This is useful for children or adults with diarrhea or vomiting. Knowing how to make your own pedialyte provides increased preparedness for a societal breakdown, but also can be used to cut costs right now. A recipe for pedialyte can be found here. A bottle of Pedialyte typically runs from $5 to $10 a bottle, while it costs pennies to make at home, so making your own Pedialyte is also a good money-saving practice.
  • Children today have significantly more allergies than their predecessors. Have your child allergy tested if they are too young to try food, or do food trials of all the kinds of food you have stored. Storing wheat won’t do much good if you learn your child is gluten intolerant. The sooner you know this information, the sooner you can prepare for you child’s specific needs, and the less you will waste in terms of storage space and resources.

The prospect of caring for infants in TEOTWAWKI is a daunting task but remember: "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." - Isaiah 40:11

I would like to talk about the Norinco MAK-90 in 7.62x39 because I believe it to be one of the best combat worthy weapons on the market for the money today. I will cover two parts: The MAK-90 specifically and the AK in general. First I'll speak to those who already like AKs.

MAKs are better than most AKs presently on the market in the U.S. because:

1) It is not a "parts" gun. It is 100% assembled in a foreign arsenal that has been making AKs for decades. This means no canted front sights or other shoddy workmanship. 2) It has a 1.5 mm stamped receiver where most AKs have a 1 mm. This means less heat fatigue in the weapon under hard use. 3) The barrel is thicker than most AKs. How much? Not exactly sure but the difference is visible to the naked eye. 4) The chamber and barrel are chrome lined. Why would anyone want a fighting rifle with out this vital combat feature? 5) The trigger has a double hook disconnector. This means a much smoother trigger pull than a single hook and no trigger slap. 6) It is selling for $600-$700 these days. I got mine for $425 in 2009. It's more than a WASR but in light of the above points I think it's well worth the extra cash. It's a lot less than the $1,200 Vegas Arsenal with comparable quality in everything but finish and cosmetics. 7) They were imported by the hundreds of thousands if not millions. You will be able to find one out there.

Now, to those who think of the AK as the "Soviet plow": I don't think many would argue the reliability of the system. Battle proven to the point of being legendary. Enough said. But what about AK accuracy? You can't hit the broad side of a barn with an AK, right? Watch this video. That's 230 yards from the offhand with a WASR (not the highest quality AK) on a 15 inch steel plate with iron sights. Is that world class accuracy? Nope. Is it combat accurate? You betcha! Would he be even more accurate from the prone and/or with a red dot?  You betcha!   That brings us to penetration. Your enemies will be behind what they consider cover once the first round goes downrange. The AK uses a 7.62mm (.30 caiber) bullet. The USMC video below shows the AK-47 shooting 7.62x39mm ball penetrating brick and block buildings with both straight on shots and shots at a 45 degree angle. I am not sure of the range but the testing is for "urban" environments so I would imagine 35-50 yards. And to be fair the tests are done using full auto bursts but then again semi auto fire is pretty darn quick. Windshields? Small to medium trees? Car doors? Sheet rock? Hot knife through butter. No bullet deflection here.      

Now I know what you are thinking "But, Belt Buckle, I can have the best of all worlds with my .308 MBR!" Three of the main reasons touted for the .308 are range, accuracy and penetration. And I will make no argument against these, as the .308 is indeed a fine round. But as we have seen above the AK has acceptable combat performance in all these areas. Does the .308 perform better in all these areas? Yes, at a price. Let's talk weight.

A 22-inch barrel M14 with wood stock weighs 11.5 pounds, while a 16-inch barrel Type 56 (almost identical to a MAK) with wood stock weighs 8.9 pounds.

I'll admit the AK is heavy. But if you have ever patrolled with a rifle you know that a extra 2.5 lb or so is a real big deal. Can you carry a thirteen pound loaded rifle in your hands all day? I'll be doing good to carry my AK. 

Loaded AK magazine: 1.81 lb. Loaded M14 magazine: 1.63 lb.

Pretty close regarding mags except when you consider that the AK holds ten more rounds. In a firefight ten extra rounds between mag changes is a substantial advantage. With a six magazine load out, the AK will have sixty rounds left when the M14 has exhausted it's ammo. That's two full mags. Also the AK mag is steel, not aluminum. You could literally drive nails with one. No combat knife? Brain 'em with an AK mag:)   The price paid is also literal. .308 cal MBRs are also around three times more expensive than AKs. The rounds are also much more expensive.

Under a lot of conditions, the added range and accuracy of the .308 can be negated. We must remember we are survivalists and not soldiers in a standing army. Under what scenario does one envision engaging personnel at 500 or 600 yards? You need good optics for proper target ID at that range. It takes quality training to make a 600 yard shot. Under SHTF conditions will you automatically engage a group of armed men approaching your position? The morally justifiable scenario would be to halt them within shouting distance and determine their intentions. Maybe you have foreknowledge of a group of satanic mutant biker cannibals coming your way and decide to employ a long range ambush. Fine, a completely realistic scenario under SHTF conditions if your area is unobstructed enough for that long of a shot. If the Chinese Army invades and you employ a long range ambush then you are going to have mortars, arty or an air strike called in on your position and maybe "grabbing the belt buckle" of your enemy in a short range ambush would be more conducive to success. Are you going to be sniping the leader of a looter group? Fine. But that shot might be better served by a scoped bolt action hunting or sniper weapon which could just as easily be .30-06 or .300 Winchester Magnum. How many of you have 500 or 600 yard kill zones surrounding your retreat? Probably some but not many.

My purpose here in not to belittle the .308 Winchester/7.62mm NATO. It's a great round. But where it really excels is the medium to long range fight. I live in Tennessee very near the Great Smoky Mountains and my retreat is in the foothills of those mountains. What area that isn't taken up by trees and brush in the country is taken up by buildings in the city. And those trees and brush become more prominent the closer you get to the mountains until you have almost jungle conditions. The 7.62x39mm AK round will penetrate that brush without a grunt. Are there areas here where you could take a 600 yard shot? Sure. But precious few. The AK excels in the short to medium range fight. AKs are short enough for CQB and follow up shots are much more controllable than .308. If I lived in a flat and/or sparsely wooded area of the country would I feel different? Yep, I'd pony up the extra cash and get a M1A. What I am suggesting here is that the AK has more than acceptable combat capabilities for my AO and at a affordable price. Add to this the fact that AKs rarely break any parts. You could pass a AK down to your grandchildren with no work done except occasional cleaning.

Hey, if you've got the money then get a personal defense weapon (PDW), a "battle" rifle and a "sniper" rifle. Bases covered. But if you are on a budget and need a rifle that does nothing great (except go bang) but most things well, then buy an AK.

Now I know what you are saying "But Belt Buckle, you didn't mention the AR-15". That's right, I didn't. This is a .30 caliber essay. Sincerely, - Belt Buckle Bill

In reference to the article about using boats to bug out I have a few thoughts. The writer was very thorough about his facts and accurate as far as it goes.However, I have a few thoughts. As a former Officer of the U S Merchant Marine (12 years, ending as a 1st Mate, Unlimited Tonnage, Motor and Steam, Any Waters) I have had experience in most marine environments.

The biggest drawbacks to using a boat as a primary means of escaping are visibility, fuel consumption, and low speed. The writer covered a lot of this and this reply is not meant to disparage him, or to apply to those who live so close to waterways, or who are restricted in the number of ways they can move out of an area. If a boat is the best way, as, say, an alternate to a ferry or a congested two-lane bridge, then by all means, motor, sail or paddle away.

Boats literally drink fuel. All boats do. The physics of propelling a vessel against a mass of water requires it. And, unless you are bugging out in a cigarette boat, they are slow. As the writer points out, the faster you move, the more fuel you dump. And the type of emergencies that require you to “bug-out” most certainly wont be leaving fuel docks open for very long.

And then there are pirates. What else will you call thugs in boats that chase you to kill you and take your stuff? They will have go-fast boats. Count on that one. And its very hard to hide any kind of boat on any sort of body of water. Try it sometime.

Canoes and sailboats? Well, I have a canoe. A 15 foot, Kevlar-hulled rough water special. Will I use it? Its in my plans to utilize if need be. But next time you are cruising down some placid river somewhere in a canoe or small outboard, take a look at the banks.

How much can you observe of bottom-land timber and brush while watching for currents and obstructions? How long will you last against a guy with a rifle or shotgun firing from cover sitting out there in the open? I will say if you can make open water in a sailer, you may be okay for awhile. Unless some other runner has a faster vessel and sees you out there all alone and unable to move away.

All in all, hitting a river or other body of water in a boat to hide or make a run for your get-a-way is a real longshot. Stocking a pontoon barge for a night-only 2 or 3 day run somewhere is about the only way I'd even consider using one, except in the most extreme situations. - Ed in Mississippi

Mr. Rawles,  
Two major websites not mentioned in your article were LinkedIn and USAJOBS.  LinkedIn is an online HR site somewhat similar to Facebook in that it allows "connections" to be made between users. One major difference: You cannot "connect" with someone who you haven't either worked with or personally know- the website actually blocks attempts to make "mass connections".  LinkedIn is an HR manager's dream, as it not only focuses on a person's career and qualifications, but also provides an all-in-one-stop shop for potential employees.  Many HR reps I know now either refuse to consider candidates who do not have a LI profile, or place them in the mostly-doomed "second tier" pile of resumes...the ones which get File 13'd unless all the first-tier candidates get run over by a bus.  While this site is a bad idea for any kind of OPSEC, it is a highly valuable tool for job-seeking.  

USAJOBS is the Federal website for all job postings...well, for most of them. Multiple federal jobs are filled in-house as needed, with a variety of jobs going to service-disabled veterans or agency-only hires.  However, it must be said that the Federal government is the biggest employer in the country, with BLM offices and USFS branches in even the most remote portions of the country.  If you're willing to take a Federal job (with all the oversight and loss of privacy that accompanies it), chances are you can find one in your area on USAJOBS.  Again, this site is an OPSEC nightmare, but if you need a Federal job, this is fast becoming the preferred (and soon to be only) way to get one.  

Now, I don't work for LinkedIn or USAJOBS, get paid by them, or have any interest in promoting either of them --beyond their obvious usefulness in finding open employment.  However, it has been said a million times that "it isn't what you know, it's who you know."  Everywhere you go, pester people about current or future job openings.  When it comes to job searching, networking is the fastest and most efficient way to get a job.  I actually got a job by asking the manager once a day, every day, at the exact same time, whether there were any openings.  After two weeks of this, she finally said, "You may or may not be qualified for this job, but you're the most persistent person I've ever seen. If I don't give you a job, I'll never get rid of you."  (A cautionary note:  If the hiring authority tells you in no uncertain terms to go away, or gives you instructions on how to check back, follow their instructions.)  You may not initially get the job you want by telling your uncle's cousin's step-dog's mom that talented little you is looking for employment, but the power of letting people know you're looking cannot be denied.  Why else would the phrase "old-boy network" still be used in modern parlance? - JD2

R.F. suggested an article over at Slate: The Century of Disasters Meltdowns. Floods. Tornadoes. Oil spills. Grid crashes. Why more and more things seem to be going wrong, and what we can do about it.

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Greg C. sent this: Iran to Build Missile Base in Venezuela Missiles Could Hit American Cities; Venezuelan Missile Crisis Looms

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Tony D. found a repository of Boy Scouts manuals, for scout masters. (Some rights are reserved, under a Creative Commons license.)

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Do you have defensible space around your home? Fire crews gave everything in fight to save scorched Slave Lake, officials say. (One-third of this town of 7,000 was wiped out in a few hours.) Our thanks to Nicholas L. for the link.

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G.R. in Teaxs sent an article about open carry in the City of Brotherly Love: Philly Police Harass, Threaten to Shoot Man Legally Carrying Gun. JWR's Comment: Pardon the repetition, but I must state again: Much like a muscle that atrophies with disuse, any right that goes unexercised for many years devolves into a privilege, and eventually can even be redefined as a crime.

"You better learn fast, you better learn young, because someday never comes." - Lyrics to Someday Never Comes, Credence Clearwater Revival

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Let's look into the near future, when the Schumer has just hit the fan, or is just about to. You have no doubts that things are going to go heinously wrong, and not get better. Now what? The roads are likely jammed, even the rarely-used rural ones. Maybe rains have rendered the dirt roads impassable. You might be able to make it to your sanctuary/bug-out location/palace/bunker, but it will take more gasoline than you have to get there.

So – do you give up and resign yourself to be a walking refugee? Not necessarily. What about that big fishing rig you have trailered in your garage? What about all that boat of yours sitting down at the marina? So why not use that big river nearby to make your getaway?

I’m willing to wager that most preppers have, even in the extreme, carefully considered their car or truck, and have centered their plan around fitting everything into the back of the rig and driving down to your bunker, preferably far away from public highways and freeways. Am I right?
Now, if you live in most desert or heavily mountainous areas, this is probably not an option. However, if you live near a navigable river, this gives you an option that a lot of folks simply do not have, and you may want to at least consider it. Let’s look into this a bit deeper and I’ll show you why I think you should do so, and what to consider if you do decide to include boating in your escape plans.

Pros and Cons

Why to do it
Unlike moving around on a car, making your egress on a boat gives you a lot of advantages that you simply cannot get on dry land:

  • No traffic jams once you’re out on the water.
  • If your bug-out location is downstream, you won’t need a lot of gas to get there, if at all.
  • If you have a sailboat and know how to use it, and the river is big enough, you don’t need gasoline most of the time, and have a far larger range.
  • Even the most dirt-poor prepper can fill an old canoe full of supplies and get somewhere with it.
  • An earthquake can slosh a river around, but at least it won’t bury you or render your route completely impassable (now near/on the ocean? Things may get dangerous – especially with Tsunami threats, but inland you’re generally in better shape, and the greatest danger will likely be seasickness).
  • Everyone else in town will be too busy trying to drive out of town. If you plan it right, river egress will insure that you’re not going to be stuck behind sheet metal boxes full of anxious, panicked or near-panicked people all trying to get out of Dodge.
  • Unlike that mega-prepped off-road beast of a truck, the parts are easier to maintain and improvise if you have to, and if you have a sailboat, won’t require too much in the way of petroleum to keep maintained.
  • A good sailboat isn’t going to be disabled by any electromagnetic pulses.
  • If the boat is big enough, you can literally live on the thing for as long as you have to. It also gives you something really important: more room to store critical stuff!

With advantages, come disadvantages. To be fair, let’s cover the important ones. After all, our favorite law-maker Mr. Murphy loves to get out on the water too, so…

Why not to do it

  • If you own a motorboat and your bug-out location is far upstream, you’re going to need a whole lot of fuel to get to it. Fail to plan for this, and you’ll be out of gas and floating down river… right back to where you just escaped from.
  • You have to either insure that your boat is pre-packed, or you’re going to have to transfer everything from truck to boat once you get there – the latter is probably not going to be fun, and will be a huge calorie/energy burn-off.
  • If you screw up and wreck your car or truck, you can grab your stuff out of the wreck and still be able to take the vital items with you. But if you screw up and wreck your boat, odds are good that your stuff is going down with the boat. You can mitigate this somewhat (keep a small go-bag on deck within easy reach), but otherwise, if you wreck it hard, your stuff will either sink, or float down river for some other lucky guy to get their hands on.
  • If you fail to plan ahead, you might get stuck behind a dam, lock, or other river hazard. (I will cover this later).
  • If you fail to plan for alternative launch points, other folks may have the same idea, and that trusty old boat ramp you planned to use may be jammed full of people trying to do the same thing you’re trying to do (and at certain times of day/week/year, it may also be full of people trying to get their boats *out* of the water and get home). We’ll also cover this a bit later.
  • If you live on the coast, your efforts may be frustrated by Tsunami, debris, and other things that will totally screw your plans over. Not the end, but something you have to plan for.
  • If you live in an arid or semi-arid area, that river may be too low to safely navigate (or completely dry in places) during the dry season.
  • Getting to the river in a panic situation is going to be a bit tougher what with that big, heavy trailer back there and all. You’re going to have to be a bit more careful than all of the panicked and careless people around you.
  • It will take a lot more time to get from point A to B. Even a relatively fast boat won’t go much faster than the equivalent of 25 miles per hour (while this will be a lot faster than a car stuck in a massive traffic jam, it’s still pretty slow if you’re trying to escape a really bad situation).

Now consider all of that for a moment or four… I’ll wait. Oh, and while you’re thinking, keep one big thing foremost in your mind: You only get one shot at escaping town. Screw it up, and you won’t get another. Now, let’s take a moment to think…
(…cue some pleasant interlude music here… at least five minutes long. Seriously. Thinking hard now saves having to do it at a bad time later.)
All done? Good. If you decided to consider your boat (or hey – get one), awesome… read on. If not, then feel free to entertain yourself by reading on anyway.
What to Consider First

Look at your route.  Are there any dams, locks, or low bridges along the way? How deep are the rivers, anyway? How wide are they? Do they have commercial traffic (barges, local cruise ships, cargo ships) on them? Are you going to pass or be in the way of the Navy or its bases (they may get touchy if you come too close to them)? Are there any well-known (and even not-as-well-known) hazards out there? Is there anything along the way that can foul your propeller (fishing nets, trotlines, heavy weeds/plants, etc)? Does any part of the route ice-up in the winter (and if so, how badly?)

Look at your entry and exit points. How close is your bug-out location to the river or waterway that you intend to use? How close is your boat (at home) to the location where you intend to drop the boat into the water? How many places are there nearby where you can launch your boat, with or without a boat ramp (remember, your boat is going to be rather heavy with all that stuff in it). Are you familiar with beaching a boat safely (well, at least long enough to get your family and all of your stuff off of it)? If you have it docked at a marina, you’ve saved yourself at least some trouble, but how close is that marina? Can you get to the marina in a hurry? Is the marina guarded well enough to pre-position most of your SHTF gear in it? How crowded is the marina, and how close is your boat to the jetty (err, marina exit)?

Look at your boat. How big is it? What is its maximum draft (depth below waterline when absolutely full)? What is the fuel efficiency if it has an engine? How fast can it go (remember, speed is measured in nautical miles per hour, or knots)? Can you put up a rain cover or other type of temporary shelter? Is it ocean-worthy? How much can you pack in there, anyway? What shape is it in – is it well-maintained? How much punishment are you sure it could take? (Note that I didn’t say “do you think”, but “are you sure”) How many people can you seriously carry along if you have it full of your SHTF gear? How much fresh water can it hold? When was its last tune-up? How quickly can you de-winterize it if you had to?

Finally, look at your own skills. Are you 100% familiar with your boat? Are you capable of fixing the motor if it breaks? If you have a sailboat, can you actually use it under sail? Could you launch it without using a boat-ramp? Can someone else (spouse, kids, etc) navigate/sail/fix the boat in a pinch?

What Kind of Boat?
I know… lots to think about. Take your time. If everything is still good to go, then let’s look at how to different types of boats will behave in a SHTF situation. I’m going to split this into a few different categories, so feel free to skip the ones that don’t apply to you. If you’re planning to actually buy a boat (for some other reason, I trust), then perhaps the following may help influence what else to look for in a boat beyond the primary reason (fishing, water-skiing, parties, etc).

If you have a sailboat, you’re actually in almost the best shape. As long as you can avoid underwater hazards that may break your keel, you’re good to go. Odds are almost 50/50 that a sailboat is kept at a marina, though a lot of this will depend on cost, size of boat, etc. You can trailer them, but launching will require a few extra steps.
A good first tip is to get to know (and I mean know very well) the prevailing wind patterns all along your intended route. Next, be sure you know how to actually sail, and keep your sails in top condition. An extra sail or two (and better, a kit to patch your sails with) would be an excellent investment.
If you have a boat large enough to be considered as a saltwater or ocean-going vessel, then your list of potential bug-out locations just got much larger. While I wouldn’t cross the Pacific in a 25’ sailboat, a sailboat that size can travel along the coastline in fairly good weather for hundreds, if not thousands of miles, depending on your supplies. You could conceivably get to South America with the thing if you had to, and East-coast residents could get to Canada *very* easily by traveling off the coast. If you intend to do this, just one thing – learn as much as you can about sailing and ocean navigation, and get your butt out there to rack up some experience doing it.
If your sailboat is trailered, you may want to consider launching it under various conditions well before a SHTF event begins in earnest. Sailboats with removable or retractable keels are more flexible.

Pleasure Motorboats
This includes most boats - from bass fishing boats, to ski boats, to big and average sized pleasure cruisers… these are boats you’re most likely to find parked in a suburban garage (just note that pontoon boats are something we’ll shove out to its own category).
For these boats, depending on size, you actually have a surprising amount of room to store things – in, on, and around the boat. Your main concerns however involve three things: range, speed, and keeping the motor(s) in top condition. In river/lake conditions, you will be best served by going downstream as much as you can, in order to increase your range. If your boat manufacturer sells auxiliary fuel takes, look into getting them – but know that if/when you do, you’ll be cutting down your storage space, so keep that in mind and balance the two.
Unlike sailboats (which generally have small motors for navigation) you will have speed and maneuverability. You can get around situations and objects more easily, and can move along far faster; while not even half as as fast as an automobile, your top speed is not half bad, especially once you consider how slow the freeway speeds will be during a mass unorganized evacuation.

The smaller boats, especially the open-hulled ones, have more flexibility than most when it comes to fuel and engine power, but be sure to balance your fuel supplies against storage space, and be sure that the motor’s horsepower isn’t larger than the hull is rated for (your boat should have this information on the nameplate). Also be sure to not exceed the maximum capacity of the boat – open hulls will take on water quite easily.
Outboard motors are far more flexible than inboard ones, but otherwise the only real difference is in how much horsepower the motor(s) have, and the additional storage space an outboard motor will give you (as opposed to the space taken up by the engine if it’s inside the hull).
Overall, as long as your bug-out location is near water, and you can get your boat launched quickly, even if it happens during a mass panic, you’re in pretty good shape.

Pontoon Boats
You know what these things are – the big ‘party barge’ boats that can carry an amazing number of people (or stuff) per square foot. They usually have a lot of fuel, and can carry a lot of stuff. With their generally shallow draft, they can get into some very shallow water without getting hung up. They also have a lot of features that would make things relatively comfy in a SHTF situation: perhaps a propane grill, a refrigerator, something to keep the rain and sun off of you, etc.

But… while you may start thinking that this would be the best type of boat to have and use, the truth is going to be ugly… these are going to be the toughest type of boat to use when you’re busy bugging-out. There are three reasons for this: First, these boats are made for leisurely cruising, so they can be painfully slow when compared to most other types of motorboat, even at top speed (which in the Pontoon’s case will burn fuel at a horrendous rate). Second, even though you can get a whole lot of stuff packed onto one, it’s all contributing towards making the pontoon boat top-heavy – so you have to be a lot more careful about what you pack, where it all gets packed, and how you pack it. Third, if the water or the weather gets really rough, you’re in the greatest danger (next to a canoe) of getting swamped, and even in milder conditions, you stand a good chance of getting you and your stuff quite wet from spray. While tenting/tarping and similar accessories will mitigate this, the design leaves you quite exposed overall.

The good news is that these boats can be the easiest to launch and beach, due to their very shallow draft. If your route is fairly calm and relatively free of nautical traffic, you can pack a lot of things on one and get to where you need to go - so long as your destination is within range and you don’t go nuts with the throttle.

Canoes, Kayaks, and Personal Watercraft
Canoes and Kayaks are actually quite an awesome way to bug out if you think about it – you can get to places that no other boat can even hope to touch, and as a bonus, you can portage the canoe or kayak from one waterway to another. It also takes up very little room in your garage. Launching one doesn’t require a boat ramp, or even a trailer – pick any old spot of shoreline, throw it no top of your car or truck (with your stuff in the vehicle) and you’re good to go.

The biggest downsides are exactly two: very (very!) limited space, and that paddle which you’ll be using constantly. You can mitigate that last bit somewhat – a quick sail rig and a keel-board lashed to a canoe can help things along if you know how to sail (or just plan your bug-out location downstream). A small trolling motor would make things easier, but know that using one eats away at your precious storage space, and that it will have a fairly limited range of just a few miles (maybe 10) at best. However, that first bit remains a constant – you can only pack so much stuff into that space, so you may want to focus on just the essentials. If you add more than one person to the trip, multiple canoes or kayaks are better than one, though keep in mind that you could get separated.

It is fairly obvious that your speed is going to be extremely slow, but you make up for that in maneuverability and in the number of places where you can go that the big boats cannot.

A Kayak would be pushing it on the bottom end, because you could, at best, [with a two-man kayak] fit enough stuff in there to be the equivalent of perhaps four or five go-bags (depends on how big that go-bag of yours is, but…)

Jet-Skis? Well, maybe, maybe not… but probably not. The Jet Ski is very fast as far as boat speeds go, but will run out of gas in just a few miles, and can carry perhaps a go-bag’s worth of stuff at best. It will also soak you to the bone with water – not a pleasant thought in the middle of winter. That said, if you really, positively, absolutely have to get (at most) five miles downstream in a hurry with only the things you can fit in a backpack, then I suppose you could do it. I don’t think I’d ever plan for using one, let alone relying on one for escape, though.

Other Vessels of Note
This is mostly a catch-all, but some other vessels that you might come across and/or have are things like…

* Houseboats (like pontoon boats, only bigger, a bit slower, but far more useful because of the amazing amount of storage you have, so long as you have the fuel and the water is deep enough). An awesome way to go in some SHTF circumstances, but since they’re mostly confined to larger lakes and very large rivers, the range is going to be fairly small (depending on the waterway, of course).

* Speed-boats (not the big professional racing rigs, but that backyard project type with the really big engine in it). Use it only if all other options (including by car/truck) are off the table. The speed is comparable to that of a car on a freeway, but storage is going to be very cramped at best – you’d be lucky to fill an old Beetle with the storage space. These boats are tough to handle at high speed during good times – it’ll be even tougher when you’re trying to evacuate in a hurry. They’re rather fragile and eat a horrendous amount of fuel, leaving you with a very short range.

* Catamarans (from the humble “Hobie Cat” to the big ocean-going ones). These depend on size, and if big enough (at least 20’ long), should be taken under the same consideration as sailboats. While a lot more stable than almost any other type of boat, it will have a wider footprint, which can get in the way on narrow waterways.

* Rowboats (that is, a common open-hulled boat that one or two people can pick up and move). Only if you have to – some models can handle some rather rough water (especially those specifically made for rapids), and can carry a moderate amount of supplies. However, it’s all manpower unless/until you put an outboard motor on the back or a sail and keel in the center.

* Inflatable/combo boats (that is, any type of boat that completely has to be inflated, or has inflatable components).  There is an advantage in having something you can practically launch from anywhere, yet hold a lot of gear. That said, you will definitely want to keep an air compressor handy when it comes time to get that thing inflated in a hurry. Also, you’ll really want a good high-volume air pump and emergency patch kits ready.  Mind you, unless it is big enough to hold the contents of a short pickup bed and has a motor, you may not want to bother. Note that these boats would be considered as strictly inland vessels.

Best Places to Consider a Boat
There are many areas in the United States where using a boat as a means of escaping town during an SHTF scenario would not only make sense, but would maximize your chances of survival.
In general, using a boat is excellent for consideration if…

  • You live within 2 miles of a navigable river or other open and navigable waterway
  • Your bug-out location is within 1 mile of a navigable waterway, and is down-stream (and in cases of ocean routes, down-current) of your starting point
  • You have more than one location or facility within this range from which to launch a boat, if it isn’t already docked in an easily-accessible marina
  • Your bug-out landing has a good spot to dock (or at least beach) the vessel temporarily (once the boat is empty, you might want to camouflage it, or jettison it entirely after stripping it for useful parts)
  • You can get to any of your launch points by multiple routes that are not heavily traveled.
  • The water route is not prone to constant flooding, or (in ocean cases) if you can get at least 5 miles offshore quickly in order to avoid Tsunami situations should one arise.

You can get by with using this method (though not as perfectly) if…

  • You live within 5 miles of a navigable river or waterway – just plan for it, and know that you may be delayed if you have to move quickly.
  • Your bug-out location is within 3 miles of a navigable waterway (because you and your fellow refugees are going to have to carry all that stuff from the boat to your bug-out location)
  • Your bug-out landing is upstream, but comfortably within the range of your boat’s fuel supply (just remember to keep the tank full, eh?)
  • You have at least two ways and two places where you can launch your boat, or the marina is at least somewhat easy to get to
  • Your bug-out landing has at least a halfway decent place to tie the boat off to shore until you can empty it
  • You can at least get to any launch point without having to use or cross a major road or highway.
  • The water route is at least free from flooding most of the year, or (in ocean) you can at least get several miles offshore quickly if an earthquake is reported.


 Anything less than these conditions and you will have to do a lot more research –perhaps a car or truck may be a better option, but you’ll have to determine that for certain on your own.

Example Scenario – How to Research
Now that we’ve touched on a few subjects, let’s put it into perspective, and do a scenario which can be useful.

I live in Portland, Oregon metro area. Let’s say that I can get to the Willamette River in very short order if things go bad. This gives me a couple of options for bug-out areas that could never be reached normally via car or truck (at least not easily – we’re kind of surrounded by mountains and rivers here). Let’s do some research…

One option would be to go up the Columbia River a bit (by way of the Willamette), take a turn up one of the many somewhat navigable rivers that pour into it, and find a new home in Oregon or Washington State, and have all the gear I need to settle in reasonably well. Exploring that option, I find that I can only go as far upstream as the town of Bonneville, because there’s a huge hydro dam sitting in the way. They have locks for commercial barges, but a hard and fast rule is that you must not rely on such things to be open during a SHTF situation, so that’s about as far as I can reasonably get upstream. So – I can go that far upstream, it is navigable by both motor and sail boats. Since the Columbia River is positively huge and fast-flowing, ice is pretty much not going to be a problem in most years. On the other hand, since the river is huge and fast-flowing, I’m going to either need a sailboat (the winds usually blow right downstream, so it’ll be tacking all the way up), or a motorboat with a *lot* of fuel. If I had a motorboat and found this option worth pursuing, I’d take a trip by boat to see just how much fuel it burned. If I burn half my fuel before I got even halfway there, then I can mark the point with GPS, and then calculate my useful range when I get home. With a sailboat, fuel is no longer a problem, but with all that tacking, it’s going to take a long while to get to that point – possibly more than a day. (Bonus: Do it during the spring and you can have a go at all the salmon coming in from the ocean).

A second option would be to go downstream, maybe go up a tributary on the way down, and make my new home somewhere in Oregon or Washington in the countryside. While definitely easier on the gas (for a motorized vessel), I still have some looking around to do. A disadvantage is that there are a lot of small towns on the Oregon side of the river. Also, the further downstream I go the more large ocean-going cargo traffic I’ll meet up with (either going to or coming out of Portland, or various ports along the way). This means I’ll have to keep a sharp eye out for foundered ships blocking the channel if the SHTF situation causes ships to try at turning around where they really shouldn’t.

Something else to consider – I could go all the way out to the ocean by floating downstream, then have a go at a coastal town along either the Oregon or Washington coasts (both of which are sparsely populated). I have only one real big problem: The Columbia Bar. It can swallow vessels far larger than anything I can afford. (There’s a very good reason that it is nicknamed the “Graveyard of the Pacific”) I can however get across it if I think ahead and know what times of the day that it is safe to cross it (during the incoming flood tide – this means getting some tide charts and keeping a good eye on the clock). Once out on the ocean, if I really want to (assuming my boat is big enough to do this – larger sailboats only would be the best advice at this point), I can go down the coast much farther than up it, mostly due to the prevailing currents along the Pacific Coast. I don’t want to go too far down, because mid or southern California isn’t really the place I want to be for a bug-out situation. Going up the coast can put me deep along Canada’s coastline after a couple of weeks, or Washington State in a few days. I do have to remember one thing, though: If I bug out along any coastal destination, going up a smaller river and getting inland would be a smart idea, preferably far enough in to mitigate any Tsunami effects.

My last option would be to go upstream on the Willamette River, but sniffing along that route, I can only go as far as Oregon City – where there will be a really large waterfall waiting for me to block any further progress. Since Oregon City is somewhat heavily populated (it is often considered to be still within the general Portland area), any point along this route is likely to be full of refugees too, so this option was cast aside.

Some other bits I want to think about (and you can use anywhere!) are as follows:

  • No matter where I choose to bug-out, it will pay big-time to get to know the locals there now, while times are still relatively calm. Simply showing up and moving in is likely to make a lot of folks angry. Best idea is to get to know folks in at least two locations, and perhaps buy land at the most likely point. Recon and research is always a good thing, no?
  • If I have a big enough sailboat, I could definitely do this. Sailboats are cheap, and don’t eat gas. A 26’ coastal sailboat in good working condition can be had for as little as $6,000 in this area (the cost of a usable off-road rig), and is reasonably ocean-worthy in a pinch if it is classed as a cruiser-type boat. I can pack it with my missus, the dog, a lot of supplies (most sailboats of this size sleep 5-6 people and have an enclosed cabin and head), and be good to go for at least six weeks before I would have to refill the water supply (if I’m careful with it). I could reasonably get to Lower Canada with it, or anywhere along the Oregon or Washington coasts. Upstream along the Columbia would be no problem, at least anywhere below the aforementioned dam. [JWR Adds: True "blue water" capable sailboats are much more expensive.]
  • If I do get a sailboat, I’m going to have to learn how to use that thing, and how to use it well. This will require time and training. The good news is that this part can be really fun, and well-disguised as a family hobby.
  • Maps, maps, maps. Here, on the way, at the bug-out point and the trail(s) to get to that bug-out point.
  • As with any boat, you gotta have good, working equipment, and maintenance.
  • I want at least two good routes to get to that boat if I have it tied at a marina, and at least three routes and places to launch it if I don’t.
  • If I can get a few fellow preppers to also think and act along the same lines, we can have a small flotilla that can carry a whole lot of stuff – enough to create a new community practically anywhere, which gives us the ultimate flexibility to meet the situation.
  • While illegal to use in many jurisdictions, a hand-thown fishing net may not be a bad idea – a practical one takes up only a little bit of room when balled-up. In my neighborhood, springtime + net stands a great chance of providing fresh Chinook salmon along my area of the Columbia River. I’ll have to learn how to use it, long before any SHTF event arrives.
  • The Columbia River has a lot of unpopulated islands along the route. There are lots of potential places to tie up and call home (though a few have roads running over or through them, so I’d have to be picky and get up a short-list).
  • Before I get too carried away, do I go trailer or marina? A trailer gives me flexibility, at a cost of time. On the other hand, a fully-stocked boat in the garage is a lot more secure than one tied up at a marina.
  • The onboard first aid kit had better have a lot of Dramamine in it, and other anti-seasickness medication. Mental note: eat a couple on the way to the boat. Better yet - get my sea legs on long before any SHTF situation. Escaping a city full of panicked people would be the absolute last place and time to be too busy vomiting out over the side, instead of focusing on navigation and security like I should be doing at that point.
  • Once at the bug-out location, I’d be better off having a truck (and perhaps a small trailer) waiting there for me, so I can run the couple miles up to it, drive it back to the boat, and load everything up for one trip. The missus can be waiting back at the boat with a shotgun if needed.
  • I think this should be enough to kick-start your mind and lead you where you need to go, no?

As you can see, it will take a bit more preparation to bug out by boat than you normally would by truck or Jeep. On the other hand, there are the advantages of less traffic, the ability to carry a lot more supplies along with you, better security (it’s harder to steal from or attack a boat anchored offshore than it is to raid a bunker or encampment), and even have a mobile bug-out location if you find just the right unpopulated spot or island to tie up and call home for a while. The costs can even be just as low as that of a usable 4x4 truck, if you know how to look.

However, it’s obviously not going to work for everyone. For the people that this idea will work for, it makes for a very viable. Just do your research before you warm up to it, let alone commit. Even if it’s a virtual trip along your neighborhood waterways on Google Maps, do the research. Like anything else, more than one plan will make for a better chance of survival, long-term.

James Wesley,

I'd like to turn the author of the article and others on to Calumet Industries.

I've purchased the "PSP" from them in the past and had a good transaction.

I was purchasing them for a slightly different reason - as bridging planks. The PSP is heavier gauge steel dating back to WWII and are a lot stronger than the more modern temporary road bedding. I cut off the connection tabs along the side and welded on some tubing lengthwise on the sides to further strengthen the planks. These are now strong enough to construct a short bridge to broach deep ditches, small deep creeks, etc. They also serve as ramps to climb over lower concrete abutments or steep berms, etc. If you have a vehicle with a very poor approach/departure angle these can allow you to clear obstacles that would otherwise stop you "dead". They would also serve well as structural elements to set up a temporary barrier or roofing for a dug out position - being strong enough to support sand bags, rock, etc. - Tanker


Your reader who wants to build a temporary road may wish to look at landscape fabric as an underlay to his road gravel.  He can buy it in 12' x 300 rolls at wholesale landscape supply yards.  This tough fabric will prevent the gravel from being driven into the mud by truck traffic.  He will also not need excessive amounts of gravel that he would normally need to replace gravel lost due to truck traffic.  4-to-6 inches of 3/4"[minus] crushed rock should suffice.  I would recommend that anyone who wishes to build a gravel or asphalt road use this underlay to stabilize the road bed.  It more than pays for itself in reduced maintenance.

Your reader can then scrape up the gravel for use in building drainage or his above grade septic system.  Alternatively he can load the building site after freeze up and avoid a lot of expense.  It may be cheaper to run propane blowers and tarps to keep new concrete warm than it is to build his removable truck proof road. - LRM

I'm scheduled to be the guest on a podcast with Doc and DEMCAD tonight (Tuesday, May 17, 2011) at 6 p.m. Pacific / 9 p.m. Eastern time. I don't do many podcast interviews, but I always make the time to talk to my friend Reggie. BTW, one of my previous interviews with him is archived on YouTube.

   o o o

Hundreds of herbal remedies now outlawed across Europe. (A hat tip to Marilyn R. for the link.)

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Loyal content contributor K.A.F. sent this: New Yorkers under 30 plan to flee city, says new poll; cite high taxes, few jobs as reasons

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The BATFE: "That bunch has a real corner on stupid".

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Reader B.R. in Georgia wrote to mention: "Folks who want to buy ghee for storage should go find an [ethnic East] Indian grocery store. They carry Amul brand Ghee that is pure, made the old fashion way and it is in a sealed tin like the New Zealand butter. It does not require refrigeration after opening."

"God created the Earth, Mauser drew the property lines." - Topbanana, a member at the FALFiles Forums

Monday, May 16, 2011

We are now just inches away from logging 30 million unique visits to SurvivalBlog. I have an autographed copy of my book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" set aside as a thank-you gift for any blogger with a Alexa traffic rank of 15,000, or less in the U.S. who mentions SurvivalBlog's 30 million unique visit milestone celebration in their blog, with a link. (Just e-mail me a link to your blog post, and your mailing address.)

A key goal for many preppers is moving to a lightly-populated region that they deem safe. Except for retirees, the ability to relocate to another state often comes down to the practicalities of finding a job. I hear this all the time from SurvivalBlog readers and my consulting clients.

In the American Redoubt region, jobs tend to be lower paying than those on the east or west coasts. Many jobs are related to forestry, mining, and agriculture. Some jobs--especially in the timber industry--are seasonal. Some of the most stable jobs tend to be in healthcare, in city and county government, and at rock-solid businesses. These include well-established welding shops, supermarkets and hardware stores. There are of course also lots of service sector jobs and government jobs, with varying degrees of stability.

I'd recommend that you not take a job that is dependent on discretionary spending by customers. (For example, businesses related to pools and hot tubs, recreational vehicles, boats and Jet-Skis, home decor, beauty parlors, collectibles, furniture, and so forth.) In hard times, those will be the first businesses to shut down or lay off employees.

The following are some online resources that I've found in the five Redoubt States, from reader recommendations and some web searches. (Similar sites can quickly be found, for other states.)



Eastern Oregon

Eastern Washington



Regional: Rocky Mountain / Inland Northwest Region Job Pages


Nationwide Job Search Resources:

The aforementioned sites are great resources, but don't rely on just the Internet for your job search. Often, networking through family and church contacts is even more productive.

Remember: It is important to work diligently at finding a job. Do plenty of research and send out lots of resumes. You'll likely get dozens of "no" responses before you get that all-important "yes". If there are just a few companies in your target region that might hire in your field, then check their web sites frequently, for their job listing updates.

What if there are no jobs available in your career field, where you plan to live? Though still a rarity, there are some telecommuting positions available. And of course, don't overlook self employment. If you go that route, then my advice is to launch several small businesses, because odds are that at least one of them will fail.

I know a lot of SurvivalBlog readers are fans of .44 Magnum revolvers - when I did my article on the S&W 329 Night Guard, I heard from quite a few of you. What we're looking at today is the S&W 329PD - the PD stands for Personal Defense. The 329 PD is a super light-weight .44 Magnum / .44 Special revolver that weighs in at a mere 25.1 ounces. That's not much weight in a gun that will shoot the powerful .44 Magnum round.

S&W makes the 329PD with Scandium Alloy for the frame, and Titanium alloy for the cylinder - and it all adds up to a super-strong, as well as super lightweight 6-shot revolver. I've been a big fan of the .44 Magnum ever since the first Dirty Harry movie came out. I'm ashamed to say it, but I've owned more .44 Magnum revolvers than any person has a right to own. My good friend, and fellow gun writer, John Taffin, has also written a book on the .44 Magnum entitled "Book of the .44", published by Gun Digest. John has forgotten more than I'll even know about .44s - and he probably has way more .44s than he knows what to do with, too.

The front sight on the 329PD is a high visibility red dot affair, and it really glows in the bright sunlight as well as under cloudy skies. With a 4" barrel, it's about all the gun you can carry concealed (where legal), if you wanted to carry this large "N" frame. I personally found this gun a real pleasure to carry concealed - I carried it for two weeks during my test and evaluation. Yes, I actually carry the guns I test! The nicely configured finger groove hardwood grips are nice - but they aren't made for a lot of shooting. What I did was, I obtained a pair of rubber Hogue grips and put them on the revolver for most of my shooting - what a difference!

The frame and barrel shroud are made out of Scandium alloy and they are finished in a black anodized manner. The Titanium alloy cylinder is grayish is color - the contrast in the two colors was very eye appealing in my opinion. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. I had to give the rear sight a couple clicks windage to the right - elevation was set where it needed to be for the 240 grain .44 Magnum loads.

Trigger pull on the 329PD was extremely smooth - and in the double action mode, it broke at about 10-lbs. In single action, the trigger was right at 3-1/2 lbs. The nice trigger made hitting the target easy - when I did my part. I don't know what you could possibly do to the trigger to get it any better than it was on my sample.

There was just "something" about the 329PD that drew me to it - like a magnet. I really liked carrying and shooting the gun - period. It balanced nicely, too. I'm not the world's biggest revolver fan - more often than not, I'll be found carrying some kind of semi auto for self-defense work. I enjoy the way I can speed reload a semi faster than any revolver - even with speed loaders.

For my testing, I gathered up quite a bit of .44 ammo. I had 240-gr JHP from Black Hills Ammunition, 240 grain JSP from Winchester - their white box ammo and from Buffalo Bore Ammunition - their 240-gr JHP and 255-gr SWC. John Taffin advises not to load anything more than about a 240-255 grain bullet in these lightweight .44s, as anything heavier may result in bullet jump - where the bullet jumps from the case and ties up the cylinder. I agree with Taffin on this. Besides, I don't think I'd want to shoot any heavier loads - even though Black Hills and Buffalo Bore sent me some heavier loads.

Look, I'm not about to kid you about the heavy recoil in the 329PD - it was there! About all I cared to shoot during one session was about half a box of ammo. I only shot 6-rounds of .44 Mag with the wood grips during any one session. The recoil was hurting my wrist. Most of my shooting was done with the Hogue rubber grips. However, if you carry this gun, then carry it with the wood grips - if you have to draw and fire the gun in a self-defense situation, you won't even feel the recoil. But for shooting fun, I'd suggest getting a pair of Hogue grips if you plan an extended shooting session - you wrist and hand will thank you.

Buffalo Bore also sent me some of their 255 grain SWC (Keith style) .44 Special loads. Tim Sundles, who owns and operates Buffalo Bore Ammunition, designed this load to shoot in his own S&W 329PD. Still, these loads are clipping along at about 1,000 FPS. Buffalo Bore doesn't make wimp ammo!

Winchester sent me their 240 JSP load, and this is a decent round for target practice, as well as medium game hunting - up to the size of large deer. I liked this load - it wasn't too punishing in the 329PD - all things considered.

Shooting over the hood of my SUV, with a rolled-up sleeping bag for a rest, I was able to get groups in the 2" range, if I did my part. The winner of the accuracy contest went to the Black Hills .240-gr JHP load - I could get groups down there at about 1 1/2" if I did my part all the time. The second runner up was the Buffalo Bore .44 Special load, with the 255-gr SWC bullets - this would be a great load for carrying on the trail - it'll dispatch most of the critters you might come up against.

The Buffalo Bore 240-gr JHP was the most "punishing" of the loads - then again, we're talking about full power .44 Mag rounds in a revolver that only weighs in at 25.1-oz. The Black Hills 240-gr JHP load, Winchester 240-gr JSP and the Buffalo Bore .44 Special loads felt about the same when I shot 'em - remember, BB really loads their ammo up.

Truth be told, I was very pleased with how well the 329PD shot, and I wouldn't have any problem carrying the gun concealed all the time. I have one minor complaint, and it's the fault of the materials used in the gun. The Titanium alloy cylinder would blacken on the end where the bullets exited - powder burns - if you will. After so much shooting, I could no longer completely clean off the blackened burn marks to my satisfaction. Of course, this has no effect on the way the gun shoots - it's purely cosmetic. I could get most of the burn marks off the cylinder, but not all of 'em. I should also mention, there is a steel reinforcement plate in the top strap of the frame - this helps alleviate flame cutting through the top strap. And, should this steel plate eventually get burned through, send the gun back to S&W and they can replace it. I don't see this plate burning through unless you fire thousands and thousands of round, though.

Quality doesn't come cheap, and S&W has a suggested retail price of $1,159 for the 329PD. To be fair, I think this price is in line with the quality you're getting in this gun. If you're in the market for a new 4" barrel .44 revolver of some type, and one that you can carry all day long, and forget that its there, then take a close look at the 329PD. Finding one may take some searching, as they are a bit hard to find, particularly on the secondary ("private party" market.)

- SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Mr. Rawles:
I own a pretty densely-wooded 40 [acre property] in the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) [of Michigan]. The land on 2.5 sides of ours belongs to a timber company, and the land across the road belongs to the state. We live in a typical "stick built" house. It was built in the 1980s, with lots of big windows and two double-glazed sliding [glass] doors. We are four miles out of a town (about 2,000 population) but our house is only 60 feet from a somewhat heavily traveled county road. So our house is what you would probably call a tactical disaster!!!

My wife recently inherited $212,000. We also have about $60,000 saved in silver and gold. We want to use the cash and liquidate a small part of the gold to very quietly (using some contractors from 90 miles away) build a 1,420 square foot aboveground hardened house/shelter at the back end of our property. I'm presently having a civil engineer link up with my architect for the design. My wife calls our little project "The Hatch", in honor of [the bunker in the television series] Lost. It will be our "fall back", in case everything goes to heck. It'll be set up like a regular house with kitchen, bedrooms, and bathroom--all the comforts of home, except windows!

Because we've got a high water table here, we plan [to build] it above grade, and then haul in soil to make an artificial hill. The entrance will be hidden by a fiberglass "rock", like you talked about in one of your old posts [about concealing cave entrances]. (Thanks, for that.) Inside of that [camouflaged door], the main door will be an inward-opening vault door we'll be getting through Safecastle. The nuclear [fallout protective] ventilator (A.C., with a pedal frame backup) will be out of Ready Made Resources. And we plan to get a Pelton wheel DC generator to power The Hatch. We have a blessing: There is a small river going through the back corner of our land just 90 yards behind [the construction site]. (Yeah, yeah I know, with the [low voltage DC cable] line loss we'll have to invert to 120 Volts, AC.)

So here is my question: How can I construct a temporary road to the work site, without laying down rock and gravel? It is almost dead level between our house and there. I'll cut as few trees [to clear the roadway] as possible in a bunch of S-shaped turns so that it won't look obvious. Here's what I'm picturing: I want to make the road disappear, after the construction is a done deal. We just want a little footpath that winds through the trees. If I scrape the road gravel back off, it will leave traces of the road, even if I plant trees. And we can't skip on [using gravel], because the construction will likely start late in June and continue until about October. It would be axle-deep muck if we've got all those trucks going back there [with no gravel on the roadway]. So here I am, racking my brain... How do I make a temporary road that I can remove, and not leave a trace? Help! - B.D. in the U.P.

JWR Replies: I believe that the best answer is buying or renting a quantity of military surplus AM-2 airfield matting. These aluminum mats were designed to be laid down on leveled ground and linked together to form military runways and taxiways. Earlier generations were made of steel and are often called Pierced Steel Planking (PSP) or Marsden Matting. (The latter is after the name of the town where it was first produced.) There is also now some Soviet-era Russian military surplus runway matting now available in the U.S.

After you are done with your construction project, you can very likely re-sell the matting, probably at just a slight loss. (Since it is always worth at least its scrap metal value.) AM-2, or its earlier generation steel equivalents can often be found at little more than scrap metal prices through DLA/DRMS sales yards and their auctions.

Good luck with your project.

Thanks to SurvivalBlog, I have stashed away my share of nickels, but I began to wonder if it could make sense to sort and store pre-1982 pennies, which are 95 percent copper.  I've done some hands-on research in this area, and I believe there's a way to accumulate pennies, and do so relatively easily and from an investment point of view, more effectively than nickels.

The Numbers

First, the numbers: If one stashed away $1,000 in nickels, one would have 20,000 coins; each coin is 5 grams, of which 75% is copper and 25% nickel.  So, $1000 in nickels is 75,000 grams of copper and 25,000 grams of nickel.  That's just over 165 pounds of copper and 55 pounds of nickel.

However, if one stashed away $1,000 in pre-1982 pennies, one would have 100,000 coins, each weighing about 3.1 grams, of which 95 percent is copper and 5 percent zinc.  So, $1,000 in pennies contains 310,000 grams of metal, of which 649 pounds is copper and 34 pounds is zinc.

While the bulk [and weight] of pennies is greater for the money stashed, the amount of valuable metal is greater as well--and the resulting value much greater.

Another way of looking at it is that $1,000 of nickels, as of today's writing and according to, has a melt value of  $1,261; the equivalent dollar-value of pre-1982 pennies, however, has a melt value more than double that at $2,607.

You certainly get more bang for your storage buck with nickels, but you get more bang for your investment buck with pre-1982 pennies.

For anyone for whom dollars come dearly, finding a way to accumulate pennies should pay off better in the long run than nickels, and while it is somewhat more time consuming to collect pennies that way, one is trading time for greater long-term value.  And those who are unemployed or otherwise with time on their hands will find this a reasonable way to leverage their assets.

Penny Sorting Machines

I'd spent time thinking about how to create that "density-measuring" penny sorter that you describe in your "Nickels" blog post.  On a whim, I did some surfing, and confirmed that such machines exist!  There are at least three basic approaches:

First is a machine that literally weighs the pennies, dropping the good 95% copper pennies--which weigh more--through a counterweighted trap door and allowing the zinc pennies--which weigh less--to pass over without triggering the mechanism.  This system is effective, though a bit slow, and relatively inexpensive at about $100.  

Second is a coin comparator which is used in vending machines to reject slugs and other nonconforming coins; put a coin of the type you are searching for in the comparator, and it will separate the good from the bad.  This device has to be fed the pennies manually, and while faster than the weighing machine above, still takes a significant amount of time.  This is the least expensive of the lot, and can be purchased on eBay for around $40.  (On eBay, search "copper penny sorter")

Third is the Cadillac of penny sorters, the Ryedale.  This machine also uses a coin comparator but has a feed system which will allow it to sort 18,000 pennies per hour.  It is lightning fast, and helps solve the time consuming problem of sorting the good from the bad.  It is, however, the priciest at roughly $520, or $550 with extra feed wheel and hopper expanders.

Being a cost-effective sort of person, I first decided to try the cheap route, buying a coin comparator on eBay.  It works, and works effectively, with well less than a 1% error rate, but I did not find it easy to feed.  I found myself spending much too much time feeding that comparator, sorting only perhaps $30 of pennies an hour.  At a 30 percent yield that was $9 of copper pennies an hour; I found that too slow, and my attempts to create a faster feeding system were for naught.

I looked into the Ryedale some more, and found that used machines on eBay were being snapped up by bidders, returning 75% of the purchase cost.  That made my decision easy--I could buy a Ryedale, sort the pennies I wanted, and recover most of the cost of the sorter on eBay.  This is what I did.

Once I found these machines online, there remained two details to address:is the yield of pre-1982 pennies sufficient to justify my time sorting them and can I get pennies in bulk?

Sufficient Yield?

I live in rural Southern Wisconsin, and so my next task was to see what yield I would get in pennies.  I went to three local banks and obtained $5, $10, and $20 in penny rolls from them, or $35 total.

I found a yield of about 35 percent with these pennies, which seemed satisfactory to me.  I've read that some people sorting pennies achieve only a 20 percent yield, but here in my area I'm consistently in the low 30s on average.  I once had a 92 percent yield in a $50 bag, but also once had only a 5 percent yield.  It averages out.

Obviously, one trick is to make sure you don't get your own sorted pennies back.  Pennies I get from one specific bank I never take back there for counting and credit.  Pennies I get at my other bank--where I take the "bad" pennies for counting and credit--are always pre-rolled and delivered from the regional bank, not from the local supply to which I'm contributing only zinc pennies.

I buy pennies generally in rolls and usually in $50 or more lots.  One bank is willing to order and allow me to buy $500-worth of rolled pennies at a time.  Another bank also allows me to buy pennies up to $200 at a time in rolls.  I have also managed to make an arrangement with them--when they sort coins into bags, they also allow me to buy those $50 bags of unrolled coins, which saves the time of taking the pennies out of the rolls.  This is the bank to which I never return my sorted pennies, so those bags never contain my rejects.

One thing I do is make friends with the tellers.  What I'm doing is kind of a pain for them, so I'm friendly and engaging.  I have taken in some of my "finds" to show them, as they think I'm searching for rare coins as a coin collector--which I am, but I'm also doing more.  Last week I found an 1890 Indian Head penny in remarkable shape in one of my rolls, and I took that in to show the tellers as one of the "lunkers" I found during my "fishing" expeditions.  They like to hear my stories, and I always oblige.

Unwrapping Rolls

I use an old-fashioned bottle opener such as is used for removing a bottle cap.  I use the "hook" which grips the lip of the bottle cap to break open the rolled ends where the paper ends, and it's easy to unroll them at that point.  I unwrap them into a small plastic bowl so I can easily see if there are any paper fragments to be removed.  One has to make sure that paper fragments don't mix in with the coins as they can get caught in the Ryedale sorter.  I can unwrap 10 to 12 rolls a minute.

A Few Rare Finds

As I unroll and sort the pennies, I keep my eyes open for older pennies with the Sheaves of Wheat design on the reverse ("Wheats") or any other rarities.  I ran across an 1890 Indian Head, and have found numerous older pennies from the teens and 1920s.  I keep the Wheats separate, as I know a local coin dealer that pays 2.5 cents apiece for common "wheats".  And I expect, sooner or later, to hit big on a rare penny.  

How I Store Pennies

I'm closing in on my first $1,000 in pre-1982 pennies; I've been rolling them in coin wrappers, and storing in boxes which contain $25 in pennies.  This makes storing easy as they're compact, but there is additional cost in buying penny wrappers and the boxes.  This makes it easy to demonstrate the pennies are all pre-1982 as each $25 box of pennies will weigh 17+ pounds if they're 95 percent copper.

There is a time cost in putting the pennies in wrappers.  I bought coin counting tubes from MMF Industries which allow one to easily get to about 50 pennies in a hurry.  I slide these into a preformed tubular wrapper, and place on a scale to double-check the count (they should be about 155-156 grams).  While not overly fast, I find this relaxing, oddly enough, and I have a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction each time I complete a $25 box.

I've also stored some pennies in plastic coffee cans, in which I can fit $35 in pennies.  Either way, I'm heading toward my long-term goal of at least a half-ton of valuable copper stored in penny form, and I may even try for a ton. 

Eventually, I believe those pennies will have real instead of theoretical melt value; I also believe copper prices will rise significantly over time.  And if not, they'll still be worth a penny each.

Thanks to SurvivalBlog, I have a pretty good stash of nickels.  I've now shifted gears to pennies.  But I'd appreciate it if everyone would wait to descend on the banks until after I have my share. - Mike D.

JWR Replies: Your advocacy of seeking a greater "amount of valuable metal" is arguable, since for many years nickel has has been worth nearly three times as much as copper. In my estimation, saving coins with a higher dollar density makes the most sense. (For that matter, if any significant number of silver coins were still in circulation, then those would be what I'd stockpile "at face value." But, alas, I was born a generation too late to take advantage of that window of opportunity.)

The key questions for anyone contemplating searching for pre-1982 (95% copper) pennies are: 1.) How strong is my back? 2.) How much storage space do I have?, and 3.) What is my time worth? Those factors are what pushed me toward nickels. At least for now, virtually ALL of the nickels presently in circulation are 75% copper and 25% nickel. (The few 20% silver "War Nickels" minted from 1942 to 1945 are just a nice bonus.) This universality means that asking my teller for $40 in nickels each time I go to the bank takes a negligible amount of time, since there is no sorting required. All of those rolls of nickels go right into .30 caliber ammo cans when I get home. That is "No muss and no fuss." But how many hours does it take to un-roll, sort and re-roll $1,000 worth of pennies? (Not to mention the time required to return 70% of them, as rejects.) So for me, the choice was clear: Nickels!

But of course your mileage may vary. For someone who is underemployed or retired but yet still has a strong back, the 95% copper penny hunt might be worth pursuing.

In closing, keep in mind that the window of opportunity to acquire large quantities of genuine "Nickels with nickel" without any sorting will likely close in 2012. Once they have been debased, we will be forced to sort nickels. Stock up now, or you'll kick yourself later for not doing so!

I would like to add a note to one of the observations of Don M., regarding re-freezing of meat. I too have heard many times that it is unwise to re-freeze meat or fish. I grew up hearing it. Often it is even implied that it is a health risk. Most folks don't know why; it's just what they've always been told.

Water expands when it freezes, and as we all know, will rupture whatever contains it - even steel pipe. The cells of meat and fish contain a high content of water. When it freezes, it will break the cell wall, leading to poor quality and texture upon thawing. This is not a health risk - just bad for quality. If the freezing occurs quickly, as in a production blast freezer, the cell wall will freeze hard enough before the inner part freezes, to prevent cell wall rupture. The notion of "flash freezing" is with very few exceptions, a myth. Most industrial freezers will bring the product to a core temperature below 0 F in as little as 2 hours and as much as 5 hours (depending on the thickness of the product and the temperature of the freezer). Remember - they are freezing thousands of pounds at a time.

It is a very common practice for fish caught in Alaska to be frozen "in the round" -- after removal of heads and entrails. They are then shipped to processing plants elsewhere, thawed, further processed (into fillets or whatever) and refrozen.

If you regularly buy fresh meat and fish and freeze it at home, and are satisfied with the quality, then you should feel comfortable refreezing meat or fish if the need arises, as long as it never gets above refrigerator temperature. I do it often.

Best to You and Yours, - D.B. in Seattle

A 1980 copy of Playboy Predicts the Future for Silver

David D. sent this: Speculation explains more about oil prices than anything else

John R. recommended a series of charts, showing the sad decline of various currencies since 1970: Your Purchasing Power. JWR Notes: As I've written before, currency inflation is robbery in slow motion.

Reader Paul G. suggested this by Dave Altig of the Atlanta Fed: Just how out of line are house prices? Clearly, house prices have farther to fall before we see bottom!

Shadow Stat Misery Index Highest on Record

Items from The Economatrix:

Yishai sent a link to this must read new post at Zero Hedge: What does a trillion dollars look like?

Social Security Trust Fund Bonds Will be the "21st Century Version of Confederate Banknotes"

South Carolina Moves to Make its Own Gold & Silver Money

Rising Food And Gas Costs Push Up Consumer Prices

The Great Government Fire Sale Is On

Global Stock Markets Hit By Second Commodities Sell-off

Check out the new Rocky Mountain Survival Institute blog. Great stuff!

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New Army Ammo Puts Mean in ‘Green’

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I just heard that Ready Made Resources has received a small supply of Mountain House freeze dried Diced Chicken, packed in #10 cans. Since the quantity is so small this item is not listed at the company's web site. To order, please call them at: 1(800) 627-3809.

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Ben L. mentioned this very bad court precedent in Indiana: Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home. This is a 180-degree turn from the longstanding common law tradition that any officer of the law who acts extra-jurisdictionally has no more legal defense than a criminal housebreaker.

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SurvivalBlog's Access Via IP Address contingency plan came in handy on Sunday, as the Third Intifada regional glee club's rallies sent ripples through the Internet. It was mostly just sound and fury, but it became clear that there were a few serious cyber attacks. One SurvivalBlog reader in Kuwait wrote me: "[The] DNS is down. I can only get to web sites via their [dotted quad] IP addresses. Our Internet went down five hours ago, on three different service providers."

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it." - Thomas Jefferson, from a letter to Joseph Milligan, 1816

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

As we find ourselves moving back to basics on and around the farms, more people that have had no livestock ever also have no clue how to feed them or how to take basic care of them, are getting them. In the past two years, I have personally rescued and placed 115 horses and assisted in numerous other rescues. I can’t stress enough about proper care and feeding. It is easier to maintain a healthy weight then to put it back on an animal. For each 100 pounds lost, it takes three months to put it back on the right way, without injuring or killing the animal. Water intake is crucial, the amounts are based on age/weight, type and breeding status. When the SHTF, there will be little or no access to bagged feed, bulk/surplus hay and supplements.

When you are looking into buying horses, cows, sheep and goats, take into consideration that – the smaller the animal the less it needs to eat and it will yield less meat, milk and in some cases offspring. The calculations in this article are taken from research done during my time working horses (almost 40 years), cows and farm living. For those raising young stock – powdered milk, Carnation canned milk and Karo syrup are a must for orphans. If you can find powdered colostrum get it and vacuum seal it. Stock up on wormers and antibiotics for your animals too, because they can and will need them. Common veterinary antibiotics include Penicillin, Amoxicillin, Erythromycin ("E-mycin"), Keflex and Sulfonamides. Tetracycline and Doxycycline can also be used, but are more disease specific. A Merck Veterinary Manual is extremely useful and if you have livestock get the right tools to help diagnose and treat. [JWR Adds: I also recommend the books Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners by as well as Where There Is No Vet by Bill Forse.]

Here is a standard feed calculation for horses :

W = HG 2 X BL


W = Weight in pounds
HG = Heart girth in inches
BL = Body length in inches

Starting at your horses chest at the top shoulder point to the point of the buttocks (about an inch away from the tail) gives you body length, from the wither to the to the point of buttocks.
It is a maximum of 3.5% of their total body weight in grain and forage, with the maximum going to only foals to age of 1 year. Of that only .5 to 2% of it is supposed to be grain. That means if you have a 60’ x 150’ yard don’t get a horse unless your supply of hay is permanent and inexpensive. In the northern states where the grass dies off fairly early (late fall) then you need to have this down – each horse will consume 1-2 flakes of hay 2 times per day, each bale has 10 flakes. (DO NOT feed out a lot of alfalfa as your horse can colic or founder).

Let’s say your horse will eat 2 bales per week at a cost of $3-$10 a bale. Buy in large quantities when the hay is being baled and it will cost you less. Down in the southern states we feed out less hay as our grass doesn’t begin to die off fully until later in the year (based on heat and rainfall). Round bales are great BUT will mold if not covered properly and then can’t be fed out to special needs or stalled horses, some say you can’t feed it out at all, but those with horses mixed with their cows do know a little different. Round bales weigh from 400 lbs to 1200 lbs and are priced from $10-$75 each. With seven horses on 12 acres I will go through 12 round bales from December to May, average of 1 bale per pasture per week or every other week. Horses need some supplements so we need to have alternative methods to buying them. Grain does go bad and you do have to balance what you give them, lower protein for less active horses from 3-10. Use no cotton seed or cotton seed oil, as it can damage reproducing horses and can cause other health problems.

Your first horse requires at least 1.5 acres, and as you add more, you will need at least 1 acre per horse. Straight oats and corn can be given, but both are higher in protein and corn causes the horses to produce more heat so I would be careful how much feed to put to them. There is one kind of horse that will eat other protein: the Icelandic Horse will eat fish (dried salmon). Remember that horses need from 6-20 gallons of water per day per horse.

Cows the feeding is a little different due to creep feeding and hay consumption but on average they will eat up to 30 lbs of feed per growing animal at 1,200 lbs so about 2-3% of body weight and whether they are dairy, beef, pregnant, steers or calves. You will need about 1 acre per animal or you will have to supplement more. The nutritional needs vary based upon what you have and you need to plan accordingly. If you have had even 1 case of blackleg show up in your calves stock up on vaccines because it doesn't die out in pastures, it will lie dormant and will kill infected calves. Cows need from 4 gallons per day to 23 gallons per day per animal.

Goats: You can have quite a few, but I would recommend only 8 per acre, maximum . They do need roughage and can have ¼ lb to 1 lb of grain per day, but no urea, natural protein only as it can make your goats sick or they can die. Goats will eat everything including poison ivy, your garden, blackberry and raspberry plants. Goats tend to jump and require better fences than other livestock. You can train them to tie out; I wouldn’t use a drag because they will drag it through your fences, bust the pipes and eat pipe insulation. Kids can die off quickly if exposed to rain and cold when very young. They can also suffer from floppy kid syndrome, which is just as it sounds and can be treated early with thiamine, penicillin and Vitamin B. Goats need from 1/10 gallon to 3 gallons of water per day, per animal.

Sheep need roughage, at ½ lb to 1 lb per day for babies and recommended creep feed adults from 2.5 lbs to 7 lbs or increase 2-4 lbs to 6-12 lbs haylage/corn silage but not for lambs, no copper. Protein supplements for late gestation ewes, lactating ewes, rams and feeder lambs. Use it only when you give no alfalfa with corn. Urea can be fed to adults at 1-3% of feed. Sheep need 1/10 gallon to 3 gallons of water per day per animal.

Pigs can do very well in pastures, but even a well fed pig will nibble on a sick or dying animal. Horses can and will hurt pigs, so when feeding, separate them. Farmers used to plant mangels (fodder beet), turnips or rape. This can be given to cows too. Boars can be killed without neutering if they are kept quiet for about 24 hours before slaughter. Pigs need ½ gallon to 6 gallons of water per day per animal.

Due to over grazing, no rotating, or tilling, we do rob the pastures of natural supplements and make it more necessary to add grains. With livestock pastures should be rotated, rested, tilled and replanted as needed.

Stack your pasture with cows and chickens (bug control) and geese with sheep.

Some people do give out store surplus stale bread to all their livestock and it does work. But if you give them a lot right off the bat they can get sick. Rice bran can be given; we use it on underweight horses. Wheat bran we feed out in the cold weather and to older horses that need a little extra. Mineral oil can be kept on hand for occasional colic.

Natural herbal worming – caraway 56%, parsley 20%, chicory 10%, chervil and dill 14%. You can also use wormwood, mug wart, chicory and common tansy. They have found that the ingredient in some plants and ferns that are effective against parasites is filicic acid. Willow has salicin and it is said if you feed horses the leaves they will not get worms and a decoction of the bark treats flukes and diarrhea. Tannin also works. But I would discuss the options with a vet or vet school and see what is toxic in your area and what will work on the parasites in your area. Never use tobacco as it can damage the lining of the stomach. Injectable wormers have a longer shelf life than paste wormers.

Fly control helps reduce parasites. In easy fly control method is ¼ cup apple cider vinegar twice daily over food. Larva and such in your troughs add algae eaters and goldfish. Keep chickens in your pasture. For fleas adding some guinea fowl keets (they are great watch birds too) and sheep will help. (When we have sheep I do notice a decrease in the presence of fleas).  Muscovy ducks eat mosquito larva in standing water.

In a SHTF situation remember that prevention will be a huge thing and our ability to treat ailments in our animals will be limited. Find alternatives now, look for what you will need later and buy extra.

People frequently refer to losing power in freezers as good incentive to keep freeze dried food on hand.  My family found out the hard way that your freezer full of meat can be canned with excellent results!  I awoke one Friday morning and headed downstairs to get ready for work.  I noticed a glow in the basement and, knowing that there were no lights that were supposed to be on, went downstairs to check it out.  Somehow, the night before, the upright freezer door had either not been shut securely or had come open.  Our store of beef, ½ cow, was thawing out and making a bloody mess (no, not the English saying, it was literally a bloody mess!).  My mother had offered to teach us how to can meat the year before but we never set the time aside for it.  No time like the present, so we cancelled school for the (teenage) girls, called mom to beg her help (she was thrilled to help out!) and started up the stove.  We already had two pressure canners (two is one, one is none) and I headed to the store to buy another 5 dozen canning jars, lids, salt, etc.  The next 35 hours were a solid round of cooking the meat, getting one canner loaded while the other canned and then unloading the jars to cool.  We worked in shifts but were absolutely exhausted by the time we were done!  We canned approximately 400 lbs of various beef cuts.  Of the 60 or so jars we canned only 3 or 4 failed to seal.  We simply put them in the fridge and ate them first.                  

Some observations on this adventure:  

1.       Keep your canner gauge checked for accuracy and have a spare gasket if you aren’t actively canning since you don’t know when you will need it!

2.       As mentioned numerous times before, keep plenty of extra jars, lids and rings on hand.

3.       The beef had started to thaw so we threw it into chests full of ice to keep it cool while awaiting cooking.  Re-freezing thawed meat is not, I am told, wise.

4.       A clean kitchen helps immensely with this sort of operation.  Think of it as a lab and you will have an easier time with it.

5.       You can supposedly can [some] meat raw but I was not brave enough to try it.

6.       The canned beef is unbelievably delicious!

7.       If you have relatives that are in the Silent generation (as defined by Strauss and Howe) they are probably full of great reams of knowledge and advice about what I would call ‘sustainable living’ (a term well abused by many statists, I know- lets take it back!).  They were children during the 1st Depression and WWII and were most likely heavily involved in helping procure and store food for their family.  Lessons learned in childhood like that never seem to go away even if they do dim somewhat.

8.       Check your freezer for level and make sure it has just a slight tilt backwards so the weight of the door will keep it closed.  This will ensure that you can learn to can like this at your convenience instead of as an emergency!  

So yes, canning is labor intensive but the end result is no need for a fridge or freezer.  How great is that?   - Don M.

Stephen M. sent this: Alan Blinder Fires First Shot Across QE3 Bow: Says We Need More Stimulus To Boost Employment. Monetizing the debt is a governmental addiction. It won't end until the U.S. Dollar is destroyed!

Reader G.P. forwarded this: 50 Things Every American Should Know About The Collapse Of The Economy

Sig sent us this: Roubini: Jobless Rate Will Jump to Near 10 Percent as Economy Slows.

Some "Live Free or Die" news: Southeast Minn. man finds copper plate used to print money. The story gets very interesting when the lawyers get involved. (Thanks to Jim H. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Death By a Thousand Cuts

The Economy When Capital Is Nowhere In Sight

Treasury Auctions to Take US Over Debt Ceiling on Monday

US Exports Hit Record High, Trade Gap Widens On Oil

Odds 'n Sods:

Reader B.B. spotted this: Rich Russians Buy Bunkers on Apocalypse Angst. JWR Adds: Regardless of what country you are in, be wary of fast-talking salesmen that want to sell you floor space in any shelter that doesn't yet exist. Just as with precious metals, I recommend that your investment be something tangible. FWIW, back when I was in the software industry, we used to call planned products or planned features "vaporware", because many of them were never anything more than Marketing Department hype. (There was no code for this software yet written.)

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Mr. K. wrote to note: "I found a video that displays the perfect example on why it is important to donate anonymously through a third party: Tony Feeds the Locals. A generous offer by the No Reservations crew turned ugly, quickly."

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J. McC. mentioned Kitat Konenut: Organizing for community defense, at the grass roots, with a common faith. Does this sound a bit like the American Redoubt? (One difference is that I don't advocate having any centralized leadership. I'm merely encouraging individual families to relocate, attend good churches, coalesce, and take a stand.)

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More about the Owyhee Tragedy: It Was Death by GPS!

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Japan to Cover Damaged Nuclear Reactors with Giant Tents. (A nice gesture that will reduce the spread of particulates, but hardly a permanent solution.)

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all [men], as theirs also was.

But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of [them] all the Lord delivered me.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned [them];

And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." - 2 Timothy 3:8-15 (KJV)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

There are some no nonsense, low-cost hands on things that we can do right now and daily to become more prepared in a slow and steady, simple manner. I recommend using Regularly Unavoidable Training Triggers (RUTTs). Getting in a RUTT could save your life.

We all know people that are in a rut.  Some people like to smoke their cigarettes and some spend hours a day in front of the television.  Some people without even thinking about it pick up a little bit of candy or junk food when standing in line at the grocery store.  The truth is that ruts are very easy to get into.  Our quality of life and our very survival will depend on the RUTT that we are in.   Lets talk specifically about how you can get into a RUTT that affects you physically.   Like most people, hitting the gym has never worked for me.  First, you pack a bag, then drive to the gym, change, and work out.  Someone is inevitably using the equipment you want to use.  Then you need to clean up and head home.   

What a huge drain of time and energy.   I would rather be in a RUTT.  Instead of going to the gym, I would rather use quick five minute exercises at many different Triggered intervals during the day.  This has the benefit to allow me to relieve stress, mentally switch gears between daily tasks, and allow me to clear my head as I go about my day.   Here are a couple of things that I do and the Unavoidable Triggers that initiate the action.  

Near the entrance to my home I have an inconspicuous string that is dangling such that the bottom most part is just out of reach for me to jump and smack it.  Every time I go in to or out of that door (almost), I jump up attempting to contact the string. The idea is do this often enough such that eventually you get good enough to actually hit it.  At that point where I actually hit it, I immediately find something to stand on and trim 1/4 inch off of the string. (wash, rinse, repeat)  How high can you jump? Easily 30 attempts a day (approximately 5-10 jumps at each passing of the Trigger) , over a month definitely pushes the 1,000 attempt mark.  Could that whole body explosive jumping action benefit you on occasion?  Would it come in very handy in a survival situation?  I set one up for each of the nieces and nephews at their homes,, and made it a game.  

 The Regular Unavoidable Training Trigger that initiates this exercise is merely passing through the front door.  Get in a RUTT and do it every time.   What would be the benefit if you were to place a punching/heavy bag  just inside a child's bed room door, such that they could not enter without giving it a bit of a shove.  Would it benefit that child physically to push that bag out of the way 10 times a day for years?  Could you do the same thing for your bedroom/ den/ office/ man cave?  This exercise is Triggered by entering and exiting the room and is Unavoidable.    

What would it do to a child's (or adults) agility and ankle strength if the middle of their bedroom floor from a young age (It has just always been that way) J had a large section covered by a piece of wood or thick carpet with a random array of tennis ball half's attached to it.  Would agility improve over time?  Here the Training Trigger is Unavoidable and is always present when walking in this room.   If there was a pull-up bar above the bathroom door. Every time you finish using the bathroom do a pull up or two on the way out.  As most people use the bathroom a few times per day, this Regular Training Trigger is Unavoidable.  

A 2x4 on the floor (or laying in the garden if the spouse will not tolerate it in the home) makes an excellent balance beam. Get in the habit of always traveling along it when you come to it. When you get to the point where you are doing it without even thinking,,, turn it on edge and screw a couple of supportive "feet" to it. Now walk the narrow edge from then on. It will soon become second nature and brainlessly easy. Have you been able to do this for a while without thinking about it?  Place or screw a stable block under one end to create a 1' incline. The balance beam is right there whenever you approach this area.   It is in your way, Unavoidable and it is just easier to play along with this game you have made for yourself.  You could even disguise it as decorative landscape edging.  

Is there any way that a Tarzan rope could be incorporated into your daily comings and goings?  Would you and your kids benefit if the Tarzan rope was the only acceptable way to leave the front porch.  If there was that and a balance beam coming up the stairs into the home, kids would come and go using them every time.   

A personal hero of mine, J.J. Armes, is said to have turned all of the stairs in his home into high traction rubber inclines to benefit the physical abilities of his family.  How is that for a Regularly Unavoidable Training Trigger?  As a bonus, this would also seriously confuse a burglar and slow down the uninitiated.  

Almost as drastic, a couple of well placed boards or commercially purchased climbing hand holds could become the only acceptable way for the kids (big and small) to go upstairs to the bedrooms or to enter their tree house.   Although not complete, I am currently working on weaving a stout climbing rope so that at multiple times of the day I can take a moment and climb it as I pass.  A regular thick rope is climbable; however, a proper "fast-rope" is much easier on the hands and will result in more frequent use.  If you ever find yourself feeling unmotivated to climb the rope, just attach a small sign that reads “Do NOT Climb Rope - By Order of a Large Government Agency.”  You will soon find that the urge to climb has returned.

I like to frequently have a look and see what is in the refrigerator.  On the main shelf , front and center and sideways, I place the water pitcher.  Now, whenever I open the refrigerator, I have a glass ready to fill with water.  It is usually the case that after having a drink of water, I am not thinking so much about getting a little snack.  

What kinds of things do you Regularly do as you go about your day?  To what positive things can you attach a Regularly Unavoidable Training Trigger?   

Is there a BB gun trap target on the back wall inside of the wood shed with a BB training pistol standing by such that each and every time you fetch wood you can have a couple of practice shots?  Is this proximity to a safe backstop also a good time to practice retrieving your pistol from your concealed carry?  Yes, I know, the wood shed is often cold.  But is that not the point, to practice in all conditions?  What about practicing after you have split a few logs?   Does the screen saver on your computer show a different intricate scene or series of objects and when a button is pushed, does it block you from proceeding until you put check marks in the box corresponding to the items that were actually in the scene? Would that help improve your recall and situational awareness.  Can you set the level of difficulty?   Can others upload expansions and new scenes?  (Well, mine certainly cannot.)

Do you without fail play the "situational awareness game" when out in a public setting like a restaurant?  It goes like this:  Everyone but you closed there eyes, and you ask them three questions about the surroundings. For instance: What color are the drapes?  Does the room have fire suppression sprinklers installed?  How many exit signs are visible?  How many people are wearing hats? The players can answer with a show of fingers and the winner leads the next round.  My Trigger for this is all dining out occasions.  

When traveling home never travel the same path twice.  It is a proven brain stretcher and allows you to familiarize yourself with what is currently going on in the area around you.  Attempt to use unconventional paths such as through parking lots and behind shopping centers.  This simple exercise could really be a life saver in a bug out situation.   It is easy to fall into a habit or a RUTT, why not set yourself up, and create a few that would really benefit you and your family.  Just like food preps, slow and steady, simple and stupid, can win this race also.

JWR Adds: One good RUTT is positioning pull-up bars at the top of two or three doorways inside your house. Get in to the habit of doing four or five pull-ups each time that you walk through that doorway when you aren't carrying an object. This can be turned into a fun game for the family. If you have teenagers, it can even be made a bit competitive--in a friendly way, of course.

Dear JWR:
I've been reading your site for some time and thought that some of your readers may find our Butter Storage Solution helpful in their plans.

I've been a prepper for decades and I've spent a lot of time thinking about butter. Our stored food reflects our caloric needs as well as having some things to eat that we really like -- things that make us feel better. My wife likes butter very much and I began looking for solutions around the turn of the century.

Living in New Orleans (or anywhere with a sub-tropical climate) just makes the butter problem that much more difficult. In the 1970s while homesteading in the Alaskan interior I tried canned butter but I rejected it for three reasons: it's expensive, it's hard to get and worst of all, once you open the can you are still faced with all of the storage issues you were trying to get away from.

I explored a few possibilities but when Katrina blew through I still had no solution. We were provisioned pretty well and sheltered in place for the storm and throughout the entire six week forced mandatory evacuation. More for psychological reasons than dietary I got more serious in my search as the city began to get back on it's feet.

In short, I revisited Ghee and decided to give it a try. All ghee is clarified butter but all clarified butter is not ghee. Ghee is anhydrous butter that has also had the milk solids removed. It is a way to preserve butter without refrigeration that has been in use for over 4,000 years. If made properly it may be stored for years at room temperature in the tropics.

A great deal of information about ghee is available online but I will hit a few high points. If you decide to try it there are many recipes out there that detail each step.

After making it in increasingly larger batches on the stove top for five years I had a forehead slapping moment where it occurred to me that I could use our crock pot instead. This not only makes for a much better product, it also greatly decreases the chances of burning a batch. Our five quart crock pot will make a six pound batch.

Since my goal was a product that would store well at room temperature I would cook it for about 2.5 hours in an attempt to cook off as much water as possible. Now I make it overnight on a cold night and let it cook in the crock pot for over 14 hours. This is by far the easiest way to make high quality ghee. I use coffee filters to remove the fine solids. I put up enough ghee in pints during the cooler months that I never have to make it during the air conditioning season anymore.

There is one handy, low tech test for ghee quality that is not mentioned much online: Cut a strip of paper two inches by one quarter inch wide. Dip just the end of the strip into the ghee. Light the dipped end with a lighter. If the flame pops and sputters there is still quite a bit of water present.

When you use ghee it is very important to never introduce any water into the jar while you are taking some out. Later, if you decide that you need just a bit more ghee in the pan be sure to use a clean knife or spatula. I have yet to have any ghee go bad on me.

Even with a crock pot, making ghee is probably not for everyone. It is available for purchase online but I would advise buying some unsalted butter and making a small batch yourself. There is also a product out there for high end movie theaters that is an anhydrous butter product which is made by running butter through a centrifuge. You may have tasted this product if you frequent theaters where they are very proud of their popcorn. Personally I prefer to retain control of the entire process myself.

Once you start using ghee you may be surprised how handy it is. Since ghee has a very high 'smoke point' it is truly a joy to sauté with. It is like butter on steroids.

Please read up on it a bit and give it a try. It has been very easy to weave into our food storage program and it has been the solution to our butter storage dilemma.

Thanks for the great blog site! - L.C. in New Orleans

Hi, Jim:
Up until now, bedbugs were thought to be harmless from the point of view of carrying diseases. But all that has changed. See: Scientists Discover Bedbugs Carrying MRSA Germ In Study. Instead of [simply] being a pernicious hard to get rid of pest, they may be carrying anti-biotic resistant staph infections and illnesses now.

Some houses have such bad infestations of bedbugs there is no getting rid of them and impoverished people abandon those homes. In some cities, the houses are condemned as unfit for human habitation and destroyed.

Bed bugs are not found just in beds. Major businesses including theaters and news organizations have suffered from bedbugs. People have to be cautious using any public transportation as the last passenger may have dropped some off.

Almost completely eliminated once by DDT, the absence of a toxin to kill them has caused them to proliferate. If they are carrying MRSA and VRE in Canada, can the rest of the world be far behind?

As for MRSA, the staph infection has been spreading fast among commercial fisherman. It seems that having the hands and arms, wet during work hours, from the sea, particularly, has allowed MRSA to spread. Staph likes a warm, wet environment and commercial fisherman not only all have that condition, but also come in contact with one another's hands and arms frequently, even sharing gloves and aprons and other surfaces that may become contaminated. Many other occupations require workers to have wet hands and arms doing while completing required tasks. Also, visitors on vacations to tropical environments have returned to their homes with MRSA infections. In warmer climates, MRSA lasts longer on surfaces, but now, in colder climates, bedbugs may carry the disease to the host directly.

In the worst cases, MRSA is known as the flesh eating bacteria, but that is usually found in hospitals. The MRSA found in other environments is usually slower spreading and antibiotics can still be used to stop the action. Still, those with compromised immune systems may find it not so easy to heal. Even healthy people exposed to the lesser strains may require hospitalization and IV treatments.

One thing you can do to help yourself is to keep your skin free of cuts, sores, bites, or scrapes, as entry points allow bacteria to get under the skin where the trouble is more serious, and more difficult to cure. You didn't like bedbugs anyway, but to know they open a hole in your skin, and put bad bacteria in the hole, does nothing to increase your love of them.

It seems logical that bugs which open sores on the skin from biting also pick up and give back these antibiotic resistant strains. One has to be on alert for so much more in a world with widespread travel and insidious pests. - Gordon G.

John Embry discusses gold and silver with James Turk. Don't miss Embry's comments on the gold to silver ratio (starting 4 minutes into the interview), and about the prospects for hyperinflation, (starting about 10 minutes in).

H.D. pointed me to this New York Times article: Gold Mania in the Yukon.

C.D.V. flagged this: Social Security deficits now ‘permanent’

Items from The Economatrix:

Foreclosures Crush Home Prices

Reports of Mortgage Fraud Reach Record Level

Stocks Fall as European Financial Crisis Expands

Asian Markets Subdued on US Mixed Signals

Stocks Edge Higher as Commodity Slide Eases

Dollar In Graver Danger Than Euro. [JWR Notes: "Graver" is an acceptable adjectival form, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, but it will never sound right, to my ear.]

Pierre M. mentioned this excellent PDF: Impact of Severe Solar Flares, Nuclear EMP and Intentional EMI on Electric Grids.

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Cheryl N. (SurvivalBlog's Economatrix) sent this: Coping With Crime After Economic Collapse. (A great one hour phone interview with "FerFAL in Argentina.)

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Grant at Emergency Essentials wrote to mention that they've just received a few cases of Red Feather brand canned butter, from New Zealand. I will likely sell out soon, so stock up!

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One of the editors of the Survival Cache blog kindly posted: Book Review: How to Survive The End of the World as We Know It.

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Reader Stan S. mentioned that the first Get Prepared Expo is scheduled for May 14th and 15th, in Springfield, Missouri.

"And he said, The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;

The God of my rock; in him will I trust: [he is] my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.

I will call on the LORD, [who is] worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;

The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;

In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry [did enter] into his ears." - 2 Samuel 22:2-7 (KJV)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

We are preppers. I love reading the prep/survival books. There’s so much information out there and so many people involved in prepping now, there’s just no reason to not do it! We learned from experience that you can never be over prepared. Since 2004 I’ve learned how to store food for the long term, how to filter water (okay, I’ll give credit to my Berkey on that one), I’ve learned about bug out bags and how to build a fire with a flint, but what I learned the most from was living for more than two weeks without electricity after hurricanes Frances, Jeanne and Wilma. Even though we were only thinking hurricane preparedness then, we were still leaps and bounds beyond most of our neighbors.

The obvious things that one can’t miss are non perishable food and water. You’d be surprised how many people wait until a hurricane warning to stock up on these basics. Once a hurricane is within 3 days of hitting, the stores get crazy and empty out. Shopping during that time is no longer an option for us, we’re prepared far in advance. The only food I can see getting right before a storm is bread (although we stock up and freeze bread when it’s on sale) and fresh fruits and veggies. When a warning is issued water is the first to go, then canned soups, tuna, Spam, etc. Let me tell you folks, eating soup when its 98 degrees with 98 percent humidity is not appetizing. We have to think about what we’d normally eat and work with that. I stock up on canned meats and fruits and veggies.  We have an extra freezer stocked with meat. Unfortunately, during Hurricane Frances the storm lingered for 3 days over our area. We could not run the generator during the storm. The power went out immediately and all of our meat was lost by the time the storm passed. So stocking up the fridge and freezer’s a great idea but in the end you could lose it all. We regularly eat tortillas of all kinds, so I have a stock of masa and a tortilla press. Tortillas can be cooked on a skillet over a grill in no time at all. Speaking of the grill, we have at least four ways of cooking outside and only two of those require gas. We have many propane tanks (I’m not even going to tell you how many, it’s almost embarrassing!).  But we also have a charcoal grill and a fire pit, with wood stocked up for fuel if needed. The wood needs to be covered or brought in during a storm so it doesn’t get soaked or blown away.

So food and water, obvious, but how to live without electricity? Well folks, that’s where the rubber meets the road. The everyday little things soon become a chore. Take brushing your teeth for instance. When no water comes out of the faucet it’s a little more complicated. Not only is there no running water, but because we are on city sewer (and remember, no electricity) only minimal waste can go down the drain. Basically because whatever you put down the drain could potentially come back into the home once the power goes back on. This happened to several neighbors, but not us.  The water that we store is not just for drinking. After a storm we take a 5 gallon bucket and fill it, halfway or so, cover it and put it on the back porch. This is where we get water to brush our teeth and wash ourselves. All the dirty water is poured into a corner of the yard.

We did allow for toileting inside but only flushing when necessary. Again water is needed for flushing and you can see our supply dwindling as I type. Washing not only ourselves but dishes also needed to be done outside. We set up a table and again a 5 gallon bucket of water for our outdoor wash area. We used a lot of paper and plastic but some things still needed to be cleaned (pans, pots, etc). Whenever possible I used just cold water, soap and bleach, but with very grimy stuff we’d boil water on the grill and wash dishes in that. I added bleach to every wash load just to keep the germs minimal. That’s just breakfast folks. Now, I’m going to admit, after a few days my husband hooked the generator up to the water pump and we were able to bathe and have water from the outside faucet but it’s very hard water, normally used for irrigation only. It’s not potable but can be used for bathing and washing. Again, it had to be done outside which was fine because we actually have an outside shower.  Only cold water though. We were able to have a little warm water by hooking up a hose to the faucet and laying it on the roof. The heat from the sun warmed what was in the hose. It was good for a quick shower and I do mean quick.

A normal day was extremely hot and humid, we were inundated with biting flies and mosquitoes and we were typically dirty and very tired. Having decent screens on the windows was crucial as they were open all of the time.  Bug spray helped but it made us feel dirty and grimy.  I was not up on hand washing clothes at that time and the laundry pile was a nightmare. If I have to go through it again I would do things differently. I’d have two 5-gallon buckets, one for washing, one for rinsing and a hand washer. They look something like a plunger and are sufficient for hand washing shorts, underwear and tank tops. I’d also re-wear whatever possible so not to create so many dirty clothes. Now you may be wondering why we didn’t just hook up the generator to help take the edge off of the misery. We actually had the generator hooked up most of the time. It ran the fridge/freezer and a window air conditioner at night. Generators are great but they’re expensive to run and it’s important to be of the mindset that you may be entirely without electricity. Even the gas stations took several weeks to get up and running.

Being that the inside of the house was miserable, we spent a lot of time on our porch. It’s actually more of a deck, with privacy fencing surrounding us but no roof. My genius husband rigged a shade screen from material we had stored. That worked for giving us a shady area in which to clean and eat but it didn’t help with the bugs. I now have two mosquito nets stored away. If we have to do this again my husband can surely hang those to give us a protected area.

In the end we made it. My neighbors made fun of me when I washed our dishes outside but when the power came back on sewage didn’t back up into our house. We both missed a lot of work but managed to feed our family of four (my husband, myself, young teen daughter and a handicapped adult) and keep us clean and entertained. We played games at night before it got too dark. Bedtime came early. I put cute bandanas in our hair to keep it back and my daughter loved that. We put stickers on ourselves so as we tanned up (in the sun much more than usual) we had silly designs all over. We had a stash of special snack foods and kept our spirits up by joking around and not taking everything so seriously. When the power came back on after the first storm we had been over two weeks living primitively. I have to admit, I cried.

One of my favorite knife companies is Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT). They offer a wide variety of cutlery, at affordable prices. You get quality for your hard-earned dollars, and that means a lot to me. CRKT was started by two former executives from Kershaw Knives. CRKT is now solely owned by one of those executives, Rod Bremer, who I delight in calling a friend. You should see some of the e-mail exchanges between myself and Bremer, you'd think we totally hate one another - truth be told, if one of us started talking nice about the other, we'd think something was mentally wrong with the's just the nature of things between Rod and I.  

I was on-board, close to the start of CRKT, and I've probably written more articles about CRKT than any other writer. And, for good reason, too. CRKT has steadily grown their line-up of knives and tools over the years. I believe this is the 16th or 17 year that CRKT has been in business, and they have grown slowly, by doing it right. I remember during one of my visits to CRKT, and Bremer showed me their then-new M-16 folder. I saw promise in the knife, and I suggested they produce the knife with different colored handle scales, one color for police, one for rescue and fire personnel and one for the military. It took CRKT a couple years to incorporate this suggestion. However, I believe the M-16 line of folders is one of their best sellers.  

The CRKT "Ultima" fixed blade knife has a 1.4116 stainless steel blade that is 4.95" long. If you're interested in the make-up of the 1.4116 stainless steel, check out the CRKT web site for complete information. All I know is, that it's a good steel, that takes and edge, holds it reasonably well, and it's fairly easy to re-sharpen. It has a Rockwell hardness of 55-57, and that makes it just hard enough to hold an edge, and easy enough to re-sharpen. The blade is also black TiNi coated for added protection and stealth. The blade is a modified tanto style, with a hollow grind.   What you'll also find on the Ultima are some serrations, and these aren't any ol' serrations. These are called "Veff" serrations, and they were invented by a fellow Oregonian, Tom Veff. The serrations are very aggressive, and make cutting any type of fibrous material a piece of cake. Plus, they are easier to sharpen than most other serrations. The Handle on the Ultima is make out of super-tough Zytel material (black). the multi-purpose Cordura/Zytel sheath is a nice addition to the knife, and it allows for belt carry as well as MOLLE carry.  

The designer of the Ultima is Michael Martinez. His background includes work as a sculptor and inventor. And he has a martial arts background. Martinez found many fixed blade knife designs lacking in one particular area, and that was how they felt in the hand. Martinez set out to figure all this out, he had some medical specialist exam the problem, and found that you needed 23 areas of contact in your hand, for a knife handle to feel good. Martinez was able to come up with 22 of those contact points in the Ultima's design - great work!  

The butt of the Ultima has a built-in pry bar tip, for light prying work - again, this is a handy idea, incorporated into a really outstanding survival/combat knife. I'm played with a lot of knives over the years, but no one else, that I can recall, has designed a pry bar into the design of of a production knife.   The Ultima is very quick in the hand, it can be used for all types of camp, hunting, combat and survival chores. I believe CRKT used to offer an Ultima with a longer blade - I'll have to dig through my knife samples, but I'm sure I have one. I don't know why CRKT would stop making a longer blade Ultima, however, I'm not into marketing and CRKT knows what they're doing. I believe a longer blade Ultima would be of more use than a shorter blade version. However, there is nothing wrong with the current Ultima at all - I just like bigger knives.  

The Ultima comes with an outstanding Zytel-lined Cordura sheath. The knife with sheath has suggested retail price of $129.99. And, quite often, you can find CRKT discounted at many sporting goods and discount stores. As I said at the beginning of this article, I appreciate quality and value, CRKT offers both in the Ultima. So, if you are looking for your next fixed blade knife, and you are on a budget, like I am, the CRKT Ultima is worth a close look. And, don't forget, CRKT offers a lifetime warranty on all their products. Be sure to check 'em all out.  - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Hi Jim,   
I saw the recent link in SurvivalBlog to the review of Waterbricks. As a beekeeper I use proprietary 5 gallon 180 degree heat tolerant plastic containers for mixing and feeding sugar syrup to my bees during various times of year when there is no nectar flow.   

These containers have a ¾ inch threaded bung in the cap that will accept a plastic valve/faucet which costs $2.75 each (you must ask for them)  and there is a smaller cap and provision for a vent to allow fluids to flow easily.  At $8.75 each they are about half the price of a Waterbrick.  If you buy them in batches of 30, the price is $6.85 each.  They are stackable to a limited extent and have a heavy duty carry handle.  The opening is 70mm wide so these containers can be used for storing most dry goods as well.     I have done business with Kelly for a number of years and they are great folks to work with and provide great customer service & products at great prices.   

On another note, beekeeping is not only essential to a healthy environment, the bees make a garden and food crops much more productive, and bees provide a great source of sugar (via honey) in an SHTF scenario, not to mention the many benefits, health and otherwise honey provides.  Bee stings are a whole “nuther” story.  :O) - Nighthawk  

I was wondering if you could comment on one aspect of Sky Watcher's method of filling buckets and removing oxygen.  She suggests putting the dry ice in the bottom of the bucket.  I have always heard that you should put the mylar bag in the bucket, then fill the mylar bag with grain.  Once the bucket is filled, then place a chunk of dry ice on the top of the grain and let it sublimate.  Once it is the size of a nickel then you seal the bag and  then seal the lid.    

Since CO2 is heavier than air, the CO2 will sink to the bottom of the bucket while it is sublimating.  I assume it has no problems sinking through the dense grain.  I am not certain this is true.    

Could you comment or confirm this approach.  Sky Watcher's outline was very informative, but I want to make sure of this one aspect of the process.  If you follow the dry ice the size of a nickel, there won't be any concerns about exploding buckets.  Thanks, - Tom T.

JWR Replies: I agree that the best method is to put the dry on top of your grain, where you can keep an eye on it. That is the only way to pack with dry ice safely. If you were to leave too much of it un-sublimated, then you would run the risk of inadvertently creating a CO2 bomb, if you snap the lid on prematurely.

You are also correct that since CO2 is heavier than air, there is no need to put the dry ice in the bottom of the bucket, even if you are packaging flour. The CO2 will make its way to the bottom of the bucket quickly.

In harmony with my suggestion to seek out prepper friendly churches, I learned that Pastor Chuck Baldwin has already assembled a list of patriotic "Black Regiment" churches.

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Nanny State Maryland: Controversy Over Suspension of Two Easton High Lacrosse Players. (A hat tip to Pierre M. for the link.)

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The Bulgarian edition of my book book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" has just been printed. There are publishing contracts in place to produce editions in nine languages, including German, Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and Russian. (But thusfar, only the Bulgarian edition has been released.) I'm also happy to report that there are now more than 145,000 copies of the English edition in print. For anyone that wants a copy, the ISBN for the Bulgarian edition is 978-954-8208-76-5. It should be orderable from eastern European book distributors within a couple of weeks.

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Political Correctness Run Amok: Animal ethicists call for new terminology. (Thanks to Ryan A. for the link.)

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Some disappointing news from Montana: Montana Governor Vetoes No-Permit Concealed Carry. At least folks there can still carry openly, or concealed outside of city limits, without a permit. Perhaps the legislature will do the right thing, and over-ride the veto.

"…There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. … Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing." - Daniel Webster, June 1, 1837

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

One thing to be said of modern life, you generally wind up living where the work is. Money can be very good, for example, when you're working as a government contractor in the Washington, DC area, so that's a plus. The bad side of this lifestyle, though, is that you're planted squarely in Megalopolis, with guaranteed chaos and congestion during any catastrophic event, severely hindering your ability to get home from work or to evacuate the area.  Those who commute into cities or live in high population areas can relate, as evidenced by what normally might be a 1-hour commute quickly morphing into a 3-to-7 hour odyssey during inclement weather or traffic accidents.  On 9/11/01 the DC commuters went through H*ll getting home that evening, even though no roads, services, or power infrastructure were compromised.   Living or commuting within a Megalopolis will challenge your ability to be truly prepared for those unpleasant events life can throw at you from time to time.

This article focuses on preparedness in Megalopolis. Long-term survival in Megalopolis is not addressed as that is an entirely separate can of worms, and the crystal ball of the future isn’t looking good.  Instead, what you can do now before something bad happens is begin preparation for you and your family.

I detest the term “Bug-Out Bag.” I really can’t explain why the term seems so creepy to me, but one thing for sure, you should always keep one handy when you live in an over-developed area like DC. Most of us have to work to pay the bills, and should something happen while you're at the office you'll need a few basics close at hand to help you both deal with it and hopefully to be able to get safely home. Keep in mind that this bag is designed to get you from work to home (that’s where you have the stuff you can’t carry on your back) and nothing more; it doesn't pack a three day supply of food, for example. To that end, each vehicle has a small day pack stashed inside, packing a pair of comfortable and broken-in walking shoes / boots, a 100 ounce water reservoir (filled), a lightweight Gore-Tex jacket, a change of socks, and a few power bars. Each car has a GPS, a head lamp set, and a good detail map of the city. Depending on the situation, I'm prepared to abandon my vehicle and then walk out of the city in order to get to home and safety. Note that caveat… depending on the situation. Some situations may dictate that I stay where I am, seeking shelter at the workplace, while others will indicate heading home. Staying abreast of the news is critical, and being able to think clearly during an emerging situation without acting rashly is going to go a long way toward putting you on a course of action that may save your life.

Now, “bugging out” has taken on a life of its own. AirSofters talk excitedly about having a bug out bag for when the zombies come. I'm a bit more jaded, and after having lived in DC, I have a real appreciation for just how many people are actually in this city, and how absolutely impassable the roads leaving it can become. What to do? Be decisive. If the situation warrants, then get out. Don't concern yourself with “what will the boss say?” Keep your fuel tank at least half-full, all the time... just consider the ½ line to be the same as Empty, and fill your tank frequently. A two gallon can in the trunk will just about always get you home, should you need. When you do bolt from work, drive carefully but quickly and directly as long as possible, until the roadways become impassable. That's when it is time to ditch the car and hike home. Mark the location on the GPS and make a written note of the location. Put the GPS and any other loose gear you've got in the pack and move out towards home. Stay off the highways, but don't go overland unless you know the area well. Stay to yourself, move continually, and work your way directly toward home. If you're a recreational hiker, you'll make it in good order. If you're out of shape, it will be harder, but keep a good attitude and you'll be fine.

Congratulations – you've made it home in one piece. The degree to which you've prepared for the event causing you to leave work and maybe even vehicle behind will determine the extent to which you'll resemble a healthy and productive person in six months. If your goods are put up with some forethought and careful planning, your family will be in good shape in the days to come. So, more is better, right? Maybe. One big consideration (and limitation) to your preparedness planning is cost. If you're serious, plan on spending $200 or $300 per month on preparations; in a surprisingly short time you'll be in much better shape than you'd imagine. The important thing is that you begin. Failure to attend to some basics, like having the ability to get home from work, can be costly. Other basics include water, food and shelter. Are you squared away?

Before rushing headlong into a stockpiling frenzy, the basic question to first answer is, “what are my goals? For what kind of scenarios do I want to be prepared? Does my pathetically small Megalopolis apartment/townhouse/condo support these goals?” Now is the time for truly honest answers, answers that must be devoid of emotion or delusion. The answer regarding scenarios can range from a simple cessation of public utility service (nobody at work, decrepit infrastructure, or who knows why), to anthrax attacks and dirty bombs. In DC and some other major cities, just about anything is possible, even probable given time. Understanding the situation, which includes your resource base, and what issues you can reasonably expect to overcome will help greatly in how you should prepare.

My tolerance for problems is pretty high, as is that of my wife. We're both retired military, enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities, and are generally speaking able to contend with just about anything that might come along. That said, DC is one huge target, so the worst-case scenario is well within the range of the possible. But the worst-case isn't really very likely, is it? What kinds of events are more probable? Again, my crystal ball for fortune-telling is rather foggy, but I did live on a Caribbean island for six years that had hurricanes passing by rather frequently.  Every time they came it was the same; the supermarkets were stripped bare by an unprepared and nervous populace in the last hours before landfall.  The same thing happens in my part of Megalopolis prior to a major snowstorm. I can picture lots of events that might cause a serious breakdown in economy, public infrastructure, or security; it doesn't take a creative imagination, but the end result is always the same – there is no longer any food on the shelves at the grocery. Batteries are non-existent. Plastic sheeting? Gone. Bottled water? You're dreaming. People may not even necessarily be fleeing Megalopolis, but we can't get basic foodstuffs or supplies anymore. I happen to live in a townhouse, so there isn't a lot of space for bulk goods, but where there is a will, there is a way.

We found that a sensible approach, scaled over time and as your budget allows, is the best way to go. While working in DC pays well, the bills and mortgage are very high, so our budget for contingencies isn't big. Effectively, we took our time to plan our purchases and ways to stock groceries and other items such as an emergency hand-crank radio, extra batteries, and water filters.

Water is of course a major concern. What if the electric goes out for an extended period? Will the city use generators to keep the pumping stations running? I think not. Luckily we live only a few hundred yards from a five or six acre lake, and I can fetch water manually if needed. Here's the plan: first line of defense is water storage, and to that end we plan on using a “Water Bob.” Picture a bathtub-sized water bag. That's essentially what this 20 dollar product is: a 100-gallon storage bladder that goes inside your bathtub, completely sealed up so dust and other contaminants don't befoul the water.  Hopefully we can fill ours with city water before the services stop, but regardless we'll then keep it topped off with lake water that has been purified with a homemade filter system.

If water does not originate from a municipal source that is fully-functioning, you should consider it suspect, which means filtration to the degree necessary that it will not harm you. I've set up a normal double bucket filtration system using a very popular brand of filter that is made of a very finely porous black ceramic.  Their filtration is so good they are actually considered water purifiers rather than simple filters.

When I go to get water at the lake I can use either a red wagon to haul four five-gallon buckets, or my Army surplus ALICE Large rucksack to carry one. Central to the process is a high-efficiency hand-operated water pump that allows me to fill a bucket in about 30 seconds, and with a strainer-equipped 15' intake hose and 3' of outlet with which to fill the buckets, I can accomplish the whole operation quickly and without unnecessarily exposing myself too much, lest thirst folk who've not planned ahead take undue interest in my process.   To minimize any potential unpleasantness, I'll be planning on getting water at about three in the morning. No sense in advertising a capability when you don't have to, right?  Regarding having a strainer on the water pump, this does one very good thing for you: a strainer with a mesh of 500 or higher will go a very long way in taking most of the solid particulates out of your water before you run it through the black filters at home.  By first taking the majority of the solid “floaters” in the water, your black filters at home can be cleaned much less frequently, and the flow rate of the water through the system is kept high. We recently purchased three pairs of filters, so that should hold us for a good while, but as time goes by, I'll be adding a few more to the stash. On the market now is a nice screw-on top for 5 gallon buckets. All of the buckets in use for water are sporting them, as trying to open and close the old-style bucket lids, even with a bucket wrench, is trying.

Research is your best weapon, knowledge your best tool. I winnowed out the hysterical and actually uninformed chaff in the basic set of survival literature, and quickly realized that long-term food storage solutions are not only feasible, but pretty easy, too. Without going into the “how to do it” details, as that info is readily accessible, we began packing lots of beans, rice and pasta, purchased in bulk and on sale, into heavyweight gallon-sized mylar bags from the LDS store. With both a small vacuum pump and oxygen absorbing packets I made rock-solid, oxygen-poor packages labeled with magic marker that stacked neatly into big plastic tubs you can get at the home improvement box store. As the mylar bags themselves are good so long as they're not punctured, intent here is to protect them from accidental damage and to keep them all together. Once packed up, each tub weighs in at about 150 pounds, so find their long-term storage spot and leave it alone. In my case that spot is underneath the stairs on the ground floor where they are cool, dry, dark, and out of the way... just the thing for long-term storage.

After putting up what I reckoned to be about six months of vacuum-packed dry foods, I started to augment it with cases of canned goods: chicken, no-bean chili, corned beef and other high-calorie foods, along with chocolates (mini York Peppermint patties, already individually mylar packed), sugar, freeze-dried coffee, tea bags, spices, salt, etc. My thinking about food developed along these lines: I can't buy any at the grocery, but we've got stocks of plain but wholesome food at home. Over time I'll lose weight, but will still be eating after six months or so. My neighbors won't.

Cooking is the difficult part of the equation, and to be frank I do not have it quite figured out yet. We have an electric range at home, and a natural gas fireplace. Both of those utilities are expected to fail in a bad situation. Our first fallback is a trusty old double burner Coleman gas stove, along with a few of the big propane tanks to fuel it. To make gas consumption go more slowly, I've picked up a couple cases of Army surplus MRE heaters... just add a few ounces of water and a chemical reaction makes enough heat to warm an entrée wrapped inside a Baggie. At least 60 pounds of charcoal in the tool shed is available in small quantities to cook in the BBQ grill, and I've got saws for acquiring wood from the small set of woods that are bordering the rear of the property. If things get very, very bad... we just had hardwood floors installed in about half the house. That oak will burn hot and nearly smoke-free, but it will cost a large expenditure of work to remove the wood flooring.

Waste disposal is never a pleasant topic, but in the case of preparedness, it isn't one you can dismiss. During grubby times it is a very good thing to have a septic tank rather than a sanitary sewer connection, as eventually the city's pumping and lift stations will stop working. The sewers will be backed up, and then you're in a fix. If you've got a septic tank, though, you can continue to flush the toilet long after city water stops flowing by using 5 gallon buckets of water. Without a sewer, though, you're very much limited in your choices. You can dig and maintain a slit trench in the yard (get your shovel before bad times), or you can invest (heavily) in a waterless composting toilet.

I've mentioned maintaining a slit trench after the water supply stops. The ability to do this assumes you have a good supply of hand tools.  All maintenance tasks will continue, but the power tools won't be available anymore, so having a selection of tools and even better knowing how to use them is a crucial piece of being prepared. Bench stock (screws, nails, nuts & bolts, wire, various cordage) should be already on-hand. Put fire extinguishers in each major room of the house. Also, try to avoid buying the really cheap discount tools that are likely to break, letting you down when they're most needed.  Instead try to acquire a decent kit that contains most of the basics including a hand drill, auger, wrenches, pry bar, crow bar, sledge, shovel, hack saw, rip saw, crosscut saw, a good ax, machete, cold chisels, etc. The more the better, but remember that tools are very heavy. You' can't take them with you... if you're staying at home then yes, more is better. If the situation dictates that you must evacuate and mobilize, then you'll need to take a very long and hard look at what tools should remain on your packing list, and which get cut. For those who remain at home, consider stocking some materials to board up the house, should looters, gangs of thugs, and predators roam the area.

Talking about thugs... I really don't have too much to say about this topic. I believe in preparedness, and I'm retired military guy. Guns have always been in my life, and they are still there. I am well-trained, and have what I need to get by, but I'm not a walking armory, either. If you want protection, but are unfamiliar with them then you should seek competent instruction now. Get a decent quality revolver that is .38 caliber or larger, and practice.  Keep a large amount of ammunition stored with it, enough so that you may defend your family and property if necessary.  Consider a shotgun and/or a rifle, too. If you get them, then [get qualified training and] practice, as having weapons you can't safely handle is a danger for all around you. My last comment on weapons is that they should be kept private. Don't advertise them. Don't display them, or talk about them, either. But if you must pull one out, be fully prepared to use it as a part of the Use of Force Continuum in the defense of yourself or your family.

Any preparations you may have completed could prove useless if they are not actually practiced. We all dislike fire drills, but we all accept the need for them, recognizing that without actually having conducted the drills we really don't know what issues might arise in the event of an actual emergency. Drills not only identify shortcomings in our plans, they help identify the strengths, too. Don't fail to complete your preparations by failing to plan, inventory, test, or practice on the equipment and supplies you've so carefully put away for bad times.

In wrapping up, I just want to recommend to all who may read this that if you've not begun any preparation for contending with emergencies in Megalopolis, then you should. People are indeed like cattle, and when they begin to stampede, you'll find yourself in a very dire situation if you did not prepare in advance. For those readers who have taken steps to protect their families, congratulations. You're already on the road, but note that you should never "be done" with your preparations. There is always food to rotate, batteries to test, filters to add, moldering toilets to save for, tools to clean, sort, or buy, and plans to review. But hey, you've already started on that task, right?

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I first became introduced to the survivalist movement in the 1970s when I read Howard J. Ruff's books Famine and Survival in America (1974) and How to Prosper During the Coming Bad Years: a Crash Course in Personal and Financial Survival (1979). These books dealt mainly with financial preparations but also pointed out the need for food storage, security, and other preparations that would benefit you and your family in emergency situations. I did take allot of his advice on financial investing but ignored his chapters on all of the other advised preparations like food storage and security.  I dabbled in gold and silver stocks and future contracts. I didn't make a lot of money on the contracts but did take Howard Ruff's advice on the need to own the physical silver and gold.   Even having witnessing one of the worst storms in American history, I continued to ignore the need for more preparations other than just financial planning.

In August 1992, I was employed by the State of Florida as an Adult Protective Investigator for the Department of Children and Families in Dade County, Florida.  One of my main responsibilities was to evaluate the risk of abuse and neglect of elderly and disabled adults living in family homes and institutions. On Friday August 21, 1992, I was the investigator on call and was responsible to respond to emergency calls made to the Florida Abuse hot line. Most weekends produced about 4 or 5 calls but due to the local news reporting of a storm with winds exceeding 50 miles per hour there was an increase in calls on Friday night.   On Saturday morning I had numerous reports that I dealt with and my last  call required me to remove an incapacitated elderly woman on Miami Beach from her apartment since she had no caretaker. This was difficult since most hospitals on Miami Beach were not accepting these types of victims in ER. I felt relieved when I was able to locate a hospital that would accept her in North Miami and after getting her situated, I hurried home to put up shutters for the incoming storm. Thank God that I lived 30 miles from the point of landfall of what was coming. Little did anyone know that on August 24 Hurricane Andrew would slam into South Dade, blowing 214 mile per hour winds that peaked at over 350 miles per hour in the early morning hours. 

A total of 8,230 mobile homes and 9,140 apartments vanished off the face of the earth that night. The Hiroshima-like horror that was beyond catastrophic and entire families perished in ways too horrifying to describe. The stench of death saturated miles and miles of the massive devastation; the hot humid air was reeking with foul, rotting flesh.  The looters were in many neighborhoods within hours of the storm.  People were fighting over food and water; they were totally dependent on the government and relief agencies causing a total feeling of helplessness. Generators that sold for $300 a week before were fetching $1,000 or more - if you could find one.  I worked with family's that were out of shelter and food for months observing the stress and desperation that occurs for those that aren't prepared. Even after witnessing this disaster I continued to view it as a localized short term natural disaster and for the next 25 years while still going through smaller hurricanes, I continued to ignore the need for being prepared. I did continued to follow Howard Ruff's advice on preparing for financial crisis and purchased many physical pieces of silver and some small amounts of gold.

When purchasing silver, I have been buying one ounce silver rounds from Kitco because you don't pay the premiums (currently about $3.00) that you pay on silver dollars.  They also offer $100 face value bags of junk silver coins. Lately they have been running out stock of these but they do have an alert system for customers that will notify you when in stock.  Although sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to receive there orders,  I  have found them to be very responsive and reliable.

Last week many new precious metals investors saw a severe shakeout. This began on May 4 when Gold was down more than 2% to $1,508 an ounce. Silver fell more than 8% to $39 an ounce. It's down 19% from its April 28 closing high of $48.70 per ounce and continued to drop on May 5.  Absolutely nothing has changed in recent days with regards to the fundamental backdrop for precious metals. Real interest rates remain negative (the Federal Funds rate vs. the expected inflation rate as represented by the TIPS-to-T-note yield spread is deeply in negative territory), the dollar's exchange rate is still under pressure, and the euro area's peripheral sovereigns remain mired in a fiscal crisis. All that has happened is that a big run-up in silver ended with the usual bang just as the traditionally seasonally weak period of the year, roughly May to August, for precious metals is beginning. There is nothing terribly surprising about it - and while it represents a severe shakeout, it seems highly unlikely that the crash in silver has altered anything with regards to the long term outlook for both gold and silver. Gold has of course declined in sympathy with silver, but it has held up much better in relative terms, as always happens in correction phases. This shakeout offers opportunities for preppers to purchase physical silver and gold for their emergency money supply.

Since retiring two years ago I have been more aware of  the need to prepare not only financially but to develop a basic plan concentrating on the basic survival needs of food, shelter, security, and positive relationships. Since I have spent most of my life as an abuse investigator and social worker working with frail elderly, the developmentally disabled and autistic clients I wasn't exposed to the needed mechanical and technical skills.  After analyzing my personal situation, I decided I needed a simple organize plan addressing these basic survival needs. What I mean about simple is that I looked at each need (shelter, food, and security) and decided to begin by addressing each major aspect of what is needed. For shelter, I decided on the need for an emergency retreat closer to other family members who would be able to provide additional support. For food, I decided on developing an organized food pantry that meets our nutritional needs for at least one year. For security, I decided to improve my skills with firearms by taking firearms training from skilled professionals.  I know all of these (simple goals) are very minimal and barely touches the needs for long term preparations but some planning is better than no planning at all.

When I discussed the need for an emergency shelter with my wife I meet some resistance. She is hesitant when it comes to change did not want to abandon our current home. However, with the recent disasters and my constant nudging she is becoming more willing and is seeing the need to make changes. She became more cooperative when I told her of my plans purchase a mobile RV both for vacations and use it in case of emergencies.  Since we live in South Florida near the ocean we could evacuate to either our son's home in western Broward [County] in case of Hurricanes or during a social or other type of crisis we can escape to the Florida Keys (where it is slightly more rural) where our other son resides.  I have been pricing them on eBay and Craigslist and was able to locate numerous 1999 to 2005 RVs that start at about $10,000. I expect that these prices will drop with the increase in gas prices and I will be able to pick one up at a lower price in the near future.   With my limited mechanical skills I have been reading basic articles on what to look for when purchasing used  RVs and have made arraignments with an experienced mechanic to inspect ones that I am considering. I am also conducting research on what would be the best type of power source (gas generator or photovoltaics) that would fit our needs in the R.V.

After reviewing my emergency food pantry, I soon realized how disorganized and inadequate my collection of foods would be in time of crisis. I never considered breaking down daily menus that would meet the nutritional values (protein - 50 g, fats - 65 g, fiber - 25 g, carbohydrates - 300 g) for 2,000 calories per day as recommended by USDA web site.  I began organizing pantry for 2 with one year's worth of food and located food calculator sites that offer advice on recommended amounts. Before getting started I took stock of the storage space that I had available and organized the food into the following groupings:

1. Items that you normally eat and store what you eat. These foods should have be rotated every 3 or 4 months and have a long term storage life of at least 2 years.
2. Things that must be purchased from preparedness providers because they are the only source and have a longer storage life.  I have began to sell some silver investments and take the profits and purchase freeze dried meals, vegetables and fruit (especially like blueberries and bananas) with my morning protein shake. I also purchased some freeze dried dog food for my 80 pound lab.
3, Bulk items I can buy locally and inexpensively that can be stored for the long term. I am very new at these types of purchases, preparations, storage and I began to educate myself reading numerous available articles and purchasing small amounts to prepare utilizing trial and error method


When I was making up my menus I thought about an article I read on the SurvivalBlog on March 24 of this year. It was titled “Thrive to Survive by P.M” which pointed out that “Cornerstone food storage recommendations do not recognize the need for high bioavailability proteins during a TEOTWAWKI situation.  The view is towards long-term storage-ability and meeting the basic requirements of the appropriate balance of fats, carbohydrates and protein".  Protein powder also has advantage of simple preparation since all you need for a "meal" is water or milk, whatever additives you like ( especially freeze dried fruits) and if no power use hand or battery powdered mixer. I began to try different protein shakes using whey protein and other ingredients but these shakes often had a gritty texture and left a bitter and/or metallic after taste that lingered and had poor long lasting hunger control.   When I discussed this with my son who had been using protein shakes for the last year, he pointed out that he recently began using Vi-Shape Nutritional Shake Mix after he and his wife were in North Carolina visiting her relatives. They were introduced to the ViSalus program. This is a program offering higher quality, better tasting meal replacements designed to deliver all of your nutritional needs in a single serving.  His wife had just recently given birth to their first son so she was using them for weight loss. My son who had a very active lifestyle was using them because of the balanced nutrition and the high quality of protein that each shake provided. When I visited his home and he gave one made with 2 scopes of the mix and wheat germ, one banana, and a half cup of milk (although any type of liquid can be used).  I loved it and it controlled my hunger all morning. 

I went home that afternoon and calculated the nutritional values which came out to 500 calories per drink giving me 7 grams of fat, 94 grams of carbohydrates, 18.6 grams of protein, and 9 grams of fiber.  What a great nutritional way to start the day.  I read the July 2010 Consumer Reports that P.M. referred to in his March 24, 2011 article that warned of some protein powder drinks being heavy in metals exceeding USDA safety limits. The maximum limits for the harmful heavy metals in dietary supplements proposed by the U.S. Pharmacopeia are: arsenic (inorganic), 15 micrograms (µg) per day; cadmium, 5 µg; lead, 10 µg; mercury, 15 µg. Vi-Shape and other high grade brands little is any of these heavy metals. I decided to buy one bag per month for personal nutritional maintenance use and two more to be stored in my emergency food pantry. When you get started on the ViSalus Program they also offer an excellent distributor program with discount pricing.


As I read the numerous articles on security, I really became discouraged due lack of any survival skills and the complexity of most of the topics. However, I did find a basis to start a simple security plan after reading a SurvivalBlog post dated Jan 3, 2011 and entitled “No Matter Where You Live, The Most Important Thing is”, by E-Grandma.  It pointed out that "Perhaps his arsenal is the most important thing a true Survivalist can possess.  Without the means to keep his water and home from marauding pirates, wild animals bent on finding their own supply of food or zombies out for their own type of destruction, a person will lose everything he has accumulated, perhaps even his family.  Everything he holds dear can be taken if a Survivalist cannot defend what is his."  The only experience firing weapons I had was when in 1966 when I enlisted in National guard and U.S. Army Basic Training . I was activated in 1968 for the riots occurring in Miami at the Presidential nomination convention and was sent out to patrol the streets.  But unlike Kent State, they issued us our weapons but did not issue any ammunition. In March of this year, I purchased the first weapon I ever owned ( 9 mm Luger) and latter  read that this would provide very minimal protection.  Realizing I need both education and training I decided to enroll a marksmanship clinic.  I have convinced my sons to purchase weapons and this summer we are going on a family outing (including grandchildren and wives). Hope to attend Project Appleseed Training in Myakka City, Florida.  For more information: go to the Appleseed web site.

The most important part of the plan was pointed our in E-Grandma’s article when she quoted Charles Swindoll  "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.   Attitude, to me, is more important than facts…it is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company…a home.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude…life is 10% what happens…and 90% how I react to it .“  As I initiate this long overdue basic plan. I just do it. I will better off today than yesterday and hopefully be in a better position to help my family, friends and community.
Thank you, - David M.

Mr. Rawles:
The recent PTR-91 post  by F.B. mentioned damage to a windscreen by ejected brass. I sometimes shot both rifles and pistols from moving vehicles during training exercises. The purpose of this vehicle based shooting was primarily to teach the futility of such. What a wonderful way to ventilate an innocent tax payer. Sometimes my passenger would shoot while we were on an Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC). Driving was even more challenging when dodging hot brass. (Yes, the passenger was shooting through either side window - rifle only, not pistol for these were judged too hard to control in a moving vehicle when shooting past the driver). Most of the vehicles soon developed shot out windscreens and ventilated doorposts.

Shooting from a stationary vehicle is a horrible option tactically because the shooter is constrained within the vehicle. Although the inside of a vehicle may offer concealment, only an armored vehicle should be considered cover. Long range tactical shooting can be frustrated by rocking of the vehicle by wind (especially in Chicago and the Texas Panhandle) or even by unanticipated passenger motion.

The sound of unsuppressed rifle and pistol fire inside a closed vehicle can only be described as tremendous, even with both ear cup style hearing protection and dynamic ear canal protection. This is a good enough reason to avoid such situations. Notwithstanding, bolt action and bottom ejecting short barrel rifles (such as the FN P90) offer tremendous advantages when shooting inside a vehicle over almost any other long barreled side ejecting autoloader. 

The same post mentioned reloading dented cases produced by the PTR-91. It was mentioned that such cases could undented by reloading and shooting in a different style rifle (undoubtedly true). Old age has made me exceedingly slow and cautious about some things. Dents reduce case capacity which may greatly increase chamber pressure in unanticipated ways. Hence my recommendation not to reload damaged brass. This is a pre-Schumer risk I don't choose to underwrite.

Whenever shooting and/or spotting for a shooter I wear military goggle style eye protection and dynamic ear protection.

Just some thoughts, - Panhandle Rancher

Greg C. was the first of several readers to send this: Irish Bombshell: Government Raids PRIVATE Pensions To Pay For Spending. (A trend coming soon to America?)

Wall Street View from the Dollar Vigilante, Jeff Berwick. Berwick asserts that The Canadian Dollar's fate is tied to the U.S. Dollar. Check out his Dollar Vigilante blog. (Thanks to Dan S. for the video link.)

Smithfield CEO: Higher Food Prices Are Here To Stay. (Thanks to Kelly D. for the news tip.)

Europe prays for Easter rain in worst drought for a century

Items from The Economatrix:

China Buying Silver Overnight

Home Values See Biggest Drop Since 2008

Housing Crash Getting Worse

Developer in Florida Would Sell New Homes for $1 Down

Kevin S. mentioned: Resilient Community: Microgrids

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G.G. sent an item for the No Surprise Department: Gun Shows Don’t Increase Crime, Study Finds

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F.J. sent this: Buy your own Irish Island for the price of a family home

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A reader sent this: Waterbrick Review: Multiuse 3.5 Gallon Containers That Fit Where #10 Cans and 5 Gallon Buckets Don’t. At $16 each, I only recommend them for city dwellers, and of course they aren't a substitute for owning a proper water filter.

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The latest in the Taser family: Taser Shotgun Shells. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

"We’re gonna have to relearn the skills we’ve forgotten. We’ve become like helpless babies pushing the buttons of our fancy technology whilst distancing ourselves further everyday from the reality of what it actually is to be human."  - Francis Magee as Callum Brown in Survivors Season 1, Episode 1, 2008. (Screenplay by Adrian Hodges and Terry Nation. Based on the novel Survivors by Terry Nation.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

There is a distinction between being ready and prepared. In my own personal journey I have found myself often in need of guidance. I know what it is to be prepared and what it means when you find out that you should have had or brought this or that. As a former US Marine and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) combat veteran I have done my fair share of getting both myself and others ready. Having lists of what is needed and training to be conducted was an asset that I had overlooked and perhaps even taken for granted. “Higher ups” would tell us what to bring and tell us what to skills we needed to develop in order to be ready for the mission. Now as I am no longer able to rely on the plans that they had assembled, I realize the value of the worth of logistics and planning. My Lieutenant was fond of saying “Proper prior planning prevents p**s poor performance” and truer words were never spoken.

How does one properly plan for the collapse of the world around him? Well the best way that I know is to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. There are a myriad of different web sites out there that will try and sell you the cure all for this or that situation, the problem is that you never really know what you will need and what will be extra weight. Kits are a great way to start if you are unsure what to get but want to get something. Do not let yourself be fooled though. No kit on the market has everything you need. In my opinion the best way to be prepared is to get what you need and get the best that you can afford. so far has been my greatest resource for recommendations but nothing beats reviews and research. Firsthand knowledge is great and first hand working knowledge is better. What I mean by that is, do not buy supplies and store them somewhere, use them. My personal plan is divided into several categories. Each of the categories are Listed below with a greater amount of detail in each.


You cannot store enough water for an extended emergency. Face that fact and accept it. You could have hundred of gallons on site but there are too many what ifs to face. What if you have to leave your retreat? What if your holding tank gets contaminated? What if you get a leak? I am not advocating not storing water when you are able I am saying that simply having water does not make you prepared. You need to have a way to replenish that water. Whether it is through a spring, or through some form of rain collection, filtration and purification capabilities are a must. Filtering will work for a while but when you run out of filters hopefully the world will be back up and running and there will be more available. If not then You need to have a purification method that you can utilize. Water is certainly the number one resource that humans need on a daily basis for survival and beyond the basic needs of hydration sanitation and comfort is a need that your water will have to provide for. I have been in “the Field” or “outside the wire” for long stretches of time and believe me when I say that having a shower is a luxury that become a necessity in short order. Clean clothes keep moral up and clean bodies keep the odor signature down.


Food is a renewable resource like water and must be treated as such. Storing food is only the first step to having food. In order to be prepared you must have a plan for replacing the food that you eat from your stored foods. Active people will eat more that people who are just waiting out some civil unrest so if your plan includes farming or hunting then you should plan to feed those people responsible for those activities accordingly. Earlier I stated that you need to use your supplies and tools. Well I mean it. Your food storage may have a shelf life of 10 or 15 years and that’s great but if you don’t incorporate the foods that you will be force to eat later into your diet today how will you know that they are going to provide for you? Working knowledge. A simple plan that we do at my home is we have some freeze dried foods as well as dehydrated, shelf life of 10 years or so, stored for future use. 5 years from the date of purchase I reorder the same quantity and start to eat the older supplies after the new ones arrive. Not only does this rotate my stock and ensure that I will have the longest shelf life possible within reasonable expectations but it also provides me working knowledge of what spice I will want to add, how much water it take to prepare the foods themselves and it also allows me to pick and choose favorites to add to my next order.


Shelter is one of the hardest topics for me to cover. There are so many options but the key to this part is to have a stationary and a mobile plan. If you are lucky enough to be in a great spot to be stationary then you could build your shelter and have it in place where you live. If not then you are going to have to get some good quality lightweight shelter to take with you to your specific destination. A stationary shelter at home if great and will allow you to monitor the supplies that you have stockpiled as well as being able to have more supplies at the ready when TSHTF. In either case a mobile shelter plan is a must. Having supplies is great until some unsavory characters decide that those are their supplies. If you must vacate the area that your supplies are in then having a mobile shelter plan in place is great. What will you take, where will you go, what is your ultimate destination and where will you stop to rest on the way? These are just the basic questions that you need to ask yourself, after you have these figured out you can figure out how much food water and other supplies you will need to make the journey and if you have a location that you can store some of these on the way or even at your destination then that’s all the better. My family and I have a site at home as well as a secondary destination further north. The plan to get there includes both vehicular and foot based routes. Road travel may not only be unsafe but may be impossible depending on what has happened to cause TEOTWAWKI.  

Use it, and use it often. Gear that is unused is unknown. You would have a rifle that you’ve never fired right? The same goes with the shovels, axes, medical kits, and all other supplies. You need to train yourself in how to use everything. The best use of your gear will be to put it to use as it is intended for after TSHTF. If you plan to grow your own food then, then you should grow your own food now. If you find a brand of tools that you like and that last after being used then buy another one and prepare it for storage. If you feel that you should test it as well then do so, but remember to clean it and store it. The “Working Knowledge” that you gain will not only be invaluable as far as the tools go but for the simple peace of mind that you gain from knowing that you have the skills to use the things that you have. Plus when you use something that you have you are going to find out that you need x y or z in order to clean it or to get the most out of the tool/piece of gear that you are going to end up relying on. There is not really a general store and supplies will not be plentiful. You may have to rely on what you can carry. You will want to know that your stuff isn’t just extra weight.

No one told me how to go from being ready to being prepared. I am finding out every day that there is more and more to learn and more and more scenarios that I need to prepare for. If you want to prepare yourself for the transition from ready to prepared then James Rawles’ book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" is a real eye opener. I have read it, gifted it, and recommended it often and refer back to it on multiple occasions. There are so many things that could tip the world into a SHTF scenario my best advice is to get started. Buy what you can and start implanting preparation into a weekly and then daily habit. You will see the world differently. All of a sudden everything becomes useful or not. Research everything that you intend to purchase, use everything that you do purchase and review it for others. The only way we are going to get through this is together.

This is a small insight into what to do to get prepared. There is no one size fits all scenario, and certainly not a single way to do this. It is not possible to ready for every scenario but being as prepared as possible will certainly give you an advantage. Being ready is knowing what to do with what you have, and being prepared is having what you need.

After reading several articles on EMP in the form of a CME/solar flare, my understanding is that we would have hours or even days in which to prepare for such an event. Although I imagine that a massive CME would still cause damage to our electrical grid, I would also think that many homes could be disconnected from the grid and electrical equipment shielded in metal containers before the CME reached us. Any thoughts?

JWR Replies: Yes, there will be 12+ hours of warning, but do not depend entirely on the mass media. At times, they seem clueless about space science. (And thus they have a habit of either under-reporting or over-reporting events.) So be sure sign up for free solar flare alerts from the Australian Space Weather Agency.

As I've previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog: Any radios and other modern electronics with microcircuits that you don't use on a daily basis should be stored in Faraday enclosures. (Wrap them in plastic bags and put them in a galvanized trash can with a tight-fitting lid.)

Immediately after you get warning of a big solar flare, disconnect all of your home electronics from both grid power and antennas. And, as your storage volume permits, also store those in Faraday cans/boxes, until after the solar storm subsides.

Dear Mr. Rawles,

The five examples of PTR91 rifles in my "collection" are all fine pieces of work by Scorpion Arms (PTR-91) with numerous aftermarket and military accessories to make them more tactically friendly to the end user. I will agree that there is some ammunition that they do not like though not many (mine are early rifles with match barrels all).

An important addition to Panhandle Ranchers comments regarding the ejection system is that you should NOT shoot from the driver's side window of any vehicle with an HK family rifle. Each and every piece of brass will make a big impact star on your windshield. It cost me $300 US to replace the nicely beat up windshield of my 1988 Ford Propane Conversion Pickup later that week after firing a single magazine out the drivers side window. I didn't hear or see it happening until the deed was done.

Most dents in the fired cases caused by my particular sample of these fine rifles are not terribly case destructive and are small enough that upon loading them again and firing them in another rifle, you will fire-form the case back to normal. Only damage by extractors to the base or damage so severe that a resizing die fails to remove should exclude them from further service. A dimpled case neck should come out with a case neck expander. At any rate, one or more reloads should be safe with most of the case damage I have observed from these rifles and I load professionally every day. Your damage may vary but a general rule is, don't reuse a case that has been creased, dents without creases are fixable but sharp lines weaken cases. - F.B., 14 Miles From Asphalt


I would like to second the view held by Pat, your reviewer of the PTR-91.  I had the identical experience with failures to feed and extract. I sold the PTR and firmly feel that they could have done much better.  But if you have an HK91 [or an HK clone that functions well.] there are great magazines available from Allied Armament. They make 50 round drums for about $200.  However, they are slow to load and cannot use stripper clips for quicker loading.   JB in Tennessee

RTG International sells a “port buffer” for the PTR91 rifle.  It is a rubber bumper that mounts to the rear of the ejection port and helps eliminate the ding in the brass, as well as moderate the ejected distance (about 30 feet in a 2-o’clock direction,without it).  I have shot Federal, Prvi Partisan, and Remington hunting and FMJ ammo through my PTR91 with no issues, as well as my own handloads.  I have not found any ammo it does not like but have not shot Winchester or Wolf in it yet. I recommend using an RCBS X-Die for full length sizing all semi-auto brass since it reduces the need for case trimming and you get many more reloads per case.  The PTR91's profile is not as smooth and trim as the M1 Garand or M1A, but it is built very robust, is accurate and the mags are cheaper than AK mags!  I have dozens of the used aluminum and steel mags and have had no feeding problems with any of them. - Jeff in Oregon

SurvivalBlog's G.G. sent this: ‘Underwater’ Homeowners Rise to 28 Percent: Zillow. JWR's Comment: Please don't try to tell me that the U.S. housing market has "reached the bottom". It will continue to deteriorate. The bottom won't be reached until after hundreds of billions of dollars in bad debt unwinds. At this point, the only viable way for the government and the Federal Reserve banking cartel to extricate themselves from this morass is to inflate their way out. It will only be when houses start selling for more than they did in 2007 that the market will start to "turn around." But even that will be an artifice and a sham. Look for Quantitative Easing 3, Quantitative Easing 4, and so on, in next few years. Protect yourself by getting out of U.S. Dollar denominated investments, and into tangibles.

Oh, a reminder: I recommend that whenever you write Federal Reserve that you append it with "banking cartel". Because that is what it is. It is not a government agency. It is legalized cronyism. The Federal Reserve banking cartel is no more "Federal" than Federal Express or Federal Cartridge Company.

It appears that the spot silver market has turned around. Last week's plunge was a bit of a scare. It was triggered by some margin increases, just as I had predicted. There will be more scares like this in the months to come. The silver market is thin and volatile. As silver gets up past $55 per ounce, the COMEX Governors will likely try more shenanigans to que the futures market. (Yes, they'll raise margin requirements even higher.) But even if they can manipulate futures, they can't stop the global demand for physical silver. Just keep your seatbelt tightened, and look at each big dip as a buying opportunity.

Items from The Economatrix:

Energy, Metals Stocks Rise With Commodity Prices

Oil Roars Back After Last Week's Big Plunge

What Really Triggered Oil's Greatest Rout

Huge Numbers Dumpster Diving For Extra Cash

The Other John B. mentioned the new Internet Gulag Museum.

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Jordan J. wrote to mention that he found a new iPhone app that identifies tree leaves by taking pictures on your phone.  Jordan noted: "It is currently limited to New York City and Washington DC trees, but should grow to a hold a much larger database."

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Consumers and Investors Seek Protection With Guns and Gold. (Thanks to G.G. for the link.)

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J. McC. forwarded this link: Techno Germans at Play.

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Then there's our kind of fun, Out West. (Thanks to K.T. in Montana for the link.)

“Civilizations rise, decay and die. Time, as the ancient Greeks argued, for individuals and for states is cyclical. As societies become more complex they become inevitably more precarious. They become increasingly vulnerable. And as they begin to break down there is a strange retreat by a terrified and confused population from reality, an inability to acknowledge the self-evident fragility and impending collapse. The elites at the end speak in phrases and jargon that do not correlate to reality. They retreat into isolated compounds, whether at the court at Versailles, the Forbidden City or modern palatial estates. The elites indulge in unchecked hedonism, the accumulation of vaster wealth and extravagant consumption. They are deaf to the suffering of the masses who are repressed with greater and greater ferocity. Resources are more ruthlessly depleted until they are exhausted. And then the hollowed-out edifice collapses. The Roman and Sumerian empires fell this way... Civilizations in the last moments embrace a total severance from reality, a reality that becomes too bleak to be absorbed. This time when we go down it will be global. There are no new lands to pillage, no new peoples to exploit. Technology, which has obliterated the constraints of time and space, has turned our global village into a global death trap.” - Chris Hedges

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Every report I hear or see in news lately (and there have been many) confirms to me over and over again that I did the right thing and the smart thing in stocking up on grains and legumes from Bob’s Red Mill.  It sets my mind at ease having a secure food supply. 

After receiving my large order (6,711 lbs) it was time to pack it all up.  Prior to placing the order I had researched extensively and ultimately decided which storage method I would use and then placed orders for those items.  I decided to use 5 gallon buckets with Mylar liners with dry ice. I decided on dry ice because it sounded easier and less expensive then oxygen absorbers and the dry ice also acts as a fumigant to kill bugs or larvae that may be present in your food.

I had read that you shouldn’t use 5 gallon buckets from paint or hardware stores since they weren’t “food grade”.  When I checked some out I found they were HDPE 2 plastic, which can be used for food although perhaps not labeled specifically “food grade”.  I checked lots of places that carried food storage materials and even warehouse plastic manufacturers.  Each one of them wanted $8 to $10 per bucket.  That was a little steep for me to pay.  I considered trying to collect them from bakeries, etc. but considering I needed about 260 of them, that would take too long to accumulate.  I finally decided to go with the food grade ones from Wal-Mart at $2.44 per bucket with $0.96 per lid for a total of $3.40 a piece.  I felt comfortable doing this because I was going to use thicker than usual Mylar bags in them. 

I also shopped around for the Mylar bags.  I learned that most places have bags that are between 3-4 mil thick only and they are $2-$3 EACH.   I ordered Mylar bags from USA Emergency Supply.  The bags are 5 mil thick, come in a variety of sizes, and depending on how many you purchase, may be less than $1 each.  I measured the dimensions of my bucket and ordered the 20 x 30 inch flat Mylar Food Storage Bags.  Remember you want the bag to be somewhat bigger than the bucket to allow for expansion as you place the food item in it and to allow for sealing the top.  The bags came 150 per case and I ordered two cases.  My price per bag was $0.92 each!

I hope the following explanation of the way I did this helps you readers by learning from my mistakes and maybe from some of the things I did right the first time.

USA Emergency Supply, as well as many other web sites, has a very good explanation of how to pack food items using the dry ice method.  They even have a chart as to how much of a certain item will fit in a certain size bucket.  This makes it easier to ascertain how many buckets, liners, and dry ice you will need.  I followed the suggestion to practice heat- sealing an empty Mylar bag prior to a packed one in order to get the technique and temperature setting of my specific iron correct.  It was very easy.  I found a temperature setting of 3 on my iron was enough and not too hot.  I had a 2 inch wide wooden board that I placed across the top of the bucket and laid the top of the Mylar bag across, then ran my iron down it.  You could also use a hair iron to seal both sides quickly with no need for the board then.

Organization and a system is key to this!  I will say that I was woefully unprepared and had only 65 buckets bought by the time my food order arrived, although I did have enough liners.

How to label the buckets?  Bob’s Red Mill had provided to me free at my request at least one of their company labels for each item I had ordered.  I decided to make enough copies of these labels to tape on each bucket.  I am fortunate that I have the time and resources down at my job to make these copies and cut them to size.

I decided to start packing one afternoon after work.  I went to the grocery store and bought 20 lbs dry ice.  This cost $1.19 per lb.  I placed 1 bag in the freezer and broke the other bag into chunks and placed into a covered bowl.  I had read this would help prevent evaporation as well as keep water vapor from contaminating the dry ice and thus potentially introducing water into the food I was packing.

Working alone, I got out 10 of the buckets and labeled them with the labels corresponding to the 10 bags of food I had taken off the pallet.  Working with 1 bucket at a time I placed a Mylar bag in the bucket and then a chunk of dry ice in the bottom of the bag.  I opened the bag of food and poured it in.  I picked up the sides of the Mylar bag and shook the bag and bucket up and down a few times to ensure the food settled in the bottom completely.  I then sealed the top of the bag using my board and iron except for about 1 inch on 1 end.  I thought this would help prevent air from reentering the bag as the dry ice forced it out of the small opening.  When I finished those 10 buckets I stopped to have some dinner, then finished sealing the bags up.  I folded the Mylar bag into the bucket forcing out left over carbon dioxide leaving the open end on top.  I then came along with my board and iron again to finish sealing.  Finishing my evening chores I began to see the sealed bags inflating again, an indication that there was still carbon dioxide buildup in the bags that needed to be vented.   So I had to cut a small slit in the bags at the top where I had sealed it and then reseal it again.  Unfortunately this happened again and some of the bags I ended up resealing 3 or more times.  I then placed the plastic lid on the buckets.  The next morning I saw that a couple of the lids had partially popped up indicating they would need to be vented again.  This was turning into a lot of extra work!

The next day I was going to pack more buckets and hopefully improve my work speed and flow a bit.  I went to the freezer only to find all my dry ice had evaporated!!!!  Discouragement was creeping in.

Mistakes I made:

  1. Working alone
  2. Buying more dry ice then I could use at 1 time.
  3. Pre-sealing the bags, which probably prolonged the time it took for the dry ice vapor to evacuate oxygen from the bag
  4. Trying to completely seal the bags too quickly.
  5. Placing plastic lids on buckets right away after sealing.



  1. Use multiple family members if you can.  Many hands make the work go faster and smoother.
  2. Only buy what dry ice you think you will use at 1 packing session.
  3. Leave the top of the bag fully open to allow more area for the carbon dioxide to rise and force oxygen out of the bag.
  4. Allow at least 3 hours or longer for the carbon dioxide to rise before attempting to seal the bag to prevent a lot of extra work reopening and resealing bags.
  5. Leave the plastic lids off overnight in case there are still some bags you may have to redo.

Other things I learned:

  1. It takes longer for the carbon dioxide to rise through a dense material (such as flour) than through a less dense material like rice or whole grains that have a lot of air in between pieces.
  2. Start earlier in the day to accommodate the time it takes for the bags to evacuate.
  3. Don’t pack the bags too full, allow sufficient room at top of the bucket to fold Mylar bag into it and put plastic lid on.
  4. It probably doesn’t take as much dry ice per bucket as you think, but its better to err on having too much and delay sealing rather than too little and have the food spoil.
  5. Label each bucket in a consistent place on the bucket to ease identifying the contents.  The buckets I bought had a suffocation warning on them and I placed my label consistently to the left of this.
  6. When sealing the bags, elevate the bucket a little bit on a small stool or something to help prevent wear and tear on your back.
  7. Some of the grains, like the wheat, were really dusty and caused me to have an asthma attack.  I wore a bandana around my nose and mouth when packing those items.

A couple of days later I attempted this again.  This time my husband was home to help me.  In an assembly line fashion I labeled the buckets to which he then put the Mylar liner in.  Then I came behind and put a somewhat smaller piece of dry ice in each.  I held the bucket while he poured the contents in it.  I shook bag and bucket a few times to ensure food settled in bottom.  He lined them up across the wall to air out.  About three hours later we started sealing them up, starting with the ones we had first filled.  He brought the buckets over as I folded the Mylar bag down and sealed the top.  When I had a few completed he then lined them up against the wall again to set overnight. 

Using this approach we were able to complete 40 buckets in about five hours total time, having a rest and dinner while the buckets aired out.  I am pleased to say that the next morning there were only four buckets that I had to reopen to vent and then reseal.  A much better outcome!

I had never attempted anything like this before and there was definitely a learning curve.  I guess that’s true for so many things us preppers are trying to learn in order to safeguard ourselves, and our families from whatever the future may bring.

We still have about 200 buckets to pack, but with the kinks worked out of our system now it shouldn’t take us too much longer.  Next we will be enlisting the help of the kids and teaching them what we have learned to pass on to their generation.

I'm sorry that I haven't posted much in this column in recent weeks. My time has been occupied with helping Jim, homeschooling our children, keeping house, getting our garden in, and caring for our livestock. (It is lambing and calving season, which can be hectic.) This leaves me little time to read many books from cover to cover. My integrity dictates that if I don't read through an entire book, then I don't want to mention it in my column. So I will only post reviews when I have read and enjoyed a book and I find it relevant to SurvivalBlog.

Here are the current top-most items on my perpetual bedside pile:

  • The Survival Template by John A. Heatherly. This is one of those books that is "short but sweet" (just 58 pages). It is mostly at the conceptual level, and it is wonderfully succinct and concise. In some ways, it reminds me of Jeff Cooper's book, Principles of Personal Defense. At just 80 pages, Cooper's book was similarly succinct and concise. This book is chock full of information to prepare our minds and bodies for a lifetime of personal accomplishments through goal setting and steps that help achieve the goals in our daily lives which parallels a survival mindset in the event of a TEOTWAWKI scenario. Heatherly says :"The Object of this book is to provide a template, or model, to promote the development of a formidable, objective oriented mentality: a mental state that is not affected by negative conditions in any environment." The information in this book is very important for everyone to incorporate into their daily lives. Without giving too much information away, Heatherly's style is to have a quote from someone who has had to survive an horrible ordeal--Vietnam, The Holocaust, Siberia, etc. Then he expands on the topic of the quote by setting goals: day one, first week, one month, et cetera. One theme is the basics of life in a survival situation and the order to acquire them: build a shelter, start a fire, water, and food. Then the author parallels it with everyday life, today shop for groceries, make arrangements for vacation. Then plan for next week, two weeks, three weeks, a month. This is described for both a survival situation/"not rescued" yet it also parallels regular day to day week to week planning of your normal life. Heatherly describes planning for ten to fifteen years up to a whole lifetime. Some other topics are physical health: getting into shape, eating right and life-long goals, and your mental state of being. He also asks: What is in your memory that would help you stay sane and persevere in a dire situation: Memorized scripture, songs, games, stories, music, etc. He stresses that it is very important to have an active world of memories and imagination in our minds. No one can take that from you, so develop it! I highly recommend this book. It truly is a template for survival. Everyone would benefit from reading this book and implementing Heatherly's ideas into their lives.

  • Unlawful Intrusion by J.L. Maxwell. This novel was a very quick read of a futuristic society where all of our freedoms are removed through intense government regulations (some examples: one needs to apply for a license to bear a child--only high class citizens are approved, everyone's caloric intake are regulated) and every step you take is monitored by watching eyes, i.e., thousands of beautiful metallic robotic butterflies dispersed throughout the city with one hovering outside your two-hundred story apartment building window. The story is about hiding protagonist Noah Cason's wife's unexpected pregnancy and their subsequent child raising from the eyes of the authorities, finding an underground society, living free and independent from the prying eyes of the government and an high adventure search for Noah's wife and child. The book didn't have much "survival/prepping" information on how to live in such a society or in the underground society, except on how to block your RFID cards from being read by monitors. It was an interesting read in projecting what our future could look like if we continue to allow the government to tighten its regulations of our lives. (God forbid!)

  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare. I recently read this novel with our young'uns. We very much enjoyed it. Woven into the storyline is information on teaching children how to live off the land without aid of a gun. The book gave good detail on how to trap rabbits and quail, how to fish using a spear, make your own hooks, and and how to make subtle signs in woods to mark your path. I won't tell much about the story because I don't want to spoil it, but basically, it is about a thirteen year old young man, Matt, being left behind at his parent's cabin in Maine, while his father returns to Massachusetts to get his wife and younger children. The father is delayed and Matt loses his gun, and meets the local Indians, who help him. One of the themes of the story examines the Native Americans view of land versus white man's view of land ownership. The author just presents the two views without pushing one over the other which I highly respected. I highly recommend this book to be read to your children. I believe it's reading level is rated 5th grade and up.

Dear Editor,
SurvivalBlog has recommended stocking up on wool sweaters from thrift shops.  I took your advice, went to a thrift shop, and found lots of cheap sweaters in perfect condition, cashmere no less, that were hopelessly too big, as well as one baggy Merino sweater. 

Since cashmere is very warm, as well as comfortable, I decided to make them fit, and bought them anyway.  First, I turned them inside out (to reduce pilling) and put them in the washing machine on Delicate cycle, Hot water, without soap.  A couple of the sweaters shrank to the right size just from the hot water; the rest needed more work.

I put them into the dryer on Warm.  This is the tricky part: You have to stop the dryer every 10 minutes. Take out each sweater, and check to see how much it has shrunk.  If a sweater looks like it is now about the right size, spread it out and let it air dry.  Throw the rest of the sweaters back into the dryer for another ten minutes, stop the dryer, take them out, and check to see how much they have shrunk.  Repeat.

Almost all of the sweaters downsized perfectly.  Not only that, they were now thicker, warmer and more sturdy.  And unbelievably, the cashmere was even softer than before, and so was the merino.

A couple of sweaters needed a second complete treatment before they shrank enough.  I had to dry them on Hot the second time, rather than Warm.

Do not put the sweaters into the dryer and walk away, unless you want your toddlers to be wearing them!  Also, never put them into the dryer again, unless you have lost a lot of weight.  They will continue to shrink each time they are put in the dryer.

My sweater stash bin is now stuffed with cheap sweaters that I would have had to pass up without the downsizing method.  This will work with any kind of wool, merino, mohair, or cashmere, since protein (animal base) fibers shrink with heat. 

It will not work with synthetics or silk, and only a little bit with cotton.  Nor is it recommended for extremely thick, heavy wool sweaters, such as Irish fisherman's knit, as the result is too thick for normal wear. I found this out the hard way.

I hope you find this helpful - Mary M.

Dear Mr. Rawles:
In a past life I used the popular HK MP-5SD. It's reliability prompted me to purchase one of the first PTR-91s directly from the manufacturer. (Back when that was possible--they are all now sold though distributors).

I found the PTR-91 capable of digesting a wide variety of ammunition thanks to the HK family of well designed roller delayed blowback systems. This functional reliability and availability of really cheap magazines indeed make it a popular battle rifle. What I haven't read by those singing it's kudos, is that the forcefulness of the extraction system throws the brass quite a distance, making policing brass difficult. The same ejection system creates dent in the brass that I believe compromises the integrity of the fired cases so as to preclude safe reloading. It also generates the tell tale HK chamber flute marks on the expended brass. This alerts anyone finding un-policed brass that someone was there with a HK family main battle rifle.

The factory PTR-91 plastic stock is overly large, clunky, and I believe fragile. I recommend replacement with much thinner and better made German military surplus furniture is often available from Cheaper than Dirt.

To someone well familiar with the 03A3 type sling system, that of the HK family rifles may present a puzzle. One should not overlook combined the weight of this rifle and a battle pack of at least 200 rounds of ammunition. Add a plate carrier, hydration system, pack, and helmet, and the load out can be tremendous.

The telescopic sight mount is also clunky and positions the sight well above the bore. The above comments notwithstanding, The PTR HK91 an effective and relatively inexpensive battle rifle. I am thinking about adding the new Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle (available in .308 Winchester) to the mix. What a shame that the Ruger Scout bolt action wasn't designed around the HK91 magazine.    Sincerely, - A Panhandle Rancher

Reader R.B.S. sent this: Family details how woman survived in wilderness for 48 days

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Several readers mentioned that there has been news of more of the same old Schumer: Schumer Calls For ‘Do Not Ride’ List For Amtrak

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Seed for Security announced that they are offering a free gift to customers ordering $25 or more: A free packet of Detroit Dark Red Beet seeds, Bouquet Dill seeds, and Golden Globe Turnip seeds. All of these varieties are great for mid-summer planting. This offer ends June 30, 2011.

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Chip spotted this: Big Asteroid's Approach in November Excites Astronomers

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Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large) sent a link to this disturbing news: A Global Weapons Computer?

"All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." - 2 Timothy 3:16-1 (KJV)

Monday, May 9, 2011

In 1987 at a Colorado gun shop's "Going Out of Business" sale, I purchased a brand-new HK (Heckler & Koch) Model 91 .308 battle rifle. I got the rifle, along with 10 brand new spare magazines, 1,000 rounds of ammo, a bipod and carrying case for the gun - for the combined price of just $600. Oh, for the good ol' days! Today, you'll likely spend $2,500 just for an original H&K Model 91 - and they are now hard to come by. A wave of stupidity overcame me one day, and I sold my HK91 to my friend, and he then he later sold it at a gun show. I always regretted letting that gun get away - it was deadly accurate and never malfunctioned, no matter what kind of ammo I fed it. Since that time, I longed to get another H&K Model 91, but with prices being what they are today, it was beyond my reach.  

A company called PTR91 purchased some genuine H&K equipment from overseas, and brought it to the USA. Using a mix of surplus parts (from HK G3 rifles) are now manufacturing H&K Model 91 clones, that they call the PTR91 - and they have several variants to choose from. I saved up my pennies and had my local gun shop order-up a 16" barrel PTR91. I was delighted when the gun came, it was much nicer than any H&K I had ever handled. The gun was better finished and tighter in all respects. But I didn't much care for the newly-made polymer stock that came on the gun - it was "cheap" looking. Of course, that could have been replaced...  

When I took my new toy home, I started reading through the instructions manual and other material that was enclosed in the nice plastic carrying case my PTR91 came in. I ran across a separate piece of paper that listed several types of ammo you should not use in a PTR91. matter of fact, the list was rather lengthy. Some gun companies will recommend certain types of ammo or brands to be used in their firearms. However, this is the first time I ran across such a lengthy list of ammo that was not recommended in a firearm. I thought that PTR was being overly cautious, as is the case with many gun companies these days.   I purchased a 500 round case of Russian-made Brown Bear .308 ammo to test in my new PTR91. The gun functioned perfectly, and believe it or not, the Brown Bear ammo actually shot very well through this gun, with groups in the neighborhood of 1-1/2 to 2 inches at 100 yards. What's not to like here? I also purchased a 500 round case of Wolf .308 ammo to use in my PTR91, and again, like the Brown Bear ammo, it shot really great, no malfunctions or problems of any time. Of course, as many of you know, most Russian-made ammo leaves very dirty powder fouling -- so more time needs to be spent cleaning and maintaining your firearms if you use Russian-made ammo.  

The PTR91, is operated with a roller locking system, which is identical to the H&K91 system. Matter of fact, some of the parts in some PTR91s are surplus or brand-new H&K parts. The PTR91 also comes with a match-grade barrel, and I thought that was an added extra - and it did perform very well - with certain types of ammo. The PTR91 also comes with the Navy-type polymer trigger assembly - another plus in my book - it feels better than the old H&K pistol grip. There is also a tactical handguard that is machined out of aluminum, and you can add lasers and other toys if you so desire, but you need to purchase the rails to put on this handguard. My sample PTR91 weighed in at 9-lbs, which is about right for a battle rifle shooting the .308 or 7.62 NATO round. (And be advised that they are not the same round, be advised. The 7.62 NATO round is loaded at slightly lower pressures than the commercial .308 Winchester round.) I contacted my two favorite ammo makers for some of their .308 Win. ammo to test in my new PTR91. Black Hills Ammunition and Buffalo Bore and both sent me their 175-gr HP match-grade ammo to test in my rifle. Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed with either maker's ammo - both shot consistently under an inch, with open sights, at 100-yards. The PTR91 also functioned perfectly. Then again, I didn't expect anything less from the gun or the superb ammo from Black Hills and Buffalo Bore. Their ammo is a step above if you ask me. Again, we are talking quality ammo - not bargain basement ammo from the local big box stores. Oh, there's nothing wrong with the less expensive ammo, however, if you want sniper-grade accuracy you need to put the best ammo you can through your guns. I've been shooting Black Hills ammo for almost 20 years now, and have never had a bad round, and we're talking tens of thousands of rounds of ammo. I've been shooting Buffalo Bore ammo for about eight months now, and I've yet to encounter any problems with their ammo, either.  

I have been pleased, very pleased with my PTR91 thusfar. And, I liked the fact, that I could find surplus, but like-new, 20-rd mags for this rifle for about a buck a magazine. What's not to like about this kind of a deal? I purchased close to 100 spare mags to have on-hand. I know, sounds like a lot of extra magazines, and it is. However, I still remember the 1994-to-2004 ban on mags over 10 rounds and how expensive [full capacity] magazines s were and hard to come by. So better safe than sorry 'cause you know another magazine ban is gonna come down the pike soon.  

I decided to try some military surplus ammo through my PTR91 - which was now well broken-in. I tried ammo from South Africa as well as Germany, and a few other countries - none of it would reliably function in my PTR91. Then again, remembering the factory's warnings not to use certain types of ammo, and military surplus ammo, I was getting worried. PTR also suggests that you not use the Winchester USA white box .308 ammo - the bullets are sealed with a black tar to water-proof the rounds. Well, I tried a box, and after several rounds, the gun wouldn't function - empties wouldn't eject and loaded rounds didn't fully seat properly.   What was the problem with the PTR91? I started doing some research, and have found that I wasn't alone with this problem. It seems that PTR91 is using match-grade barrels, and that's not a bad thing - it's good in my book. However, the chamber has flutes machined into it. The theory is, these cuts or "flutes" allow gas from the fired round to swirl around the empty brass, and allow it to more easily pull out of the chamber. Well, it appears that PTR91 didn't cut these flutes deep enough in a lot of guns, and the rounds were sticking in the chamber. PTR91 denies there are any problems with the flutes cut in their chamber, or the fact that they cut fewer flutes in the chambers, than H&K does. I examined my own PTR91 sample, and it did appear to me that the flutes were very shallow, and I mean very shallow. You can find any number of blogs that are on the web, and many folks are complaining about this problem.  

I don't know about you, but I demand the most accuracy and the most reliability I can get in my firearms, especially those I plan on staking my life on. While I could have just continued to use Brown Bear and Wolf ammo in my PTR91, I was looking down the road - to a time where maybe all I'll be able to find is military surplus ammo, or some other ammo that won't function in my PTR91. After a lot of thought, I decided to trade-off my PTR91 - as much as I liked it. I've heard talk that PTR91 is now producing a "GI" version of the HK91 and the chamber has the correct number of flutes and they are cut deep enough, and there are no problems with these guns. However, I'm not about to lay down my hard-earned money again, until I start hearing some positive reports on the "GI" version. The PTR91 carbine I had, retailed for $1,295 and I got it for slightly more than $1,000 through my local gun shop. It would have been a great deal, if the gun fired and functioned with a wider assortment of ammo.  

The PTR91 is finely made, almost like a Swiss watch. I could have lived with the cheaply made plastic stock. However, when I'm laying down a good chunk of change for a firearm, I expect it to work with most of the ammo I plan on using. Of course, you can find some type of ammo that won't function in any particular firearm if you search around long enough. However, the PTR91 didn't function 100% of the time with more ammo, than it did with some types of ammo. That's not good enough in my book. I've read some blogs where many people are happy with their PTR91s - that's great news. However, you'll also read a lot of horror stories of folks with new PTR91s that won't function with certain types of ammo - especially mil-spec ammo or military surplus ammo - that's not acceptable in my book. Personally, I think PTR91 should fess-up to the problem. And, they need to produce a rifle that will function with the widest assortment of ammo possible, and stop blaming military surplus or mil-spec ammo for the functioning problems. Come on, PTR91 - you can do better than that! You are turning out a finely made firearm, and you only need to tweak it a little bit to get it to function 100% of the time, with the widest assortment of ammo on the market.

I once owned a ratty-looking Century Arms International C3 - which was a semi-auto clone of the H&K Model 91. Whoever owned it before me, spray-painted the gun in camo colors - it honestly didn't look that bad at all. This gun functioned 100% of the time, with whatever ammo I put through it - never once missed a beat. If Century Arms could do it right, then so can PTR91 - if they want to.

Many readers of SurvivalBlog are Christians. For us, the search for a desirable "vote with your feet" relocation locale includes a very important criteria: finding a good church home. I am of the opinion that finding a good church home is our Christian duty, and that it honors God. It is also an important factor in finding acceptance in a new community. By joining a church congregation that shares your world view, you can very quickly become part of a community, rather than being perceived as just "that new guy". In many locales, this shortens the time required for a high level of acceptance and inclusion as a part of "the we", by years.

In my experience in the western United States, Reformed churches tend to have a very high percentage of families that are both preppers and homeschoolers.

When I put forth my American Redoubt plan, a key aspect was that it would be primarily geared toward fellow Christians, Messianic Jews, and conservative Jews.

Here is a list of my own criteria, for you to consider, perhaps as your baseline. (Note: I come from a Reformed Baptist background, so your criteria may differ):

  1. Reliance upon and belief in the literal truth of the 66 books of the Old and New Testament as the Inspired Word of God.
  2. Sound doctrine, with Christ as the cornerstone, and preferably in accord with the Five Solas and the Five Points of Calvinism. (Or at least four of them.)
  3. A strong emphasis on the Gospel of Christ.
  4. Some interest in family preparedness. (Not a necessity, but a nice plus.)
  5. A commitment to Christian Charity.
  6. An " the World but not of the World" outlook.
  7. Biblical evangelism--the pastor, elders, and congregation all take The Great Commission literally. (Avoid churches with any racism or anti-Semitism.)
  8. Expository preaching. (Systematic exposition of scripture.)
  9. An emphasis on teaching and memorizing God's word with exhortation rather than "programs".
  10. A congregation where a substantial portion of the body home schools their children. (Not a necessity, but a nice plus.)
  11. Congregants with a conservative outlook, modest dress, humble attitudes, and avoidance of worldly trappings.
  12. An edifying church that gives glory to God.


Reformed Churches in The American Redoubt States:

My initial list has 23 Reformed churches that I've either attended or that have been recommended to me.

Note: The pastors of these churches will undoubtedly soon hear about the mention of their churches. I'd appreciate them sending me an e-mail mentioning whether or not they agree with the Redoubt concept, and with their recommendations for similar churches inside the five Redoubt States. Thanks!



Eastern Oregon

Eastern Washington



Conservative Jewish Synagogues and Congregations in The American Redoubt States:

The word "conservative" (שמרני -- shamrani) has different meanings to different Jewish people! (Political conservatism is not always synonymous with religious conservatism and a traditional moral code.)

Yorrie in Pennsyvania mentioned in a recent e-mail that conservative Jewish preppers should seek out congregations that are: "...Torah knowledgeable and observant = Orthodox religiously or similar. Which usually overlaps with conservative politically. The more traditional end of the Conservative Jewish movement did not accept the liberal swing [that began in the 1950s] and is called Traditional, Conservadox (Halfway between Conservative and Orthodox), or sometimes Masorti (Hebrew for Traditional).
There are Orthodox and Traditional Jews in Flathead County, Montana, and more formal congregations of the Chabad movement (a Torah Judaism movement with roots over 300 or more appropriately over 3,000 years).

Chabad congregations in the Redoubt area are in Bozeman, Montana, Jackson, Wyoming, and elsewhere in most major cities around the world."

Messianic Jewish Congregations in The American Redoubt States:

Many of these congregations tend to be small "home churches". Make inquiries, locally.


I'm sure that the foregoing will inspire a lot of correspondence. I don't have plans to create a nationwide directory of prepper-friendly churches and congregations. (That would go beyond the scope of my project.) But I would appreciate your feedback on any of the churches and congregations listed.

I would also appreciate recommendations on specific Jewish and Messianic Jewish congregations inside of the Redoubt region.

SurvivalBlog's Cheryl N. (also known as The Economatrix) recently sent me a link to a news article that deserves special attention: Peer-to-Peer Currency Takes Banks Out of the Picture. In my estimation, Bitcoin has the potential to trigger a huge shift in how business in conducted via the Internet. . Think of it as a "Local Currency" (such as the well-known Ithaca Hours experiment), but that is scaled up to be a Populist Global Currency. Because of the distributed architecture, it is beyond the control of banks, governments, and taxing minions. Now that is economic freedom! I highly recommend that folks get involved with Bitcoin!

I plan to write more about Bitcoin and other alternative currencies, in the months to come.

OBTW, for 10 Cent Challenge subscriptions, SurvivalBlog's Bitcoin address is:

Dear Mr. Rawles,

I live in Queensland Australia and hadn’t even heard of ‘prepping’ until last Christmas.  It is a tradition in our family that every year my brothers and I (and our families) gather, from various points around Australia, at our Mum’s place for Christmas.  Mum and Dad have both passed on but we still carry on the tradition of gathering the family together.  One of my brothers lives at the other end of the country and I only see he and his family this once a year.  As my birthday is in January he gives me a Christmas and birthday present at our Christmas gathering.  For my birthday he gave me a copy of your book "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" but I was allowed to open it before my actual birthday.

That simple and fortuitous gift changed my life and saved us a lot of grief, and allowed us to be in a position to help our less fortunate neighbours, when our area was devastated by floods in January this year.   By the time my birthday came around we were cut off, surrounded by flood water.  We were fortunate as our house was not flooded but all around us neighbours houses were inundated, many up to the roof tops.

Having already read most of your book, it had changed our outlook and we had begun to ‘prep’  putting away extra food supplies and even in that short period had installed (and filled – no shortage of rain) a rain water tank.   We were cut off and without power,  telephone service – both landline and cell and access to shops etc - for five days  -  not a major inconvenience if you are prepared for it.

Because of that simple gift from my brother we were not only in a position to ride out the disaster almost unscathed but were able to take in and feed others.  Even neighbours not troubled by flood waters were in difficulty as without access to shops they were, very quickly, without food etc.

When the SHTF we had about a month's supply of food for us and the dogs.  We have a bottled gas stove so we could cook, plenty of torches,  head lamps and candles for light and plenty of water – the clean drinkable type that is.  The fact that the road was cut 50 metres to the left of us and 100 metres to the right just meant that we stayed at home for a few days. 
When we lost power we moved things from the fridge to the chest type freezers and only opening the lid sparingly.  It helped that we had many 2 litre bottles of ice and this turned the freezers into simple ice boxes. This kept things cool at least and although the frozen venison thawed it didn’t warm and go off.  When we got power again I had the dehydrator working overtime turning it all into biltong (jerky)

As a touch of irony -  I have a friend who has access (from time to time) to large (large enough to power everything in  our house) second hand diesel generators and I had asked him to get one for us  -  He emailed me the day before the flood disaster started to advise that he had one for us  -   we were unable to collect it until after the floods had subsided.  (I have since obtained a 200 litre drum of diesel and added fuel stabilizer – found a source of supply here).  I have had a transfer switch installed at our power box so that I can safely disconnect from the grid power and switch to generator power for the whole house.

As already stated I am very new to this ‘prepping’ business but do have some skills which help. I am a hunter so know how to shoot, butcher game etc.  I have a hut on the property where I hunt and use a chainsaw to cut firewood and for bush construction techniques.

I have found a source of food grade sealable plastic buckets. I have to-date 50 kilos of rice – purchased in 10 kilo plastic bags.  Which brings me to my question.  I see that with reference to storing grains that people use “mylar’ bag liners inside the plastic buckets/ drums.  What are they?  Are they necessary?  If so, where can I get them?  Should I use oxygen absorbers in the buckets for grain storage?  (I have found a source of supply in Australia).

Thanks to your book and blog I am learning fast but still have heaps to learn but we are three country miles ahead of where we were just a few months ago.

Thanks,  - Warren M.

JWR Replies: Thanks for your kind comments about my book and blog. It is gratifying to hear from so many folks like you, who have had your preps pay off.

In answer to your question: Mylar bucket liners are heavy duty rectangular bags, usually made of 4 mil thick of mylar. They are already sealed on three sides to form a flat bag. The large bags are sized for use inside either a 5 or 6 gallon bucket, leaving enough extra length after filling to be sealed. Typically these have a Zip-loc type end, but some are designed to be sealed with a special "hot jaw" bag sealer. A very common bag dimension is 20" wide x 30" tall. I don't know of a vendor in Australia, but there are lots here in the U.S., including some SurvivalBlog advertisers. For really long term grain storage, they are a necessity. This is because mylar bags are 99% gas permeable. But HDPE plastic buckets are gas permeable, albeit at a very slow rate. So if you are storing grain, legumes, or rice for just a year or two, you could probably skip the mylar liners. But for anything longer, they are important to use.

Hi Jim,  
I managed a good day today even though I had to negotiate the land mines of our modern technological civilization. Here is my tale of woe: I needed a mechanical device. Went to Sears and bought the largest sized engine/self propelled mower they had spring of 2010. Platinum level. Used it one year. It up until recently has been a great machine that starts easily. By far perhaps the best mower I ever owned.  

This Spring I began mowing again. The self-propelled system fails. Disassembly via detailed parts guide in owner's manual easily accomplished. Complete owners manual seems really well done.   Remember done is what happens to a hotdog when it is finally cooked. Finished is when a job is completed or visa versa.  

Found parts number [434993, cable drive]. I searched at Screen says, contact for availability of part. Called their 800 number. Nice operator who looked up the part. No go. It's a done deal. According to her computer the part is not available? What? On just a year old mower?  

Meanwhile, the cutting blade on mower is dinged, beyond resharpening. I travel the 25 miles to local Sears store to get new blades. Recount my contact about the replacement part to the store manager. He says, "I may have one in the back". No parts, another done deal.   Out of curiosity and because he suspects that I'm a dumbhead, he looks up the part on his in store computer. Finds part number [427411, cable drive] He says it is available! Do you want to order it? Of course! I don't like done deals rather have finished projects and working equipment.  

The thesis of this communication is this: the computer system of the sears on line system and the in store system did not show the same parts number. Ditto for the owners manual corresponding with the on line system but not the in store system. Why? Beats me.. unless it was a done deal and someone's brain was on full cook and the end of the day when this system was put together.   Lesson: if I had not been in the store just after a very stressful contact with the Sears on line system. I would have probably not found out that the part in fact was listed under another number on an apparently separate Sears computer system. If it was the same system, why the two different numbers and access to them from different points did not indicate that an alternative was available?  

Survival of stress: when the situation finds you broke down mechanically or in a personal confrontation of sorts you must find a substitute, make a jury-rigged replacement and/or defuse neutralize a situation. And above all make things work and not let stress put you into a mode of incapacitation. You function or you fail. Failure is not an option for me. Today I was a winner. More by chance than my skill. But some days are like that.   In the end the parts will come next Thursday after a five day wait. I will be 70 in three weeks with a weakened left knee. My body needs the self propelled drive to assist with the mowing. That's about 1.5 acres that I mow at various times from May to September.  

Today is the real world. It is not collapse of the system. It is disfunctionality of a system. This particular system was not friendly and tried to exclude me! I was lucky to have been able to find the alternative.  

I have to have machines work for me like my mower, chain saws, skill saws, drills, grinders, well pump, 25 year old truck and car. Physically I am in pretty good shape for my age. But it ain't 1960 any more and I have to conserve my energy and time. It is a form of survival from the shortcomings of capitalism and corporations. And the miles of living to be 70. - JWC in Western Oklahoma

Dear JWR:

In response to the article "One Weeks Worth": First, I believe not all possible solutions were presented. It was clearly stated that the prepared man insisted that his wife always keep a half a tank of gas in her car, implying that he probably had a car too. They should have let them take one of their cars to get to the shelter. This would have been a viable and best scenario for a win-win situation.

Being helpless and being lazy are two separate issues and I believe the unprepared man was both lazy and slothful in not preparing.  There is a difference between being unable to help yourself and being unwilling to help yourself. He was clearly unwilling in my humble opinion!

Being a God fearing man and a Christian, I believe it is our responsibility to help those that are not able to help themselves.  Most people who are unable to help themselves have come to this situation through no fault of their own.  And many people in this situation would gladly want to be able to take care of themselves. But for those who are able to help themselves, I do believe that God wants us to take the first step towards self-sufficiency.

In addition, I believe the lessons from the parable of the Talents come to mind. Matthew 25:13-30 and a similar parable Luke 19:11-27. There are many scenarios in which this type of situation could be played out on a daily basis in which people cause their own problems due to slothfulness, lack of preparation and a million other scenarios.  

1). What if it’s not a friend that shows up but rather his gruff beer guzzling atheist co-worker whom he really doesn’t like shows up with his seven ragtag rowdy undisciplined kids? Is not a human being a human being? Where do we draw the line?  

2). I save for retirement, my friend doesn’t but rather is content to rely on social security payments for he and his wife’s income for their golden years. Shortly after retirement my friends wife dies and with her death so does her social security payments stop. My friend comes to me for help. Without my help on a regular monthly basis he is now forced to live in poverty and probably lose everything he has. Yes I saved, but I am far from wealthy or have what I would call abundance and my helping him in any worthwhile manner that would do him any good would severely hurt my wife and I financially in our own retirement. Am I ethically flawed to say I’m truly sorry I wish I could help but I just can’t? This could be a life and death situation if the man got so depressed the threat of suicide was real? I refer you to the parable of the talents.  

3). My friend and his wife bought a McMansion while my wife and I bought a modest house that we could afford. My friend was laid off and came to me one day explaining tearfully that they were six months behind on their mortgage and asked to borrow $40,000 or they and their three children would lose their house next week and be homeless. I have $80,000 in savings $40,000 would be half of what I have saved for my family, my children’s college education and my daughters wedding. I haven’t even started saving for retirement yet.  Do I tell my kids sorry no college and no wedding because my buddy needed the money instead.  This could also end up being a life and death situation.

So when we say “God helps those who help themselves”, we are not talking about the helpless.  We are talking about those who can help themselves but may have chosen not to. My friend is getting the keys to one of our cars with that half tank of gas!  - Just a Jarhead

Reader C.C.V. sent this: U.S. Payrolls Grew 244,000 in April; Unemployment at 9%. JWR Adds: "the recovery is cooling" they claim. I ask: What recovery? All that I've seen is a brief blip, caused by a massive infusion of Funny Money. (The monetization dubbed "Quantitative Easing".)

Chris Martenson interviews Addison Wiggin: We Can't Afford the Solutions Needed To Reverse Our Decline

I noticed an interesting article over at Fierce Finance: Goldman Sachs prodigy quits

KAF sent this: Fannie Mae has asked the government Friday for an additional $8.5 billion in aid. (It lost $8.7 billion in the first three months of the year.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Banks Adding Treasuries Signal Lower Confidence In Recovery

Strong April is Retailer's Easter Present

Unemployment Applications Hit Eight-Month High

Businesses Now Hiring At Fastest Pace Since 2006

Consumers Borrowed More On Credit Cards In March

Stocks Rally As Hiring Spree Surprises Wall Street

Gas Price To Drop As Oil Joins Commodities Plunge

Several readers mentioned this article about a stranded couple out in the Owyhee country: Search continues for missing Canadian man. Reader R.B.S. had these comments: "Tonight's local newscast (Boise) had some good news for this lady. Finally located after several weeks. She survived with some rationed granola and water from a nearby stream.  Sadly, I fear the husband did not fare so well on his own, having set out to find a nearby road to get help.  This part of the world is rugged and unforgiving especially to those unfamiliar with its rapidly changing weather conditions and geography.  Hopefully someone will learn something from their survival experiences unfolding in this news story." JWR Adds: For readers not familiar with the ION region: it is truly one of the most remote regions in the Lower 48 States. FWIW, the town of Jarbidge is on my list of potential retreat locales. For further insight on the region, read the book Outlaw, a biography of the notorious outlaw trapper Claude Dallas.

   o o o

Sunspots more active than for 8,000 years. Are you ready for a major coronal mass ejection (CME) event? That could drop the power grids for an extended period. Live self-sufficiently. Stock up. Shield your spare radios in Faraday cans. Buy a spare charge controller for your alternative energy system, and store is shielded , too!

   o o o

I just heard that after a long delay, Camping Survival received another small shipment of canned butter, from New Zealand. Stock up, before it sells out!

   o o o

River flooding begins to "wrap arms" around Memphis.

"The biggest story in the market is the currency crash right now occurring in the US, I think a lot of people are debating whether it is in fact a currency crash." - Keith McCullough, CEO of Hedgeye Risk Management, in an April, 2011 CNBC interview.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Today we present another two two entries for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Last week my city was taken by surprise by a terrible windstorm.  There were some weather warnings but nothing prepared residents for what would come.  Winds reached 110 km per hour and the damage to property was extensive.  Several people lost their lives due to flying debris and downed power lines.  While some were without power for only a couple of hours, others were without for up to a week.  Although we got our power back after 48 hours, we still suffered sporadic outages for two more days.

It was with a completely different attitude that I met this storm.  Before I began prepping, I would have been woefully unprepared and getting through the ordeal would have meant getting in my car and driving somewhere to stay with someone who was unaffected.  Of course, how I would have found that elusive place would have meant driving until I saw lights on, since our phones and internet didn’t work either.  This time I looked at it as a “dry run” for something bigger.

It was really interesting to “test” our preps and see where improvements were needed.  We only started preparing a few months ago but have thrown ourselves into it wholeheartedly.  Here is what we did and what we learned:

Candles: We had a great supply of candles laid in. Unfortunately, they were all over the house in various places. If you can't find them in the dark, they aren't very useful.  Now I've placed candles in every decorative holder in the house and stored the extras all in one easily accessible place. I've stashed a box of matches in every room as well, protected from dampness in Ziploc bags.

Food: We have tons of it and most of it does not need electricity for safe storage. Unfortunately, most of it does require cooking and we had not yet purchased a method for doing so. Now I've purchased a little hibachi that can use charcoal or a mix of wood and charcoal. I've also begun to purchase more stuff that can be eaten immediately: peanut butter, crackers, pudding cups, canned fruit, etc. Also, we learned baked beans from a can aren't horrible at room temperature but soup is disgusting at room temperature. I ended up purchasing two meals out in the one small area of town that was not affected. We would have remained far safer if we had stayed at home, because the streets were perilous with falling trees and downed power lines.  Those who died all passed away when they were away from home.

Refrigerated items: We did not open our deep freeze the entire time the power was out so things in there fared perfectly. Most of the things in the refrigerator had to be thrown out, though. Luckily there wasn't a lot: a little bit of milk, some leftovers, half a head of cabbage and some sautéed mushrooms. Next time, we will concentrate on the items in the fridge first. Things from the fridge could have been moved to a cooler and stored with the ice from the freezer to have lasted longer.

Water: We had water, even though we ran out of hot water pretty quickly. I was pleased that we had stored a lot of water in the attic, as some places in town had no water.  I still plan to continue increasing our stored water on a weekly basis.

The Unexpected: Something I was totally unprepared for was a quick emergency repair.  Our kitchen window imploded in the high wind and my makeshift cardboard repair was not the sturdiest. I'm going to get some good duct tape and some plywood in various sizes for that type of repair. If it had been a winter blizzard, the broken window would have been disastrous.

Neighbours:  We checked on our elderly neighbours several times and were able to bring them something to eat and make sure they had everything they needed.  We also gave them some candles, holders and matches. Next time it would be nice to be able to offer them a hot meal.

Entertainment:  Our enormous piles of books certainly came in handy, as did our supply of board games and card games.  My youngest child (10) is not as much of a reader as my oldest daughter (15) and I, so we had to listen to “I’m bored” about 10,041 more times than I would have preferred.  I found some interesting picture books and some craft books at a yard sale that I’ve hidden away to be brought out at a later time for the novelty value.  I’ve also organized her things in a way that it will be easier to find something to do when there is minimal light.

Communication:  A true family disaster was narrowly averted.  My youngest was home from school with a sore throat and a fever.  The high winds howling around the house and the tree that fell outside terrified her.  Suddenly the power went out and I was at work.  My power at work did not go out at the same time, so I was unaware of what had happened.  The phone lines at the house went down also.  My daughter panicked and decided to walk to my workplace.  It is very close to home, but the weather was far too treacherous for a child to be out walking around.  She stopped at a convenience store and the kind woman there would not allow her to continue her trek.  She was able to get her a ride to my workplace and all was well. My oldest daughter gets bussed to school in a different city.  I had no communication with her all day.  This situation definitely brought to the forefront the need to prepare my children and make a plan to reunite in the event of some type of catastrophe.  I stressed to them both the importance of staying put if they are at home, and the importance of getting home if they are away.  We’ve now planned routes home for them so I would know where to begin looking for them if something happened.  I also bought a rotary phone that does not require electricity at the Goodwill store.  We’ve planned “safe places” in case they cannot get home.  I realized the importance of knowing where to look for the girls.

Security:  Fortunately, there was no need for increased security during this storm and subsequent power outage.  We were careful to keep the door locked and the blinds pulled in the evening.  I explained to the girls that there was no point in advertising that we were better prepared with lighting than most.  I did begin to give more thought to a world in which the police are not a phone call away, however. Because of strict gun-control laws here in Canada, we have no firearms.  It makes me feel very vulnerable, as I grew up in a household were guns were part of the interior decor. It’s not a situation I can change so in the interest of making the best of my situation, I have attempted to do my best to provide us with security and protection. We do have bear spray, which is basically mace for bears (sold at hunting and camping stores).  I’ve invested in a few more cans of this to stash around the house.  As well, the girls and I discussed regular household items that could make useful weapons in a crunch.  I’ve applied to take the required class to be able to own guns here and my oldest daughter plans to attend with me.  I’ve also done some research to discover that small air guns like BB guns are readily available and inexpensive.  Although they are not at all powerful, they are better than nothing and might even serve as a deterrent, here in a place where most people are very unfamiliar with firearms.  Finally, I’m going to install a new frame around my front door to allow it to withstand an attempt to burst in.  While it isn’t foolproof, a much more concentrated effort would be required to break through the door.

My kids think I am slightly less crazy now, after seeing the value of the preparations that we had in place.  We had talked a lot about preparing after the horrible situation in Japan and after hearing recently from our family members back in Arkansas, who were flooded into their homes for over a week.  After our brief experience, the girls are applying the lessons we learned.  When shopping, they excitedly point out things that would not require cooking.  They also look at second-hand shopping in a whole different way, thinking of the usefulness of an item in a world without power.  The episode has increased their critical thinking and problem solving skills, while also heightening their awareness of how things can change in an instant.

Our little disaster was nothing in comparison to the issues going on in the Southeastern US, or Japan, but it was eye-opening. I think we will be far better prepared the next time around. We will be able to stay safely at home and off the perilous streets. We have been able to identify many of our weak points on this trial run. The difference between us and the other people going through this?  We will use this experience to fill in all of the gaps that we discovered in our preparations.  I have a list of things that we must acquire as quickly as possible and a list of things that would just be nice to have.  This experience has deepened my determination to care for my children no matter what life throws at us.

James has a family of two which include his wife and four year old son. He loves them both very much and would do anything to see to their well being. Given the recent events in Haiti, Thailand and most notably Japan, James has decided to prepare himself and his family for a natural disaster. Living in the Southern California area, he has focused his preparation for an earthquake and possible tsunami. In his home he keeps enough canned food and fresh water for his family to survive for at least one week. This week long time frame is about the length of time it would take for emergency services to come to grips with a major disaster and restore some form of normalcy. Various forms of equipment are included in his survival kit that include basic hand tools, water filters, sleeping bags and tents should the need to vacate his residence become a necessity. He has also instructed his wife to keep at least a half a tank of gas in her car at all times and that an emergency kit be kept in the car as well.

James has shared his efforts with close friends and has advised them to prepare themselves for a natural disaster along the same lines as he has taken. After all, it does not cost much and takes little imagination to prepare for the worst. The advice given by James is met with skepticism and is really not given much more thought by his friends.

On a Friday night at just past 10 PM the worst happens. An earthquake in the range of 8.7 hits the Southern California area. Subsequent to this a large tidal force makes its way to the coast of Southern California and Baja as the quake was centered offshore. After shutting of the gas and power lines to his house and making sure his family is safe and uninjured, James takes stock of the situation. The house is still standing and safe, emergency rations and equipment are undamaged and accessible and the cars are in perfect working order. Without power and without information, James turns on his battery powered radio and learns the magnitude of the quake and that the low lying areas off the coast have been flooded by a tsunami. Luckily, James and his family live on top of a mesa that overlooks the swelling seas. A few hours after the quake with candles burning, James looks at his sleeping family and counts his blessings. Just then a knock come at his front door. Rising to answer it, James expects to see a uniformed officer or fireman. Instead he is greeted by a close friend and his family. At the threshold, his friend tells him that his house was washed away in the flood and that he barely had time to throw his wife and child in the car and make it to high ground. This friend did not follow the advice about preparing for a natural disaster and came to James’ door for help. The friend knew that James was prepared and looked for a reprieve from the ensuing disaster. James told his friend that he had few supplies and that he should take his family to a shelter. James told him where the shelter was and told him to drive there as they could provide real relief and medical assistance. The friend came to James’ house with a car that had less gas in it than a lawn mower and barely made it to his front door. They would surely not make it the twenty miles inland to the nearest shelter. James’ friends asked for an open door and help.

Dilemma: Should James let his friend and his family into his home?

Given the situation, let us identify the people involved. James, his wife and four year old son along with his friend , his wife and three year old son. All of them have something to lose. There are no neighbors, police, rescue workers or resources of interested to speak of. Just the six of these players and the situation that they are in are all that are involved.

James has a few ways to look at this situation that could help guide him to making the right choice. From a teleological standpoint, this case has many variables that could be considered. Let us assume that James simply has food and supplies for his family for one week only and that for whatever reason outside help from anyone is absent for the period of one week. Also assume that no other help is available to his friend and his family in the immediate area. Given that James has the choice of either letting his friends in his home or turning them away.

If James lets his friends in a few things are going to happen. By doubling the amount of persons in his home to look after his food, water and supplies basically get cut by 50 percent. This means that his supply window has become three and one half days instead of the comfortable seven days. This could mean that after the fourth day he, his family and friends would be without food or water. While the adults could make it another three days without supplies the children certainly could not. Moreover, in their weakened condition on days four through seven, fighting off looters and taking care of unforeseen events could become difficult. While the entire unit would be flush with supplies for the first three days, the last four days would be met with hardship and possible death to some or all of the members. This option seems a tough path to follow as James prepared to take care of his family while the other family did not even with warnings from James.

Alternately, James could simply turn his friend and family away. This would mean that James and his family could comfortably survive until services were restored. However, shutting the door on his friend and family would mean that they would be out of doors on their own, on foot, with no food or water. With no real survival training and with a three year old child in tow, it would seem that they have little chance of making it twenty miles to the nearest aid station. In reality, James friend and his family would meet serious trials on their way to the aid station. These trials would most likely be too much for he and his family to handle. James knows that by closing his door to them that it would mean almost certain death for at least one member, if not all members, of his friend and family.

In this situation, given that James thinks that by closing his door to his friend and his family they would have a chance, it is important to explore what James is required to do by law. There really is no rule that says that James must open his door to his friend. All of the food, water and equipment that James has are his and he is free to do with them what he wants. No law forbids him from closing his door. He has the right to protect what is his and given the situation has the right to vigorously protect what is his. The concept of justice in this area is interesting though. James would, of course, hope that his friend would open his door if the tables were turned. With that, James advised his friend to prepare for such an event and asked for no favors. James really has done all he could for his friend up to this point. No debt is due to his friend. No favors to be cashed in.

James knows that he could simply shut his door to his friend. He knows that he is well within his rights to do so and knows that he would guarantee that his family would survive the next week. He also knows that his friend and his family would endure incredible hardship. James must now look into himself and demonstrate what kind of a man that he is. In this moment, all of the character of his being will be demonstrated.

By taking another look at the concept of justice, James’ could do a few things. Justice really is doing to others what they deserve. James warned his friend to take care of preparations in case of a disaster. He advised his friend that with just a little forethought and planning that he could provide for his family when the unthinkable happens. From this view point it is apparent that James’ friend is going to get what he deserves. On the other hand, it would be hard to imagine that he and his family deserve to be let out in the cold under such dire circumstances. He and his family would surely meet with hardships that most could not endure and it is very possible that someone could become hurt, injured or even die. James’ friend has done nothing to him that would warrant that type of justice. James’ friend and his family do not deserve to be put in a situation that could result in death.

However, is it justice for James to let these people into his home knowing full well that he is now putting his family in danger by cutting their supplies in half? James and his family deserve to be taken care of because preparations were made at no cost to anyone. James did it all on his own and took no favors.

In interesting aspect of this dilemma is that James believes in God. He is what most would call a religious man. James also knows that to be holy he must act as Jesus would have acted. James must also act as Jesus would because he wants to not because he has to. He also knows that his longing to be holy makes him accountable for his actions. James needs to act with moral purity (Hill, 26-28). A holy man trying to emulate Jesus would not turn his back on someone in need, especially a friend.

Love is another concept that James has to come to grips with. The people knocking on James’ door are friends. A positive relationship has been created between them. Closing his door to them would not be an act of love. James needs to take care of his friends not because he has to but because it would be an expression of love. Turning his friends away might cause them to meet with hardship and death. With that, James needs to be empathetic to his friends and imagine what it would be like to be standing outside in the middle of a disaster zone with your family (Hill, 53-56). No food, no water and only one hope. This hope is that you will let them in and take care of them.

What of the love for James’ family? James surely has love for his family. In this instance he prepared to take care of them. He took pains to make sure that they were safe in the face of an emergency. It would not seem a very loving thing to do to take three and a half days worth of food away from his family. Because by letting his friend in, that is what James will do. By expressing love for his friend and empathizing with his predicament, James must to consider the effect on his family. He must place himself in his families’ shoes and see things from their perspective. At once his family felt safe knowing that everything was taken care of and that they would survive this disaster. With the knock at the door the possibility of survival potentially just got cut in half. James’ family does not feel as safe as they did and James knows that. If James is to express love to his family he must take care of them. If James lets his friend in, he is placing his family in danger. Putting his family in harm’s way is no expression of love.

James faces another subject for thought when it comes to making a decision about what to do about his friends at the door. James knows that he has a duty to care for his family. He cares greatly for them and does whatever he needs to do to make sure they are safe. After all, they are the closest thing to him. Close to are his neighbors and friends. James must exhibit the same caring for his neighbors and friends that he does for his family. This ethics of care demands that James care for the well being of those near to him (Velasquez, 59-60). This includes his family, neighbors and friends. James’ character is made up of all the experiences in his life. His character is crafted by the inputs from his family, friends and neighbors. His character is defined by his religious beliefs. In ignoring the ethics of care in this situation, James is ignoring everything that he has learned in his life and the definitions of his character. James has a duty to care for those around him and failing that would be to fail his own character.

This ethics of care brings up an interesting question. Just how many friends and neighbors does James let into his home? There will come a point when all that he has prepared for will be consumed in just a few hours if he opens his doors to everyone. Knowing that his resources are finite James would have to make some choices. Is one neighbor better than another? Is one friend’s life worth more than another? How much food will he take out of his family’s mouth to feed those around him?

James could turn away everyone that comes to his door. He has the right and reason to. The more people that he lets into his home the less time his family has to survive. James is normally a caring and virtuous individual. He gives of himself and of his time to his friends, neighbors and family. He is also active in the community and always has a kind word to say to anyone he encounters. Thrust into the situation that he is in James rationalizes that in this situation that it is alright to show some cruelty with the excuse that if he cares and lets his friend in that it will take away from his family. Surely no one could fault him for that. Given the circumstances he is well in the right to turn his friend away and put his caring nature completely towards his family.
While this rational is not necessarily wrong, it does bring up the concept of dual morality. James is normally a caring and loving person for all people and things. As a God fearing man he knows that this reasoning for turning his friend and his family away is fundamentally flawed. He would demonstrate a dual morality by insisting that he is a caring man normally but in this instance he has the right not to be. This thinking is ethically flawed. If James is in fact a religious person then his dual morality is attacking the basis of his belief system (Hill, 71-74).

Weighing all of the facts together and looking at all of the pros and cons of this dilemma, James decides to let his friend and family in. This decision was not made lightly. From a cost benefit stand point only it is clear that by letting his friend in that James’ family would be put into danger. James also has no law stating that he must open his door to his friend. No disaster rule exists that makes it a duty of James to open his door as well. Rule of rights also tells James that his friend has no claim to his preparations as he did not help in the construction of this kit and that none of the equipment James has is borrowed from his friend and that his friend has no contractual right to any of James’ equipment. James also could claim that his friend is getting what he deserves by being left out of James home because his friend was advised to create a disaster kit and emergency plan.

However, James is a man of character. He knows that while a view of justice tells him that his friend would get what he deserves by not listening to James in the first place, he knows that his friend has done him no harm. His friend made no demands of James but simply asked for help. Looking at justice from another angle shows James that no one deserves to be put in a situation where severe hardship would be endured. James can see how by letting his friend find his own way is no justice at all.

Further, James decides that he needs to show an ethic of care here. He needs to ensure for the well being of those around him. These people are his friends and James is duty bound to take care of them. James also has a duty to his family as well. James must balance what he gives to his friend and what he needs to provide to his family. James decides that only the rations that were intended for him should go to his friend and his family. In this way James is taking care of his friend and taking care of his own family.

This rationing method also answers the question as to how many people James would ultimately let into his home. What if another friend or a stranger came calling for help? In that instance James can only give what he has. He can give from himself but cannot take from the mouths of his family.

The decision to let his friend in is also influenced by holiness. James is trying to walk in the same path that Jesus did. James is trying to emulate Him in as many ways as he can. James knows that Jesus would never turn away someone in need and especially a friend.

This holiness also brings up the question of dual morality. James knows that he is a caring man and that he cannot put that caring away in certain situations. By doing so, it would undermine the entire idea of ethical behavior. James stands on the pillars of holiness, justice and love. To act with a dual morality base would weaken the very foundation of what makes up James’ character and ethical thought (Hill, 16). 

In the end James’ ethical dilemma comes down to a question of his character. Justice, holiness and love as well as an ethic of care outweigh the cost and rules in this case. James knows that his decision could save some lives, add comfort to a friend in need and will shape his entire ethical life. James is also showing a positive example to his family and to his friend. If everyone could learn by this example there would be much less pain and suffering in the world. In the end, it is just a few days of food that is coming out of James’ mouth. James can take comfort in knowing that his good deeds and ethical reasoning will keep him fully nourished during this dark time.

Hill, Alexander. Just Business. Second Edition. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press., 2008
Velasquez, Manuel. Business Ethics Concepts and Cases. Sixth Edition. Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NJ. 2006

Reader Mike E. wrote to mention: "I recommend the show on TLC called Extreme Couponing. I have watched shows where a lady bought $640 worth of groceries and with her coupons it ended up costing $6.43. Currently I'm watching one that he had $870 in purchases and the buyer got it all free. This individual has a whole basement full of stuff, but he gives it all to charity. It is worth watching to encourage you on ways that you can  stock up on supplies for pennies on the dollar. The only problem I see is when you walk out with five shopping carts of stuff and it only cost you 10 bucks, people will talk. That is bad personal security."

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SurvivalBlog's Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio designs knives, and several are already being produced by various knife companies or custom knife makers. Pat recently mentioned in an e-mail: "I had one particular fixed blade knife design that I came up with many years ago. I searched high and low, for a custom knife maker to produce my design, to my specifications. However, as is the case with many custom knife makers, they are more into artsy and collectible type of knives, and they wanted to make "my" design, "their" way. I discussed my design with Brian Wagner of Okuden knives and with Columbia River Knife & Tool (CRKT). Wagner collaborated with me on the design - with a few improvements. He's a maker, and I'm a designer, and he came up with some good ideas. Right now, it appears that our collaboration will appear in the 2012 line-up at CRKT, as a factory made knife. We're still waiting on final word, however it's all looking good.   My goal, in designing this particular fixed blade fighting knife (which is called the OC-1) was to come up with a fighting knife, that could be produced at an affordable price, for our men and women in uniform. I think we'll be able to achieve that goal with CRKT producing the knife in a factory version. So, stay tuned."

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Mike L. sent this gem: Burnt-out blender + broken bicycle = Survival blender.

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D.C. Residents Unable to Purchase Handguns After Sole Dealer Seeks New Office. My Inner Libertarian tells me we need a Weapon Shops of Isher culture--with private, unlicensed gun shops scattered far and wide.

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that [is] unprofitable for you." Hebrews 13-17 (KJV)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Today we present another entry for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Some of the very earliest memories I have of wanting to be a good prepper come from stories about my Scottish grandmother.  They lived in Sunderland, England, during both World Wars, had eight living children, were poor as church mice, and fed anyone who was in need because of the bombing raids.  Apparently, her theory was to add more water to the soup pot and another cup of barley.  My Dad told me that she said that the sign of a good housewife is a well-stocked pantry, ready for all emergencies.  

As a child I read First Aid manuals for fun.  During my avid reading I stumbled across Robinson Crusoe and The Swiss Family Robinson. Even in such great books and movies like Cold Mountain and Cast Away and Cold Mountain and in the recent television shows like Lost and Jericho, there was always an almost magical way of escape:  a box washed up on the shore, a stash no one had discovered, bullets, food, skills, all just appeared out of thin air.  But … I am a realist, or at least try to be.  What if our lives as we now live them suddenly end (just think tsunami or tornadoes this year), and we can never return to the way things used to be?   In real emergencies, there is no magic wand, no National Guard to rescue us off the beach, no divine drop of supplies from the skies complete with chocolate, and no game we can play with rewards for winning.  That’s just not how real life works.  

I’ve developed the habit of asking:  “If XYZ happens and I am used to using ABC, what will I use when that needs replacing.”  Many are starting to think about batteries and such.  But, there are so many other areas that require thought.   This week after much difficulty, I purchased surplus military rectal thermometers.  Why?  All my new thermometers in the medicine cabinet require batteries that are now dead.  How can I take anyone’s temperature if they are ill and there is no operational thermometer?  And, just where do I find those little batteries?  Old-fashioned thermometers work well and last forever if cared for properly.  However, be prepared for a surprise – they are getting very hard to find.  

Okay, I’ve got a gas stove, a convertible grill, a gasoline camp stove, a butane cook stove, and propane.  What happens if I can’t obtain gas, kerosene, butane, etc.?  I know how to cook over an open campfire and how to make a “stove” outside which will burn whatever I have on hand for fuel.  I’ve even made a stove out of a big tin can using paper and twigs for fuel.  Great for the summer, but what if it’s raining?   We have gasoline lanterns, butane lanterns and candles running out of the ears.  Flashlights are in every room on every corner with batteries by the bucket.  No gas, no butane?  I can make candles and learned how to make a lamp using any kind of fuel from kerosene to olive oil to bacon grease.   

I make my own clothing, but what happens if a belt breaks on the machine?  Do I have a replacement?  Do I have a proper stash of fabric?  Do I have all the thread and supplies that I will need?  What about all that yarn I’m always using?  My grandmother unraveled old wool sweaters and re-knit them.  The newer yarns tend to mat and will probably not unravel well.  Sure I can go out and purchase a stash of underwear, socks, etc., but what happens when they wear out, or are lost, stolen, or destroyed?   How about your car, truck, tractor, or whatever?  Do you have all the oil, belts, hoses, lubes and antifreeze you will need for the next XX years?  Better yet, do you have a simple vehicle, which will allow you to maintain it, … and, do you have the tools necessary to repair it.  Are you prepared to make simple parts or have a friend who can make simple parts?   What happens if there is no electricity?  Your MIG or TIG welder, as nice as it is, will make a very large paperweight.  Using a diesel welder?  Do you have a supply of fuel?  Got welding [gasses] tanks?  Good!  But when they run out, you’d better know how to do crude forge welding the old fashioned way.  

Can you make a meal without your mix master?  Think about a good manual egg beater (they are surprisingly expensive), stainless steel whisks and wooden spoons.  Forget your food processor.  Get a mandolin slicer, a shredder, and several really good knives, which take up a great deal less space.  

You’ve got your Big Berkey.  Good!  Now, how much water will you need every day to just do the ordinary things like hand washing, tooth brushing, food preparation, cooking, bathing, flushing toilets?  Don’t know?  You will be surprised.  After a week of frozen pipes one winter, we found that for a family of four we needed a minimum of 15 gallons per day – and that was without proper baths or washing clothes.  Where will you get your water?  Yes, we have two storage barrels, etc., but they would empty very quickly if drained of 15 gallons per day.  Where is the closest water supply and how will I get it home?  Water is very heavy (8.345 pounds per gallon).  How many gallons can I carry?  Do I have something in which to transport – preferably something with wheels?   We’ve got two lawnmowers:  one which is a simple, old gas-driven one and the other is a push mower.  The trick with a push mower is to keep it adjusted and sharpened.  Do you know how adjust and sharpen, and do you have the tools?  Remember, shovels, hoes, knives and other tools also need sharpening from time to time.  

My Mom always saved her mayonnaise jars for canning and never had a problem.  Don’t do it!  The new jars are very thin, and the bottoms of the jars will shear off when they hit the boiling water.  Don’t ask how I know this or how many peaches were lost.  Do save your smaller jars with standard mouths for jams and jellies or for storage of other goods such as herbs, dehydrated foodstuffs.  Save depleting your good canning lids by using paraffin on preserves.  The paraffin wax can be saved and reused year after year.  The canning lids (unless you buy the new lifetime ones) are one-time-only.  How will you replace them when you run out?   Simple hygiene may become an acute problem.  What happens when the soap, shampoo, deodorant run out?  Do you know the substitutes for toothpaste?  What about those bulky storage items:  sanitary napkins and toilet paper?  Well, perhaps it’s time to make some out of old sheets, tee shirts, diapers, flannel, etc.  They can be soaked, boiled in vinegar water and reused for years.  As for toilet paper, I do prefer Charmin, but the outhouse on the farm came equipped with a Sears catalog.  The secret is taking a sheet and scrubbing it between your hands until it’s very soft.  Works well.  When the catalog is gone, then what?   And, how can I contain and dispose of all the waste we humans generate?  Just think what happened in the stadium in New Orleans after Katrina or garbage strikes in Toronto in 2009!  Help finally came, but reality says it probably will not come if SHTF as predicted.   Most folks today are tied to some sort of computer.  There are computers in everything!  What happens if everything electronic stops?  Cell phones – gone.  Computers – gone.  MapQuest – gone.  E-books – gone.  Then, what will we do?   If you do not have a library of real books on everything imaginable, the information will not be accessible to you.  If you do not have a hoard of quality maps, you will be trying to travel by Braille.   

And, if something disastrous happens, it will happen pretty much without warning.  You may not have time to “bug out”.  Your transportation could well be Shank’s Mare or a bike.  We’ve got an old VW Beetle – no electronics, great mileage, easy to maintain – which will be good almost anywhere we end up.  Are you prepared to stay where you are?  If not, get gone now because there is a very good chance you will be stuck where you are.  My niece was told to evacuate in front of a hurricane in South Carolina; they were stuck in an enormous traffic jam for hours and saw many just stuck because they were out of gas.  Don’t plan on leaving town with everyone else.   If we become lax, Proverbs 24:33-34 will rule:  “I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw:  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - and poverty (disaster) will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.”  

I could go on forever, but this is just to get you thinking in other areas.  If you need something on a regular basis, how will you supply it?  How will you replace it?  Begin to think about substitutes and then substitutes for the substitutes.  Remember, there is no hidden stash.  You may be totally on your own.  Take classes, read books, watch instructional videos.  Learning how to do things is just so much fun.  Then, use those “new” skills and tools regularly so they become part of the routine of your life.  Teach them to your children and grandchildren and anyone else who will listen.  Your efforts will not be wasted.  

Food for Thought:  Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” Luke:  14:28-32 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’  Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand?  If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”

Sourdough is indeed not only a solution to not having yeast to make bread, it is superior. I would like to offer some help to get started in this quickly. For me the learning curve was steep, but now I can easily make sourdough from scratch, with no mail order starter. Obviously if there comes a time when you can not mail order starter, such a skill could serve you well.

First, the idea that yeasts are floating around in the air, and form the foundation for fermenting sourdough is an old wives tale. Natural yeasts and probiotics occur on plants naturally as they grow, and the less modern synthetic farming or gardening done to your wheat, herbs/vegetables, or fruits the better for your fermentation, as well as your gut. Probiotics are very important for health. In an extreme case, if your intestinal flora dies, you die. The floating yeast being the way sourdough gets started myth is the reason you are told to put a cloth over the would-be starter. The idea is the keep dirt out, but let yeast in. I never do this. In fact, I make my starter in sealed canning jars. It works great.

I would like to put this in a larger context. Preparing for bad health is a bad idea. When you compromise, and store white rice, or other bulk death, you are skewing the calorie to life-giving-nutrition ratio strongly unfavorably against your family and yourself. I have heard many excuses for doing such madness as making half "white"/ whole wheat bread. If you take this to an extreme you could just store white sugar only for calories alone. As far as making bread, it is not easier to add white flour to the plan to somehow make things easier. It is ignorant and simply inaccurate. Also without going into depth consider the fact that so many people have "gluten intolerance". This is because, again, people alter the natural ratio of wheat parts. Adding gluten is standard "industry" procedure. People get far too much gluten, and thus get messed up. Gluten is like glue. If you ignore this, and keep eating gluten white bread with all the other odd chemical additives, or such like, you are going to end up with digestive problems.

Sourdough is the ancient, natural, biblical way to make bread. It would be best to grind your own grain eventually if you can not do this yet. Making sourdough bread makes the bread more nutritious and bio-available, and gets rid of enzyme binding phytates. You basically cannot buy this bread in stores. Sourdough makes more nutrition available to your body.

"Parts of a sourdough are used as storage leaven for new sourdoughs."

The Food Encyclopedia notes: "The culture is continually fed to increase its volume and leavening strength until there is enough starter (levain) to leaven a batch of dough with enough left over to perpetuate the culture."

I'll include some quotes from the Bible:

"And the people took their dough before it was leavened..." - Exodus 12:34

"... and bread which strengtheneth man's heart."Psalm 104:15

When man makes white flour out of the whole grain, they are throwing away precious gifts from God. They discard the germ and bran, which are loaded with nutrition. As the Bible says, bread strengthens man's heart. However, not after man perverts the flour. In the modern industrial age when white flour started to be used on a wide scale, heart attacks increased rapidly. After studying the problem a few poor vitamin supplements were added back to white flour, by law. However this only helped a very little. We need the food ecology of God our creator.

"Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." - Matthew 13:33

"Give us day by day our daily bread." - Luke 11:3

Regards, - Dash

Readers in Canada will find this of interest: Pulling The Trigger on C-68. (Thanks to Richard S. for the tip.)

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I just bought another scope from Twice now, they've really impressed me with their customer service. They sell a wide range of scopes and some long range rifles. I recommend them.

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F.G. spotted a piece by one of my favorite libertarian commentators, Vin Suprynowicz: An alien in my own land.

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W.W. sent a link to a video that I missed when it was first released: Obama Birth Certificate Faked In Adobe Illustrator - Official Proof 1 ( Layers )

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Jonathan S. send a news story about Big Brother flexing his muscles: Feds Demand Firefox Remove Add-On That Redirects Seized Domains. Speaking of such things, please make note of our IP address. (Please save it, as a backup, in your web browser's "Favorites" or "Bookmarks". )

"[Let your] conversation [be] without covetousness; [and be] content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." - Hebrews 13:5-6 (KJV)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Today we present another two entries for Round 34 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and B.) Two cases of Alpine Aire freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $400 value.) C.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $275 value), D.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo , and E.) An M17 medical kit from JRH Enterprises (a $179.95 value).

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol. It is a $439 value courtesy of Next Level Training. B.) A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, C.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, and D.) two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.) , and B.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value.

Round 34 ends on May 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

I thought I'd share some of the options available on de-hulling grain, for others, who are embarking on raising their own plot or field of grains and then plan to long term store their harvests. This information is also relevant to processing many varieties of grains, seeds and hulled legumes.

Processing Overview There are several separate steps to the processing of grains to get them ready for storage, if, they are to be utilized for human consumption and not just for replanting as field seed.

These steps include:  Harvesting or cutting the grain stalks, upright stacking the cut stalks and tying them in drying bundles and allowing them to field dry for several weeks, then de-heading the grain from the stalks by threshing, then winnowing the grain from the chaff, de-hulling the grain, and winnowing or cleaning  again to rid away the hulls, and then, storing the grain.

If you wish to read more on growing and harvesting your own grains, I recommend the book Small-Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon. It is a "must have" book for inclusion in your prep library, if you intend to grow your own grains.

Our wheat is now successfully dried and cut from the shaft. So next in the processing, I will be de-hulling and cleaning close to a half ton of wheat for our larder. This will be my prepping project for the next couple of weeks. The final goal will be to have it stored away for long term later use in either, 5 gallon buckets or, 55 gallon barrels with tight fitting gasketed lids. 

Manual Threshing Method

Of course, this is the most simple method, in terms of the least expensive materials required to get the small yield job done. It will require some meticulous arm, shoulder and back muscle repetition exercise however, in order to obtain a clean end product. In using this simple threshing method, you merely require a bat or stick to beat the dried grain heads off the shaft, over a tarp or flat bed sheet. Next you will bucketing the grain spilled onto the tarp, and winnowing it numerous times. This is done by slowly pouring the grain  from one bucket into another below it, from the height of about one foot, while the wind carries off the hull and chaff. If there is no wind, you can use a fan to assist the chaff to fly from the seed. This method is effective, only if you winnow the grain 6 to 10 times to remove the chaff. It is recommended only for processing a very small plot of grown grain, unless you have a lot of assistance from others available.

Other Manual De-hulling Methods: Grain and Rice De-huller Attachment for a manual Corona Mill Corona Grain Mill De-huller Instructions, at the Southern Exposure web site.

The instructions on how to make the de-hulling disc to optionally turn your Corona Manual mill into a de-hulling device are available as a free PDF, courtesy of

Seed Cleaner/Separator Method

Another solution to de-hulling, which is my favorite method, is the use of a seed cleaner/separator. Just some mere sixty years ago, these were found on many farms which produced small to medium fields of peas, oats, wheat, beans, soy, barley, corn, and other grain seeds.  These small farm use cleaners came in many models from many makers, in different sizes and configurations, could be manually operated by man or animal, or electrically motorized, and some could be attached to the farm tractor via the secondary, side PTO with the use of a pulley and leather belt.  Here is a demonstration video of a horse powered treadmill powering the seed separator. They are processing oats.

Several years ago, I searched for many months to find a cleaning fanning mill in pristine condition, with all the variable size accessory screen trays I would need for our small farm crop grain and legume yields. The unit, also called a "fanning mill",  basically consists of several stacked vibrating trays, starting with the largest mesh screen at the top, to the smallest mesh required for the cleaned grain to shake the finished product down to an eventual "clean" bin. Each screen mesh size allows the seed to fall from one tray down into the next, and each removes any chaff off to the side or back into a "dump" bin. I finally found a 100 year old Clipper, it's a beauty of a seed cleaner. It was some 400 miles away, offered for sale on an online farm auction. I purchased it online and made that journey to procure it as soon as I could!  It is an absolute joy to use while it is powered with my small diesel tractor! Note: I always wear hearing protection and a light face mask when I'm working with any grain chaff.

Here is one similar to it, in action with an electric motor.     

And, here is another showing a more modern industrialized unit in use for processing tons of grain.

Also, here's another suggestion for de-hulling Buckwheat:

How to De-hull Buckwheat Using the Country Living Mill  by Tom Kast. [This report on de-hulling buckwheat was prepared by Tom Kast, who was kind enough to share the information and asked to disseminate it for the benefit of others]:

Step 1 - Get round-hole test screens from a seed testing house such as The screens are measured in 64ths of an inch. Purchase the 9, 10 and 11 64th's screens. They are 15" square perforated pieces of metal. If you pay a bit extra they come with frames, or if you want to save a few dollars you can build the frames yourself.

Step 2 - Size your buckwheat. In my experience most kernels were larger than the largest 11 64th holes, but the value in putting the kernels through this largest screen is that all the tiny kernels fell through and could be discarded (because there were not enough to work with); otherwise, they would mix into the final result and be surprises that are very hard on your teeth.

Step 3 - Take the County Living Grain Mill and set it to a very wide aperture. Take a test handful of the same-sized buckwheat kernels and run them through the mill. Check your results. The results should be (A) All the kernels have been opened or (B) There has been little or no grinding of the black hulls which would result in "hull flour", (C) - The buckwheat is as large as you would like it (for example, Russian kasha calls for whole, de-hulled kernels where as buckwheat flour can be as fine as you like).

Gradually decrease the aperture of the Country Living Grain Mill until all the kernels have been opened and before the black hulls begin grinding. If the hulls start grinding then widen the aperture a bit. Once you have the result you like, keep the setting on the mil and put all your buckwheat through the mill.

Step 4 - Take the loose hulls and buckwheat and sift them through the medium-sized test screen (10 64th's). Shake the hulls and buckwheat over a cookie sheet. This will extract 90% of the hulls which you can save to make a Japanese soba pillow. Then take the cookie sheet outside and blow lightly over the pan, shaking it slightly. This will blow off most of the remaining hulls. That's it, you're done. Use the buckwheat flour in your favorite recipe.


Long term grain storage is best accomplished using heavy duty, food grade, drum liner bags, lined inside the containers, with the additional use of any of the following grain stabilizers which all displace oxygen from the storage container: oxygen absorbers, nitrogen or carbon dioxide gas infusion, dry ice. Alternatively we use #10 cans.

Let's face it, if you've grown your own, you've done a great deal of hard work to get the grain to the storage stage for your long term keeping and use, so don't take any short cuts on the storage component of the processing.

The de-hulled and cleaned grain must be stored below temps of 75 degree F, in a cool, dry environment, preferably in an enclosed space away from vermin and varmints, up off the ground, off the concrete slab,  and preferably up on pallets. All of this preparation in considering a storage site is crucial to discourage mold forming moisture developing, and to ensure a flow of air circulation to prevent rancidity and slow the degradation process of the grain. If properly stored, wheat will store well for many years.

As a closing reminder, do not forget to purchase a quality, reliable grain mill. Carefully, consider the types of grains and legumes you will grinding and the amounts you will need to grind before you make this important purchase.

For our household's use, based on feeding 6 to 10 people, three meals a day, which would consist of the need for grinding corn, wheat, oats, rice, beans, and rye, we chose a Country Living Grain Mill with two sets of backup parts for any unexpected or required repairs. For redundancy, we also have and use a C.S. Bell mill grinder for cracking corn and grinding bone meal. For our animal feed, we use a Hammer Mill which chops up all the shafts and stalks to be used for livestock forage feed. 

I am guilty of falling into the “Wolverines!” mindset from time-to-time, that being the image of going toe-to-toe with the insidious foreign invasion force and setting up ambushes to destroy the evil occupiers or perhaps having to confront droves of hostiles, be they urban gang-bangers, local looters, or some other such group of less than savory individuals. The modern survivalist seems to be rather obsessed with the idea of a total collapse of all centralized authority to the point where society is little better than Somalia, although historical precedent doesn’t give much credibility to this theory. The idea of a “total collapse” has been covered to the point of ad nauseam but what of the idea of a “partial” or “limited” collapse? If you have prepared for a total collapse and your entire mindset, mentality, and preparations are focused on that, what if the collapse is less than total? What if instead of a nuclear war there is simply an increase in violent crime by 500 percent or even 1,000 percent due to a serious weakening of government power and authority, short of a total collapse of central authority. Are you prepared to live in an America that is incredibly more dangerous than it presently is but where you don’t have a green-light to don the tactical armor and take out your battle rifle to clean the streets?

There’s an essay, well-known in survivalist circles, titled Thoughts on Urban Survival. It was written by an Argentinean who detailed his experiences during the 1990s situation in Argentina and he makes it clear that there are many other sort of “collapses” that are possible, such as the partial collapse. This Argentinean had to survive in a major urban area with a massively depressed economy, issues of hyper-inflation, etc, in an area prone to danger and violence. He reported that simply avoiding being kidnapped, robbed, mugged, carjacked, or killed, on a daily basis, became something of a chore and was seen as an accomplishment. There were no armed gangs (with machine gun armed "technicals") cruising around the city openly looting stores and besieging foreign embassies. Instead there was a massive increase in street level crime against ordinary individuals, which much of the crime being perpetrated by seemingly ordinary individuals who had previously held respectable jobs.

He reported that those who were in the city were in a pretty bad way, but almost as worse, if not more so in some ways, were those who were 30-40 miles outside the city in remote/isolated country homes, as organized criminal gangs numbering anywhere from 5-20+ thugs/criminals would drive out of the cities, go into these isolated areas, case the most isolated and inviting target, and then do a nasty/violent home invasion/take-over, that would usually entail torture, rape, and murder. The people were too isolated to receive any help from neighbors, local/regional police/authorities/etc. They were just as doomed as though they were in the cities, only more so in some cases as the criminals operating in the cities seldom were able to spend hours in an apartment, torturing and raping, they would strike quick on the street, grab a purse, steal a car, and then flee, while in the countryside, with no neighbors, no police, nobody else to worry about, they spent hours on the farmsteads, taking their time to steal everything of value, torturing the residents if they felt they were was a hidden safe or that valuables were concealed somewhere, and raping any women they desired to rape.

The Argentine survivor declared that those who managed to avoid the bulk of the trouble due to the collapsed Argentine economy were those who lived in or fairly close to, close-knit small towns where residents looked out for each other and where the locals (be they basic residents or local authorities) knew who belonged in the town and who did not belong in the town. The people who were most vulnerable were the most isolated rural-dwelling individuals, with a close second being the urban dwellers. The typical American survivalist seems to believe that being in the middle of nowhere in Iowa or Kentucky will assure he is reasonably safe when the fact of the matter is that armed and organized gangs in South Africa routinely drive two to three hours from the cities (such as Johannesburg), into the countryside, to launch their farm invasions/attacks. The only true possibility of total isolation in the United States will be found in Alaska, so unless you are in Alaska you might consider that you’re better off with a nearby small town than you are being two hours away from even a small village of a few hundred people. One step you might take in the immediate future is to get to know your neighbors. A lot of survivalists seem to believe that their neighbors will just prey on them and try to take their supplies or leech off of their preparations and that may prove to be the case. However, it is almost guaranteed that if you have no rapport with your neighbors they probably won’t think twice about harming you. If you have a solid friendship built over multiple years you may be able to guide them into beginning their own preparations.

Preparations need to focus on our own immediate surroundings, our own communities, because when the trouble starts we will need our communities. One family alone can be weak, but a community (a collection of families) working together can be stronger than any single segment of the community trying to go it alone. It is very naïve and foolish for American survivalists to think that there will only be problems in the cities, that there will be a total collapse that will allow for open street-warfare, the wearing of tactical body armor, the daily carrying of rifles/shotguns (it may happen, it isn’t a bad thing to have those items), rather than simply a continuation of what we presently have… What we presently have is a move towards a society that is increasingly dangerous, on a daily basis, for the basic individual who going about his daily routine. People should be preparing to survive and avoid becoming a victim in a society that may soon resemble Brazil, South Africa, 1990s Russia, or late 1990s Argentina; that is to say, a society with a corrupt central government, decaying first world infrastructure, massive economic problems, and nightmarish levels of brutal crime against basic citizens/individuals.

The situation in South Africa proves that to live on a rural farm is not a guarantee of security. Just as in Argentina in the late 1990s, in South Africa the criminal gangs regularly travel 50-100 miles down the highway, get off in a farming/rural district, and attack an isolated farm in the most brutal manner possible. Obviously the Stuff hasn’t Hit The Fan but people are still dying in droves, even though there isn’t open street warfare and they aren’t able to employ all their neat battle rifles. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have those neat battle rifles because they may very well need them for open street fighting and in the meanwhile they are very useful for ranch/farm defense against criminal gangs.

However, it must be noted that in order to be able to openly wear tactical body armor and carry a rifle down the street, society has to pretty much fall to the point where there is no centralized authority and there are no local police, in order words, open warfare and street fighting become the norm. In a 1990s Argentine collapse or a present-day Brazil, unless you are a uniformed police officer, walking down the street in tactical body armor while carrying a rifle will most likely succeed in drawing gunfire from police or other internal security forces. Just because a tornado came through your town or a levee is breaking and flood waters are rising doesn’t mean you get to go to Wal-Mart loaded to bear as though you’re ready to head into Fallujah because all you will succeed in doing is attracting a massive amount of attention and flak from local law enforcement, National Guard, etc. However, there’s nothing to say you can’t wear a concealable vest and carry your pistol or AOW (depending on local/state law) wherever you go, while leaving your tactical vest and battle rifle for use when at home.

American survivalists who are serious about surviving the present situation in the United States, at least surviving until the Yugoslavian style street warfare begins (if it ever does- we should pray it does not) should place an emphasis on concealed carry, concealable body armor, martial arts training, home security systems, reaction drills for home invasions, defensive driving, personal defense in/around a vehicle, and above all, increasing their situational awareness skills. Again, to stress a point that can scarcely be overstated, get to know those who live around you and get on friendly terms with them so they are inclined to warn you if they see somebody following you, casing your property, etc. In South Africa much of the assistance the farmers receive comes from other farmers. When you know you cannot count on the police it helps to know you can count on at least some of your neighbors. Consider that you’re a lot more likely to wind up with American crime levels reaching those of South Africa or Brazil (and your having to live in an area with such crime levels) than you are to wind up in force-on-force battles in the streets of your county seat with gang-bangers from two towns over. Of course the latter is possible, just not particularly probable.

Not to mention, mowing down your neighbors over a can of tuna won’t solve the problems facing our society. Author and Yugoslavian War veteran Thomas Chittum and I have conducted a number of Internet talk radio programs and I stand what he and I discussed, we won’t solve America’s problems by killing our neighbors. It will be a very ugly day indeed when Americans turn on each other and rend the nation apart. The east-coast elites in DC and NYC would love nothing more than for the peasants in the interior of the country to grind themselves down killing each other, while they themselves remain safe on their New England estates or in their Manhattan penthouses, behind armies of hired guns. As the Argentinean survivor explained, in regards to regular commoners, those who made it safely through the 1990s with minimal difficulty, were those in small yet close-knit communities who had the support and trust of their neighbors. That point surfaces yet again, the support and trust of their neighbors. Now is the time to begin getting to know your neighbors and forming friendly ties with them, not the day after the hurricane or the day after the dirty bomb.

All of this talk about what to do when the UN arrives, how to handle the aliens landing, what to do when China invades, what to do when the cities collapse in total anarchy and the blood flows in the streets, it’s nice to think about in terms of, “even if that happens, I’m prepared!” or to chat about as a simple topic of conversation. But in terms of reality, it’s basically all pie in the sky. Most collapses in recent years have been along the lines of what happened in Zimbabwe, South Africa, late 1990s Argentina, mid-1990s Russia, etc. The countries like Yugoslavia and Rwanda have been the exception. Even in Yugoslavia, there wasn’t a total collapse of authority, there was a fragmenting of the nation along ethnic lines with each new territory having its own ethnic authorities and competing ethnic militias. Rwanda wasn’t a collapse of central authority; it was an abrogation of law and order in favor of government sanctioned genocide against one segment of the population.

If the government of the USA decides to pursue an active genocide against a portion of the population, if you’re in that portion of the population, you may be in some danger, it’s that simple. If the US fragments along ethnic/racial lines, you’d better hope the land you’re living on is included in the territory for your people, or you may be in some danger. Those situations are hard to plan for and the particulars of them are hard to anticipate until they begin to unfold. Anybody who wants to learn more about those situations should obtain a copy of Thomas Chittum’s book Civil War 2: The Coming Breakup of America. Hopefully the USA will be spared the sort of racial/ethnic violence that struck Rwanda and Yugoslavia, because it will absolutely gut the nation through and through. That sort of ethnically fueled violence could last for decades and leave the USA in the sort of situation Angola is presently in, a mostly ruined nation that is struggling to emerge from four decades of warfare.

But, even still, if America is going to breakup (it may, it may not, at this rate it possibly will at some point in the next several decades), it does no good to prepare for the breakup if in the meanwhile you become a crime statistic because you were unprepared to defend yourself from violent street crime. As I’ve tried to say, American survivalists should look at how daily life is in South Africa, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, etc, and prepare accordingly for safely navigating their daily routine in such conditions, because those conditions are fast taking hold in large and ever increasing regions of this nation, likely as a prelude to dominating the greater part of the country as a whole. Having all of the supplies you can afford crammed in a bunker does nothing for you if you wind up stabbed to death in the parking lot of the office building where you work. Survivalists must extend their survivalist mentality and preparations to their daily lives, training for any situation where they may have to rapidly react to some unexpected danger that suddenly presents itself.

I see a lot of writing about what to do if your nation is invaded, what to do in the event of nuclear warfare... I'm sure Red Dawn makes a better movie than would "A Day in the Life of a Boer Farmer in South Africa" but daily survival as a farmer is more realistic for the survivalist situation. It's more interesting to read about pie in the sky scenarios such as nuclear warfare, battalion level terrorist attacks against your county seat, etc, but it is much more realistic and practical to ponder on ways to survive, on a daily basis, in an increasingly dangerous America.

Along a similar theme, that being realistic and daily life preparations, I’ve noticed that a great deal of American survivalists seem to miss the mark in regards to physical fitness. In my own personal experience I have seen numerous instances of grossly obese people claiming to be survivalists or militia members. I am not talking about passing encounters but rather people I knew for several years. At no time during the several years that I knew them did I see them making any serious attempt to bring their weight down into a range proportionate with their height or at least something healthier than what it was. If somebody thinks stocking up on guns and food in anticipation of black helicopters arriving makes them a survivalist they will realize they are sorely mistaken. The importance of physical fitness cannot be overstated. If you cannot move and fight you will be combat ineffective and unable to defend yourself or your fellow team members. Now is the time to get any physical fitness issues squared away. Don’t anticipate losing weight only after the fast food joint has been taken out in a Chinese air raid and food in general has become increasingly scarce. Now is the time to make your body an asset rather than a liability. If you want to kill two birds with one stone then you should begin training some combat art such as boxing, wrestling, submission grappling, and actively sparring, you will see a rapid loss of any extra pounds in addition to a massive improvement in you overall physical condition, not to mention you will have useful skills that might just prevent you from being a crime statistic.

Speaking from personal experience of having trained several martial arts (each for multiple years), submission grappling, particularly Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is one of the most realistic systems of self-defense and it is immediately street applicable and it may very well save your life if you find yourself in a situation where you need to immediately defend yourself. Carrying a pistol is great, adn I recommend everybody carry who can legally do so. But note that criminals seldom wave pirate flags and announce their attacks from 200 yards away, thugs usually unleash their attack from a few yards away as they spring into action with little or no warning, necessitating some sort of grappling/wrestling skill to either deal with the situation by hand or create space/distance/time to draw and employ your weapon. Many police who are shot are shot with their own weapon, something that basic grappling/ground-fighting skills would likely have prevented from happening. As I’ve said, it doesn’t pay to have a bunker full of goodies and the best guns in the world if you get stabbed to death on the street two years before the bombs start falling.

If you have a fallout shelter, a BOB, a BOV, a retreat location, but you don't carry concealed on a daily basis and you have zero knowledge of martial arts, then you're missing the mark. If you're prepared for a nuclear war or the fallout resulting from such a war, but you're not prepared to deal with the knife-armed maniac at the corner store, or the two thugs who try to jump you at the ATM, or the gang member who tries to car-jack you at the red-light, you need to shift some of your energy/resources away from the pie in the sky Red Dawn stuff, to something more realistic and applicable on a daily basis... You need to focus on staying safe in an increasingly dangerous America. If you’re ready for a total collapse you need to make sure you are ready for the possibility of a partial collapse or some variation of a partial collapse. You might not be in a situation where you need to get out of Dodge and you may not be able to ride into dodge with your rifle and clean up the town, you may find yourself somewhere in-between. Make sure you remain focused on the possibility of the partial collapse. Be prepared to have to take increasing measures to stay safe in an increasingly dangerous nation.

Here it comes, just as I predicted: Silver Investors Dump Futures as Comex Boosts Speculator Trading Costs 84%. But even if the COMEX governors kill the futures market, they won't be able to destroy the physical silver market. The demand for physical silver is just too great. Expect lots of volatility with some huge price swings, in coming months. But in the long run, as the Western economies go into stagflation, physical silver will rightly be seen as a safe haven, gaining against the rapidly-inflating fiat currencies. (Or rather, I should say the currencies will be losing value, whilst silver holds its value.)

Kory recommended this: Silver Versus the Dow May 2011

John R. suggested some commentary from John Butler: It’s the End of the Dollar (As We Know It)

Also from John: Fiscal Spending - The Steroids of GDP

Michael M. sent this: More than 1 Billion People are Hungry in the World. Can revolutions and regional wars be far off? Here in America, we should beware: Displaced people from Central and conceivably even South America could walk here.

Hussman: This Market Is Setting Up Just Like Some Of The Worst Markets Of All Time. (Thanks to C.D.V. for the link.)

Items from The Economatrix:

Adjusted for Inflation, Dollar Hits Fiat-era Low

Brace for a Bout of Stagflation

Gas Spending and Prices By State

Oil Futures Close Near $114 a Barrel

Silver Has Biggest 3-Day Drop

Currency Crash Occurring In US

Reader Kevin B. sent this: Where to Live to Avoid a Natural Disaster. It also serves as another bit of confirmation for the American Redoubt plan.

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The Oathkeepers movement addresses individual and family preparedness: Operation Sleeping Giant. (A hat tip to DDM for the link.)

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Anxiety rises along the flood-swollen Mississippi

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Reader B.B. sent this from a Montana newspaper: Tester says U.S. agriculture policy, genetically modified crops hurt family farms

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J.L. suggested this: Blown away. The righteous volunteer spirit comes, in time of calamity.

"One who cannot cast away a treasure at need is in fetters..." - Aragon in "The Two Towers", (from J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I've been writing about knives for more than 18 years. However, I've only been to one knife show in all those years. I attended the Blade Show-West, at the invitation of a large knife company here in Oregon. I've been to a lot of gun shows, where there were custom knife makers displaying their wares, but I never attended an actual knife show, until about a year and a half ago.   To be honest, I was a little disappointed in the knife show - there were less than 100 tables there, and my oldest daughter and myself, were done looking at knives in short order. However, there was one custom knife maker who's wares caught my attention. I like fancy, artsy-type knives, just like many folks do. However, when it comes down to it, I'm more of a meat and potatoes type of guy - I like working knives!   Brian Wagner, hails from Puyallup, Washington, and operates under the banner of Okuden Knives. Brian is a one man operation - he does it all himself, including making his own Kydex sheaths, with a quick detachable belt clip, that will fit on military belts or MOLLE gear. How many times I wished I had some kind of quick on/off sheath for my knife - I've lost count!   Wagner's table caught my attention for the simple fact, that the knives he was displaying, were working knives - nothing fancy at all. If you're in the military or into survival, then you want a no nonsense knife strapped on your side. I spoke to Brian for a while, along with his lovely wife, and told Brian who I was - at the time - the West Coast Field Editor for Knives Illustrated magazine, and that I'd like a couple samples of his knives for test and evaluation and a possible article.

In short order, several knives arrived at my home, and the one I really fell in love with was the Okuden Knives "Ammo Daddy," Alpha Pattern. This is a fixed blade combat knife, make no mistake about it. Of course, it could also be used as a field knife for a hunter, however, I believe the main purpose of the Ammo Daddy is as a fighting knife.   We have a 5-3/4" blade made out of A-2 tool steel - super tough stuff, and it holds an edge a good long time, and it's actually easy to re-sharpen. Only thing is, tool steel rusts easily - and living on the wet side of Oregon - we have a lot of rain, and things rust - even when you take care of 'em - guns and knives included. Brian puts a heavy coat of Kal-Guard on his blades, if you want it. The sample I received has an OD green colored blade, full-tang. We're talking a super, super strong rust-resistant finish.. The overall length of the knife is about 11"- and there is plenty of handle to hold onto - something I demand in a knife like this. Some custom knife makers short-change people with handles that I don't think are long enough.  

The blade itself is a bit of a drop point in design, but realistically, it has it's own design. I like the upswept portion on the top rear of the blade, for a good thumb placement in the fencing position, and there are friction grooves on the upswept portion of the top of the blade. Check out the Okuden Knives web site for photos, so you'll know what I'm talking about. The handle material is called "Tero Tough" and is made in Oregon. It looks a lot like G-10 material and it's just as strong if you ask me. There is a pattern in the Tero Tough handle scales, which allows the meat of your hand to sink in - for a secure grip under all sorts of weather conditions.   The handle scales are secured by three Torx head screws - a lot of knife makers would only use two screws - and that's a mistake on a large fixed blade knife. The handle design itself has finger grooves, which I normally don't like - I want to place my fingers - well, where I want to place 'em. However, on the "Ammo Daddy" the finger grooves are just placed perfectly. There is also an extended pommel that has a lanyard hole, for attaching a 550 paracord lanyard. Lastly, my sample "Ammo Daddy" was heat-treated by the legendary Paul Bos - who knew what he was doing. The heat-treatment process is still carried on - but Paul has now retired. I'm not sure who's doing it for Okuden at this point, but rest assured, the heat treatment is being done "right."  

I knew from the onset that this sample wouldn't be going back to Brian Wagner. It sits on my desk as I'm writing this review - and it stays in one of the cubby holes on my desk, should I need it in a hurry. If you're in the market for a custom made fighting knife, then take a look at the Okuden Knives "Ammo Daddy" or one of the other knives Wagner produces. Full retail price for the "Ammo Daddy" is $350 and that includes first-class shipping and insurance. That's a good deal for a custom fighting knife of this quality.  

Mr. Rawles,  
Once again thank you for your work on SurvivalBlog, may God richly bless you. I read Pat's review of the AK-47 and at the end the SKS was mentioned. I thought I would just add my 2 cents worth on the SKS.  I have had several people come to me who are on a very tight budget and cannot afford an AR, FN SCAR, or any of the other pricey weapons available.  If you are on a tight budget, I highly recommend the SKS.   I have several SKSes and AK-47s, along with the FN-FAL, CETME, and a couple of Colt AR-1s5.  I had talked with several guys about the SKS and decided it was worth a look, so I bought one.  I bought my first Yugoslavian-made SKS back in the 1990s. The total price was just under $200.  I bought 1,000 rounds and headed to the range.  I was presently surprised.  The gun is heavier than the AK-47 which eliminates almost all the recoil.  My son and I burned through all that ammo and we were more tired from holding the gun then from recoil fatigue. The next day I went back and bought another SKS, and so did my son.  

Next we changed to the Tapco SKS T6 Collapsible Stock and bought the Tapco 30 round magazines.  This is a nice piece of furniture for this weapon.  As you know, putting a lot of rounds threw this gun really heats up the forearm, the synthetic stock does an excellent job of protecting your hand from the heat.  And it helped lighten the gun several ounces.  We have tried several other brands of magazines, none have worked as well as the Tapco I highly recommend them.  The stock can be had for about $70 to $80 and the magazines run from $16 to $20 apiece.  All of our SKSes have been converted to magazines. but don't expect to change these magazines as rapidly as an AK or AR.  The protruding "nose" on the magazine slows this down.  I don't recommend the adapted metal magazines because you have to pull the release to get the magazines in.  The Tapco's come with a tapered catch on the magazine so you can pop it in with one hand.  

My son, wife, and I have done a lot of shooting with our SKSes.  All three of us can consistently keep all of our rounds in a 6" to 8" circle, standing at a hundred yards controlled rapid fire.  Prone in a resting position we can tighten that circle to 4" easily, taking time we can tighten to a pretty consistent 3" (1 our of 5 inside 3").  We have a little better success with the Wolf black box ammo verses a host of others we have tried.  But I don't turn my nose up at any of it as long as it is non-corrosive.  When I first bought these I was getting ammo at about $125 per thousand rounds shipped and at the gun shows for under a $100 per thousand rounds.  A couple of years ago the price moved above $300 but is now back down to about $200.  I don't know how long this will last though with inflation.   Compared to the AK-47 WASR the SKS is, in my experience, a little more accurate at longer range.  It has less felt recoil, but that is because it is heavier, and with the Tapco stock it is longer than an AK, as well.  We seldom have a malfunction and that is usually because we have put 600 or more rounds [of noncorrosive ammo] through them without cleaning them.  

Compared to the AR-15, it is certainly less accurate.  I think the AR is more comfortable to shoot because it is lighter and .223s have very little recoil. And AR-15s are very accurate at longer ranges.  My wife would rather shoot the AR and would rather carry it.  When you put six loaded 30 round magazines of .223 in her web gear versus the same in 7.62x39 and she wants the AR back, now.  My son and I are large guys, we do feel the weight difference but it is not that bad.  

Compared to the FAL and CETME, well there is a difference in accuracy especially when you get beyond a 100 yards.  There is very little weight difference and lengths are about the same.  However when you strap on ten 30 round magazines of 7.62x51 (.308) verses 7.62x39 there is a difference in weight which really surprised me.  But the SKS magazines have one big disadvantage, if you are loading up a combat vest and that is the nose on the SKS magazines.  My son and I took an old vest and adapted it for the nose on the magazine which makes it workable.  However with all those noses sticking out and crawling on your belly they have a tendency to get caught on everything.  Plus they pick up dirt which you then shove into the gun.   If you are on a budget the SKS is simply hard to beat.  If I were dropped into a TEOTWAWKI situation with only my SKS I would have confidence in the weapon to get the job done.  The price is going up on them but I still find good used SKSes for under $300.  The ammo is still less expensive than .223 or .308 and if you are buying mil spec, the ammo has a very long shelf life.  I would recommend converting it to magazines and only buying magazines with the tapered catch.  The Tapco stock is a very nice addition but is not required to make this a battle worthy carbine. - CDP


I believe the single greatest improvement to either an AK or an SKS is a quality rear sight.  There are several replacement peep sights that replace the standard rear sight for both rifles, but the best solution I've found is the M16 style rear aperture mounted at the back of the receiver, which nearly doubles the sight radius.  Tech-Sights are the perfect solution at a reasonable price.  They are an instant accuracy improver.  I'm an Appleseed instructor, and I've shot Rifleman scores at Appleseed shoots with  Tech-Sight equipped SKS and AK rifles, something I've yet to see anyone do with standard sight equipped rifles.  Standard disclaimer:  I have no pecuniary interest in Tech-Sights. - MSgt R.

James Wesley:
After personal experience testing and reviewing the tests results as reported by many parties, both layman and professionals that included photos of terminal performance on game animals and ballistic gelatin, if one uses the 8M3 bullet as found on the original 7.62x39 Sapsan, now offered on the Wolf Military Classic HP, one would have ammunition that reliably fragments after 3 inches in gelatin and penetrates 18" much like soft point ammunition with in 100 yards, and becomes more like soft point ammunition and mushrooms after 100 yards.  The Sapsan and 8M3 bullet is discussed and recommended by an issue of Guns and Ammo dedicated the AK-47 in a comparison using Lapua and Winchester SP ammunition.  I personally have all the Sapsan I need, but if I were to purchase the Wolf Military Classic HP with the intent of using the 8M3 bullet, one can confirm that the ammunition will perform as expected by shooting at three 1 gallon milk jugs and collecting the fragments and remaining slug.  This ammunition will easily penetrate a modern vehicle and provide the 5-6" group typical of the AK-47. I would much rather be hit with either 7.62 x 39 or 5.56 FMJ ammunition than the 8M3 bullet discussed. Photos of 200 to 250 pound game animals shot with the 8M3 are gruesome.  

Another little known 7.62 x 39 ball and FMJ ammunition that has good terminal ballistics is the Yugo M67 ammunition.  It is has the hollow tip and is the famed 'poison' bullet.  This comes in an annealed brass case and produces 1/2 to 1" tighter groups at 100 yards than most AK ammo, and is what I would consider real AK-47 ammo, and all for only 17 cents per round. However, it is corrosively primed. Thankfully the AK-47 is made to handle such ammunition and is easily cleaned.  [Repeated cleaning for two or three days after shooting corrosive ammo is a must.] An acquaintance used this ammunition during deer season and was understandably unhappy when a Yugo M67 bullet destroyed the meat of both shoulders of a deer. - Eric, Somewhere in Montana  

JWR Adds: Readers should beware that some of the ammunition that comes out of the former Soviet Bloc is corrosively primed. Unlike U.S. military small arms ammunition, which was transitioned to noncorrosive priming in the 1950s, corrosive primers are still made and used in Eastern Europe. Even some very recent production ammo--including some 5.45x39mm--in commercial packaging has corrosive primers! Do your due diligence before you buy!

Mr. Rawles:
The biggest drawback of raised planting beds is their greater need for water.  Water leaks out and evaporates from the sides of the planting beds, as well as normal bottom drainage.  If water is scarce, or you have to supply it manually, this drawback can become serious.

Simple solution:  when constructing the raised planting bed, place a plastic liner along the inner walls all around, sealing it with sturdy plastic tape.  Do not put the plastic on the bottom of the raised bed, or you will have a mud bathtub with no drainage at all.  This will keep all the moisture inside the bed, preventing leakage and evaporation from the side walls.

If you want the plastic to last forever, you can buy polycarbonate plastic, which can take hundreds of pounds of pressure. carries it.

Also, a suggestion for an easy way to make permanent raised beds that don't rot, and don't suffer from frost heave problems.  Make them out of those decorative concrete "rocks" that are carried by most garden supply places.  These are normally used on slopes for terracing, and along patios for flower beds.  They can be made to any height, and all you have to do is lay them on top of each other.  The inside of the walls can then be lined with plastic.

The walls are meant to look a little rough and irregular.  There is no mortar, so there is no cracking from frost or settling.  They come in a variety of colors and styles, and can easily be formed into any shape you want, unlike wood, which is mostly limited to squares and rectangles.  If you want to change the shape or size, just move the blocks.  No carpentry, no concrete mixing.

If you want extra free water, set the blocks so that they tilt slightly inward, toward the bed.  Rain falling on the top blocks will flow into the bed, adding extra moisture.

This can be important for OPSEC, as it is easy to arrange the beds in typical landscaping style curves, scatter in some flowers, and make you veggies disappear.  Well, maybe not the tomatoes. - Mary M.

[UPDATED] Silver investors: Here is one of those dips that I mentioned! Silver at under $35 per ounce is a definite buying opportunity. $35 per ounce equates to around 25 times face value (wholesale), for pre-1965 "junk" silver coins. They were a whopping 37 times face just six days ago. Buy now!

C.D.V. send this: Underwater Mortgages a Threat to Recovery; Expect No More Than 3% Growth Until Housing Recovers

Portugal becomes third euro country to get bailout. (Thanks to G.P. for the link.)

Also from G.P.: About 1 in 7 in U.S. Receive Food Stamps

Former Comptroller David Walker: Restoring Fiscal Sanity in the United States: A Way Forward

Items from The Economatrix

Why People Are Buying Silver Now

Manufacturing Index Rises, Construction Spending Rebounds Breathe in deeply and smell the landluft-- the barnyard scent of hundreds of billions of magically-created stimulus dollars.

Gas Prices And Debt To Dominate Congress In May

China To Purchase $1 Trillion In Gold; Price May Reach $2,000/oz This Year

Businesses Ordered More Factory Goods In March

The Slowing Global Economy

Beneath the Thin Veneer: Four looting suspects arrested in Pleasant Grove posing as relief workers. (Thanks to Wade C. for sending the link.)

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Selena S. recommended: How to Turn a Pallet into a Garden. (For preppers, this is most suitable for an herb garden.)

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Chris over at the ZeroGov Forums recommended this 10 minute YouTube video on the historical foundation of taxation: I'm Allowed to Rob You!

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My wife Avalanche Lily spotted this: On Small Farms, Hoof Power Returns

"Be not intimidated... nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice." - John Adams

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

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I've received quite a few e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers, asking me to write an article on AK-47s. Well, here's my take on the AK line-up. First of all, I only write about guns I actually own or have personally tested. I don't take a press release and write an article based on that, like some writers (that I've heard have done.) There are so many different variations of "AK-47s" out there these days, it would cost me a fortune and a lot of time, to obtain samples of 'em all to test and evaluation.

The question always arises, which is better, the AK-47 or the AR-15? Well, as I've mentioned before, there is no "better" when it comes to guns and knives, it's all in the perspective and intended uses of these tools. So, if you're looking for a debate as to which gun is better, this isn't the article. I will say, that without a doubt, under extremely adverse conditions, where regular maintenance is far and few between, the AK-47 is more reliable than the AR-15. However, I've yet to see an AK-47 that can hold a candle to an AR-15 when it comes to accuracy.

For this article, I tested the NoDak Spud, two Century Arms and the new ATI AKs. The Century Arms line of AK-47s have really gotten a bad reputation, and most of it, I honestly believe, is undeserved. I don't know anyone at Century Arms, and my samples of their products were purchased out-of-pocket, so I don't have a dog in this fight. I will say though, that for a short time, those workers at Century Arms who were assembling and modifying imported AK-47s, weren't paying close attention to some of the details, And to be honest, the AK-47 is really hard to screw-up when you are putting 'em together or modifying 'em.  I've owned more than my share of Century Arms AK-47s over the years, and I've only had an issue with one of 'em - the gas piston was ever so slightly bent, causing it to bind inside the gas tube, which didn't allow for 100% reliability. It took only a few minutes to correct the problem.

My local gun shop sells a lot of AK-47s, and there's a good reason for it - they are affordable and reliable. Most of the AKs they sell are from Century Arms, in one of the many configurations that Century produces. One of the problems they have observed over the years is that the front sight is canted and not in-line with the rear sight. There is no reason for this, other than a failure of quality control on the part of Century Arms. The problem is usually easily corrected if you have a bench vise and a little bit of knowledge. Still, there is no excuse for this sort of sloppiness, if you ask me. Another common complaint about Century AKs is that, the forearms and stocks are usually sanded (to take the dings out - these are military surplus stocks) - and Century doesn't take a few extra minutes to spray on a coat of lacquer on the wooden stock or forearm. Again, this can be easily corrected by the purchaser at home.  

One must keep in mind, that the Century Arms line-up of AKs, are very affordable for the most part - they have a few that are a bit more spendy than the others, but most of the Century AKs are made from Romanian parts. Some gun snobs will turn their noses up at a Century AK that has the "Made In Romania" stamp on the receiver. Truth be told, these are parts guns, assembled and fitted here by Century, using the correct number of US-made parts, to make them legal. I'm not going to get into the 922(r) compliance thing, you can look it up on the ATF web site if you want - the law is stupid, plain and simple!

I tested two Century AKs, one was the WASR-10 with a full wooden stock, and the other was the WASR -10 with the under-fold stock. Both guns were great shooters, simple as that. I did have two failures to feed on the first magazine through the under-fold stock, and I expected that - there were some burrs on the bolt or receiver rails. After the first two failures to fully feed, the under-fold version just plugged along without any problems. The full wooden stock WASR-10, it never missed a beat from beginning to end. Accuracy with both of these Century AKs was running around 4" at 100-yards - that's about as good as I can get with most AKs. There's a trade-off when you want more reliability - you lose some accuracy potential. I understand that the AKs that are coming off the Century Arms assembly line these days have USA-made barrels, and I would expect slightly better accuracy with these new barrels. Again, this is another stupid ruling from the folks at the BATF: AK parts sets can no longer be imported with the barrels. So they've resorted to using US-made barrels on the guns. On both of the Century samples I tested, and on many other Century AKs, I've found really great trigger pulls - most around 3-1/2 pounds. I believe this is due to the Tapco trigger and sear that Century uses. Again, certain parts on imported AKs have to contain a certain number of US-made parts - like a Romanian trigger and sear somehow makes an AK a "bad" gun, and a US-made trigger and sear make it a "good" gun.

I also picked-up a well-used AK-47 that had "NoDak Spud" marked on the receiver. Near as I can tell, NoDak Spud only makes the receivers and other folks assemble them into AKs of some type. Whoever did the work on this gun - didn't know quite what they were doing, in my humble opinion. First of all, the attempt to parkerize the gun wasn't successful - the gun easily picked-up rust in our damp climate of Western Oregon - even though I had sprayed Birchwood Casey Barricade on the entire gun. The NoDak Spud sample was very rough, to say the least. Whoever assembled it, also forgot the retaining spring, that is used to keep the trigger pin in place, and the pin would work itself out, binding the action up, until I could break it down, and get the pin back in place. I corrected the problem with an e-clip and the pin never worked itself loose again. (A 7 cent fix!)   The wood on the forearm and the stock were rough, and I cleaned 'em up with some sandpaper and steel wool. I then prepped the wood with some primer and spray painted the stock and forearm in a flat back - the gun was looking better at this point. Aside from the aforementioned trigger pin working loose, there were no malfunctions of any type during my testing. Accuracy was what you'd expect - in the 4" range at 100-yards, if I did my part. I used a variety of Wolf and Brown Bear Russian-made noncorrosive ammo in my testing. It is inexpensive and it always goes "bang."

The last AK I tested is from ATI, and it is quite a step up from the Century Arms AK. Only slightly more in cost, too. The ATI version of the AK has a milled receiver, the NoDak Spud and Century Arms versions have stamped receivers. The obvious quality in workmanship is there on the ATI AK, you can see it and feel it. The ATI weighs in at about 3/4 of a pound more than the stamped receiver AKs. The ATI also comes in a nice hard plastic carrying case with two magazines, instruction, cleaning equipment, etc.   The ATI AK was nicely blued, and there were no sharp machining marks on the gun - and it's marked "Made In The USA" too - that means a lot to some folks - me included. The ATI was a much tighter gun than any of the other AKs I've owned over the years, and I expected some malfunction because of this. I tested the gun dry - no lube - and it never missed a beat. Then again, it's an AK - they can take all kinds of use and abuse, and keep on going. The forearm and stock are made of wood, and it appears that the forearm is from Russia - both the forearm and stock were nicely finished and covered in a clean lacquer for weather-proofing the wood - nice!   I expected the ATI to shoot better than the Century Arms and the NoDak Spud - well, it did, but only by a little bit. If I did my part, I could get groups at 3 1/2 inches at 100-yards, but not all the time. Still, the quality is there in this ATI version of the local gun shop has another ATI AK sitting there, and I'm thinking real hard about getting it, too - just takes money.

One thing that I have found common in most AKs is that, the magazine usually have to be fitted slightly. Keep in mind, AK magazines are made in a lot of different countries, by different tooling, and some makers don't take the care we take in the USA to make sure things are nice and tight. The two mags that came with the ATI would lock in the mag well, but it took two men and a small boy to get the mags out. A couple minutes with a file took a small amount of material off the mag stud (lower portion) to make the mags fit properly. The same was done with the NoDak Spud and Century Arms AKs. I like my mags to snap in and out without a lot of effort, and once the mags were fitted, I sanded down the lower portion on each mag stud so it was nice and smooth. The mags - all that I have - and it's a lot - will lock-up and come out of all my AKs without any problems.

There's a lot to be said for the 7.62x39 round. It can reach out there and touch someone a little harder than the .223/5.56mm rounds can. However, the .223/5.56mm rounds do more damage - at least when used within the limitations of the distance involved. The .223/5.56mm rounds do more tissue and organ damage than the 7.62x39 rounds, when up and close and personal distances are involved. So, we have longer range possibilities with an AK because of the round - it's heavier and a bigger caliber and had greater retained energy, at range. However, with the AR, and the 5.56mm round, does more damage and the ARs are more accurate. You can also carry more 5.56 ammo than you can 7.62x39 ammo - if that's a concern. [JWR Adds: The AK-74 is chambered in 5.45x39, which has similar weight and size characteristics to 5.56mm NATO.] AK magazines are also more rugged than the standard alloy AR magazines.

Honestly, you can't lose if you pick an AK-47 of just about any type for your survival purposes. If looking into a Century Arms AK, I'd take a close look at the front sight, and make sure it's not canted from dead center. And, work the action - make sure it doesn't bind before you buy the gun. I know, Century Arms backs-up their guns, but it's a pain-in-the-butt to have to send back a brand-new gun for repairs.

The Century Arms AKs I tested, run in the $500 price range. The NoDak Spud - about the same. The ATI I purchased was $569 and it honestly was worth the little bit of extra over the Century Arms version, in my opinion. The quality and workmanship were "there" with the ATI version. Some of you asked me to review the Arsenal line of AKs - I've only handled them, and couldn't bring myself to pay the extra money over a lesser AK version. If I'm gonna be spending $800 - $1,000, you'd better believe I'm gonna be looking at an AR of some type.

So, don't believe all the horror stories you've read on the 'net about Century Arms AKs - for the most part, they are putting out some really good AKs, for a good price. However, if your budget will allow it, take a look at the ATI AK - I think it's worth the extra money. In any case, it's hard to beat an AK-47, no matter who makes it, it'll save your bacon, when the chips are down.  - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

JWR Adds: Let's face it: Most folks do not have the cash for a "Cadillac" solution like a Valmet M62 or one of the new SIG 556R rifles. (The latter outwardly looks like a SIG 556 but it is chambered in 7.62 x39 and uses standard AK magazines.) Rather, I recommend a "Chevy" solution, like the Bulgarian AK or the Russian Saiga AK. They are relatively inexpensive, but very reliable. The "Chinese Bicycle" solution is to find a used SKS carbine. These use a 10-round fixed magazine, but these can legally be replaced with a 30 round "semi-detachable" magazine in most jurisdictions.

Dear James,
As most of your readers know, on Wednesday, April 27, 2011, one of the worst tornado outbreaks in history hit the Tennessee River Valley area of northern Alabama, northern Georgia and south central Tennessee as well as parts of north central Alabama such as Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. Over 140 people were killed in northern Alabama alone and the final death toll from these storms will probably exceed 350. Hundreds of people in these areas lost their homes and are suffering greatly as a result. Please pray for these families as they cope with the loss of property and, mostly sadly, the loss of loved ones. The storm also affected the lives of most inhabitants as all of the main transmission lines from the Tennessee Valley Authority in northern Alabama were damaged or destroyed by tornadoes and high winds, leaving almost half a million people without electric power. This included those from the Brown's Ferry nuclear plant (whose three operating reactors all went into emergency shutdown). Our power was out for more than four days.

As a resident of these parts, I have some preparedness observations! On our community's level, most gasoline stations lost their power, and therefore their ability to pump gas. The same was also true of grocery stores. About two days passed before generators were brought in to power some gas stations and food stores, and the first stores to open quickly had long lines of people. Fortunately, some grocery stores opened even before they had power - but they would not allow people inside the stores as they were too dark. Why are grocery stores not made with windows all around the building to allow some light in? One had to give an order of desired non-perishable items to a store employee, who then would proceed into the store with a flashlight to find and bring them! It underlined to me that most people do not seem to even have a few days of food or gas stocked up to meet even a short term crisis as this. We were very fortunate that this was basically a widespread local event and not a national event, as trucks still brought in supplies, food and gas. The main problem was the lack of electricity to pump the available gas or to preserve frozen and refrigerated food and power the stores' lights and payment processing systems. Now on a personal level, we did fairly well but there were a few things we could have done better. I will list categories of items and what we did in each category. My hope is that this will be beneficial to most of you to hear about real life preparedness and how it played out in this admittedly not totally TSHTF event.

Food: We were fortunate to have a decent quantity of high quality grains (including whole wheat, millet and oats). We were also fortunate to have a generator which we used to keep our refrigerator running and preserve the frozen and refrigerated food we had. To prepare grains, we have a hand-cranked Country Living Grain Mill which is awesome at preparing quality flour. For cooking, we used our Alpaca kerosene cookstove. We had plenty of kerosene for this (which we normally keep on hand to power the kerosene heater we would use if it were cold outside and a power outage occurred). Fortunately the temperatures were very nice (even if the volatility of the weather wasn't!) and we only needed the kerosene for cooking purposes. We also have a Grover rocket wood cooking stove that we could use if needed, but the kerosene stove is a bit easier to control. We were a bit low on fresh fruit when the weather struck, and it would have been nice to have more on hand than we did. Fortunately, one of the grocery stores that opened the day after the storms had plenty of fruit and we were able to purchase some while only waiting 15 or 20 minutes in line. That was a real blessing!

The preceding reminds me of another point: Having cash! While some stores (such as Lowe's and Home Depot) quickly activated backup power and were able to process credit/debit card transactions, most grocery stores could not. The store where we purchased our fruit was calculating prices the old fashioned way: calculators and pencils and open cash drawers! My advice is to have plenty of food that can be stored at room temperature! While we were able to keep our refrigerated food from spoiling with our generator, we still would have been fine without it (although our diet would have been a bit different!).

Water: Fortunately, we never lost water service during this event. Water was always available on tap whenever we needed it. However, I wasn't sure that we would always have water, so I filled up a bathtub with water to use for flushing toilets and the like if needed, and filled up potable water containers for drinking water. We also have a Berkey Light water filter that we use on a regular basis already. I recommend having your water resources squared away before a crisis occurs!

Fuel: Within a day after the disaster, long lines formed at the few gas stations that were able to quickly get emergency power. While we were fortunate to have half a tank or better in our three vehicles, we did not have much gas in storage containers. It was one of those things that I had wanted to do but did not yet get around to doing. Most of you know how that goes! I had roughly a gallon and a half or so of gas to run our generator, which would only have given us at most two days of run time. I tried to siphon gas out of our vehicles but it seems that most newer vehicles these days have anti-siphoning systems. My advice would be to ensure that you have enough gas on hand to run your generator for a week. Fortunately, the son of our neighbors (who were out of town) had come by to check on their home and had power in his town (about 30 miles away). He was very kind and gave us gas on two occasions so that I did not have to stand in the long lines at the few pumps that were open. This was enough to see us through until power was restored. But my advice is not to be dependent on others' charity if at all possible! Make sure you have enough fuel on hand to weather (pun intended!) the most likely crises you might face. Also, be sure to have plenty of fuel on hand for any non-electric cooking devices you plan to use in a crisis. In our case, this was kerosene and wood. We added PRI-D preservative to our kerosene, and our kerosene heater worked great on three year old kerosene that was so treated.

Lighting: It is amazing how dark it can be inside a home without power! Fortunately, we had plenty of flashlights and the batteries needed to power them. Most of our flashlights were LED and therefore put out a lot of light with minimal energy use. We also had some oil lamps that we had purchased back during the Y2K scare at the turn of the millennium, and we used one of these along with some candles during this time. We stationed flashlights in each bathroom to make it easy to use the facilities. I recommend everyone have plenty of LED flashlights and batteries on hand.

Security: Due to the widespread lack of power, the local authorities imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the whole area. Reports so far seem to indicate that crime either remained the same or actually went down during this event. Our local police were very vigilant and I saw them stopping a curfew violator right in front of our home! We also had our own security implements (firearms) available and well stocked with ammunition. Fortunately there was no need to use them, at least so far, during this time.

Finances: As I alluded to earlier, many of the businesses that were open but had no power operated on a cash-only basis. We were fortunate to have some cash on hand to pay for goods. I was amazed that Lowe's quickly had activated backup power and was actually processing credit card transactions (and I used the debit card when I could) but this was the exception rather than the rule in the first day or two after the widespread power outage occurred. When it comes to purchasing, cash is king in disasters. Keep plenty of cash on hand at all times!

Charity: One way to emotionally deal with a disaster is to reach out to others. By God's providence, I was able to help with some of the cleanup efforts in one of the towns that was devastated by the tornado outbreak. I realized how fortunate we were as most of the homes in the neighborhood I worked in were totally destroyed and unsalvageable. Carrying debris from devastated homes and yards to the curb is a sobering experience but was very helpful. Some of the residents of these homes were there helping to clean up as well and expressed great appreciation for the help. But in order to administer help to others, it is important to have one's own house in order first! I am a follower of Jesus Christ, and reaching out to others is a desire all true believers have. So, I encourage all of you who know Him and accept Him as Lord of your life to cultivate your relationship with Him and your relationships with others who know Him. Part of the community of believers is reaching out to others in need.

My prayer is that our experience in the midst of the recent tragedy in northern Alabama would be helpful to the rest of you. Blessings, - R.A.

I called this one right: Silver struggles again after futures market raises margin requirements. (Back on April 21st, I had written: "Also, be forewarned: The COMEX Governors are soon likely to slam on the brakes on the precious metals markets by changing their trading rules. (Most likely by raising margin requirements.) Prices will get very volatile. Be ready to take advantage of any steep sell-offs.")

D.B. in Seattle suggested this piece by Niall Ferguson: Sticker Shock. It begins: "The Fed may deny it, but Americans know that prices are rising. In this week’s Newsweek, Niall Ferguson takes a look at the Great Inflation of the 2010s."

Loyal contributor C.D.V. forwarded this: John Williams: Hyperinflation and Double-Dip Recession Ahead

David W. sent this: Detroit's exodus will continue without a revival. A 25% loss of population in the past decade, and no end in sight!

Items from The Economatrix:

Weak Dollar Gives US Factories Strong Lift '11

Bin Laden's Death Lifts Dollar But Hits Gold, Silver, And Oil

Think or Swim Hikes Silver Margin to Double That of CME

Never-ending Money Printing

Stocks Wobble As Earnings Rally Slows

Oil Falls On Stronger Dollar And Supply Forecasts