Self-Defense Category

Friday, March 28, 2014

In reply to HJL: Which begs the question: "Why are commercially-produced rounds going Ka-Boom then?"


It's sabotage, just like what has been going on in Syria. An awful lot of mortars seem to detonate in the tube over there. If only one in a few thousand or million rounds are altered, it would be very difficult to figure out since the effected round is destroyed and most of the rounds in the same batch or many batches in series are just standard production.

Probably it is all just some sort of defect in the manufacturing process that has yet to be isolated. Nothing to worry about. Just like in the mid or late eighties when the U.S. couldn't get a rocket to orbit due to malfunctions at launch, it all worked its way out.

Regards, - J.R.

o o o


It might be that some of the faulty ammo is from China. I have heard of this happening. - Sid

o o o

I have been tumbling live rounds for 50 years without one kaboom, and I have even used ketchup as a brass cleaner for some old 40s production german 7mm. (This was when I was a teen who did not have tumbling media or cartridge cleaner at hand and was using my father's a rock tumbler for my efforts.) I could not believe they still fired after the tomato treatment, but it did do a respectable job in cleaning the cartridges. We all have our real life understanding and need to filter always by the old adage "Don't believe anything you read, and only half of what you see", but in this case, SB (who submitted the article) has hit the bulls-eye; his common sense article made my day. - J.M.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sir, I am writing in response to the article link about the Kansas bill seeking to legalize police retaliation. I will first state that I do not agree with a second agency not being able to do an investigation– a fair and impartial investigation should always be the case. That said, I served 13 years in the infantry ending as an LRS team leader and currently serving with 15 years at a large, midwest police department. My department will take any complaint. A complaint can and has been taken over the telephone (even anonymously) with nothing more than the allegation of misconduct. With nothing more than, "Hey, he did something wrong," I am standing tall on the carpet in front of the man. During those 15 years I have had numerous complaints. ALL incidents were recorded on audio and video by my in-car system and even some by the individual's cell phone. These alleged acts of misconduct range from sexual misconduct, because the female made a verbal bomb threat, to tyrannical behavior with racial slurs over a traffic citation to excessive force when defending myself from someone nearly twice my size who pled guilty to resisting. I should NOT have to say in all these allegations I was found exonerated and the complaints false, but each time I am assumed guilty until I have proven myself innocent. I took an oath to serve and protect my state's and the United States Constitution. I take those oaths very seriously. Now, there are some bad apples in the bunch, just as there are in any profession, but for the most part, the people I work with are honest. If they stray, we are quick to point it out and fix those that do. We consider ourselves the premier law enforcement agency in the area, and I take great pride in that. I pose one question with all that said. With this now being an entitled society (ask the youngsters I stop and they will tell you that), “Am I not entitled to some protection? Or am suppose to be society's whipping boy until they need me because they lost their child or locked their child in their car or beat their child until it stopped crying?” Over all, the men and women I work with are good hearted and strive to do the right thing. My agency takes great pride in that. Again, I am not dispelling that there are a few bad apples in the bunch, but after 15 years, I wonder why I have spent my entire adult life in public service. As this bill may not be the perfect solution, I believe it is proposed to offer some protection to the outlandish lies of misconduct.

“For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Romans 13:4

As the scripture is my (motto), it is for a reason. If you chose to post this, please post the scripture with it.

HJL Replies: While I certainly understand your position and can empathize with having false accusations often thrown at you, the bottom line is that you hold the power in any encounter with the general public. Our whole system is predicated upon the premise of the “strong” protecting the “weak”. In an increasing number of cases across the country, there exists the concept of “The Blue Wall of Silence” meaning that when a law enforcement officer crosses the line and abuses their position of power, the law enforcement agency may or may not hold a valid internal inquiry into what happened, but remain silent with no real explanation given to the public. The bond between officers is admirable, when dealing with life-threatening situations, but it's repugnant when it hides true wrong doing on the part of the officer. The outrage the general public feels is only fed by such behavior. All it takes is one such incident to destroy the public trust with the local enforcement agency. I cannot excuse bad behavior on the part of the public, but a bill such as this, while good intentioned, allows the party in a position of power to act with no fear of consequences in an already tainted system. I commend you for your high standards in your agency. I only wish that all LE agencies operated with the same standards.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

There are many that want to be the cool guy running in the hills with a rifle, taking out targets, conducting raids, and setting up ambushes. Several think that they can sit on a hill top with their rifle and take out any targets in sight. Just about everyone wants to do something tactical.

While learning, knowing, and practicing those skills is great, it is not practical to have everyone in the prepper community running and gunning. Everyone in this community needs to know how to run their rifles, pistols, and shotguns, but it is not necessary for everyone to run into the hills. Everyone needs to have their gear laid out and ready so that they can, if necessary. However, it DOES NOT need to be your first option, nor your second, third, or even fourth. For most, it SHOULD be your last resort.

To talk about gear for this last resort would invite a discussion that would literally fill up several blogs, mostly due to opinions of what's good/bad and even some real world usage. CPT Rawles goes into detail in Patriots about the gear his characters use– LC-1 and other ALICE gear. While many have this (from surplus and cheap resources), it is not always the ideal system. I personally prefer the ALICE ruck (with a new frame from Tactical Tailor), and everything else in MOLLE/PALS (still surplus and cheap, if you know where to look and have spray paint). If one does a little research, specifically in military circles and on, you will find that gear is usually layered in tiers.

Tier 1.0

This is the kit that you always carry with you. Whether it be on duty or off, at the airport, in the car, out in the woods, or someplace else. It is what's in your pockets and on your belt. For most of us, it is currently a wallet, lighter, keys, pen, paper, medical needs, pistol, magazines, and a knife, not to mention the clothing on our backs. It includes no food or water, but by using our first tier, we can survive (if you must). In this tier you have shelter (clothes on your back) and self defense. Using some of your other equipment, you can always find a way to survive.

Tier 2.0

This is your fighting load, which can be set up in many ways. For instance, I have a battle belt as my 2.1. On my battle belt I keep three M4 magazines, three pistol magazines, two quarts of water, an individual first aid kit (IFAK), my pistol, 550 cord, a stripped MRE, some pogey bait (non military issue rations), a compass, and a way to purify water. Using my battle belt, I can fairly easily stay alive for 24 hours and potentially push it out to 72 hours, if I am careful.

Tier 2.2 is my plate carrier– currently an old IBA I have that's been painted. The most I ever put on it is a couple of M4 magazines and some first aid equipment (tourniquets mostly). The reason for this is that this is my protection tier. It has one purpose– to help keep me from being ventilated. Some soldiers will attach all their kit to their vest. While this works out great for some, it doesn't work out for others.

Tier 2.3 is nothing more than my battle belt taken up to a combat-effective level. This usually has everything that my belt has minus the pistol. Tier 2.3 consists of a modified fighting load carrier (FLC) with six more M4 mags, another IFAK, maps, compass, whistle, and food. The FLC is supplemented by a small backpack– a Tactical Tailor Removable Operator Pack. This bag contains enough food for at least three days of operations, a three-liter water bladder, some more ammo, water purification stuff (iodine tablets), fire starting (lighter, tinder, ferro rod), and shelter (poncho and poncho liner).

At this point I am usually about 40 pounds heavier than normal, and that is dependent on what plates I am running and how many spares of things are in my bag. Needless to say, it takes some training to get used to. Thankfully this is about the same weight as my combat load out at work, which means that I do get the kind of PT in that I need for these two tiers.

Tier 3.0

I don't need to rehash what should go in here, because all this is supposed to be is a Bug Out Bag that has been packed for more than just three days of supplies. Mine is set up so that my little back pack actually attaches to my *rucksack to make it easier to grab and go.

Yes, there is redundancy built into this system, and, yes, there is a reason for it. At any given time, you should be able to dump any portion of your load and keep moving and fighting to your objective or disappear into the brush to fight another day.

The problem for most is the weight. My rucksack weighs about 45 pounds. That adds to create a total of 85 pounds that I have to carry, if I am going to be doing light infantry fighting in the woods, or anywhere for that matter. I am fit enough to move this load and then some for several hours, while moving at a rate of about three miles per hour in somewhat wooded terrain (over the hills, through the dale, and into the trees), so long as noise discipline isn't an issue. For the record, I am NOT a super soldier; I just do some good PT.

Even with good PT, it still “stinks” to do so. It is not easy, and it is not for everyone, especially if you have little ones to look out for. For me, bugging out, either in a vehicle or on foot, is an absolute last resort. For me to do so, my wife and I would both have to carry what I have listed above, plus a stroller, each filled to the brim for what our boys need, like formula, diapers, and such. This is assuming that everyone has had to get out of dodge.

What is our plan then? (Hint: Look at the title.) Our plan is to be part of the auxiliary. What is “the auxiliary”, you ask? Well, in traditional Army terms, it is everyone that is not combat arms. It's the cooks, the supply guys, the truck drivers, the ammo handlers, and the intelligence weenies (like myself). It is everyone who supports the warfighter, from the lowliest fueler all the way up to the General in charge of procurement. They are the force behind the fight.

Should we be forced to live in a time where we must get rid of an unwanted presence, then the warfighter will need help. The warfighter will need an auxiliary. The auxiliary needn't be comprised by those who are unable to hack it in the woods. The auxiliary can be comprised of everyone, who for one reason or another, isn't doing light fighter stuff in the woods. The warfighter will need to have food brought to them, gear repaired or replaced, and wounds patched up (as well as medical supplies furnished). They will need ammo and intel.

In order to acquire all that, the warfighter will not have many options. It will be up to the auxiliary to support them. How? One could simply be a farmer that "accidentally" loses food to some local "predators". It could be the seamstress working on patching clothes and uniforms. It could be the Baker Street Irregulars playing around and listening in on conversations. If you want a really good look at how an auxiliary really could function, then look at the big drug operations, prohibition era gangsters, or the mob. Just substitute the bad guys with good guys. Drug peddlers become light fighters, mules become modes of transportation, and suppliers become you.

The nice thing about being part of the auxiliary is that whatever you are good at, you can contribute. Whether you are the local barkeep, who listens to everyone's issues; the local farmer, who grows his/her own food; or even the man/woman who makes everyone of the opposite gender feel special, there is a place for you. It is the engineers, machinists, and the mechanics. It's the baker, butcher, and candlestick maker. It's the postman, the truck drivers, the school teachers, and shop owners. It is everyone who makes the small town and big city run. Being part of the auxiliary isn't easy, though.

One must be able to keep OPSEC, as well as know when to stop. One must also be willing to put themselves out on a limb. One must be willing to act like the White Rose society from WWII Germany, the French Resistance, or the resistance during our American Revolution. Some must be willing to be CPT Nathan Hale, if necessary, and all must be willing to sacrifice what they have.

In many ways, being part of the auxiliary can be even more dangerous than being in the woods. Retribution from the unwanted presence can/will be swift and harsh. It may just be the person who gets caught, or it could be their family and friends as well. No matter the risk, the bottom line still remains the same. If the warfighter does not have an auxiliary, then that warfighter will more than likely have a really rough time in the woods, and the unwanted force will be even freer to operate than before.

There are many things for the auxiliary to consider, like how do we get compromised individuals "off of the X" and out of danger? Where do they go? How to we protect their/our families? How do we create double agents? All of this must be fleshed out (as much as possible) before the SHTF. Also, the auxiliary must always remember who they support and why.

If there is anything you get out of this article, I would like it to be three major things. First, and foremost, is the act of not just building your group but the act of building others. It is the act of networking and social interaction. Without those things, the warfighter will die. Without these acts, an auxiliary will never get formed. Through networking, you could (intentionally or not) set up a half a dozen different groups with each doing a specific job. The Army breaks it down like this in every Battalion: S-1 personnel, S-2 intelligence, S-3 operations and planning, S-4 supplies, and S6 communication. The funny thing is, it actually does make things run a little smoother for the warfighter. Through your networking you could set up something very similar to a Battalion. Just don't forget who and why.

The second thing is that one must constantly be learning many skills, not just what interests them. One must learn basic infantry tactics, survival skills, and so much more. Essentially everything that has been beat to death on this forum and others like it. There is one learning point that I don't see brought up often and that is to learn history. History of occupation, warfare, peacetime, revolutions (successful and failed), resistance movements, and anything else you can get your hands on. I love reading and learning about WWI and WWII. From those two wars you can learn everything from tactics and politics to resistance and auxiliary, and much, much more. NEVER stop learning.

The last thing I would like you to take away, is the simple fact that one is not required to be a super soldier to be effective. You don't have to be some Special Force/Ranger/Force Recon/SEAL/PJ/TACP to be an effective part of the resistance. All one needs is the ability to act, the willingness to support a cause, loyalty to those whom you work with, and “stick-to-it-ness”. If you want "better" ways to see it, read the Soldiers Creed, and the Creed Of Non-Commissioned Officers. Internalize those values, and live by them. However much I hate that the Army does some of its promo stuff, these are two things that I love and live by.


P.S. This article is nothing more than my opinion on this kinda thing. The following guys have made a professional living off of actually doing the exact things that I touched on in this article. I highly recommend you check them out. FAIR WARNING: Both are very plain spoken, and there is some foul language, BUT the knowledge will outweigh the language.

John Mosby's blog at

and Max Velocity's at

Both of them offer training opportunities as well as more links to other sites with a massive fountain of knowledge.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

As a longtime reader and supporter of survival blog I must first and foremost thank JWR and the many contributors. Your wisdom and insight have taught me many things that will help me and mine in the times of trouble now upon us.

My first exposure to the shotgun was as a youngster hunting pheasant in southern Arizona with an old 16-gauge double barrel, which was a little bit more than my 10 year old body could handle. I learned to shoot it, nonetheless, with the help of my grandpa and my dad. The two of them had many a laugh watching me learn to shoot a gun that was almost as long as I was tall. Alas, I digress.

As an 18 year old in 1983, I joined the United States Army. (By the way, as a shout out to the NSA, the oath I took to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, is still in force and will be till the day I take my last breath.) After 14 long weeks at Harmony Church and four weeks of U.S. Army Airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia, I was the proud owner of a pair of silver “blood” wings.

After spending some time with friends and family, I returned home on two weeks of leave to Arizona, where I became bored. I started to go to some of the local gun shops. The prospect of buying my first gun on my own was exciting. After looking around, the only thing that really interested me was the Uzi 9mm, which was well out of my price range. One day, however, I wandered into the local K-mart. There she was-- a Winchester model 1300 Defender with a 19-inch barrel, holding six in the tube and able to handle 2 3/4- or 3-inch 12-gauge shells. She also had the capability to shoot buckshot or slugs from the same barrel. From the first moment I picked it up, I knew this was for me. All of this for less than 200 dollars; she and I were out the door.

After taking the gun out in the desert the first time and firing 50 rounds through it, my shoulder hurt, and I was not as enthusiastic as I had been an hour or so earlier. However, when I took the gun back to my folks' house and began to break it down to clean it, the words of my drill sergeant from basic training came to mind. It went something like this: "THIS IS MY RIFLE. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I master my life. My rifle without me, it is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than the enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will. My rifle and myself know that what counts in war is not the number of rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know it is the hits that count. We will hit. My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, will I learn it as a brother. I will learn its weakness and its strength. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it until victory is ours."

As I drove my jeep from Arizona to Ft. Bragg, NC, I felt safe and secure with my “gauge” on the floor behind my seat. As I crossed the landscape that was, at the time, “Free America”, I felt blessed to live in such a country as this and honored to serve in her military. Upon reporting in and completing my in-processing, I was sent to Alpha Company, First Battallion 325th Airborne Infantry. On the second day, I checked in with the company armourer and secured my gauge in the company arms room. In that day and age (before the “political correct” corruption of the U.S. Army), it was fairly common for most enlisted soldiers to have private firearms. Back then, if by chance you checked your weapon out and forgot to check it back in, it was no big deal. Many was the weekend where three or four of us would go out into the wilds of North Carolina and burn through inordinate amounts of ammo.

My time in North Carolina came to an end when I terminated my jump status due to an injury. The army sent me to Camp Casey, South Korea for the last 14 months of my four-year enlistment. I had the good fortune to master two new rifles-- the 50 caliber machine gun and the M-60 machine gun. So, my time in South Korea had not been a waste of time.

Upon my return to America, I literally kissed the ground at Travis Air Force Base. I had missed many things, including American food, my jeep, and my weapons collection. I moved to Northern Arizona to attend college and take classes in gunsmithing. After three years of college and falling on somewhat hard times, I packed my clothes, hand tools, and my weapons and set out for Las Vegas, Nevada. I went into the water treatment business and kept at it for 20 years. Through these years, my gauge was my constant work companion, having a “special place” in a succession of work vehicles. Even in the worst neighborhoods and even Northtown Vegas during the Rodney King riot, while I was working near Martin Luther King and Lake Mead Blvd and could see the smoke rising from the stores that were on fire, I felt completely safe.

Up until now I had never had occasion to chamber a round in my shotgun for any other purpose than practice or fun. However, in the summer of 1999, while on a camping trip with my best friend and our young children, I came to look at my shotgun with a newfound reverence. We had taken my boat to a very secluded spot on Lake Mohave, inaccesable by vehicle. On a lake that is approximatley 75 miles long, there are many such spots. We had settled in for our second night after a fantastic day of the kids catching fish after fish and just throwing them back. As I drifted off to sleep with my two young kids sleeping soundly and my buddy and his two young kids in the tent next to mine, I thought, “Life is good.” My bliss turned to shear terror in the middle of the night when I woke to the sound of a boat shutting off its engine, trying to stealthily come ashore. They were rowing their boat closer, and I heard one whisper to the other, “Be quiet. We don't want to wake them.” I sat up in my sleeping bag with my heart pounding, reached down and picked up my gauge. The fear began to subside. My friend Tony, who was nearly blind, asked me if I heard that. “Shh,” I said as I waited without making a motion. It was not until I heard the strangers' boat make contact with the shore that I chambered a round. That wonderful sound echoed off the lake and was followed by a silence that seemed to last for minutes rather than seconds. Then, the boat motor fired up and these sub-humans backed their boat out of the cove and took off at breakneck speed. Over coffee the next morning, my friend and I both agreed that having that shotgun with us probably saved us from a very bad outcome.

Years later, in June of 2005, I was sure the real estate market would go no higher. We had two houses and decided to put the smaller, older one on the market. Within two days we had six offers on the table. We accepted the best and had a 14-day close. I spent the previous month completely gutting and remodeling the kitchen and both bathrooms. Each night as I went home late to my wife and kids, I was so happy not to be living in that place anymore, as the neighborhood had really deteriorated since the early 90's when we first moved in. I had five days left until the closing and was about to get the highest price ever paid for a 40 year old house in that nieghborhood. I still had some tools left at the house and an empty gun safe bolted to the wall, which I planned on leaving with the house. One evening after work, I arrived at the house to find the inside door to the garage was open and the swamp cooler on the garage roof had been removed. I found that an attempt had been made to pry the safe from the wall with my own tools. I also noticed the lock on the kitchen window had been removed and the window just left ever so slightly ajar. So, needless to say, the next five nights would be spent camping indoors with no electricity. I didn't have to wait long. The first night at about midnight, I awoke to the sound of breaking glass. I had placed a bunch of empty bottles on the counter under the kitchen window so I would be awakened by the the sound of breaking glass upon the return of the trouble maker. I walked down the hall, chambered a round, and heard more glass breaking as the teenage hoodlum scrambled back out the window. As I came around the corner, I saw his face as he turned to run. He definitely had the look of fear. His partner was already partially over the back fence, not waiting to see what happened. I didn't give chase but yelled something at them about busting a cap in them if they came back. They didn't. My rifle and I prevailed without firing a shot. The deal went through four days later without a hitch.

Here's a side note. Immediately following this incident, I made a 911 call to the Las Vegas Metro Police Department and gave a detailed description of the trouble makers, the direction they were running, and asked if there were units in the area that could catch these two perps. Big mistake. All the dispatcher wanted to know was my name and the disposition of my weapon. After a few of these type of questons I became impatient, told her to do her job and get units up the street to head these two off, and I hung up on her. Within 90 seconds, two patrol cars rolled up to my house. The cops didn't catch the bad guys and were just interested in seeing my weapon. After a few minutes of discussion I felt as if I was the perp. I showed the officers the weapon which I had wisely unloaded when they came tearing up my street. The officers were apologetic after I "checked out”, and explained they didn't like it, but it was policy. Needless to say, I decided then and there to never call police again, unless I had taken a life in line with the castle doctrine.

I decided that night that even though I thought myself an expert gunslinger, I needed some training. I chose Front Sight in Nevada. (I have no vested interest financial or otherwise in Front Sight.) I chose it mostly because it was close to me (just 40 minutes away), and it was what I could afford. The description of the combat shotgun class sounded like it fit the bill for me. Also, my wife agreed to take the basic pistol class at the same time. The cost for both of us was less than 400 dollars for two days of training.

The first day of training begins with basic safety rules and regulations of Fronsite. Then there is a two-hour presentation from a 30 year veteren of the San Bernadino, California Sheriffs Department. He was an outstanding instructor, going over use of lethal force, the legal and moral implications of such, and very interesting proactive ideas to prepare ahead of any such event. All in all, it was three hours very well spent. Next, we moved onto the range. We learned to properly go from sling arms to full combat mode, combat reloading in the middle of a fight, sighting the shotgun at 50, 75, and 100 yards, using slugs from standing, one-knee, and prone positions. We engaged multiple pop-up targets simultaniously, having to quickly decide hostile from non-hostile targets. We patterned our shotguns using 00 buck. We practiced with two targets-- one hostage and one perp, with only part of the perp's head showing. You had to hit the perp target without hitting the hostage. At 14 feet or less with my defender, I am absolutley confident that I could take out a bad guy with two or three 00 pellets without harming my loved one. That was just the first day.

The final day began by reviewing and repeating what we did the first day, culminating in a walk-through combat scenario where we were engaging over 10 pop-up targets hidden in the desert landscape, including hostage situations and multiple reloads, all while walking from start to finish, and needing to complete the half mile course in less than seven minutes. In those two days, I expended 500 rounds of*** 00 buck and slugs****. The training I received at Front Sight was invaluble. I plan on trying out some of the firearms schools in Arizona, since we now live full-time at our bug out location, on five wonderful acres in Northern Arizona. I now have choices beyond carrying my shotgun in my vehiche, since Arizona recognizes the Second Amendment and my concealed carry permit. My gauge takes its place next to my bed, ready to fire straight and true if need be to repel anyone who would come into my home uninvited to do harm. I typically keep it loaded with two 00 bucks, followed by one slug and two more 00, then finished off with two copper jacketed hollow point slugs. I only use Remington Low Recoil 00, as I have found that as I age I am even more surgical with this load than any other. I am not particularly worried about less power versus potential body armour, because if someone kicks in my door wearing body armour I'm going to shoot the first two assailants in the groin, knee, ankle, or other exposed area. Then, if I'm still cycling my weapon they get the high velocity slugs center mass. The only changes I have ever made to my gauge are a bandolier sling that holds 25 rounds, a velcro sleeve on the buttstock that holds five, and a tactical light on the foregrip, which I operate with my left thumb. The light is intensly bright, and I have it set to come on in a very disorienting strobe mode. This light also doubles as my flashlight, if I have to go outside in the middle of the night. It just happens to be attached to my gauge. I have fired tens of thousands of rounds through this weapon. I have never had a malfunction. The same can't be said for my Remington or Mossberg. I know this weapon as I know myself. I can still hit a pie tin at 100 yards from the standing position using the hollow point slugs. (This requires a little Kentucky windage though.)

I have had many conversations with friends and aquintences who argue the best weapon is the AR-15, the Glock, the AK-47, the 30-06, or some other this or that. For what it's worth, I chose to put my safety (and that of my wife, kids, grandkids, pit bulls and/or any others who might rely on me) in the hands of my humble Winchester Defender. As the instructor at Front Sight would repeatedly say, "Any gun will do, if you will do."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I thought Pat did a great review on this little pistol. Very thorough and insightful. While looking for a backup and off-duty gun, I purchased a G27in 1999 and have carried it daily since then. I spent the extra money and got mine with Meprolite night sights, but as he notes,the plastic with white outline are excellent. Pat does make a great point about the Glock 26 9mm being easier to shoot, though I have found that I shoot the 27 just about as well as my department-issued G22. Another point in favor of the 9mm is that in today's market the ammunition is much less expensive than .40 S&W, and you need to practice as much as you can afford to. I have carried the G27 in a Fobus holster under an un-tucked shirt or a jacket, but find a G&G belt-slide holster to be more comfortable. I do recommend the use of a finger-grip mag extension for better recoil control. That brings up my only complaint about my G27. When changing magazines, the edge of my hand keeps the magazine from dropping free and I must use my off hand to pull the mag out before I can reload, but this would happen even without a grip extension. Seconds matter, so this is a serious issue in a gun fight. As to ammunition, I am only allowed to carry what is department-approved, and at this time that means 180gr Gold Dots. One last comment about the 9mm: My son purchased a Glock 19 gen 3 last year and I absolutely love the gun. I'm a big enough guy that concealment is not much more difficult than the 27. So, consider the G19 compact along with the 'Baby' Glocks when you make your selection. Thanks for avery well-done review, Pat. - C.C.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Many years ago, when I worked for the late Col. Rex Applegate. We worked with Paladin Press, on the very first video they produced, titled "Manstoppers." In this video a large selection of semiauto handguns were tested and fired by Tom Campbell, who at one time was Smith and Wesson's top shooter. I acted as range officer and a consultant on the video, that was shot at the old Applegate pioneer homestead outside of Yoncolla, Oregon. For this video, Col. Applegate obtained a prototype Glock 23 handgun, and we were all impressed with it, albeit there were many malfunctions, due to the fact, that the magazine sent with the gun was a modified Glock 19 magazine, and it caused feeding malfunctions. As I recall, well-known gun writer, Wiley Clapp, who was also on board for this video, suggested that Glock come out with a sub-compact version of the Glock 23 - I don't know if Clapp's idea ever reached the ears of Glock or not. However, a few short years later, Glock came out with two sub-compact handguns, the Model 26 in 9mm and the Model 27 in .40 S&W.
Today, the Glock Model 27 is the top choice for a back-up or off-duty for police officers and police departments that issue the full-sized Glock 22, which is in .40 S&W caliber. I don't have the exact stats on-hand, however nearly 80% of police departments in USA issue the Glock 22 as their duty sidearm these days. That speaks volumes of the popularity of the Glock handguns in general. However, lately some police departments have been switching back to the 9mm round - they've found that qualifying scores have taken a serious hit because of the recoil of the .40 S&W round. Additionally, there have been a lot of advancements in the 9mm caliber, which is easier to shoot - less recoil - and the stopping power is right up there with the .40 S&W when modern JHP rounds are use. (This is a different story, and best reserved for another article.)
The sub-compact Glock 27 is a chunky little brute of a pistol, it's only 6.49-inches long, 4.17-inches tall, and 1.18-inche wide. The barrel is 3.42-inches long, and the gun weighs in at 19.75-ounces empty. Trigger pull is 5.5 pounds and the gun is classified as a D/A (double action) only by the BATF, however many experts call it a S/A (single action) trigger pull - to each his own. I own a third generation Glock 27, and it came with two 9-shot magazines. Current models are called Gen 4 and come with three magazines and backstraps that can be changed for a better grip feel. I honestly can't feel much difference between the Gen 3 and Gen 4 models. However, I understand that the Gen 4 models are a bit stronger, to handle some hotter .40 S&W loads - like those produced by Buffalo Bore Ammunition. More about their loads shortly. I'll admit that, the trigger pull on Glocks takes a little getting used to, they are a bit "mushy" compared to say, a 1911 handgun, that has a very short and crisp S/A trigger pull. However, with practice, the Glock trigger can be mastered in short order. Another plus for the Glock line-up is that, they only contain 34-parts - less things to break, and parts interchange between many models, too.
I owned a Glock 26, 9mm sub-compact before the Model 27, and I found that my pinky was always left dangling under the magazine, because of the short frame on  the gun. In short order, a couple companies came out with a pinky extension. You simply replaced the magazine floorplate, for the after-market version, and there was plenty of room for your pinky to get a better grip on the gun. After that, some makers came out with a +2 floor plate - that not only give your pinky a place to go, it also added two additional rounds to the Glock 26, 9mm magazine. The same aftermarket magazine floor plates fit the Glock 27 - with the exception being, the +2 floor plate only allows one extra round in the magazine instead of two rounds. Yes, there are some no-name after-market +2 floor plates that will allow two extra rounds to fit in the Glock 27, 9-round magazine. However, I have found them lacking in reliability - yes, you can squeeze two extra rounds in that Glock 27 magazine, but at what cost? I'd rather have just one extra round that I know will feed, instead of two extra rounds that may not feed. In my humble opinion, and in my own use, I immediately replace the standard floor plate on a Glock 26 or 27, with a +2 floor plate - giving my pinky some place to go, instead of dangling under the magazine - and it gives me a very secure grip on these little powerhouse Glocks. And, the length of the +2 floor plates don't detract much from the concealability of these little handguns.
Right up front I'll voice my two-cents worth on the advantages and disadvantages of the Glock 26 and 27. If you are new to handgunning, and want a powerful, yet concealable handgun, it's hard to beat the little Glock 26. The reason I recommend the 26 over the 27 to new shooters is that, the 9mm round is more controllable than the .40 S&W round in the Model 27. Recoil is noticeably less in the 26, and follow-up shots are easier and faster. The Model 27 has some pretty violent recoil, and new shooters are a bit intimidated by the recoil of the .40 S&W round in the Model 27. If you start flinching, you start missing - and I've run this test a good number of times - having shooters fire a Glock 26 first, then fire the Glock 27 - and the shooters scored better with the 9mm Glock 26 and found it more enjoyable to shoot - even with +P loads.
I'm voicing my opinion, and from my experience, in shooting both the Glock 26 and Glock 27, and that of other shooters. With today's modern JHP ammo, most shooters will pick the Glock 26 over the Glock 27 - because the recoil is less, and they find it much easier to shooter compared to the Glock 27. I've been shooting for a lot of years, and I'm really not bothered much by recoil, so I could live with either the 26 or the 27. It is worth taking into consideration though, that all things considered, if you can hit better and faster with identical guns - other than the caliber difference - it's worth going with the gun you can shoot better and faster. Another factor to take into consideration is that, 9mm ammo is still less expensive than .40 S&W ammo is.
Now, with all the above stated, I prefer to carry the Glock 27 over the Glock 26 - I just like bigger bullets, because I still believe in my own mind that, they are more effective in stopping a threat. I know, the stats say there is virtually little difference when using comparable modern expanding ammo...but I'm old school! That's not to say I don't carry my Model 26 - I do - often! And, when I do, it is stoked with +P 9mm expanding ammo!
The front sight on the Model 27 is plastic, and it has a white dot - the rear sight is also plastic, and it has a white outline. I find these sights extremely fast to pick-up for combat shooting. For precision or target shooting, I prefer a different type of sight. However, we are discussing self-defense, so the sights that come on the Model 27 work just great. I know some folks replace the plastic sights with steel sights - and that's fine. There have been reports of the plastic front sight breaking on Glocks - I've yet to have that happen to any Glock handguns I've owned. The only two parts I've ever had break on a Glock, is the trigger spring - and this is a problem in my opinion, and I had an extractor break on an older Glock 27 I owned - both the spring and extractor are easy to replace - Glocks are extremely easy to work on if you know much about handguns in general. I keep a small supply of spare parts on-hand for Glocks, and the most often replaced part is the trigger spring.
On the new, Gen 4 Glocks, you can move the magazine release from one side to the other if, you're a left-hander. That's a quick and easy thing. On older Glocks, you can't do this - nor will the older Gen 3 magazines work in a Gen 4 pistol, if you swapped the magazine release to the opposite side of the gun. And, the magazine releases are much larger on Gen 4 Glocks - easier to hit for a fast reload. Tim Sundles, who owns and operates Buffalo Bore Ammo, tells me that, the Gen 4 Glocks are a bit stronger, and he doesn't see any problems shooting his +P .40 S&W ammo in the newer Glocks. And, he hasn't heard of any problems with older Model 27s shooting his +P ammo, either. Sundles said the barrels are the Gen 4 models seem to have more of a fully supported chamber. In any event, I've shot a lot of his +P .40 S&W ammo in my Gen 3 Model 27 without any problems at all. The recoil spring set-up is a bit stouter on the Gen 4 line-up of Glocks, too - and they are not interchangeable between earlier Glock generation pistols.
Out to the range, with a good assortment of .40 S&W ammo, and a lot of shooting was in order. These days, I'm trying to keep my firing down to about 200 rounds because of the great ammo shortage, we are still in. However, I fired more than 300 rounds of ammo through my Glock 27 for this test because of the wide assortment of ammo I had on-hand. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 140-grain Barnes Tac-XP all-copper hollow point load - and I only had a partial box, also, from Black Hills, I had their 180-grain FMJ remanufactured load - again, only half a box. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had quite an assortment to fire. First up was their standard pressure (non +P) 125-grain Barnes Tac-XP all-copper bullet and the same in a 140-grain load. I also had their fairly new 200-grain Hard Cast FN standard pressure load. In the +P loadings from Buffalo Bore, I had their 155-grain JHP, 180-grain JHP and their 180 grain FMJ loadings.
I enjoyed the Black Hills 180-grain FMJ remanufactured load the most - the recoil wasn't bad at all. I have to beg Black Hills for some more of this loading. It is a great range and target load. The 140-grain Barnes Tac-XP all-copper hollow point was a pleasant load, too - and would make an outstanding street load for self-defense, I'm really sold on the Barnes all-copper hollow points - they expand nicely and penetrate deeply. The Buffalo Bore 155-grain and 180-grain JHP +P loads had about the same felt-recoil in my opinion. And, for quite some time, I carried their 155-grain JHP load in various .40 S&W chambered handguns. The Buffalo Bore 140-grain and 125-grain standard pressure loads, with the Barnes Tac-XP all-copper bullets really got my attention in the little Glock 27. They seemed hotter, and had more recoil than the +P loadings from Buffalo Bore - so I mixed these loads in the magazine, and found that, in my humble opinion, the standard pressure loads had a bit more recoil - the slide was moving pretty fast during recoil - but there were no malfunctions. The last load I tested, is the Buffalo Bore 200-grain Hard Cast flat nose (FN) round, and this is the round I'd carry in the little Glock 27, if I was out in the boonies, and worried about larger 4-legged critters - it really penetrated. I placed four one-gallon milk jugs with water in them, and fired this load - it completely penetrated all four jugs of water. And, felt recoil wasn't bad at all. So, again this would be in my Glock 27 if I were out in the boonies.
I was really torn between the Buffalo Bore 140-grain and 125-grain standard pressure Barnes Tax-XP loads - as to which one would be the better street load for self-defense. The 125-grain load actually had a bit more recoil if my humble opinion compared to the slightly heavier 140-grain load. Nothing I couldn't handle, but the felt-recoil seemed to be a bit more in the lighter load, compared to the heavier load. In the end, I selected the 125-grain Barnes Tac-XP all-copper load for my street self-defense load. I compared this loading, to the Buffalo Bore .357 SIG 125-grain Barnes Tac-XP all-copper load, and they are identical in ballistics (on paper) and the .357 SIG is making a real name for itself, as a man stopping load. So, in reality, if you look at the ballistics, the 125-grain .40 S&W Barnes Tac-XP all-copper load is doing the same job as the .357 SIG load - with the exception being, you are firing a .40 caliber bullet - compared to the 9mm bullet that the .357 SIG load is throwing - and once again, it comes down to, bigger is better, if you ask me.
I fired the little Glock 27 across the hood of my SUV, using a rolled-up sleeping bag as a rest. Distance was 25 yards - and the Model 27 easily hit where I aimed it. Most loads were in the 3-inch to 3 1/2-inch range - good enough for head shots if you had to take one. The winner in the accuracy department was the Buffalo Bore 200-grain Hard Cast FN load - and I was able to just slightly break that 3-inch mark with 5-shots - if I did my part. Firing so many rounds through the little Glock 27 was tiring, and it was all done over the course of several hours. I honestly believe the gun might be capable of even slightly better accuracy than what I was getting. I've found that some of the sub-compact Glock's actually give me slightly better accuracy than their mid and full sized brothers do.
I carry the little Model 27 in a Glock sport holster - they are only about $12 and they hold the gun high and extremely close to the body - I like this holster a lot ! I have several leather holsters for this Glock, but the plastic Glock sport holster seems to work best for my concealed carry needs. Go figure!
If you are in the market, for what might just be, the epitome, in a concealed carry .40 S&W caliber handgun, the Glock 27 might fill the bill for you. With the +2 floor plate on the magazine, that gives you 10 rounds, and one more in the chamber, and you should always carry at least one spare magazine with you. That will give you 10 more spare rounds of ammo. If you can't get the job done with the rounds in the gun and a spare magazine then you should have been carrying your AR-15 or AK-47. And, if the .40 S&W has too much recoil for you, then you can go with it's little brother, the Glock 26 in 9mm, loaded with quality, JHP loads. If I had to pick the ultimate concealed carry .40 S&W handgun, it would probably be the Glock 27. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Many times, we get so caught up in buying our toys and getting them out of the package to play that we don't pay attention to the fine details that really matter. It's no surprise that prepping has generally been all about more, bigger, and better firearms and ammunition. Yet, there is so much to be learned about the proper use and care of your firearms that becomes lost on the average person. Many times we buy the gun, we get it out of the package, throw all of our tacti-cool stuff on it, maybe shoot it a few times, and then we lay it in a closet without another thought. We check off the box for "protection" and move on. Yet, this is the piece of the puzzle that we rely upon to save our lives and protect our families and belongings. When the time comes, whether it's for protection or for providing, will you know how your rifle performs? Will you know how to care for it? Perhaps most importantly, have you ironed out all the potential problems that use in the field can throw at you? This is a complicated piece of equipment and the chances of you getting it all correct the first time through are very slim. Once you are in the field, trying to figure out why your rifle can't hit something you are aiming at is too late. 

I am sure you have heard it said about your carry gun, usually some variation of: "Don't rely on it until you try it." What's that mean? Take it out shooting. Know how it performs. Learn how to compensate for it. Know what ammo it likes. Yet in a TEOTWAWKI setting, the rifle is infinitely more useful and important, though much more complex to take care of and learn. The average person doesn't have a place where they can practice with a rifle, especially not at distances greater than 50 yards or so, making it hard to fully understand the performance of their life-saving tool. Luckily, millions of American's are hunters, so they have learned the ins and outs of setting up, maintaining, learning, and successfully operating their rifle. Even so, it has become obvious to me that using a rifle more than a few times a year is almost a necessity. There is only so much you can learn by shooting your rifle 5 times a year. Sometimes potential problems don't show up with 1 shot a year. I want to talk to you about a problem I have faced this year.

I don't remember if I addressed this a few weeks ago on my deer hunting post, but something had happened this year that had never happened before. On my first hunt of the year, I had a relatively long shot at a doe, who was walking across a field about 180 yards from me. I had a good rest and I took the shot, but nothing happened other than she scurried away. 

I was pretty upset about it, not having missed a shot since my very first hunt when I was 13 years old. But the shot was fairly long and the deer was moving, so I just assumed that it was my time. A few days later, I was sitting in the exact same shooting house and the exact same deer came out. She walked the same path as the one days before, so I took aim and shot. And I shot again. And again. No luck.

At that point I knew something was wrong. How could I miss that many shots by that wide of a margin? Of course, that caused me to start thinking analytically on how the performance of my rifle could be degraded or at least affected by a handful of variables. It was amazing how many different things I could come up with that were all plausible. Perhaps the crosswind was too much. Maybe the change in ammunition had a greater effect than I thought. Had my gun been dropped at some point or the scope somehow been knocked? Any and all of these things were possible. There was only one thing to do: check out the "zero" on the gun. 

Because my shoulder didn't need repetitive knocks, my dad took the gun and sighted it in. He reported back that it was shooting 6 inches low at 60 yards, but it was fixed. Yet, the windage was excellent. I thought that was odd, but didn't really think about it too much. We just assumed that either the scope was knocked off or the change from a 160 grain to a 180 grain bullet accounted for the massive ballistics change. Either way, the gun was back on and I could go back to hunting. 

I took it hunting the next day and had a fairly simple 75 yard shot, which resulted in a nice kill. 

Just a few days later, I took the gun back out. Very close to dark, I was presented a shot. It was a decently long shot, and it was near dark but I took it. The deer had nearly no reaction to the shot other than to scamper a few yards closer to me. I took a second shot. The deer came even closer to me, just under 50 yards. I tried for a 3rd shot and missed again. 

Frustrated as I have never been while hunting, I stormed home. When I got home, I took the gun inside and inspected it. That's when I noticed this:

Do you see that scrape just above the rings? Well, that brought back some memories. So, let's talk about them. Initially, I had a cheaper scope on this gun with a 30mm aperture, which limited my visibility in low light conditions. The scope also had cheaper rings on it, but they worked. After deer season last year, we swapped the old scope for a Nikon Monarch, but kept the old rings. After sighting it in, I did notice that the scope seemed to have slid "forward" in the rings. Actually, what happened was the momentum of the  gunshots had pushed the gun backwards and was unable to transfer the momentum to the scope, but slipped in the rings. But, the gun was sighted in so I tightened the ring bolts as tight as I could and went on about my life. The first time I fired it after sighting it in was the aforementioned miss you read about earlier. 

Obviously, there was something that needed to be changed. I wasn't sure what it was, but I knew I couldn't simply tighten down the screws on the rings anymore. In fact, not only was I worried that squeezing the tube could cause some sort of refraction or misalignment of the glass inside of the scope, but I was doubtful that I could even get the screws out without stripping them. 

Indeed, that was the case. The more force I applied to the allen wrench to get the screws out, the more it looked like I would have to take drastic measures else the screws would just strip. So, I got creative. I used a C-clamp and compressed the edges of the rings in order to take the pressure off of the screws. They came out fairly easily.

When I inspected the inside of the rings and the outer diameter of the scope tube, it seemed that there was remnants of some sort of fluid. I figure it was either oil left over on the scope's packaging or perhaps some loctite from the installations of the screws. Additionally, I started thinking about why this scope was having problems but I never had any problems with the other scope. I thought about the installation of the scope itself.

I recalled that it was a cold day and I was in a hurry to get it installed and sighted in. I also recall that I didn't level the scope out entirely, which caused the crosshairs to not be quit flat. Is it possible that in my rush I had made a fundamental error? Perhaps I didn't sequence the tightening of the bolts properly? While the bolts would appear to be tight, the ring itself may not have had the proper contact patch from the uneven tightening. Perhaps it was simply because the rings themselves had form-fitted to a different scope that had, at best, the same dimensions but different tolerances. It could be that the scopes were entirely different sizes or shapes.

Regardless of the why and how, the fact is, the rifle was useless in this condition. After every other shot, the zero was completely lost. Like I stated above, it could be my own fault from a lack of attention to detail or it could have been bad luck. But, I was determined to crunch the variables this time around and ensure that this gun would become reliable. So, I bought new (and better) rings. I really wanted to go with a complete set of Leupold bases and rings, but unfortunately, they don't make a set that fits my Marlin and the Nikon scope. So, I had to use the bases that were on it plus adjustable Leupold rings.

I started out by wiping down the mating services with alcohol, removing any debris or fluids.  

I then leveled up the rifle itself.

Then, after cleaning the scope and rings thoroughly, I placed the scope in the rings and leveled the scope in both directions. 

Lastly, I placed the ring caps on the scope and tightened them down. First, I tightened them until they were snug, then I alternated tightening in 90 degree turns on each screw until they were tight. 

Now, understand that there is a lot more that I could do to install this scope to even better standards. With a quick search, you can find all kinds of ways to properly install and sight in a scope. However, I don't have the setup to do that, so this is the best I can do. Furthermore, this post isn't about teaching how to do what I have done so much as it is for you to learn that you can't learn much about a gun by throwing it in your Bug Out Bag. I am just as guilty as the next person. I built my budget AR and have yet to fire it. I would go so far as to say that you don't know your gun by firing it five times a year. However, if that's what you are going to do, at least make sure that you sight it in each year before you take it hunting the first time. 

Hopefully your luck will be better than mine, but there are other things to consider. Have you practiced with your gun with different types of ammunition? Like I alluded to earlier, I didn't think about the effects of going from 160 grain ammo to 180 grain ammo until it was too late. Ultimately, that wasn't why I missed the deer, but the bullet drop from 100 to 300 yards between the two are substantial. While ballistics charts are readily available and great, it isn't for your gun and for your situation. Plus, the experience stored in your mind will be a lot faster than digging out a ballistics chart. Additionally, there are the effects of windage, again, something that you can only understand by shooting your gun in that situation. Do you know the effect on your gun by taking repeated shots? Deer hunters rarely take more than 1 shot at a time, but in the event of taking consecutive shots, do you know how the warming of you gun will effect ballistics? What about problems during firing such as jamming? You may not know until you fire it in a rapid fire setting. Could you figure out how to solve it as we talked about in our Light Handgun Repair post?

So many variables to consider just with shooting. It's better that you have all the other ones crunched before you get into that situation. The fact is, had I not shot this gun and missed 7 shots this year, the mark on the scope wouldn't have shown up. Its perfectly plausible that, had I had shorter shots which would have been possible, I might not have made the connection for years. But, I pushed the gun to limits I hadn't done before and it showed me what needed to be done. I'm just glad it was deer hunting and not a situation with life and death hanging in the balance. Whether it's an AR-15 that you have laying in the closet for TEOTWAWKI or a deer rifle that gets shot once a year, make sure that you bring that gun out and do your due diligence whenever possible. Better to iron out your problems at the range than against a foe or starvation. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dear JWR,
The mere fact that folks such as Carl X. and C. are discussing, researching, and indeed, well informed on the subject of 80% lower receiver completion gives me hope! I can't begin to express just how pleasing it is that good people are informing themselves on the subject. Anyway, I'd like to clarify a couple of things, if I may?

As C. notes, an inexperienced builder will likely spend at least two hours milling and shaping the fire control pocket. However, a slip of the Dremel does not necessarily mean the blank's doom. One must remember that the pocket is hidden by the upper receiver, and the only one that will know of the boo-boo is the one completing the lower receiver. Further, said boo-boos can easily be repaired by mixing the polymer shavings with JB-Weld -- which is machinable when fully cured -- to maintain surface consistency. I've been a gunsmith hobbyist for about 22 years now and have my own machine shop, and my own jigs that insure a reliable machining job. But after consulting with a couple of fellow enthusiasts, we're of the opinion that structural integrity and a uniform surface can be achieved in this fashion. In fact, I proved it with a lower I had lying around by deliberately marring a side and repairing it in that fashion. Again, I stress
patience and the operator WILL be pleased with the end product. EP Armory is that good with their quality control! Completion is a cinch: just remove the white and smooth the ridges flat. Any other fine lapping to make the trigger and hammer smooth is unique to the chosen lower parts kit. One only needs to take their time.

As for legality concerning the 80% lower receiver: the prospective owner should consult their state and local officials until they are completely satisfied that they operating within the constraints of the law! The language in the BATFE's self-manufactured firearms laws are very clear: the firearm must be self-manufactured, which means 'build parties' are technically illegal, although impossible to enforce. Personally, I make every effort to operate within the constraints of the law, and would recommend that everyone exercise solid and legal judgment. After all, some states are ambiguous and sometimes outright hostile on the subject, and protecting one's family is impossible to do from behind bars. So ... research, research and research again! And do make an effort to buy a letter and number stamping kit for serial number application. It also never hurts to have your receipt for the lower laminated and on your person when hunting or target shooting. I'd hate to see a new AR owner detained for hours by an officer that demands to inspect their rifle, and is ignorant of the law! Been there ... done that...

Again, it's good to see folks that are genuinely interested in the subject! Self empowerment is a heck of a morale boost! You'll save a few bucks and be proud of your handiwork! Not to mention the fact that you'll end up with a rifle that will serve you well, should the unfortunate need arise...

God Bless and thank you for your interest everyone, - Nomad

Sunday, January 12, 2014

I’ve been reloading for almost 30 years and have tried many solutions for boxing up all the ammo including bulk in zip lock bags as well as just filling ammo cans and of course hard plastic boxes. If it’s made, I’ve tried it and nothing really worked well nor are they very compact. Until now. I have stumbled on and found their cardstock boxes great. So far I’ve loaded 5.56, 7.62x39, 9mm and .45 ACP. 

What I like is their boxes are made so the quantity will fit most standard magazines…i.e., the 5.56 box holds 30 rounds as does the 7.62x39. The 7.62x51 holds 20...just right to fit your FAL, M1A or PTR91 Their pistol boxes hold 50 rounds.

The only limiting thing is that they only make .223/5.56, 7.62x39, 7.62x51, 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. But when I first started buying them they selection was smaller, so they must be expanding to meet demand.

The best part about these boxes is that they hold the ammo tightly. No loose or sloppy ammo rattling around. And as such they pack tight in the green surplus ammo cans for storage. And these boxes are very sturdy. No cheap materials, so they can be reused many times.

Thanks! - GunrTim

JWR Replies: has been mentioned before in SurvivalBlog. I recommend their products. And BTW, they also sell some handy rubber rifle muzzle covers.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dear JWR,
Regarding the recent article by "Nomad": I strongly urge all AR-15 owners to get an 80% complete lower receiver, even if you do not finish it now.  [Under American jurisprudence,] if gun confiscation comes, the only thing that must be turned in is the stripped lower receiver.  The BATFE recognizes that the stripped lower receiver constitutes the firearm as it contains the serial number.  The rest IS NOT a "firearm", by their own regulations.  With the non-registered (as per regulations, again) lower receiver, you can build a fully functioning AR-15 that is not on their books. - Carl X.

The letter on building your own AR-15 with a 80% receiver prompted me to write. I work for an FFL, and have lived through the four panic buying periods since Bush the First's"Assault Weapons" import ban.

First: Unless you 1) work a sub-minimum wage job, and/or 2) live in a part of the country where licensing fees, FFL fees or the like are huge, then completing a '80%' receiver is not worth the time. Even with the new polymer 80% blanks will take 1-2 hours to finish unless you have a real machine shop to work with.

Just before Christmas, several online sources were selling fully finished aluminum AR-15 receivers for $57 delivered to your FFL. Add in the $25-$40 FFL paperwork fee, and it's at best a wash to spend hours finishing your 80% receiver. And if your Dremel slips, then you're buying another receiver blank.

You also need to be aware that the term '80% receiver' is made up by the industry and has no legal standing with BATF. I would strongly suggest that you ask for a copy of a determination letter that the manufacturer of the 80% receiver should have asked ATF for, that states that in the opinion of BATF, that the part you are purchasing is in fact not legally a firearm. If the manufacturer does not have, or will no provide you with a un-redacted copy of such a letter, stay away!

It is entirely possible that BATF, in the absence of such a letter, may make an determination that the 80% receiver was in fact too close to a full 100% receiver for BATF's liking, and retroactively ban them, turning your receiver into contraband subject to summary forfeiture.

Second, the price of AR-15s is about to plunge. It's done the same thing after every single panic in the past 30 years. We received a mailing from a lesser known AR-15 manufacturer before Christmas offering a package of 25 units of a basic AR-15, CAR, A3, 16" bbl, for $599/each. This week that same package is offered at $499/each with shipping included.

Currently the only part of the AR-15 platform that is still in short supply is the bolt carrier group, and some trigger/hammer parts. Low end for Bolt Carrier Groups is currently running about $120. In normal times the low end for these units will be in the $70-ish range. So expect a drop of ~$50 for completed uppers in the near future, and $10-$20 drop on lower receiver parts kits.

The desperation indicated by manufacturers trying to push product out the door at low ball prices, indicates to me that these companies are sitting on a mountain of product that they built for the perceived demand. Now that that demand has subsided, the fire sale that will likely happen in late spring when these companies start to go bankrupt after failing dump their inventory, will bring the retail price of basic AR-15's down to close to the $500 figure.

In addition, the 11% FET that is due on completed guns, can be avoided by the manufacturer if they sell the lower receiver and parts kits separately.

If you want to finish a 80% receiver blank for reasons other than economic ones, then the above does not apply to you. However, do be on the look out for SHOT Show specials (mid to late January) on parts kits and uppers and, perhaps, complete rifles.

Good shopping and happy new year. - C.

JWR Replies: There have been a lot of electrons spilled in cyberspace about the legalities of AR "build parties." You are correct about the term "80% receiver." In the eyes of the BATFE, what you hold in your hand is either a paperweight or a "firearm." The point at which the former becomes the latter is fairly arbitrary, and it is frightening to think that the threshold (and enforcement thereof) is up to the whims of un-elected bureaucrats. (Just ask the folks at KT Ordnance, in Montana. They had huge legal bills, before they were exonerated.) To be on the safe side, some erstwhile "80%" makers are now selling "60%" lowers. Regardless, these incomplete lowers represent a good opportunity for people to exercise their Constitutional rights with privacy.

I think that some readers must have missed the key point of Nomad's article. The primary goal is not just to save money. Rather, it is to free ourselves from the clutches of an increasingly paternalistic government. In many states it is now illegal to buy "firearms"--even used ones from private parties living in the same state--without filling out government paperwork. For folks in those states, I recommend that you do indeed "roll your own" AR-15 and AR-10 lower receivers. In all other states where you still have some privacy: Unless you are a tinkerer, I recommend that you simply frequent your in-state gun shows and pick up a half-dozen stripped or complete AR lowers whenever you find them for sale at reasonable prices on the tables of private parties, with no paperwork. Someday your children and grandchildren will thank you for your foresight!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Imagine you and your family are asleep in your home and at 2am you hear a downstairs glass window breaking.  You hear voices laughing and cursing, saying that they are going to F-Up you and your family.  Based on the historical length of violent encounters, you know that this whole violent situation will likely be over in 1 to 3 minutes.

This is not a pleasant scenario, but I am setting the stage for you to do a mental exercise.  I will not give you solutions; rather you will.  As Gavin DeBecker describes in his must-read book, “The Gift of Fear” you already have within you much more knowledge than you might first think.  Join me as I lead you along a train of thought and as you consider my ideas, I ask that you challenge them, all of them; you are in charge.  From these ideas and your own, I challenge you to develop potential solutions.

Who Shall Protect Us? A professional team of warriors would be a good choice, perhaps a military Special Forces group, a team of private “security” contractors or perhaps your city’s SWAT team.  These men with their High Speed Low Drag (HSLD) gear, training and mentality would be an excellent choice.  They will happily respond if your situation warrants it; how close in distance and time do you think they are to your home?  Let’s assume they have just been executing search warrants and are all geared up, mobile and ready to go.  In another stroke of good luck, they are working only five minutes away from your home!  Yeah!  Let’s keep this as one of our options!

Another choice would be your local government law enforcement responders, a group of men and women that shoot an average of 200 qualification shots with their pistols each year, do not know what you or your family looks like, are not friends with your dog, have never been inside your home or studied its layout and are at least 2+ minutes away.  (Contact your local law enforcement agency and inquire about their average response time to emergencies, it is probably at least double what I assumed above.) 

Most of these nice folks have received between 20 and 160 hours of training on dealing with emergencies like yours, and 2% or so regularly practice martial arts, paintballing, shooting and tactical maneuvers; perhaps they will be the ones that respond.  These people will also collect evidence and write a report of what happened, including detailed descriptions of your family’s blood splatter patterns.  Consider how much time an average cop spends gathering evidence and writing reports compared to actively using their hands and tools to counter active and dynamic violence.  I do not aim to disparage cops, I do however suggest that we remove our romantic movie-based views of them and consider what their true capabilities are.

A third choice would be for you and your spouse to respond tactically to the situation.  What good can you do though?  You don’t have a police uniform or a star or shield to pin on your chest or access to criminal record checks.  You have not been to a 6-month police academy. What could you possibly do?  You are helpless, right?

Perhaps you are helpless, but I suggest that you are not.  I propose that if you and your spouse spend even an hour each week developing your skills, within one year, You will be the best of the three options above.  Depending on how much preparation you and yours are willing to do, this will require a lifestyle change. 

What kind of “training” can you do without a level 1-alpha security clearance?  What can you do to prepare?  Following are some suggestions, not all are necessary and the list can be as big as your imagination allows.  I suggest making all of these fun!  If you are having fun doing them, you are more likely to continue and will think of your training as fun recreation rather than a chore.

Take your spouse on a date to play paintball every few months!  Spending an hour learning from the school of hard balls to use concealment to observe and record in your subconscious your adversary’s movements and pre-motion indicators along with many other tactical skills will be of great value.

Take classes in hand-to-hand fighting.  It is prudent to evaluate your personality before beginning.  If you habitually start diets and don’t stick to them or join gyms on New Year’s Day with big plans for the year, then drop out by the end of January; perhaps you don’t have “ideal” self-discipline.  Yes, this is a weakness, and one that I share with you.  Until we fix this weakness, we should be realistic in our training.  Studying Taekwondo or Judo might not be the best option for a person lacking in discipline.  These take many years of dedicated study to turn one into a tough guy.  Mixed martial arts, boxing, and many other styles dispense with the “extras” and focus on fighting immediately.  Hiring a private tutor for a monthly or twice-monthly lesson who is an active or retired MMA fighter that is able to communicate well with you and your spouse and comprehends your goals might be an excellent option.  To be competent, you will absolutely need to practice on your own.

Watch some felony fights on YouTube and search for real street fighting videos.  These show how things really happen in a real fight.  Use these graphic and perhaps upsetting videos to make up your own scenarios, “What if I walk into a gas station and a drunk guy shoves me in my chest and I fly backwards and hit the store shelves, what could I do?”  If someone has your spouse in a headlock, what exactly would be a good way to respond?  Consider many scenarios and think about responses.

Learn the defensive tactics that cops and security personnel use.  If you have someone “proned out” at gunpoint and police are 20 minutes away, how should your spouse handcuff and search the man for weapons?  If you are alone and have someone proned out and police are nearby, should you approach them to handcuff them?  How do you put someone in a position of disadvantage to search them and handcuff them?

Investigate personal protection dogs.  Contact an expert like Ridgeback for advice on solutions for all budgets.  Dogs can serve not only as protectors in a fight, but more importantly can help prevent the fight from ever happening.

When you and your spouse dine out, select restaurants that allow you to “people watch.”  Come up with your own secret codes for evaluating people.  Perhaps “nice lady” means a person that a criminal would likely target for robbery, so when you see an affluent woman in furs with a thousand dollar purse walking with a slouch and ear buds in her ears you can say to your spouse, “She looks like a nice lady.”  Look for “victims” through the lens of a predator and look for predators with the lens of an astute observer.  Doing so will help you learn not to be a victim or appear to be potential one.

Read Terry Vaughan’s entertaining book on reading body language, “A Dad’s Guide to Screening Your Daughter’s Boyfriends.”  Read “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin DeBecker and “On Killing” or “On Combat” by David Grossman.  Play poker with friends or at local tournaments, focusing on improving your ability to read the subtle "tells" of others.  This important skill set can help keep you safe.

Find local IDPA and USPA matches and compete frequently.  While the stress of a timer and a handful of observers does not exactly replicate the stress of a home invasion robbery, it is a good substitute.  Be humble at these matches and identify the nice folks that shoot well.  Ask them to watch you and give you tips.

Find a good shooting instructor and learn some basics of tactical shooting.  Be careful in selecting an instructor, of the more than 100,000 instructors in the US, few are “excellent.”  3 Hours of private instruction with Gabe Suarez, Clint Smith or another Top-25 Shooting Instructor will cost the same as a 40-hour class at a certificate-mill academy, but some believe that you get more bang for your buck.  Admittedly, I am biased, and do agree.  J

Use your local instructor for a 1 or 2 hour tune-up every few months, and if your budget allows, use your shooting instructor much like a personal trainer in a gym.  They will be able to guide you through great drills and help ensure that you are doing things properly.

Visit your local shooting range and practice shooting as much as possible.  Buy a Dillon reloading machine to make this practice much less expensive.  Set a goal of 500 or 1,000 or 4,000 rounds per month of practice. 

Dry practice at home!  You can practice the most important fundamentals without live ammo.  Your draw stroke, front sight focus and trigger press can be practiced safely thousands of times.  Many Top 25 instructors suggest that 90% of one’s practice be dry practice.

Take the NRA's Personal Protection Inside the Home and Personal Protection Outside the Home or other similar courses. 

Practice safety drills with your family.  Make this a fun exercise and include your children.  Make your practice age appropriate, but I suggest you push the envelope to make it as realistic as possible as you and your family play your, “Defending Our Castle” game.  Does everyone know where the safe room is?  Does everyone know the 4 keys to punch to call 911 on your cell phones?  What other tactics are appropriate to teach and practice?  Perhaps you might also play a game rehearsing roles of each family member if you witness a serious vehicle collision right in front of you or if your house catches fire.  It is important not to frighten your family into thinking that a violent threat is imminent.  

If you have a friend that is a cop, go over scenarios with them, keeping in mind that your goals are not identical.  Good cops will happily share tactics with you if you are a normal peaceful person.  If you have a friend that just returned from a war zone and has experience performing violent home invasions, ask them to help with your defensive plan.

Play a sport at least twice-monthly that requires fast reading of your opponent’s body movements.  Basketball, boxing, soccer and many other sports will help you not only in understanding and predicting body movements in others but are also a great way to stay fit.

Send a Christmas card to the patrol division of your local law enforcement station, they will probably put it on their bulletin board.  Have it include a picture of you and your family in front of your home with the caption, “Happy Holidays from the Doe family at 1234 Elm Street.”

Build a few gear bags or gear vests.  If you shoot one intruder and the other is being held at gunpoint by your spouse, do you have a way of securing the intruder with handcuffs, zip ties or duct tape?  Would a flashlight and maybe your old cell phone (charged) be handy?  (Remember, cell phones without active plans still work for 911.)  What else should be in the bag?  Pepper spray, an extra car key, a key to your neighbor’s house…?

Evaluate your neighbor’s mentality and coordinate with them appropriately.  If they have their heads buried deeply in the sand, at least hint that if anyone ever starts a neighborhood watch program, your family would enjoy being involved.  If they are more savvy and trusted, perhaps they would allow you to hide a laminated simple floor plan of your house in the middle of a magazine hidden on their property.  Might you do the same for them?  Might this be of use to a responding cop, “There is a floor plan of our house under the South end of the camper shell at 1254 Elm Street.”

Learn about use of force standards and relevant laws.  Recognize that you will be sued if you ever shoot someone, even if you were absolutely justified in doing so.  Recognize that it will cost tens of thousands of dollars for you to “win” and get rid of the ridiculous lawsuit.  Consider that you are not only morally better off, but also financially better off if you can solve problems peacefully without seriously harming anyone.

Multi-tasking practice is a great way to improve your skills.  Why not practice your draw stroke while sitting on the toilet, and perhaps throw a few punches and do a few parries.  Each time you walk through your house alone, pretend a bad guy is playing hide and seek and is hidden somewhere.  Use your imagination to develop drills, perhaps connecting them to tasks that you will do anyway.  Perhaps each time you urinate you practice American Kenpo inward and outward blocks five times.  While brushing your teeth with your strong hand, practice eye gouging moves with your weak hand.  What else?
I hope the above ideas have helped get your brain wheels get turning.  I hope you have already decided that some of the ideas are really dumb and are not right for you and yours.  I also hope some of the ideas will serve as a foundation on which you can improve and implement.  Every single idea has pros and cons, and it is up to you to weigh them.  I will make the bold and controversial suggestion that if you train better than cops and know your equipment, know your home and your family better than cops, that you are pretty darn capable!

Objections?  I promise that if you show this article to a police officer friend, they will advise that most of it is ridiculous and that you should not try to “play cop” and handcuff and search people; after all you are not as highly trained and practiced as they are, are you?  They will likely advise that you plan to call 911 and let the professionals do their job.

I will not argue with those that disagree, I was once a cop and would have taken their side knowing what I knew then.  I still recommend that one of your first steps in a violent emergency should be to call "911 SEND!"  My suggestion is not that you eliminate government law enforcement’s response, I only suggest that you prepare to handle the situation until the cops arrive.

About The Author: Shepard Humphries is a former Police Officer, having served in Investigations, Patrol and SWAT as a sniper team leader. Shepard resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he operates several small businesses including an executive protection and security consultation firm and two firearms related businesses, the Jackson Hole Shooting Experience  and Counter Violence Institute. He provides shooting instruction, consultation and public speaking services in Jackson and elsewhere.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

We live in very uncertain times. For some people, myself included, those times of uncertainty include anything from some financial hardship, to total economic ruin. In knowing this simple truth, I am inspired to share my knowledge and expertise concerning firearms preparedness: in particular, the AR-15 platform and a truly inexpensive option to owning one that is on-par with buying a much less versatile bolt-action rifle.

For many of us struggling to make ends meet, an entry-level AR-15 is priced far beyond anything we can hope to afford. Starting at around $800 before background checks, taxes and licensing fees, the total might as well be a million dollars. Add to that the burdening need to oftentimes add some type of reliable optic or sighting system that many entry-level rifles do not include, and most of us are priced right out of the building.

Of course, the Saiga AK74 clone, chambered in 5.56x45 NATO, starting at around $675 , is the more attractive financial option at first blush. But again, taxes, background checks and licensing fees will still put you well in excess of $800. Further, this entry-level rifle’s supplied magazine is limited to ten rounds, with the inferior thirty round magazines from ProMag costing an average of $10 than Magpul’s thirty round PMag for the AR-15. And believe me, if you have ever compared the two, there really is no comparison! So in the end, you are not saving very much money, if any at all, by opting for an inferior Saiga rifle.

So, where do the desperate and perhaps even destitute turn? We know that the engineered financial collapse is starting to really rear its ugly head and unravel before our very eyes, false flag events are coming in rapid-fire succession, and we are desperate to protect our families and ourselves.

Years ago, I would have been terrified. Today though, I do have the answer...

First, before you start on the path I am going to recommend, please check your state and local laws! I cannot begin stress just how important it is that you do so! It will be very difficult to protect your family if you are behind bars. Research and informed decisions will save you a potential felonious headache. So act accordingly, responsibly and proceed at your own risk.

And though I will recommend companies and products by name, I do so not because I am trying to receive free stuff from them, but because I own and trust their reliability with the lives of myself and the lives of my family. I would not mention them if I felt for even a moment that the following products would fail you or yours! And since survival is key to our way of life, and every human life is precious to me, I would much rather point you directly to products that just flat-out work, as opposed to some generic brand that may fail you at the penultimate moment.


The Gun Control Act of 1968 classified the frame, receiver, or lower receiver of any gun -- be it handgun, rifle or shotgun -- to be the actual “firearm”. It is that portion of any store-bought gun that requires a serial number for registration. The only way around that law, and the BATFE offers clear language on their web site to prove my claim, has been to manufacture your own frames and lower receivers for personal use. Those of us with small machine shops and a machining background have been doing so, legally, for years, but it required extensive knowledge and very expensive equipment.

But now there are 80% complete AR-15 lower receivers...

Traditionally, these lower receivers were 80% complete aluminum castings or forgings that required jigs, a milling machine, a drill press, sometimes a lathe, and perhaps anodizing or painting to complete. If you did not have the aforementioned equipment on hand already, the entire process would have you paying more for a finished entry-level rifle than you would otherwise pay by going through any FFL dealer. The only real benefits were the pride you took in seeing your own creation putting bullets on paper or into game animals, and the anonymity that goes along with not having to register your manufactured firearm.

These days, however, technology has given us the option to go with a jig-less design 80% lower receiver made of polymer over the traditional aluminum, and a set of hand tools that, if you do not have them on hand already, will run you about $75 . That set of tools includes a $10 rotary tool kit that can be purchased from Harbor Freight tools, a $20 3/8” hand drill -- also easily purchased at Harbor Freight -- a small $25 bench vise from Harbor Freight; a few drill bits and the bur bit needed for fire control pocket shaping.

Honestly speaking, I’m a skeptic by nature, so I have to admit that I balked at polymer lower receivers at first. Why on earth should I choose what I had deemed to be an inferior plastic material over an aluminum casting, when I already had a very nice milling machine, lathe, drill press and the ability to anodize my own aluminum at home? With my equipment, completing aluminum AR-15 and AR-10 lower receivers has always been a cinch. And with a new jig and an 80% aluminum lower averaging out to what I considered to be a very reasonable $175 , why would I even consider switching from a time-tested method?

Well, what made me change my opinion toward polymer was not just its jig-less $65 price tag. True, saving $110 is certainly appealing, but if for instance the buffer tube broke off of the lower, I would have nothing but a piece of busted and worthless junk in my hands.

No, what made my thoughts about them radically change was after watching a torture test video featuring a polymer lower receiver versus aluminum. I gotta tell you, I was impressed! Not only did the polymer variant match its aluminum counterpart in tensile strength and rugged durability, it actually outperformed it. And with the cost of that jig-less polymer lower being the $65 I just spoke of, out the door and delivered to your door, not to mention the light-weight design and extreme ease of the machining process, the transition was an easy one for me to make.

Which brings us to the available options of jig-less polymer lower receivers, of which there are currently two that I can personally vouch for, each costing $65 before shipping: the Poly80, available at, and the EP80, available at I have personally completed both designs. The finish on both of them is excellent, and they function flawlessly. There really is not much difference to speak of between them and they are both a superior option to any aluminum design AR receiver on the market.

Moving on to the completion phase...

Completing one of these lower receivers is really as simple as removing the white plastic from the fire control pocket, smoothing the ridges to blend with the walls; drilling a 5/32” hole for the trigger and hammer pins; and drilling a 3/8” hole for the safety selector switch. Lastly, widening the trigger slot by 1/4” toward the front and a 1/4” to the rear of the lower receiver to match the trigger base is all that is needed to have a stripped lower receiver, ready for assembly.

Should you have questions or doubts, many Youtube videos are available that will give the layperson key visual completion instructions and tips to seeing the project successfully through. So if you are inexperienced, watching a few of them will certainly help ensure that your finished lower looks professional and performs flawlessly. If you just remember to take your time, you will not only likely enjoy the project, you will also take pride in seeing its completion through to actual service.

I would be remiss if I failed to add that a drill press will aid in drilling the hammer, trigger and safety selector holes straight, but by using an inexpensive level -- which almost every hand drill of today already has embedded above the trigger grip, saving you a couple of bucks -- a hand drill will more than suffice if you are steady and patient.

(As a side note, I strongly recommend getting a set of number and letter stamps, which can also be purchased from Harbor Freight Tools for an additional $10 , to stamp your own serial number on the completed lower. Though the BATFE does not require a serial number on personally manufactured firearms, some police officers are ignorant to this simple fact. Should such an officer demand to inspect your rifle, you can avoid a whole heap of inconvenience and awkward questions with the simple expedient of adding a serial number. Trust me, I have been there! So this is your chance to learn from my mistakes.)

Now that you have a completed and anonymous lower, the only thing left to do is to select a carbine or rifle kit. Palmetto State Armory (PSA), DPMS, CMMG, J&T Distributing, Del-Ton, and a whole host of other companies have good quality entry-level parts kits available. Naturally, some are more expensive and of marginally better design.

But since we are pinching pennies, every ounce of copper is at a premium, and reliable function is of paramount importance, I strongly recommend going with Del-Ton. I own Del-Tons, and not only would I stack them up against any rifle kit on the market, I would and have stacked them up against much more expensive rigs and handily outperformed a number of them. And since Del-Ton is one of the least expensive and best designed kits of the list of quality options, it is a no-brainer as far as I am concerned.

The fit and finish of Del-Ton’s kits are outstanding, and the form and function is no-nonsense and flawless. The upper receivers are already fully assembled and head-spaced. The lower parts kits include quality components. The buttstock and buffer tube are mil-spec and snug-fitting.

If you are looking for an excellent and very inexpensive option for a rifle that can not only feed your family should the need arise, but surely defend the lives of you and your family, you really need look further than! I do not work for Del-Ton, I just recognize rugged quality when I see it and am not afraid to advocate for it...

(Another side note: Del-Ton currently has a 4-6 week lead time on their rifle and carbine kits, with some of them being currently out of stock. But trust me, their price and quality are definitely worth the wait.)

Now, the only addition we need to make to have a very serviceable rifle or carbine is an AR-15 multi-tool to assemble your chosen rifle or carbine kit -- Tapco features one on for around $10 -- and the addition of a removable rear sight or carry handle.

As far as the rear sight goes, E-Bay has many flip-up and carry handle options for under $20 every day of the week. But be warned: some of the rear sight solutions on eBay are very cheap, flimsy, and will not take a whole lot of abuse, so upgrading to a Magpul M-BUIS rear sight for another $30 is something I think you should strongly consider, if you can find the extra cash in your budget. If you simply cannot spare the extra $30, the [mainland Chinese-made] NCStar flip-up is less expensive and suitable alternative at an average price of $25, compared to the $50 Magpul sight.

(Note: If you are unsure about assembling your rifle, Youtube is again your friend, with a countless array of instructional and how-to videos. It really is a very straightforward process and valuable knowledge can be gained by watching them if you lack AR-15 experience).

So for a quick recap: we have spent about $75 on tools and drill bits, if you did not have any one of them before, $480 on a base-model Del-Ton rifle or carbine kit; $65 on an EP Armory 80% lower receiver; $12 dollars on a Magpul 30 round PMag magazine; $20 for a rear sight and $10 for an AR-15 multi-tool. This brings the grand total to $662.

Keep in mind that your $662 is for a complete rifle that also guarantees your anonymity by avoiding tedious, expensive and unnecessary background checks. In addition, should the illegal violations of our Second Amendment rights through gun registration and confiscation continue to spread from Connecticut, California and New York, you will be completely -- and legally -- under the radar. Remember to thoroughly research your state and local laws!

I know that almost $700 is a heck of a stretch for folks struggling to just put food on the table in these wickedly uncertain economic times, believe me I do. But if you value your lives and the way you and your family live those lives, it is something that everyone should try to fit into their survival budget. You have to ask yourself not if you can afford to take the plunge, but whether or not you can really afford not to...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The article forwarded by J.B.G. re: the Connecticut gun registration photo/article for ARs and high capacity magazines (‘Looks Like Weimar Germany’: The Viral Photo Out of Connecticut That’s Giving Some Gun Owners Chills) is really just the tip of the iceberg. This legislation was really designed to ultimately refine and maintain the firearm registry in the state that is already in existence for all firearms.
The State police have been collecting and storing all firearms transactions for many years here. The Federal Government by law must destroy all the data gained from background checks for firearm  purchasing. The Connecticut state police have no such restrictions. I can find no legislative authority that allows them to do this but it is being done and has been done for many years. If you are stopped for a traffic violation et cetera and the officer runs your Connecticut drivers license, all the firearms you have purchased in Connecticut in the last dozen years or so will show up on his computer..

My neighbor received a letter from the state reminding him that he must register his ARs. I know he purchased them several years ago so as you can see that they already knew he had them.
Pistol permits of course, have always been recorded and collected by the State police as well as any pistol purchase data. Now the new law requires a long gun certificate to purchase any legal rifle or shotgun and this data is also recorded and will include data from private sales or gifts as well. My son will need to pass a background check in order to accept a rifle as a gift from me.
As I said, the law has been designed to ultimately capture all the guns residing in the state.

None of my firearms are currently in the registry as the purchase of them predates this 'illegal' [and unconstitutional] registration. But as we old guys pass away, our heirs have no choice but to endure transfer and registration unless they move them out of state.

In effect, this will insure over time that all the firearms in the state will become part of the registry. This model is what our current administration would like to enact for our entire country. As you know, none of this will make us any safer but it's really about control not safety.
Of course, all felons will be exempt from participating .
Regards, - X. from Connecticut

JWR Replies: I encourage my readers to ignore unconstitutional laws. Lex mala, lex nulla. But if and when you ever come under government prosecution, then be prepared for a legal battle all the way through a lengthy appeals process. In the end, we shall prevail, but there will be plenty of angst, in the interim. Living through that is part of the price that we pay for our freedom. If you don't have the means to fight a protracted legal battle, then hide your banned guns very well. (You probably won't want to be "the test case.")

Saturday, December 28, 2013

There have been some interesting developments in the world of 80% complete AR lowers. The following are some companies that are producing beefed up AR-15 carbon fiber or polymer lowers that can be completed more easily than their older generation aluminum relatives:

Another innovation is a jig that allows a hand router to be used to mill out the control pocket of an AR-15 80% aluminum lower.

As many of your readers already know, the lower receiver is the part with a serial number that the BATF considers a "firearm." However, an 80% lower is not considered a firearm by the BATF. As a result,[in most states] anyone who can legally own a firearm can purchase an 80% lower without going through an FFL, and unencumbered individuals are allowed to manufacture firearms for their personal use without paying any Federal taxes or completing any Federal paperwork. Check your state and local laws to be certain, in your locale.

Also, although I wouldn't recommend it for OPSEC reasons, 80% lowers and parts kits are available through Amazon. Here is an example.

Merry Christmas! - R.L.H. from Ohio

Friday, December 27, 2013

Dear Jim,
There's another tricky loophole regarding permitted concealed carrying in or near schools. Many states have reciprocity with other states, but best I recall, the Federal statute requires valid licensure issued by that same State to carry in these areas.  So even if your license is valid throughout the state [via a reciprocity provision], it could conceivably still violate Federal law to be armed on or near school grounds.
Thanks, - Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I'm writing to warn fellow SurvivalBlog readers that there is a huge proviso for those wishing to open carry firearms in states where it is lawful to do so.

I recommend reading the Wikipedia page on Gun-Free School Zones Act (GFSZA) of 1990.

Some key excerpts form that web page follow:

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(25) the term "school zone" means—
(A) in, or on the grounds of, a public, parochial or private school; or
(B) within a distance of 1,000 feet from the grounds of a public, parochial or private school.
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(26) the term "school" means a school which provides elementary or secondary education, as determined under State law.
Prohibition of unlicensed carry
Most states allow some form of unlicensed carry by people without criminal convictions.[8] This may be open-carry,[8] vehicle-carry,[9] or concealed carry without the need for a permit.[10] The Federal GFSZA prohibits unlicensed carry by making it a federal crime for an unlicensed individual to travel into a "Gun Free School Zone unless they meet one of the other criteria defined in Section 'B'." [11][12][13][14] The large number of K-12 schools in developed areas makes it difficult for an individual to travel any distance without entering a Gun Free School Zone.[2][11][12][14]

18 U.S.C. § 924(a)(4) establishes the penalty for violating GFSZA:
Whoever violates the Act shall be fined not more than $5,000, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the term of imprisonment imposed under this paragraph shall not run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment imposed under any other provision of law.

Note: A conviction under the GFSZA will cause an individual to become a "prohibited person" under the Gun Control Act of 1968. This will bar them from legally owning firearms for the rest of their life.

JWR Adds: The Constitutionality of that law is doubtful. (It was already overturned once by the Supreme Court once, only to be reenacted by Congress in slightly different form.) But unless or until it is overturned, I would recommend that before open carrying near any schools that readers either: A.) obtain a concealed carry permit or B.) that they only carry pre-1899 antique guns, which are not considered "firearms" per Title 18 U.S.C. (Even so, be prepared to be stopped and challenged by under-informed law enforcement officers, and hence prepared to to prove that you are either a permit holder or that the particular gun that you are carrying had a frame or receiver that was manufactured in or before 1898.)

Readers are also warned that state and local laws vary widely, so do your homework before you exercise your right to be armed.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Back in the 1980s it seemed like every knife company was producing some sort of hollow handle "survival" knife, and the truth is, most were just junk - plain and simple. Oh sure, there were some good ones, however if you wanted a really good hollow handle survival knife, you had to go to one of the custom knife makers - and at that, there weren't that many really producing this type of knife. I remember being at an auction one time in Colorado Springs, Colorado - and there was all manner of stuff up for auction. There was one lot of the very cheapest, and poorly made hollow handle survival knives that were just junk. You could have purchased these knives any place in town for a couple bucks. When the bidding started on this lot of a dozen knives, a couple bidders just went crazy, and the winning bidder had purchased the knives for $20 each. My friend and I just stood there in shock - as did almost everyone else. You would have had a difficult task slicing warm butter with those knives, and the saw on the back of the blade - it wouldn't saw anything. To each his own. And, I'm glad the "Rambo" hollow handle survival knife craze has passed. You can easily pack all the survival gear that was in a hollow handle survival knife in a 35mm film container to put in your pocket, in a pouch built into a sheath, or in your pack.
Today, most Preppers tend to lean towards smaller fixed blade knives as their first choice for operating in the boonies. However, while a smaller 4 or 5 inch blade fixed blade knife can handle many chores, there's nothing like a bigger/longer blade for the hard tasks. Ever try chopping a small tree down with a smallish fixed blade knife? I didn't think so! How about breaking through bones on a big game animal? You need some heft behind your blade, and smaller blades won't get the job done!
I recently tested the Columbia River Knife & Tool "Redemption" survival knife, a design from the creative mind of custom knife maker and knife designer, Ken Onion. Onion is very well-known for his folding knife designs, but a lot of folks don't know about his fixed blade knife designs, and there are quite a few of them on the market being produced by various knife companies. Onion collaborated with CRKT to come up with one of the biggest and baddest fixed blade survival knives I've ever run across. And, if you've ever looked at any Onion-designed knives, you'll readily recognize the graceful flowing lines of the blade - all are a bit different from one another, but all have the same "Onion" design behind them.
The Redemption has a 9.50-inch long blade made out of 01 tool steel, that has a black powder coating on the entire blade - nice subdued look to the knife. The blade is recurved, and this actually extends the cutting edge over the overall length of the blade - in reality, you are getting more than 9.50-inches of cutting power. Blade thickness is .26-inches, so just a touch over a quarter inch in thickness. Overall length of the Redemption is 15-inches with the bulbous handle shape with finger grooves placed right where you need them. The handle material is G10 and this is super-tough stuff. At one time, only custom knife makers used G10 handle scales because the material was so expensive. The top front of the handle has what I like to call "friction" grooves, for sure thumb placement, giving you tremendous control and gripping power when using the blade in slashing and stabbing moves.
The 01 tool steel blade has a Rockwell hardness of 56-58 and that's about perfect for tool steel - you don't want it too hard, or it becomes brittle and hard to re-sharpen. And, 01 tool steel has been around as a blade material for a lot of years, and the only drawback is that it will rust if not properly cared for - thus the black powder coating on the blade to help protect it from the elements. For such a large blade, it only weighs 20.8 ounces - not too heavy, and not too light for the tasks you'll use it for. And, speaking of tasks, the Redemption can be used as a self-defense blade, as well as a mini-machete, and it can replace a hand axe, too - it can chop better than many small hand axes I've used over the years. And, in my neck of the woods, we have blackberries vines all over the place, and the Redemption sliced right through them without much effort and blackberry vines are quite tough.
Truth be told, I don't normally like a fixed blade knife for survival purposes, with a blade much more than 7 or 8 inches. However, the balance on the Redemption is such that the blade doesn't feel that big - although it is. And, I believe you can get a blade that is too long for self-defense use - however the Redemption seems to work when I put it through its paces slashing and stabbing it into stacked cardboard in my car port.  While I couldn't stab it the complete length of the blade into the stacked cardboard, I have no doubts at all, that this blade would easily penetrate its length into warm flesh and bone. There is also a lanyard hole, with a 550 paracord lanyard attached, a great thing to have and use.
The sheath that the Redemption comes in is worthy of mention, too. Not too many years ago, you would have paid $100 or more for this type of sheath from a custom sheath maker - I know from experience! The sheath is made out of high-strength Nylon, with a formed and fitted thermal plastic insert, so when you are putting the Redemption back into the sheath, there is no fear of the blade piercing the sheath - I've seen it happen numerous times on leather sheaths and unlined Nylon sheaths - not a good thing. There is also a leg strap on the sheath, for securing the knife so it doesn't flop around on your leg - and the sheath is easy on/off, too, so you don't have to remove gear to put it on your web belt. There is an additional paracord length of material on the bottom of the sheath, so you can further secure it to you leg - as in making a parachute jump - you don't want your gear flapping in the wind at 120 MPH, nor do you want to lose your gear in a jump. The knife is further secured in the sheath with a Nylon retaining strap with a firm one-way snap.
If you're in the market for a large fixed blade knife that can serve as not only a large camp knife, but one well-suited for self-defense as well as serving as a small hand axe, then be sure to check out the CRKT Redemption. I think you'll be surprised at how well it handles, for such a large blade. Full-retail is $300. However, like many CRKT products, you can find them discounted at many big box stores and on the Internet. And, don't forget, all CRKT knives come with a lifetime limited warranty, and I've used it once or twice, excellent service. The Redemption has all the quality of a hand-made custom knife, but without the high price tag.   - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Hey, Jim:
I think we need some more collective thought on this. I've got more time in the air than most people--4,000+ hours as an Army helicopter pilot (where we wore a cleverly-stocked survival vest; alas, a lot of the contents would not pass TSA scrutiny), 2 million+ miles on Delta, and about that many more on defunct airlines (especially Eastern and TWA). Getting stuck somewhere could happen to me on a trip. Here's some of my thinking (and I still need some help):

It seems to me that anything important should be in the carry-on bag, not checked. Most frequent-flyers will avoid checking a bag, unless going on vacation with spouse/family. So, that says we need ideas and separate strategies for carry-on and checked bags.

I've thought a bit about what I might be able to do in a hijack situation. I am much more realistic about this now than when I was young, buff, and a bit more foolish. I have read about various strategies for sneaking illegal devices, substances, and gadgets through security, but the downside seems too severe for me, especially when one's livelihood depends on being able to fly (getting caught a time or two will earn a slot on the "no-fly" list). Here's at least a partial solution:

In the carry-on bag, include three rolls of coins--one each of Walking Liberty [silver] halves, pre-'65 [silver] quarters, and Mercury dimes. This is $25 face value of silver. At today's silver price and value (per, that's about $350-worth, if I did the math right. That should be enough for a domestic SHTF situation/stranding. If you think you need more, I would carry the gold coins in my wallet/purse. Also in the carry-on bag--along with your athletic shoes (if they're not on your feet)--will go a rolled up pair of tube socks. I think the combination of the Walkers and a tube sock could come in pretty handy, if needed (swing hard).

Beyond that, I have no idea. Space blanket? Disposable poncho? Water purification straw? Why don't we put this out for suggestions and ideas? Or, have you plowed this ground before and I missed it? - AAA (Another Army Aviator)

As someone who spent several years asking people if they packed their own bag, and did it contain any of the following items (while pointing at the dangerous goods poster).  I would like to mention that at my locale the matches, magnesium and entire fire group would have been removed from the bag, as would any complete MREs. (The MRE eater pack is a no-no, and knowing which ones have heaters was not something any of us were likely to know.)

I would recommend anyone, as you said, to check with The airlines policy, Government agency (FAA, TC, etc) and airport security. If any one of them says no, don't bring it. Fortunately this information is all usually on the web these days. - Dave W.

I would caution TR from North Carolina against packing flammable/combustible materials in checked baggage, no matter how it's packaged (especially matches). Not only is it against fed regs, it is dangerous to everyone on board. Believe me, as a commercial pilot I know those rules are there for safety reasons. You don't want to end up like ValueJet in 1996. Consult for a good list of what is permissible in both carry-on and checked luggage. If TR wants a fire starter, he could carry a lighter in his carry-on bag no problem. Safe travels!

That was a thought provoking article. I purposely left my last job due to the heavy travel requirements. However I too sought risk mitigation while traveling ... I carried a minimal amount of items with me so I never checked baggage, however since my trips were to the same locations time and again (including outside CONUS) ... I found locations where I could keep appropriate items necessary should I need to try to "manage" in case of emergency ... this sometimes involved like minded individuals ...sometimes it meant leaving a bag locked in the hotel porters closet (big tip and explanations that I didn't like continually hauling my hair curlers and curling irons on the airlines ... hotels I frequented didn't bat an eye at the frequent guest who wanted to leave a bag.)
Obviously doesn't work if you don't return often, and I always assumed that the bag might walk off ... I was always prepared to replenish/ replace.
Just some more food for thought.

Keep up the good work. - Debra, Somewhere in the Midwest


Dear Editor,
To T. R. in North Carolina and anyone else who flies frequently did you know that the airlines have provided you with weapons and a host of defensive equipment?

I worked on big jets as a line mechanic for many years Boeing 737s to 747s, DC10s, MD11s and some others.

Let’s start before you board the plane for when you get off, how does an oak walking cane with the end rounded and covered with a rubber tip sound. Take some martial arts training that will teach you how to use the cane as a weapon. Medical equipment isn’t forbidden on air planes and don’t count against your carry-on baggage. Oh the rounded tip well cover it with a rubber grip and no one will know it’s rounded and it will have more impact power than a flat tip and in snowy climates you can get pointed tips that flip up and down as needed for traction on ice and snow.

Now you are in the boarding area start your profiling of your fellow passengers and be aware of where the problems you have identified wind up especially if they are scattered to strategic parts of the cabin. Choke points are the bulkhead between first Class and Coach and if there are lavatories or Galleys in mid cabin as on large wide bodies and at the rear of the aircraft. I like to fly First Class and have an aisle seat. This way I can view the passengers as they board and size them up while sipping a Sprite.

When you board the aircraft do at least two things, take a look into the first class galley and view the food service carts and note how they are secured. They usually are held in place by to methods, one a large usually red lever turned down to hold them in place and a break mechanism in the center of the cart on the floor and some have handles to grab that must be rotated to move the cart these are usually the drink service carts  these are the best as they have sodas, ice and other items in them for minor very minor ballistic protection but it will be the best you can get but this also makes them heavy to be used as a battering ram against someone in the aisle and you can throw the cans or shake them up and then open them in the face of the bad people. This can cause confusion, minor eye blinding and a reaction to clean oneself so a distraction. The second thing is to ask the flight attendant for a seat belt extension. If you are thin just say you don’t want to feel trapped and like the extra room the extension give you, me I don’t have this problem. Why do I need a seat belt extension well I do need one but if you have one it makes things easier just extend the buckle to the max and now you have a “flail”. That buckle will hurt. Let’s say the flight attendant won’t give you an extension not to worry Boeing gave you one.

During the hubbub of boarding if you can before you sit down grab hold of your seat cushion and pull up, it’s held in place by Velcro strips. It is designed as an auxiliary flotation device. There are two elastic straps on the back to hold onto if you are in the water, correct, but slip your arm in it and now you have a small shield that can be used for blades up to about 3 inches and to block punches. And lo and behold underneath the seat cushion is where the seatbelts are fastened to the seat frame. By FAA requirements these must be cotter pinned but most of the time they are not. Just a snap holds them to the little clevis attached to the seat frame. They are quick and easy to be removed and now you have a flail on the end of about a 16 inch strap.

Now let’s look into the pouch on the seatback in front of you, there is a rather thick in-flight magazine in there, in fact every seatback has or should have one. Now what can you do with a magazine? Well not much but if you hold it by its spine (back) and throw it in a spinning motion the pages will fly open hopefully distracting and confusing your opponent and you hit them with the seatbelt buckle and then give a push with your seat cushion which is attached to your arm and do a leg sweep or trip your opponent somehow now they are on the cabin floor pretty much at your mercy and the mercy of the other passengers.

Another thing to look for is where are the oxygen bottles kept? They are steel bottles and are formidable weapons as are fire extinguishers. Discharge a chemical fire extinguisher at a person and it is very confusing and blinding. Also look for the first aid kit it is removable and can be thrown at a bad person.

Guns on a plane, Well unless you are a sky marshal so don’t try it but if the bad person has one remember the soda service cart if you can get to it and the rapid decompression of an airplane by a gun shot well this isn’t Hollywood you won’t squeeze through a bullet hole in the side of the plane or a window.

Door opening in flight well forget it. I was a mechanic and we did pressure checks I couldn’t open a door of a pressurized aircraft if my life depended on it and I was a big strong person then.

Other things to look for when you board is overhead dropdown panels. On most 757 Aircraft life rafts are located in the overhead in the aisle of first class two latches hold it up and a safety catch string keeps it from coming all the way down it’s easy the unhook and drop it all the way now you have another barrier.

Oh and don’t forget your cane.

While none of these are deadly it could even your chances in a sky jacking and after all in a sky jacking you have nothing to loose but everything to gain and if there are other passengers of similar mind set well no airplane should be flown into a skyscraper again. - OldAlaskan


I'd carry a few extra wool socks, and rolls of quarters or a large padlock. buying knives gets expensive- but putting the rolled quarters in the socks makes a useful slap implement. it's probably not lawful in most un-gun-friendly states but it's likely to be something that if you carry the change rolled won't get taken from you through security.  nothing is more useless then a man with out a knife (as I was taught as a kid)- but since humans generally can adapt with intelligence we can overcome most roadblocks. - Fitzy

JWR Replies: In addition to their use as an ersatz sap in a sturdy sock, a large padlock also makes a dandy "brass knuckle." Just hold the padlock in your fist with your middle finger through the steel loop of the lock. Especially if is not expected, the blows that you land while holding a padlock can be quite devastating. There is an advantage in not using one in a sock sap, which generally "telegraphs" your intent. Just be sure that you use a lock that is large enough, or you can strain or break a finger. Test fit a few locks at your local hardware store.

Also see my previous comments in SurvivalBlog on Kubotan-type striking weapons. Some of these--mostly felt tip pens--go through airport security with ease. One good currently-available product for this is the Sharpie Magnum Permanent Marker.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Your Bug Out bag, Go Bag, SHTF Bag, or whatever you call it contains similar items for each one of us. Some are kept at the door ready at a moment’s notice, some in the trunk of each vehicle all with the same purpose; Mitigation of Risk. As a project manager, Risk Management is a key component to successful project delivery, and one tool of risk mitigation is contingency resources. Understanding the risk and developing contingency to avoid, eliminate, adapt to or reduce the impact upon a project’s outcome. I say all this to share with you my recent experience of experimenting and adapting to build a Air Travelers Contingency Bag.
Over the last year my role as a project manager has changed with a promotion to a position that now directs and leads other project manager for our company throughout the most population concentration in the country, the East Coast. My primary responsibility is an area from North Carolina to Maine, but frequent travel to Atlanta and Denver. This is in stark contrast to my previous role which confined my travel to 180-200 miles of home or our retreat location. In an event situation, though difficult but not impossible, it was always possible to get to one of those locations. Since my main travel method was by vehicle packing and carrying a contingency bag with a full pack with significant supplies was always readily available in my truck. Since I have always traveled with my “security contingency bag” that included a means of self defense, but as of February 3rdmy world changed. The promotion was a mixed blessing, a promotion and larger salary but increased risk.
I have been working to build an Air Travel Contingency bag since that time and I thought I can’t be the only one that needs this information. I know I am not the only awake person that realizes the world in which we live that travels. So from a project manager’s mind set my thoughts and methodology I personally went through to arrive where I am today.
For all non-project managers, risk management included contingencies to overcome or adapt to a variable that may create a critical project failure, thus the name sake of my bag is a Contingency Bag. My first struggle was what can logistically be packed, not just from a space or load perspective but also legally to avoid TSA/Homeland Security scrutiny.
All projects with a begin with a mission in mind, and mine project mission is to travel in-complete the work-get home as quickly as possible to reduce my exposure to the risks associated with traveling in the I-95 Corridor (DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston). I eliminated planning for an EMP risk while airborne, since well let’s just say the landing will be a little rough. So I eliminate the thought of any carry-on bags and thus increase the size of luggage I can travel with. This allows has allowed me to enter and exit the aircraft quicker, though I still have to wait on other carry on passengers, but I also move quicker through busy airports such as JFK, Atlanta or Denver.
With the determination of checking my bag it allows consideration of risks that can be mitigated. I would suggest performing a risk matrix analysis, it helped me to determine how many contingencies I should plan for a event that has a low probability but high impact to those that are high probability but low impact. Some of the contingency planning included the distance from home or retreat and method of return or even if the return would even have a remote possibility of success. This reminded me of all the travelers on I-40 in One Second After. Each contingency should present valid solutions, whether that is walking from Boston to North Carolina, time of year, etc. or surviving in location long term. Not all contingencies will necessary have a high long term success rate, it may only present a solution that reduces the impact of the variable.
To avoid getting any deeper into risk management, I only presented it to you to show my methodology used to construct a contingency bag for traveling by air. I then decomposed my bag into categories, I will avoid long lists of specific items, they are numerous lists available and you will want to weigh and build your own bags according to your own risk matrix.
As you go through your categories be mindful of the size bag you have chosen. This is important since I assume you, like me would need room for business attire and a change(s) of clothes for your trip. I don’t pack trips in a full military duffle bag, nor do I want the attention. I use a standard suitcase, slightly bigger than a carry-on and I found a bag that when packed takes no more than 50% of the checked suitcase. Make sure it is neutral or black, no HI-VIS colors for the obvious reasons to remain inconspicuous. Also, be mindful you can’t take everything you would if the bag was packed for a bug-out from home scenario or one in which you can travel by car, this is for Air-travel. The categories give you some minimal resources, adjust for your personal situation.
Category 1-Water
        I include two bottles of 8oz water in my bag, one the weight is low, and it provides additional containers for future use. Since packing air is a waste of space either take filled bottles or fill them with something useful but dry. I use filled bottles. Purification tablets and a LifeStrawGo
        Matches dipped in paraffin, cotton balls soaked in Vaseline, magnesium starter, small pieces of fatwood stored in an empty Altoids can
Category 3-Food
        Three days MREs, instant oatmeal, power energy bars, chocolate bars, instant coffee.
Category 4-Medical
        Standard first aid kit, moleskin, k-Tabs, Fish Antibiotics, Pain relief, Combat Bleed Stop, tourniquet, syringe and a scalpel. Yes, the scalpel makes its way the checked bag security unlike knives. I also, carry two epi-pens and Benadryl since I am allergic to bee stings. I suggest packing these in a Med Kit since it seems that they get through inspections without much scrutiny. Items you pack may be specific again to your personal situation.
Category 5-Clothing
        In addition to your travel clothes which should include a sturdy pair of jeans, I pack extra socks, underwear, thermals, rain jacket, tactical pants and a shirt. As for boots, they are bulky and difficult to pack so when I can I wear them on the plane both way and store them in my rental car upon arrival. Those of you that don’t have that option realize some sacrifices may need to be made if you are traveling with footwear that will last if you need to evacuate by foot.
Category 6-Defense
        This was the most abrupt change. I the past I was able to travel freely in North Carolina and Virginia with a firearm for defense. This all ended leaving me feeling completely unable to defend myself. I first decided to include a knife in my bag thinking it would be overlooked since it was in a checked bag. Wrong! On three consecutive trips three knives were stolen or confiscated. So I quickly decided not to include a knife. Of course the paper work and logistics of declaring a firearm etc was not logistically possible, plus the States and Cities I work are not gun friendly to even their citizens. There are some products I have yet to try that may pass as innocent products but I am not going to list them here for numerous reasons. So for now I have decided that upon arriving at my destination the first stop is a Wal-Mart or Sporting Goods store and purchase a knife. I have padded self addressed envelopes for at the end of the trip I mail myself the knife home or return it to Wal-Mart unopened. Those that I have mailed home now total over 30, thought they will make a great barter item in the future. Bottom Line you will have to think creatively to provide your inherent right to self defense when traveling by air.
Category 7-Shelter
        Flat unwrapped 6x8 tarp, 100’ of Para-cord
Category 8- Cash/Gold and Silver
        Never, ever, pack cash or precious metals in a checked bag unless its Christmas time and you are giving the TSA agents a Christmas bonus! I carry these items on my person, be cautious however since gold and silver bullion shows as a distinctive black circle on TSA X-Ray scanners. I experimented and was pulled and ask about them. My computer bag physically checked. Use discretion when travel with PMs (precious metals not project managers).
Category 9- Communications
        I assumed the communication grid will be limited or down, cell connectivity will be limited similarly to 9-11. I have approached this category as if I was going on a hiking trip alone. I leave all destinations, arrival times, departures, hotel accommodations and phone numbers with my family and a friend at our retreat locations. I also let them know in case of an “event” my intended course of action. I include in my bag maps and a compass of the area I am traveling to mitigate the chance that GPS is down. Included in this category is a flashlight and extra batteries. I additionally discovered that “a friend” has a number a safe houses available to me that I now have access to in an event.
Category 10-Free Space
        Usually by this time there is none so I move into what is available at my hotel destination. Shelter for one, but towels and personal hygiene items are available in your room, as are blankets and some type of food stuff such as fruits, instant oatmeal and grits, etc, but if you do have free space after packing your Contingency Bag add things like a additional food, clothing etc. or personalize it if traveling with children, chances are you won’t have any room.
Is this the perfect solution to an Air Travel Contingency Bag, by no means, and your bag will become personalize to your unique Air Travel project as mine has over the last year.  But it is only meant to mitigate a risk just like any other Bug Out, SHTF Bag etc. Good luck in your travels.
 JWR Adds:
Be sure to check current airline regulations. These seem to change regularly, and they restrict some items which seem quite innocuous.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dear JWR,
Last spring, with the ammo shortage clearing the shelves everywhere, I found myself in a position to expand my collection.  I decided on a Ruger .44 Magnum Super Blackhawk, with the 7" barrel.  Legal for whitetail in my state, you see.  Having neglected to actually check the retail supply, I assumed that the shortage would be primarily the military calibers (9mm Para, .45 ACP, 5.56mm NATO, .308, and 7.62x39mm) with the civilian calibers being readily available.

Experienced wheelgunners are already laughing.  Took me a month to track down 100 rounds of basic .44 Magnum.  Eventually, diligent checking at Wal-Mart (I work nights, what else is open at 5 AM?) landed me another 200.  Over the rest of the summer.  Usually buying the one remaining box of 50 rounds.

Things started to loosen up a bit here, and I picked up a S&W in .357, as a friend had laid in 500 rounds of reloads a couple years back, and gave me  a box of leftover factory .38 Special.  I find it amusing that a box of 100 .38 Special costs about the same as 50 of .44 Magnum! Also, the local farm supply carries .38 Special and .357 Magnum, but not .44 Magnum or .44 Special.

Through this whole business, I have been impressed by the fact that the much-derided .45 Colt has been readily available at Wal-Mart, including a combination pack of 25 rounds of .45 Colt and 25 of .410.  My congratulations to anyone who had the foresight to buy one of the combination .45/.410 pistols.  That and .40 S&W were the only pistol ammo continuously in stock at Wal-Mart since April 2013, when I started looking.  Many of us originally chose 9mm pistols and 5.56mm or .308 rifles for for long-term ammo availability--ammo in military calibers is supposedly plentiful.  Lately, this has proven false.  Any first-time pistol buyers this year who purchased .45 Colt revolvers showed more foresight than I had. - Ethan A.

[JWR Adds: While .45 Colt (commonly but erroneously called ".45 Long Colt") is a fine cartridge ballistically--with plenty of power for self defense (especially if you handload), I generally recommend .44 Magnum for anyone desiring a large bore handgun. The key problem with .45 Colt is that it has a relatively narrow cartridge rim. So, when shooting swing-out cylinder revolvers with a typical rim extractor "star", you will occasionally get a cartridge rim stuck underneath the extractor, when you make the fired brass ejection stroke. This is a mere annoyance when target shooting, but it could prove deadly if it were to happen in the midst of a serious shooting affray.

The .410 shotshells (with buckshot or slugs) are a poor choice for self defense. So if you own one of the new pistol/shotshell long-cylinder revolvers, my advice is to keep it loaded with .45 Colt jacketed hollow points. Only load it with shotshells when shooting grouse or garden pests.]

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The service has ended, we say goodbye to our friends, wait for everyone to leave then lock up the church.  The drive home takes only a few minutes and when we arrive my wife and I take off and secure our weapons and conduct a debrief on any problems we encountered during the service.  Not exactly the Norman Rockwell version of a day in church.  I realize that the fact that someone would carry a weapon in church is appalling to many people.  However, before you begin stereotyping Christians as right-wing radicals, ask yourself a few questions.  When you were growing up, how many people did you know who were the victims of some type of crime?  In the last year, how many people do you know that have been the victim of some type of crime?  If you are at least forty years old, you can easily quote the numbers, and the increase is significant.  Whereas crimes against property, institutions, and people have increased dramatically ( regardless of what the local media tells you), unfortunately the church has been given no exemption. 

My journey into the world of church security took the proverbial long and winding road, but I will condense it down to the basics.  A chance encounter a couple of years before had introduced us to a couple who were like-minded, great people.  We kept in touch and became close friends.  As the situation in the country continued to deteriorate we, like many "preppers", recognized that going it alone in hard times was not a good option. Clearly, our new friends were the ones we wanted watching our backs so we relocated to a city in the southeast to join forces with our friends to form a safe haven for "old geezers".  After all, we had four senior citizens and a .22 rifle, what could possibly go wrong?   Soon after settling in, we began a search for a church.  After several unsuccessful visits to area churches we found a small country church and sat down to listen.  One sermon and we were pretty sure this was the right place.  The pastor minced no words when delivering the message. Obviously this guy was not going to win any awards for political correctness.  Plain and simple this man spoke the truth.  We began regular attendance and I noticed that each time the pastor did the announcements that he would warn about some act which had occurred at the church, i.e. acts of vandalism, panhandler’s accosting elderly women as they walked to the church door, and other problems.  God began speaking to me and said you know what you need to do.  As usual, I procrastinated.  One day I timidly sought out the pastor to inquire further about the incidents, but he was corralled by other members and I could not talk to him.  The very next week, another incident occurred and as I sat in the pew God was very direct with me, get off your butt and do it.   After we returned home I spoke to my wife and told her my plan, she was in total agreement.  That day I wrote the pastor an e-mail simply stating that I have a number of years of experience in the security field and that if there was anything I could do to help let me know.  The Pastor's reply was quick and direct; I want you to set up a security team to protect the church.  Well, I guess I’m in it now!  Right on schedule the devil put the doubts into my head. I am brand new at this church I don’t know anybody, nobody knows me, why would a team follow someone they don’t know, etc.
Again, cutting to the chase, the team was formed.  The program launched and we continue to improve.  What I would like to do is offer some of the lessons learned from our startup to folks who are recognizing the need to protect their church.

Clearly state and understand your mission - When I tell people about our program the first thing they say is why does a church need a security program?  My first response is Proverbs 22.3 A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. A quick internet search will produce an astounding number of crimes directed at churches.  Most people remember the church shootings in  Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Knoxville, Tennessee, but harbor the same delusion that it could never happen at their church.  When you decide to start a security program, clearly define what it will and will not cover and get buy-in from the governing body of your church.  Nothing says that you cannot expand your program at a later date, and you probably should. More on that later.
Do your home work- Before you start worrying about whether your team should carry  .44 magnums or 9mms you need to understand what most police officers already know, most of the job is paper work.  Ah man, that’s no fun! Sorry people, but it’s the truth. You will be dealing with vulnerability assessments, threat assessments, job descriptions, operating procedures, architectural drawings, and on and on and on.  Don’t panic if your knowledge in these areas is limited, there is help out there.  Tina Lewis Rowe Training has some really excellent material on building a program and this fine lady allows you to use the material free of charge, just respect her copyright and follow her agreement. 
Pick your team (carefully) - When I started our program my team was chosen for me, and it could not have worked out better.  I got men of the church who were well known by the congregation, mature and level-headed.  Most were veterans ranging from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan.   Later,  two ladies joined the team and if there were any doubts as to their abilities (which I doubt there were) they were quickly dispelled during a team trip to the range. All of  these team members were clearly a blessing, but the chances of you being handed a team of this quality are rare.  Choose your members using established criteria, look for mature folks who have good decision-making skills, avoid those who volunteer because of the “cool” factor.  Also, recruit younger members who you can train and have ready to replace people as they leave, and don’t get your feeling hurt because people will leave.  Establish a clear chain-of-command and impress on your volunteers how important the job is.
To carry or not to carry - This is one of the most controversial decisions you will have to make.  The church I attended before my move was partially governed by a group of elders.  Although we had no formal security team, a few of us stepped up when a threat was made against our pastor.  To our surprise some of the elders simply would not stand for anyone having a gun in church regardless of the fact that these men were police officers and concealed-carry holders.  The solution to this problem was obvious, smile, drop the subject, and do a better job of concealing your weapon.  After a lot of research and prayer, the firearms policy at my present church was formed and we tried to keep it simple.  Those who had valid carry permits were allowed to carry while performing their assigned security duties.  It is our belief that you must be as well equipped as those who seek to harm you if you are to have a viable defense.  However, each team member is made well aware of the legal and moral and financial hazards should they be forced to use a firearm.  If you have a church attorney, consult with them.  If you do not have an attorney, I recommend you read two books before deciding: Evil Invades Sanctuary by Carl Chin and  God, the Gunman & Me by Jeanne Assam.    
Build a comprehensive program- Please understand you must have a program that covers more than security.  If you protect the pastor from a mugger but the church burns down because you did not do routine fire extinguisher inspections, then your program has failed.  Your program must have many aspects including but not limited to security, fire protection, emergency evacuation, executive protection, and weather emergencies.  One of the first things we did was to install locks on numerous storage and maintenance areas, you do not need a kid playing with electrical cable. Do not alienate the congregation, once you start implementing rules no matter how correct and necessary they are, people will be offended.  Ask for input when practical, gradually implement new procedures.  When we first fielded our team, some church members were uneasy with these “security people“ hanging out at different locations.  After a few weeks of these “security people” holding umbrellas for people getting out of their cars and escorting the ladies to their cars when they parked in a dark area of the lot, sentiment changed. Write well thought out and researched procedures, practice those procedures, and drill on those procedures. 

In conclusion I would like to add if you hear the call that your church needs your talents, step up.  I was standing in the parking lot one cold rainy night and I realized that my years as a fire fighter, SWAT team leader,  and emergency manager were all preparation for this most important job and that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Every once in a while, I'm fortunate, in that, I get a gun sample, that no one else has, and when that happens, I jump on testing it, and follow-up with an article. Such is the case with the new CMMG Mk9 T - and you won't find this one on their web site yet, it's not due to be released until the SHOT Show at the end of January 2014.

I've owned a couple of the CMMG M4gery carbines over the years, and I still have one, and found them to be great shooters, and priced below what other similar set-ups would cost. I've also owned a couple 9mm M4gery carbines over the years, and some were good, some were ok, and some were just bad! I always thought, owning a 9mm handgun, and a rifle or carbine chambered in 9mm made good sense. Back in the old west, many gun owners owned a 44-40 revolver and a 44-40 lever-action rifle or carbine - just made good sense to have guns chambered in the same caliber back then, and it still makes sense today.

A quick run down on the specs of the Mk9 T is in order. First of all, it appears to be very similar to most other AR-type M4 carbines, at first glance. However, as already mentioned, it is chambered in 9mm, it comes with a 16" medium weight barrel, and has an A2 flash suppressor on the end of the barrel - not that it's needed, but it completes "the" look. The upper and lower receivers are forged 7075 T-6 aluminum, and the trigger is mil-spec single stage. The gun weighs in a 6.3-lbs and is 32-inches long, with the 6-position telescoping stock collapsed. The barrel twist is 1:10 to help stabilize the 9mm rounds.

The lower receiver is a dedicated 9mm type, in that, it isn't modified to take a Colt-style 32-rd 9mm will ONLY take the 9mm magazine - there is NO adapter inside the magazine well, like so many other 9mm M4 carbines have. The upper has been modified a bit, in that, the ejection port door has been trimmed and shortened, and there is an added brass deflector, in front of the standard one you'll find on 5.56mm models. 

When you break-open the Mk9 T and pull the bolt out for cleaning and lube, you will readily notice that the bolt carrier is quite a bit different than you find on the standard M4 - the bolt carrier doesn't have a separate bolt - instead, the bolt has a recessed face, with an extractor in it, and the firing pin...and the back of the bolt carrier (which really isn't a bolt "carrier" on this gun) has added weights installed in the back of it - this gun is a straight blow-back operation, not gas recoil operated like many M4s are. The barrel doesn't have locking recesses in it, either...the rounds feed right into the gun's chamber.

Okay, so far, we have a pretty basic 9mm M4 on our hands, right? Well, not so fast! The Mk9 T has the KeyMod hand guard, in place of a standard two-piece poly hand guard that is found on most M4s.The Key Mod, is a one-piece affair, that attaches via two hex screws, and the barrel is free-floated, for the most accuracy you can wring out of the gun. The top of the KeyMod has the standard Picatinny-style rail for mounting optics or sighs - the Mk9 T doesn't comes with any sights at all - a minor complaint in my book. The 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions on the Key Mod have specially designed holes, for mounting other Picatinny-type rails, that can be had from CMMG - should you choose to add something on the KeyMod. The only thing I plan on adding is an adapter so I can put a forward sling swivel on the Mk9 T. I have the accessories coming, however, in the meantime, I modified an old 6-inch Picatinny-style rail, and bolted it to the KeyMod hand guard at the 6 o'clock position - it works!

When I first received the Mk9 T sample, I loaded-up two 32-rd magazines - the gun comes with one magazine, however, I requested a couple spare mags. I had a mix of Tulammo 9mm in FMJ and Black Hills 9mm, some of their 100-grain frangible TN ammo. To be sure, the magazines are a bear to load the first few times, the spring is stout - fully load your magazines and let them sit for a few days, to take a set, and after that, they are much easier to load by hand. Most of the time, during this quick function test, the Black Hills 9mm ammo functioned - but every once in a while, I had a stove pipe malfunction, with a round coming out of the magazine about halfway and sticking straight up - causing a stoppage. With the Tulammo, I had untold malfunctions, with the rounds coming halfway out of the magazine, and once again, sticking straight up.

CMMG, like many AR makers specifically states to not use steel cased ammo in any of their guns. If you do, you will void the warranty. Now, a word on Russian-made, steel cased 9mm ammo. I have found that, when loading this steel cased ammo in many double-stack 9mm magazines, that there are similar malfunctions. What is happening is, the rounds don't rotate inside the magazine, as the rounds move upwards...they tend to "stick" a little bit, and it doesn't matter if the cases are poly coated or lacquer coated, the just don't feed smoothing up the magazine tube. So, I attribute the problems with the stove pipe malfunctions to the steel cased ammo. The Black Hills 100-grain frangible truncated ammo - most of the time it fed just fine. However, the few malfunctions I had, I believe are due to the rough bullet surface, they are compressed powdered copper - not nice and smooth bullets, and some guns won't function all the time with this bullet shape or bullets made out of compressed powdered copper.

Before I could do any accuracy testing, I had to wait on some folding sights for the Mk9 T. I ordered a set of polymer sights from CDNN Sports  and even though they are only $29.99 - I've used them before, I've found them to be pretty rugged for the price. I attempted to mount a brand-new BSA red dot sight on the upper receiver of the Mk9 T, however, right out of the package, the scope was broken - not good. So, I was forced to wait several days for the USPS to deliver the sights from CDNN Sports, and the package was several days late in coming.

In the meantime, I took the Mk9 T out several more times, with different ammo, and had absolutely no malfunctions at all. While some might think the Mk9 T is picky about the ammo it will shoot, it is not! I've had problems with Russian-made steel cased ammo in a lot of double stack magazines. And, the Black Hills 100-grain frangible truncated ammo - again, I've had problems with this bullet design and material - for the most part, this Black Hills ammo has run in all my other 9mm handguns, it just wasn't quite 100% reliable in the Mk9 T - it was probably 95% reliable.

When my sights arrived from CDNN Sports, I got out there and zeroed them, using Winchester USA brand white box 115-grain FMJ ammo - at 25-yards. During my accuracy testing, I had miserable weather, high winds, and heavy fog. I used Black Hills 115-grain FMJ, Buffalo Bore 147-grain JHP subsonic ammo, and their 147-grain FMJ FN subsonic ammo, plus their 115-grain Barnes all-copper hollow point, TAC-XP +P+ ammo, 124-grain Penetrator FMJ FN +P+, 115-grain JHP +P and their 124-grain JHP +P+ ammo.

The Mk9 T really ran smoothly with +P and +P+ ammo - you could just feel that the gun operated a little bit smoother for some reason, then again, many 9mm carbines thrive on +P and +P+ ammo. At 25-yards, most of my groups were coming in right at 1.50 and 1.75 inches - really great accuracy, but I knew the gun could do better - but with lousy weather conditions, it was hard to keep the gun on target, and my target box kept falling over after every couple of shots, too. Frustrating! However, there wasn't a lot of time for testing, as SurvivalBlog wanted to get this article and report, on this new model out to our readers as soon as possible.

Was there a winner in the accuracy department? You bet, but it was a tie! Surprisingly, the Winchester USA white box range load came in at 1.25-inches at 25-yards - I shoot a lot of Winchester white box ammo in my articles, and I usually use it for function testing. As did the Black Hills 115-grain FMJ and the Buffalo Bore 124-grain JHP +P+ load. Honestly, in all my shooting, and all the different types and brands of ammo I shot, they were all accurate. However, I believe, given better weather conditions, the Mk9 T will shoot 1-inch groups with ammo is really loves. Still, how do you argue with groups in the 1.25 - 1.75 inch range, in lousy weather?

My one minor complaint, that I already addressed is that, the gun comes with no sights - and it is an easy fix. I installed the inexpensive polymer sights from CDNN Sports, and they work great, and were easy to adjust for windage and elevation. I'd like to see CMMG include these sights with the gun...not all of want to install optics - and to be sure, I don't see any need to install a magnifying scope on a 9mm carbine. A red dot sight? Yes! Still, it's nice to have back-up, fold-down/pop-up sights on the gun, for when (not if) your red dot sight quits on you, and the poly sights from CDNN will serve you well. I like the Troy sights for an ARs, but they are spendy, and maybe one day, I'll install a set on this Mk9 T - but for the time being, I'm content with the poly sights. They fold down easily and pop-up at the push of a lever.

The Mk9 T has a full-retail price of $1.149.95 - not cheap, to be sure. However, I've seen dedicated 9mm uppers costing $700.00 - $900.00 alone...and you are getting a complete AR carbine in 9mm, that is dedicated to the 9mm round - not adapted. And, like most CMMG products, you can usually find them discounted a bit - and now is the time to purchase one, while prices on ARs are down once again. Don't wait for the next mass shooting, because prices will go up, and the guns will, once again, be in very short supply. I love the Mk9 T - it's fun to shoot, and no recoil to speak of, and all things considered, 9mm is cheaper to shoot than .223 is...and it would make a great house gun - to keep next to your bed.

I'm impressed with the Mk9 T so much so, that I'm going to keep the sample and pay for it after the testing period. I don't buy a lot of firearms these days, I have all I "need" - not all I "want" - so it's rare for me to want to purchase a gun sample after testing. But I fell in love with this little 9mm from CMMG, and I like the KeyMod free-floating hand guard, too. Don't discount a 9mm AR, until you've tried one.  - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Dear Sir,
When stockpiling ammo, should one focus on FMJ and soft nose/hollow points or FMJ only?  FMJ is a better value per bullet, plus it's supposed to be a lot more accurate and reliable than SP/HP, but of course, it sometimes comes at the cost of stopping power.

I'm packing a semi-auto in 308/7.62x51, and to my knowledge, there haven't been many complaints about the stopping power of the 7.62x51 ball cartridge in military circles; many complaints come mainly from the kick and weight.  Add to that the fact that after TEOTWAWKI, shooting through cover and mass fire will become the norm and FMJs look pretty appealing.  Not to mention the fact that most bulk sizes of ammo only come in FMJ.

I've been stocking both so far, but with money getting a bit tight, I'm looking at switching over to just FMJs, so is this a good idea?  Your input is appreciated.

Oh, one more thing: Do you know of any places that offer tracer rounds and which brands are the good ones?  My rifle bolt doesn't lock back when the magazine is empty, so I'm wanting to emulate the fictional Doug Carlton from Patriots.

Sincerely,  - D.S.C.

JWR Replies:

As with all of your other preps, balance is the key. There is no point in buying all premium ammo. Logic dictates that you will need some inexpensive ammo for target practice and some "middling" quality ammo, for barter.

For handguns I current recommend this mix: 80% jacketed hollow points (JHPs), 18% FMJ (aka "ball"), and 2% exotics (tracers, frangible, KTW or Arcane AP, etc.)

For most military caliber rifles I currently recommend this mix: 70% FMJ, 10% spire point soft nose, 10% Match (preferably HPBT), 5% AP, and 5% exotics (such as tracer, incendiary and API.)

For most civilian (hunting) caliber rifles I currently recommend this mix: 90% soft nose, 5% Match (preferably HPBT), and 5% AP handloads, if bullet weights, bullet diameters, and bullet point styles are compatible with pulled military AP bullets. Note, for example, you cannot use pointed bullets in tubular magazine lever action rifles, even if the bore diameter and bullet weight is correct.

Some of my favorite ammo sources are:

Dan's Ammo,
Lucky Gunner,
Sunflower Ammo
Cheaper Than Dirt,
and Keep Shooting.

I also buy some ammo directly from manufacturers, mostly here in the American Redoubt. I recommend:

Black Hills Ammunition
BVAC Ammunition and Components
HSM (aka The Hunting Shack)
Buffalo Bore Ammunition
and Patriot Firearms and Munitions

Oh, and by the way, SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson recently mentioned that one of his favorite sources is (They currently have a good deal on Federal 5.56 ball.)

The Talon brand tracer ammo is decent, but given the uneven burning of the tracing composition, the accuracy of virtually all tracer ammo accuracy will never be quite comparable to military ball. The Lake City arsenal tracer ammo is excellent, but it is hard to find. The last time I checked, Lucky Gunner had some, as did UNAC.

There is a great on-line reference site now available, for comparison pricing: Be sure to check it out!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

I.  Introduction - Possible Scenarios.  

  1. Your automobile becomes inoperable for a period of time while traveling – it is extremely hot or extremely cold and hours to wait.
  2. A natural disaster occurs and you have to evacuate.
  3. Chaos occurs due to financial collapse or other major event causing civil unrest.
  4. An Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) or Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) caused by solar flare(s) renders your vehicle dead miles from home.
  5. Or, an EMP occurs as a result of a nuclear strike (with collateral fall-out to follow).
  6. Use your imagination…in reality, nothing is too far fetched.

While these are listed in order from “Bad” to “Worse”, all of these have great commonalities.  The more obvious should be that (1) they are realistic and possible, (2) they can occur and cause mass panic and civil upheaval in a relatively short time, (3) they can land you in a situation that most likely will find you, your preparation, your knowledge and your determination are all you have to survive, and, without a doubt, (4) a lack of planning, preparation, knowledge, determination and the means to employ all will, with reasonable certainty, lead to your death

I'm glad that I have your attention.  Now let us begin to devise some of the basic means, methods and logistics that you will need to exponentially improve your survivability, and with prayer and guts, successfully reach your destination. 

II.   Equipment.  There are a number of “essentials” that you should plan to pack and keep in your vehicle at all times.  The only time these items should be removed from your vehicle is (1) if you need the room to haul other items to/from a short destination (i.e. across town, from the store, etc.), (2) to update/replenish items and then place back in the vehicle when completed, (3) you are traveling with someone else in their vehicle (your essential items go with you). 
Now let’s discuss what those “essential” items might consist.

1.  Pack.    You should purchase a quality backpack that is large enough to comfortably load the items you will need.  The pack can be of military grade (i.e. surplus such as the A.L.I.C.E. pack), or a quality hiking/camping pack that is supported by two shoulder straps and capable of load bearing for extended hiking.  Your pack should be of muted, natural or earth colors such as green, black, desert tan, or brown.  Bright colors will only amplify to others that YOU HAVE A PACK and YOU HAVE ESSENTIALS THAT THEY DO NOT!  Plus you will need the ability to hide your pack during periods of rest without it being obvious to others who may spot you. 

As stated, the pack must be large enough to accommodate all the essentials we will list below yet not too large that you cannot negotiate its weight for long periods. 
Some packs are equipped with waist belts to help distribute and support the load accordingly.  It is your personal preference.  However, most quality hiking backpacks are designed with this feature for a purpose.  Be smart. 

Other important considerations should be the design for accessing the pack.  Is it easy (relatively speaking) to get in an out of?  Can I get to the needed essentials quickly and easily at night and/or during cold or inclement weather? 

The pack should have ample outer pockets in which to store those items you will use most often (i.e. sanitation, fire starting material, maps, compass, binoculars, food, water, weapon(s), etc.). 

There should be the ability to attach additional bulk items (i.e. sleeping mat, coat, maybe a sleeping bag) on the bottom or top by additional straps or para-cord.

2.  Water.   When it comes to sustaining the human life, one must consider the “Essential Threes.”   The order of importance in need is as follows:

  1. Air – 30 seconds
  2. Water – 3 days
  3. Food – 3 weeks     However, in a survival situation where you have to exert extreme energy to travel and stay alert, the time frames on water and food are greatly shortened.

You must plan to have clean, drinkable water at all times.   The amounts will be covered later.  At this time let’s focus on types of storage and conveyance. 

2 liter, 3 liter, and 100 ounce water bladders are very popular for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, however they may not always be the best choice for the survivor.

Why?  The size alone constitutes added weight that may not be able to be spread loaded especially with a full pack.  Backpacks with separate compartments for such bladders have become very popular but you must consider the ability to frequently access the bladder without having to nearly empty the pack to do so.  Water refills in a survival scenario will often be done on the move when opportunity arises and in the quickest amount of time.  Moreover, a small puncture or tear to such a system will quickly render your main water conveyance inoperable.  

Consider multiple 1-2 quart containers that you can store and attach to various locations on/in your pack.  Give careful consideration as to how you will carry/attach your primary water source. 

For bulk storage of water in addition to your primary containers consider a 750 ml platypus bag that is relatively small, yet flexible and collapsible (like the popular larger water bladders discussed above). 

Nalgene bottles are excellent in that they are tough, lightweight and you can see the contents. 

Likely sources to replenish your water supply will be streams, ponds, lakes, and rivers.  Consider how you will purify water.  A supply of water purification tablets should be carried.  Also, a small plastic vile of chlorine can be carried.  A few drops will sterilize 750 ml of water fairly quickly.  (Research the correct amounts and procedures to purify water by volume and make note of this information to carry in your pack with your purification tools. If using common bleach as your source of chlorine, be sure that it is non-scented with non-additives.)

Small water purification systems do very well and can be purchased for around $80+.   However, they do take up additional space and add ounces to an already loaded pack. 

A very good alternative is the Berkey Sport bottle.  A standard 750 ml water bottle has a smaller Berkey Black filter attached to the drinking straw in the bottle.  You merely have to fill the bottle with water and drink from the straw to get clean and pure water.  Water from your other storage bottles can then be poured into the Berkey Sport bottle as needed.    The Berkey Sport bottle can be purchased off EBay for as little as $15 each, so shop around.

3. Food.    Amounts will be discussed later. For now let’s consider types.

Food is definitely an essential that will become critical in a survival scenario.  It is easy and inexpensive to load up on soups and power bars at Wal-Mart and the local grocery store; however, this may prove to be a very costly mistake. 

In a survival scenario, you will be expending a much greater amount of calories due to

  1. Greater exertion of energy hiking.
  2. Greater exertion of energy due to fear and adrenalin.
  3. Greater exertion of energy due to weather (cold requires as much as twice the calories in order to keep warm.  Hot can have a similar effect.)

As a result, now is not the time to diet.  Caloric intake is key.  Inexpensive soups and quick prepare foods found at the local grocery chain will only yield about 1-2 grams of protein on average.  This is not a good return on your survival investment or on the weight you will be carrying in regards to the nutritional value received.

Consider specialized foods high in protein such as Mountain House usually found in the camping section at Wal-Mart.  Also consider purchasing a bucket of the pre-packaged dehydrated foods from Wise Foods, EFoodsDirect, etc.  While you may pay as much as twice the price of the bargain foods mentioned, the caloric value averages 11-18 grams of protein. 

Also, energy bars high in protein are a good source and easy to pack.  Mix it up. No one likes to consume the same thing over and over again.  A variety of good and satisfying food can do wonders for morale and your ability to keep moving forward another day. 

Candy bars can produce a quick energy boost but should never be your main source of nutrition.  However, looking forward to treating yourself can be a tremendous motivator. 

4.  Clothing.   Pack wise.  Clothing, while an absolute essential, can be a space robber in your pack and add unnecessary weight if not planned well.  Your clothing should be of natural and earth tone colors.  You do not want to stand out. 

a. Clothing with logos representing or making various statements should be avoided.  For example, clothing that depicts or advertises certain messages should not be used.  Examples would be articles that make a political statement, a statement of wealth or your preference for firearms or military should be avoided.  This will only prove to be troublesome on occasions you may have to interact with others you do not know.

Obviously the time of year and season will dictate the type of clothing needed, however be smart about it. 

In moderate to warm weather and in addition to what you may already have on…you should consider packing…

  1. pair long pants
  2. changes of socks (preferably some wool blend for dryness)
  3. changes of underwear
  4. shirts and/or t-shirts
  5. sweatshirt or light fleece

(1) hat

Colder weather…consider packing the same but adding…

  1. pair of thermal or polypropylene (bottoms & top)
  2. changes of wool blend socks (rather than pure cotton)
  3. pair of insulated gloves

(1) fleece or wool watch cap (a fleece balaclava is a good addition)

b. Shoes.   There are areas that you can always cut back and/or take the “bargain route” on… YOUR FOOTWEAR IS NOT ONE OF THEM!

You do not buy a nicely outfitted automobile that you will be traveling long distances in and then put the cheapest tires on it.  This would not make sense.   The same logic holds true for your feet. 
As encountering and negotiating multiple types of terrain while carrying added weight is a given, a pair of quality boots should be your primary footwear.  Only consider sturdy name brands that have a reputation and a proven performance record for the type of activities for which you will be engaging. 

Such boots generally are categorized as “Hiking” or “Military” with a minimum of 8” uppers, aggressive traction and are proven to be good for load bearing (i.e. proven to hold up and support you under the weight of a pack for long periods).    Some boots categorized as “Hunting” boots may be satisfactory but do the research and compare. 

Boot material is really a personal preference.  However, give careful consideration to modern materials.  Modern materials such as Gore-Tex and Cordura offer added warmth in cold weather and greater breathability year round.  Moreover, Gore-Tex is generally waterproof.  Keeping your feet dry and clean is key.

A second pair of shoes is a smart addition.  These are for putting on during rest breaks allowing your boots time to dry and air out, as well as giving your feet a much needed break. 

They also serve as a “back up” to your boots so they should be sturdy. New is not necessary but there should be plenty of life left in them.  A quality pair of running shoes will suffice but also consider sturdier hiking shoes made by companies who specialize in these such as Merrell, Keen, and other proven brands. 

c. Coats.  During cold weather a jacket/parka that is warm, wind resistant and water repellent is a must.  A hood is an added benefit.  Avoid bulky coats made from natural fibers (i.e. cotton, wool, or blend).  Coats made of modern materials are superior in warmth with less bulk and weight. 

During warmer months a light jacket that can repel wind should be packed (or at least a light fleece).  Rain, fatigue, and change of weather can bring on rapid chilling causing lose of body heat and robbing strength. 

d. Packing Clothing.   Most quality packs have some resistance to water.  However, prolonged exposure to rain, setting down on wet ground, or the unexpected “drop” in the creek while crossing can become a nuisance in warm weather and deadly during cold. 

Before packing your clothes, line the pack with a large plastic trash bag and place your articles of clothing within.  Be sure to cinch the bag by twisting, tuck, etc. to seal it from leaking and your clothing will remain dry no matter what occurs. 

5. Other Important Items.    There are numerous other items you will need, some more important than others.  The following list is by no means all-inclusive or absolute.  The order in which items are listed should not be construed as more important than the next.  Some will be obviously critical while others, not so much.  As with anything important, your planning, competency in use and your ability to transport all have to be considered. 

Avoid storage of smaller items loosely in your pack.  Group like items together and place into smaller zip-loc plastic bags. 

  The List:

  1. Direction Finding
    1. Compass.  Does not have to be very expensive, just trustworthy and accurate.
    2. Area Maps.  Laminated maps for your state can be purchased at Wal-Mart. 
  2. Fire Starting.  Redundancy is key here. 
    1. (2) butane lighters
    2. (2) boxes of waterproof matches
    3. (1) fire stick/flint
    4. Fire accelerates (i.e. Trioxane fuel tablets, small camping fire kindling, fire accelerate paste, lint collected from the dryer)

Spread load these so if one is lost, all will not be lost.

Survivor Ideology:  “ Two is one; One is none.”     Think about that.

  1. Sanitation.  
    1. Small bar of soap, small bottle of sanitizer, etc.…
    2. Roll toilet paper
    3. Re-sealable package of wet-wipes
    4. Toothbrush/travel tube of toothpaste and small deodorant
    5. Small vile of petroleum jelly for blisters and chaffed skin
  2. Food Preparation.
    1. Small folding (Esbit) stove with fuel tabs
    2. Excess fuel tabs
    3. Or, a small backpacking type stove such as JetBoil
    4. Fork and spoon
    5. Flavoring – salt, pepper, hot sauce, etc.
    6. Small aluminum pot to heat/boil water.  An excellent choice is

     the standard 1 qt. military canteen with carrier and the “canteen cup.”     
     The canteen cup fits inside the carrier and the canteen fits inside the cup. 
     This saves space and serves multiple purposes.

3. Shelter.  A 1-2 man tent is very useful if you have one already, can pack it accordingly, and it is not a bright color. So a tarp, 6’X8’ in camouflage, dark green of brown, is a very good alternative a tent. It will provide a lot of flexibility on all terrain and can be packed many ways.

100’ of para-cord (thin ¼” nylon rope) in natural colors.

(6) small aluminum tent stakes (able to fit through the grommets of a tarp).

4. Sleep System. 
Sleeping Bag.  One that is light in weight (under 4 lbs.) and is designed for hiking and backpacking.  While “down” filled bags are very warm, extremely light in weight, and easy to compress for packing, a man-made fiber filled bag may be the best choice for the average survivalist.  Down, once wet, is very difficult to dry and loses all warming properties when wet.  The opposite holds true for man-made fillers such as Hollow-fill and other common fibers.  Be selective and do your homework.  A sleeping bag is generally the largest and most bulky item you will carry.  There are quality man-made fiber filled bags under $100 that will pack almost as compactly as the very expensive down filled bags. 

Sleeping Mat.  A very much appreciated item…especially for unknown sleeping surfaces that you will encounter.  Also, great for a barrier to keep your bag dry.  Styles, prices, and quality vary greatly so do your research and be selective

5. Medical/Personal.

First Aid.   Seek a well-stocked kit in a soft carry bag rather than hard.  Soft is much easier to pack and shift around.  Add additional painkillers such as Aleve, Tylenol, etc.  Also, consider adding burn ointment and additional bandages such as an ACE wrap.

    1. Extra pair of glasses/contacts and solution
    2. Medications that you may require
    3. Feminine hygiene products

    4. 6. Lighting.

    1. (2) Small size, quality defensive type flashlight of at least 200 lumens. One to be carried on your person and one packed as a backup.
    2. (1) Head lamp with harness or hat brim clip on light. 
    3. Extra batteries for all lights
    4. (1) Red lens for your primary flashlight. To be used to defuse white light at night when you do not need to be seen.  

      7.  Knife.  At least one quality utility folding knife with a locking blade.  Consider one with a

             partial serrated edge.  Also, a multi-tool such as the high quality Leatherman series with a   
             built in saw is highly suggested. 

8. Money.  Small bills up to about $60.  Consider having a few dollars in silver coinage as well.

             Debit and credit will not be available. 

9.  Small Bible.  Last, but certainly not least, is God’s guidance and comfort.


  III.   Situational Awareness.   You must always remain calm and in control.  You must always be aware of your surroundings and what the general atmosphere is to the best of your ability.   Be observant.  Listen intently.  The little intelligence you obtain from these measures can most assuredly save your life. 

In the event a survival situation occurs, it will be helpful to have an understanding of how human nature most likely will react. 

In large population centers such as cities, riots could break out almost immediately if the cause is fueled by an emotionally charged event.  Think of history and the Rodney King riots of Los Angeles in 1992.   Evacuation from and avoidance of such areas must be done immediately.   For other events the time line of societal decay will go as follows:

Day 1 – people will be in disbelief.  A sense of “what’s happened/happening?” will prevail and folks will generally congregate to get answers.  However, as the day progresses and night sets in, panic may escalate and tempers begin to flare.

Day 2 – Panic is growing.  People become frantic and less tolerate. Fear and uncertainty is fast growing.  The risk of personal danger is rising.

Day 3 – Without clean water and most likely food and a lack of sufficient sleep, destitute people will become aggressive with a large percentage resorting to violence.  They will attempt to take what you have.  Avoid contact.

Day 4+ - People away from the comforts of home will become very dangerous. People in their homes will become very protective and civil unrest (everywhere) is a certainty.  Avoid contact at all cost.  

Day 15 - Studies show that civil people will consider resorting to cannibalism if no other food or possibilities of food exist in their immediate future.  They will surely kill for what you have. 


IV. Protection & Security.  While personal protection is somewhat obvious and should quickly

become a very high priority for anyone who finds himself or herself in a survival situation, it is an area that is often misunderstood, misused and left to chance.  Neither of these will serve the survivor well and will surely leave you, sooner or later, in the category of “Non-Survivor.” 

While movies and books do an insatiable job of glamorizing and even romanticizing the lone survivor who beats all odds to overcome great diversity…like being in combat, one cannot truly understand the experience unless one has experienced it for themselves. 

The truth is a person who finds himself/herself in a survival situation will be consumed with confusion, fear, loneliness, and an immense sense of indecisiveness.  Having the necessary provisions discussed above at your disposal should give comfort that the essentials to survive are in your possession.  This is merely a temporary relief if you have neither the knowledge nor requisite abilities to use your gear properly.  You must continue to sharpen your skills by training and planning for such an event. 

However, no matter how strong your logistics and the know-how to use them are, if you do not have the ability to protect yourself and your life tools from others who are desperate and will, through whatever means necessary, take them from you…you will fail. 

1.  Weapons.  As noted above, you should always have in your possession a knife.  While essential as a utility tool, the knife you choose should also be suitable as a backup defensive weapon.  As a primary means of protection, you should have in your possession a quality and reliable handgun that is familiar and that you have had adequate training and experience in firing. 

While there are numerous types and brands of handguns to choose from, some do stand out as a much better choice for defensive purposes. 

Keep in mind that most attacks are done quickly and in close proximity.  Revolvers, while extremely reliable and easy to use, do have limitations.  Most notably is the number of rounds (bullets) one has available for immediate protection.  This typically amounts to 5-6 before reloading is necessary.  Reloading a revolver requires a series of time-consuming actions that make it less desirable as a primary defensive weapon in the survival mode.  If a revolver is still desired, nothing below a .38 caliber should be considered.  Multiple speed loaders should also be purchased which will aid in reloading quicker. 

The optimum handgun for a survival situation is the semi-automatic pistol in mid to full size configuration.  A mid to full size pistol will generally hold between 10-17 rounds depending on the caliber and make.  The larger bullet capacity definitely provides greater firepower in an attack.  Moreover, mid to full size pistols generally have a longer barrel length over the revolver giving it an exceptional advantage in accuracy and range.  Pistols use magazines to hold/feed bullets to the gun and therefore can be easily stored and quickly accessed for a hasty reload.   

Calibers below 9mm should not be considered.  Calibers above 9mm, such as the .40 S&W and the .45 ACP are excellent defensive weapons but be sure to consider the increased size and weight for carrying additional ammunition and magazines.   

a.  Handgun Carry.  The primary defensive handgun should be carried in a manner that allows easy and fast access in the event it is needed.  It should not be stored in the pack.  A quality holster, that either attaches to one’s belt or to the shoulder straps or waist belt of the pack, should be used.  Note: a backup handgun is an excellent idea and may be carried in the pack, if available.  A backup handgun in the same caliber is even better in that it allows you to consolidate ammunition to one type.

b.  Long Gun.  It is commonly understood in the firearms world that a person with a long gun (typically a rifle) will always defeat a person with a handgun in a straight up gunfight.  The truth of this adage leads many to consider having a long gun, either a shotgun or rifle, as their primary firearm. 

There may not be a right or wrong answer to this: only considerations to be made.
While the long gun of choice has definite and obvious advantages, there are important disadvantages as well.

  1. Added weight and ability to carry in addition to pack, water, etc.
  2. Added weight and bulk of ammunition.
  3. Added visibility or lack of ability to conceal the fact that you are armed in/around others you will eventually come into contact with. 


For example…a person sees you from a distance and may choose to by-pass contact with you.  However, if they see you have a “highly prized article” such as a rifle or shotgun, they may choose to engage you from that distance in an attempt to take it from you or double back for an attempt at a more opportune time.  Again, there may be no right or wrong answers to this question: just serious considerations to make. 

2. Traveling.  It is always best to travel in groups of two or more (like minded/prepared) persons if possible.  This is not always possible so you must develop the skills to protect yourself and provide for your own security.  

       a.  Vehicle.  If able to travel by automobile, never stop or leave your vehicle except when absolutely necessary.  Breaks to relieve one’s self should be done by the vehicle as fast as possible and then continue on.  Do not linger.  Modesty is not an issue at this point. Security and safety are. 

Always maintain a full tank of gasoline.  Try to never drop below a half tank before refilling. 

Other than to relieve one’s self, refuel or the occasional meal preparation (try to eat on the go) you should continue to travel to your destination.  Should you have to stop to rest/sleep, you should take the extra time to drive off the main routes in search of a secure and secluded area that affords protection and the ability to hide the vehicle from passersby.  If you are being observed, travel on until you are not.  If traveling with others, someone must be on watch at all times.  Rotate shifts for sleep and eating. 

NEVER relax your security or let your guard down.  

NEVER build a fire unless absolutely necessary for warmth due to potential hypothermia or frost injury.  Fire is a beacon that will lead undesirables to you. 

Be especially watchful for overpasses, bridges and other various choke points that could make excellent ambush/attack sites.

      b.  On Foot/Hiking.   If you find that you have to travel without the comfort and security of a vehicle, all of the above still apply, but now you have numerous other measures to consider. 

  1. Consider traveling at night when others in the area may be resting and less likely for you to encounter.
  2. Never camp on or near the route you are traveling.  If on a main highway/road you should camp at least 100 yards away hidden from sight in the woods.  Again, make sure you are not being observed when detouring to your campsite. 
  3. Pick a site that provides cover (barrier to shield against firearms) as well as concealment (ability to hide) from others. 
  4. NEVER build a fire.  If a fire is absolutely necessary, do so for the minimal amount of time required (during daylight) then move far away to a different locale to make camp. 
  5. Noise and light discipline is as important as not building a fire (for obvious reasons).  You want to get in and out with as little notice as humanly possible. 
  6. If you sense that you are being followed, you may find it necessary to confront the person(s) rather than continuing on.  Do so with extreme caution and with plenty of daylight left if at all possible.  TRUST NO ONE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES OUTSIDE YOUR GROUP!
  7. Short of someone committing a grievous act against another, avoid contact with others.  You cannot help them if they are unprepared.  They will be desperate.  So are you and even more so should they harm you and/or take what you have. 
  8. Plan your route(s).  You will most definitely have a planned route if traveling by vehicle.  You should also have routes planned in the event you are on foot. 
  9. Avoid bridges, overpasses and choke points.  They will be prime ambush sites for people traveling by foot.  Bridge crossings, etc. must be done with extreme caution.  You will need to spend time observing from a distance in order to determine the safety and opportunity for crossing. 
  10.  As time progresses you will want to avoid towns and/or any population centers.  Take the time to observe and plan alternate routes around. 


V.  Quantities to Consider.   Above we have talked about the types of food to pack and the means to carry water.  Now let us consider the amounts necessary.

  1. Water.  Clean water is an absolute necessity to survive.  You should drink plenty of water even when you feel that you are not thirsty.  While this should be obvious in hot weather, the same holds true for cold weather as well.  Dehydration is a killer and can attack you in heat or cold. 

Water weighs approximately 8 lbs. per gallon.   Other than your pack and firearm, water will be the heaviest item you carry.  You should have at least three of the containers mentioned above on you.  One should be readily accessible and the other two can be stored/affixed to your pack accordingly. 

Take every opportunity to refill that is available to you.  Take the time to filter properly before consuming.  Illness due to contaminated water is a killer in a survival situation. 

2. Food.  Food will be critical to your health, energy and the ability to make good and sound decisions.  The amount you need will depend on the distance to your desired destination.  Let’s look at an example.


Scenario - 30 miles from your destination – while no one really wants to jump at the chance to hike 30 miles, in a survival situation it seems very “doable”, and it is…if prepared.

Without any problems or delays, the average healthy person with the proper motivation should be able to hike 10 miles per day.  For a 30-mile distance we are looking at a minimum of 3 to 3 ½ days on the road.   Add in the degradation of society as outlined above and we see our 3 day hike easily extend into 5-6 days.  Get the idea?  You have to plan your logistics and train your body and mind accordingly – now.

Ammunition.  Certainly have your firearm(s) and additional magazines loaded at all times.  A box of an additional 50 rounds packed away is not out of the question. 


Additional – Nice to Have:

  1. Radio – Provided you have not experienced an EMP/CME rendering most electronics useless, a radio to monitor news and events is very helpful.  Avoid the temptation to listen to music.  You need to be listening to what is happening around you.
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Work Gloves
  4. Binoculars
  5. Vitamins
  6. Bug Spray
  7. Portable ram radio transceiver (1 for your destination party as well)
  8. Other items to keep your spirits up (depending on your ability to carry)


VII.   Conclusion:

With the proper planning, training, and motivation you can survive such a calamity.
It will not be easy – physically, mentally or emotionally.  There is a great chance that you will see and experience many bad things.  There is a great chance you may have to use violent and/or deadly force.  Now is the time to prepare. 

“Practice makes perfect” – We have all heard this before and most will agree to this simple truth.  If that is the case…shouldn’t you practice the things we have discussed above?  After all, getting these important items in hand and these techniques down to a workable level of confidence and ability is a great deal more important than whether or not you will win a sporting event or pull off a successful performance.  How well you perform here means whether or not you will live or die. 

Finally, I have been told that I should create a checklist to include with this guide.  I have given that a lot of thought and realized that this entire guide is, in essence, a checklist.  To prepare properly you will most likely devise numerous checklist and I can guarantee that you will revise them from time to time based on your needs, plans, location, time of year, abilities, and desires.  The main thing is to get started.  Simply check off items in this guide page by page as you acquire them and you will be well on your way. 

Survivor Ideology: “It is much better to be prepared a year in advance than a day
too late.”

God is always with you.  Good luck and God speed. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mr. Rawles,
I was happily married for 14 years.  I lived through hurricanes and snowstorms with my ex-wife.  We were preppers, with many firearms, ammunition, water filtration systems, storage food, etc.  One thing that was lacking was mental health.  She has suffered from long term mental problems for over a decade.  She tried to have me arrested as a domestic terrorist.  When that failed to happen, she tried to make me out as a child abuser.  When that failed, she divorced me, and forced a sale of all of our stored food, guns, ammunition, etc.

I wanted to let your readers know they should prepare themselves for all circumstances, which is something I did not do.   I never saw this coming, and have lost all my firearms as a result of this divorce.  I had over 50 firearms, and hundred of thousands of rounds of ammunition, which I was forced to sell at auction at a severe loss.  Seeing 1,000 rounds of 9x25 Dillon for $60 dollars is a complete waste, especially when all of the ammunition is from Doubletap ammo.  I am sure you can get the idea, but all of us thinking about long term survival should now consider the unthinkable, if their loved ones become unlovable or mentally ill.  Mine has since been founded for causing mental injury to our kids, but the system is slow and does little if the ones guilty/founded flee the state.

Make plans to cover all bases, even the ones that seem the most insane of all.  Best of luck to all your readers, and keep up the great work. - R.J.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I can't remember a time when I didn't carry some kind of folding knife in my pocket - and I'm now eligible to collect social security benefits. I do know that back when I was a kid, there weren't any lock-back folding knives that I ever recall seeing. I carried a folder for everyday chores, as well as self-defense. And, more importantly, at least when I was around 6-10 years old, I had a folding knife for whittling - a long lost pastime that was sure a lot of fun when I was a kid. A person could spend all day long, just whittling on a tree branch and making a little pile of wood shavings in front of them. Believe it or not, it was fun for a kid - today's youth have missed out on that wonderful pastime - all they know are video games.
These days, I rarely, and I mean rarely carry a folding knife that doesn't have some kind of blade locking mechanism, and for good reason, a folding knife that locks the blade open is just a lot safer than one that doesn't lock the blade. And, if you carry a knife for self-defense, a locking folder is a must in my humble opinion. Also, if a knife - any knife - doesn't feel good in my hand,then I'm not interested in it.
Consider the Cold Steel Talwar folder. There are four different Talwar variant models. I received their 4-inch plain edge model for testing, but you can also have one with a serrated blade or in the 5 1/2-in blade length. The Talwar is just one of those folders that once you pick it up, you can't put it down. It just fits my hand perfectly and feels "oh-so-right" to me. The G-10 handle scales are shaped in such a way, that the knife almost grips you back - hard to explain, but the darn thing just feels great. And, to be sure, I'm rather picky about how a folder fits and fills my hand, and the Talwar just feels like it belongs in my hand. And, it has plenty of handle to hold on to as well - many folders are a bit skimpy when it comes to having enough handle for me to grab. The handle is shaped in a sort of Scimitar shape, with the butt of the handle curving downward, which aids in a strong grip on the folder.
Steel on the Talwar is AUS 8A - one of my favorite stainless steels, it's a very affordable stainless steel, holds an edge a good long time and it's easy to re-sharpen. Some have taken me to task, when I claim a blade steel is easy to re-sharpen, and I claim no special skills in sharpening knives, but I've found this steel much easier to re-sharpen than some of the other harder stainless steels out there. Weighing only 5-ounces, the Talwar isn't too heavy, nor is it too light - you don't even know you have the knife clipped inside your pocket. Overall open length is 9-1/4-inches - so you can really reach out there and touch someone - if you have to, in a self-defense situation. Make not mistake, I believe the Talwar was designed and is best used as a self-defense folder. Not that it can't be used for everyday chores, but there are better designs for chores - the Talwar is best reserved for use against two-legged attackers. BTW, the front of the handle also slopes downward, affording you some protection against your hand slipping forward onto the blade.
The locking mechanism is Cold Steel's Tri-Ad lock,  and although it appears to be a basic lock back design, it is not - it is much stronger than the ordinary lock back folding knife design. Additionally, it is placed in such a position on the back top of the blade, as to alleviate it from accidentally opening when grasped in your hand in the fencing grip. And, it is certainly a very stout lock. The pocket/clothing clip can also be reversed from one side of the handle to the other, for a blade tip up carry.
One thing that I like on the Talwar is the Andrew Demko designed ambidextrous thumb plate - not a thumb stud - on the blade. And, with a very little practice, the Talwar can be drawn from the pocket, and it opens faster than any automatic folder does. When drawing the Talwar, you simply give it a little backwards pressure, towards the rear of your pocket, while drawing the knife upwards - you do this with one swift and fluid move, and the blade pops open when the knife is completely drawn out of your pocket. The little thumb plate actually "catches" on the back of your pocket, causing the blade to start to deploy as you draw the knife out of your pocket. Check the Cold Steel web site, and you'll see Cold Steel's owner, Lynn Thompson demonstrating's actually easier done than explained.
Needless to say, and I've said this hundreds of times, I believe Cold Steel set the Gold Standard for sharp blades many years ago. Prior to Cold Steel coming on the cutlery scene, it was pretty much a hit or miss proposition when it came to getting a super-sharp knife blade. Cold Steel knives are wicked sharp, right out of the box. Thompson wouldn't have it any other way.
I also like that the Talwar is designed not only for slashing moves, in self-defense, but the blade is designed to stab deeply. Having spent 35 years in the martial arts, I taught knife fighting skills to my advanced, Black Belt students. I've also designed several knives over the years, that are still being produced. My heart is in knives meant for self defense - even more so, than for survival. The Talwar is one great folder for self defense use if you ask me. And, the best part is, full-retail is $131.99 - a great buy, in my opinion. So, if you're in the market for a new folder - one designed for self-defense use, check out the Cold Steel Talwar - I give it my 100% endorsement. The Talwar is just one wicked blade.    - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Dear Captain Rawles,
I have not trained with a PTR-91 but have only handled them in a Cabela's store. I really like them and am especially fond of the wood stock versions, my wife even likes how they look in wood furnishings ( a key attribute in making a major purchase) The sights are even nice.
One thing I haven't figured out is how, as a lefty, to manipulate the far forward mounted charging handle. Even with a 37" sleeve on a 6'-3"-tall lanky guy I just can't reach that far to charge the weapon while still mounted to my left shoulder.
Is there is some training protocol, short of completely taking the weapon off shoulder and cheek weld and off target to rack the bolt?
Or is it entirely not necessary in changing mags to even access this lever?
I came away with the feeling it was a dedicated right handed weapon.

JWR Replies: As a left-hander, you will have to break your cheek weld if you completely empty a magazine on a HK 9(X) series rifle.  (HK 91/93/94 and clones thereof.) Mel Tappan and others have advocated loading the last two or three rounds of each magazine with tracers, as a visual mag swap reminder. (One proviso: tracers are not legal to shoot in some localities. Consult your state and local laws.) With enough practice on rifles that are equipped with a "paddle" magazine release, magazines can be changed for either the right or left shoulder shooters without breaking your cheek weld. And if you switch magazines often, then you won't have to touch the charging handle at all. Granted, remembering to do so is easier said than done, in the heat of combat. (An aside: By God's grace, I've never been in a gunfight, but I'm confident that regular practice and accumulated muscle memory will carry me through.)

As for the second part of your question: What if you are left-handed and do shoot the rifle completely dry? If you practice, then you can learn to pivot an HK rifle about 60 degrees along its axis without removing from your shoulder, then cycle (or slap) the charging handle with you right hand, and then quickly pivot it back. If you practice this "snap pivot" enough times, then it will become ingrained muscle memory.  It seems that the difference between average shooters and the Miculeks of the world for any particular weapon manipulation is about 3,000 consistent repetitions.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In the course of most firearms related articles there is the usual debate over caliber, brand names, action types, magazines, super-duper sights, LED lasers/lights, savvy slings, hot holsters and of course the great rail debate. Very little is written on the after effects of all that lead launching other than the firearms needs cleaned. In reality most shooters should spend as much, if not more, time cleaning and maintaining their firearms then they did actually tripping the trigger. The vast majority of shooters I see at public ranges and gun clubs do not even bring rudimentary cleaning and firearm maintenance gear with them to the range.

Countless times I have been at the range where someone brings their new or “kit” AR and they under lube it and have an extraction failure of a spent case or it bogs down with a dry bolt carrier group. New ARs are usually under-lubed and have a lot of wear in burnishing off coatings and the carbon gas blast that builds up in the BCG. Many new AR owners at the range usually do not have any cleaning kit with them so I dutifully (yes, it’s our duty to help the uninitiated) open my well stocked range tackle box and extract a rod kit and pop out the stuck case show them how to properly lube and get the AR going again. New AR platforms are the standard offenders but I have see a good sampling of other rifles and handguns that are shot dry slow down or jam up.

I once overheard a couple of well-heeled and well-dressed shooters (who arrived at the range in a 500 series Mercedes) debating over how to lube their new custom combat carry pieces. The one guy was actually stating that he was not going to put any lube on it at all since the gun store salesman told him that his new Tactical Tupperware could be shot dry. He exclaimed he did not want his gun “sweating oil” onto his dress shirts and pants. I personally knew the other shooter as a local lawyer and recognized the newbie Tactical Tupperware owner as the new “hotshot” member of the law firm. I commented on the nice Mercedes he drove to the range and asked him how well he would expect his Mercedes to run if he did not put any oil in it. He stated that would be stupid and that it would tie up the engine. I stated that it’s better to lube than bleed.

The other shooter/lawyer I already knew personally started laughing loudly and then he introduced me to the new guy. I further explained to the new guy that I had made a living carrying a handgun everyday as a LEO and firearms instructor and had made it to the half century mark without a gun failure due to lubrication issues. I then asked if the he had a cleaning kit for his new gun. He said it came with a brush and that he had bought a small bottle of gun oil and some patches but they were at home.  I explained I have seen too many shooters with over a thousand dollars in firearms hardware, high dollar holsters and cases of ammo without even a $10 cleaning kit from Wal-Mart. I explained the necessity and benefit of bringing a cleaning kit to the range and it’s a mere inconvenience when a sluggish or jammed up firearm is a problem on the range, but if the firearm jams when your life depends on it, it is a really bad day, or maybe the last day it will happen to you.

We in America, for the most part, take for granted the Petroleum products, textiles, and metals that make up our modern everyday lives. We expend untold billions in dollars and untold lives and limbs of our servicemen and women to secure the foreign well fields in places like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and the Middle East and use tanker ships to bring us crude oil. It is then piped and refined by a vast industry to make and deliver our petroleum products to our waiting hands whether at a gas pump nozzle or your favorite bottle of Hoppes #9. The majority of worldwide textile production and mass clothing production has long been outsourced from the USA to the cheaper labor and cheaper source materials of foreign lands. Every try to grow cotton, spin thread or loom some cloth? How about dig out metal ore, smelt it, refine it and work it into usable metal objects? If you step back and look at the intricate web of delivery chain complexity you quickly realize it is daunting to grasp. In a long term grid down event these long supply chains will quickly disappear and the petroleum products, textiles, and specialty metals (steel, lead, copper and brass) will become highly valued commodities after a very short time.

My first firearms cleaning experience came from my father. My father and his twin brother volunteered for military service in 1940 so they could go through basic together. After basic they split into different units and my father started fighting World War II in the Pacific with the 37th Division the (same islands that their father fought over in the Spanish American War). My father was eventually promoted as a training Sergeant and then was transferred to train troops stateside and in England and he then lead them in beach landings at Normandy on D-Day.

Throughout his time in combat his men had to routinely tear down old clothing (mostly enemies) for rags and patches and also use boot laces or cordage as field expedient “bore snakes” to keep weapons running when weapon cleaning supplies did not arrive at the front. Supply chains were often hard pressed enough to get the crucial ammo and food forward. They often used diesel and gasoline fuels mixed with various motor pool fluids to make field expedient weapons lubes. Sometimes too light and volatile of a mix would catch fire or smoke heavily while running the various machine guns and anti aircraft guns and too thick a mix would bind up the weapons when the lighter compounds boiled off. They prized actually getting real firearms rated oils, greases and bore cleaners when they could get them. They routinely would destroy enemy weapons and ammo but they always re-tasked the enemy’s firearms cleaning oils and cleaning supplies.

I was raised in a small town rural community and I started shooting firearms at age of ten. My father first taught me to clean firearms with an old bootlace, old pillow case cloth hand cut patches and some kerosene as a solvent/lubricant. My father said he wanted me to first learn the hard way to clean a firearm so that I would more appreciate the easy methods now available.  After a time he introduced me to an old tooth brush and then eventually a proper cleaning kit with a real bore rod, precut patches, bore brush, gun solvent Hoppes #9, and real firearms oil that made cleaning to his training sergeant  standards a whole lot easier. By the age of eleven I had the responsibility for cleaning all the firearms whenever we went shooting or hunting.  That may seem young by today’s standards but my older brother and I had our father and our other uncles (all WWII combat veterans) raise us properly with respect for firearms and their proper care.

Old threadbare sheets, pillow cases, blankets, shirts, pants, socks and such should be saved and laundered one last time without scented detergents and then prepared for various firearms cleaning duty.  We shooters now enjoy a wide variety of pre cut, sized and specialty cleaning patches and pre oiled rags for our firearm care needs. It is so very easy to simply buy a bag full of patches with a can of gun scrubber, gun oil and maybe a new bore brush at the local gun shop every time we pick up ammo and other gear.

The best gun rags are old lint free sheets and pillow cases, but flannel shirts and socks work well also. The best way to salvage them is to snip and strip them into various sized squares. Resist the urge to pre cut different sizes of cleaning patches for the various gun bore sizes. Patches are usually caliber sized with one inch for .22 caliber and two inch for .30 caliber and so on. If you simply keep the salvaged rags to about sixteen inch squares they then can be stripped off the side of the square into appropriate widths strips and then further torn into caliber sized patches at the actual time of weapon cleaning. If you have ever opened a military cleaning kit that was field carried with bore and chamber brushes rubbing the patches apart into a pile of ratty thread stripped patches you will understand the less raw edges being carried the better.

When you tear down cloth you can make a small cuts perpendicular to the open edge with a scissor or sharp knife and then grasp each half and rip the cloth along the warp long axis or across the weft side weave of the cloth.   As you approach the last 1/8th inch of the tear you should re-grip the two parts with your thumb and forefingers at the last two corner points on each half and give a firm tug pulling the last bit apart. This is to prevent getting a long running string from separating out and running. I routinely use sixteen inch squares. That size folds and rolls up nicely into Military M16 Alice style cleaning pouches that are widespread in the range world.  You can of course custom size to your preferred carry pouch. Tearing apart cloth for gun rags is somewhat therapeutic like popping bubble foam and if timed right around someone bending over it can be downright funny.

If you have a OTIS style cleaning kit you can buy regular round patches of similar diameter and fabric type in bulk (about $10 per thousand).) You can make your own cut patches by taking about a half inch stack of regular round patches and place it on top of a double fold piece of brown cardboard box. Under the stack of patches and cardboard box pieces place a plastic cutting board. Take a real OTIS patch and lightly use a fine tip Sharpie marker to highlight the slits in black. Take an X-acto knife straight chisel blade of the appropriate width and vertically plunge down through the stack at the appropriate highlighted locations. Take care to keep the stack straight and flat to keep slot placement equal during the vertical plunge cuts. You know when you are through by the cut into the cardboard. You can make OTIS style patches for about $10 per thousand material cost this way verses factory OTIS of about $60 per thousand. I made a permanent template out of a thin aluminum disk with a Dremel tool. Remember to sharpen the blades as needed for a clean wiggle plunge cut. You can use a sharp hammer hole gasket cutting punch to make round patches in stacks of used cloth on a pine board also.

We are spoiled by the quick and easy access to gun oils and cleaning solvents. Commercial gun oils are various and proprietary mixes that each has their specific viscosity and lubricating characteristics. There are more viscous oils such as Break Free CLP or FP 10 and thinner Clenzoil and Rem Oil types. Firearms types and seasonal weather require various lubrication plans. In small bottles gun oils run about $1 or $2 an ounce. When you buy it by the gallon the price drops greatly and usually varies from about $40 to $80 dollars a gallon (128 oz) or about 1/3 the price depending on the gun show or gun shop you find it in. Gun Scrubber is priced at about $8 dollars a can and the cheaper “non chlorinated brake cleaner” scrubber by various auto store brands at about $2 dollars a can. These solvents to help quickly cut the nasty carbon build up of our firearms. Remember when using any petrochemical solvents to do it in a well ventilated, non smoking and flame free areas away from any live ammunition. If you are planning on supporting a group sized shooting operation or a training range you can also obtain non chlorinated brake cleaner cheaper by buying it in drums through auto dealers and car shops. You can get small hand held spray bottle from auto parts stores that are charged with an air compressor.

There are a variety of homemade firearm oil recipes on the web and I have tried many and found few to come close to the readily available commercial brands. It may be worth your time to web search and store hard copies of formulas [such as Ed's Red] for the long term emergency. You will probably be more hard pressed to find the varying ingredients called for in the home made recipes in a grid down situation than to just  stock up bulk  firearms grade oils and solvents in multiple locations now. The firearms industry has taken great time and effort in coming up with good compounds. Most times trying to reinvent the wheel is time wasted.

For good firearms cleaning you need to use a proper sized bore brush and chamber brush to really get the build up out of the rifling, chambers, and locking lugs and wear points. It is almost impossible to improvise a proper bore or chamber brush. I have seen various attempts at improvised brushes by twisting fine wires and then snipping them off. IMHO it never works to a reasonably degree and usually ends up breaking off fine wires in the bore which tend to align with the rifling in the oils and are a pain to remove. Short of possessing a bore brush twisting machine, a warehouse full of raw materials and backup power the most reasonable thing to do is to stock up as many as possible in various calibers.  Learn to use them properly by pushing them all the way through and never reverse them in the bore. Also never dip them into the cleaning solvents. Always apply the solvents to the brushes with a dropper or dipped clean patch. I use slightly worn brushes for my initial passes and then switch to better brushes as the bore gets progressively cleaner with solvents and patches. Old dental picks and free tooth brushes from your dentist are handy for the hard to reach nook and crannies. Plain Scotch bright green pads without soap coatings from the laundry isle are a real time saver in scrubbing off dirty bolts. Specialty carbon scraper tools for your rifle bolts are a bit pricey but a time saver also.  A variable speed battery operated drill on your firearm cleaning bench makes quick work of a dirty AR chamber with a chamber brush mounted on a short cleaning rod section. Take care not to bore too deep or too fast to prematurely ream out the chamber neck and bullet throat area.

Take the time to read the users manuals for all your firearms and clean and lubricate them properly. Also take time to learn other firearms types you do not currently possess as you may have to learn a new firearm you come across on the range or in life’s real world adventures.

And as always: Buy cheap and stock deep in multiple locations.

In his recent review, Pat Cascio accurately addressed the main objections to the SOCOM Rifle, muzzle blast and that much too fat tritium front sight. An Alternative within Springfield's own product line up is the Squad Scout Rifle. The Squad Scout come with an 18" barrel and a less blistering version of there muzzle brake and a National Match .062" Front sight, and the appropriate rear sight (not National Match aperture diameter, but not that awful ghost ring) This is a nearly MOA rifle out of box.

The first one I bought had a beautiful gray green laminate stock, and rue the day I sold it. The current one has an also beautiful walnut stock,and $100 upgrade over black or green polymer too beautiful to ding up, so after much research I bought the Archangel stock.

One could spend over $1,000 on a upgrade chassis to the M1A Stock, but the tight fitting Archangel stock has been reviewed here.
as able to upgrade the rifle to 1/2 MOA, for under $300, and provide a stronger carbon fiber reinforced polymer option to the standard M1A stock.

One more acclamation for why to choose the M1A as a MBR for the survivalist rifleman. While an infantryman and later and infantry officer, I never trained with the M14.
However twice I was advised by the man behind the gun counter that above all other rifles on the rack that M1A Scout was the item to purchase. The first time was from the owner of Tabor Shooting Supply in South San Francisco, a salty old former Marine of the Viet Nam era who still competes in three-gun events with a Scout. He spoke praises of the M14 in Viet Nam, for its reliability and firepower, especially in comparison the the early M16 and said the only thing he did to the Scout was make sure he bough the walnut stock, because the polymer version gets "flexy" when hot from firing and looses some accuracy, and add the Smith Enterprise "Good Iron" muzzle brake (there is an impressive video of the item taming full auto M14 mag dump here.)

The second gun store guy to recommend the M1A Scout was behind the counter at Sportsman's Warehouse in Medford, Oregon, this brawny young former Marine (coincidence?) was showing another store client the FN SCAR 7.62 rifle, a $3,800 item. I asked if that would be an upgrade from my Scout, and he replied that after two tours in Afghanistan as an Marine Infantry Designated Rifle Marksman, carrying a modified M14, he would trade everything in his gun safe to have one, and it never failed him in combat, and that the Scout version was "just the right size".

I find these two sources as highly credible because of their time in actual combat, but separated by 30 plus years, and jungles versus the arid mountains but came the same conclusion regarding the M14 /M1A .

Just to wrap this up, if anyone has doubts about the M1A SOCOM or Scout in close quarters, please watch how Miculek handles the grandfather of the M1A, the much larger full size M1 Garand on close targets. See the 35 second clip or the full video.)

Cheers, - DC

JWR Replies: As someone who has owned a half dozen M1As over the years--I bought my first in 1978--I must agree that they are great rifles. Their only drawback at present is their relatively high price, the price of spare parts, and the price of extra magazines. For the same cash outlay needed to buy one M1A with a good assortment of spare parts (including a spare complete bolt and op rod) and 25 spare magazines, I could now buy TWO examples of the PTR91 rifle (a HK 91 clone), along with a nearly complete spare G3 parts set, and more than 150 extra magazines! So anyone who is on a budget is advised to instead buy an HK clone.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I cut my teeth on the military M14, way back in 1969, during my basic training at (now closed) Fort Ord, California. I learned to love it, and I qualified "Expert" with it - loved shooting that rifle. Later on, while working full-time for the Illinois National Guard, I joined the Illinois State Rifle & Pistol Team, and was issued a match-grade M14 (and 1911A1) along with all the ammo I wanted - those were the days. I shot in many competitions, and always winning in my classification with that M14. I always wanted an M14 of my own, however, they were, and still are a hard-come-by rifle, and are an NFA weapon - and I don't care to jump through the legal red tape to own a select-fire weapon.
Over the years, I've owned a few Chinese-made M14 clone rifles, they were okay, some better than others, and they all functioned just fine. [JWR Adds: See the warnings on soft Chinese M14 bolts posted by walt at Fulton Armory.] But they still weren't an M14. Almost three decades ago, Springfield Armory came out with their semi-auto (only) version of the M14 and dubbed it the M1A - it was, and still is a big hit for Springfield Armory. I've owned several over the years, and found them to be outstanding shooters. Well over a year ago, I reviewed a Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM II, that was set-up in a very compact bullpup configuration, that rifle -- loaned to me by the good folks at US Tactical Supply -- is called the Juggernaut. I was totally blown away by how compact this set-up was. However, for my own personal use, I decided I just wanted a SOCOM II as it came from the factory. Prior to testing the Juggernaut set-up, I had actually been searching for a SOCOM II at my local gun shop. They had a couple brand-new ones come in the shop, but I couldn't afford the price.
About a month after testing the US Tactical supplied M1A SOCOM II Juggernaut set-up, my local gun show picked-up a like-new SOCOM II in a trade at a gun show. I was able to work a deal on a trade to get it - and cost me two M4-style rifles to get it! My sample was probably 98% as-new, too - but with no box, and the fellow who traded the gun, forgot the magazine. A quick trip to US Tactical Supply, and I was in business - they carry the outstanding, and mil-spec Checkmate Industries ("CMI") brand of M14/M1A magazines - both 20 and 30 rounders - and the Checkmate 30 round mags are the only 30 round mags that I've found that will function 100% of the time. Over the years, I've tried some no-name 30 round mags, and there was a reason the maker didn't stamp their names on the magazines - they didn't work!
A quick rundown on the M1A SOCOM II is in order. It has a 16-inch barrel, compared to the full-sized M1A that comes with a 21-inch barrel. It is also capped with a muzzle brake, a very effective one, at keeping the muzzle down for faster follow-up shots. The rifle fires either .308 Winchester or 7.62x51 NATO rounds. The trigger is a 2-stage military set-up, with a trigger break between 5-6 pounds, but it feels lighter than that. Springfield Armory supplies one 10 round magazine with new guns. The front sight is the XS Sights post with a Tritium insert for night or lo- light shooting. The rear sight is an enlarged military aperture (Ghost Ring) adjustable for windage and elevation. The gun weighs 8.8 pounds and the overall length is 37-25-inches - every so slightly longer than an M4 with the telescoping stock fully extended. And, the 8.8 pounds - well, that's actually lighter than many M4s I've handled - with so many added-on accessories - the guns were weighing in at a lot more than the SOCOM II's 8.8 pounds. There is also an accessory rail on the top of the SOCOM II - should you want to mount some type of red dot sight up there - I didn't!
When I got home from picking-up some magazines for this little beast, it was pouring down rain, and I didn't go to my usual shooting spot, but I was determined to at least function-test this rifle. All I had on-hand, were a couple boxes of Russian-made .308 ammo - I loaded-up two magazines, and cut loose in my back yard - no functioning problems at all. Ah, one of the joys of living in the country - I can shoot my guns on my own property. However, I rarely do that, as I don't like disturbing the neighbors - so I usually make a 5-6 minute drive up a mountain, to a couple shooting spots that everyone uses.
I contacted Black Hills Ammunition and Buffalo Bore Ammunition for some .308 ammo - some GOOD .308 ammo, to run through the SOCOM II. In short order, I received from Black Hills, their outstanding 168-grain Match Hollow Point load - that keeps on winning long-range shooting matches all over the country, and their 168-grain Hornady A-Max load, which is a great hunting round. From Buffalo Bore, I received their 175-grain JHP Sniper loading, and that one is known as a great long-range, flat-shooting load.
With my targets set-up at 100 yards, and using the a sleeping bag as a rest, over the hood of my car, I set out to see what the M1A SOCOM II could do - with open sights. Okay, for long-range, precision shooting, the XS front sight isn't my first choice - it's a bit large. And, no matter what I did, I couldn't break 1 inch on the target, with 3-shots. I came close, very close a few times, but no matter what, that large front sight wouldn't allow me to break 1 MOA. I believe the rifle is capable of sub MOA with a scope or a smaller front sight. The Black Hills loads tied each other - neither one was better than the other. The Buffalo Bore load shot a tad higher, which I expected, with the slightly  heavier bullet, and even with this load, I simply couldn't break one inch no matter how many times I tried, and I went out several times over a month and just couldn't do it - I believe the rifle can do it - with a smaller front sight, though.
I also fired several hundred rounds, rapid-fire, through the SOCOM II with a mixed variety of various foreign-made military surplus ammo - and the gun functioned 100% of the time - never had a failure of any sort, with any ammo, nor any problems with the Checkmate 20 or 30 round magazines. My local gun shop once gave me a no-name 30 round magazines - it was junk, I couldn't fire more than a few rounds without rounds getting hung-up in the magazine.
Okay, one of the first things I learned was, do not shoot the SOCOM II over the hood of my car, without a blanket under the muzzle of the rifle. The very effective muzzle brake, has horrendous muzzle blast, that was magnified off the steel hood of the car. I placed a blanket on the hood, and that absorbed a lot of the muzzle blast. While I appreciate the effectiveness of the muzzle brake in keeping the felt recoil down, I didn't much care for the muzzle blast. I checked around, and at some point, I'm going to replace the muzzle brake with a flash suppressor, and that will take care of the terrible muzzle blast. It was strong enough that I could feel it on my face.
So, where does the SOCOM II fit into the scheme of things? Good question! The SOCOM II could easily be used as a big game rifle, with a 5 round magazine - Oregon requires a semiautomatic rifle to hold no more than 5 rounds in the magazine - not a problem. It is a fast-handling rifle, no doubt about it. I can easily see the SOCOM II being used by law enforcement - especially rural sheriff departments, when back-up is a long time coming, and you might have a suspect firing on you, from behind heavy cover. A short, fast-handling "carbine" like the SOCOM II, firing powerful .308 Win rounds, will get the job done. I don't see the SOCOM II being used in a building clearing scenario - not with the muzzle brake attached - if you fired it in a room - heck, in a big house, the muzzle blast would be too much, and there is the chance of over-penetration with the .308 round, too. In a survival situation, I can see the SOCOM II being an outstanding weapon to have, especially in the wilderness. And, needless to say, in a combat situation, I would love to have this rifle - short and easy to handle, but it still is shooting a powerful round, that can easily take out an enemy soldier beyond 500 yards or farther.
Now, while I like the XS front sight post with the Tritium insert, I would replace it with a standard GI front sight, or an M14 match-grade front sight - if I knew I had to make some long-range shots - the XD front sight is too big for precision shooting beyond 100 yards. And, as mentioned, the muzzle brake would be replaced with a flash suppressor of some type. Other than that, I wouldn't make any changes. The SOCOM II also comes with a poly stock, so there's no worries about it swelling in wet weather - and that is always a concern in the western part of Oregon, where we get a lot of rain! Wood stocks can (and do) swell, and that can affect the accuracy of your rifle, especially at long-range shooting distances.
Before this article was complete, US Tactical Supply, sent me an X-Products magazine, 50 round M1A/M14 magazine for testing. This is a very compact 50 round drum magazine. All internal parts are machined out of steel and aluminum, for a sure-fire magazine that won't fail you. It also loads easily and it is designed to work in semiauto and full auto rifles. (It is capable of cycling 950 rounds per minute without failing.) Best of all, it is the same length as a 20 round box magazine - yes, it's much wider, needless to say, but it doesn't stick out from under your M1A or M14 any more than a standard 20 round magazine does. I fired a good number of 7.62 NATO rounds through the X-Products 50 round magazine, and I also mixed in some Russian-made poly coated .308 rounds, and some of the Black Hills and Buffalo Bore ammo - and the magazine never once stuttered - it just kept firing - and I'm telling you, I put hundreds and hundreds of rounds down range, as fast as I could pull the trigger and reload the magazine - the SOCOM II got hot - VERY hot, but it never missed a beat. Of course, the loaded 50 round drum magazine added some serious weight to the SOCOM II. However, if I were in a combat or survival situation, this is the magazine to have locked and loaded in your gun - for some serious, initial fire-power down range when lead is flying your way. The X-Products M1A/M14 magazine runs $275 from US Tactical Supply - and it's worth every penny, too.
The Springfield Armory SOCOM II is a real winner in my book, and I know it has sub MOA accuracy there, if that front sight is replaced - and that's easy to do. And, in my humble opinion, the muzzle brake needs to go. (Yes, it does what it is supposed to do, but the muzzle blast was just too much for me, especially during a long shooting session.) I'd like to see Springfield Armory offer the SOCOM II with either a muzzle brake or a flash-suppressor to give the buyer a choice, and I'm betting a lot will prefer the flash-suppressor over the muzzle brake.
I won't even attempt to give a price on the SOCOM II - as they are a hot-seller, and always in demand. And, we still have a buying frenzy going on these days, which only adds more to the cost of military-style rifles. Check around on Gun Broker and see if you can find a SOCOM II of your own. If you see one, then snap it up. They are one super-nice little .308 carbine.   - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

As a daily reader of your blog, I've read over and over again about how Pre-1899 guns are legal. The Internet is full of such advise dating back a long time. However, I still fail to see how that would add much protection against confiscation. The ATF has seized Airsoft guns and police confiscated muzzleloaders from one home in my area after one resident (who was not the owner of the weapons!) was arrested there. The list goes on from there and contains nothing that shows that law enforcement makes any distinction between antiques and modern guns.

I believe that if we ever face full-blown gun confiscation, the people on the streets sent out to collect guns will simply take everything they can find, no matter if it is pre-1899 or not. They will grab things because they look like a gun, just like the assault weapons ban went after scary looking guns. Considering the price of a pre-1899, quality of manufacturing, age and wear, and often now hard to come by calibers, I'd rather spend my money on two modern rifles. "Use one and stash the other" seems safer than hope that law enforcement will correctly identify an antique.

Am I missing something? - Peter A.

JWR Replies: What you may be missing is going to jail and a felony conviction that could cost you your right to vote and your right to own any modern gun for the rest of your life. When a gun is seized outside of jurisdictional authority, then the owners almost invariably get their guns back, and they are not charged. But if there is ever a confiscatory ban, it will be under color of law, and most likely with a felony penalty attached. At least for the owner of pre-1899s, unless the law changes you will be able to openly possess, use, carry, and hunt without fear of being arrested and convicted of a felony.

I don't guarantee that hedging into pre-1899 guns will be a panacea. But I'm fairly certain that the pre-1899 exemption will remain in place in the U.S. for many more years. The law hasn't changed since 1968. After all, the available pool of pre-1899 antique guns gets smaller with every passing year, so their regulation will probably continue to be a "non-issue" in the eyes of politicians. Granted, there is the small chance that a highly-publicized criminal event might draw attention to pre-1899 antiques and initiate new legislation that would restrict them. (Such as a political assassination using an antique gun.) But that risk shows us the nature of all hedges: They are a form of insurance based on actuarial odds. I still predict that they that pre-1899s will prove to be worth buying. Doing so will hedge our bets on new legislation or executive orders.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hello Mr. Rawles:
I appreciate your suggestion on purchasing/acquiring some Pre-1899 or otherwise standard language weapons ban legislation immune firearms that could prove effective and "legal." (I use the term facetiously) in the event of a successful statist gun grab. (God forbid.) Other than the M1 Garand, could you perhaps provide a list of other firearms that may prove a prudent investment?

God Bless, - Jason in Kansas

JWR Replies: The following is is an excerpt from my Pre-1899 Antique Guns FAQ:

Q: What would you consider a basic battery of pre-1899 guns for a typical shooter that wants to diversify and "hedge his bets" by buying some pre-1899s for his family?

A:  I'd recommend buying the following pre-1899 production guns:

* Two big bore S&W top break double action revolvers (.44-40 or .44 Russian, but get both in the same caliber.)

* One Winchester Model 1897 in 12 gauge

* One pre-1899 .22 Long Rifle.  (Winchester Model 1890 pump or Winchester Low Wall single shot rifles are ideal.)

* Two Model 1893/94/95/96 Mauser bolt action rifles. (I suggest 6.5x55, 7x57, or 8x57, but regardless get both rifles in the same caliber.)

If you have a big budget, you should also invest in few additional pre-1899 Colts and Winchesters that are chambered for commonly available factory made ammunition.

For those who live in states with already tight restrictions (such as California and New Jersey), I'd recommend doing some research and finding semi-autos that were overlooked from their ban lists. These might still include the Ruger Mini-14 (in "vanilla" sporter configurations), FN-49 rifles, M1 Garands, Remington Model 81 Police (extended magazine) rifles, Remington 740 Woodmaster series hunting rifles (for which 10-round magazines are available), Winchester Model 100 rifles, and SKS carbines (with a few fairly limited magazine options.) Saiga-12 shotguns may also still be overlooked in some states with bans. Be sure to check the latest enacted editions of your state laws before making a purchase. If possible, buy rifles without a paper trail. When I last checked, rifles that are more than 50 years old could be purchased from private parties in California by a fellow resident without any FFL and DOJ paperwork.

By the way, although they are often mentioned as "loophole" guns, I don't recommend M1 Carbines, because they shoot a relatively weak pistol-class cartridge with a looping trajectory.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Is the M1A the best rifle to have sitting in your gun safe?  Ever since there have been rifles and humans, there has been discussions about what is the best rifle to have when you are thrust into a survival situation.  That situation might just be a government fallout, natural disaster, or the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI).  Either way, you need a rifle that will take you thru that situation and give you a fighting chance to survive. 

So what attributes make a good rifle to rely on?  For starters there are many of you that will feel that they already have the best survival rifle already.  Just hear me out.  A must is a semi automatic rifle that has the ability for you to shoot a single round for deer hunting or get you past an hour long shoot out with people trying to take your resources.  For this, you need a semi auto over any other form of repeating rifle.  Lever action, bolt action, pump, and single shot rifles all fall short here. 

Second, you need to be able to come back on target after your first shot.  I know that you are the best shooter and its one shot one kill right.  Well trust me, as a military combat veteran, it doesn’t always work that way.  Follow up shots are a must, whether you miss or acquire another target.

Touching up on the last requirement of being able to make follow up shots, your go to rifle needs to contain a box magazine.  This is a requirement and not optional.  The reason is the ability to reload fast and carry your ammunition in a way that you can make that reload fast and consistent.  This also allows you to share your ammo with other people in your party if you find yourself in this situation.  Box magazines come in all shapes and sizes.  Since we are discussing the M1A, we will limit this to those magazines.  I rely only on one brand of magazine for my rifle, checkmate steel magazines.  These come in all capacities.  No, I’m not talking about 100 round magazines.  Keep these limited to two sizes.  Standard twenty round magazines and a couple five round magazines.  The five round magazines are for hunting before a "without rule of law" (WROL) situation.  Once fish and game are no longer an issue, stick with the 20 round magazines.  I like steel magazines only.  The reason is they are easy to repair compared to plastic.  Steel will last forever, be bent back into shape, and have been proven where polymer magazines are new to come about.  M1As are picky when it comes to magazines.  Spend the money and buy a good set of magazines.  There is no reason to spend $1,500 on your rifle to go cheap on the accessories.  At a minimum you should have 10 magazines.  With everything, more is always better. 

Next I want to talk about the bullets themselves.  There are discussion boards that talk about 5.56 vs .308 vs 7.62x39, and you can read until you die.  Without going into a deep discussion, let me talk to you about why the .308 is the best round.  In North America, there is not a single animal that cannot be taken with this round.  This is not to say that you cannot take them with an AR-15 or AK, but I would feel much better hunting with a .308.  Looking at what hunters use right now, why would your even consider elk or moose hunting with that small of a round.  In the south, wild boar will be a huge part of the diet when there are no longer grocery stores to go to.  You should not risk an animal getting away from you if you wound them when you and your family are relying on the meat. 

Moving on, knockdown power or penetration is another area that the .308 will be able to win.  The military uses the 7.62x51 for their crew served weapons.  This gives the soldiers the ability to shoot thru cover and concealment.  The extra mass of the round allows it to not be deflected as easy when passing through leaves and small brush.  This could be the difference between a hit and miss.  Lastly, when it comes to ammunition, you need to be able to find it and purchase it at a good price.  With the ammunition shortage that has happened, I have still been able to find some .308 ammo on the shelves.  While the .223 shelves have been empty, there are some instances where you are able to find .308.  The times you do find .223, the price is just as much as what you can find .308 ammunition for. 

Moving on to the reason that the M1A is now the best rifle to have, lets talk about proposed bans.  The assault rifle has come under sustained fire ever since its been around.  This has not been more tested than now.  With the few mentally ill people going on shooting sprees, some members of congress feel that the American people should not have the ability to defend themselves.  This has been shown with Dianne Feinstein and her many assault weapons bans that she has tried to pass lately.  Looking at what she wants to ban, you never know if you will be able to keep your rifle in the future.  Lets just say that she gets her way and is able to pass the bill someday.  What is left to own?  The FAL is out, since it has a pistol grip and box magazines.  The AR platforms are out for the same reason.  The AK formats are in the same restrictions. The HK91, Galil, SCAR, and nearly every other [.308 detachable magazine] option are eliminated.  This is why the M1A is the best rifle to have in your possession today.  Proven, reliable, and possibly safe from the government. 

JWR Replies: Although you've constructed a bit a of straw man argument, a lot of your points are valid.

The core premise of your letter--the potential advent of new firearms laws--is what led me to diversify my collection to include some Pre-1899 guns, which are not even considered firearms under Federal law. (They are entirely outside of Federal jurisdiction.) A scoped Mauser Model 1895 bolt action shooting a cartridge like 7x57 Mauser or 6.5x55 Swedish Mauser can be quite potent and very accurate. To own one that is in the same category as a black powder muzzleloader in the eyes of the law is a great advantage.

Of all of the .308 semi-autos I've ever owned or shot, the one least likely to be banned is the M1 Garand (yes, some have been made in .308), since it uses a top-loading 8-round en bloc clip rather than a bottom-loading detachable box magazine. But I'm not going to sell off any of my other .308s out of fear of them being banned. I will not compromise when it comes to my Constitutional rights, and I will not comply with any law that is plainly unconstitutional. However, I am quite pragmatic about choosing the right time to "lock and load.") Claire Wolfe was prescient, in her most famous quote: "America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." So it indeed might be wise to have some pre-1899s and other legislatively resilient guns, just in case. Presumably we'll be able to leave these out in plain view while some other guns in our collections disappear for a while.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

CPT Rawles,
The author of the "Your Two Foot Bugout" article refers to through-hiking the Appalachian Trail as a simulation of a "shank's mare" bugout. I've had similar thoughts in the past and would add these recommendations: in a situation where the fecal matter has impacted the rotating blades of the oscillating air moving device, do as the Laytons did in Patriots, i.e. go heavy on bullets and light on food. As the Golden Horde descends on your trail, you'll want to defend whatever remains of your belongings and family.

Also consider that thru-hikers count on resupply on average of every 10 days. Your mileage may vary, but can you and your loved ones realistically handle more than 10 days worth of gear and food? Even the elites of the military rely on resupply from higher echelons, on average of 3 days.

Also consider travel distances. Appalachian Trail thru-hikers average 15 miles per day. Without resupply or pre-positioned caches, a foot bound bugout is limited to 150 miles. Is your retreat within that limit? Don't be one of those who "always relies on the kindness of strangers." Ken and Terry Layton were fictional characters driving a narrative with an author guiding the process. We have a divine Author who is guiding our story, but we prep anyway. - Woody

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

“My grandpa taught me how to live off the land, and his taught him to be a businessman." Remember those words from “A Country Boy Can Survive” by Hank Williams, Jr.?  Those lines are the story of my life.  I was born just outside of San Francisco in 1963.  I was raised overseas and lived in Singapore, a nation where possession of guns by citizens was (and is) illegal.   The extent of my outdoor life was exploring what was left of the jungles around our home, and digging up WW2 relics (casings, helmets, hubcaps etc.)  I returned to the US at 13, and lived in Miami during the cocaine wars of the 1980’s.  My father was an executive for a multi-national corporation.  We were pretty wealthy.  Hunting and fishing were not a part of my father’s past, so he didn’t pass those along to me.  Our idea of roughing it was going to the Marriott instead of the Hilton.  My dad was not a “fix-it” kind of guy.  When something broke, we called the repairman, or simply replaced it.  I learned early the value of a good auto mechanic.  I didn’t think I was totally incompetent.  I could change batteries and a light bulb.  I could mow the grass, and taught myself how to vacuum out the pool.  I played sports in school, which consumed most of my time.  I went to college and majored in political science.  I didn’t take the time to look at the want ads and notice that there were not a lot of jobs for political scientists.  After graduation, it took me a couple of years to figure out that my employment opportunities were limited.  I finally realized that I hadn’t been trained to “do” anything.  I had been trained to think deep thoughts.  What was a 23 year old “deep thinking” guy to do?  I looked around and asked, “Who is making money?”  It became clear that the lawyers were the only ones I saw getting rich.  So in 1987, I headed off to law school.  I graduated three years later, $70,000 in debt and unemployed.  I managed to find jobs to keep myself fed, until I began practicing law with a small property firm.  Eventually, I got married and began a basic middle class life.  By the time our first child was born, I was working full time as a Public Defender.  We spent what we made, and saved very little.  Over time, that changed, and I was able to invest in the market, and slowly began building up an IRA. Two more kids arrived, costs went up, but we have kept our heads above water.  Like everyone, we got hit hard in 2002, but still managed to keep going.  Over the last 10 years or so, we have been doing okay, watching our investments fluctuate and enjoying the “city life”. 

Two recent situations have caused me to take a long hard look at my life, and realistically evaluate my situation.  I had a total knee replacement.  Everything seemed to be going well, until I developed an infection.  My 30 days away from the office turned into 45.  My short term disability did not cover as much as I hoped, and it was tough to make ends meet.  As the infection refused to clear up, the Doctors started talking about 4 additional surgeries, and being out of the office for about a year.  Despite having long term disability insurance, I knew that a prolonged absence from the office would be financially devastating.  I began to seriously ponder how I would take care of my family.  Thoughts of selling possessions, tightening budgets and possibly downsizing our home, all went through my head.  It is important to know that I have no school loans, no car payments, and minimal credit card debt.  I wasn’t worried about paying off debt. I was worried about depleting our savings, buying food, and keeping the house.  While flat on my back with me knee in the air, I had to start planning for my son’s 15th birthday.
He is a World War 2 history buff, and all he wanted for his birthday was an M1 Garand.  I have some limited experience with handguns and target shooting.  Rifles were totally out of my realm of knowledge and experience.  I got on the Internet and started to check out the availability and price of a M1 Garand.  They were pretty tough to find, and I learned that they were cost prohibitive.  He really wanted a piece of WW2 history, so we went with a Mosin Nagant.  The whole family has enjoyed shooting it.  A few weeks ago, my son noticed signs for an upcoming gun show.  We decided to go in the hope that he would have a chance to see and touch some WW2 vintage rifles.  We spent the day with M1s, Kar 98s, carbines of all types, and just about every type of rifle, shotgun and handgun imaginable.  On a whim, I picked up a copy of Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles.  The premise seemed interesting, and I was in need of a new book. Reading the book has been one of the most beneficial and terrifying experiences of my life.

The latest government shutdown, raising of the debt ceiling, international financial news, international instability and terrorism,  our over dependence on foreign made goods (my underwear is made in Viet Nam),  the general interconnectedness of supply lines and the “global economy” have convinced me that a Crunch, as depicted in the novel, is not only a possibility, but an inevitability.  When it happens, how then does a city boy survive?  How do I care for family?  How do I protect them?  I’m not thinking about giving them the best life has to offer, I am worried about literally keeping us all alive.  I realize that I cannot depend on the government or what passes for infrastructure.  I can trust in God and in his people, but that also requires that I use the brains and abilities that He gave me to be as prepared and ready as possible.  I had to admit that I had neither the supplies nor the skills necessary to keep my family alive and safe.  That is a horrible and terrifying thought for a 50 year old, married, father of three.  I knew that I had no other choice, but to make some changes and prepare myself to be the husband and father that I needed (and wanted) to be.

My first step has been to get my wife on board.  I have shared with her what I have learned, and why I feel a “crunch” is inevitable.  God has blessed me with a wife who is more “handy” than I am, and she danced a jig of joy when I told her that I was going to learn to do more of the “fix it” stuff around the house.   My best friend has agreed to teach me the things I need to know, to do basic home and auto repair.

My next step was to prepare to “bug in”.  In the event of a bad storm, being snowed in for a few days or a prolonged (but temporary) power outage, we would have been in a world of hurt.  I realized that we had one flashlight in the house.  We had no battery powered radios.  Come to think about it, we had no extra batteries.  We had little canned food stockpiled.  We had few matches and no wood.  We had no extra propane.  We had no stored water.  We had few hygiene items on hand (and three women).  We had one fire extinguisher, which is 19 years old.  I have taken steps to remedy this by clearing a section of the basement, and creating a storage area of food, water and supplies.  The things we need are in one place.  If a disaster hits, we won’t be scrambling all over the house looking for stuff.  Our next step will be creating “bug out” packs that are ready to go.

I have also expanded my collection of firearms.  I now have a Taurus .45, Taurus .357 revolver, Glock 17, Mosin Nagant and my newest acquisition, a Mossberg 100 ATR, chambered in .270.  I have just over 1,700 rounds of ammo on hand.  My next purchase will be a self defense shotgun. I am acquiring supplies and firearms as inexpensively as possible, while not sacrificing quality.   I have made a deal with two friends to have them teach me and my son to hunt and fish.  When the crunch happens, we will be able to make sure that we have protein/meat to eat.  We will pass those skills on to the rest of our family as we become more capable.  I am slowly reallocating my investments, and creating a more liquid financial situation.  I am trying to figure out how to survive in a future with little or no cash.  I understand that I cannot rely on or expect to receive Social Security or my pension.  I am blessed that my wife is a natural born trader/barterer.  I am learning how to make homemade soap.  My wife is a seamstress.  As long as she can fine material, a needle and thread, we will have clothes and something to sell, trade or barter.

I realize that all this is “old hat” to many of your readers.  I’m sure some of you want to shake me by the shoulders and ask, “What took you so long”.  Rest assured, I know how much I still have to do to truly be as prepared as possible.  That is where you come in.  Please keep posting your information on the blogs.  Let me learn what you have learned.  Allow me to grow into the type of compatriot that you would want by your side.  In the end, we will all be in this together, and we will need to be able to rely on the person next to us.  I am sure you will notice me or others like me, as you do your own preparations.  Don’t be afraid to say something.  If you see that I am about to buy a lousy piece of equipment, let me know.  If you see me at the range and I’m making mistakes, help me out.  I know we don’t have uniforms, or pins, or secret handshakes by which we can identify ourselves to others.  But we can recognize each other.  We can see that innate part of each other that is prepared and reliable.  We can, hopefully, see that growing in others.  Maybe it is like my Dad said, “You know more about a man’s character by his actions than by his words”.  I know I have a long way to go before I will feel ready or truly prepared.  I need your help, your wisdom and your advice.  Please come along side me, and be the men and women of action, that I know you are.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

[Regarding Pat's recent product review,] as a licensed Class III dealer, I have extensive experience using the X Products 50 round drum for the HK91/G3 under full auto fire. My G3s, HK91s and even semi-auto PTR-91s eat NATO standard ammo flawlessly from them. I also have used the M14 version successfully though I don't have as much time with that rifle. I heartily suggest their use. I have no monetary interest in their company. I and my company own and use dozens of them.

I also strongly suggest the PTR-91 platform for standardization in any survival group. As long as you use NATO spec ammo and good mags, they function flawlessly. Service is easy, only takes a few specialized tools and mags are quite cheap. they are a great value versus the classic collectors pre-ban HK-91.

Thanks for what you do. - B.F.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What is "fire power?" That has been a source of debate with many gun writers and shooters for a lot of years. Now, while I'll readily agree that, no handgun can really give you "firepower" - I believe a semiauto rifle, like an AR, AK, M1A and many other similar rifles can lay down a deadly stream of bullets towards the bad guys. Some gun writers believe that only a select-fire or full auto rifle or light machine gun can lay down some firepower, while others believe an Apache attack helicopter or jet fighter equipped with 20 or 30mm automatic cannons can truly lay down "some serious firepower. " I guess it depends on where you're standing at the time - on the giving end or the receiving end of the gun.
I know I can empty a 30 round magazine from an AR or AK in a few seconds, while that isn't automatic fire, it is sure enough fire power to make the person on the receiving end, wish they were some place else. Ask the person who is getting shot at, with a 30 round magazine, if that isn't fire power - bet they'll say it is.
There are some magazine makers, who just flat out manufacture poorly made magazines, and people continue to buy them, for some strange reason. Without  high-quality magazines in your firearms, you may only be left with a single-shot firearm because the money you think you saved, by purchasing a cheaply made magazine, won't function in your firearm - and that is not a good thing in my book. I rarely purchase any aftermarket magazines for my firearms - there are a few exceptions - but for the most part, I like to stick to factory-made magazines. Now, that isn't the case when it comes to magazines for ARs, AKs, M1As and many other modern sporting rifles - most of those magazines are indeed what are called "aftermarket" they are made by a vendor who isn't actually manufacturing the rifles.
I've also found that, when it comes to AR-15 magazines, many makers who manufacture magazines that hold more than 30 rounds are just marketing a gimmick. Most of those magazines simply won't function properly - even if you only load 30 rounds into a 45 round magazine. There are also some drum-style magazines that are actually two drums that feed into your AR, that hold 100 rounds of ammo. I've tried several over the years, and I haven't found one that I'd be willing to be my life on, and neither should you. [JWR Adds: In my experience, Beta C-MAG 100 round drums do function as advertised, but they rattle like a maraca when loaded, so they they should mot be considered for any sort of dismounted patrolling. ]
The good folks at US Tactical Supply told me about some 50 round drum magazines that they are selling, and if you've followed my articles over the past few years, you know I think very highly of the products that US Tactical Supply sells - they only carry the best-of-the-best in my humble opinion. And, they have customer service that is second to none, too. I made a trip to US Tactical Supply and was provided two "X Products" 50-round drum magazines for testing for SurvivalBlog readers. One of the X Products magazines is for an M14 or Springfield Armory M1A .308 rifle, the other is a 50-round drum magazine for the AR-15 style of rifle. X Products magazines are completely made in the USA, which is always a selling point in my book. We can compete against foreign-made companies and produce better products, too.
First up is the X Product 50 round drum for the M1A - this magazine is actually shorter in length than a standard 20 round .308 magazine is, and it is much shorter than the 30 round magazines - most of which don't work. However, US Tactical Supply does carry the Checkmate Industries (CMI) brand of 20 and 30 round magazines for the M1A that do work. (Most no-name 30-rd mags simply are junk. In contrast, the Checkmate 20 and 30 rd mags are the best you can buy in my humble opinion. However, if you want more than 20 or 30 rounds of "firepower" for your M1A or M14, then you have got to check out the X Products drum mag.
Granted, any .308 semiauto rifle is going to be a bit heavy to start with, then throw-in a drum magazine, with 50 rounds of .308 ammo in it, and you are adding close to another 5-pounds of weight to the rifle. There are always some trade-offs in this sort of situation, and only you can decide how much weight you are willing to pack in your long gun. For me, this is a no-brainer - 50 rounds of .308 without having to reload is the way to go when a fire-fight breaks out. The X Product drum magazines are manufactured out of steel and Aluminum - no plastic parts at all. And, as already noted, these M1A magazines are not as long as 20 round magazines are. Plus, you can actually carry your M1A sling-arms without the drum interfering with your body.
There is also a spring-loaded "winding key" on the front of the magazine, as you place a round and are ready to push it into the magazine, you simply turn the "key" so the round drops right in - do this 49 more times, and you are ready to rock 'n roll. I will admit, the winding key is a bit stout, then again, the spring that pushes the rounds up, so the drum magazine can smoothly AND reliably feed those rounds into the M1A must, out of necessity be strong. The X Products 50 round drum magazine is rated to feed 950-rounds per minute - if you can pull the trigger that fast, and reload the gun that fast. I tested this magazine in a Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM, and the magazine fit perfectly and fed every round without any problems at all. Okay, we are talking very serious firepower here, and I don't care what your definition of "firepower" might be - 50 rounds of .308 on-tap, without having to reload is mighty impressive in my book.
I tested .308 Win/7.62 NATO FMJ military surplus ammo, as well as from Black Hills Ammunition 168 grain Match Hollow Point and their 175 grain Match Hollow Point, and from Buffalo Bore Ammunition their Sniper 175 grain JHP and their 150 grain Barnes TTSX poly tip load. I had zero feeding malfunctions using any of this ammo. I was a bit concerned about the JHP and poly tipped ammo feeding through the X Products mag, but every round fed without fail. I reloaded the 50-round drum magazine four times, for a total of 200 rounds down range - this wasn't a test of accuracy - it was only to test the reliability of the magazine. I will readily admit, but the time I was loading the magazine for the third time, my hand was getting tired from winding the magazine to load it.
Enter the X Products 50 round drum magazine designed for AR-15 style rifles, this one is quite a bit smaller than the mag for the M1A type of rifles, and the spring on the "winding key" wasn't nearly as stout - but still stout enough to push those rounds up as fast as you could pull the trigger. During my testing, I used Winchester 55 grain FMJ ammo, and from Buffalo Bore I used their 69 grain JHP Sniper round. From Black Hills I had a wide assortment of ammo to shoot, including their 55 grain FMJ reloads, 55 grain FMJ brand-new ammo, 52 grain Hornady V-Max, 52 grain Match Hollow Point, 55 grain Soft Point, 60 grain Soft Point and their 68 grain Heavy Match Hollow Point. And, I mixed this ammo when loading the drum magazines, and once again, no surprises, every single round fed perfectly.
During the time of the great ammo drought of 2013, I'm having a difficult time getting all the ammo samples I want for my shooting articles, and I have been restricting myself to only shooting about 200 rounds during a firearms test. However, I got completely carried away with my DPMS "AR" and fired more than 400 rounds though the gun, using the X Products 50 round drum magazine - it was a total blast, literally, being able to lay down that kind of fire power, without having to reload. You can fire up to 1,100 rounds per minute using the 50 round drum magazine - that is fast enough to keep up with just about any full-auto M4 rifle in my humble opinion.
The X Products drum magazines are coated inside and out with Cerakote for friction reduction, and to provide the reliability you demand, without using any lube, that can cause problems. The X Products drum mag is also 4-5 inches shorter than the Surefire quad stack magazine. Honestly, with this mag loaded in your AR-style rifle, it is really compact. This is "the" magazine you want stuffed in your AR, if you are using it for a house gun - if you can repel attackers with 50 rounds available, then you are in deep, deep trouble, and probably can't save yourself. BTW, the AR mag is built entirely of aluminum with no plastic parts to break.
The only negative I could find with either of these X Products drum magazines is that, you are having so much fun, you are burning-up a lot of ammo in a short period of time...I don't care what other gun writer's or armchair experts might say, 50 rounds of ammo on tap, without a reload is firepower in my book, and if you are on the receiving end of that many rounds flying at you, I'm sure you'll agree with this finding as well.
Now, quality never comes cheap, and the price for the M1A/M14 X Products drum magazine is $275 and for the AR drum magazine the price is $210 Now, I'm not advocating that you purchase half a dozen each of these magazines. However, what I would suggest is that, you purchase one or maybe even two of these magazines. If you are a police officer, in the military or a Prepper, load one of these 50 round drum magazines in your rifle, and then use other "standard" magazines for your reloads. If I got into a fire-fight, it would be VERY reassuring to have 50 rounds of ammo available during that crucial initial engagement, without having to reload. Laying down a lot of bullets at the bad guys at the start of a gunfight can make a big difference in my book. Keep their heads down, while you move from one position to another. Fire and movement!
These are the magazines you want in your gun - at the start of a fire fight! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Mr Rawles,

I'm writing to make a few points about the article Ken in Montana wrote about reloading, as there are some issues I have with it. I've only been reloading since 1999, but . . . .

First, Winchester primers are also brass in color, so anything other than silver doesn't automatically mean they're Remington. Additionally, people who are just getting into reloading should ask around about the reliability of the primers they're going to use, as some primers have harder cups and don't detonate reliably. I generally only use Winchester and CCI.

I'd be interested to know where Ken is getting his "dies." I've never seen a die sold for $2--even at an estate/garage sale. Ken's description sounds more like the Lee loading tools sold for people who do not have reloading presses. Those don't even sell for that price, and are extremely slow tools to use for loading--even slower than using a single stage press.

If you want to clean your range brass and don't have a tumbler, the best way I've found is to soak it in a sink or pail full of water, then run it under a tap or hose in a mesh bag to flush away the debris.

If you use a lubricant for your cases, take care not to get it into the mouth of the case, as it will contaminate the powder and could make it fail or only partially ignite. A best practice for those not using something like Hornady One Shot would be to clean the cases a second time after depriming.

Ken left out one category of primers--match primers. Match primers are generally a bit more sensitive than regular primers, to decrease issues when firing precision rifle and pistol matches. More on this in a bit, but most people will not need match primers for general purpose applications.

For magnum primers, readers should be aware that the reason there is more priming compound is to consistently ignite the generally larger powder charges found in magnum loads. Additionally, some companies, like Winchester, make the same primers for normal and magnum pistol loads.

My main issue with the article is in the primer handling and seating section. Unless you have a great deal of dirt or oil on your fingers, simply touching a primer will not cause it to fail. I've been using my fingers to flip primers for well over a decade with no bad results. Novices should not discard primers simply because they've touched them.

When seating a primer, a primer pocket loose enough to simply press primers into with hand pressure is probably one loose enough to have the primer shake loose under recoil. I would probably discard a case like that.

Additionally, because of the prevalence of surplus brass on ranges and in purchased ammunition, a reloader should NEVER strike a case mouth the seat a primer--this is an inherently dangerous practice, since primers are detonated in firing by impact. Military brass primers are crimped into place, and the crimp makes the primer pocket mouth smaller. Trying to seat a primer into a crimped primer pocket by striking the case could detonate the primer. There are multiple tools designed to remove the crimp from primer pockets. Many surplus cartridges can be identified by a circled cross on the head stamp (the base of the case where the manufacturer, year of manufacture, and caliber are stamped). Additionally, striking the mouth of the case could deform it, requiring resizing the case mouth or discarding the case if it is damaged badly enough.

When selecting a loading manual, novices should really buy one published by a powder or reloading equipment manufacturer, rather than by a bullet manufacturer. Contrary to the writer's claim, all bullet manufacturers do NOT publish load data--this is especially true for regional manufacturers and those who make bullets that are not jacketed. The reason I say this is because powder and reloading equipment manufacturers will publish data for a type of bullet (like a 230 grain full metal jacket), as opposed to a specific model of bullet (like a Hornady 230 grain XTP). While it's generally acceptable to use load data for bullets of the same weight and type by different manufacturers, novices may not know that.

The author's method of seating bullets is a little suspect as well. Tapping it into place with a mallet could lead to placing the bullet off-center, potentially damaging the case mouth. Additionally, if the case mouth is not belled during the loading process, you may shave the jacket or some lead off of the bullet. This could change the bullet's profile and potentially lead to issues with headspacing (especially for pistol bullets) if not the shavings are not cleaned off. Finally, I've noticed the author doesn't cover crimping the case mouth, which is very important. Bullets not crimped into the case can pull under recoil, and not crimping the case mouth can cause failures to feed--especially in cartridges that headspace from the case mouth (like the .45 ACP).

The author's rather cavalier attitude about overall length is slightly less alarming than his attitude about priming. Bullets seated too deeply into the case can also cause excess pressure and damage the gun and injure the shooter. A ruler is not accurate enough, and different bullet styles will not look similar enough to judge proper seating by eye. Get a set of calipers which show the measurement to the thousandth. Sincerely, - Kent from Illinois

Friday, October 4, 2013

With the current shortage of ammunition and the consequent high prices, it makes more sense now than ever before to learn how to reload your own fired brass casings.  I even suspect that in the future, this may well be the only way for the ordinary citizen to obtain ammunition. It's not at all difficult, it only requires a little understanding of the process, and the ability to follow directions. This will become very important later, as each caliber requires its own set of powders, charges, primers, and bullets. No one can learn them all, there are millions of potential combinations. But the data has already been compiled for you in hundreds of tables in loading manuals(more on these later...) and on the Internet.

As a reloader of my own ammunition since 1977, I have come to think that it is not nearly so mysterious as people make it seem. There are many miscommunications, even down to so basic a concept as the “bullet”. Despite what you hear on television and see in the movies, the bullet is the [projectile] part that flies downrange, the actual projectile itself. The complete loaded round consisting of the case, the primer, the powder, and the projectile (or bullet) is actually known as a “cartridge”, or simply a round. This terminology might seem unimportant at first glance, but it is as necessary for the reloader as the words “engine”, and “transmission”, are for a mechanic. The brass case, usually made of brass, is the part ejected out of the gun after the round is fired from a semi auto action, or manually extracted from other firearms. The “primer” is the little silver-colored (or gold-colored if Remington brand) round thing pressed into the center of the rear portion of the brass case, known as the case's “head”. The firing pin strikes the primer in order to fire the round. This is for centerfire cartridges. Rimfires, such as the .22 Long Rifle, are not reloadable and so will not be discussed here.

The open end of the case is called the “mouth”. The gunpowder is measured (or weighed) and poured into the mouth of the case, and then the bullet is seated into the case, on top of the powder. There are a few basic tools required such as a rubber or wooden mallet, a small funnel or piece of paper, and perhaps a punch and a pair of pliers.

There are also a few specialized tools needed, but they are quite cheap at the starter level. A good gunpowder scale that will measure in grains will usually be needed. A lab scale that measures in milligrams will work, but the result will have to be converted to grains, and a math mistake here could have serious consequences later. The powder charge needs to be quite precise. Real powder scales that measures in grains directly can often be found at swap meets and flea markets for $20. They are about $40 to $100 brand new. The one other indispensable tool is the die, specific to each caliber you wish to reload. They are around $2. I recommend buying dies new, at least until you become experienced enough to recognize a damaged or worn out die just by looking inside it.

This die is a round piece of hardened steel, with a hole in the center machined the exact size that the cartridge should be, according to the specs published by the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute, or SAAMI (pronounced “sammy” in true acronym fashion). Pushing the case into this die will swage(squash in diameter) the case back down to the proper size, after firing has expanded it. The case is fed into the die, mouth end first, and then tapped into the die with a mallet, or pressed in, if one owns a reloading press. This process is known as “resizing” the case. This die will usually also contain a pin, known as a “decapper” which will push the spent primer out of its recess (known as the “primer pocket”) in the case head.

CAUTION: before this is done, the dirty case should be cleaned in some way, as gritty cases will cause excess wear in your die, and a big enough piece of debris  might even scratch your die, rendering it useless. Well, maybe not quite useless, but it will scratch your brass cases from then on, and sometimes cause them to stick in the die, meaning more time lost as you clear the die with a punch or some similar tool. There is no buffing the scratch out, as that would make the inside of the die oversize, and then it will not do the job of resizing. Even a thousandth of an inch matters here. A rag and some solvent will clean the grit off the cases nicely. There are also special tumbling or vibrating washtubs, similar to rock polishers, that clean many cases at a time, making the job quicker and easier. After the case is cleaned, it should be lubricated so that it won't stick in the die. The reloading component manufacturers make special lubes for this, and they only cost a few dollars for enough to do many thousands of rounds, but any type lubricant will do.

Now, with a sized and decapped case, the next step is to replace the spent primer, as this will ignite the new powder charge. Primers are bought in trays of 100, or cases of 1000, in most any sporting goods store. They come in four basic types: small pistol, large pistol, small rifle, and large rifle. All four types also have a “magnum” primer as a subtype. The small and large refer to the actual size of the primer. Some cases have a small primer pocket, and some a large. Usually, smaller cartridges will use small primers, and so on as one would expect, but not always, so be sure to look up the primer size of the cartridge you are loading before you buy. Or just tell the clerk what caliber you intend to load and if he doesn't know offhand he will certainly have the ability to look it up.

The rifle and pistol refers to the steel cup the priming compound is housed in. Rifles operate at much higher pressures than pistols, so require a more robust primer cup in order to withstand these high pressures without rupturing. But pistols do not hit the primer hard enough to set off the thick, tough rifle primers. They require thinner and softer primer cups, which is fine at the pistols lower pressure levels. This is another of the detail areas. Make sure never to mistake a pistol primer for a rifle primer. A rifle primer in a pistol will only lead to dud rounds, but a pistol primer in a rifle case might well lead to a pierced primer when fired, which would then allow muzzle blast to come out the rear of the chamber. Not a good situation. Many loading mistakes can generate excessive chamber pressures, but modern firearms have a large built-in safety margin, and also mechanisms to divert the hot gases away from the shooter, even if the primer or case head should rupture.

The magnum moniker just means that the primer contains more priming compound, thus giving a bigger flame, to set off the large charges of the very slow burning powders needed by the large capacity magnum rifle rounds. In my experience pistols don't need magnum primers, not even in the large magnums like the .44 Magnum or .454 Casull. It doesn't hurt to use magnum primers in a non magnum case, but they do cost more, which seems a waste, unless it is needed for proper ignition.

When handling primers individually, it is important to use small pliers, tweezers, forceps, or something similar to keep from touching them with your skin. Even chopsticks or toothpicks will work, if you are good enough with them. The slightest amount of any oil, including your skin oils, will deactivate the pressure sensitive material within, leading to dud rounds that won't fire. The primer is placed on the primer pocket, and simply pressed in. If one does not have a reloading press, I found the best way was to place the new primer, open side up, on a semi firm surface, such as a thick piece of solid(not corrugated) cardboard, or a hardcover book. Then place the case, mouth up, on top of it. Then simply tap the mouth of the case down unto the primer until it is flush with the case head. Care must be taken not to strike so hard that the primer will be set off. If you do, it will sound like a large cap from a cap pistol, but unless you happen to be looking down into case at the time, it is unlikely to cause injury. But it will waste the primer and then you must start over again. Besides, loud noises are scary when you are reloading. Dump the whole tray of primers out on a sheet of light weight cardboard, after folding up the edges to make a shallow box (there are plastic "primer flipping trays" for this, $5 or less) so they won't all roll around. Then turn each one open end up--either by swirling a primer flipping tray, or manually with a small tool. Then I use a needlenose pliers to transfer them one at a time to the surface of the book and seat that one, and then so on until I'm finished priming.

Now, it is time for the scale. A measured charge, of a specific amount, of a specific powder,  must now be added to the case, on top of the primer you just pressed in, under the bullet which you will seat in the next step. This article will only deal with smokeless powder, or guncotton. Black powder is that “other gunpowder” (more misconceptions) that is used in flintlocks and such, that throw out the huge cloud of white(the powder is black, the smoke is white) smoke when fired. Make sure never to confuse black and smokeless powders. There are many different grades of smokeless powder, by many different manufacturers. The primary difference between them is the rate at which they burn. A fast burn rate is for small cases and short barrels, such as pistol rounds. The larger the caliber's powder capacity, the slower the powder will need to burn, and also the firearm will need a longer barrel to take advantage of the extra powder to generate the higher velocities. This trade off is why pistol calibers are commonly short and fat, whereas rifle rounds are generally much longer and with much heavier bullets, even though the bore diameter might be the same. For example, the .35 Remington rifle cartridge will take up to a 220 grain bullet, whereas the .357 magnum pistol round, with the exact same .357 inch bore, has a 158 grain bullet as the heaviest available.

One can look up charge weights for different calibers and bullets on the Internet (search for: “loading data .45 ACP”, to get loads for the 45Aauto, for example), but the most convenient way is to have a book known as a “reloading manual”. These run about $25 (new) and each bullet manufacturer produces their own manual for the bullets that they make. They are all full of great general information and loading tips, but the bulk of the manuals are dedicated to tables showing which powders are for which caliber, and exactly how much of which powder for the particular bullet you wish to load. As a rule, the heavier the bullet in a given caliber, the less powder one must use. Heavier bullets will have more momentum because of their extra mass, but they will also push back harder on the expanding gases driving them up the bore. This will generate higher pressures, so the powder charge must be reduced, giving less velocity than a lighter bullet. Thus we note that the bullet and powder charge are co-dependent upon each other, and must be selected together. The easiest way to do this is to select the bullet that you want to use, and then go “shopping” in the manuals(or on the web) for powders that will work for that bullet in your caliber. Then pick the one that generates the most velocity with the powders that you have available. Once a powder, charge weight, and bullet has been decided upon, it is simply a matter of weighing it out and using a small funnel, or a small cone made of paper, to pour it into the case mouth without spilling any(remember, the powder charge should be precise).

Now, all that is left is to seat a new bullet on top of the powder, and you will have a round ready to fire! To do this you place the new bullet, flat side down, into the case mouth that you just filled with powder, and then simply tap it home with the mallet. You need to make sure that the newly loaded round is not too long, but the very scientific process of TLAR (that looks about right) works pretty well. When it looks about right, check the overall length against the SAAMI specs (on the web or from the loading manual), to make sure it is not too long. A ruler works fine for this, as the previous precision is not needed here. Too short is seldom a problem, as around the point of minimum length the cartridge usually begins to look strange. Even if the bullet is seated too deeply, usually the only adverse effect, other than a reduction in accuracy, is potential feeding malfunctions. If a round is too long, it will either fail to go in the magazine, fail to chamber, or worse it could seat the bullet into the rifling, thus creating excess chamber pressures which could even damage your firearm. In any case the overall length specification has a fair bit of leeway in most cartridges. It is fairly easy to get the length between the minimum and the maximum specs, often just by eye. Many bullets will have a “cannelure”, or crimping groove, around their circumference. These bullets should be seated until this ring is lined up with the case mouth.

Once all these steps are complete, the round is ready to fire. However, if it is to be fired in a semi-auto action, it should undergo one final step, the bullet should be taper crimped into the case. This requires yet another die, but this step is optional. The worst that will happen to uncrimped bullets is that the rounds in the bottom of the magazine might become seated deeper into the case by recoil, and get below the minimum overall case length. In manual actions crimping is not usually necessary.

Of course, this has been vastly simplified, as there is a great deal more than these simple basics. An experienced reloader can make his own bullets, and even make his own black powder, but smokeless powder is too dangerous to manufacture outside of laboratory conditions. They can even make cases, and thus load ammunition, for calibers that no longer exist. There are professional reloaders who do just that for a living. Mostly due to the sport of cowboy action shooting, which often uses calibers that have not been manufactured for decades. Also, it is sometimes far cheaper to use another cheap case, as the basis for a more expensive caliber, such as making 300 Blackout brass from the 5.56mm military surplus case.

This, of course, is only the beginning as one can purchase many accessories to make the job easier and quicker including presses, priming tools that hold a whole tray at a time and never require you to touch the primers at all, digital and automatic scales, and "powder measures" that, once set for a particular weight of a particular powder, will continue to measure out that amount at the pull of a handle. So much quicker than weighing each charge! One can even purchase multiple station presses that will do each of these operations, to many separate cases, all at once. These, once set up, will drop a loaded round for you, each time you work the press handle. One can even buy automated presses with no lever, that only need to be monitored and fed reloading components. These will do all processes by themselves, feeding cases, decapping, repriming, adding powder, bullet and crimp, and dropping loaded rounds, one at a time, with no input from the operator, and continue for as long as they have components. These are very expensive though, and still require a highly experienced operator, as all complex machinery does.

One big shortcut that I can heartily recommend is a product called the Lee reloading kit. Lee is a brand and no, I am not, nor have I ever been, affiliated with them. It is just the way I started loading way back in the 1970s, and it always worked well for me. They are for only one caliber, but they are cheap, they last virtually forever (unless you feed enough dirt into the die to scratch its walls, but that is true for any die, from any manufacturer), and they are easy and simple to use. They include the size die for whatever caliber it is, the decapping pin, small plastic powder measure(like tiny measuring cups with long handles) to cover a range of powder charge weights, and instructions with tables telling you what measure to use for which powders and charges, and tables with some loading data to get started with. With this kit you won't even need the powder scale that I listed as an essential. All you really need is in that kit, but you will find many more items that you will want, quickly enough. For example, with only the plastic powder measures you will be extremely limited in the types and weights of powder you must use, but it works fine. In fact, it is the most foolproof way to load, as there is no scale that could be misread, no measuring chamber to set or calibrate, etc. All one needs to do is look up in the tables provided which measure you want for the powder charge desired, select that measure, dip it in powder to fill the measure, and then use a flat object, such as the back side of a knife, to level the measure off, as one would do while measuring flour. Then drop it into the case, seat a bullet, and a loaded cartridge is completed.

From here, the sky is the limit as your experience increases. Soon you will find yourself wanting a scale so you can use any powder and charge, not just the few listed in Lee's tables. With a scale you can still use the Lee measures, you will just need to fill one with the unlisted powder you want to use, and then drop it on your scale and weigh it to know what size charge that size of measure throws with that particular powder. A single station press will probably be wanted next, as the tapping with the mallet method is slow. Don't get me wrong, this method is not difficult, just time consuming. A couple of hours will only produce 20-40 cartridges. Not really practical for shooting 500 rounds from a semi-auto, for example. At the other end of the spectrum are the multi stage progressive presses that can load up to a thousand rounds an hour. There is even a press that is built for working in your lap using both hands, so you can have a portable reloading setup!

All the loading data, ballistic charts, burning rates of various powders, bullet types, and more can all be found in the loading manuals. There is such a wealth of firearms related information in them that I would recommend every shooter have one, even if he never has any intention of reloading. All of the equipment, supplies, and components are sold in most any sporting goods store. You might need to ask the man behind the gun counter, though, because the reloading stuff is often kept in the back, or at least behind the counter. A good gun shop will also be glad to answer any other questions that might arise. They are generally happy to help a beginning reloader, as reloaders usually shoot much more than non-reloaders, meaning more sales. While it is true that reloading your ammo is much cheaper than buying factory, I have found that whatever money is saved, is generally spent on more components. Thus the reloader really gets to shoot lots more for same money, rather than actually saving any. Of course, if you only want the savings they are there, as reloaded ammo generally runs 25-50% of the price of factory ammo with the same bullet. This is 50 to 75% off! Quite a sale! That didn't work for me. I found that whatever I saved, and usually more besides, got spent on ammo anyway. I just ended up shooting a lot more!

Well, that's it, that's all the basics. The rest is up to you. Either way, cash savings or more shooting, it's really your choice. The main point is; there is no real need for all the expensive equipment that most will want to sell you. That equipment is nice to have, but not necessary. Also, the more complex the equipment, the more knowledge is required to use it. Thus I recommend starting with the simple and cheap equipment, and then progressing to more elaborate gear as budget and your level of reloading knowledge dictate.

Reloading is not dangerous when done properly, but it is unforgiving in certain areas. For example, if you misread a scale, or get interrupted while dropping the powder in the case, forget when you return, and then put another charge in the same case, that could easily damage a firearm. Accidentally reading a table incorrectly and using the load for a .30-06 110 grain bullet, when you are actually loading a 220 grain bullet can easily do the same, as the stiffer powder charge for the light bullet will probably be too much with the heavier bullet. Reloading is not difficult, but certain aspects of it, particularly reading the information from the tables, is not forgiving. The writers of the manuals know this and arrange the data to avoid errors. Still, one needs to be methodical and double and triple check the crucial steps of reading the data, and measuring and dispensing the proper type of powder and matching it to the bullet. Nothing will blow up a gun quicker than accidentally using Bullseye or Unique (both fast burning pistol powders) with loading data for something like IMR3031(a slow rifle powder).

Except perhaps for mixing different powders together. Some old timers(older even than me) say that they made good loads that way, but I suspect that was with black powder which only has one real burning rate. Never confuse black and smokeless powders as they are two very different animals. Every time I have seen mixed smokeless powder used it blew the gun up. They were always quite worthless firearms and triggered remotely so no one was hurt, but the way some of them blew, I was certainly glad I was not holding it at the time! But if one can follow the proper data, and do so carefully, then there is nothing to fear. I am not a detail type of person, but I haven't had any loading “accidents”. It is just a matter of knowing that at certain stages, reloading is a detail task, and there is a very large difference between 32 grains of IMR4831 powder and 32 grains of IMR2400 powder!
Good luck, and happy reloading!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Most of us use a cutting edge every single day, be it a chef’s knife, pocket knife, or scissors.  We typically suffer with overly dull cutting surfaces, and that is OK for cutting a zucchini after the daily nine-to-five routine.  However, when faced with a long-term survival situation, the importance of cutting edges will skyrocket, quickly shifting this humdrum facet of daily life to center stage.  Knowing how to restore and maintain blades and edges will take on new importance, as sharp tools will be necessary for survival, and sharpening will be a marketable and barterable skill.

Besides knives and scissors, we will regularly rely on axes, machetes, fingernail clippers, chisels, gouges, wood planes, drill bits, saw blades, animal hide preparatory tools, and shaving razors, just to name a few.  Different edges require different sharpeners and techniques to achieve sharpness, but with a little bit of investment in some simple tools and also time for honing your skills (pun intended), the dividends will pay off for years to come.  Unlike some niche survival skills and tactics, sharpening is extremely useful in every-day non-emergency situations, as you will finally be able to maintain blades that actually slice through tomatoes without clumsily squishing out an eight-inch radius of juice blast!

Some blades and tasks are more sensitive to dullness than others.  For example, a dull chef’s knife will get the job done, however it will take longer, leave jagged edges, and require more force.  These last points are issues of safety, for the greater the force leveraged on a knife, the less control the user typically has.  Also, dull knives have a greater propensity for slipping or bouncing off of surfaces before cutting in, which increases the likelihood of lacerating oneself.  Wounds inflicted by dull knives also tend to be more ragged, potentially necessitating medical attention—the last thing you need in a survival situation.  Other cutting tools, such as straight razors and plane irons are rendered virtually unusable when dull.   Dull machetes and axes are also inefficient and dangerous.

All sharpening methods rely on the same basic principle—abrasive particles that are harder than the blade are used to create a series of scratches on the cutting edge.  Coarse abrasive particles cut quickly and remove relatively large amounts of metal from the edge.  Fine abrasive particles cut more slowly, yet leave a finer scratch pattern.  The finer and more uniform the scratch pattern, the sharper the edge will be.  Eventually, the progression to finer and finer abrasives yields a mirror finish and an exquisitely sharp edge. 

Sharpening typically occurs over a number of abrasive, or “grit” stages.  A coarse or low grit stone first removes deep gouges and scratches.  Fine, or high grit, media are used after coarser abrasives have created a uniform edge.  This can be compared to a wood working analogy, in that a progression of finer tools is used to craft a piece of work.  An axe is used to cut lumber to a coarse shape, saws work coarse lumber to the close-to-finished shape of the desired piece, and then sand paper and scrapers are used during the last finishing stage.  Sandpaper is not used to cut down the tree!  In theory it could be, but you would waste a lot of paper, and it would take more time and effort than you probably wish to spend.  Conversely, you would not use an axe for the final smoothing.   For the same reasons, you would not use a fine abrasive for the initial sharpening of an edge.  The idea is to take rough (coarse) cuts of metal off the edge to get the shape of the blade right and to eliminate deep gouges.  Once all the scratches made by the coarse abrasive are uniform, it is time to progress to a medium abrasive.  Once the medium abrasive has created a uniform series of scratches, it is time to move to a finer abrasive.  One of the biggest hurdles to creating a good edge is impatience.  By switching to the next finer abrasive too soon, coarse scratches persist and a sharp edge will remain elusive.  Each progression of finer scratch pattern must completely remove the coarser scratch pattern from the abrasive that came before.  Going back to the lumber example, even if you used the axe to chop through 95% of the log, switching to sandpaper at this point would still be foolish.  Likewise, even if you remove 95% of the coarse scratches with a medium grit abrasive, moving a fine abrasive will not readily remove the remaining 5% of coarse scratches.

The tools needed to begin sharpening are relatively simple, but the vast array of choices can be dizzying for those new to sharpening.  On one end of the spectrum resides sandpaper that is simply adhered to a flat surface, while the other end of the spectrum hosts multi-thousand-dollar sharpening machines.   This article focuses on the middle ground, which is the domain belonging to sharpening stones.  Sophisticated sharpening machines will be largely ignored, for when the power goes down, so do these machines.  Additionally, replacement parts may be impossible to source.  A brief description of the utility of sandpaper is worth mentioning, however. 

Sand paper is inexpensive and only requires a flat surface such as a mirror, glass pane, or a block of granite as the underlying substrate.  Even MDF (medium density fiberboard) or cast iron tool tops (such as table saw tops) can be used with some success.  Utilizing a series of differing sandpaper grits can be an extremely effective means of sharpening edges.  Vast amounts of information regarding sandpaper-based methods are available on the internet, and they can typically be found by typing the phrase “scary sharp” in a search engine.   In a nutshell, sandpaper is generally adhered to a flat surface with a spray adhesive.  The edge to be sharpened is placed on the sandpaper, and worked to create a uniform scratch pattern.    A low grit (50, 80, 100) paper is used to shape the edge, followed by a progression of finer grits (150, 180, 220, 320, 400, 600, 1000, 1200, 2000, 5000 or even finer).    Stopping at between 600 and 1200 is suitable for everyday use, but finer edges (that are more delicate and more easily dulled and damaged) require higher grits.   To set this system up, it takes very little initial monetary output, as sandpaper and float glass is inexpensive.  The problem is that sandpaper may not be readily available in a long-term survival situation, and high quality wet-dry silicon carbide paper in fine grits is rather expensive and may not be readily available at box stores.  Overall, this methodology is useful to have in one’s bag of tricks, but may not be as practical or cost effective (in the long run) as having some quality sharpening stones.


It should be noted that I have no financial interest in any brands of the sharpening stones mentioned below, and have included reference to brands I have either personally used or that have a reputation for quality.  Like all tools, I would recommend buying the best you can afford, staying far away from cheap imports.

Sharpening stones come in a few basic varieties: Oil stones, water stones, and diamond stones.  Oil stones are the stones that our grandfathers used, and require a coat of oil to work effectively, hence the name.  They were traditionally natural stones (e.g. “Arkansas stones”), but man-made oil stones are readily available today from manufacturers such as Norton.  Natural Arkansas stones vary in coarseness, and are typically available in finer forms than their man-made counterparts.  The types of Arkansas stones are, from coarse to fine; “Washita,” “Soft Arkansas,” “Hard Arkansas,” “Hard Black Arkansas,” and “Hard Translucent Arkansas.”   Oil stones typically cut more slowly than water stones, and are more difficult to clean due to the use of oil.  They are, however, the most economical of the stones available.  Quality oil stones can be had, at the time of this writing, for under $20 each.

Water stones need no oil, but require water as a lubricant, as their names suggest.  They are also available in natural varieties, but are rare and cost prohibitive, so only man-made water stones will be considered.  They cut faster than oil stones since the binders that hold these stones together are relatively soft, which allows worn abrasive particles to slough off the stone during sharpening to reveal fresh and sharp underlying particles.  Of course there is a tradeoff, which is that water stones “dish out” more quickly due to their softer construction, so they must be flattened regularly (with a dedicated flattening plate).   Water stones are also available in much finer grits than oil stones (up to 30,000 grit).  Water stones vary in price, with finer grits costing substantially more.   Norton makes combination stones with differing grits on each side of the stone, and for around $150 dollars, two stones (4 grits: 220/100, 4000/8000) and a flattening stone can be had.  I personally feel this is an excellent approach for a basic “do it all” sharpening setup.  Water stones are easy to use and clean, while not being terribly expensive.  Extremely fine grits, however, can be upward of $300 per stone.  The Naniwa Chosera line of Japanese water stones, though I have not personally used them, are extremely well-regarded, and warrant consideration. I regularly use Shapton glass stones (1000, 4000, 8000) and a DMT Coarse Diasharp stone to keep my glass stones flat, and highly recommend this setup.  The Shapton stones cut fast, don’t dish out quickly, and are super easy to use.  They are, however, fragile as they are manufactured on a glass backing, and relatively expensive (around $300 for such a set).  In a critical situation where “two is one, and one is none,” glass stones may not be my first choice without a backup in place. 

Diamond stones are not stones at all, but rather metal plates impregnated with diamond particles.  They cut extremely fast and their surfaces remain very flat over time.  They use water instead of oil, so are also easy to clean.  Diamond stones are typically more expensive than water stones in average grits, but less expensive than ultra-fine water stones.   Diamond plates are also not readily available in the extremely fine grits found in water stones.  For a long-term survival scenario, these stones are arguably the best choice if you could only have one set of stones, as they are robust and remain flat.  A set of four diamond stones by DMT (x-coarse, coarse, medium, fine) sells for around $200, and represents good value for overall utility.  When choosing diamond stones, look for brands offering monocrystalline construction, as these stones tend to cut faster and last longer than polycrystalline varieties.

Strops should not be left out of the discussion.  A strop is simply a piece of leather (or canvas) used to polish an edge.  Unlike stones, strops do not remove material from a blade, but rather straighten or align the edge.  A strop is essential for achieving a keen edge on a straight razor, and is also used for creating a superior edge on woodworking tools such as chisels or plane irons.   Strops may be impregnated with fine abrasive particles, such as “Jeweler’s Rouge,” or chromium (III) oxide to aid in achieving an even better finish.  For kitchen and utility knives, a honing steel, or simply “steel” is often used for a similar purpose (A “steel” may be made of steel or ceramic).  Learning to use a steel is a requisite for maintaining sharp kitchen knives, as it allows prolonged use of knives between sharpening sessions, since one can periodically “touch up” the edge with just a steel.

What about electric kitchen knife sharpeners?  They are super-fast, easy to use, and require virtually no skill.  As long as you have electricity they will work relatively well.  However, one can’t always count on having electricity.  Also, if a part breaks or wears out, the apparatus will be rendered useless.  Lastly, they can only sharpen thin-bladed knives, but a set of stones can be used to sharpen axes, combat knives, scissors, lawnmower blades, pruners, and dozens of woodworking tools, just to name a few.   High end sharpening stations are more versatile than the kitchen knife sharpeners, but again have dozens of moving parts and rely on electricity.

A number of specialty stones are also offered in the market, and are intended for specific tasks.  For example, round and triangular stones can be used for sharpening serrated blades and gut-hook skinning knives, and even some nail clippers.  Gouge sharpening stones are shaped to accommodate a wide variety of wood working gouges and carving tools.  Smaller stones can be used for sharpening fish hooks, saw blades, small scissors, tweezers, and even carbide router bits and carbide tipped saw blades.  It should be noted that a diamond stone is needed to sharpen carbide.

The last tool worth mentioning is the file.  Files are useful, especially in conjunction with stones, for sharpening axes, hatchets, lawnmower blades, gardening equipment, shovels, and saw blades.  Files could be the subject of their own article, but for the sake of brevity only a brief introduction follows.  Files are also indispensable for general metalworking.  Mill files come in a variety of “cuts” (the pattern of ridges on the tool) and roughness.  Files generally follow the nomenclature of, from roughest to smoothest: “rough”, “middle”, “bastard”, “second cut”, “smooth”, and “dead smooth.”  To make matters more confusing, a 10” long second cut file is typically coarser than a 6” long second cut file, and levels of roughness vary from one manufacturer to another.   Files can be flat, half-round, round, and tapered.  For basic sharpening of garden tools, lawnmower blades, shovels, and axes, an initial shaping with a file is the most practical way to form an edge when exceedingly dull or damaged.  They cut more aggressively than the coarsest of stones, and do so far faster.  No sharpening set would be complete without at least one flat mill file, but a selection of flat, round, and tapered files, in both coarse and fine cuts is ideal.  Small tapered files are used to sharpen hand saw blades, while a small round file is required to properly sharpen a chainsaw blade.

There are also numerous jigs and fixtures on the market to aid the would-be sharpener in his or her quest for that perfect edge.  I would avoid these items in general, and instead focus on the skill of sharpening.  Jigs can break, but once you have acquired the knowledge and sharpened your skills (another pun!) that can never be taken away from you.  Knowledge is power.


Since there are so many options for sharpening implements, it is admittedly confusing at first.  However, in choosing the right tools, some first questions to ask are:1) What are you sharpening?, and 2) Where are you sharpening?  The “what” is simple—buy what you need to sharpen the tools you will need.  The “where” simply refers to whether you are in a stable location or preparing for a bug-out.  Therefore I have put together four hypothetical kit examples: two bug out kits-ultralight and standard, a basic sharpening set for home use, and a comprehensive sharpening set for home use.  Below each set is a description of what task can reasonably be accomplished with the tools at hand.  These are not written in stone, so feel free to adjust based upon your needs.

Bug Out Kit-ultralight
Diamond credit card sharpeners – Coarse, Fine, Extra Fine

This kit is lightweight (under 7 oz.), inexpensive, and suffices for most common tasks.  Each stone is a metallic credit card-sized diamond plate.  They are a bit heavy for my EDC (every day carry) preferences, but not totally impractical.  For a bugout bag, these are a no-brainer.   This set gives you the ability to sharpen chef’s knives, smooth pocket knives, smooth combat knives, machetes, axes, hatchets, adzes, swords, scissors & shears, arrow heads, fish hooks, as well as craft and woodworking tools.  Tools, such as axes or lawnmower blades with major nicks would still likely need the use of a mill file.  Blades will not achieve a keen edge like what is possible from fine grit water stones, but can be made very sharp and very functional. 

Bug Out Kit-standard
Extra Coarse/Coarse diamond folding sharpener
Fine/Extra Fine diamond folding sharpener
Fine diamond folding Serrated Knife Sharpener

This example contains three collapsible sharpeners that unfold like balisongs (butterfly knifes) to reveal a sharpening stone.  Two double-sided sharpeners yield four stone grits, and a fine pointed stone sharpener is used for serrated surfaces.  Again, blades will not achieve as keen an edge like from higher grit water stones, but will be sharp and totally functional.  Another, more compact, option would be to use the credit card sharpeners from the ultralight bug-out kit, coupled with the fine diamond serrated knife sharpener.

Basic Sharpening Set-home use
Diamond Stone Set: X-Coarse, Coarse, Medium, Fine, X-Fine
Chef’s Steel
Flat Mill Files: Coarse and Smooth

This very basic set allows one to sharpen: chef’s knives, pocket knives, combat knives, machetes, axes, hatchets, adzes, swords, scissors & shears, fish hooks, chisels, plane irons, garden equipment, and lawnmower blades, at a minimum.  Since the set is diamond, carbide inserts on router bits and the like are also sharpenable.  The stones are far larger than their folding counterparts, so will last longer (since the surface is greater and wear is more widely distributed) and are easier to use, as they are placed on a table top so both hands can be used for sharpening.  Pocket sharpeners require one hand to hold the sharpener and one hand to hold the tool to be sharpened, which is not optimal for maintaining a consistent angle while sharpening, so stellar results are more difficult to achieve.  Again, augmenting this kit with a folding serrated knife sharpener adds the ability to sharpen serrated edges.

Comprehensive Sharpening Set-home use
Water Stone Set:  220, 500, 1000, 4000, 8000
Flattening Stone for water stones
Backup Diamond Stone Set: Coarse, Medium, Fine, X-Fine
Chef’s Steel
Sharpening Rod – round (ceramic or diamond)
Sharpening Rod- Triangle (ceramic or diamond)
Leather Strops- plain and compound impregnated
Files: Mill file selection, round file selection, tapered file selection.  Large and small, coarse and fine for each.

Having water stones will allow a keener edge than what is possible in the sets above due to the 4000 and 8000 grits, as well as the strops.  It is these additional tools that allow for the sharpening of straight razors, and also to achieve razor sharp edges on most tools.  The sharpening rods open up the possibility of maintaining serrated knives, gut hooks and seat belt cutter hooks.  The diamond stones provide a robust backup for the more fragile water stones, and also allow one to sharpen carbide tipped router bits and saw blades, while the expanded selection of files is used for hand saws and chain saws blades.   Additionally, some general metalworking and gunsmithing tasks are possible with the above stones and files.

But wait!  How exactly do I sharpen X,Y, or Z?  You never told me!!  Smooth knives are sharpened differently than serrated knives, and axes are sharpened differently than chisels.  The focus of this article is not to teach you the techniques needed to sharpen particular types of edges, but rather to convey the importance of possessing sharpening skills in emergency situations and to explain what tools are needed to accomplish the tasks at hand.  It is also vital to understand that learning to sharpen effectively and with efficiency takes practice, and is a perishable skill.  I therefore recommend, at the very least, that one regularly sharpen kitchen knives and pocket knives to achieve and maintain a reasonable skill level.   Your first attempt at sharpening a kitchen knife may yield a blade that is duller than when you started!  This changes with practice.  Another article, far longer than this one, could be written that breaks down the procedures necessary to sharpen all the tools mentioned above, but in this case a picture is really worth a 1,000 words.  I would therefore recommend a book such as The Complete Guide to Sharpening by Leonard Lee, as this text covers the vast majority of sharpening situations one can expect to encounter, is full of photographs, and is a worthy reference for any preparedness library.  Additionally, there are hundreds of YouTube videos that show the procedures and motions used to achieve edge nirvana, but I would caution that some are worth far more than others. 

When faced with TEOTWAWKI, chopping wood, preparing game, cooking, bushwhacking, hunting, self-defense, personal hygiene, and tool maintenance for woodworking, leatherworking, and virtually every other craft will heavily rely on edged tools.  With a little bit of investment and regular practice, you can ensure that your survival tools remain safe and functional while also creating a skill set that has bartering value—both of which may help you through hard times and promote your survival.

Monday, September 30, 2013

It appears, at least for the time being, that AR-15 style rifle manufacturers are starting to catch-up with demand. Not all makers are caught-up, but a few are - the companies that specialize in making AR-15 style rifles only, appear to be the ones catching-up with supply to meet demand. Although some ammo makers are making some progress in manufacturing more .223 Rem and 5.56mm ammo, the great ammo drought of 2013 is far from over. As I mentioned before, my inside sources - at ammo companies - not gun shop clerks, or Internet warriors - tell me that it will still be at least another 18 months before they catch-up with supply and demand - for orders that they already have. There is some hype ammo makers are trying to sell you more ammo, they have not created intentional ammo shortages. And, to be sure, the ammo companies have not inflated their prices during this drought. Those companies that have raised their prices ever so slight, have done so, because they are paying more for the raw products to produce the ammo - in some cases, their costs have only gone up 5% - 8%  and it is many companies who sell to gun shops or to individuals on the Internet, who have taken advantage of having a large supply of ammo in-stock and they are just ripping customers off, it's not the ammo makers doing this! (I'll now step off my soap box.)
I have steadily observed AR-style rifles getting more and more accurate these days. I believe there are several reasons for this, one is better barrels, and another is better triggers, and of course tighter tolerances, too. And, we also have a wide selection of ammo to pick from, and if you haven't experimented with different types, brands and weights of bullets in your AR, you are doing yourself and your AR a disservice. Some guns shoot certain types and brands of ammo better than other types and brands of ammo. If you take the time to experiment, you'll find one or two types of ammo that shoots extremely well in your AR - most of the time. I will say, I had a Bushmaster AR-style carbine, with the poly upper and lower receivers, and it wouldn't shoot anything well at all - at 25 yards, it "patterned" like a shotgun - it wouldn't group any ammo. I traded it back to the gun shop the next day. So, there are exceptions - every now and then a lemon slips through, no matter who the  maker might be.
I ran across the CORE15 M4 rifle at my local gun shop, some time back. And, to be honest, I had never heard of the CORE Rifle Systems brand rifles. It appeared to be a very well-made specimen of the M4gery type of rifle, and it had a flat-top upper receiver with no carry handle or rear sight - not a problem, I had a carry handle with rear sight to attach to it.
I won't bore SurvivalBlog readers with all of the specs on the CORE15 M4, but I wanted to cover a few of them. The upper and lower receivers are mil-spec forged 7075-T6 aluminum, hard coat anodized with a beveled magazine well for improved and faster reloads - I didn't notice this when I first looked at the gun - nice touch. It also has M4 feed ramps - not all M4rgeries have this feature, and it aids in feeding rounds from the mag to the chamber. There is also a 1:9 barrel twist, which is pretty common on civilian M4s. The gun is chambered in .223/5.56mm too - and there is a difference between these calibers - regardless of what the clerk behind the counter at your local gun shop tells you. The stainless steel bolt carrier group is also chromed - making it easier to clean. The M4 handguards are Thermoset molded with dual heat shields - some makers don't provide heat shields at all. The 6-positon retractable stock is also mil-spec. For the rest of the particulars, you can check out the CORE15 web site - and they are currently manufacturing a lot of different versions of the M4, including a gas piston model. (When I got my sample at my local gun shop, they were only making a couple of versions.)
The M4-style of AR is the most popular selling black gun on the market today, and some gun magazines have come up with a new title for these rifles, "Modern Sporting Rifles" and I have no problem with that, if that's what they want to call these guns. However, aren't all rifles, to a certain extent, "modern sporting rifles?" Let's think about that - anyway, I guess they can call these guns whatever they want to help appease anti-gunners. I still hear folks calling anything that is an AR version an "assault rifle" and needless to say, that is the wrong nomenclature for these rifles, too. And, we need to help our fellow gun owners to stop calling these rifles "assault rifles" as it only adds fuel to the gun debate. True assault rifles are select-fire - all the M4s and ARs we purchase over the counter are just semi-automatic rifles - one pull of the trigger, one shot is fired!
To be sure, I don't believe most gun buyers are buying the M4 or any type of AR as a "sporting rifle" in my humble opinion. They are purchasing these guns for self-defense of life and property. They are buying these guns to prevent an out-of-control FedGov from taking our Freedoms and Rights away. Folks are also purchasing these types of guns for the simple fact that, the FedGov and local and state governments are attempting to ban them, and confiscate them. So they are purchasing these firearms simply because they still can and because they want to own them! Off my soap box, again!
Without any further ado, I will report that, the CORE15 M4, is without a doubt, the most consistently accurate M4 I've ever owned. Not, the most accurate, but the most consistently accurate M4 I've owned - hands down, it holds this title! I had the opportunity to fire a wide assortment of ammo through my CORE15 M4 - and this was when .223 and 5.56mm ammo was still in great supply and prices were very affordable. Today, I rarely shoot any of my firearms just for fun - I can't afford to purchase all the ammo I want, and my suppliers, out of necessity, can't supply me with all the ammo I need - I understand this. So, when I first purchased this gun, from my local gun shop, I fired well over 1,000 rounds through it over a period of a couple months. I had from Black Hills Ammunition, a huge assortment of .223 ammo - to include: 40 grain Hornady V-Max, 50 grain Hornady V-Max, 52 grain Match Hollow Point, 55 grain FMJ both new and remanufactured, 55 grain SP, 60 grain Hornady V-Max and 68-gr Heavy Match Hollow Point. From the kind folks at Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their Sniper 55 grain Ballistic Tip and their 69 grain Jacketed Hollow Point.
For my long range accuracy testing, I removed the carry handle with rear sight, and put on an inexpensive 3-9x40 scope because I wanted to really wring out the most accuracy I could out of this rifle. At 25-yards, I was easily getting three shot, one hole groups - boring! No matter which brand of ammo, or which bullet weight or any other factor, I consistently was getting 1 1/2 inch groups - of course, some groups were higher on the target, and some lower - depending on the bullet weights. But no matter what ammo I used, I still got 1 1/2 inch groups, so long as I did my part. Amazing, to say the least. As I said, this is the most consistently accurate M4 I've ever shot, bar none. I did try some of the Black Hills 77 grain 5.56mm ammo - and as expected, because of the 1:9 inch barrel twist, the rounds were all over the place - not the fault of the ammo - it was the barrel twist - for these heavier rounds you need a 1:7 inch barrel twist to help stabilize the heavier bullets. I've used the Black hills 77 grain 5.56mm round in ARs with 1:7 inch barrel twists and had outstanding accuracy.
I fired a good amount of Black Hills 55 grain FMJ remanufactured ammo through the CORE15 M4 - and I had the barrel smoking and extremely hot. Still, the gun never missed a beat - in all my testing, the gun never had a failure of any sort. I was impressed, very impressed, with the performance and reliability of this M4-style carbine. The CORE15 M4 is well-made, and many of the specs are made to military specifications - not all, but many! I couldn't find anything to fault in the sample that I purchased over-the-counter, and it was a used gun at that - not brand-new!
As already noted, CORE15 is now manufacturing a huge assortment of M4s these days - so you have quite a selection to pick from - assuming you can find one at your local dealer - I haven't seen another one since I made my purchase, but they are on if you care to check around for the best prices. I have no vested interest in CORE15 rifles, and I didn't request a sample from the company, so this gun is the same gun you can buy, and I believe CORE15 is doing their guns up "right" in my book - everything was fitted, and not just "assembled" if you ask me. And the barrel was doing what it was supposed to do. It put all my rounds where I wanted them to go. You can't ask for more than that.
So, if you are in the  market for an AR-15 style rifle, and in particular, an M4 type, you'd do well to take a look at the CORE15 M4 line-up - and they seem to be priced reasonable these days - all things considered I was totally impressed with my sample, and I'm sure you'll be just as impressed as I was, if you get one for your shooting needs. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I, like so many people across the country, can't walk out of my local sporting goods store without buying the limit of ammunition. Now, before you judge me, realize that most places limit you to small boxes of ammunition, and usually one two per caliber. Is it being prudent or just being obsessed? While the firearm and ammo situation is very much a media-hyped thing,  I have even talked about things you must buy every time you are out, like my article on Things Commonly Overlooked.  But what about those items that you pick up, look at the price tag, but pass on it saying "maybe next time."

In conversations with my other prepping type friends, it would appear that ammunition and firearms are the centerpiece of all of our preparations. While all of us love to shoot and none of us want to cut a good day of shooting short because it will take us weeks to resupply. the truth of the matter is that we are making firearms and ammunition the priority, both in the money and the peace of mind spent to assure our continuation in a world gone bad. But does it really do either of those?

After a few comments from my better half, I got to thinking about how much money I have sunk into my firearms and ammunition in the last year. I have bought at least a half dozen guns. I also make it to my local Academy at least once per pay period and have never walked out without buying the 2 box limit of 9mm or .45, or the limit in .223/.22. Which means the cheapest possible trip in and out is approximately $45. Commonly I buy an additional box of .38 special or .357, which is at least an additional $25. So, let's say I do that once a pay period or twice a month. That's over $1000 a year in ammunition. Again, that's a very conservative estimate. Truth be told, i don't shoot that much and my stock had grown such that I have...well...more than I need.

It was after the crisis in Syria became front page news that I started thinking: What could I have bought instead of all this ammo. More importantly, what things could I possibly need in a split second that guns and ammo couldn't get me. The first thing that I thought of was the one thing that was all over the news. There were scenes of those killed by gas. There were scenes of those luckily to only be maimed by it, usually losing their eyesight. I don't know about you, but that's one sense I'd rather not do without. What did these people not have  that might have saved them? Gas masks.

All of the ammunition in the world couldn't help those people exposed. There was nowhere to run. Once within that poison cloud, you couldn't simply run or hide from it. You certainly couldn't fight out of it or buy/trade your way to safety. But, had those people had access to gas masks, what then? Chances are, they slip them on and escape to live another day. So, while I was on the treadmill at the gym, watching this horror, I got on Amazon to see what gas masks were selling for. In the back of my mind, I assumed that it was just another piece of equipment that I knew I might one day need, would love to buy it for piece of mind, but just couldn't afford to buy it. I'm like everyone else. I am middle class, and while I do believe in being prepared, the pragmatic part of me sets limitations.

What did I find? Amazon has Russian/Israeli/etc military surplus gas the tune of about $40 shipped to your door.

Now, I didn't forget about the kids. After all, life really isn't worth living if I can't get my whole family. So, still on Amazon, I looked for the same thing in kids sizes. To my surprise, they were also extremely affordable. I was able to buy 3 kids size military surplus masks for under $40 shipped. Not bad, eh?

So, that got me thinking....we spend all this time talking about things we may need, but can't "justify" spending the money on...even though we nickel-and-dime ourselves away prepping on other things. And while I did think of some things.

  • At home water cistern/storage. I had been talking about doing this for a long time, specifically to my dad. See, they live on top of a mountain that's actually above the local water tank. So, there is a booster pump at the bottom of the hill to provide water pressure. It goes out constantly. Well, he has chickens. And dogs. And tons of everything. Not to mention the need for water for himself. He elected to buy an off the shelf version that caught rainwater running off of his shop. I believe it's a 450 gallon unit and it filled up with the first rain. You can get pretty ingenuity with yours and do it fairly cheap (under $150) and go as far as you want to make it work for you. For example, putting it on stilts, adding a 2 way valve to your house water supply, and you can now use your house water system. 
  • Tyvek suits are something that are relatively cheap and very useful to have ready. Will they protect you against many nasty chemical weapons? Will it stop radiation? No. But, it will do an admirable job against most chemical weapons and biological ones. They are water proof. They are easy to find, easy to put on, and cheap. 
  • "Noah's Ark" seed assortments. Tons of places sell heirloom seed assortments. They are around $80-to-$100 and will come with a large variety and assortment of herbs and vegetables. If you are like me and my wife, you normally buy your seeds annually from a catalog. What if instead, you bought one of these a year. And the next year, you planted your old one when you received your new one? This would ensure maximum freshness. While I understand that most people don't have that kind of room and couldn't use a whole set, you can at least use some of them. This way you can save yourself a little money on groceries, but most importantly, get into the practice of growing your own and learning all the little pitfalls.
  • Indoor plant growing station. Even if you live in an apartment you can buy one. Sorry, I couldn't think of a better name for it. The stands and the correct lights (you can't just use standard bulbs) do cost a good amount of money, usually around $100. Maybe that's one of the reasons that I never bought one to begin with. Plus, Alabama has such a temperate climate that starting your own seedlings isn't usually necessary. This year, however, we experienced a deluge of rain that kept me from planting. Plus, a friend was moving out of town and was selling his setup. So, I bought it cheap. With a cheap bag of soil, I was able to easily grow 30 tomato plants in a 48" long tray until they were big enough to separate and grow in their own pots. So, it cost about $125 counting the lights and stand, the soil, cups, and seeds. What would 30 half grown tomato cost you at Lowe's? There you go. 
  • A dirt bike. A used dirt bike can be found easily and cheaply around here. Especially an older one that is carbureted and has a non-electronic ignition. Why would you want such a thing? Well, in the case of an EMP, it would be one of the few rides left around town that ran. You couldn't put a price on being able to ride to and fro when the lights went out. Additionally, if you didn't get out ahead of everyone in another catastrophic event.. For example, let's say that you were in gridlock traffic and you just KNEW something really bad was about to happen. You could unload your little dirt bike off the back of your truck and take off. Paved roads, dirt roads, through the trees, doesn't matter. You could ride almost anywhere. Sure, it would cost you $1,000 up front. But, like we were talking about earlier, I spent that in ammo this year. This is a much more useful tool.

Again, these are but a few things that I thought of in a short thinking session. I hope that I will hear from some of you to point out others. The point is, you simply can't let a once time price stop you from buying semi-affordable things. Especially when you are dedicated to spending the money anyway. There are certainly things that I can't afford. But, I find myself spending money on things I can afford while ignoring things I could afford. So, put things in a price-perspective. Do you need another assault rifle? Another case of MREs? Maybe. Maybe not. But think of all the other things you could do with $1,500 that could buy you precious minutes or hours.

In "Letter Re: Advice on Firearms Caching", Mark J. wrote "Should I simply use a Hot Hands hand warmer inside the mylar bag and then another one inside the PVC tube? I should not have to worry about moisture if it is vacuum sealed? right? "

Well, no--regardless of the chemicals in the heater. Putting any temporary heat source in a sealed container may actually cause corrosion or water damage that wouldn't have happened before.

This is why:
Heating air does not remove moisture from a confined environment; it simply increases the air's ability to absorb moisture from other objects in that environment. That sounds exactly like what we want--except, this only lasts as long as the air stays warm. If the warm, moisture-laden air isn't moved out of the environment, when that air cools back down it will no longer be able to hold the extra moisture, and the moisture it was holding will condense back out of the air--probably as droplets on the surfaces within the container. The galvanic action that causes corrosion is especially strong on the edges of formed water droplets, and is often why we see pitting of metal surfaces.

When using heat to remove moisture, either the heat must stay on, or the moisture-laden air should be able to circulate away from the item(s) being protected before the air can cool. Folks often think of the warming dehumidifiers used in gun safes--these work for two reasons: much of the warm, moisture-laden air is circulated out every time the door is opened, and when the door stays closed, the heater keeps the environment constantly warm.

These principles are true for any sealed environment, whether its a PVC tube or a CONEX shipping container.

Thanks, - Britt (A Mechanical Engineer with experience in the HVAC industry)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Did you ever wonder just how waterproof your ammunition is?  Over the years I’ve seen ammo stored in everything from cardboard boxes in the attic to sealed ammo cans in the basement, to fruit jars in the refrigerator.    Case corrosion and propellant degradation can occur as a result of exposure to elements, oxygen, and extreme fluctuations in temperature and humidity.  Think of the times when both you and your ammunition were exposed to the elements…wouldn’t it be nice to add one more layer of reliability to your primary weapon system – by ensuring waterproof reloads?  Okay, I’m not going to go into the basics of reloading…just going to talk about a few of the evolutionary steps I’ve taken to ensure that my reloads work as intended.

Being a re-loader of metallic cartridges for some time, I finally decided to conduct an un-scientific experiment of various ammunitions’ ability to remain viable after being underwater for 48 hours.   From a long-term storage and use perspective the military has some of the best ammunition around.  U.S. Military small arms ammunition is mostly produced today in the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant in Liberty, Missouri.   M193 55 grain Full Metal Case (FMC) 5.56 ball, M855 62 grain FMC ball, M85 7.62, 9mm ball, etc – all have bullets and primers sealed during manufacture.  Further, the primers are ‘crimped’ to ensure a better seal and avoid any possibility of the primer dislodging during firing and potentially injuring the operator, damaging or ‘jamming’ a weapon.   A spent primer in the lower receiver of the AR-15/M16 family of weapons can find its way under the trigger group, and prevent the full range of trigger travel required to fire the weapon.  In a serious situation – this could be a life-ending malfunction.  

Since most of us can’t afford to purchase the full amount of military grade small arms ammunition we might like to stock for future ‘famines’ or any other reasons,  we’ve turned to reloading.   Or, it could be that you have non-military calibers in your fleet that you re-load and wish to maintain.  All center-fire rifle and pistol ammunition can be reloaded as long as it’s ‘boxer’ (not Berdan) primed.  Boxer primed simply means one priming hole in the center of the cartridge base.  Berdan primed cases have two or more small holes (off center) and standard reloading dies can’t ‘punch’ the spent primers out through the bottom of the case.  Most steel cased ammunition from overseas is Berdan primed.  It varies widely in performance and quality, but generally it’s decent for long term storage, probably water-proofed to some degree by sealer or total case ‘lacquering’.   When you can find it cheap it’s fine for long term storage and ‘shoot it and leave it’ applications.   One of the hazards commonly associated with lacquered cases is build-up of the lacquer material in the weapons chamber.  This usually occurs only when the weapon gets hot through rapid-fire sessions.  The lacquer can melt in the chamber, then cool and harden – potentially causing a fail to chamber, or more likely, a failure to extract.  This is more common in weapons that don’t sport a chrome chamber, but it can occur with any of them.   Accuracy of overseas military surplus ammunition is generally man-of-angle but nothing close to what a determined re-loader with some patience can achieve.   I’ve stored some of the mildly corrosive Wolf and Norinco ammunition for well over 30 years, with no degradation to reliability.  Is it as good as brass-cased, US military grade ammunition?  Absolutely not – but it beats the heck of throwing rocks and falls into the ‘good enough’ and ‘grateful to have it’ and ‘serviceable’ category.  However, the vast majority of military ball is just that – full metal jacket – and if you want to load hollow points, match bullets, etc you can exercise this option and still build reliability into the products.

Moisture and oil are the two biggest killers of smokeless powder and primers.  Avoid any exposure of oil to the inside of the cartridge case, powder and especially the primers.  The more cautious reloader keeps all primers in sealed ammo cans, with desiccant, in a cool and dry environment until loading time.    When I purchase primers and powder, I mark the year and the month of purchase, loading the oldest first.  During reloading I only handle individual primers with tweezers – never my greasy fingers, lest I inadvertently contaminate the primer with traces of oil.  This author has also started sonic cleaning his brass (after tumbling and de-priming) to ensure that no foreign substances are lucking inside the case.  For this I’ve settled on a cheap cleaner from Harbor Freight Tools, and about 3 tablespoons of Citranox per load.   I can usually get two to three baskets of brass cleaned before switching the cleaning solution.  After I pull them from the cleaner, I rinse twice in clean water.  Two successive 5-gallon buckets of clean water do the trick.  Then I dry on 170 degrees on a cookie sheet in mom’s oven until good and dry.

Many of you out there reload military brass, and have encountered the crimp around the primer.  After de-capping, that crimp must be removed in some fashion to ensure that a new primer can be seated without deforming or catching on the remnants of the crimp.  It can be removed through reaming – removing case material in the priming hole at about a 45 degree angle until the little rim left from crimping is removed.  Hand reamers and electric reamers are available from a variety of resources.  However, I’ve over-reamed a few cases in my day with a Black and Decker Drill and large bit.  Due to the lack of precision in my process I learned about primer venting, and sacrificed an AR-15 bolt in the process.  It slowly became obvious to me by looking at my once fired brass.  There were small black holes where gases escaped by the primer.  Shoot an entire 1,000 rounds like I did and you’ll notice a small recessive furrow melted in a perfectly concentric pattern around the firing pin hole on the bolt face.  This was caused by a majority of 1,000 primers venting and melting small pits into the face of the bolt.  I noticed it after the first 30 rounds or so, but decided to just sacrifice one bolt rather than many. It was either shoot them all – or pull all those bullets.

Currently, I prefer the Dillon’s Super Swage 600 for rolling back the crimp on military brass.  It bolts to the bench and simply removes the crimp by pushing it back with a tapered, hardened rod.  It appears more consistent to me and doesn’t weaken the pocket by removing case metal.  Once you’ve done this you now have a slightly tapered pocket just like you find on commercial loads.  However, the lack of a crimped primer makes it easier for moisture to contaminate the primer and powder.  The hotter your loads and the more your load your brass, the looser these primer pockets become.  If you don't want to take the time to prepare all that brass yourself a source I do recommend is  Send an e-mail to Aaron and he'll get back to you with prices on brass preparation.  He's very reasonable, fast and honest. 

After a bit of research on the internet I found Midway was carrying Markron Custom Bullet and Primer Sealer in ½ liquid oz packages.   The product information claims that an application of this “will keep moisture out up to 30 days of complete water submersion.”   In order to test my reloads I took 12 rounds of Lake City 5.56 brass, swaged and reloaded them with 55 grain bullets.  I also took 12 rounds of .45 ACP that I’d reloaded with at least once-fired commercial brass and Montana Gold 185 grain hollow points.   I then applied the Markron sealer to the primer as well the exterior of the case where the bullet meets the case mouth.   I was careful not to apply too much around the bullet, especially with the .45 ACP since these rounds head-space off the case mouth.  Although drying time is specified as 5 minutes, I let them dry overnight.  For the ‘control group’ I used the same batch of 5.56 and .45 reloads but without the primer sealer.  I also included 12 rounds of Lake City M855 ball that have been carried a bit, but were as good as new.   All these rounds went into separate coffee cans full of water. There they stayed for 48 hours.  

The results of this layman’s experiment follow:





.45 ACP Reload 185 JHP

Not Sealed



.45 ACP Reload 185 JHP




5.56 LC Reload 55 FMJ

Not Sealed



5.56 LC Reload 55 FMJ




5.56 LC M855 Factory

Sealed from factory



What was surprising to me was that fully 25% of my small sample of .45 ACP and 8% of the 5.56 that were unsealed failed to fire.  Just to be sure, I went ahead and re-hit all of these primers at least twice.  They were dead as a doornail.  Collectively that’s a 16.6% failure rate for unsealed ammunition.  Placed in a more positive light – that’s a 100% success rate for primers sealed with Markron Primer Sealer.   As expected – the M855 Lake City ball was as tight as ever and never failed to fire.  At this point I decided to test the limits of this primer sealer, as well as search for a ‘local option’ that might be cheaper and still fit the bill.   I settled on Spar Urethane, which seems a bit thick for the application, but dabbed on with a small paint brush and excess removed with a clean rag seemed like a logical choice.  I sealed 15 rounds primer only, and another 15 both primer and bullet. After application I let the rounds dry 48 hours, then submerged in water for 48 hours.  With 30 test rounds of 5.56 reloads, it became apparent that this stuff indeed keeps the water out.    Be advised that all these bullets were also crimped with a Lee Factory Crimp die.  Results were very positive. 





5.56 LC Reload with FMJ

Sealed Primer



5.56 LC Reload with FMJ

Sealed Primer and Bullet



Conclusions:  For water resistance and reliability this author is going to start sealing all reloads, and all factory ammo that isn’t visibly sealed, prior to placing it into storage.  This will help ensure reliability under adverse conditions, less than ideal storage, hunting, or whatever environment you might find yourself in. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hi James,
After a firearm has been oiled up with RIG grease and vacuum sealed, I want to put it into a rifle length mylar bag as well and then put into a 6" PVC tube.  Should I simply use a Hot Hands hand warmer inside the mylar bag and then another one inside the PVC tube?  I should not have to worry about moisture if it is vacuum sealed? right?  I do have some silica gel packs but did not know if you can mix the two together.

I tried to do a search on your site but could not find the right information.

Thanks Jim for all your research and God Bless all your efforts. - Mark J.

JWR Replies: DO NOT use hand warmers or oxygen absorbers for storing guns, ammunition, or tools!  Use only silica gel.

Here is quote from the Hot Hands web site:

Q.  What’s in a pack? What makes it work?
A.  Our HeatMax® family of air activated warmers all contain a mixture of natural ingredients that when exposed to air react together to produce heat. This is accomplished through an extremely fast oxidation (or rusting) process. Ingredients include: iron powder, water, salt, activated charcoal and vermiculite. HeatMax® has perfected the process so that our warmers, depending on the individual product, produce heat anywhere from 100°F to 180°F for duration of 1 to 20+ hours.

Putting rust, water, and salt in proximity of your stored guns is a potential disaster. Again, use only silica gel. To be sure that the silica gel has the full desired desiccating effect, dry the packets in an oven overnight on low heat (175 degrees.) That will drive out any accumulated moisture.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hi James,
I was just looking at your FAQ article about antique firearms.

Apparently, there has been some controversy over the dates of manufacture of some Winchester firearms. The discovery of so called Polishing Room Records have dates of "manufacture" which apparently disagree with the previously established "Madis" dates of manufacture.

I was just wondering what your take is on this subject.

Also, I've been trying to find out if there is any logical reason for selecting December 31, 1898 as the Antique firearms cutoff date. Did someone just arbitrarily pick this date? I know that there were cartridge ammunition and smokeless powder before that date.

Thanks, - Jim P.

JWR Replies: The Polishing Room Records are of interest to collectors, but have no legal bearing. The ATF has repeatedly held that the date that a receiver is made legally constitutes "manufacture."   So once a serial number goes on a receiver or frame then that is it's date of manufacture, in the eyes of the law. (Although in recent years, they've clarified that for modern guns as to say when a serial number stamped on a receiver that is more than 80% complete.) So, for example, even though S&W was still assembling large frame .44 top break revolvers up to around 1913, they are all considered antique, because they stopped making frames for them before 1899.

The December 31, 1898 cutoff date was essentially arbitrary.  I suppose that some nameless legislator (or more likely some pimply-faced congressional staffer) might have been thinking about the Spanish-American War, for a frame of reference, since that was the last war where we fielded black powder Trapdoor Springfield cartridge rifles. (Although Krag rifles and Spanish Mausers were both high velocity smokeless powder guns.) But you are right: The 1898 date has little to do with the state of the art in fireams technology. Colt switched to steel frames for their famed Single Action Army(SAA) revolvers in 1893, and smokeless powder Mausers had been made in quantity since 1891.  For that matter, there had been shoulder-fired full-auto battle rifles around since 1887.

The bottom line: American legislators should keep their sticky fingers off of all guns, regardless of their vintage.  The Second Amendment codified a sacrosanct right that predates the Constitution itself.

Monday, September 2, 2013

It's been a few years since Springfield Armory came out with their Enhanced Micro Pistol (EMP) and I decided to take a wait and see attitude - I waited until they actually hit the market. What is unique with the EMP is that, it appears to be a 1911 handgun, with a big change. Springfield Armory redesigned most of the parts, to reduce the overall size of the EMP. It's not a chopped or cut down full-sized 1911 - far from it. Almost every part was redesigned by Springfield Armory, including the frame, slide, trigger, hammer, backstrap, etc. None of these parts will interchange in a regular 1911.  The EMP is the very first production 1911 made from the ground up to shoot short cartridges like the 9mm and .40 S&W.
Let's take a quick look at some of the features the EMP has to offer. My sample is in .40 S&W, and you can also have it in 9mm...the .40S&W has an all-steel frame, while the 9mm can be had with a light-weight aluminum frame. The .40 EMP sample has a 3-inch barrel, that is made out of stainless steel and is match-grade, with a fully supported ramp for the bull barrel. The recoil system is a dual spring set-up, and the sights are Novak-style, low profile, that are dove-tailed into the slide, front and back and have 3-dot Tritium for night use and ambi safety. The trigger is an aluminum match-grade, and my sample had a super-smooth 4.5-pound pull - no need to adjust or do anything to the trigger pull, it was perfect for me. The slide is made out of forged stainless steel with a satin finish - nice touch. Grips are G10 with angled grooves for a sure grip on the gun under any weather conditions. We also have a beaver-tail grip safety and combat hammer and flat mainspring housing. The all-steel frame is Armory coated for a nice subdued black finish and it's pretty tough stuff.
The EMP 40 weighs in at 33-ounces with the all-steel frame, I'd like to see Springfield come out with one in an aluminum frame, to shave a little more weight from the gun - of course, that would increase felt recoil, and the little EMP 40 does buck, no doubt about that at all. The 9mm version can be had with an aluminum frame and comes in at 27-ounces. The EMP 40 feels heavier than it is - at least in my hand - for some strange reason. However, the little gun balances nicely and is fast-handling, too. The ejection port is lowered and flared, and I had no malfunctions of any type in my testing. The gun is very tightly fitted - you would believe this gun was assembled and fitted by a custom 1911 gunsmith because it is so tightly put together. The EMP 40 also comes with three, 8-round magazines, a nice touch! And, the magazines have slam pads for speed reloads, no worries about getting the meat of you hand caught between the magazine and the magazine well when you slam a reload home.
The only thing I'd like to see on the EMP is a checkered front strap. However, I overcame this handicap and installed a Crimson Trace LG-912 laser grip - I removed the outstanding G10 grips that came on the EMP 40, and replaced them with the Crimson Trace LG-912 sample I received had their new Black G10 laser grips. For those not familiar with Crimson Trace, their laser grips are "instinctive" in that, you don't have to think about them - when you grip your gun properly, and pressure is applied to the grip, there is a front activation switch and it activates the laser - you don't have to think about it, or press any extra buttons. There is a manual on/off switch, for when the gun isn't in use. However, I saw no need to turn the Crimson Trace LG-912 off, I left it on. The laser grips are sited-in at the factory for 50-feet, and my sample was dead-on - at that distance. However, I made adjustments - which are easy to do - and zeroed my sample in at 25-yards - just a "me" thing.
I had a great selection of .40S&W ammo on-hand for my testing. And, with the great ammo drought we've been facing, I've cut back to only shooting about 200 rounds in my firearms tests these days. However, the EMP 40 was so much fun to shoot, I burned through more than 500 rounds of ammo in my testing. I shot the EMP for more than three months, and never had any problems. I used Italian Gun Grease to lube the pistol at the onset of my testing and never cleaned or lubed the gun after that. I've found, in my humble opinion, that Italian Gun Grease lube is the absolute best there is on the market - bar none. In my testing, I had ammo from Black Hills Ammunition 155-grain JHP, 180-grain JHP and the 140-grain Barnes all-copper TAC-XP hollow point, as well as the 180-grain FMJ reloaded ammo. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their standard pressure 140-grain Barnes all-copper TAC-XP hollow point and the same in 125-grain - both are standard pressure, but still a bit hotter than any other maker's standard pressure 40 S&W loads. I also had their brand-new 200-grain Hard Cast standard pressure load, that they call their Outdoorsman Load - great if you need some serious penetration on dangerous game, this load will get your attention! I also had 155-grain JHP +P, 180-grain JHP+P and 180-grain FMJ +P load, and this last one will also get your attention - and would be great for carrying in the boonies where you might encounter dangerous game - it will penetrate, like the 200-grain Hard Cast load will.
I thought about doing my accuracy testing at 15 yards, considering the short 3-inch barrel on the EMP 40, but after thinking it over, I did my testing at 25 yards, with the gun rested on a sleeping bag, over the hood of my SUV. I will say, the EMP 40 was very consistent in the accuracy department - there honestly wasn't a clear-cut winner in my humble opinion. Most groups hovered around 3-inches or a bit less. The Buffalo Bore 200-grain Hard Cast load would shoot a bit tighter groups. The Buffalo Bore 155-grain +P load showed a little sign of the empty cases starting to bulge ever so slightly - nothing to worry about, but it was something I noted just the same. The 180-grain +P JHP didn't show any such signs.
The Buffalo Bore 125-grain Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point was going to be my load of choice, for self-defense. However, I found that load was a bit hot - even though it is rated at being standard pressure - it was a bit harder for me to recover rapidly from shot-to-shot with this load. The 140-grain Barnes all-copper hollow point wasn't as bad. In the end, I decided on the Black Hills 140-grain Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point as my street carry load in the EMP 40 - it was slightly more accurate than the Buffalo Bore load with the same bullet. However, I wouldn't feel the least bit handicapped with any of the JHP or Barnes TAC-XP loads for self-defense against two-legged predators, and any of the FMJ or Hard Cast loads for carrying out in the boonies. Now, I should mention that, Springfield Armory recommends that you do not fire +P ammo in any of their 1911s with barrels shorter than 5-inches. I'm sure part of this is a legal-eagle thing - liability purposes or concerns. I wouldn't shoot a steady diet of +P loads through the EMP 40, for the simple fact that it accelerates wear and tear on the gun. And it is a bit hard on the shooter, too.
For some reason, and I can't explain it, I really liked the Buffalo Bore 200-grain hard Cast load in this gun - no explanation for it, it just felt good to shoot - even though it was the heaviest load I tested. The Black Hills 140-grain Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point seemed to cycle the slide smoother than the other loads, too. Maybe just a subjective thing in my book - I really can't explain it. But if you do a lot of shooting like I do, you pick-up on slight differences in how a gun handles different ammo - some cycle the slides smoother than others do. Some cycle the slides fast, some slower.
Springfield Armory also includes a nice large carrying case for the EMP to ride in on your trips to the range. And, if you can legally carry the EMP 40, Springfield includes a nice polymer paddle holster and a double magazine case, too. I don't know why more gun companies don't do this - it is always a pain to find a holster to fit new gun designs - other than using generic type Nylon holsters, that don't fit anything quite right. However, Springfield Armory stepped-up and provides holsters and mag pouches for most of their handguns they sell today. including their XD line. Thanks, Springfield!
There is nothing negative to report on the EMP 40, just some "druthers" - I mentioned I'd like to see the front strap checkered, but this can be overcome with some skate board tape - and I apply this to the front strap on a lot of semiauto pistols - its cheap and it lasts a long, long time and is easy enough to replace when it wears out. I'd like to see the EMP 40 offered with an aluminum frame - however I know the felt recoil will be quite a bit more substantial to the all-steel frame version - but still, I'd like to see it offered. And, needless to say, the Crimson Trace LG-912 laser grips were the perfect addition to the EMP 40 - maybe Springfield Armory could offer the EMP with the Crimson Trace laser grips - just another option that consumers could choose from. If you feel you must "hang" anything onto your EMP, the Crimson Trace laser grips are the way to go - and I like the instinctive aspect - nothing to think about, just grip the pistol properly and they turn on - and there is that intimidation factor, when the bad guy sees that laser pointed at them. It just might cause them to give-up the fight, before it begins.
I'm always on the look out for the perfect concealed carry handgun - and I'm not sure if I'll ever find "the" one that is perfect for me, but the EMP 40 comes close, very close - perhaps if they come out with an aluminum framed version, that might be it and my quest will end. However, as it is, the EMP 40 is hard to beat, with the right load, and the Crimson Trace laser grip. II can think of a lot worse set-ups, but it's hard to think of many that are a much better combination than this.
If you're in the market for a great concealed carry pistol in .40 S&W or in 9mm then take a close look at the EMP line-up. I think you'll be very pleased, and like most Springfield Armory firearms, they are always in great demand, and a bit hard to find. But it's worth the effort to seek out an EMP - I think you'll like it, once you hold one in your hand, and like it even more once you fire it - and prepare to be amazed at how accurate this little pistol can be.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Greetings Sir,
I read your post concerning magazine pouches for some of the more obscure weapons systems favored by many in our community. I'm not sure if the demand is there to justify a full production run of the pouches you mention, but we do produce very limited custom articles from time to time for clients with specific needs. If you would like a truly custom, American made product to fit the systems you mentioned, we would be glad to provide that service for you. Your input will completely drive the design, including, the products style, color, material, mode of function, attachment system, etc. I would be happy to send sample articles for test and evaluation before settling on a final design as well. The only obvious problem is laying hands on all the magazines you described in the post. In the past, we have just gone out and purchased the magazine in question, but with the mania of recent events still raging, that is clearly a problem. This can easily be overcome by you sending us a single magazine in each of the configurations for which you need a pouch. The magazines will be returned in good condition with the completed project if you choose to go forward with the order. Our company is DynamicDesignsUSA. We are located in Utah, so we are not subject to any of the ridiculous restrictions on magazine capacity, etc. prevalent in the more blue areas of the country.
If you're interested, please take a look at our web site for a small sampling of our capabilities. Only about 20% of the gear we manufacture is actually on the site because the products were developed for clients with very specific requirements. If you can describe it, we can most likely make it for you.
Best Regards,
Tyler Donaldson
Dynamic Designs LLC.
Phone: 435-313-4513

JWR Replies: I've posted this e-mail for the entire readership, since I'm confident that I'm not alone in needing pouches for unusual magazines.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Dear Sir,
Thank you for an excellent web site. I read it every day. I have a question regarding traveling with my handgun. I live in Ohio, a reasonably free state these days. I occasionally have to travel by car to one of the totalitarian states such as New York, New Jersey, Illinois, and Maryland. I of course prefer to carry my handgun and have CCW licenses to carry in all the surrounding free states on the way. However, as my need to enter these other states, would potentially land me in jail if I brought my weapon, I must make my whole trip unarmed. Other than burying my gun just outside the state line of one of these totalitarian regimes, do you or your readers have any suggestions? I have considered contacting gun retailers near, but outside the borders, to store my gun while I am in the hostile territories, but this may have many complications, including entry at many points depending on my destination and scheduling.

Thanks again, - Checkpoint Charlie

JWR Replies: While many guns shops would be accommodating (for a small fee), keep in mind that you might have to do a background check to get your own gun back! (That could be avoided if there was a fee for "gunsmithing service", while they held your guns. That could be as simple as just "lubrication.") For example, I've heard of a couple of FFLs in Tok, Alaska (the last city in Alaska before you enter Canada on the Al-Can Highway) that do this for a fee.)

Some alternatives to storage with a gun shop could be public lockers in train stations, bus terminals or in hotel concierge luggage rooms, or perhaps in mini storage company spaces. (But the latter are fairly expensive and there is lot of paperwork.) Another option might be storage with a shooting range facility. Yet another might be companies in tourist towns that rent bicycles or kayaks. (They often store luggage for the customers for a modest fee, or even free with a rental.) But of courses security might be dicey with any of those, so do your due diligence. One partial mitigation to that risk is using discreet gun cases. My favorite for this is using musical instrument cases. These come in all shapes and sizes, and many of the hard cases are locking. I've found that a trumpet case works great for a takedown riotgun, and an electric guitar case will fit a lot. Just be sure to slap on a few music-related stickers, for camouflage. Needless to say, you will need to first research company policies and state and local laws...

A side note: I've found that public locker accommodations are much more extensive in Europe than they are in the States. In Europe rail travel is much heavier per capita so therefore they've developed a much larger infrastructure. In some European train station that have hundreds of lockers! FWIW, I once safely left a sizeable cache of 19mm HK flares, gun magazines, and a few pocketknives in a locker at the Hauptbahnhof in Frankfurt for several weeks while I was touring elsewhere in Europe. Those items were much safer from theft there, and my knowledge of the laws of some of the countries that I was going to be visiting was admittedly scant.

A far better alternative to all of the foregoing is developing friendships. Using some networking, you can develop a personal "hospitality database" of trustworthy pro-gun people who live in or near state lines or national border cities. Ideally, this would be with like-minded folks who have some extra gun vault space. The quid pro quo could be just the promise of a place for that family to stay while on vacation, or taking turns at cooperative housesitting, or a place to safely park their car (if you live near a major airport or a cruise ship harbor,) or perhaps even the promise of mutual "Plan B" bugout locations, in the event of a disaster. Think outside the box and do some networking. Some of the friendships that you develop could be mutually rewarding in many ways.

Perhaps some readers would like to chime in on this.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Dear JWR,
After reading your list of needful gear I wanted to offer some insight. First, the weapon stencils you mentioned are available from the makers of Duracoat at Lauer Custom Weaponry. They offer the woodland pattern as well as many other camouflage patterns, including multi-cam. In addition to that they sell a  template kit that you use to design the pattern yourself.  While you're there don't forget to check out their Duracoat kits, colors and temporary camo paint for mission specific camouflage that is removed by another of their products.

As for the Kydex equipment, there will never be enough on the market. I suggest creating your own custom holsters and gear from the material. has tons of information and specifications for the materials applications, including adhesive agents and shrinkage. Two more sources for Kydex sheets are and A quick Internet search will yield plenty of options. I've even found multi-cam sheets for exceptionally reasonable prices, and with the money saved on material and taking pride in your hand made kit, what's not to like?   - Michael S.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

[Editor's Introductory Note: I sometimes receive quite lengthy articles that are mix of great practical information and extended political narratives. In such cases I sometimes opt to edit out the particularly ranty sections. Where I have done so, you will see: "[Some deleted, for brevity]". My apologies, but to make an article of this length readable, editorial discretion is a must. Furthermore, I have to recognize that all politics are local. Since SurvivalBlog is a publication with an international readership, I feel obliged to chop out political discourses that would be of little or no interest to my readers in places like England, Germany, or India.]

My family and I have received so much benefit from all of the information from SurvivalBlog as fellow blog readers, that we wanted to give something back.  Hence we decided we would submit this entry into your writing  contest.  Hopefully it will help other readers, who like us, struggle with both, not seeing as clearly as we may think what lies in store for us, nor knowing exactly how to prepare for it when we do see it.  While there is something to be said for lessons learned the hard way, as we all know, there is also never enough time to make all those mistakes again for yourself. So for that reason, as well as all the wasted time & resources we've fumbled our way through, we would like to share with other readers the lessons we've learned, with the hope that they will help someone else streamline their preparations better than we did.  We certainly don't have all the answers, in fact I can't even say for sure that the answers we do have are the right ones for anyone other than us, it's just what we've found, and how we have addressed our various concerns.  I guess here's also where I should say, "your individual mileage may vary." To best convey the lessons we've learned  I would like to do it in three distinct sections. First, how we arrived at where we did, secondly, the information which generally guided our then redirected and more aware thought process, and finally, the actual equipment and decisions that actually got us to where we wanted to be. 

I should start off by saying that we are middle class Americans.  Christian, law abiding, patriotic, and freedom loving of course.  We are not disenfranchised, anarchists, social malcontents, nor psychotic. We are just worried by what we see happening in our country.  I'm a ten year military veteran, former police detective / SWAT officer, and now a licensed in a medical private practice. My wife works as a sales representative. We have three sons who are in their mid to upper teens.  We're just average, everyday people by most standards.

Like most folks, we thought we had been moving along the prepping path fairly smoothly, until recently when my wife and I both began to feel very uncomfortable with what we were seeing regarding how easily our various elected "leaders" were apparently embracing the concept of "political corruption with impunity".  Additionally, we were very concerned not only with how all of us, as citizens were being treated, but the very way in which these same "leaders" seemed to view us at a fundamental level.  They seemed to be barely able to conceal the disdain they have, both for us, as well as the constitutional rights we claim, when we question their actions, and seek their accountability. 

[Some deleted, for brevity]

Our hope and goal of course, is to be able to remain low profile, and stay in the home we are preparing on our northern Idaho ranch.  It is, after all, our primary security and logistical base.  I know many of us realize that at some point we may need to defend our homes, as well as ourselves, be it just as a single family, or in cooperative groups.  Home defense, to whatever degree may be required, I happen to believe, can only be realistically attempted against civilian threats, and even then, only in reasonable numbers.  Certainly not against any, even moderate size, or type of conventional military, or militarized police forces.  Like most in the prepper community, we want to avoid any armed confrontations with anyone, to whatever degree we can.  Our intent has been to do that by being as discreet as possible.  Knowing that will only go so far however, our simultaneous plan has been to make our ranch as inaccessible, and undesirable of a target as possible.  Worth neither the risk, nor the cost, to any potential miscreants. Should the worst come to pass, hopefully, Good Lord willing, there will be an evolution into cooperative communities throughout The Redoubt, be that simply a single street, a whole neighborhood, or entire communities.  An evolution into working together for their mutual security, as well as other common benefits.  The down side to this hope however, is that such cooperation will likely take time before people realize the logic and mutual benefit in doing so, as well as to develop the willingness to trust anyone again.  In view of these things, our mindset had been to hope for the best, while preparing for the worst.  All well and good I suppose, until in our scenarios, we started replacing criminals and looters with federal sanctioned enforcement troops, who viewed us as "the threat".  We then started wondering, what happens at that point?  More importantly, what if these same "leaders" who show such disdain for the citizenry and their constitutional rights now, become a bigger component in this forthcoming problem?  What's left then, just to run and hide?  I must admit, we considered that tactic. Just hide, survive, wait for the dust to settle, and then help rebuild. Hard for us to swallow to be sure, but something we had to consider, none the less.  In the end however, we felt that simply leaving our ranch to be plundered, and running away to hide, in what we access would clearly be a hostile environment at that point, with no additional substantial support structure in place to sustain us, just to avoid potential conflict, put us all in an equal, albeit different type, of danger that is every bit as grave.  

[Some deleted, for brevity]

Up to this point, our preparations being geared towards living discretely and then hiding and waiting things out, was not a bad starting framework.  However, given these aforementioned realizations, we have been forced to evolve in our thinking, and therefore make some adjustments to our preparations as well.  Due to the increasing concerns these realizations have have brought to our attention, my wife, now thoroughly stressed out, opted to turn it all over to me (God bless her) to find the solution.  To that end, I began doing research both historically, as well as regarding current military forces, and their use in quelling the civil unrest that's currently going on around the globe.  As a result, I've come to the conclusion that there will very likely be more violence directed at dissenting citizenry than we personally were anticipating. That appears to be the common thread in how these situations unfold. Additionally, as for us, we were probably too open in voicing our opinions about the current state of affairs in our country, letters to newspaper editors, etc.  Thus, I don't think we can effectively "fly under the radar" at this point.  We've already spoken up and drawn all the wrong kinds of attention to ourselves, "making the list", so to speak.  Decision's I'm not sure I would make a second time. They only served to draw negative attention to our position on these social issues, while producing no apparent immediate positive change.  Why send out such an alert, when we are all so closely scrutinized?  Why inadvertently shorten your G.O.O.D. reaction window, and become one of those first houses visited without warning?  Was it worth it or not?  I cannot say. 

[Some deleted, for brevity]

Things in recent world news, as well as events here in the various scandals of our own government,   It scares us to death.  It's as if our elected leadership has been empowered, and turned down the path of trampling any of our rights that are not convenient for them.  Usurping authority, abusing citizens, and not to sound melodramatic, but turning not only ungodly, but just plain evil.   Such demonstrated behavior compels us to believe that without the boundaries of accountability and resistance when needed, their abusiveness will not end, but rather will only expand and grow worse, until it destroys us all.  If that's in fact true, and we see no reason to think otherwise, then the hide and wait scenario has a very limited shelf life after all.   No more "low profile", hide & wait it out.  We're all going to have to stand the line, or live with something much worse than what we're complaining about right now!  While we can't speak for anyone else, we've decided that we're not up for passing that legacy on.  The buck had to stop somewhere, & that's where some new stuff for us had to begin. These realizations have changed both our thinking, and how we prepare, we believe for the better. This section was about realizing the underlying threat.  The next two sections respectively are about better understanding that threat & how to cope with it, and then the item by item list of how we modified our preparations meet this evolving threat. We hope that it helps others to to take a look with fresh eyes at their own preparations and consider the realities we did not.

[Some deleted, for brevity]

I also learned military operations today are primarily focused around the concept of forces being "inserted" near a conflict area.  This can be done via airborne drops, rotary wing, vehicle, etc type transport.  Once deployed, forces may have to move on foot a couple clicks to an objective, where they perform their specific mission, and walk back to their vehicles or extraction point for transportation back to their base of operations.  They don't really march in & out any more, which enables them to carry more high tech gear on their missions, the downside of which equals heavier combat loads.  It also means however that in carrying that extreme load, they are unable to move as quickly during actual contact (look at pictures of guys in full kit and see how likely you think it is that they can effectively get prone, & when they do, that they can get back up & quickly sprint to a new position). Additionally, unless it is an "Elite" soldier, whose physical conditioning standards are significantly higher, they are not going to carry all that gear very far very fast (below is an AAR about that). Regarding that issue, I learned that overall, in today's conventional military forces, although some have the title, there is generally speaking, no longer a true "Light Infantry".  By light infantry I am referring to foot-borne units that are capable of rapid movement over long distances of varied terrain, being able to rapidly engage a non-static, elusive target. All my reading led me to believe that in significant part, the inability to move as quickly, having a less intimate knowledge of an operational area, and the dissidents ability to "disappear into the indigenous local populations" (which in some instances supported them in their cause), seemed to account for most of the problems abusive governments had with using conventional military forces to deal with dissident type problems, and offset much of the benefit of the increased technology. (now the caveat, that does not of course include the numerically limited, elite units such as Rangers, S.F., SEALs, etc, as that is precisely their game.) It seemed as though this would be applicable to us as well, rather I should find myself at odds with abusive government enforcers, OR an overwhelming group of marauding civilians wishing us harm, and that could not be successfully preemptively repelled at a greater distance.  Being able to move faster & farther, knowing the area better, and being able to disappear, seem generally beneficial across the board.  I further discovered that when confronted by a force by which you are outgunned and out supplied, a static defense (such as defending a home against a military or militarized police unit) is almost certainly a losing proposition.  However, if you turn the tables, and they have to carry all those beans and bullets as they pursue you, and you are fluid, fast (i.e. can travel light due to pre-positioned cache points), and can blend in, they are generally not able to be very effective in such a dynamic situation.  Basically, what it all boiled down to is that it's hard to catch a ghost.  In support of that, I also came across some interesting information from a S.F. NCO in Afghanistan, that the average fighting load carried by a combat infantry soldier in the mountains of Afghanistan is 60-80 lbs. Now bear in mind that that is what he is carrying in the midst of the actual combat, i.e. closure with the enemy. This same soldiers "approach march load" (which is what he carries to sustain him in the field just getting to the fight) is between 130-150 lbs.  It is also noteworthy that the load weights listed, only addressed the "doctrinal load", and did not include the inevitable addition of personal items that most guy's also carry.  Now I realize, these are fit and conditioned young men, but that's a lot of weight to pack, and having a little brother currently over there, I know the Hindu Kush mountains are some serious mountains.  Thinking about that, and digging further I found this information, which puts into perspective the results of carryings such massive loads.  This is an excerpt from an after action report from a first sergeant in the 187th infantry regiment of the 101st airborne div. during operation Anaconda in Afghanistan.  It stated:

“We had extreme difficulty moving with all of our weight. If your movement would have been to relieve "a unit in contact", or a time-sensitive mission, we would not have been able to move in a timely manner. It took us 8 hours to move 5 klicks. With just the vest (Interceptor Body Armor vest) and LBV, we were easily carrying 80 pounds. Throw on the ruck and you’re sucking.”

I also discovered in this information that these incredible loads were based on apparently short term needs vs more protracted time periods, because they were factored on 48-72 hr regular re-supply.  They are not able to be self reliant any longer than that and remain at full capability.  Now one of the things I found particularly interesting about this information, was how it related to a previous study conducted by the U.S. military that I found, (it seems the military quickly forgets the lessons of it's past).  In this study, they determined that a soldiers maximum "approach march" load should not exceed 55 lbs. That was the maximum that he could carry, and still possess the energy to be able to fight effectively when he got to the fight.  Now bear in mind, that "approach march load" is inclusive of all the gear they carry, period.  The study further determined that a maximum 48 lb "fighting load" could be effectively carried in actual combat if it was carried by a "conditioned soldier".  

Now, that's all interesting stuff, but why go into it? For several reasons.  Because I wanted to understand something about those who may be sent to come after us, and at least in part, some of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as to have a better understanding of both myself, as well as the physical abilities we need to possess.  Realizing that while in good health,  I am no longer the highly fit, conditioned soldier of my youth, this helps put into perspective the importance of our daily PT regimen because survival isn't something that is graded on an age curve.  You either will, or you won't.  The age, we're stuck with. The mileage, and the wear and tear, well, it just is what it is. The conditioning however, that is within our control to improve every day.  This information was also helpful when we got down to seriously culling our gear.  When I looked at all our preps in the harsh light of these weight recommendations, it was clear that we were carrying far too much in our BOBs.  Think about how much faster could you run, or if necessary, better defend yourself, if you were carrying less weight.  When it comes to surviving there are no points awarded for second place, we want to have every advantage possible, even before we start cheating!  For me, this is when I realized that the gear we were amassing, and the way we were planning to utilize, and transport it, was totally inadequate for this updated scenario.  Our gear was set up great for an extended "backpack" type movement, or to pack it all on the mules and haul it up to a remote alpine static location & hide there until the smoke settled.  We definitely were not however, set up for a "break contact" type running gun battle while trying to E&E from folks intending to incarcerate, kill, or perhaps do even worse things to my family and I.  What we were doing wasn't going to cut it for people who had to be alert, fluid, and ready for a spectrum of scenarios.  Scenarios ranging from the daily working and defending of our ranch, to short range patrols around our AO / Community, to fight, disengage & run from surprise encounters, and unexpected E&E when you might not have all your gear with you, and progressing all the way up to proactive offensive actions.  All while still trying to function in discreet daily living on our ranch.  A pretty broad spectrum to fill.  What we needed was a system, and gear, that would be as adaptable to both home / ranch security, as to living in the field, or on the run, and it all had to be able to be accomplished potentially without the availability of the ranch as a base to work from any longer.  So, we switched from a full size, catch-all emergency / survival pack system which involved a get home bag, a B.O.B., separate cold weather gear packs, and a separate tactical gear set up, to a lighter, more efficient, integrated four tier system.  I was able to, for the most part, use gear I already had to accomplish this, although some new stuff was required.  

Now that we've identified the threat, and have a fundamental understanding of it as well as it's various strengths and weaknesses, we can now look at the actual equipment changes we made to address those issues.

Before delving into how we cut incredible weight from our loads, and streamlined our equipment, we feel it would be irresponsible not to point out something that is best expressed by a saying from a man with some real credibility in this area.  "Software trumps hardware."  My interpretation of this is, skills are more important that excess equipment.  Beware of the trap many of us have fallen into, gear is absolutely necessary, however, training and the high level of skills it produces, even more so.  That being said, onto the gear!  Oh, and by the way, I have no affiliation with any of these products other than as a consumer, except the Kydex mag pouches, which we make ourselves.

The first sorting out, or "Culling" of our gear, was done according to this new load weight information, and threat expectations.  It was done according to the recommended mnemonic of SMOLES. This stands for Self defense, Medical emergencies, Observation, Lost & found, Extreme weather, Survival.  Focusing on those priorities, with an eye on cutting weight, actually reduced what we thought was a pretty "Necessary stuff only" out by about half.  We were feeling pretty good at that point, little did we know we had barely scratched the surface.  With our newly updated version of "necessary" gear as a starting point, we began looking at putting it into tiers, and found some great recommendations out there to combine with our own experience.

In breaking down my tiers, I found it most effective if it is built upon a base uniform, and then each tier folds into the next, but is independent from it.  This is important since it, in essence, this prioritizes the gear.  The very first issue I ran into however, was how I was going to be able to have my Tier 1 gear (basic survival essentials) on me at all times, as that was our goal for Tier 1.  I'm sure there are a lot of other ideas about how to skin that particular cat, but the way I did it, was opt for a style of military clothing called Combat Vehicle Crewman (CVC) coveralls. They are a type of coverall that looks very much like the flight suits we built our ghillie suits on in the military. They are inexpensive and they are actually ideally suited for my purposes.  They are fire retardant, have re-enforced knees, elbows, and seat. They also have both a front zipper that opens from the top down as well as up from the crotch up, and a seat flap, (trying to be discreet here) both of which are quite utilitarian when you are wearing a tac-vest with plates and a battle belt, and don't want to have to virtually disrobe when nature calls, hence this also makes them unisex applicable.  Additionally, they have 9 zipper closure pockets wherein I can secure all of my Tier 1 gear.  Thus, as long as I'm dressed, it is with me.  The only adaptation required was to put in an additional chest pocket I reinforced with kydex to support my P220 when I'm not wearing my Tier 2 gear, and sewing on some 1 3/4' exterior belt loops.  

Regarding clothing, and viewing it in light of using it in the Rocky Mountains of the pacific northwest, and in an attempt to more or less standardize, we tried to err on the side of going bit  overboard, knowing we can cull it down as necessary.  Some of our selections were due to what we felt is the very real possibility that we may end up living in a field base camp(s) situation for an extended period of time.  Therefore, durability, medical, as well as hygiene issues came up in our considerations, and influenced some of our choices.  We decided to start at the basics, and worked our way through a complete set of field clothes.  Since the CVCs may be a bit warm during the hottest time of the year in the Pacific Northwest (although I don't think unbearable, by any means) we put extra cost into undergarments to stay as dry as possible, and avoid things like severe rashes, yeast infections, etc, as those types of issues not only interfere with your ability to move rapidly, but can also be an unnecessary drain on medical supplies.  We avoided cotton altogether.  We did some research on a product called Under Armor Heat Gear.  Well made, it wicks moisture extremely well, eliminates chaffing, dries quickly, and is antimicrobial.  Additionally, it comes in a style that acts very much like the nylon leggings I used to wear under a karate gi, to allow it to slide freely and not bind up during kicking, jumping, etc.  Thus they have the same effect regarding combat athleticism in the CVCs, as an added benefit.  They also have shirts to match. That is what we use under the CVCs as a base layer.  For cold weather we also have the underarmor cold gear, which we already knew, works fantastically.  Polypropylene sock liners, again wicks moisture, and eliminates friction, helping to eliminate blisters, etc.  Wool outer socks for cushion, as well as being insulating even when wet, have been useful in all weather.  We discovered that a style called "wader socks" work the best for us. 

Footgear has been an individual choice, it's only requirement being, that it is constructed of heavy leather to minimize the potential penetration of snakebites.  Those are overlapped with TurtleSkin snake gaiters.  Many may think I'm crazy on this one, but here's our logic;  Without antivenin a Rattlesnake bite's hemotoxin can be bad at best, and fatal at worst.  Discounting the approx 20% of bites that are "dry", that still leaves 8 out of 10 bites that potentially envenomate the person struck.  Medical care being uncertain at best, we were not willing to gamble on those odds.  Antivenin is not something we can access, nor stockpile.  Contrary to popular belief, they don't always rattle, before striking, or rattle early enough to be of any help.  According to a gentleman at Turtle Skin who happened to have spent a great deal of time working in the woods for the forest service in northern Idaho, and is quite familiar with the area, it's unlikely that any of us would run across a rattlesnake. However, "unlikely" is not the same thing as won't.  Living and operating in the woods constantly, can only increase our "unlikely" chance of that one "run in" with one. While we are normally very alert to the things around us, as well as avoiding high risk behaviors and places for them, our concern is, that in running from pursuers, or trying to navigate and hastily exit a two way firing range, we'll likely have other things on our mind, and may find ourselves stepping in the wrong place at the wrong time.  This strikes us as one of those times where an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.  Moving on, we included KEPS (knee & elbow pads) which anyone who as ever had to drop to their knees or prone on rocky ground will understand, and for headgear use the old standby USGI boonie hat.  Lastly we all have solar watches that also contain a digital altimeter, compass, and barometer in them.  This constitutes our basic field uniform.  (BTW, should anyone else opt for CVCs, be sure to break up the solid OD color with some Rit dye in spray bottles, it works great, if you don't then they will stand out.)

\This brings us to the four tiers of our gear.  Tier 1 is our basic survival stuff.  It's the stuff we figure you should always have on your person in such an environment.  It's a pared down compilation of various experts recommendations, as well as our own experience.  It's primary purpose is that if due to some threat, I needed to immediately run without any other gear, or had to ditch my gear so that I could run faster than the "fed-ex man" pursuing me with my FEMA invitation, I would still have what I needed to survive until I could get to either a safe place, or a cache site.  ~ yes in our system we chose to employ the use of cache sites for long term emergency resupply ~  Tier 1 is what you have on you when you are just working, etc. within what you consider to be your secure area, whatever that may be at any given time. This gear provides for the needs of defense, shelter, navigation, fire, water, and food, and would never be discarded.  The way I currently have it configured, it all fits nicely in the nine various pockets of my slightly modified CVCs.

Our Tier 1, "Survival Load" that, Lord willing, we will never be without, consists of the following:

1. SIG P220 & one spare mag in modified, kydex re-enforced, zippered chest pocket of my CVCs (whenever not in Tac gear). (S.S. 220 with 1full 8
        rd mag and 1 in the chamber + 1 spare mag of eight 230 gr. JHP's weighs a total of 53.6 oz OR 3.35 lbs.

2. Leatherman Wave tool. (weighs 7.9 oz)

3. #550 cord (50' daisy chain weighs 3.9 oz ~ we also use #550 cord in my boot laces, 5" daisy chained pull tabs on all 9 zippers, with a cord-lock 
         on the end of each.  Those pull tabs, while just normally handy, when "unchained", each also provide 2'4" of emergency cordage, believe it or 
         not.  9 separate 2'+ sections (12' worth) of #550 cord with a cord lock on each. (Great for shelter construction, making a yeti for concealment, 

4. Small Silva compass. Explorer Pro High Vis.  (This is redundant, in case of failure of the digital compass built into our watches) (1.0 oz)

5. Small flint & steel fire starter & 15' roll of jute. Tie 3 or 4 overhand knots back to back and then leave 3-4" of cord & cut.  Fray the un-knotted
        end into a "bird's nest" & strike a spark. Works great & lasts long enough to get your twigs going well and then some. (Jute weighs 1.7 oz & the
        "Light my Fire" flint & steel weigh 0.3 oz, for a combined total of 2.0 oz)

6. A small collapsable MSR dromedary type bag (we use a Camel-Bak bladder & tube) and purification tablets to purify it. (2 liter bladder & tube
        = 7.3 oz, 1 bottle Potable Aqua & 1 bottle of Potable Aqua+ , weigh 1.1 oz each, combined total of 9.5 oz and will treat 25 ltrs of water)

7. Small fishing kit (a roll of spiderwire, some small split shot & some #10 hooks in a Zip-Loc bag.)

8. Casualty blanket for shelter ~ Heavy duty, OD green / reflective (with 4 daisy chained, 5' long sections of #550 cord, one attached to each 
        corner grommet.  All you then have to do is make some quick stakes, or use some rocks for that matter (weighs 11.8 oz) 

9. A rat trap (Works great for catching squirrels around the house here, but I need to test it, out in the field) (weighs 5.4 oz) [JWR Adds: I'd rather carry 10 wire snares (also about five ounces, combined weight) for 10 times the number of chances to catch critters.

10. Plain fish netting (two pieces, approx 12"x24" and 2'x6') In the military, I learned in Survival / E&E, staying hidden is very important.  With the
        2X6 netting you just cut a slit in the middle of for your head, drape it over you like a poncho, and secure it around your waist with your belt or
        #550 cord and you have the foundation for a quick, makeshift bushrag.  Thread it with whatever foliage is appropriate.  Use the 12x24 over your
        boonie hat, for your head veil.  Not as effective as my full ghillie suit, but it's field expedient, light weight, and it's quicker and easier to throw 
        together than a yeti. It's also versatile and can be used for other things as well.

11. Gig head. Cut shaft for it in the field, if needed. For frogs, fish, reptiles, small mammals (weighs 1.7 oz) [JWR Adds: For safety, be sure to cap your gig's points with a piece of rubber or a wine bottle cork, when stowed!]

12. Blackhawk Serpa holster (weighs 4.3 oz + 2.0 oz for chest adaptor = 6.3 oz total)

13. Pistol mag pouch (weighs 2.2 oz)

Tier 1 weight before culling:  103.1 oz, i.e. 6.44 lbs.  We felt that this was too much, so after consideration, we made the following initial cuts:

The ever-painful "Culling Of The Gear":

Dropped gig head (-1.7 oz), P220 (-38.4 oz), 2 empty magazines (total -5.0 oz), 17 rds of ammo (-10.2 oz), holster (-6.3 oz), mag pouch (-2.2 oz). Combined weight of these cuts was 3.99 lbs.
(The pistol and ammo can be replaced if the threat situation merits it.) 

Total weight of my Tier 1 load is after culling is: 2.46 lbs) 

Tier 2 is all of our basic combat gear, our "Fighting Load", or "Kit", if you will.  It's contained on our Tac-Vest / battle belt.  In my case, I opted to attach a battle belt to my plate carrier tac-vest. While I wouldn't say it's necessary for everyone, due to my body geometry (i.e. long torso) it's just the way I chose to go.  It gives me a little more real-estate to put my gear on, without interfering with my ability to get prone, should I need to.  Tier 2  is supplemented by your survival load which you will always have on your person.  We would be wearing Tier 2 gear for example, anytime there was an elevated threat level, when performing security operations at the ranch, or of course for anything that took us out into the field, things of that nature.  It is not a "stand alone" gear list however, it both builds upon the Tier 1 gear, and is in turn, supplemental to the Tier 3 gear as well.  It is divided this way so that if any of us were to find ourselves in a fix and needed to hastily E&E, and our combat gear was slowing us down too much, we could ditch it in order to run faster, and come back for it later.  Meanwhile we still have all of the necessary 1st tier gear on our person, because it is not actually attached to the Tier 1 gear.  The important point here being that you can dump Tier 2 and still have your survival load. This gear would be the last of the three tiers to be discarded.  Our goal here, although probably unattainable given our choice of battle rifle and caliber, is to keep the combined weight our Tier 1 & 2 gear to right around 40 lbs, with a maximum of 48 lbs.

My Tier 2, "Fighting Load" consists of the following:

1. Tactical vest:  We went with Blackhawk's S.T.R.I.K.E. Commando Recon front & back plate carriers, along with Infidel Armor front & rear ballistic
        plates.  Heavier than I'd like, but they fit into the budget.  We've gone to wearing our's while doing PT & H2H practice, & it's beginning to feel a
        little less foreign at least. (plates and vest collectively weigh 268 oz, i.e. 16.75 lbs).

2. Battle belt (attached). We went with High Speed Gear's "Sure Grip" belts for those who wanted them, with a Cobra riggers belt as an under belt.
        (weight unknown at the moment)

3. M1A Rifle mag pouches, X 6.  We went for seven 20 rd mag's - two on the vest, two on each side of the battle belt (both in the event of an
        extremity injury, as well as I reload faster from different sides, depending on my shooting position) & one in the rifle.  Went with kydex, since that
        is my side business anyway, and made our own custom mag pouches. (weight per mag pouch is 3.5 oz, for a total of 21.0 oz)

4. M1A magazines X 7 ~ one carried in the rifle and 6 spares (loaded w / 20 rds each), (weight per empty mag 8.6 oz, loaded mag is 26.6 oz, X7
        = total of 186.2 oz or 11.6 lbs)

5. M1A rifle, in Sage EBR mod 1 configuration, with scope, with no mag. (weight 224 oz or 14 lbs) 

6. M1A rifle sling (I did not opt for a fancy "tactical" sling, instead I went for the simple Blackhawk "Rapid Adjust" 2 point sling.  With SOCP, as my
        primary form of H2H, you will understand why I chose to avoid a 3 point tactical sling.  (weight 5.9 oz) 

7. Pistol mag pouches, X 1 .  Again we went with the kydex, and made our own custom single mag pouches. (weight is was excluded at Tier 1)

8. SIG P220 SS magazines X 2 ~ one in pistol + 1 spare, loaded w / 8 rds each +1 extra for the chamber (weight was excluded at Tier 1)

9. SIG P220 ST, .45 ACP (weight excluded at Tier 1) 

10. Dump pouch.  We went with the Blackhawk S.T.R.I.K.E. folding dump pouch, mounted rear center of the battle belt so that it was accessible with
        either hand.  (weight 8 oz)

11. SOCP dagger (While some may cringe at the non-utilitarian nature of having a "dagger", and I would have too, it's not what you're probably 
        thinking it is.)  Since we use SOCP (my brother is a SF NCO), in part, for our hand to hand / CQB defense, this is actually fantastic.  If you're
        curious, then do a web search on it.  Watch Greg Thompson's demos and see for yourself, it's fairly close to perfect, especially when you are loaded down in kit
        and things need to be simple and effective!) (weight 2.5 oz)

12. Tomahawk. Some may think I'm crazy on this one too, but honestly, after spending a lot of time in the woods using it for everything from
        firewood, to pulling the handle out and using it like an Alaskan Ulu knife, I've found it's a lot more versatile that my ghurka kukri.  It's quite handy, and
        between it and my Leatherman I've had no want of anything edged. I made a custom kydex sheath for it, it stays out of my way, but is handy when I
        need it.  (weight 30.0 oz)

13. B.O.K.  (You could think of it as a trauma first aid kit) (weight 18 oz estimated)

14. 2-Way Radio (currently undecided on model)  (weight TBD)

15. Poncho with liner, in pouch on rear plate carrier (weight is approx 21 oz for poncho and 21 oz for liner, TOTAL is 42 oz)

16. An empty, drawstring closure pouch on the back of my Tac-Vest for carrying dehydrated food, as well as being able to carry your emergency 
        water bladder when you're not packing your Tier 3 Camel-Bak.  (weight 12 oz)

Tier 2 weight before culling:  817.6 oz, i.e. 51.1lbs. The initial weight of our Tier 2 gear was more than we were satisfied with, so again, we let the culling begin!

After consideration we made the following cuts:  As much as I hated to, I reallocated the tomahawk to Tier 4 (-30.0 oz), & reallocated the poncho / liner (-42 oz) to Tier 3 as it's only necessary away from home. 

Combined weight of these cuts was 72.0 oz, i.e. 4.5 lbs.
Total Tier 2 weight after culling:  46.6 lbs.

Results: Combined Tier 1 and 2 "Fighting Load" weight is:  49 lbs (goal is 48 lbs or less) compared to 60 - 80+ lbs, for an average conventional foot soldier, or enforcer who may be pursuing the pleasure of our company [JWR Adds: Note that his calculations are based on an empty Camel-Bak and minimal rations. The weight of water and food adds up quickly.

Missed the weight allotment goal for the Tier 1 and 2 combined "Fighting Load", by 1 lb.  I really would like to do more reduction. However the body armor and the M1A EBR are big drains against our weight allotment.  The weight of the .30 cal ammo is also not helpful.  While we did not opt to trade away what we see as a ballistically more beneficial caliber for our varied purposes, one could clearly present a legitimate case for the lighter weight of both the AR platform rifle, as well as it's lighter .223 caliber ammunition in this particular context. Those tradeoffs just are what they are however, not much can be done there.  Unquestionably, without just the armor plates alone, the load is reduced by 15 lbs, ( down to 30.41 lbs) but that option was off the table for us.  Expecting the lack of surgical facilities to deal with a thoracic gunshot wound, we don't see that as a chance worth taking.  The reality is, this is going to be the Tier where the the real weight is. I'm not sure anything else can be cut at this point, after all, we need what we need, & then cull out the rest. This heavy stuff (i.e, the armor plates, ammo and rifle) are necessary.  At this point I guess that just means more PT, and after all, 48 isn't that old, right?

Tier 3 is our S.R.R.P. (Short Range Reconnaissance Pack).  It falls under the higher combined weight restrictions of the "Approach March" load's 55 lbs maximum weight, although should still be as minimal as possible.  For us, that currently means it should be somewhere in the area of about 6 lbs.  We knew from the beginning that was not going to happen.  The pack and water alone weigh more than that already. . .  This is the gear that it would take to sustain us, in addition to the items in Tiers 1 & 2, for those times you would be in a potentially hostile, field environment, overnight and up to 3 days.  You are basically living out of a Camel-Bak.  Logistically speaking, this is to enable you to perform short term patrols / missions within your AO.  It is supplemented by the equipment that is already contained in your Tier 1 and Tier 2 loads.  It is the "less essential" gear that could/would be dropped prior to dropping the Tier 2 gear, if anything had to be dumped.  Agai, it is not actually attached to the Tier 2 gear, it simply augments it.  Excluding Tier 4, this gear would be the first option to be left behind.

My Tier 3, "S.R.R.P. load" consists of the following:

1. Camel-Bak W / bladder.  We use the Rim Runner model. (36.5 oz) (note: the H2O will weigh an additional 4.4 lbs, a total combined weight of 6.7

2. For "field rations", so to speak, as I am only addressing a 24 - 72 hr window, we decided to go with the "Mainstay" emergency ration bars.  Good
        for five years, these come in 400 cal meal bars, 6 to 9 in a packet depending on what you order.  You can check the other nutrients on line if you 
        are interested, but they're good.  Additionally, they do not increase your thirst, a good thing if you find yourself in an unexpected situation where
        water is either scarce, or if the incoming fire that your attempts to access it creates irritates those around you. A 2,400 cal pack contains six 400
        cal bars, each a meal they say, and weighs 16 oz.  the 3,600 cal pack contains 9 of the same bars and weighs 24 oz. They figure that at 1,200 cal
        a day, this is a two day supply pack, however they are also thinking in terms of someone in a life raft on an ocean.  But honestly, how far are you
        really going to walk per day, in that case?  Being a "land lubber", I planned for a higher caloric need of 2,400 cal per day.  Six bars a day, 
        breaking it down however you want.  The good thing about this however, is that should you need to reduce your consumption for some reason
        and stretch this supply out, or share with someone, you can easily do so.  I also include 3 multi-vitamins as an additional margin.  (weight is 48 

3. Petzl headlamp with one set of spare batteries (4.3 oz) 

4. Casualty blanket to wrap up in (this = 2, 1 for shelter, which is in my survival load, and now a second one to wrap up in)  (11 oz)

5. Poncho (with liner) (42 oz) 

6. Underwear, extra pair (U/A Heat Gear type) (2.2 oz)

7. Poly-pro sock liners, extra pair (0.6 oz)

8. Wool socks, extra pair (6.7 oz)

9. Under Armor cold weather hood (1.6 oz)  

10. Solo stove / pot (16.3 oz)

11. Leather gloves  (4.8 oz)  

12. Safety pins X3 (0)  

13. Area map (N/A)

14. ACE wrap (2.2 oz)

15. E-Tool (40 oz)  

16. Note pad & pencil  (1.7 oz)   

        UPON TERRAIN, 

*** Rope for rappelling seat and a 100' rappelling rope (NOT FACTORED IN AGAINST WEIGHT ALLOWANCE.)

Tier 3 weight before culling:  170.4 oz = 10.7 lbs + 6.7 lbs = 17.35 lbs.  The initial weight of our Tier 3 gear was way more than we were satisfied with, so again, we continued with the culling.

After consideration we made the following cuts:  Reallocated the e-tool to Tier 4 (due to high wt. & limited use, more useful in establishing a remote base camp than on a S.R.R.P.) (-40.0 oz), dumped the spare sock liners (-0.6), spare wool socks (-6.7 oz), solo stove & pot (-16.3 oz. With the Mainstay rations no cooking is required, & with H2o tablets no boiling water is necessary on a 3 day patrol), 1 Mainstay 2,400 cal packet (can live for 3 days with NO food, so can surely do fine with 1,600 cal, i.e. four bars per day)(-16 oz), casualty blanket (may rethink in winter, along with socks) (-11 oz), spare underwear (-2.2 oz).

Combined weight of these cuts was 92.8 oz, i.e. 5.8 lbs.
Total Tier 3 weight after culling: 11.55 lbs, (without H2o weight 7.15 lbs.)

Results: Combined Tier 1, 2 and 3 "Approach March Load" weight is:  60.61 lbs (56.21 lbs without the H2o) compared to 130 -150+ lbs, for the average "Marching Load" of a conventional foot soldier, who my be pursuing my family & I …  

While 5.6 lbs over what we wanted for our Maximum March Load, given the larger, heavier rifle, the heavier basic load of ammunition, and the extra 15 lbs of armor, we are quite happy with where we are at this point.  The bottom line:  We got the "Fighting Load" to 49 lbs,  one pound over our 48 lb. maximum goal, but still  11 - 31 lbs lighter than that of potential pursuers.  We got the "Approach March Load" to within 5.6 lbs of our 55 lb. maximum limit goal, but are still 69.4 - 89.4 lbs. lighter than that of potential pursuers.  The difference being more than the weight of our entire Marching Load Out. Frankly, at this point I think we have more or less reached bare bones, if you will.  I just can't find any more reasonable cut's to make, so for additional gains at this point, the game has to change from an issue of hardware (equipment) to one of software (skills, tactics, conditioning, area familiarity, etc.). 

Tier 4 is my L.R.R.P. (Long Range Reconnaissance Pack).  It's incomplete at this point, still undergoing construction and refinement. It is the gear that would allow us to set up a distant field base of operations.  It is primarily the equipment required for establishing a primitive alpine safe haven, should you be forced from your normal AO. It would also serve to develop a base camp of a semi permanent nature, from which could be conducted security patrol operations to a distance greater than that which your SRRP provides for. The areas for camps were pre-selected as optional sites and then will be chosen specifically depending on the situation. The pack will contain more rations, to sustain you during the initial set up of your field location.  As well, it will have a longer term shelter system, increased & upgraded medical supplies, and additional munitions.  This is not a tier that would normally be carried in the field, and with any luck will be transported by pack animal, although it, out of necessity, is man portable as well. It is best thought of as a sort of foundation level, emergency camp construction pack.  It's intent is to provide for the needs covered in S.M.O.L.E.S.  (but of a base camp nature), and expands upon the equipment you already have at your disposal via the first 3 tiers.  At this point, ours contains the following, although exacts amounts and weights have not yet been determined:

1. Backpack (Gregory, North Face and Dana, internal frame packs, although any quality pack will work, this is just what we have).
2. Food, dehydrated (additional rations).
3. Second full set of clothes & cold weather gear -fleece pants & top.
4. Medical kit (more inclusive).
5. Shelter ( a new enclosed 4 season hammock design).
6. Spare magazines and ammo. 
7. Spare weapons parts (Firing pin, extractor, cleaning supplies etc).
8. Mission specific items, (Rappelling ropes harnesses, etc).
9. Mini-mag light with solar rechargeable batteries and spare bulbs.
10. Range finder & spotting scope.
11. Weatherproof notebook.
12. Additional H2O purification tablets.
13. Additional roll of jute rope.
14. Tomahawk.
15. Mess kit.
16. Wyoming saw.
17. Spare parts / sewing kit.
18. P220, mags & ammo.
19. Solo stove & pot.
20. E-Tool.
21. Second causality blanket.
22. Spotting scope.
23. Solar charger kit.
24. 100' of additional #550 cord.
25. Night vision optic is currently under debate as it has an IR illuminator as enhancement option, and given the preponderance of IR detection 
        devices out there in the hands of anyone and everyone, we are evaluating the risk of sending out such a beacon as opposed to the reward any night 
        time surveillance ability may offer.  Of course the logistics of it are an additional concern. May well end up becoming a cached away special 
        purpose tool, since we already have it.

While tier #4 is still a work in progress, and being interfaced with pre-positioned caches and preps, we look for it to eventually, like the other 3 
        tiers, come together as part of a cohesive system.  

Hopefully this information will be of use to other prepper's in understanding, more fully than we did, the dangers facing us all, as well as the need to adapt to it.  While certainly not the only way to address these issues, we hope our solutions will stimulate thoughts, and help other survivalblog readers find the ways that best address the issues facing them in their unique situations.  Master your skills, travel light and fast, blend in well, and most importantly, trust that God often shows His strength through our weakness!  

Friday, August 2, 2013

I'm a lawyer.  I'm a criminal defense lawyer.  Every day I put on a suit and I walk though metal detectors and into a courthouse where guns, ammunition, and knives are not permitted.  Other days I may visit one or more jails, where it should be no surprise that the above are prohibited, as are lighters, flammable materials, and pretty much everything else.

I also happen to be a prepper. I think I have a pretty good idea what may be coming in the not too distant future, and I want to be ready.

How do I balance these two realities?

My goal was to create a simple carry system that is unobtrusive and unassuming.  Something that would blend in and let me carry a little bit of EDC gear without notice.  No major bulges or anything conspicuous that could draw attention—from court security, judges, jurors, or even my co-workers. 

I considered many different systems.  I tried key-ring systems that wound up with 1.5 pounds of metal bulging and jangling in my pocket.  I looked at flat wallet-like containers for my back pocket.

And then I looked around me.  And I realized.  What is less conspicuous than a phone pouch?   I see lawyers with one or even two phone pouches on their belts every day.

I began purchasing. Some were too loose or closed with weak magnets.  Others rode on a single metal hook that jutted out far from the waist and tended to twist.

About 15 purchases later, I landed on the Phone Pouch Horizontal from Tactical Tailor.  It comes in several colors, including khaki and green.  In black, it looks exactly like a standard phone pouch--which it is.  But there are several very helpful attributes--and one drawback.

The first helpful design feature is that this item secures to a belt with two (plastic) clips instead of the standard single clip.  As a result, it hangs tight and conforms to my waist.  Other pouches secure with one clip (frequently steel) in the center, which allows a lot of torque and wiggle.  But make sure you secure both clips!  I broke several clips early on settling into my car seat.  In all instances, I had only secured just one clip.  I now double check myself when dressing to make sure I have properly secured both.

The second useful design is the flap that covers the pouch.  It is perfect for tucking a tactical pen horizontally through the top.    My pen is longer then the pouch, leaving plenty of pen to easily and quickly grab with my strong hand or weak hand.  So far, I have worn this setup daily for over a year and I have not lost my pen yet.  Simply pull the flap tightly, secure the velcro, slip that pen in, and use the pen clasp to hold onto the flap. 

The only drawback to the Tactical Tailor pouch design is that it is not “fully enclosed”. Like many phone pouches, it has elastic on the two narrow sides to allow for expansion and add tension to the phone inside.  And like many carriers, it also has four little openings at the four corners.  This poses a problem for very small items that could work their way down and out.  But for me, it works well along the top, as it leaves a notch for the tactical pen even when the top flap is secure.

The tactical pen model I carry with my pouch is the Operator series by Tuff-Writer.  I normally carry the sanitized matte black because it doesn’t have any markings overtly suggestive of its purpose.  At the same time, I cannot deny that it does have a “tactical” look to it.

With the idea that sometimes the best way to hide something is in plain sight, I have a second pen available when I dress in the morning.  This is the same Operator series pen in a beautiful shiny executive-looking NP3 finish.  It is just the opposite of a tactical pen—in appearance.  It may scream “showoff SOB” but it doesn’t scream “tactical”.  It doesn’t appear to be listed on the web site at this moment, but keep an eye out for it or reach out to their customer service, they have take pretty good care of me in the past.  Please note I have purchased and do not like the other pen models because the caps are not designed to stay on the barrel when in use.

Inside my pouch I carry a variety of items helpful for both work and survival:

  • On the outside I have a small stack of business cards. 
  • One wax-impregnated cardboard fire starter trimmed down to business card size. 
  • A plastic card with several turns of duct tape
  • One sheet of adhesive blister padding. 
  • A credit card size Fresnel lens
  • $20. 
  • Two Band-Aids and sealed disposable alcohol pads. 
  • A plastic card wound with spider wire. 
  • Imodium AD and flat tooth flosser
  • A microfiber cloth (for my eyeglasses)
  • A Split Pea lighter with several large safety pins attached so they don’t fall out of the pouch. 

Together, these items are what I need to stay comfortable, make small repairs, and perhaps help me handle a bad situation.  If asked what is inside, I explain that it has my "cards and medicine and Band-Aids and stuff."  Now remember, I am a credentialed professional in a suit and I am frequently recognized by security.  I am not going to deliberately break the law to bring in something I am NOT supposed to bring in, but I will concede that I receive less scrutiny than someone off the street.

In the pouch I also formerly carried a skinny flint and steel system—the Exotac Nano  and a skinny metal whistle, the Vargo titanium.   But I gave those two items up as the Pea lighter will produce a spark with or without fluid and I carry a small flat 2-chamber Titanium whistle on my keychain to hail my dogs.  But both items remain on my dresser ready to be added if circumstances warrant.

Also on my keychain, with the whistle identified above, is an Amsler Knives Pocket Wedge.    It is not much larger than a key and it is not particularly sharp, so it does not alarm security personnel.  It is not a tactical fighting tool, but for opening boxes, screwdriving, or a bit of prying it is handy.

Also part of my everyday uniform is my briefcase.  I carry a modern black ballistic nylon bag.  Inside is a black Kevlar divider that I purchased from .  It totally blends in with the ballistic briefcase and has never been questioned.  In fact, it looks and feels exactly like standard laptop padding.  In a pinch I can sling the briefcase over my neck for crude ballistic protection.  I have considered adding straps to the divider itself but have opted to remain with it low profile.

I have several pairs of extremely fancy black and brown dress shoes to wear with my suits.  The fact is, I have come to realize they are killing me.  I have one pair of Clark Wave "dressy" (dressy in quotes because they still look rather sneaker-ish) and I intend to purchase a black pair for days when I can get away with it.  Because, the first defense in most emergencies—especially unarmed—is to put as much distance between myself and danger as I can.  As The Doctor says, “Run!”

And the second defense is to get to my vehicle as quickly as I can.  In my normal  stomping grounds, my  vehicle is normally parked at my office, about three blocks away from my courthouse.   When I am in my office, my vehicle is normally within 50 feet of my first-floor office—and is frequently parked right outside my window.  The parking lot is shared with court and law enforcement personnel and -- at least during working hours and normal circumstances--is not going to be an early target.

So let's quickly address my vehicle.  I commute 30 plus miles to work, most of it on busy suburban and urban interstate.  I have a large SUV.  Inside, I carry several days’ worth of food, a blanket, water bottles, water filter, first aid kit, trauma kit, and a SCARE Bag with minimal supplies to help me scare/fight my way home.  I have a concealed carry permit and lots of training; I do try to car-carry my  Glock 17 with two extra mags, but I cannot do so on a daily basis for family reasons.  If I identify things starting to "heat up" that I do intend to car-carry daily.  I also need to purchase an effective locking device for regular car-carry.

Of course I have also added a small duffel with a complete change of clothing and shoes.  I'm considering adding some gold coins to pay a boater in the nearby marina to ferry me upriver to a location that would be a very short walk home. This would bypass what I expect would become an extremely dangerous solo hike on foot.

In conclusion, I would like to add that this system proves fairly flexible on weekends and outside of work.  Thanks to the single pouch, most of my gear is containerized and is easy to transfer from clothing to clothing.  On weekends I normally add just two items.  First I add my flashlight; normally the Quark Tactical QT2L which produces 230 lumens off its 2 CR123A batteries.  However, if I purchased today I would opt for the newer model with maximum 780 lumens for a very short period of time.

My daily carry folding knife is a simple Benchmade Griptillian.  I ordered a custom model through the company web site and while delivery took quite some time, the design process was entirely fun.

As you likely know, knife regulations vary widely and in some cities even the Griptillian blade length of 3.45 inches is unlawful.  In my state, open carry of such a knife is no problem.  But when I go to my kids’ school, I do have a problem.  My state prohibits knives on school grounds but carves out an exception for pocket knives (folders) with a metal blade less than three inches.  As I am large with large hands, this posed a major problem, as all smaller knives came with smaller handles that were always swallowed up in my fingers.  The one and only folder I found with a sufficiently large handle for me to grip but a sufficiently small blade to be legal was the Emerson “Stubby” with a 2.7 inch blade . 

Note: This is my personal gear review and all items mentioned have been personally paid for by me. No consideration has been asked for or given.

Monday, July 29, 2013

There's not a week that goes past, that I don't hear from someone asking me "what's the best gun for home defense..." and I can't give a pat answer to that question. First of all, what does a person mean by "home defense?" Secondly, what are your physical abilities - or disabilities - when it comes to handling a firearm? What is your budget? What is your skill level with any firearm? And, the list goes on and on. So, as you can see, there is no single or easy answer to what is the best gun for home defense. And, no matter how I try, I can't convince most people that there is no one answer to this question - there is no "best" gun for home defense. And, if I recommend this gun or that gun, I'll enter into an endless debate with someone, and I don't have the time to do this. We are all entitled to our opinions and views on this subject.
I often recommend some type of "riot" shotgun for home defense, and we are talking about a 12 gauge shotgun with a barrel length of around 18-inches to 18.5-inches - something that is a bit easier to handle in the close confines of your home or a hallway. Sporting shotguns with long barrels aren't recommended because you can maneuver them easily in close quarters. I own several "riot" shotguns, and I enjoy shooting them all. I live in a very rural area, and if someone is breaking into my home, the local sheriff might be a long time in arriving, so I take the safety of myself and my family as my own responsibility. And, "yes" I do keep a handgun as my "bedroom" gun, however, within easy reach is a shotgun.
Many shotguns made today come with an aluminum receiver, and I own several like this. However, my favorite shotgun is my Stevens Model 350 for several reasons. First of all, it has an all-steel receiver - which means it's heavier and can take a lot more abuse. Secondly, the 350 is very close to the famed Ithaca Model 37 shotgun, that has a bottom eject feature, unlike other shotguns, that eject from the side of the receiver. Nothing "wrong" with a side ejection shotgun, I just like the bottom ejection feature of the 350. Yes, this makes the 350 a bit heavier than some other shotguns - it weighs in around 8-pounds unloaded, this is good and bad. The good part is, it helps tame recoil, the bad is, well....the gun is heavier to carry. However, I don't plan on an extended romp in the boonies with this shotgun - it is reserved for home defense. Also, the 350 is a pump-action shotgun, and they are very reliable, and not complicated, like some semi-auto shotguns are to get that first round chambered.
The 350 is parkerized in a nice gray/black finish - tough stuff. The furniture is black synthetic polymer, which makes if ideal for my area, where wood stocks can swell from all the rain and moisture in the air. There is also a rifle-style front sight and ghost ring rear sight, and if you've never used a ghost ring rear sight on a shotgun, you are missing out on how fast and how much more accurate you can shoot - all things considered - with a shotgun... What a ghost ring rear sight does is, it allows you to focus on the front sight, while the ghost ring rear sight is "ghostly" in appearance - it is a bit fuzzy is maybe a better way to describe it. Still, it is VERY fast to acquire a good sight picture. The safety is easy to reach, and so is the slide release - on some shotguns, you have to change your hold on the gun to push on the slide release - not good! I keep my 350 magazine tube loaded with 5-rounds of 00 buckshot, and the chamber is empty. I also keep the slide closed (locked) so I either have to pull the trigger to unlock the slide (not good) or I can simply push on the slide release to pump the slide and chamber the first round - the smart way to do it.
I also keep a side-saddle magazine holder on the left side of the receiver, and it holds 6 extra rounds of 00 buckshot for me. I'm going to add another side-saddle magazine holder on the right side of the polymer butt stock. I could add another on the right side of the receiver, but that will just add more weight that I don't need. With 5 rounds in the magazine tube, and 6 more rounds on the receiver, and when I add the other carrier on the right side of the butt stock, that will give me 17-rounds on-hand, with reloads. If that doesn't get me out of trouble, then I'm in deeper than I can possibly be.
The 350 is easy to load and shoot, although the trigger pull is a bit heavy, then again, we are talking about a shotgun, and not a long-range precision high-power rifle, where pin-point accuracy is called for. So, the heavy trigger isn't a handicap as far as I'm concerned. I can fire 5-rounds in about 2.5-seconds from the 350, and that's fast shooting, and I can hit my target out to trick to this, other than to practice.
I have had zero failures to feed, function and eject with the 350, and the action is fairly easy to operate, too - some pump-action shotguns require a pretty aggressive "pump" to load and ejection rounds and when you tie-up a pump-action shotgun, you are in serious trouble, it takes time - a lot of time - to clear a double-feed. And, I keep the 350 loaded with only 00 buckshot - I live in a rural area, so I don't worry too much about over penetration - my guest house is next door, however, should I have a break-in, it will come from a direction opposite of my guest house. If you live in a big city or have neighbors next door, you might want to consider using bird shot, or a #4 shot for self-defense - in the confines of your house, this will get the job done - as most shootings take place at very close distances - yes, 00 buck is better, but you have to balance all things, and take into account where you live and the danger of over penetration. Just something to think about - now you see why I can't give anyone a pat answer, as to what is the "best" gun or ammo for home defense?
I recently received the Alpha Tech Shotgun Flashlight Mount, for testing for an article, and I thought it would make a perfect product to add to my Stevens Model 350 shotgun. Without going into the details, on how easy it is to install this flashlight shotgun mount on your shotgun, you can find complete information on their web site. Now, I've tried some other flashlight mounts on my shotguns, and while they worked, they weren't to my satisfaction - not durable enough, and many simply clamp onto the barrel. The Alpha Tech Shotgun Mount is a bit different, in that, it attaches to the magazine tube - again, I'm not going into details - you can find complete info on their web site, but it only takes a couple minutes to install this mount. And, it is made out of steel, and black in color, with a sling adaptor on it, too. There is a "ring" for installing your flashlight, and you need a tactical flashlight that has a barrel of 1-inch - and that is easy to find. It only takes a few minutes to get this whole thing up and running.
Now, this particular Alpha flashlight mount wasn't designed for the Stevens 350, because of the set-up in relationship to the barrel/magazine/disassembly tube set-up, I was able to tinker with it, and make it fit on the 350, with a shim. While not the perfect set-up, it works. I could have put the mount on my Maverick shotgun - and it fits - however, I wanted it on my 350. Alpha Tech is in the process of developing mounts for other shotguns. Contact them for details to see if they have a mount that will fit your shotgun.
If you are planning on using a shotgun for home defense, I highly recommend you  have some type of flashlight mounted on it for several reasons. Firs of all, it helps you ID an intruder, secondly it can blind the intruder, and it helps you get on target in the dark - since you can't see your front sight in the dark. Right now, the Alpha Tech Shotgun Flashlight Mount is made to fit many shotguns, including the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 and many others. They are in the process of making one that will fit on the Winchester line-up of shotguns, too - check with them to see if they have a mount for your particular shotgun.
I found the Alpha Tech mount to be well-built, and very solid. I fired several boxes of ammo through my Stevens Model 350, and the mount showed no signs of coming loose. Full retail for the mount is $48.50 and a worthy accessory to complement your shotgun for home defense. It's also a great mount for law enforcement officers to have on their shotgun they have in their patrol cars.
So, with the Stevens Model 350 and the Alpha Tech mount, and a good tactical (bright) flashlight, I'm pretty confident that should I have to use my shotgun at night, I can ID my attacker(s) and I have a shotgun that is totally reliable. The Stevens Model 350 is hard to pin down as far as price goes - so many sporting goods shops and gun shops discount Stevens shotguns, it's hard to come up with a price. I believe you can find a brand-new one for around $300 give or take a few bucks, and it's a great deal, on a shotgun that will give you a lifetime without problems. And, just because this shotgun is made in China doesn't take anything away from the quality - you can get as good as you want from China. I don't especially enjoy contributing to the Red Chinese government, however in this case, I'll make an exception. So, if you're in the market for a good affordable pump-action 12-gauge shotgun for home defense, take a close look at the Stevens Model 350 for your next purchase. If all you can afford is one gun - then a good shotgun for home defense is hard to beat! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Mr. Rawles,
I wanted to share my experience regarding this situation. When the great scare began in December, I knew that as a prepared individual I did not need to panic buy and so I decided to perform an experiment.

The goal: To acquire an AR-15 for the lowest possible cost during a time with the highest possible demand.

Total cost for my AR-15: $654 (For perspective, the bulk of the component parts that I purchased was when complete rifles were easily selling for $2,000+)

How I did it:

When the scare began in earnest, I knew that the odds of getting the Rock River Arms tactical operator 2 that I had been eyeing went out the window, so I decided the easiest method of acquiring would be to buy the key components (the ones most likely to be banned) and then lay low for everything else.

Purchased during the scare:

Lower: Milled lowers were in short supply and those that were available were testing the $400 range, this was not an acceptable price. Based on many positive reviews online, I knew that Palmetto State Armory carried lowers produced by ATI that were polymer (and would not be on the top of anyone's purchasing list). Cost $49 + $20 FFL transfer fee

Upper: Clearly, any of the high dollar uppers that one would normally buy were in the realm of crazy prices at this time. Again, Youtube and Google came in handy. A small operation known as Blackthorrne sells AR uppers at very reasonable prices online and I was able to acquire an M4 style 16" upper (assembled) for $300 shipped.

Stock: As "Evil Adjustable Stocks" were going to be squarely in the crosshairs, I went on to a local firearms forum and offered to trade a 500rd bulk pack of .22LR (at this point more endangered than African Elephants) in exchange for a stock, tube, buffer and spring (Mil Spec not commercial as that is what the lower had marked on the box). Estimated value: $27 (including shipping)

Lower parts kit: Needed to complete the lower. And it included the "evil" and potentially banned, pistol grip. RGuns in Carpentersville, Illinois provided it for $80 (Including Shipping + Sales Tax -- I am in the People's Republic of Illinois.)

Total expenditure during the Crisis: $466

Purchased after the scare subsided (Items that had the feinstein ban passed (With no changes), we still would have the ability to purchase):

Bolt carrier group: Cosmetically blemished, but otherwise fine Auto profile BCG from Palmetto State Armory: $99

Charging Handle: $19

Professional Assembly by a gunsmith: $70 (Headspace checked, test fired, etc..)

Expenditure after the crisis: $188

What have we learned during this crisis:
Some of the good that has come out of this crisis are actually very interesting web sites. allows you to search for "In stock" ammo sorted by price per round. ARPartsFinder allows you to find "In stock" AR components, again at the lowest possible prices. Additionally, and I think this is the most important thing, if you can afford to stock up more than you see yourself needing, do it. If nothing, when the next scare comes, you will be positioned that you can turn a handsome profit. Last summer I had purchased Tapco AK mags for $6/each, not out of any need but rather just to have them... I sold 10 of those magazines in January at a staggering $15/each, this may not sound like much but in six months I had a 150% return on my investment... when was the last time you had an annual return of 300% on your 401(k) or IRA? - K.A.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

First let's start by saying that the proverbial "do all" knife has never been made. Men have worked long and hard only to realize that for every action is an equal and opposite reaction.
You want a knife for chopping down trees? The blade must be very tough. This means though that the blade is not as hard and will not hold an edge very long.

You want a knife that will skin a 300 pound animal without need to be sharpened? Then the blade will be very hard and thus somewhat brittle. Consequently more difficult to sharpen when it does need it.
A fighting knife is not an outdoor survival knife! Don't buy a dagger and expect it to perform as a survival knife.
When selecting a knife, consider this for a moment. Just because the price of the knife is ridiculous does not mean that its better. The heart of the system is the materials used and the construction methods. For example, A blade that is ground will not be as hard or durable as a hammer forged knife. The difference is that a ground knife is taken from 'flat stock' steel (essentially a flat steel bar) and they then grind on it until the desired shape is met. A forged knife is heated to almost melting point, then pounded and slammed until a rough shape is met. Some grinding is required, however the molecular structure of the steel is "compressed" if you will. To understand this better, take a handful of wet dirt. Shape into something just rubbing it. Do the same with another handful but this time mold the wet dirt into shape. Now tell me which one is better. Finding a forged knife can be expensive and time consuming. I would recommend doing this yourself as I did.
Let's discuss the steels used in blade craft. Stay away from anything marked '440' or '440 stainless.' Let me explain. 440 stainless steel has three grades. Yup! You guessed it, A, B, and C. At the top of this list is 440A while 440C is at the bottom. Any quality Stainless 440 knife will have one of the letter designations. If not, than the knife just looks cool and that's about all it will ever do. If you do find a stainless steel knife that you cant live without, make sure it comes from a reputable name brand. Gerber has some very nice knifes as does Schrade, K-Bar, SOG. But this brings us to the endless debate. Stainless or Carbon Steel?
The debate over carbon steel versus stainless steel will rage forever. So get some information out so you can make an informed purchase. Carbon steel is generally tougher and it will hold a better edge, longer. It also tends to be heavier and depending on the treating process, more brittle. It will also rust and if not cared for, pits form or if neglected long enough, the carbon content will compromised. Resulting in an utterly worthless blade. The most common Carbon steel blends (for knives) in America are 1095, 1085, 1080, 1050, and 1045. These numbers have meaning. The first two numbers are something that escapes me right now but they are less important than the last two digits. The 95 means that  0.95% of the steel carbon. This means that the steel is very hard and also toward the brittle side but will hold a very sharp edge for a long time. 1080 is a little less hard and also less brittle. Its still a good steel and will hold its edge. 1045 is softer still and significantly tougher than 1095. It does not hold its edge very well but will stand some angry abuse. There quite a bit more to this than just carbon content, but this will get you started in selecting your high carbon steel knife. Keep your carbon blade oiled!
Stainless steels are by their very nature 'elastic'. Meaning they will stretch and bend and thus make an ideal steel for bridges. As far as knives go. There are several types and blends of stainless steel on the market today and some of them are very good. We have already covered the 440 range of knives briefly. So, Stainless steel is made by adding magnesium, chromium, copper, and several other types of metals to create a rust resistant steel. Stainless knives tend to be pretty hard and are also hard to sharpen. But remember, stainless is hard but its 'elastic' so it will take the extra chop on the tree. There is also the "high carbon" Stainless knives out now. the best way to explain this is this. Stainless is stainless because the carbon has been reduced and replaced by other hard metals. Because carbon takes a better edge and holds it longer they have developed high carbon stainless. Imagine looking at a closet full of basket balls. Do you see the gaps between balls? That would be the "old" stainless from the 1970s and 1980s. Today that same closet would look like golf balls. The point is that the steels have gotten so good that even the bad stainless will cut. It really comes down to how often you are willing to sharpen your knife. Stainless blades also tend to be hard on your stone. The blends and numbers of stainless steels are vast. So many in fact that we're going to concentrate on the most common. Gerber knives use a blend called 9CRV19MOV which is a very good steel. Basically what this means is that it has a lot of Chrome Vanadium in it. This is a high carbon stainless steel blade that will take a razor edge and hold it for a reasonable length of time of good usage.
If the materials are the heart of the system then the handle would be the right arm. A full tang, one solid piece with a sharp end and [extending the full length of the] handle attached at the other end is the best way, period. The Bear Gryllis knife is a three quarter tang and it seems to work well. I haven't broken it so it must work well.
In my kit I carry one 1095 carbon steel knife and one stainless steel knife. The combination works for most situations I will encounter. Not everyone has the extra cash to spend $1,700 on a hand forged Damascus, hand heat treated, and hand tempered knife. So I will throw a suggestion of what I carry. Aside from the 12 inch fighting knife I got in Pakistan, I carry in my kit a Mora Bushcraft knife. Its 1095 high carbon steel and is probably the best knife that I have. It takes a crazy sharp edge and will hold for a long time. I have shaved my face with this knife. I also carry around a Bear Gryllis ultimate survival knife. It has a 7CRV17MOV stainless steel blade and this will also take crazy sharp edge. I have shaved with this one too. The point here is there is no better knife, carbon or stainless. I prefer carbon steel but find that I use my stainless knife more often. I dread sharpening time though. The Mora knife was about $35. you can get the smaller version that I call the kitchen knife for about $10-15. The Bear Gryllis cost me a whopping $50 and has served me very well in the bush.
Keep your knives sharp. A dull knife is a dangerous knife. Choose well and I hope I cold shed some light on what some call a difficult choice. God bless and long live the Republic!
- M.C. in Arizona 

JWR Replies: To clarify, I agree that 440A is a very good steel for knives and it has several advantages over 440C. For example, it has much higher edge stability (edge holding), and it is more resistant to corrosion. But in "real world" practice, a lot of 440A steel is used to make very inexpensive imported (read: Mainland China) knives that receive pitiful heat treatment, so their performance in actual use is quite poor. Granted, 440C has considerably much more carbon than 440A (1.0%, versus 0.6%, as I recall), so it can take a sharper edge. The tradeoff is lower rust resistance. In looking at the progression of 440A through 440C the edge properties go up, whilst simultaneously the rust resistance properties go down. These issues have been discussed at length over at Some custom knives that cost $500+ are made with 440C. So it is overly simplistic to just say that 440A is "better." It all depends on what is done with the raw material. If the maker is cranking out lots of junk knives with lousy heat treatment, then the original grade of stainless steel is not the key factor.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

I live on a small ranch in Northern Alberta, Canada. I'm approximately a half hour drive to the nearest small town, and the winters here can be tremendous. I've always taken a slightly different approach to preps than most of my American counter parts, because most energy, food, shelter, water and defense advice floating around the Internet is not cold weather viable. In this short paper I will attempt to relay to you, the reader, the importance of being ready for winter in all aspects of survival. This is a short collection of some thoughts and experiences I've had living through Northern Canada winters.

1) Heat is what you need in the winter. 'Of course!' you say. It's hard to emphasis the priority having heat takes when it is -40 (Celsius or Fahrenheit it doesn't matter). Food, shelter, water, medicine, and defense all rely on having enough heat. You can't clean with, or drink, water that is frozen. Even eating snow is not recommended because of the energy your body must use to heat the frozen water. You can't eat meat that is frozen solid. You can't live in uninsulated flimsy structures not designed to handle the weight of snow, or the extreme life-sucking cold. You can't stay in a LP/OP for very long without heat. It is harder to fight with a rifle when you cannot feel your hands or they ache intensely from being frozen. Everything takes a back seat to keeping you and your families body temperature at the correct level. You will find that all aspects of surviving a winter are ultimately steps towards providing enough heat to live. I think most preppers agree a good wood stove and a way to efficiently obtain dry fire wood in the winter is a must. A Ski Doo (snowmobile), a sled for hauling, a good chainsaw, extra chains, oils, parts, fuels, tools etc are all requisites as well as the ability to differentiate dead standing wood (the dry stuff) with live trees that are simply dormant for the winter (not dry stuff) and transport it back home. Have multiple methods of heating the indoors.

2) Food is akin to warmth. Your body will automatically try to keep warm if it detects colder temperatures, burning extra calories. You will find that in order to maintain a healthy mind and body, you will need to start a supplement regime through the coldest winter months, when there is little to no fresh vegetables or fruits, and mainly a diet of preserves and game. Canned goods that become frozen may go bad, or the container may rupture. Unless you have an extensive organic garden that provides a winter's worth of preserves each summer, you will most likely end up eating some GMO canned products. Hunting changes with the coming of snow. Deep snow can become a serious problem for most hunters as mobility in four to five feet of snow without snow shoes or a skidoo is minimal and exhausting. For game you will mostly find mammals such as coyotes, deer, elk, etc. All can be taxing to move or prepare in deep snow. Ice fishing requires an ice auger, and multiple lines in multiple holes to really be successful.

3) Water is relatively easy to find. See that white stuff? Yup. Water. It needs heat. For every shovel full of snow you melt, you will get approximately 1/3 that volume in water. Start shoveling! If you have a good well, the water will remain liquid until it is exposed at ground level. If you heat water then put it outside it will freeze even faster, so don't do your animals a favour. All lakes, ponds, and rivers will freeze over and become hidden under snow, so you need a water source.

4) Shelter is a means of efficient heat. It contains the heat from your stove for a longer time. It keeps the wind off you, which can make the cold multitudes worse. It is a place to prepare food, practice good hygiene, and spend time with friends and family, safe from the hostile environment outside. Temporary shelters such as igloos can work if one is skilled enough and snow conditions allow snow to be packed together. This is not always possible in extreme cold. An alternative is using layered pine tree branches in a sturdy lean-to design, with a fire in front projecting heat. Note that you must dig down through the frozen snow before starting a fire for obvious reasons. Be creative. Keep the wind off your skin. Contain the heat safely. Find a way to dry your clothes and skin off while in shelter. Your shelter needs to handle huge amounts of snow weight, and will still need to be cleared. If you own a house you must shovel your roofs off if too much snow builds up on it, or it may collapse or deform, and leak.

5) While I have never been in a gun fight in the middle of winter, there are some common sense things that everyone needs to take into consideration. Cold hands are the least of your worries! We are all taught to 'get off the X', but this becomes problematic in a situation where you may have to run through a foot or more of snow. Its slippery, heavy, and you don't know what you're stepping on under that snow. If it gets a little deeper you simply cannot run, much less retain a sight picture of your firearm. Sinking into a snow bank up to your waist while someone is trying to kill you is probably not a good thing. Going prone may save you, but its a gamble if you'll land softly on the snow and ready to fight, or end up swimming in the snow looking for your buried firearms (which may or may not function after being packed with snow). You will be wet and cold when you stand up again.  The first nations had a proper solution to this. Snow shoes are life savers. I recommend rifle drills where you practice positional shooting with snow shoes as well as getting off the X. Go on winter hikes through a forest area with the shoes on. Skis become problematic due to the length especially if you are in a thick tangle of branches. Cold weather will affect the ballistics of your rifles tremendously. Canadian Rangers still use the Lee-Enfield which is a .30 caliber bolt action rifle, because the AR-15 platform simply does not perform in the super cold climate. It tends to have problems with its gas impingement system and the arctic climate and dense air causes the small .223 round to lose stability much much quicker. Also a bolt action with iron sights is much more likely to function even after being jammed full of ice and snow and moisture. M1As, AKs and VZ58s will all work very well in the extreme cold, provided that you keep your actions clear [and de-lubricated].  Winter is a completely different beast. Everyone can see your footprints in the snow, and tell how long ago you were there. You need a whole new set of winter camo's and gear such as no-fog goggles and proper gloves, boots, and balaclavas.  What will you do if someone blocks the road off in front of you? Your vehicle cant go through the snow in the ditches. If your vehicle is disabled you are put into an immediate heat-shelter survival situation on the side of the road, and you could be wounded as well.  If someone comes into your house in the middle of the night, and you decide to run... will you make it till morning at -40 degrees? A huge truck full of cut firewood would be a target in a winter TEOTWAWKI situation. Snow banks need at least a few feet of width to stop most rifle rounds. The snow will reflect moon light making night time bright as day (almost!) and if you put snow in your mouth it will stop people from seeing your breath. Batteries for night vision devices and red dot sights will die quicker. If you bury a weapon cache in the ground during summer months, that same ground will be hard as a rock and full of ice during the winter. That is... after you find it and shovel all the snow off it first! When the spring comes and all that snow melts guess where that water will go? Yup. Right down into the hole you dug for your end-of-the-world rifle.

Study the Eastern Front of the Second World War and the hardships many soldiers went through during those winters.

Think outside the box. Last winter I stayed in a trappers tent with a wood stove. To handle the weight of the snow on the tent, I drove fence posts in beside the tent and tied all of the supports to the fencing post, and after that I threw a double layer tarp over the entire tent. The result was an outer layer of tarp with a approximately a foot of space between it and the inner tent. This space acted as an insulator for inside. The outer tarp, which was always frozen, would dehumidify the air by building up frost on the inside. I stayed comfortable and warm in a 12' x 20' tent during a deep Canadian North winter. It was dry, so I was able to safely use my laptop and some lights inside. I would not recommend storing electronics in a winter tent such as this because it will collect frost, and when that frost melts and electricity is applied... you may has well have thrown it in a lake. I had to run my stove constantly. Cutting firewood and hauling it on a shoveled drive way with my quad was a huge calorie burn. That's on a day when my quad would start easy. I will be purchasing a good working skidoo this fall, as well as storing several containers of stabilized gasoline.

Monday, July 22, 2013

No mistake about it! The .45ACP is still one of America's favorite cartridges, and there are many different handgun platforms that shoot this popular round, and for good reason, it is a proven man stopper. I recently reviewed the Ruger SR1911C hand, and I love the 1911 platform, however, it is not the only one that catches my attention these days. One problem I run across with .45 ACP handguns that carry a lot of rounds is that, they are too fat for my hand and trigger reach is a bit of a stretch for me - which means I can't properly grip the pistol the way I want to.
Several years ago, Sturm, Ruger and Co., Inc. came out with their first striker-fired handguns, the SR9 and it was an immediate hit. Only problem was, there were a few glitches with the first ones. Ruger was very fast in issuing a recall, and made some upgrades to the SR9 and there have been no other problems. I had one of the first SR9 samples and I sent mine in and it was returned in less than two weeks. Ruger is to be applauded for doing the right thing - and doing it fast! However, the SR was "only" a 9mm and people wanted more - so Ruger came out with the SR40 - another great step, because it was in .40S&W caliber. But handgunners still were satisfied - they wanted an SR in .45 ACP and Ruger listened! I received the SR45 several months ago for testing and it is an outstanding pistol in all respects.
Let's get the boring stuff out of the way, the SR45 is a full-sized service pistol, not a small concealed carry piece, although I've carried my sample undetected under light clothing - amazing what the right holster and cover garment can do. My SR45 sample has the stainless steel slide - and another model has a blackened alloy slide. I prefer the stainless slide because of the wet climate I live in, in Western Oregon. The frame is manufactured out of black, high performance, glass-filled Nylon, and is finely checkered for a good grip. The barrel is 4.50-inches long. Height is 5.75-inches and the gun weighs-in at slightly over 30-ounces empty with a 10 round magazine - and you get two with each gun. However, my sample was shipped with only one mag, and I contacted the Ruger Customer Service Department and a second mag was shipped right out to me. (Ruger has some of the best customer service staff around.) The overall length of the SR45 is 8-inches, and width is 1.27-inches. I compared the SR45 to a full-sized 1911 and a Commander-sized 1911 and it is closer in size to the Commander-sized 1911s. Three dot adjustable front/rear sights adorn the slide and they are fast to pick-up and pretty much snag-free, too. Sights were dead on for my shooting and needed no adjustments. There is also a Picatinny rail under the dust cover, for attaching lights or lasers to the SR45.
The SR45 has a massive extractor, and there is a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide, so you can tell if there is a round in the chamber. An ambidextrous safety lever is there, and the trigger has a little safety lever in the face. The magazine release is also ambidextrous as well - nice touch. Additionally, the checkered rubber backstrap can be reversed from the arched to the flat side - I changed mine to the flat side and it only takes a minute to do, simply push out the retaining pin, slide the backstrap off and reverse it and slide it back on and replace the retaining pin. The front sides of the grip frame are also dishes out, making it easier to get a proper grip on the SR45 - again, super-nice touch, Ruger!
I was fortunate in that, during this great ammo drought, I still had a good selection of various .45ACP loads on-hand, from Buffalo Bore Ammunition and Black Hills Ammunition for testing in the SR45. Still, I was a bit conservative with my ammo supply, as getting resupplied these days is tough - even for gun writers - ammo companies are making ammo as fast as they can, but they still can't keep up with supply and demand. In many of my gun articles, I fire at least 500 rounds, and in some tests, I've fired more than a thousand rounds, however, for the time being, those days are over, until I can get a steady ammo supply coming in to replace the ammo I shoot-up in my articles. Still, I had a great selection of ammo on-hand for testing over several months and I fired-up more than 300 rounds in my testing - I wanted to give this SR45 a good work out.
From Black Hills, I had their outstanding, and almost match-grade 230-grain FMJ load, and this one has always been a fine performer for me. I also had their steel-cased 230-grain FMJ load. In the 185-grain bullet weight, I had their JHP brass-cased and steel-cased ammo. And, my favorite Black Hills .45 ACP load is their 185-grain Barnes all-copper hollow point, TAC-XP +P load. From Buffalo Bore, I had a wide assortment of .45ACP to run through the SR45. I had their brand-new 160-grain Barnes all-copper hollow point, TAC-XP low recoil, standard pressure load, their 185-grain FMJ FN low-recoil, standard pressure load. The 185-grain Barnes all-copper TAC-XP +P load - I like this one - a lot! A 200-grain JHP +P load, and this is fast becoming my favorite .45 ACP loading from Buffalo Bore. Their 230-grain FMJ FN +P load and their outstanding 255-grain Hard Cast +P load. So, as you can see, I had a wide assortment of .45 ACP ammo to test in my sample SR45.
First thing I noticed with the SR45 is how crisp the trigger pull was, and how short the pull was. And unlike the very first SR9 samples, there was no grittiness at all in the trigger pull - great job, Ruger! Accuracy - everyone wants to know about accuracy! First of all, I look at "combat" accuracy - this means, will a handgun, at least a full-sized service-style handgun, hold 5-rounds inside of 4-inches at 25-yards. The SR45 easily did this and better. All my accuracy testing was conducted at 25-yards, over the hood of my SUV with a padded rest. I will say, I was very surprised at how accurate the SR45 was - and it was consistently accurate with all loads. I could easily contain most of my 5 round groups in 3-inches if I did my part, on my various outings over several months. Was there a winner in the accuracy department? Well, sorta! The Black Hills 230-grain FMJ would give me groups just slightly under 3-inches and I mean, ever so slightly under 3-inches and the Buffalo Bore 230-grain FMJ FN +P load did the same for me - as did the 185-grain low recoil, standard pressure load. So, in reality, there wasn't a clear winner in the accuracy department - the SR45 was a pretty consistent shooter in the accuracy department. I did have some bad days on the range, and some of my groups opened-up to more than 4-inches, but it was me, and not the gun and ammo - even gun writers have bad days!
I will admit, I had some misgivings with the new Buffalo Bore 160-grain low recoil, standard pressure TAC-XP all-copper hollow point Barnes load. It is, very low recoiling, and I didn't think this load would give the slide enough "umph" to load the next round from the magazine into the chamber - but it never failed me. And, this is the load I keep in the SR45 as my bedside gun. And, there are no fears that this very light 160-grain bullet will over-penetrate, but it will still get the job down - even at velocities below 800 FPS - I was impressed with this load, and I also carry it in my Kahr CW45 and it is a pussycat to shoot...low recoil means low recoil with this round.
At the opposite end of my ammo was the Buffalo Bore 230-grain FMJ FN +P and their 255-grain Hard Cast +P loads, and both of those loads get your attention - no doubt about it. These are the loads you want if you are out hiking in the boonies - they can easily penetrate the skull of a black bear, and make other large dangerous game wish they had picked an easier meal.
Now for street carry with the SR45, I loaded it with the Black Hills 185-grain TAC-XP all copper Barnes hollow point +P load. I just like this load and like it a lot and have confidence in it - I've tested it extensively in water-filled milk jugs, and into wet newspaper and it reliably expands and stays together - I've tested this load more than any other Black Hills .45ACP loads. I'm sorry to say, at this writing, Black Hills is out of this loading, but I'm on the waiting list. I have half a box of this ammo left, and it won't be used for any more handgun articles - it is being saved for my carry guns in .45ACP. I also like the Black Hills steel-cased loads, the steel cases come from Russia, but this is not dirty-shooting Russian ammo - it is made in the Black Hills factory. The reason Black Hills went to the steel-cased loads was because they couldn't get enough once-fired .45 ACP brass - so they went with steel-cased loads to save the consumer some money, and there is nothing wrong with these loads. I'd carry the JHP load without hesitation.
So, how did the SR45 stack-up in my testing? There were no malfunctions of any sort to speak of. The only problem I encountered was one of the magazines wouldn't consistently lock-open after the last round was fired, and it happened with a variety of loads, not just one particular load. The other magazine had no problems, and I suspect the problem magazine will work better after it gets broke-in - I've had this problem with other handgun magazines - sometimes they just need to get broken-in a bit. So, when I carry the SR45, that magazine is my spare. The SR45 was a pleasure to shoot, and the recoil wasn't nearly as bad as you think it would be for a polymer-type framed handgun. The low bore to axis lets the gun sit low in your hand, and that helps tame the recoil.
As an aside, there is one thing worth note, and that is, the SR45 just grows on your. I can't put my finger on any single thing about the SR45, but there is just "something" about the SR45 that makes you want to shoot, and shoot, and shoot it!!! The darn gun just kept calling out to me. Even when I was testing guns for other articles, I'd toss the SR45 in my bag and shoot a magazine or two through it - and I still do it. I think Ruger was smart to only go with a 10 round magazine, too. It gives you more rounds than a standard 1911 does, and it gives you a full grip you can get on the gun - it doesn't feel like a larger capacity .45ACP handgun for some reason. Ruger did the SR45 up right if you ask me. The gun just keeps on perking along, and it keeps on calling out to me, to be shot more and more. There's nothing not to like about the SR45, and full-retail is only $529.
Now for the "bad" news! As many SurvivalBlog readers may know, Ruger is backlogged about two million guns these days. (We have the crowd in DC to thank for this latest run on guns and ammo.) If you can find an SR45 in your local gun shop, don't put it down, start the paperwork and take it home. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Mr. Rawles,
Could you recommend a style of survival knife? I've read several recommendations by various people -- everything from a K-Bar to a parang. My wife and I are newcomers to the survival game, but as a hunter and outdoorsman I tend to favor a good, short, fixed-blade (drop point) Buck knife, augmented by a decent folding saw. Are these good choices, or should we really look for a versatile (if not "do-it-all"), long-bladed knife with a partially serrated edge? I'm a bit skeptical of hacking / sawing through things such as tree limbs with a knife, and equally skeptical of a tool which does all things "sort-of," instead of one thing well.

Forgive me if I just haven't searched through your archived material enough to find the answer. We read your book (Surviving the End of the World as We Know It), by the way, and consider it one of the best we've encountered -- factual, informational, accessible. Thanks in advance for your kindness. - Michael L.

JWR Replies: Your daily carry knife is one of your most important survival tools.  Not only is it available for daily utility tasks, but it can be useful for hunting, outdoor survival, or self defense when you are in gun-deprived jurisdictions.

Sheath knifes are stronger than folders, but they have a few drawbacks:
1.)   They are more bulky, and therefore tend to get left at home, when you need them most.
2.)   They are more conspicuous.
3.)   They are restricted in some locales.  (In many cities and states, a blade that is perfectly legal in a pocketknife is a misdemeanor to carry in a fixed blade equivalent.  Yes, this flies in the face of logic. But the law is the law, and we can’t do much about it.) 

One other option is what is commonly called a neck knife—a small fixed blade sheath knife that is designed to be carried on a cord around your neck, concealed beneath your shirt. Typically, the cord is attached to the tip end of the sheath, so that the knife hangs with the handle pointing downward. These are normally drawn by reaching under your shirt and tugging the knife down and free from the sheath. Many folks find these uncomfortable, but others love them. (If you tend to wear loose-fitting shirts that are not tucked in, then this might be a good choice for you. Your mileage may vary.)  One neck knife model that is currently popular is he Crawford Triumph N.E.C.K., made by CRKT. This knife was designed by Pat and Wes Crawford. It is a compact recurve tanto. 
Note: Be advised that state and local laws vary widely, so a neck knife might be considered a concealed weapon in some jurisdictions.

Aside for some specialty filleting or skinning knives, I generally prefer half-serrated tanto style blades. I've found those to be the most versatile for everyday carry. But of course choose what suits you and your particular needs.
There is a dizzying array of folding knives available. Again, I generally prefer half-serrated tanto style blades, but choose what suits you. FWIW, I often carry a Cold Steel Voyager XL Tanto model. (Mine are mostly half-serrated ("Combo Edge") tantos, and in the Extra Large (XL) size.) A smaller version (the "Large") might suit some folks better. Regardless, you should first check your state and local knife laws for blade length restrictions.
My general advice is to carry the longest blade knife that you can and will carry every day, without fail. This is the Everyday Carry (EDC) approach. The knife that gets left at home because it is too bulky or heavy is almost worthless.

Without too much more weight and bulk, you can also carry a small combination tool (such as a mini Leatherman or a small Swiss Army knife), and/or a small flashlight in a belt pouch. But I recommend the big folding pocketknife be carried in a front trouser pocket using a belt clip, for very quick access. And pocket carry using a belt clip also leaves the knife partly exposed, an hence will shield you from a "concealed weapons" charge, in some jurisdictions.

Yes, you can buy a great big Ramboesque "survival" knife, but will you have it with you when you really need it? In my estimation the EDC knife and small tools concept is much more workable.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Dear CPT Rawles,
My wife and I, along with our three teenage son', are now eyeball deep in prepping, and have reached that stage where we pretty much have most of everybody's personal gear needs met, with the exception of a few small items here and there.  We opted to take care of that first, as we are stuck temporarily east of the mississippi, in the southeastern US.  Our intent when we began our prepping journey a couple years ago, was first & foremost to be able to make a hasty exit from this area if the SHTF.  Thus, our decision to gear up first, was to provide what we needed for our escape from here, and our trek to the redoubt, to my folks ranch in Wyoming, by whatever means necessary. That done, last year we took your advice on relocation to the American Redoubt, and purchased a small, undeveloped ranch property in northernmost Idaho, and I do mean very northernmost.  We are now only 320 days and a wake up from moving day.  While continuing to work on other details such as retreat construction, security, etc.  We've now come to the arena of agricultural issues.  We need some help because frankly, we must not be looking in the right areas for the information we are seeking, because we keep coming up basically empty.  We could only afford 11 acres (although it is paid off), about four of which is what I guess you might call bottom land, and I would think could be used as pasture if so desired, and has a small creek running through it.  The rest is up above it, and is basically flat and timbered, except for a cleared homesite, in what I would consider to be a small meadow, looking out over the bottom land.  It backs up to BLM land. Our property is vaguely in the Bonners Ferry region.  

Now, with that as the background, here is our issue.  Our goal is to reach a reasonable level of self reliance from the standpoint of renewable food resources, i.e. gardening and livestock.  We want to grow our own produce, as well as raise our own livestock.  There are so many different opinions floating around out there about nutritional needs, and how to meet them, that it's absolutely overwhelming, and now the only thing floating around here, are my eyeballs!   We've followed your blog for these past two years, and even written you in the past, because you are always so thought out and researched in the basis for your opinions, and the readership at Survival Blog has such a wide diversity of expertise.  Thus we thought we would seek out the advice and experience of yourself and our fellow blog readers, should this get printed.

Question #1:  All members of my family are adults, physically speaking as the youngest is 15, and the oldest is, well, in the interest of domestic tranquility we better not go there, but I can safely say not yet anywhere near retirement age.  What are our actual nutritional needs.  We are all healthy and have no significant physical problems to speak of.

Question #2:  Regarding garden produce, and it is my understanding that you and your family grow produce for your own consumption, do you have any recommendations on produce that will grow well in my area of northern Idaho, and help meet those needs?  Is irrigation required?  What is the growing season like there, and is a greenhouse necessary?  How in the world do you decide how much you need to plant for a family of a given size?  Is there a problem with deer and other garden pests, if deer are a problem how high of a fence is required to keep them out We are debating if a 6' fence would keep them out?

Question #3:  Regarding livestock for consumption, my wife is familiar with cattle, more so than I am, although we are both thinking that it may be easier, more prudent, and safer to raise smaller livestock such as dairy and meat goats, pasture pigs perhaps, ducks, and perhaps even rabbits.  Things that are smaller and more easily handled, not only in interacting with, but also from the standpoint of meat processing.  Any recommendations or suggestions we should research?  How do you go about determining how much pasture is needed for this various livestock?  What about livestock predation by cats, wolves, or bears, does this pose much of an issue up there.  
We read news articles about the wolves killing the hunting dogs of the mountain lion hunters, and wonder if there are any problems they pose with livestock or people even who are out hiking, camping, hunting etc?  We were thinking of bringing two Great Pyrenees as guard dogs if that is that a common practice up there.

Thanks in advance for any input yourself, or any of the readers may be able to give us, either from personal experience. or to simply help us better focus our efforts. 

Thanks for the great service you do us all with this blog!
Highest regards, - D. & M.

JWR Replies: Self-sufficiency on just 11 acres is doable, if you have a southern or western exposure and you clear most of it for gardening and hay cutting. There is no need to maintain a wood lot on your own property, considering the abundance of timber in North Idaho. No matter where you are, there is copious wood available or firewood and fence posts available with an inexpensive annual family wood cutting permit from the US Forest service. They have a 7-foot 11-inch length limit, for haul outs, to keep people from commercially cutting trees to mill into lumber. Cedar trees are common in north Idaho, and with those you will have fence posts covered. (Seven feet is the ideal length, for fence posts.) And Western Larch (commonly called Tamarack) as well as Red Fir are both also quite common, and make fantastic firewood.

According to our family's primary gardener (my wife, "Avalanche Lily"), the vegetables that do best in north Idaho are: Celery, potatoes, cucumbers, zucchini squash, short-season variety pumpkins, onions, turnips, strawberries, raspberries, black raspberries, and most herbs. Most cold-weather tolerant varieties of vegetables and fruit trees do quite well.

Getting a good crop of melons and tomatoes and some squash can be a challenge in many years, because of the short growing season. So Lily recommends short growing season varieties such Siberian tomatoes and Blacktail watermelons. It is best to get an early start with your seedlings, through use of a window box, cold frames, or better yet a proper greenhouse if you afford to buy or build one.

As for fencing, a six-foot tall fence is just marginal to keep out deer, even on level ground. In the Inland Northwest, a eight-foot tall fence is ideal. But be advised that if an elk, moose, or bear really wants in to your garden, be prepared to re-build your fence.

You also asked about livestock predation by "...cats, wolves, or bears." Your list is incomplete! Here in the Inland Northwest, you need to beware of: coyotes, wolves, bobcat, lynx, mountain lions (pumas), black bears, grizzly bears, badgers, wolverines, skunks, raccoons, golden eagles, bald eagles, several types of hawks, several types of owls, and numerous types of small furbearers such as marten and stoats/ermine. If you have a fish pond, otters and and osprey can also be a menace.

Penning up your chickens at night is a must! And depending on the meanderings of the local wolves and mountain lions, it may be necessary to pen up your sheep and goats in an enclosed barn every night, as well. Attacks on horses and cattle by wolves or bears are less common, but when they do happen, the results are often devastating. Typically, even if an animal survives the attack, it will be beyond recovery and need to be destroyed. Great Pyrenees are an excellent choice for this climate, particularly for guarding sheep or as companion dogs when hiking or huckleberry picking. (Although you will also want to carry Pepper Spray or Lead Spray (.44 or .45 caliber.) It is important that they bond with the sheep and become accustomed to staying out with the flock. (They won't do any good if they are kept inside your house!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

I just want to say that I find it amazing how most people, including well-known commentators, go round and round about guns versus crime. This point has been beaten to death, but the gun control crowd wants it to continue. Please folks, realize that the purpose is to disarm the civilian population and has little or nothing to do with public safety. Government safety is what is at stake and as long as the reality can be deflected away from the disarmament purpose, the discussion about public safety is fine! Why does the word stupid come to mind? - Phil in Fort Lauderdale

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

While discussing the potential for a gun ban in the United States I realized that the pro-gun-ban people genuinely believe that banning guns will save lives. In an attempt to facilitate debate I discovered that getting down to the numbers helps discover where their math is different from the pro-gun position, it is these points we can focus on to help them see the light. I put this sequence of equations on a spreadsheet but you can talk someone through them without one. For each value get the person you are speaking to, to give you their value. I've using example numbers with a typical anti-gun leaning.

A: Population: That's an easy one, about 311,000,000.

B: Number of people killed with guns in America each year, I don't have exact figures for this but it's about 6,500. [JWR Adds: According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, the actual figure was around 11,100 in 2011, and has been in decline since 1993.]

C: The percentage of people who would be saved if guns were banned, lets say 50%. (Clearly it's not 100%, since illegal guns would still be used, while pro-gun people may claim that the number would actually increase, lets not waste our time on this point just now.)

D: The number of additional people who would be killed because criminals would become bolder with less to fear from disarmed victims and would-be-victims who today can defend themselves who would be helpless once disarmed, lets say 200.

So, the total killed with easy access to guns = B (6,500) Total killed without easy access to guns = B*C+D (3,450). Pro-gun people typically get bogged down at this point debating these figures, but they are only one piece of the story and it's a small piece. Agree to disagree and move on, say something like "While I disagree with those figures let's accept them for now and move on." What about government-driven Genocide events against their own people? These occur very infrequently, but when they do the loss of life is often in the millions. The problem is they are very hard to calculate and most anti-gun people put the chances at zero. This is where the pro-gun argument clearly defeats the anti-gun argument it's here we want to spend our time opening the mind of the the anti-gun people. Estimating the probability of a genocidal event initiated by the US government and the resultant loss of life is very hard so let's look at the world average for the 20th Century:

E: Average population of the world during the 20th Century. Obviously this varied but let's say that the populated started about 5,000 Million and ended about 7,000 Million. So the average is about 6,000 Million.

F: Number of people killed by their own governments in genocidal actions during the 20th Century: 170 Million. (You can find evidence to back this number up pretty easily just by a quick web search)

G: Number of people killed by their own governments as a yearly average during the 20th Century = F/100 = 1.7 Million

H: Probability of a person being killed per year by their own governments as a yearly average during the 20th Century = G/E = 1.7M/6000M = 0.000283

I: Average number of Americans killed per year by their own government in genocidal actions = H * A = 88,116 That is roughly 88,000 Americans would die on average each year if the American government were capable of and intent upon taking some form of genocidal action against the American people. Of course it wouldn't be 88,000 each and every year, it's more likely to be 200 times this number once every 200 years or something similar but we're dealing with averages here. Now the anti-gun people will typically walk right into you logical arms by pointing out that America is not a 'typical world country', it's existed longer than 200 years without a Genocidal event. (Let's not get into discussing some of the things Americans did to the aboriginal ("First Nation") people some of which look very like genocide). "A genocidal event is less likely to happen in America", they will cry. Is it? Why is that? Oh yes, it's because the 2nd Amendment allows the population to be armed to discourage any such attempt!

J: The probability that a Genocidal event would be attempted given an armed population: Let's say 25%? It could happen but it's a lot less likely.

K: The percentage loss of life if a Genocidal event were to be tried against an armed population versus an unarmed population, certainly people would still die but it's probably going to be fewer people because the people will be able to defend themselves. Even if it's only by being able to lay down covering fire while they flee. Let's be 'generous' to the anti-gun people and say no fewer than 80%.

So looking at Genocidal events we have Without guns: = I = 88,116 people / year With guns = I * J * K = 88,116 * 0.25 * 0.8 = 17,623 people / year

Totals so far: Losses of life with an Armed population per year: 6,500 + 17,623 = 24,234 Losses of life with an unarmed population per year: 3.450 + 88,116 = 91,566. We can stop here and try and let those numbers sink in. An Anti-gun America doesn't save 3,050 lives a year (6,500 - 3,450). Long term, on average, it would cost 67,443 lives a year (91,566 - 24,123).

Or if you want to hammer things home you can do similar estimations based on loss of life from any external country attempting to invade America. Once again an America with an armed civilian population is less likely to be attacked and the losses will be smaller as the population can defend (or worst case lay down cover for a retreat) versus an unarmed population who are ripe for slaughter.

Also you can point out that the 1.7 Million people killed by genocidal events per year by their governments in the 20th Century is an average across the whole world. If you look at the events behind these figures in detail you see that by far the majority of these were killed after government disarmed the people. Thus logically these killings are less likely to happen to an armed population and more likely to happen to an unarmed population.

We reduced the value above (factor J) for an armed population but we didn't increase it for an unarmed one (I). Without knowing what percentage of the world population were armed versus disarmed across the 20th Century we can't really include this in our calculations but we can be confident that the average of 88,116 deaths per year for a population the size of America is a very conservative figure, it's probably well over 100,000.

Monday, July 15, 2013

I spent more than half my life involved in the martial arts - and not just one style, either. I started out in Judo, and earned my Black Belt in this style. I went on to study several different styles of Karate, as well as Kung Fu. I hold Black Belt rank in five different styles of martial arts, with my highest Black Belt ranking a 6th Degree. Not bragging, not in the least, as I honestly believe that when you get your Black Belt, you are then a very serious student of the martial arts. I have adapted what I learned over 35 years and developed a street style of martial arts, for real-life self-defense, not for winning trophies. Whenever someone came to me, for training, I asked them why they wanted to learn martial arts techniques. If they said they wanted to win trophies, I directed them to another school. At one time, I ran four different schools, and all we taught were self-defense fighting techniques.
My advanced students - Black Belts - were afforded the opportunity to train in knife and gun fighting techniques, as well as unarmed techniques they learned from me. Having been around knives all my life, and tested them and written about them for a lot of years, I think I have a pretty good grasp on what makes a good fighting knife. I've also designed several fighting knives over the years, with my latest design sitting here on my desk - trying to decide which knife company I should send it to, for a possible collaboration, and get it into customer's hands, as an affordable fixed blade fighter - custom handmade versions are available, but I want to get factory made versions out there, at affordable prices.
I received several requests from SurvivalBlog readers to test the new Columbia River Knife & Tool Otanashi noh Ken Model 2906  - and this is a new model for 2013, and I spent two weeks pouring over the new CRKT 2013 catalog and completely missed requesting one of these knives for testing. I contacted Rod Bremer, the owner of CRKT and requested a sample, and Rod always comes through - they were sold out, but they managed to find one in the warehouse for me...this knife is in great demand right now, so be advised.
The 2906 was designed by James Williams, who has designed several knives for CRKT over the past several years. Williams is a military veteran and a current martial arts practitioner/instructor. So, it comes as no surprise that he knows cutlery. His Hissatsu knife designs have become a favorite with military Special Forces around the world. I like his Hissatsu designs and own most or all of them, but the Model 2906 really added something to his already famous design - it's one of those things that is hard to explain, but easy to understand, once you get the knife in your hand. the 2906 is a further design refinement on the Hissatsu line-up from Williams.
Many knives are designed for several tasks, and that's not a bad thing. However, the 2906 is purpose-driven, and it was designed for one thing, and one thing only - to be used as a weapon . The 2906 was designed for SOCOM (Special Operations Command) as a primary or a secondary weapon to augment the handgun in the hands of well-trained professionals. Again, this knife is purpose-driven - it is a weapon, not a hunting knife, or a knife to be used around the kitchen - although it could be. However, it was not designed for these purposes.
The Otanashi noh Ken has an AUS 8 stainless steel blade, one of my favorites because it is affordable and easy to re-sharpen, and it will do all you ask of it. The Rockwell hardness is 58-59 - which is just right. The blade is 4.52-inches long - so this is a blade that can reach out there and touch someone. CRKT describes this blade style as a Clip Point - I guess it could be called that - albeit a very modified Clip Point design. The grind in hollow and the edge is plain. The finish is bead blasted, with a black corrosion resistant finish - very tactical looking. The lock-up is from the CRKT Frame Lock design, a very strong one - where one side of the handle actually locks the blade open ,and the other side of the handle is G10 scales - tough stuff. There is also the LAWKS manually operated locking device, that turns this folder into a virtual fixed  blade knife. The pocket clip allows for very deep carry in the pocket and it is NOT reversible - it is a one position clip. Opened the 2906 is 10.13-inches and the it weighs in a 6.4-ounces. There is a thumb disk on the top of the blade, however I found I can easily flick the blade open with my wrist for faster deployment.
I've often mentioned that, most knife fights are designed around slashing moves - and they are. However, you might be required to do some penetrating moves, and the 2906 thin blade, with a needle point on the blade has exceptional penetrating ability. I used some stacked cardboard and the knife VERY easily stabbed to the handle without much effort on my part - this knife can penetrate. I also had some thin sheet metal, and I used the LAWKS manual lock to further lock the blade open and I was able to easily penetrate the sheet metal without much effort at all. I can see the 2906 penetrating soft body armor, too.
The long curved blade is also designed for slashing moves, and the actual cutting area of the blade is longer than the measured length of the blade because it is curved upwards from the hilt to the point. Again, hard to explain, however if you check out the CRKT web site, you'll see how the long curve is on this blade. I can see this blade easily slicing down to the bone on an arm or leg. If a Special Forces Operator were to use this knife to take out an enemy sentry, I could see if easily slicing through the front of the throat all the way to the back of the neck - not a pretty picture, but I believe this folder can do it with ease. Again, this knife was designed to be purpose-driven, and that is as a weapon - primary or secondary. I wouldn't willingly take a knife to a gun fight, however, I wouldn't feel the least bit under armed against several attackers if I had this knife in my hand. This knife instills a lot of confidence because of the design of the blade.
The Otanashi noh Ken is one of those knives that has to be experienced, to fully understand it. It's one of those knives that is hard to explain in words, but easy to understand, if you are involved in the martial arts, or in a high-risk military MOS, that may require you to use a knife against an enemy combatant. I like knives that are hard to explain, but easy to understand, once you hold it in your hand - it has to be experienced to fully appreciate it.
It's not very often that a knife comes along that is totally purpose-driven. If you are looking for a knife that was specifically designed as a weapon, then take a close look at the CRKT Model 2906 for your next purchase. And, be sure to check out the other James Williams designs, I'm betting you'll find a few more in the Hissatsu line-up that you'll want. Currently - (I'm writing this on May 4, 2013) - this knife is still sold out on the CRKT web site. I told you they are popular. However, I'm hoping that they will have more in-stock when this article comes out in print. The Otanashi noh Ken doesn't come cheap. It retails for $150. However this folder is well worth the asking price. So, take a close look at the 2906, and see if it might be something you want to add to your battery of weapons for self-defense and survival use. I plan on getting a second 2906 when they become available again - that's how much I like this design! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Mr Rawles,
I recently read a letter on your website that concerned and disturbed me.  A reader was asking for advice on what to do when they lost their right to self defense when they were traveling to California and how to bring their firearms to the state when visiting.  The issues I take with the e-mail and hope to help the reader understand are that you never lose your right to self defense, no matter where in the world you travel.  Self defense is an inherent right that can be taken from us by no one.  Secondly, self defense does not begin at the end of a pistol, self defense begins in your mind and the attitude you must have when you are prepared to defend yourself and the things you have chosen to defend. 

I happen to live in California and know full well the multitude of laws related to gun control which also happen to vary by location as well.  However, these laws cannot prevent anyone from defending themselves.  While there are agricultural check points upon arrival into California that you can get caught bringing "illegal" firearms into the state, the chances of these laws effecting anyone while traveling through our massive state are very slim.  I'm not saying that your readers should break the law and take chances but I'm also saying that one of the state's biggest commercial crops is marijuana, which is still illegal to grow commercially.  The chances of one of the laws effecting a short term traveler are very slim.  Any time you must travel to any location, you must be aware of this issue and bringing your firearms while traveling is always a dangerous proposition.  

The question therein lies with how do you defend yourself and while I know this has been addressed before, self defense begins way before anyone pulls a trigger.  Self defense is about alertness and an attitude to be ready for events as they unfold.  Being alert and knowing your surroundings can help people avoid bad situations far more than having a gun in a holster.  While I have the benefit of years of hand to hand combat training, anyone who has not would probably feel much more comfortable traveling through life having undergone the self defense training and mental preparedness to gain confidence that you can successfully negotiate any situation that may arise.  Even if you feel you are incapable of self defense via the hand to hand method, there are many methods of self defense that you can rely on prior to needing a gun.  I have always looked to my tools that I can always easily travel with to provide an additional level of security including chef's knives, small camping axes and other items that can have an easily explainable purpose to customs officials or the local police. 

Thanks for reading, - N. in California

JWR Replies: As I once mentioned in the blog, carrying dual purpose tools is all about context. Be sure to research your state and local laws--including fish and game laws--before carrying any dual use weapons. Some of the Nanny State jurisdictions now have laws on the books that have made their use, and in some cases even mere possession, illegal. The context in which they are seen by authorities is often crucial in justifying the legal possession of weapons or dual use items. A spear gun by itself in the trunk of your car would probably be seen as a "weapon", but one that I stowed in a dive bag, along with a mask, snorkel, fins, diving flag, a current fishing license, and a copy of the current year's fishing regulations would be seen as innocuous. Ditto for a baseball bat, that by itself could be misconstrued as a weapon. But if stowed in a dufflebag bag along with balls, gloves, and a batting helmet would look quite different. A flare gun by itself in the glove box of your car would be viewed as a major no-no in many jurisdictions, but one that is stowed in a box or bag in your car trunk along with an air horn, nautical charts, current tide tables, and a GPS receiver could easily be explained.

And then of course there are road flares, which require no explanation to carry in a vehicle. A lit 15-minute road flare can be quite intimidating.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Captain Rawles,
I have to go to the Socialist Republic of Kalifornia later this week to rescue my sister and her husband (helping them move household goods) and in doing so must surrender my right to be able to defend myself due to their draconian gun laws.  Living in Utah I know that my permit is recognized only as far as the Nevada border, but I can transport and possess my Model 1911 albeit in a separate locked container from the corresponding ammunition.  I was wondering what advice or opinions you could offer as I leave on this little trek.  Any input would be very much appreciated.
Respectfully, - Brad M.

JWR Replies: I can sympathize with you, since I still have a few relatives in California. Parenthetically, my Rawles ancestors came to California via covered wagon in the 1850s. I also have two relatives by marriage who were participants in the Bear Flag Revolt. (Henry Beeson of Boonville and William B. Elliott of Geyserville. The red stripe on the original Bear Flag was some red flannel that had been purchased to make new underwear for William Elliott and a new petticoat for his wife.) If these pioneers were to witness California's current web of draconian laws, they wouldn't just chafe--they'd start another revolt!

Getting back to the 21st Century: Under California's absurd laws, by most common interpretations you can transport a gun into the state only if you have a target shooting session or hunting trip planned. You need to be able to document that planned event--whether or not it ever takes place. (A printout-out of an e-mail exchange between you and yours relatives discussing that shooting session should suffice.) But then, once you are in California you would only be able to have the gun loaded while you are target shooting or hunting, or perhaps while you are inside your sister's house. (I'm not an attorney, so don't quote me on that.) Furthermore, even though it must be unloaded and the ammunition in a separate locked compartment of your vehicle, you would not be able to carry your unloaded pistol on any "in and around" trips while you are in California. That would only be allowable when traveling to or from the shooting range, or of course on your final trip out of the state.

Oh, and FYI, though it is not applicable in your case, if you were to stay in California, the pistol would have to be registered by mail within 60 days.)

I urge all of my readers in California to vote with their feet and move out of that doomed Mickey Mouse state! (I say doomed because the political remedies and recourses have been exhausted. The leftist-statists are too deeply entrenched and they have a solid multigenerational voting bloc. It is time to bail!)

Monday, July 8, 2013

I've put this article off for the longest time, however I've had so many requests from SurvivalBlog readers, to give my honest opinion on the Beretta M92 9mm pistol that I decided to finally sit down and give my two cents worth. I honestly thought everyone was sick and tired of hearing about the M92FS - seeing as how it has been our military handgun for close to 30 years - but apparently, more folks want to hear about this handgun.
First off all, let's get the boring stuff out of the way. The Model 92FS 9mm pistol is a DA/SA (Double Action/Single Action) handgun - the first shot, is fired from the super-smooth double-action, and the following shots are fired from the single-action mode. If there is a break in your firing, you simple use the frame mounted, ambidextrous decocker to safely lower the hammer. (Do not try to hold the hammer with your thumb and pull the trigger - you are inviting a negligent discharge when the hammer slips and the gun fires.) Overall length of the 92FS is 8.5-inches, with a height of 5.4-inches. The barrel is 4.9-inches, and unloaded weight, of the aluminum framed handgun is 33.3-ounces. The standard magazine holds 15 rounds of 9mm ammo - however, optional factory and aftermarket magazines can hold 17, 20 and 30 rounds. But note that most of the aftermarket high capacity magazines cannot be trusted. (And while the factory high capacity magazines work well, they are both scarce and expensive.)
The chrome-lined barrel provides extra corrosion resistance, and that's a good thing, and it doesn't really affect accuracy in a negative way - like some chrome-lined rifle barrels do. One thing about the 92FS that greatly aids the reliability of this fine handgun is the open slide design that virtually does away with stove pipe malfunctions, and it also makes it easier to load one round at a time into the chamber should you lose or damage the magazine.
Take-down of the 92FS is a piece of cake, thanks to the take-down latch on the side of the frame - reassembly is just as easy - but make sure you read the owner's manual. The rear sight has two white dots and the fixed front sight has one white dot - they are fast to pick-up, but I'd like to see the sights a tad larger - just my take on it. I've yet to run across a Beretta Model 92FS that needed the rear sight adjusted for windage - they are dead-on from the factory. I had two police trade-in 92FS pistols on-hand for testing - my local gun shop got a great buy on a lot of these guns and priced them right - so I forced myself to take two of them - I couldn't pass up the deal. Both guns only had some holster wear, other than that, they were like-new.
Beretta uses a proprietary finish on their 92FS called Bruniton, and it a non-reflective black coating that can really take a beating from the elements. The magazine release button can easily be changed over to left-handed use, too - great idea. The black poly grips take a real beating, too - however on one of my samples, the grips were rough, so I replaced them with a brand-new pair from Brownell's.
None of my own testing can even come close to what our military put the M92FS through - it is actually the most tested handgun in US military history. The military version is dubbed the M9 and they recently adopted the M9A1 - which has a rail on the frame for attaching a light or laser. On another M92FS that have, I installed a Crimson Trace set of replacement grips on the gun - it does make the already slightly chunky 92FS a little bit thicker, but nothing you can't adapt to. I love all Crimson Trace products - I've toured their plant a few times, and you can't believe the work that goes into making their laser grips.
Okay, the average reliability of all M9 pistols tested at Beretta USA is 17,500 rounds without a stoppage - in other words, the guns just don't malfunction - unless it is an ammo or magazine problem. I've yet to have a M92FS malfunction - even with questionable ammo and after-market magazines - the guns are "that" good. During one test of twelve pistols fired at Beretta USA before U.S. Army supervision, the M9 pistols shot 168,000 rounds without a single malfunction. I can't even begin to duplicate that kind of testing - and it isn't necessary, either.
At the beginning of the military contract, there was one or two instances, where the slide broke during live-fire, and came off the pistol, hitting the operator in the face. [JWR Adds: Beretta soon added a secondary slide stop, as redundant safety measure. Hence the "S" in the M92FS model desognation.] This was widely reported in the gun press, however one thing they failed to mention was that the rounds being fired were hot rounds - beyond even +P+ loads - we're talking proof loads the rounds were so hot. Beretta, like other gun makers say you can safely fire +P 9mm ammo in their guns, and I honestly don't know of any maker that says you can fire +P+ 9mm loads in their guns - just a lawyer/liability thing. I've fired thousands of rounds of +P+ 9mm loads through handguns and never had any problems - but be advised!
I'm sure most SurvivalBlog readers are aware of the severe ammo drought we are in - have been - for about six months now. The hottest selling rounds are .22LR and 9mm - both are very hard to find, and when you do find them, you pay dearly for them. Last year, I could purchase a brick of 500 rounds of .22LR hollow point ammo for about $16. But today, if you can find it, that same brick will set you back about $70. I usually run about 500 rounds through guns for my articles, but these days, I've really cut back - I'm having a difficult time getting quantities of 9mm from my ammo sources for articles - not because they don't want to supply me, because they just don't have much 9mm ammo to spare. So my testing was limited t only 200 rounds of various 9mm for this article.
I did have quite an assortment from Buffalo Bore Ammunition for this article, and here's what I had on-hand. 147-grain JHP Subsonic and their same FMJ FN load - both were easy-shooting and no problems were encountered - some subsonic loads I've tested in the past didn't have enough power to make the guns function 100% of the time. Also from Buffalo Bore I had their 95-grain Barnes TAC-XP all-copper +P+ load, and their 115-grain load with the same Barnes bullet - again this is a +P+ load. I had their 124-grain Penetrator load, this is a +P+ loading with a FMJ FN bullet, that Buffalo Bore owner, Tim Sundles carries for deep penetration when needed - Tim will load the first few rounds to be fired in his 9mm handguns with JHP and then the rest will be his Penetrator load. His thinking is, and I can't argue with him is that, if an attacked fails to go down after the first few shots, then they will be behind cover and this Penetrator load will help penetrate that cover. I also has their 147-grain JHP +P+ load and the same load in 124-grain - +P+ of course. With the current severe ammo shortage, the only load I could get from Black Hills Ammunition was their 100-grain Frangible load, that has a bullet that is made from compressed copper - and this is used mainly on indoor firing ranges - when the bullet hits the steel backstop or steel target, the compressed copper bullet fragments and doesn't bounce back at you. This load is rated at 1,200 FPS and it seemed hotter than that - but I liked it. I like the Black Hills 115-grai Barnes TAC-XP load in +P but alas, they didn't have any, and I only had enough on-hand for two full magazines for carrying purposes, so I didn't shoot that ammo up - it has always been a great load in any 9mm handguns I've fired it through.
In all my testing, I had no malfunctions, and I even mixed-up different types and shapes of ammo in magazines - and this usually can induce a malfunction in many guns, but not so in the Beretta M92FS samples - and I used both of my guns for this article. The Buffalo Bore 95-grain Barnes TAC-XP and the Black Hills 100-grain Frangible ammo shot a bit lower than the other rounds - which I expected, seeing as how they are both lighter weight loads. Nothing to worry about at close-up distances, but something to keep in mind at long-range shooting.
If I did my part, with the gun over a rest, over the hood of my car, at 25-yards, my 92s would keep all the hits right about the 3-inch group. There was one stand out, and that was the 147-grain FMJ FN subsonic load from Buffalo Bore, and that would consistently do better than the 3-inch mark if I did my part and held tight. During my testing, I used some genuine Beretta magazines and some after-market magazines and all worked perfectly.
I'm thinking, I'd probably carry the Buffalo Bore 115-grain Barnes TAC-XP +P+ load in the gun, and then my spare magazine - and you should always carry at least one spare magazine - would be loaded with the Buffalo Bore 124-grain +P+ Penetrator load - like Tim Sundles carries - just in case I have to shoot through some light cover. Sundles also tells me this load will penetrate the skull of a black bear - something to keep in mind if you're in beat country with a 9mm handgun. Now, keep in mind, that all handgun makers tell you to not shoot +P+ 9mm loads in their guns - again this is a lawyer and liability thing. I just wouldn't shoot a steady diet of +P+ through any 9mm handgun - it accelerates wear and tear. And, Tim Sundles told me that he does not recommend +P+ loads in any 9mm handgun with a barrel shorter than 4-inches that the slide is moving so fast, you might have some feeding problems. I've fired +P+ 9mm loads in a Glock 26 and never had any problems - but that was that gun!
I wish there was something negative to report about the Beretta Model 92FS, but nothing went wrong, if I had one minor complaint, it would be the gun seems overly engineered and too big for the little 9mm round - but that's my personal opinion.  There's a good reason to own a Model 92FS or the military M9 - and that is, in a SHTF scenario, you can probably scrounge some spare mags - a lot of police departments still issue the Beretta 92FS, and the US military has tens of millions of spare magazines and parts - something to think about if you need some repairs or parts - just thinking out loud! Shop around, and I'm betting you can find a police trade-in Model 92FS at a really good price - and when you do, add it to your collection - you'll really like it, I like mine! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Twenty years ago in 1993, I had already been collecting paramilitary style firearms for over 15 years. I remember purchasing my first HK91 rifle in the late 1970s and being so excited about the Galils, Uzis, Valmets, FN/FALs and the other varieties of collectable rifles that were available to a firearms enthusiast in that period of recent American history.

Being a collector of arms also made me interested in collecting the ammunition that was abundant in that era. Shortly after getting married in the 1980s, my lovely wife asked, “Why do you need to keep all this ammunition?” I responded that it was like a savings account and that I was gathering it because it was, “still cheap.” I guess I had a premonition of what might someday happen to ammunition availability. I remember buying .223 ammunition to fuel my AR-15 rifle, and paying around $110 per thousand for the stuff.

Like minds seek each other out and it was at a gun show that I met and became acquainted with an older and financially successful firearms collector. This man owned more than a few Class 3 registered firearms. He had the things that I had only dreamed of and I respected his wisdom in collecting and preparing.  After our friendship grew, he introduced me to the concept of ammunition caching.
This man had already placed multiple ammunition caches, when he allowed me to know that he was doing this. I was intrigued and asked him about his methods.

He was making each of his caches about the same. His caches consisted of 10 Krugerrand one-ounce gold coins (at this time gold was about $375 per ounce), a Ruger factory folding stainless Mini-14 rifle with five magazines and 1.000 rounds of ammunition. He also placed a cheap nylon backpack in the cache to aid in transporting the contents from the site. This gentleman claimed he preferred the stainless Mini 14 side folder, because with the pistol grip removed, he could make his cache to fit inside a 3 inch piece of PVC pipe. He then capped both ends and voila, you have a pretty handy cache for the future. I asked him how he remembered where these caches were located, and without going into too much detail, he told me he had a pattern, based on section lines. He stated that any friend of his only knew where two or less of the caches were. He buried his caches near steel cattle guards, culverts, or other large metal objects to discourage the use of metal detectors in compromising the cache locations. He explained to me how he preferred fresh plowed fields (not his own) and that he used a sheet of plywood with a hole in the middle, along with an auger to make the placements. He would search for location matching his “pattern” and the aforementioned criteria. He would place the plywood in the field and auger cache burial hole through the hole in the plywood. The plywood allowed him to control how the site looked after he finished, by containing the excess dirt, with the excess being distributed away from the site. When the cache was in place, he would remove the plywood and make the plowed field look as if he had never been there.

Needless to say, I was envious of his provisions, but sadly I was nowhere near as financially capable as this man, to make caches containing gold and rifles. What did happen; however, was that the seed was planted and I began thinking in earnest about the concept of caching.

The 1990s were an eye-opening time for me. I remember how horrified I was at the news of the federal siege at Ruby Ridge. The shooting of Randy Weaver’s son and wife caused me to wonder just how far the “powers that be” in this country could act against citizens and also to wonder what might be ahead as far as an out of control federal effort that seemed squarely against something as basic as the Second Amendment. Then in 1993 came the Waco siege. I remember watching on television as military tanks were used to smash holes in the church compound. This is the first time in my memory, on U.S. soil that I had seen military tanks used in an operation against U.S. citizens!  When the whole church compound went up in flames, the tanks and dozers kept pushing the rubble together to burn everything rather than extinguishing the flames to preserve evidence. I began in earnest to think how it could be that we had come to this in America and what the future of freedom would look like in the coming years.
By this time I had piled up a fair amount of ammunition.  As I hefted one of the wooden cases I struggled with the logistics of having to move ammunition in time of emergency. I remember thinking, if I had to leave my home under an emergency (I had not yet heard of the term “bugging out”) it would be next to impossible to include very much ammunition in my vehicle’s payload…  I made up my mind that I would locate at least some of my ammunition offsite to a remote location.

The following is what I did and how it turned out after I returned to open the cache this year, some 20 years later.
Once I decided that caching ammunition was a goal, I began keeping a lookout for various types of materials to construct containers to use for my caches. I did not have the extra money to make the acquisitions all at once, so I kept looking over different materials and possibilities.

I was also trying to think how a cache might be designed to allow retrieval quickly and without a large amount of effort as far as digging. The idea of a container that would hold another, removable container began to form as my design. This has been the pattern for the development of my caching system. I do not believe that I read about or heard others describe this type of cache. It is a design that was born of my desire to be able to quickly retrieve cached items. By its very design, the cached items have a double wall layer of protection from the elements. Time has proven that this is a viable method of creating a cache.

To get my project started, I discovered some heavy duty green sewer pipe at a second hand store. There were two pieces; one of eight inch inside diameter and one ten inch inside diameter. Each had some damage to the ends and so they were fairly inexpensive. I made an offer on the pipe and returned home to hack saw the cracked portions off of the pipes. Next I purchased caps to seal the ends. I did not find threaded caps, but only simple slip on caps. On one end of the pipe, I fiberglassed the cap in place to make a permanent seal to the pipe.  The other cap was left to simply slide onto the pipe to make the seal. The removable slip on cap fit so tight that it took more than a minute to remove the cap due to suction.  The next component came about because I often visit “Army Surplus” type stores. I remembered seeing plastic tubes that were U.S. Navy surplus sonobuoy shipping containers. A quick search of the Internet will show you what a gray plastic hexagonal sonobuoy shipping tube looks like.  As luck would have it, one of these sonobuoy tubes fits exactly inside an eight inch inside diameter pipe. The sonobuoy containers were selling for less than ten bucks apiece, so I could not pass up adding these to my project. The ten inch inside diameter pipe turned out to be the perfect size to hold the remainder of the eight inch pipe perfectly.

So, picture the design as being a permanently placed outer container (in this case pipe) as a “shell” to contain the smaller removable container, which I refer to as the “pod”. The outer shell will remain embedded in the ground (or concrete, or whatever you can imagine) and be placed so that the pod could be relatively easily removed.  One design possible with the materials I had gathered used the smaller sonobuoy as the pod inside the eight inch pipe (as the shell) to complete one cache.  The other used the larger ten inch pipe as a shell and an eight inch capped pipe inside as the pod. In either case the design uses a tube inside a tube. I termed this design an “encapsulated cache” which should allow the relative rapid withdrawal of the cached material. The encapsulated cache, uses the internal removable pod container, surrounded by the fixed protective walls of the outer shell container. The outer shell container in this concept is not excavated (other than to expose the cap) in the retrieval of the removable cached pod with its valuables.

The materials I had collected, had come together to give me what was needed to complete my idea for a cache concept that had formed in my mind. My plan was for a vertical cache, with the end (of the shell) that could be opened, hidden just under the surface for a quick retrieval of the contents. The cache would have to be located in such a way that I could quickly uncover it, remove the cap on the shell container and retrieve the inner pod containing the ammunition. The more likely the chance of people being in the area, the deeper or more creative you would have to be in the placement to conceal the removable outer cap of the shell. If need be the whole cache could be buried deep, but that begins to defeat the need for the “encapsulated cache” as time and effort to remove the pod would negate the “quick extraction” feature of this method. A variation in the encapsulated cache placement could involve the shell being placed horizontally. A horizontal placement of the shell could be included in the construction of a concrete basement wall for example and sheet rocked over. The retrieval would only require the breaking of the sheet rock veneer to expose the “shell” cap underneath. Rebar in the concrete might thwart the use of metal detectors to locate the cache set in such a wall.

Most of the remainder of this description will focus on my actual experience in placing and using the cache made from the eight inch outer pipe (for the shell) with the sonobuoy inner container (for the pod), but the concept would work the same whether you could obtain sonobuoy tubes, or made your inside pod tube from other material such as a smaller diameter pipe. I envisioned the cache design that I was going to place to be oriented vertically, and with the removable cap for the outside shell container only slightly underground or under a random large, discrete object.

As a side note, I have also made this type of cache by using a five gallon bucket as the permanent shell container with an ammo can as the interior pod container. I have had one such “bucket encapsulated cache” in place for over two decades. It is buried about six inches underground. I have returned to the bucket cache many times over the years to retrieve and add items from/to the “pod” (ammo can). At times I have found a very small amount of condensation in the “shell” (outer bucket), but never any inside the removable “pod” (Always protect the “pod” with desiccant where possible). This bucket encapsulated cache survived a logging operation that skidded trees directly over the placement. It survived one hundred percent undetected and unscathed.

In the placement of the encapsulated cache that I made with the sonobuoy pod, I used Mylar (metalized) bags to hold the various calibers of ammunition for the cache. I had one of the old “seal-a-meal” bag sealers and I began to collect the small bags of desiccant that came with various items I had had purchased. When the day came to load the interior container, I heated the many desiccant bags to recharge them, just prior to sealing the Mylar bags with varying calibers and quantities of ammunition.  I took a marker and labeled each bag to identify what it contained.

I found that my sonobuoy tube could hold all of the following:
Four bags containing 250 rounds each of 223 ammunition for a total of 1,000 rounds.
One bag containing 500 rounds of 9mm ammunition.
Six bags containing 100 rounds each of 308 ammunition for a total of 600 rounds.
One bag containing 120 rounds of 45 auto ammunition.

With the bags sealed, I arranged them in the sonobuoy tube, placing a large commercial bag of desiccant that I had scrounged from a snowmobile shipping crate and recharged in the oven, on the top of the pile of individually sealed bags. I screwed on the plastic cap of the sonobuoy pod and applied a silicone sealant gasket to provide an additional barrier against moisture.

When you put something like this together, you will notice is that the cache tube is very heavy.  To assist in the removal of the pod from the shell, I decided to construct a harness out of ¼ inch nylon rope for the pod, so that once uncovered, I could grab the rope harness and remove the inner cache from the vertical burial tube with more ease than if I had to try to pull the inner tube out by the cap alone.

With all this constructed, I now had to decide where I would place my cache. My concept was that this might have to be accessed by me in the event that I had to leave my home…what has become known today as bugging out. The different scenarios I envisioned all centered on the possibility of having to leave home and venture to a remote location. This is the most important consideration that anyone making this sort of preparation has to consider. You do not want to return to your cache after an extended absence and find that a new highway had compromised your efforts. How about a new housing development, and then there are logging operations and so on. In the end, I chose a remote location that I had spent some amount of time in my younger days camping and exploring. I choose public land far from civilization. I went camping and looked for “my spot”. The location I chose was in the high plains, above 6,000 feet elevation. I choose a location that gets about 20 inches of moisture a year; much of it in the form of snow.

Since I planned on leaving the upper cap on the vertical shell where I could access it quickly, I had decided that I would find a location with abundant rocks in the hope of locating the cache under a large boulder. My idea was that this would help water proof the cache, hide the cache and make the cache quickly accessible by simply moving the large rock “cap stone”.

After much searching, I found my location. I moved my materials along with two 4 foot by 4 foot pieces of plywood (to keep the surface of the ground pristine) to the location. With a digging bar, and a shovel it took most of the afternoon to place the vertical shell tube in position. It should also be noted that I picked a location that was well hidden from curious eyes by vegetation. With the shell tube in place I removed the dirt that had been dislocated in the process of digging the hole, away from the site to keep the site looking natural. I took the larger rocks that had been unearthed and used them to line the area directly around the removable shell cap. I did this so that upon retrieval of the ammunition, I would not have to dig, but could just pull these loose rocks from the area immediately surrounding the shell cap. With a great deal of effort I rolled the cover rock, which was a large mostly flat rock, into place over the cap of the cache shell.

One thing that I worried about when I initially placed the cache was the possibility of disturbance by bears, as bears often move rocks in search of moths, grubs, and ants to feed on. In this case I chose a cap rock that was very large. I also was careful not to use any container or material that had been used to hold food that might attract a curious scavenger.

Over the next twenty years, I made many efforts to revisit the area. I often went with friends, never mentioning the location of the cache, but lingering in the area to see if anyone might notice anything out of the ordinary. No one ever did. As time went on, a tree grew a branch directly over the cap stone adding to the security of the location. Sometimes I would leave a branch or twig lying on the cap stone to alert me if the stone had been tampered with. Over time, pine needles, leaves and debris continued to build up over the area and I became certain that the cache was safe for the foreseeable future. On some visits I observed four feet of snow covering the cache site. Other times the air temperature was nearly 100 degrees.

This year, being the twenty year anniversary of the placement of the cache, I decided I would test my design and see how the cache has fared. I approached the cache and observed that everything was as I had last left it.

I was careful not to break the tree branches that have grown over the stone as they add a level of natural camouflage to the shell cap stone that I cannot reproduce artificially. I slid the cap stone off of the cache cover (the stone weighs about fifty pounds). There, just as I had left it, was the plastic cap of the shell. I carefully, but easily removed the larger rocks around the perimeter of the plastic cap. I held my breath and began to work the cap up and off of the shell. When it came off, I was greeted with the view of the sonobuoy tube and its rope harness. Within three minutes of approaching the site and without any tools, I had extricated the pod containing the ammunition from the larger shell. I peered into the bottom of the larger, now empty shell and saw that the larger tube was indeed as “dry as a bone”. I was overjoyed as I often wondered if moisture had been seeping into the cache. In retrospect, I might have opened the cache a couple of years after the initial placement to assure that everything was staying dry, but in this case it all worked out just fine.

I put the plastic cap back on the now empty vertical shell and returned the cap stone to its place. Next, I anxiously opened the cap of the sonobuoy tube to reveal the contents after twenty years. I sampled the bags and found the ammunition dry and shinny. I took a 10 percent sample and test fired the ammunition. I had 100% reliability in firing the test ammunition. It should be noted that much of this ammo was surplus ammunition to start with and some is now more than forty years old.  I replaced the quantity of ammunition that I used in testing, recharged the desiccant by heating it and again sealed the bags and the sonobuoy tube. I did take advantage of a small unused space inside the tube to add an additional 750 rounds of .22 long rifle ammunition, to top off the space in the sonobuoy tube. I returned to the cache site and replaced everything as it was before the cache was opened.  The replacement of the cache took only minutes and no special tools.


I can’t tell you how much peace of mind I have knowing that this cache is in place and functioning as I had hoped for two decades. I do not see any reason that it might not survive many more decades into the future.  When the time is right I hope I can show my children the cache and pass it on to them.
At the time I buried the cache, I would have been somewhat embarrassed to tell anyone that I would make such preparation. Now, twenty years later I believe there are many more people who would not think the placement of such provisions is at all eccentric.
I have written this description to encourage other kindred spirits to pay attention to the materials that you may come in contact with that could be used to construct a similar cache and to motivate you to make such a preparation for you and your associates for the day when such provisions may be needed.

My guess is that some will scoff at the idea of the cache being only slightly underground, or being covered by a removable rock. The weakness is that the cache may be found; however, the location that I placed this cache in is so remote that humans seldom even walk near the location. Also, large boulders are common in the location, giving the “cap stone” a very inconspicuous look (I would NOT recommend placing the cache under the only prominent rock in an area). These factors give this type of cache the security that has allowed it to be successfully placed these twenty years.
I know of another individual who has placed a cache of ammunition in a totally different way. His cache is buried more than ten feet underground! It certainly is secure, but how long would he have to work to remove the contents?  

In the end, your choice of materials and designs are endless. My “encapsulated cache” is really one that came together by imagination and luck in finding the materials I used to construct it. The secret is being ready and available to make use of what is around you and then being motivated to do something, rather than spending your precious time “getting ready to get ready” and in fact doing nothing.
Lastly, I want to state that I consider myself a patriotically motivated individual. My cache is in place as a last resort to preserve the ideals of the Constitution of the United States, and especially our God given rights. I consider it my responsibility to be prepared to personally keep the Minuteman mentality that I came to admire as I learned our nations history.  I pray that it does not come to the point where freedom is so curtailed that patriots are again force to fight tyranny on this North American continent  in order to preserve the concepts that made this country great, but the fact is, that it is looking more and more like that is our situation.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." - United States Declaration of Independence

Hello Mr. Rawles,
This information may be useful for Americans living in states with strict magazine capacities.

A loophole exists under Canadian laws that allows shooters the ability to legally bypass magazine capacity restrictions.  

Under Canadian law, a magazine DESIGNED for a rifle may only hold five rounds of the caliber it is designed for.  A magazine designed for a pistol may only hold 10 rounds of the caliber for the pistol it is designed for.  But there is no law prohibiting the use of a pistol magazine in a rifle, a magazine designed for a different caliber than the caliber of gun it is being used in, or loading different caliber ammunition in a magazine than what it was designed for.

This loophole has been exploited in the past as follows:
- Using .40 caliber pistol magazines to hold 13 founds of 9mm
- Using 10 round .223 AR-15 pistol magazines in an AR-15 rifle
- Using 10 round 7.62x39 AR-15 pistol magazines in an AR-15 rifle, holding 12 rounds of .223

A new development is unfolding now, where 5 round .50 caliber AR-15 rifle magazines, capable of holding 15 rounds of .223 are hitting the market.  

It is not inconceivable that in the near future, 10 round, .50 caliber AR-15 pistol magazines will be available which under Canadian law will be legal and will be capable of holding 30 rounds of .223 - completely bypassing the the rifle magazine capacity restrictions.

Here is an article on the subject.

And here is a Canadian business that is 5 round .50 caliber magazines.

Regards, - Mr. X.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reference the controversy about the Longmire television show. It is common on television and in movies to see 1911s carried with the hammer down and the act of cocking prior to shooting. Most folks versed in firearms recognize this as Hollywood adding some drama. The act of cocking being the lead up to a shootout. Hollywood is after all all about drama and not reality or safety. 

E B  writing about the danger of carrying the hammer down on a round in the chamber is correct about the safety concerns of doing so. 

However the older government models had a half cock safety that could be employed with a loaded chamber. I am not proud to say that I used this feature during my stint in the Army when I felt that I might need to get off a quick  one handed shot and carrying Cocked and Locked was prohibited by unit SOP. Of course I could still have been court-martialed for a live round in the chamber but the hammer mostly down was not a visual giveaway that  Cocked and Locked would have been. I only used this sparingly in difficult circumstances when I felt the need, and I will just leave it at that. I do not recommend half cock as a normal way to carry.

It takes a steady hand to lower the hammer on a live round and of course muzzle discipline is of paramount importance. Use both hands and the weak hand is used to lower the hammer. Again, safety! Please don't shoot the family dog. Better yet, carry it Cocked and Locked. It was designed that way for a reason by John Moses Browning.

Modern production 1911s DO NOT HAVE A HALF COCK SAFETY NOTCH so please do not try this at home. Of the four 1911s in my possession only the older Gold Cup series 70 has the half cock. The series 80 guns do not and trying this with a live round in the chamber will quite possibly cause a Negligent Discharge. I have no experience with makes other than Colt and the US Army issued guns. 

I certainly hope folks do not try this and shoot their big toe off. - G.R., former CPT, USAR

Saturday, June 22, 2013

As a new ‘prepper’ on a budget, I would love to get the latest gadget gun in multiples, but have very limited disposable income to invest. Most of us are not independently wealthy or have a six figure salary to support our new found hobby. Emotionally, there is a gun collector inside all of us that likes the latest and greatest gadget to show off to our friends and that we know outperforms everything else on the planet. However, the rational brain must govern over the emotional appeals of these wonderful objects. Therefore, visualizing the likely uses for a firearm is a handy way to narrow your search before making a firearms purchase.

While firearms are an important and necessary part of any prepper’s purchase list, other acquisitions also have priority. If your entire budget is spent on guns, you will have no money left over for such things as food, water sources, shelter options, communications, etc., all of which are just as critical if not more so. Also, under the philosophy ‘two is one, one is none’ a less expensive firearm will allow you to double up on your firearm purchases so that if the first weapon fails, you will have a backup. Since there are basically three types of guns: the rifle, the handgun and the shotgun, doubling up will mean purchasing at least six guns. All of those purchases add up to a lot of money. I also understand that I am not an avid shooter, nor do I have the time, budget or ability to become a master shooter. “A man’s got to know his limitations.” I therefore set my goal as becoming someone who can safely handle and shoot a few selected firearms with moderate proficiency.

With these limitations in mind, I began to think about what the actual threats we may face as a family that would require the firearm tool. By listing these possible situations and thinking critically about what would be the best and least expensive yet reliable firearm to address each scenario, my firearm purchases would be guided by rational thought rather than emotional appeal or marketing strategies of the gun stores and gun manufacturers.

Prioritizing concepts of personal importance.

The first concept that I applied to my purchases was the idea of rule of law, partial rule of law or post collapse, without rule of law (WROL). The idea here is that today, we face a society ordered by the rule of law where police forces are usually minutes away from a 911 call. It is not hard to picture a situation where the rule of law breaks down and police forces are not responsive. This has happened in the aftermath of hurricanes, during riots, and possibly during the aftermath of terrorist type events. In the most extreme situation, all functioning of government is terminated and you are on your own. This could happen in the event of hyperinflationary economic collapse as discussed in the James Wesley, Rawles novels, in an EMP or nuclear war situation such as Pat Frank’s novel Alas, Babylon or in planet changing asteroid strike such as was laid out in Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's great novel Lucifer's Hammer. In such situations, having a reliable firearm will be a matter of life and death.

The second concept is location of use. In the home, the ability to conceal the firearm is not important. However, outside the home, the ability to conceal your firearm is primary. A concealed firearm allows you a tremendous advantage when a confrontation occurs, as well as allowing you to function in public without having to draw unnecessary attention to yourself. The first rule of any gunfight applies here - bring a gun. While having the highest caliber, largest capacity handgun may look great on paper, when applied to everyday use, these handguns are often to bulky to conceal and too heavy to carry comfortably. The reverse is true inside the home. In a true home defense situation, bulkiness will not matter since you will not be carrying the weapon long distances and will not need to conceal the weapon. What will matter is simplicity, power, capacity and reliability. Related to this is weight. Simply put, as an office guy my ability to carry weight is a big issue. If the gun is to be used in static defense of the home, weight is not as big a factor, as long as it can be handled. If you are going to carry it around for any period of time, weight becomes a big consideration. While I love the idea of an M14, the reality is that the gun is too heavy for me to carry around for any distance. So generally, lighter is better.

The third concept was interoperability and cross functionality, or the ability to utilize various ammunition calibers between guns and different guns for different uses. Having more of a particular caliber is probably more important that having the absolute ‘best’ caliber for a particular situation. Low cost ammunition facilitates bulk purchases. Also, go with what is available. If the absolute best caliber for a particular situation is not readily available, then it is not the best caliber. A hole in the target is what is required, and I am willing to compromise some level of specialization for low cost, availability and interoperability. If you are in a desperate survival situation, then any gun is better than none. Good enough is what I aimed for, limiting myself to as few different calibers as possible.

The fourth concept was simplicity. The more complicated the weapon system, the more likely it would fail in a high stress situation. I know that I go to the range probably one every couple of months - not enough to be a highly trained snap shot shooter. Instead, I focus on being comfortable with my weapon so that I know how it works and can get the bullet on the target calmly and quickly. I always think about one situation where a particular person had a quality, high capacity semi-automatic handgun, but was only able to fire off one round because he limp-wristed the gun,  jamming after the first shot. When a firearm is needed, it will be needed immediately. The simpler the system, the less there is to go wrong.

Visualizing firearm tool use scenarios.
The first scenario I visualized was varmint defense in a rule of law situation. In a city or suburban environment, we are talking about dogs. Having been attacked by a very large dog in my neighborhood, you should understand that your reactions will not be sufficient to prevent the dog from biting you. Dogs are very fast and you will instinctively react by protecting your face with your arms. The dog will bite at our extremities and latch on before you will be able to do anything. Thus the question, what do you want to have when the dog is biting on your arm? Of course being a gun guy, you are going to say a handgun. However, I would suggest that this is not the best choice for a person in a rule of law situation. Firing a handgun in public, even in this situation, can subject you to a felony charge. There is the danger of the bullet striking things unknown, including yourself. In the event that you do kill the attacking dog with your handgun, there will be an upset dead dog owner who will be telling you and everyone else how “Toro” is a loveable house pet that would never hurt a fly. They will be perfectly willing to call the police and press charges, and you will at least have a nasty neighbor situation. This kind of run in is easily avoided. Instead, get a re-chargeable touch stun gun. These devices can be had for less than $30. Make it a part of your walking routine to remove the stun gun from its charger and take it along whenever walking on foot, and recharging it in the wall socket when you return. If you do confront a territorial dog, the sound of the electrical discharge is often enough to scare them away. If the dog attacks and you have to stun them, the dog will flee but will be none the worse for wear. Of course, rural varmint defense is very different and should be assessed according to the wild animals that are likely to be encountered. Varmint defense in a without rule of law situation differs only in that you will not have to face the police scrutiny if you happen to kill a dog with your gun. Also, if the power grid fails your stun gun will be useless. Thus, bring your handgun.

Another scenario that I visualized (which is unfortunately far to common) is the need for suburban home defense from criminal intrusion while rule of law is still functioning, even if partially. This scenario involves a person or small group of persons forcibly entering into your home, usually at night. Most of the time, the home invader will attempt to have you open your front door or physically breach your front door by means of a kick. This is surprisingly easy to do, and you should train your mind to immediately react to the invader by making a bee line for your firearm. The home invader can also attack your rear door. Make an assessment of all possible points of entry in your home, and run through in your mind how you would react to different home invasion situations. Place your firearms at locations where you can quickly employ them. Know what condition of safety they are kept. Keep them loaded. If you are having to load to shotgun while the bad guys are busting down the door, you will be nervous and fumbling with ammo as well as behind the curve in reacting to the situation. That being said, the presence of children in your home should always effect your gun storage situation. You must revise your placement plans based on the presence of kids. For example, you may wish to carry your handgun on your person when in your home, if you cannot keep a loaded shotgun stored safely. You may wish to store your firearms in hidden locations throughout your house so that you are never more than a few steps from them. Five long guns locked up in a gun rack will do you no good in the home invasion situation.

Another situation that can be easily visualized is personal defense outside the home during a rule of law or partial rule of law situation. The key to this situation is having your firearm on your person and concealed. This situation contemplates a criminal attacking you or accosting you as you are walking to and from your vehicle. Car jackings commonly occur at gas stations, often near the highway, or near high crime neighborhoods. Having a gun that can be quickly employed is paramount. Because of this, make sure to include as part of your carry package a good holster. The concealed carry holster is a vital and often overlooked part of the system.

Looking forward to the possibility of without rule of law or partial rule of law, things get very dicey. Suburban home defense in a ‘without rule of law’ or in a post collapse situation differs from rule of law situation in that you may have to repel borders for a longer time, or deal with larger, more organized groups of invaders.  Ammunition capacity and supply are more important in this scenario. Extremely long term home defense is rather unlikely, but planning for a week of home defense would not be too much. For example, the six day long L.A. riots in 1992 witnessed an evacuation of police authority from the streets leaving many to fend for themselves.

Personal defense outside of the home in a ‘without rule of law’ situation is probably the riskiest of all of the scenarios. Even in the event of societal breakdown, some normal life will continue, and you will need to travel outside your home to get supplies or for other necessities. Key to this situation is the fact that you and the bad guys are aware that there is no organized police protection afforded the citizenry, therefore the likelihood of being attacked is greatly increased. Further, you may be confronted with armed attackers who will get the drop on you to disarm you. This scenario can also be applied to mass riot situations, which I suspect is closer to the surface in our society than most people realize.

While it is unlikely, in my mind that hunting for food in a post collapse situation would ever be necessary, it is a possibility. Where I live, I suspect that in a desperate survival situation every deer will be quickly wiped out by the local hunter population. What may remain will be birds and squirrels. Both can be taken with bird shot or the .22 round. It would be preferable to draw as little attention to yourself when hunting, therefore, adding a suppressor to the end of your .22 firing subsonic rounds would make the acquisition of these sources of protein quite silent.

Any visualization of offensive operations would by definition be in a ‘without rule of law’ or post collapse situation. Basically, widespread lawlessness and long term societal collapse will lead to civil war. Throughout history, war is the natural state of man. It is moments of peace that are the exception. The Liberty gifted to us by our Founding Fathers has allowed the societal delusion that civilization is without cost. We may be seeing the waning of Pax Americana, and the relative 60 year stability it brought. If the time comes where we are in a true state of nature, the need for force from a rifle will be clear. Personally, I have determined that there is no way that my family can or will in any way take on a professionally equipped military or police unit. Thus, I will opt out of trying to best the military and look at what best fits my abilities.

You are probably saying, okay enough already. What guns did you get? Well, my first purchase was a .357 Magnum stainless steel Model 60 Smith and Wesson revolver. On the down side, it is five shots and not a super quick reload, and moderately pricey (~$500). However, it is super dependable, simple, relatively lightweight and concealable, and relatively maintenance free. The ammo has remained available during the recent ammo runs since .357 Magnums are pretty much revolver only. I love revolvers because after sitting for years, you could pick it up and it will fire. They are also not picky about the rounds you are using – if they fit in the hole they will fire it. If they misfire, you just pull the trigger again and the next round rotates and fires. Offsetting the initial price of the revolver  is the fact that it can eat both .38 Special and .357 Magnum ammunition. Thus, when target shooting, you can use the .38 Special ammunition. For defense loads, you can fill it with high power .357 Magnum rounds. While there are pros and cons to every caliber, there is wide agreement that the .357 Magnum sets the standard for the heavy hitting self defense round. It is also capable of being reloaded, which is also an advantage in a SHTF scenario where resupply is inconsistent.

When purchasing any handgun, make sure that you also buy a good quality holster. The idea of concealment is great, but until you actually put it in a holster and wear it, you will not know what it actually looks like or feels like under your clothes. Personally, I like a leather, pancake type holster in the small of the back or, for larger guns, a crotch holster.
My second purchase was a Ruger 10/22 rifle. This is on the top of the list for most preppers, and is one of the few guns that almost everyone can agree on. This American made gun is relatively cheap (~$250), super dependable, five and a quarter pounds in weight, and very simple to operate. I was lucky enough to get four of the twenty five round BX-25 magazines before ‘firearmageddon’ hit, but even the small ten round magazine works flawlessly and would probably be enough in most situations. This gun can be used for small game hunting such as squirrels, mice, pigeons, etc. if needed. In a situation where the rule of law is non-existent, the rifle can double as a sniper weapon. If you get a 10/22 with a threaded barrel, with a little creativity you can add a suppressor for very little cost. Note that it is a Federal criminal offense to possess or attach a suppressor without the proper $200 tax stamp from ATF. The other .22 rifle that you could consider is the Marlin Model 60, a tube fed rifle that competes with Ruger’s offering at a lower price. An even less expensive option is the Mossberg 702 Plinkster in .22LR. At only four pounds, this gun is extremely light weight so even a child could carry it. It is fed with inexpensive 10 round magazines. The best part is that these rifles can be had for around $150. I have not yet purchased a scope, but that is next on the list.

I like the concept of a handgun / rifle combination firing the same caliber round. As the cowboys noted, they back each other up in the event one should fail, and the common caliber lightens your ammunition load. So to go with my 10/22, I decided to purchase a companion handgun in .22LR. At first, I wanted a revolver for the simplicity. The fact is that semi-autos in .22LR can be temperamental when using the many different sizes of ammunition available for .22LR. The blowback required to cycle a semi-auto is tricky when dealing with a light .22 load.  I therefore looked at some S&W .22LR revolvers, but was turned off by their high cost at around $500, (the same as .357 Magnums). I decided to give the semi-autos a second look. Sticking with Ruger, I initially looked at the Mark III, a ten round capacity semi-auto that you can get for around $350, a good but not awesome price. I was resolved to get the Mark III when I found a used nine shot revolver in .22LR for $125! Hi-Standard Sentinel revolvers are commonly available on the used market. These American-made guns were sold in the 1950s at local hardware stores and are now very inexpensive. As the price was right, I got the Hi-Standard.

Since the .22LR is such an inexpensive and versatile round, it is wise to stock up on ammunition. For suppressed fire, make sure that you purchase a healthy supply of sub-sonic ammunition. You can also purchase bird shot .22 ammo for taking out small critters. Being the most versatile rounds, I made my goal to stockpile 3000 rounds in a variety of configurations. Every week, I would purchase a hundred round box of .22LR paying with cash. Very soon, I had lots and lots of .22 ammunition, stored in military surplus ammo cans.

One interesting diversion I took was when I found a Marlin Model pre-2007 1894CS lever gun in .357 Magnum. My favorite gun store showed me the gun and I fell in love, buying it immediately despite its $550 price tag. The gun has a nine round capacity and weighs around six pounds. A quick firing lever gun can be loaded before having to empty out all the ammo, although reloading is slow. This rifle is fully capable of taking down deer or bad guys up to 150 yards. Thinking about this, I added a Skinner ‘peep’ sight for $85. These sights are high quality, low technology simplicity at its finest. It also has the huge advantage of using the same ammunition as the revolver. As I said earlier, I love the idea of the rifle / handgun combination. The lever gun can also double up as a home defense gun. If you had to use this gun in self defense, there is a hidden advantage to the lever gun. If you happen to get hauled before a jury after an unfortunate shooting incident, the lever action has that ‘All-American’ look to it. If you have to dispatch a bad guy with an AK-47, the gun looks ‘bad’ to the jury and will be paraded before them by the prosecutor. In a rule of law home defense situation when the courts are operating, this jury appeal should not be under estimated.

Over time, I found that I tended not to carry the .357 revolver because even at 24 ounces, it was a little heavy. I became aware of the concealed carry “ultra compact” handguns for personal protection. These guns are often called ‘mouse guns’ and are made with maximum concealment in mind. The old school mouse gun was the derringer, but these are heavy and only fired two shots. Being from Florida, I looked at the Kel-Tec offerings, the 32 ACP P-32(~$230) and the .380 ACP P3AT(~$260). Of course, I went for the cheaper one. I also got four spare seven round magazines. What I failed to consider was the cost of ammunition. .32 ammo seems overpriced compared to other calibers. You should look at the cost of .32 versus .380 in your area and factor that cost into the equation. The fact that this is a concealed carry, self defense only gun means that you need not stockpile thousands of rounds of ammunition for this gun -- 250 rounds should be more than adequate. I know many of you may say that more ammunition should be purchased, but just how many times are you actually going to be using your mouse gun in self defense?

I noticed that at this point that I did not have a shotgun, one of the three types of firearms. A shotgun can be used for short range home defense or for hunting. At short range, such as within a house, bird shot is just as effective as buck shot. Further, a bird shot load will not generally travel through walls within a house, possibly killing friendlies. Often, the sound of the pump racking will be enough to scare away would be intruders without firing a shot. If you do have to fire at an invader, a 12 gauge shotgun fired at close range is probably the deadliest weapon you could have. In a hunting situation, you are much more likely to encounter birds than you are to encounter larger game such as deer or boar and all birds are edible. Thus, for stockpiling purposes, I weighted my ammo purchases towards bird shot. Buckshot is useful for hunting boar, deer, or really any non-bird larger creature that could serve as dinner.

The most common and easy to find shotgun caliber is the 12 gauge, so I limited myself to 12 gauge guns. Many gun folks recommended the Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun. However, I am a price conscious guy, so I kept looking. Ultimately I settled on the less expensive Mossberg 500. This American made gun has all the functionality of the Remington at lower price. You can get the basic version for around $350, but I was happily able to pick one up used for $250.

So I had my most basic needs covered and I started thinking about weaknesses of my firearms battery. A good read on the proper use of the rifle is the late Jeff Cooper’s Art of the Rifle. After reading this book, I became painfully aware that my firearms battery did not include longer range capability. Handguns, that are so highly favored in the United States, are short range weapons only. The rifle is the primary weapon used for longer ranged defense. So I set out what I was looking for in a longer ranged rifle.

Even though the idea of 1000 meter shots was appealing, in reality I could not see myself taking shots out further than 200 meters. For one, my eyesight is not that good. Second, target acquisition would be a problem, and I might shoot somebody I do not want to. Further research into modern rifles revealed that the development of the modern military rifle was influenced by the German’s finding in World War II that most firefights happen within 300 meters. Thinking about it, I could see why this is so. While Jeff Cooper was a firm supporter of the bolt action rifle, I wanted a quicker firing semi-automatic so that if I missed on my first shot, the second could be on its way with a minimum of movement. I wanted a rifle that was simple and reliable, and most of all inexpensive. I wanted a higher powered rifle round that was also less expensive and commonly available.

With those criteria in mind, I started looking around on the internet. The big debate seemed to be between the AK-47 guys and the AR-15 guys. But some other options also peaked my interest, including the M-14 derived M1A, the World War II M1 ‘Garand’ and the various bullpup designs that seemed very light weight and compact like the FN2000. With this in mind, I traveled to my local gun store to see what was what. Sticker shock fell upon me when I looked at the options available. The [semi-auto] M14 was in the $1,500 range and heavier than I had expected. An M1 ‘Garand’ goes for $800. The AR black rifles were all in the $1,000 range. Even the AK-47 was over $800. Forget the FN2000 at $3,000!  I thought I was out of luck when I came across a motley looking semi-automatic rifle in the rack with a $330 price tag - an SKS.

The SKS is an extremely reliable, semi-automatic rifle that fires the same round as the AK-47, the powerful 7.62x39mm round. It also comes with an attached bayonet which could be handy in the right situation. The ammunition is relatively cheap and available. I didn’t have to buy magazines, since it is reloaded using ten round stripper clips. Holding extra ammunition in stripper clips also reduces the weight when carrying spare ammunition. While the gun was a little heavier than I wanted at eight and a half pounds, at that price I was sold. When you start calculating gun multiples, the value of the sub-$350 SKS becomes apparent. Three AK-47s with four spare magazines each will cost you around $3,000. Three AR-15s with four spare magazines each will cost you more than $3,200. Three SKS’s with four stripper clips each will cost you $1,000.

Looking back at my purchases rationally, what would I recommend to the budget conscious prepper?

I. Handgun. Keltec P32 .32 caliber mouse gun with 250 rounds of ammunition and four magazines. $250 for gun, $75 for magazines. Uses: Concealed carry self defense.

II. Rifle. Ruger 10/22 .22 caliber rifle with 3,000 rounds of .22 long rifle and four magazines. $250 for gun, $100 for magazines. Uses: Hunting. WROL home defense. WROL offensive operations.
III. Shotgun. Mossberg 500 12 gauge shotgun with 500 rounds of bird shot shotgun shells. $250 for gun. Uses: Home defense. Hunting.            

So for less than $1,000 (excluding ammunition), you have all of the basic firearm tools you need (as opposed to want.) Once you get these items, you can double up by buying duplicates of the same firearm.

If budget allows, you could get the cheap Hi Standard Sentinel revolver to companion with your .22 Rifle. If you are concerned about long term, without rule of law situations, then go for the SKS with 1000 rounds (or more) of ammunition in stripper clips at $350 for each gun.                        

As a newly-minted gun guy, I love my S&W Model 60 and companion Marlin lever gun, both in .357 Magnum. I feel like a real American cowboy, and this pairing definitely has a place in my collection. But looking at the prices paid and the functionality, you could probably save this money and go with the minimum above. Just how many guns can you carry at one time, anyway?

JWR Replies: I've written several times in the past about the detractors to rifles and handguns chambered in common cartridges. While it might outwardly seem to be a logical approach, in my opinion the drawbacks outweigh the benefits. If I weighed 95 pounds, then I might consider buying an FN PS-90 and carrying an FN FiveSeven pistol as a companion piece. (Both are chambered in 5.7x28mm.)

Dear Jim,
I notice that 5.56 is again getting an unrealistically bad rap.  It's not as powerful as many other rounds, but some online epithets seem to suggest you can hide behind a sheet of paper and be safe.

As a reminder, I'd like to repost the following demonstrations from the fine folks at Box O' Truth:

There are certainly better rounds for long range and heavy targets (I like 8mm Mauser, myself), but don't dismiss a threat because he "only" has 5.56mm.

Oh, and off topic, but of interest: How .410 revolvers stink as defensive weapons.

- Michael Z. Williamson, SurvivalBlog Editor at Large

Monday, June 17, 2013

When I was younger I didn't give much thought to a sling on a rifle or shotgun. When hunting afield, I simply carried my rifle or shotgun at the "ready" position - ready to shoulder it and fire on game. When I went into the military in 1969, I sure appreciated a sling on my M14 in Basic Training. In Infantry School, we were issued M16s, and while quite a bit lighter than the M14, I still appreciated a sling on the gun for long road marches. Over the years, I've tried all manner of sling on long guns, and to this day, I still can't say there is one particular brand or style of sling I prefer over another. I've tried single-point, two-point and three-point slings and they all have the good and bad points.
To be sure, not all slings are made the same - some are made out of leather, some canvas and some Nylon - again, I'm not sure which I prefer. I know for long-distance high-powered rifle competition, I preferred the leather competition sling, it really locked the rifle into my shoulder and with the arm loop, made it all that much more secure.
I recently received the Echo Sling for testing for SurvivalBlog readers. My first impression, upon opening the package was "gee, nothing special here..." What we have with the Echo Sling is a heavy-duty, 1-inch wide Nylon sling - made in the USA - and that always tends to swing my opinion on many things. I still think we can manufacture better products in this country than most other countries can produce. Sure, we pay a bit more, but we get better products. I don't mind paying more for something better made.
The Echo Sling has durable stitching, and an easy to adjust polymer buckles - no worries about them rusting. The sample I received is the Dark Earth color, but they also have Safety Orange, Neon Pink, Hazmat Green, Autumn Orange, Salmon/Princess Pink and Desert Tan. They also claim that the Echo Sling will fit any rifle - guaranteed. I tried it on a variety of different sling swivels and attachments, and it fit them all. I would like to see Echo Sling offer their products in a 1.25-inch width too, in the future - for slinging heavier rifles - that little bit of extra width really helps out if you're carrying a rifle or shotgun at sling arms for any distance.
Okay, I have a box full of slings, some are leather, some Nylon some canvas, and a few made of other synthetics. I did note that the Echo Sling is much better made than many of the nylon slings in my collection - it is heavier stitched and the Nylon is a bit thicker in my humble opinion - hard to measure, I tried. I do like the simply two-point attachment system - some slings take a PhD in engineering to figure out how to attach them to a rifle or shotgun - you all know what I'm talking about, too. And, to make things easier, the Echo Sling comes with printed instructions and photos to show you the proper way to attach it. And, on the reverse side of the instructions, are photos and an explanation, as to how to use the Echo Sling as a belt - don't laugh, a belt can and does break, when you least expect it - this is an outstanding idea and secondary use for the Echo Sling.
One thing I don't much care for with most Nylon slings is that, they tend to slip and slid on the shoulder. The Echo Sling stayed in place, and I believe this is because if is a heavier grade of Nylon, and the tighter stitching that the material has. Okay, so how does one go about testing a sling, other than to put it on a rifle or shotgun and carry the gun at sling arms? Well, I knew there had to be a better method for testing this sling - other than to just carry a long gun around the house - we're in the rainy season in this part of Oregon - and I didn't feel much like hiking the logging roads in the monsoon rains to test the sling - I know it works, but there had to be a better way to test this sling's durability.
It hit me! Or should I say, one of my German Shepherds, "Sarge" showed me a method for testing the sling. Sarge isn't quite a year and a half old, and he loves to chew-up cardboard boxes that FedEx and UPS bring me almost daily - he honestly believes UPS and FedEx come to bring him new toys to destroy - and destroy them he does. While examining the sling, Sarge decided it looked like a new chew toy and grabbed an end, and the tug-o-war was on - he loves playing this game with "Arro" one of my other German Shepherds. (We have four in our house right now, but we've had more than that in the past.)
Sarge and Arro - and even Fanja, our little female, got into a three-way tug-o-war with the Echo Sling - my older main male doesn't much get into this game - he's Schutzhund 1 trained and certified, and he likes to bite - not play tug-o-war. So, over the course of a month, I let Sarge and Arro play with the Echo Sling - and these boys can really pull - they've destroyed a number of pull tug ropes in the past year. Over the course of this "test" the polymer buckles were chewed on pretty well - but still functioned, though they had teeth marks on them. The Echo Sling was looking worse for wear, but the dogs never did break it - and these boys can really pull and pull hard against each other. There was some fraying, on the ends of the sling, where the boys usually grabbed it in their mouths, but the sling didn't fail. Now, if a high-quality Nylon sling can take this kind of abuse, over a month, and still function - I'm impressed. I never let the boys chew on the sling - I know it wouldn't last but a day if they did - but I let them play tug-o-war several times a day with the Echo Sling.
I have lesser-quality Nylon slings and I know, if I had given them to my German Shepherds, they would have made quick work of them - they'd be destroyed inside of a day or two. So, all Nylon slings aren't the same quality, or made out of the same high-quality and thicker material. What started out as a "ho-hum" product to test for SurvivalBlog readers, turned into a lot of fun testing - and I didn't have to do much of the testing - my dogs helped me out quite a bit. A slightly different way of doing an endurance test, but it was a lot of fun - for the dogs - and for me - watching them. The sling held-up to the testing and a close examination of it, shows it is better made than most other nylon slings. A simple product, that works and stands-up to abuse! I like that! The Echo Sling retails for $18.99 each and as mentioned at the beginning of this article, it comes in a variety of colors, too. I've paid this much for lesser quality Nylon slings, so I think the Echo Sling is a good investment, if you are looking for something simple and durable - something that will stand-up a lot of abuse, and still safely carry your rifle or shotgun. Check it out. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Todd Savage of Survival Retreat Consulting is developing two secure storage projects in the American Redoubt--one in north Idaho and one in Northwestern Montana. The facilities will give private members access to several storage options to store their preparedness gear until they can relocate. The undisclosed locations will feature various sizes of climate controlled vaults and safe rooms, featuring underground bunker construction and redundant security features. These facility can eliminate a prepper's quandary: having all their crucial preps stored in one location with no ability to move it to their safe haven quickly.

A retrofitted facility should be available for occupancy in September of 2013 and a larger newly-constructed facility should be available for storage in August of 2014. These facilities will be bonded. For security reasons, the exact locations of the facilities will only be revealed to clients once they have signed a contract. These high end security and climate-controlled units will cost more monthly than typical commercial storage spaces. (Which are typically not climate controlled and offer only marginal security in locations that are widely known to the public.)

If you have interest in short or long term secure storage options for some of your gear, then please contact Todd Savage through his web site. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Just a note on the penetrating power of the 5.56 NATO M855 ball round on various materials.  Much ink has been wasted noting the presence of a steel or tungsten “penetrator” being manufactured inside the M855 round. It weighs about 3 grains.  It is insignificant so far as getting the bullet inside a car unless you open the door first.  True, any load in the 5.56 will make impressive wounds or even penetrate 1/4” or even 3/8” mild steel long as there absolutely nothing in the way before it arrives on target.  Put a 1/8th inch tick sheet of aluminum a foot in front of it, and witness a stunning reduction in it’s effect on the steel behind.  Two sheets of 1/8” steel plate, with a foot of air between them will stop the 5.56 cold.  Any load.

In my experience on several junked cars, an ordinary car door will, more often than not, stop the 5.56 before it can enter the passenger compartment and cause anything like a serious wound. Inserting a piece of 3/4” plywood inside the door of a 1988 Buick Station Wagon, I was unable to get any penetrations in the 5.56 caliber, regardless of the weight of the bullet.  But note that I did not try the newer bonded LE loads, nor the ammunition using the Barnes solid copper bullets. These show better performance on auto bodies.  The largest shred of bullet that even stuck to the outer veneer layer looked like a piece of glitter.  Contrast this to routine through and through holes in the plywood made by garden variety 9mm, .40, and .45 pistol ammunition.  

Occasionally, a bullet would hit window control hardware, or lock work, and fail to make it through, the most did. The 5.56 launches a very tiny, low mass bullet at high velocity.  When it encounters any sort of layered barrier, it self destructs, yielding all of it’s energy upon whatever that material is. Heavier, sturdier .30 caliber rifle bullets represent a very serious threat to occupants of a motor vehicle, and require expensive countermeasures.  But don’t be fooled by the impressive holes in homogenous steel plate, thinking the 5.56 will replicate this performance on a steel auto body or door.  If you must use an AR system on a vehicle, then consider the far superior .300 AAC Blackout cartridge, launching serious high-mass .30 caliber bullets. Avoid the light weight varmint-type bullets...the 147s and 125 Sierra’s shine in this arena. - Paul S.

JWR Replies: For far more reliable penetration of car doors, .308, .30-06, and 7.62x54r will rule the day. Black tip armor piercing (AP) bullets are best, but plain old FMJ ("ball") penetrates admirably. Yes, a .50 BMG rifle would be better, but a .308 is far more portable and versatile.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Over the years I've probably handled and tested well over a thousand different knife designs. I know a lot about knives. I look for quality materials in knives, then I look at their intended purpose, as well as the carry system - be they folders with pocket clips, or fixed blade knives with sheaths. I also look at the design of a knife, and I look at the price point, too. I test knives for sharpness and durability - do they do what they are supposed to do?
Some time ago, I wrote an article on the Montie Gear sling shot, and in my humble opinion, I believe it is the best sling shot on the market - albeit a little expensive - but it certainly is high quality. Montie Gear also came out with an attachment for their sling shot, that allows you to shoot arrows - for hunting small game. And, they also produced a folding arrow, to use with their sling shot. Be sure to check it out on their web site for more information. I've learned that Montie Gear produces high-quality everything. No short cuts, and only the best materials are used in the things they produce.
When Montie Gear sent me their new Ultra-lightweight fixed blade knife, I was a little anxious to get my hands on it. The first thing that catches your attention is the quick draw aluminum sheath that the knife is in. Yes, that's right, in this day and age of Kydex sheaths, Montie Gear, came up with a sheath - a skeletonized aluminum sheath - that carries their neat little fixed blade knife. And, it has a quick draw release - you simply place your thumb on top of the lever and press down and draw the knife - simple - and I like simple, less things to go wrong. The sheath also has different mounting attachments, for belt carry, or you can even place it on your gear.
The blade steel is listed simply as "Chrome Vanadium Steel" on their web site, with a blade that is approximately 3-inches long, with a Rockwell hardness of 58-62 and an overall length of just under 7-inches. The handle of the knife is covered with wrapped Paracord, and you can get it in different colors, my sample had a black Paracord wrapped handle. The knife only weighs in a 3.7-ounces, too - so it is lightweight to be sure. You can also get the knife without a 550 Paracord wrapped handle, too.
However, there is one distinct difference in the knife, compared to most others, and that is, the blade is replaceable - that's right, if you damage the blade or break it, you can simply unscrew it from the main part of the knife and replace it with another blade. Montie Gear guarantees their knives with a lifetime warranty. So, if you happen to break the blade, you send it back to them with a small fee for shipping and handling and they will replace the blade. They also have a sharpening service, but I don't know what the fee is for re-sharpening the knife. If you keep your knife sharp, you shouldn't have to send it back to the company to have their re-sharpen it - that's my thoughts. I don't like a dull knife - they are dangerous and can't get the job done when you need it.
The design of the blade is akin to a reverse (upside-down) Tanto-style blade, and it is very easy to re-sharpen, too. I found this small little knife very easy to use and because of the blade design you can do some extra-fine detail cutting if need be. In a survival situation, you must have a blade that is easy to re-sharpen in my opinion. I will say this, without a doubt, this knife was the sharpest I've even tested - bar none! The blade is hand-sharpened, and I don't know if the final edge was done on a buffing wheel, but mine had the literal razor-edge on it - you could easily shave with it, if you had to. The blade's edge really gripped into anything you want to cut - I liked it - a lot!
As a rule, I like bigger knives - fixed blade or folders, because I think they are a bit more useful for different tasks. However, the Montie Gear Ultra-lightweight fixed blade, did everything I asked of it. I didn't try to chop through any tree branches - the knife isn't designed for this. However, if you want a constant companion, in a fixed blade knife, that you can wear on your belt all day long - and forget it is there, and a knife that can handle any chores around the house and kitchen, this is a worthy contender in this regard. Almost daily, I have deliveries for UPS or FedEx - and the USPS, and these are boxes that need to be opened, and this little Ultra-lightweight folder not only zipped through opening the boxes, it also made quick work of cutting the boxes down for easy disposal in the trash - that is, when I can get a box away from one of my German Shepherds. (My dog Sarge believes that UPS and FedEx only come to bring him cardboard boxes to tear apart. He often grabs a box out of my hand, before I've had a chance to open it and remove the contents.)
I think, more than anything that I liked the quick-draw sheath that the knife is housed in - it is very secure, and you don't have to worry about the knife falling out of it. However, it only takes a split second to press down on the release lever, to get the knife in your hand and into action. Now, while this knife, because of it's small blade length, isn't particularly designed as a self-defense blade, it can be used as one in a last ditch effort. I've noted many times, that most knife fights or self-defense situations call for slashing moves, instead of a stabbing wound...and this knife can easily slice through heavy clothing - even a leather jacket - and get to flesh and bone, if need be. However, I think this knife is more suited for everyday use around the house or on the job - and would make a neat little trail knife for your wilderness hikes. It would also serve to dress out big game, too.
Now, to the nitty-gritty, the price of the knife. Like all Montie Gear, their products are expensive. Then again they use the finest materials and their workmanship is outstanding. There is no junk from Montie Gear. The retail price of the Ultra-lightweight fixed blade knife is $249.99. And be advised that it usually takes a couple weeks to get one of these neat little knives - they are always on back-order. If you're looking for a new fixed blade companion, check out this knife on the Montie Gear web site, and I believe you'll be impressed. You could do a lot worse, and pay more, but I don't think you'll find many knives like this one, with the design of the blade, to be replaced if damaged or broken, and the super-cool sheath that houses it. This is just one of those knives, that when you pick it up, you can't put it down! - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

California State Senator Tom Berryhill (who represents a far-flung conservative district up in the lightly-populated Sierras) recently sent an e-mail with a depressingly long list of pending Democrat-sponsored gun legislation in People's Republic of California:

Senate Bill (S.B.) 47 (Yee, D-San Francisco) Changes the definition of “assault weapon” to include a firearm which is a semiautomatic, centerfire rifle or semiautomatic pistol that does not have a detachable magazine.

S.B. 53 (DeLeon, D-Los Angeles) Dubbed the “ammo purchase permit bill”, this legislation creates new state permits that require background checks for buyers of ammunition.

S.B. 108 (Yee, D-SF) Requires ‘safe’ storage of firearms and lays out penalties for failure to store them properly. A one-sized fits all approach to safe storage is impractical and does not take into account the wide variety of people that own and safely store their firearms.

S.B. 374 (Steinberg, D-Sacramento) Ban on the sale of all semi-auto rifles, this bill would ban rimfire and centerfire semi-auto rifles with detachable magazines with fixed magazines over ten rounds.

S.B. No. 396 (Hancock, D-Berkeley) Ban all magazines that hold more than ten rounds, regardless of the date acquired. A violation is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail.

S.B. 293 (DeSaulnier, D-Concord) Proposes any pistol or handgun sold in California to eventually be equipped with owner recognition technology.

S.B. 299 (DeSaulnier, D-Concord) Requires a 48 hour turnaround from a firearm owner discovering a firearm missing and reporting it (theft, loss or recovery) to local law enforcement. Failure to comply can result in fines and prison time.

S.B. 475 (Leno, D-San Francisco) Sets up additional hurdles for the Cow Palace to contract for a ‘gun show’ or other event at which a firearm or ammunition is going to be sold on the property.

S.B. 567 (Jackson, D-Santa Barbara) Changes the definition of certain kinds of “shotguns” to make them assault weapons.

S.B. No. 755 (Wolk D-Davis) This bill adds a number of crimes – including drug addiction, chronic alcoholism and others – that would result in a 10-year ban on gun ownership.

S.B. No. 683 (Block, D-San Diego) Requires all gun buyers to take a firearm safety class and earn a safety certificate.

Assembly Bill 48 (Skinner, D-Berkeley) Revises the definition of “large-capacity magazine” to mean any ammunition feeding device with the capacity to accept more than ten rounds.

Assembly Bill 169 (Dickinson, D-Sacramento) BANS the sale of handguns not on the state-approved roster – this would include banning the sale of millions of old and used handguns currently owned by Californians by dealers and private party transfers.

Assembly Bill 180 (Bonta, D-Oakland) Repeals California’s firearm preemption law by granting Oakland an exemption to enact unique laws regarding possession, registration, licensing and subjecting gun owners to unknowing criminal liability when traveling through Oakland.

Assembly Bill 231 (Ting, D-San Francisco) expands the law for Criminal Storage of Firearms and child access placing unprecedented liability on gun owners.

Assembly Bill 711 (Rendon, D-Lakewood) BANS the use of all lead ammunition for hunting.

Assembly Bill 760 (Dickinson, D-Sacramento) Tax on ammunition.

With a deeply entrenched Democrat majority now controlling the state senate, the state assembly, and the governorship, California seems doomed. The state is doomed to perpetual over-spending, high taxation, and horrible gun laws. Vote with your feet, folks!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mr. Rawles,
Two years ago, I wrote to you prior to the abolition of the Canadian Long Gun Registry about rumors that senior officials with the RCMP were conspiring to reclassify a large number of long guns.

A major development has recently unfolded that I think merits attention to both your Canadian and American readers - as this could potentially set a major precedent pertaining to gun registration and confiscation.  

There is a lot of drama and intrigue involved between some of the owners of businesses involved, and a more comprehensive explanation of the situation can be found here (with the most current information):

The simplest way to explain the story is the Swiss Arms Rifle is a variant of the SIG 540, which is very similar to the SIG 550.  Under Canadian law, SIG 550 and variants are prohibited, while the SIG 540 and variants are not.  The Swiss Arms rifle has been imported into Canada for over 12 years with many variants classified as Non-Restricted (the least strict classification of a rifle, requiring only a license and as of this point in time no registration).  In all probability, it is speculated that there are over 1,000 owners of the rifle which, by Canadian standards, a fairly high number.

Recently, a business came into possession of a supposed Swiss Arms rifle sold by one of their competitors, and observed that it appeared to contain SIG 550 parts - potentially rendering it a variant of the SIG 550 - and thus a prohibited firearm.  This business sent a sample to be reviewed by the RCMP who came to the conclusion that potentially all Swiss Arms Rifles are SIG 550 variants, and thus were incorrectly classified over a decade ago as either non-restricted or restricted, as opposed to prohibited.

Why this is important is prior to the Long Gun registry being abolished, the RCMP criteria for classifying firearms was very inconsistent and error prone.  As a result, it is entirely conceivable that dozens of firearms that were classified as Non-restricted in fact meet the legislation requirements to be prohibited.  Furthermore, some of these rifles could potentially be in the hands of thousands if not tens of thousands of Canadian gun owners with no official registration data to track them. 

With the abolition of the Long Gun Registry, there are reports that the RCMP is increasingly and more intensely scrutinizing firearms classifications and reopening classifications of existing firearms.  A recently leaked report has a definitive list of guns the  RCMP was reviewing for reclassification prior to the abolition of the Long Gun Registry.  The list itself is comical and completely devoid of substance. One of the most laughable points is that the the Ruger SR22 (a 10/22 dolled up to cosmetically LOOK like an AR-15) is somehow in the AR-15 family.

What this all means is, potentially, the RCMP may reclassify huge swaths of firearms that were once non-restricted or restricted into the prohibited category - effectively banning them from civilian ownership.

The big catch to this is this: with many (if not most) of these guns being Non-restricted, and the long gun registry data (supposedly) having been destroyed this past year, there is no official way the RCMP can track who is in possession of a non-restricted gun that they reclassify to prohibited, that is unless agents in the RCMP have maintained illegal backups of the data.

I learnt the hard way that many firearms businesses are very friendly with the RCMP, while some are not.  However, what is certain is firearms purchased from private businesses do maintain some paper trail, and If many non-restricted guns are prohibited, many of these businesses will either voluntarily surrender their ledger of sales or be forced to by warrant.  

However, I believe within Canada there is no requirement for private owners selling their guns to other private owners to maintain a inventory of sales (I have sold dozens of guns and never kept any paper record).  Ergo, if I bought a firearm from a business that potentially could be reclassified - I would be a bit more concerned.  If I bought one through a private sale, I would be less concerned, although classification would effectively render such firearms a prohibited device and carry a very stiff jail term.

The parties involved with the initial Swiss Arms Prohibition situation have until July 30, 2013 to petition the RCMP but either way, a ground breaking decision could potentially be made by then that could set a major precedent for gun control in Canada.

What's interesting to note in is what will happen if this happens in the middle of a Conservative Party Majority term.  Personally, I am not overly optimistic the Conservatives will do the right thing (and rein in the RCMP).

Mr. Rawles, one thing in particular I would like your guidance on is what is the Christian thing to do if you have lawfully and in good conscience acquired a firearms as a piece of property, and "Caesar" arbitrarily prohibits you from owning it?  Canada is a big place and there aren't enough Praetorians to practically enforce such an edict.  Furthermore, while I don't have any confidence in the Canadian government, I do think as a Christian you have the obligation to protect yourself and your family from theft - regardless of who is doing it.

Thank you. - H.T.C.

JWR Replies: Here in the United States, we fortunately have the protection of Second Amendment, which solemnized a God-given right that pre-dated the Constitution and that therefore invalidates most of the gun-related laws that have recently been enacted. ("Lex mala, lex nulla.") So Christians should not feel even a twinge when they ignore such laws. You can sleep soundly knowing that American Jurisprudence is clear, and on our side:

"The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, whether federal or state, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law but is wholly void and ineffective for any purpose. Since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it, an unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed and never existed; that is, it is void ab initio. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted.

Since an unconstitutional law is void, it follows that generally the statute imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office or liabilities, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection, is incapable of creating any rights or obligations, does not allow for the granting of any relief, and justifies no acts performed under it."

(See the detailed citation, which I've previously posted on SurvivalBlog.)

But in Canada, where you lack a similarly enshrined right, your mileage may vary.

An aside: Because of Canada's draconian handgun laws, most folks in the U.S. have a distorted view of firearms ownership in Canada. They mistakenly picture the country as uniformly anti-gun and fairly-well disarmed. The eastern provinces are indeed dominated by anti-gun liberals and gun ownership is uncommon. But in western Canada, folks raise their kids differently. Here is a picture of a new college graduate in Alberta, holding her graduation present. (That photo link came to me courtesy of SurvivalBlog's Mike Williamson.)

Everyone must decide for themselves where they draw the line in consenting to laws that they know are inherently evil. In 1938 it was against the law for a Jew to go out in public without wearing a Star of David sewn on their clothes. Would you call someone who refused do so a "criminal" or would you instead call them a "dissenter"? A free nation has legitimacy only so long as it has the consent of the governed. When that legitimacy is lost, a few brave souls need to stand up and say forthrightly: "Consent withdrawn!"

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hey Mr. Rawles,

So I'm stuck in The People's Republic of California. I can't get out. We would basically have to walk away from a business we have been running since 1978 with nothing. As I've noted in the past, I do have a mountain retreat that is ready to go.

But here is my question - With all these new California laws which will surely be passed and signed by the governor, I'm obviously a little concerned about my semi-auto long guns. I know folks talk about burying them in tubes and such. But would this be a viable option - I live about three hours from Yuma Arizona, and have someone out there I believe I could trust to hold my guns. If the authorities every came sniffing around asking where the weapons were, would I be able to legally say they have been taken out of state for safe-keeping until such time as the laws are repealed or changes, or whatever? Or not say anything at all, let them tear up the place and find nothing (except my bolt actions and revolvers)?

I mean, it seems like they'd have no jurisdiction in Arizona. Any thoughts you might have on this would be most welcome, thanks - Mountain Man Virgil

JWR Replies: I'm not an attorney, so don't take the following as legal advice and consult an attorney licensed in your state for definitive answers. But I can mention, in general terms that a state's jurisdiction ends at its state lines. Imagine that you mysteriously received an income tax bill in the mail from the Czech Republic, even though you've never worked there or had any business dealings with anyone there. Would you have to pay it? Could they come and arrest you or seize your bank assets for not paying it? Of course not.

If you transport a gun out of California before a new law goes into effect then you will be immune from prosecution by the State of California (the once fine but now sullied California Republic). Now, if that same gun were formerly registered in California then you might be asked to prove that it is now out of the State, but you are not bound by law to do so. And be advised that warranted police searches can be time consuming a and destructive, and you will have limited legal recourse. So maintaining a signed and witnessed affidavit from a friend or relative in Yuma would be wise.

Anyone who attempted to indict you without physical evidence of a crime would be laughed out of court. This is part of the long-standing corpus delicti requirement. The onus probandi (burden of proof) in any prosecution for a state law violation rests upon the state. ( "Semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit.") Without substantive evidence that you had a proscribed firearm or magazine in your possession inside the state's boundaries after the law went into effect, there could be no prosecution of a case, and not even grounds to arrest you. And mere suspicion--without a statement from a witness--would be shaky grounds at best, to secure a search warrant. (But again, we are talking about The People's Republic of California, where in some cases they search homes with impunity, so who knows?)

It bears mention that there are a few firms in Las Vegas, Nevada that specialize in private vault storage of valuables (such as documents, precious metals, jewelry, gemstones, and guns.) It is also notable that some guns, such as AR-15s, a gun can be quickly disassembled, so that just the banned parts (namely the lower receiver and magazines) can fit in a safe deposit box. The remaining parts could legally be stored elsewhere. (Again, consult your state and local laws.) The beauty of doing business with these firms is that because they are not FDIC-insured "banks", they would not be affected by a national "Bank Holiday" situation, which would otherwise limit access to safe deposit boxes. Another storage option for Californians might be buying a membership and renting vault storage space with a well-established firearms training academy in Oregon, Arizona, or Nevada.

Storing guns with friends and relatives out of state can be problematic, but if your alternatives are surrendering your guns for destruction, or selling them at a loss, or facing prosecution, then in my opinion it is well worth the risk. By the way, even though Yuma has a very dry climate, you should consult the many articles in SurvivalBlog's archives about long term gun storage, as well as the copious advice on wall caches, door caches, hidden rooms, and some"hidden in plain sight" options.

And the unspoken bottom line is: Vote with your feet. The history of the western world is replete with tales of families that strategically relocated to escape tyranny. But there are also plenty of stories of families that did not. Go ahead and put your business on the market. If it is God's will for you to move, then you will find a buyer. Jehovah Jireh!

Monday, June 3, 2013

While I've always loved the Government Model 1911, in .45ACP, it isn't my first choice - in a 1911. I've lost count of the number of 1911s I've owned over the years, and traded or sold, for some stupid reason, but I suspect, I've owned well over a hundred different types of 1911s in my lifetime. However, given my druthers, I'd druther have a Commander-sized 1911 - one with a 4.25-inch barrel, instead of the 5-inch barrel found on the Government Model. The 4.25-inch barrel 1911s just seem to balance better in my hand, and they are quicker on-target. Additionally, they seem to pack better for me on my hip, especially when seated in a car - that 3/4 of an inch, when seated can be a bit uncomfortable when in a car all day long - it digs into my hip!
I've been fortunate in that, when I was a police officer over the years, I was able, for the most part, to pick whatever type of firearm I wanted to carry on-duty - one of the perks when working for a small department, or if you're the chief of police - as I was, of a small department. When I was the police chief of a small town in Eastern Oregon, the county sheriff at that time, frowned upon me packing a cocked 'n locked 1911 on my hip. He never directly said anything to me about it, however several deputies mentioned to me that the sheriff would prefer I not carry my gun cocked! Well, to be quite honest, that is the way you carry a 1911 handgun - with a round in the chamber, the hammer cocked, and the safety on! I've seen many other folks, who carried 1911s carry them with a round in the chamber and the hammer down - which meant, in order to fire the gun, they had to manually cocked the hammer - which is dangerous itself because you might allow the hammer to slip 'causing an ND (Negligent Discharge). It is much safer and easier to carry the gun with a round in the chamber, and the hammer cocked, with the safety on. It only takes a mere fraction of a second to snick the safety off, as you draw the gun, and ready it to fire.
Okay, I'll get off my soapbox when it comes to the proper method of carrying a good ol' 1911 handgun. What we have under review in this article is the Ruger SR1911 CMD which has the Commander-sized barrel and slide length of 4.25-inches. Some other gun companies have similar models, with barrels slightly shorter, but for all intents and purposes, they are all basically "Commander-esque" in size when it comes to barrel and slide length. And, to be sure, only Colt can use the term "Commander" as they have it copyrighted and trademarked!  So, Ruger simply calls their Commander-size the SR1911 CMD and I don't have a clue as to what the CMD stands for, other than perhaps being short for Commander. Over a year ago, I did a review on the full-sized Government Model SR1911 from Ruger and I was very pleased with the performance, but I longed for a "Commander-sized" SR1911. Ruger delivered!
The Ruger SR1911 CMD, as mentioned, has a 4.25-inch slide and barrel, and the slide and frame are manufactured out of stainless steel. And, I still remember the first stainless steel auto that came on the scene many years ago. There were a lot of problems with "galling" - when the guns got a little bit hot, the slides wouldn't move easily on the frames - they sometimes "froze" and wouldn't move at all, no matter how much lube you put on the gun. This problem has been solved by using a slightly different type of stainless steel in the slide and the frame - they are not exactly the same type of stainless steel.
The Ruger SR1911 CMD also comes with everything you need, and nothing you don't really need. There is a skeletonized trigger, with an over travel adjustment - my sample was perfectly adjusted as it came from the box. There is a combat-style hammer, and black, flat mainspring housing, which I prefer over the arched mainspring housing. And, the mainspring housing is also black - as is the extended single-sided thumb safety - it makes for an attractive set-up with the rest of the gun being a satin finished stainless steel. And, the mainspring housing isn't plastic, it's steel. The slightly extended magazine release is also black - and I really appreciate the slightly extended magazine release on 1911s, makes for a fast magazine change. The black front sight has a white dot, and the Novak combat rear sight has two dots, and in my humble opinion, the Novak rear sight is still the one all others long to be - it's the best on the market!
Inside the white cardboard box the SR1911 SMC came in, is a second magazine - stainless steel, and a soft carrying case, too. Nice touch, Ruger! The magazines appear to me, to be made by Checkmate Industries, but I could be wrong, and they are both flat bottomed 7-round magazines. The full-sized SR1911 comes with a flat bottomed 7 round magazine and an extended 8 round round magazine. I'm not quite sure why Ruger decided to go with two 7-round magazines with the SR1911 CMD model. And, speaking of the magazines they are VERY well made, and they have a stout spring, which makes for getting those rounds fed reliably. The gun weighs is at 36.40-ounces. Trigger pull was slightly under 5 pounds with no creep - the left-off was nice - nothing I would do to the trigger at all - and I usually tinker with trigger-pulls on most 1911s. Also, there is no full-length guide rod - many makers are going to the longer full-length guide rods, but I've long ago decided they don't add anything to accuracy or function to a 1911 - they only complicate the take-down for cleaning. Congrats, Ruger! The SR1911 CMD also has some beautiful hardwood checkered grips with the Ruger trademark in the center of them.
During the ammo drought, I was fortunate in that, I had a good selection of .45ACP ammo to run through my SR1911 CMD. From Black Hills Ammunition I had their 185-grain Barnes Tac-XP +P all-copper hollow point, their 230-grain JHP and their 230-grain FMJ loads. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 185-grain Barnes Tac-XP +P load, their 200-grain JHP +P, their 255-grain Hard Cast +P load, their 230-grain FMJ FN +P loading, and their new standard pressure 185-grain FMJ FN load. So, I had plenty of different types of ammo to run through the SR1911 CMD.
I headed out to the range, with high expectations, the gun is solidly built, no play between the slide and frame to speak of, and the barrel was expertly fitted, I was expecting outstanding accuracy. Sad to say, I had numerous failures to feed in the first 50 rounds. About every other round and oftentimes, every round, wouldn't fully chamber. I knew the problem - an extractor that was too tight. Luckily, where I shoot is only about 5-6 minutes from where I live. So, I headed home and broke the SR1911 CMD down, and sure enough, the tension on the extractor was high - I'm guessing it took about 20 pounds of pressure to slide a round under the extractor - with the frame off the slide. I  took the extractor out and adjusted the tension - it was still pretty tight though. Back to the range, and the feeding problems were better, but not quite right, yet. I used to take my gunsmithing tools and parts box with me to the range, but more often than not, a spring or small part would go flying, never to be found again. In all, I made a total of 4-trips home, to readjust the tension on the extractor before it would feed properly. However, I still had problems with one round - the Buffalo Bore 255 grain Hard Cast rounds, and this round has fed in every .45ACP pistol I've put it through. One more trip home.
I took the SR1911 CMD apart again, and examined the barrel - the top of the chamber, the hood - had some serious gouges in it - and I know it wasn't from the ammo I had been shooting through the gun. I can only surmise that, this barrel wasn't properly finished before being put into the gun. I got the Dremel Tool out and polished the barrel hood. Back to the range, one more time. However, the gun still had problems feeding the Buffalo Bore 255-grain Hard Cast rounds - I finally gave-up, and decided, for whatever reason, this round won't be one I can use in this gun. Too bad, this is my preferred round for out in the boonies - where I might run into a black bear.
Okay, with the feeding problems resolved - for the most part - I proceeded to my accuracy part of my testing. I'm happy to report that this gun can shoot, and shoot with the best of them. No groups exceeded 3-inches at 25-yards, firing over the hood of my SUV, supported. This gun is a consistent shooter in the accuracy department. However, there was one real stand-out, and it was the Black Hills 185-grain Tax-XP +P load, which is one of my favorite street self-defense loads. I was getting groups right around 2-inches with this load, and hot on it's heels was the Buffalo Bore 185-grain FMJ FN Standard Pressure load. Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore came up with this load from customer requests - they wanted a load that was low-recoil, but that could offer some serious penetration on dangerous game or if someone is behind cover - this load delivers!
I had no failures to extract - only the failures to feed, at the start of my testing. The +P loads really threw the empty cases far from the gun. The standard loads threw the empties only a few feet away. After my testing, I came home and took the SR1911 CMD apart for cleaning, and I polished the breech face while I had the gun apart - there were a few rough spots on it, but nothing that was causing the feeding problems. I'm happy to report, that I had the gun out several more times since my testing for this article, and there were no malfunctions of any type - but I steered clear of the Buffalo Bore 255-grain Hard Cast +P loads - this gun just won't feed this round for some strange reason.
I'm confident in the reliability of the SR1911 CMD these days, and it is riding on my hip daily - I actually do carry the handguns I test. I've only had two "bad" guns from Ruger in all the years I've been shooting, the first was the P85, and I had an early production run model, and the slide would just lock open halfway during shooting - never could figure that one out. The other is this SR 1911 CMD. Whoever fitted the extractor to my sample didn't "fit" it - they just installed it, and never checked the tension on it, the gun wasn't test-fired at the factory, had it been, they would have found out in the first couple of rounds that the extractor was too tight to allow the rounds to easily slide under the extractor as they came out of the magazine.
Now, this isn't a knock against Ruger - I've had "bad" guns from the best gun companies, a bad one slips through every now and then. Ruger has outstanding customer service, and as a rule, has a turn round of a week or two if there is a problem and you send your gun to them for service. I could have easily returned my SR1911 CMD to Ruger for service, but I honestly enjoy working on 1911s, so I took care of the problem myself. If you have a problem with any Ruger product, return it to them, and they will make it right, in very short order. I'm confident in my SR1911 CMD sample, and expect many years of service from it. And, it is plenty accurate, too.
Right now, all guns are in great demand, I read in an article the other day that 37 guns per minute are being sold in this country. And, Ruger firearms are always in demand. So, it might be a little hard to find an SR1911 CMD right now. Full retail is $829 on this gun, and traditionally you could find Ruger firearms discounted a bit - but these days, all bets are off. I know some dealers are selling this gun for more than retail, and people are paying the price, too. So, if you're in the market for a Commander-sized 1911, take a close look at the Ruger SR1911 CMD for your next purchase.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Dear Captain Rawles,
I would like to thank Al H. for his letter on the importance of studying Guerrilla Warfare tactics and also for his mention of one of my book, Contact!: A Tactical Manual for Post Collapse Survival

There were two purposes in writing 'Contact': firstly, to pass on tactical self-defense information to aid the survival of law abiding prepper folks in a post-SHTF situation. The second was to give information on how to tactically fight a resistance campaign, although at the time I left some of the reasons for the tactics a little unsaid. Its all in there, from the tactical side of a resistance fight.

I would also like to make your readers aware that I recently opened up my tactical training site in West Virginia. I have begun running weekend courses and more information can be found on my web site here and testimonials and AARs from recent training can be found here. I hope this shows Al H. that some are stepping up to the training plate.

I am providing West Virginia and East Cast based training, and John Mosby, also known as Mountain Guerrilla, is based in the Idaho/American Redoubt area.

I also publish information and free tactical training articles on my blog.

I also have a novel available, titled Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises. The book was designed to 'bring to life' the tactics in 'Contact' and it describes what an insurgency might, or could, look like. It may be an eye opener for some. The book has a newly redesigned cover which is currently showing on the Kindle version on Amazon, not the paperback, as catches up. As well as the tactics, the role of the auxiliary is portrayed around the general setting of a resistance campaign.

I hope this helps. Live Free, Die Hard. - Max Velocity


Hello James,
I just wanted to write a brief response to Al H.'s Studying Guerrilla Warfare Tactics. Responding or replying to anything of this nature is not generally something I would do in the name of anonymity. However, I would like people out there to know that most of what Al says is true, but I, and many others, have and will continue to be preparing for and studying mobile guerrilla operations, including but not limited to recruiting, training, setting up communications, auxiliary and hit and run operations. With the hopes that these skills will never be needed, I and others that I have met, have received preliminary training in person from ex-military who are the experts, in mobile guerrilla operations, hit and run tactics, and force multipliers. There are many like-minded people out there; I believe they just don't broadcast. With the preliminary training that I had received in the past, I then had the option to continue studying/training on my own (in small groups) or forget what I had learned.
Again, I believe most of what Al has said to be true, but there are more of us out there than people think. Sincerely and Gratefully, - S., RN


You've mentioned it many times in your blog, but the foundational training for both regular and irregular warfare is marksmanship training! And you've also made many mentions of the [Project] Appleseed shoots [organized by the RWVA]. I can't think of more cost-effective way to instruct Citizen Soldiers than to do a few weekends of Appleseed shoots and an Appleseed boot camp. Only then, after you have laid down that important groundwork, go on to take yourself some top-notch training from an outfit like Gunsite, if you can afford it. Train, train, and train some more! With My Best Wishes, - Gandy D. (Warrior, semi-ret'd.)

JWR Replies: I concur. Knowledge conquers fear, and fearless warriors conquer tyrants.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hi James,
   I just want to pass on a "good job" referral.  I was having difficulty with my Optolyth spotting scope's coarse focus ring.  It was almost frozen; very hard to turn.  There are several companies in Britain that work on optics, but I wanted to find someone here in the USA, and eventually located Cory Suddarth's company,  Cory is a Navy-trained optical man with 38 years' experience working with all types of optics.  Located in Henryetta, Oklahoma, he offers very affordable service for practically any make or model binocular or scope.  Families are now finding WWII binoculars in their grandfather's possessions when they pass away. (I just lost my father-in-law, who was a Corpsman on Iwo Jima), and want to keep them functional.  Cory can completely refurbish old optics, including dismantling [and cleaning] the prisms and re-gluing the lenses to like-new condition.  Even the exteriors are renewed.  Truly fine work.  Check his site and contact him for further info and estimates. - D.A., DVM

Friday, May 24, 2013

For those with hollowpoint feeding problems with their pistols, I’d like to recommend the Dremel 516 Abrasive Point, which is bullet-shaped.

Here is manufacturer's description: "Abrasive point, bullet shaped constructed of compressed non-woven nylon fibers that have been impregnated with aluminum oxide abrasive grains. These abrasive points are great for finishing work and light deburring."
I find it works well by polishing the feed ramp to a mirror finish as well as lightly rounding the sharp edges of the chamber end of a new barrel.  I stumbled upon this solution when I received one of the first batch of Diamondback 380s.  I had multiple malfunctions with the DB380 using hollow points and was considering sending it back to Diamondback.  I elected to polish the barrel as describe above and it was a remarkable improvement and the next box of hollow points fed flawlessly.  I now do this polishing mod with all my new pistols.  A simple test of bullet to chamber feed is to hold the barrel vertical and simply drop a bullet in from one inch above.  If the bullet doesn’t simply glide into the chamber, hangs up by catching the case rim, or if it rolls around the on barrel rim a few times, buff it a little bit more with the Dremel abrasive bit.  My only warning is don’t overdo it, as you might remove too much barrel material and have a case rupture near the rim (which I have to date not experienced.) Cheers, - Foo

JWR Replies: I concur that feed ramp polishing should be done judiciously. As with any machining process, always remember that it is easy to remove metal, but it is usually impossible to put it back via welding or brazing without ruining a part. Proceed with caution and take your time! Never use a file when you should be using a stone, or your will probably regret it. The old saying is "haste makes waste." Or, as my father put it: "haste makes expensive trips to the hardware store." Also keep in mind any time you use any abrasives on your guns, that you need to remove all of the fragments and filings, which might wear on the inner workings elsewhere in your pistol or scratch their protective finishes. For this, I often use a spray can of brake cleaner solvent. (Available at you local auto parts store.) Be sure to wear rubber gloves, and of course properly re-lubricate the parts as you re-assemble the gun, since brake cleaner will strip away all of the lubrication.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In response to the nifty article written by Z.T.  I believe I have something to add:
Bill Wilson used to sell a great pamphlet on the care and feeding of 1911s. He specifically addressed hollowpoint reloading vs ball reloading.  In it the physical path and critical feed angles were discussed, as well as what a reloader should do if reloading semi-wadcutter or hollowpoint ammo.  I’d get into it, but I’m pretty certain it’s copyrighted – I don’t think they sell the pamphlet anymore but it’s still his intellectual property.  In a nutshell, if you’re going to reload hollowpoint ammo, you need to load to a slightly longer OAL because of the spot on the bullet where it actually hits the feed ramp is different due to the bullet profile – hitting it later in the slide cycle, essentially, and losing enough energy to create the slightly out of battery condition that’s a plague to 1911s.   There is also a solution that entails checking the feed lip profile for your magazines and either reshaping them to ensure accurate feeding.  I have a nice pile of 1911s of all flavors in existence because I like them.  The gun I carry is one I started shooting 15 years ago and it’s ratty and ugly – and it has my complete confidence.
The other issue in the article had to do with his former habit of buying 50 rounds of standard ball ammo and 20 rounds of “defensive” ammo. Arrggh!.
We as a shooting community have been plagued by the marketing divisions of the various ammo manufacturers since the invention of the original “magic” Federal Hydra-Shok. [JWR Adds: That actually dates back to the days of Super-Vel brand ammo, in the 1960s.] They package them in smaller quantities and put fancy names on them – then double the price, ostensibly because they’re “more effective” against goblins.  Police after-action shootout reports do not emphasize this, but they do prove something – there is no such thing as a magic bullet.    These same “magic” bullets are also sold to law enforcement agencies, but miraculously, they also package them in 50 round boxes and sell them for maybe 20 percent more than ball ammo.   And we continue to buy “magic ammo” in small quantities.   There is nothing more important that being confident in your ability to hit what you aim at and the reliability of your chosen firearm.  The only thing that will give you that is lots and lots of rounds downrange, and if you’re using “magic bullets” you probably can’t afford to do so – so you “compromise” and do what Z.T. described.  I see in everywhere in the civilian shooting community.  

The single greatest impact you can have on your ability to survive a deadly attack with your firearm is continual and copious practice under varying conditions and varying environments, you should get muddy, sunburned, out-of-breath, bruised, frustrated and way out of your comfort zone as much as you possibly can. Putting  0 rounds downrange once a month in an air-conditioned shooting club is no substitute, it’s not even “better than nothing” because your expectations of an encounter as such that the static nature of a typical range will actually work against you when you have to make real tactical decisions when defending your life.    Almost all the public ranges I’ve been to prohibit drawing from a holster, moving forward or backward or laterally, or at any angle other than from a fully standing position.  There are reasons for this that make sense for a range owner, and I’m not advocating a change in these rules – I agree with their rationale.  What I’m saying is that you need to seek out range experiences that allow you to do all the things you might need to do when defending your life.   If your choice is 50 rounds a month at a static range or nothing, I’d suggest the latter.   I’ve put countless people through stress simulation drills who have spent, in some cases, 20 or more years doing static target shooting – and without exception they all failed to achieve any sort of accuracy (center of mass) when stressed, even when the stress was so little as five pushups or starting  with an unknown (to them) empty firearm.   

The lesson I got from Z.T.’s article simply reinforced what I’ve already learned: training trumps equipment.  The Boers knew it, survivors of violent encounters know it – we need to embrace it and find ways to avoid the type of thinking the marketing people at ammunition manufacturers want us to think.   If there was a “magic bullet” like the pre-fragmented kind of Magsafe, etc...  and they were that effective – then wouldn’t you think they’d be the only kind of ammo out there?  In general the firearms “review” we read are conducted by someone who got his or her ammunition for free – so of course it’s going to be described as the best thing out there.  Yeah, yeah, I know Box O' Truth and some others don’t do that – but they aren’t as widely read as the typical gun writer in the magazines and articles we read in the mainstream.   Forget believing that there is any difference in hollowpoint and ball ammo, no hollowpoint in the world is going to make up for bad shot placement – if you can’t train with the ammo you’re going to carry (because it’s too expensive to do so) then abandon it and train with what you carry – it will give you the confidence in your equipment that you need to face a violent encounter, and that confidence is essential. - Jim H. in Colorado

Saturday, May 18, 2013

To any avid gun collector, this may seem to be old news. For those of you that this isn't old news, it may save your life. You should take great care in your personal protection firearm and the ammunition you have loaded in it.

If you are like me, shooting your firearms is a hobby that has had to take a back seat because of today's economy and political climate. For many years, it was nothing to go out and shoot a thousand rounds of ammunition for fun. It wasn't even that long ago! I remember back in around 2006-2007, I could go to Wal-Mart and buy all the .45 ACP ammo I wanted  for $12 a box of 50 rounds. But today is a different day. You can scarcely find .45 ammo. And if you can, you are limited to 1 box a day and you will pay $26 for it. Period. And that will be for cheap ammo.

But, to the point, I am not even talking about shooting cheap ammunition.

Collecting firearms has finally become a reality to me...or it had...and despite the relatively high prices and scarcity of quality firearms, I am still fortunate enough to be able to buy a little here and there. Yet, despite having a little extra money to buy the gun itself, being able to go about and pop off 500 rounds isn't feasible for me. As a result, I did something that I hear is very common--and dangerous--these days:

I buy the gun, 50 rounds of inexpensive ammo, and 20 rounds of good defense rounds. I go to the range and shoot the 50 rounds to make sure the gun runs, than I stick the premium rounds in it, stick in in the holster, and call it a day.

Believe it or not, this is a life-threatening mistake.

This past weekend, the rain was beating down outside which caused all of my family outdoors activity to be canceled. Desperate for something to do, I decided to clean all of my pistols. In particular, I was cleaning two of my carry pistols, a Taurus PT-145 Millennium Pro .45 ACP  and a Taurus TCP .380.

As I was saying, both of these guns are recent purchases, both within the last year. I had put less than 50 rounds of ammo through each of them. I had put ZERO self defense rounds through them. Both are loaded with Hornady Critical Defense for self protection.

Now, quoting from their web site:

"The patented Flex Tip® technology used in Critical Defense® ammunition eliminates the clogging and inconsistency that often plagues hollow point bullets. ?"

They make a fantastic round, but despite the claims, when I finished up reassembling each gun, I cycled a few rounds through it. Guess what. They jammed. Both guns. Multiple times.

I picked up my Springfield Armory 1911, which has had a good bit of work in massaging the feed ramp and it had zero problems feeding the rounds.

Okay. So, now what? Well, racking the slide to check for feeding problems isn't exactly exact, so there is only one thing to do to verify whether or not your firearm will feed the self defense rounds: Go fire it. Now, I know that's easier said than done. A box of 20 rounds for any common caliber is going to cost you $25 dollars. And you really need to shoot several boxes through it. $100 is a lot of money to most people, not to mention the time to go out and do it. But, it's a necessary thing. Your life depends on it.

I have hinted around at it, and surely you have figured it out by now. If you haven't, consider the situation (heaven forbid it actually happen, but in today's world, you better be ready) where you have to defend yourself and others against an assailant. You pull the gun out, take aim, get a shot off. Maybe it hits. Maybe it doesn't. In either case, you should always shoot until the mag is empty. But, to your surprise, the spent casing ejects and the next round hangs on the feed ramp. It takes about three seconds, best case, to dislodge and reload. What do you think will happen in those three seconds? Anything. And that's the point.

I am as cheap as the next person, but this reality really hit home for me. Why? Because I have to think of myself and others I protect....and, what about my wife who also carries. What will she do if her gun hangs up? Cheap or not, money is a stupid reason to get yourself or a loved one shot, especially if $100 is what you "saved".

The question you may have is "why does it jam up?"

First off, I want to shake off a common misconception. A gun hanging up hollow points isn't a sign of a defective gun. Take the 1911, for example. The 1911 is one, if not the most, sought after handguns. It is one of the most popular handguns on the planet. It helped win two World Wars. It's still used by many armies. It is a favorite of gun collectors everywhere. But, it was also designed to shoot full metal jacket ("ball") round-nosed ammunition. You go buy a nice 1911 and try and cycle hollow point ammo through it and more often than not, a 1911 will have issues. Let's be honest, even 90% feeding success ratio isn't going to make any one feel good in a live fire situation.

These feed ramps, and the mating surface to them, are all made on different machines by different operators. Because of this, some of the pieces don't mate up just perfectly. Sometimes there are tool marks from the machining processes. Maybe there are some imperfections due to what-have-you. While many gun companies out there do their due diligence and spend the extra time working on these finer points, the cost is passed on to the consumer. You. So, if you are like me and you are staring at the gun case wondering if you should get a Smith & Wesson or a Taurus, keep in mind that one of the reasons (other than the name) that one cost more than the other is usually the fit and finish. I know that's an over used phrase, but it's accurate in this case. Are the surfaces matched perfectly? Are the surfaces cleaned and massaged? Maybe. Maybe not.

So, you go out and you shoot up a bunch of expensive ammo. The gun hangs up. Now what? Well, this is the crux of this post, really.

You have several options:

  1. The most common fix that I have seen is that people will massage the feed ramp and related pieces of the gun by light sanding and polishing. A quick search on the Internet will unearth a lot of information about how to do it. But, I caution any of you to go sanding and polishing on your firearm unless you really know what you are doing or you have enough money to go buy a new gun. There are a lot of things that you must also consider, like lined barrels. Even if you do a terrific job, you may destroy the coating that came on the barrel. It's very easy to ruin a gun, period. A little too much sanding...or uneven sanding....and you have misshaped the critical parts of your firearm.  
  2. Take it to a gunsmith. You know the saying "you get what you pay for." You may have to be without your gun for a long time. It may cost you more money. But, you will get a much more  reliable piece back. If you only have one defense gun, or don't have much money, this can present a problem. But, in the end, this is really the best solution to fixing it. It is value adding, too.
  3. Shoot 500 to 1,000 rounds of ball round nose ammo through it in order to smooth those imperfections out. Now. I know many of you are laughing. Me to. Yesterday when I was doing some research, I came across this solution. It is absolutely a viable solution that works most of the time. But, I thought..."how in the world could I even find that much ammo, much less afford it". Then I looked at the date of the article....2006. Again, if you are well off enough to still be able to shoot...this is a great solution! The passage of the round will knock down and smooth out the mating surfaces, as well as coat the imperfection with copper jacketing. [JWR Adds: Successively hand-cycling but not firing 1,000 cartridges through your pistol will also help. But because this will put a lot of wear on the cartridges, it is best to use the same 50 cartridges repeatedly, and then actually shoot them, the 20th time that you cycle them through the gun. And, needless to say, it is absolutely essential that you use a safe backstop when hand-cycling the cartridges, in the event of an accidental trigger press.]
  4. Don't carry autoloading pistols. Many men will laugh at this. But don't think of yourself. Think of your wives. If they are like mine, they already don't want to carry a chambered round in their auto loader. Which means that in a shooter situation, they have to pull it out of their purse, chamber a round, and fire. Why not do what millions have done before and buy her a revolver. I will be honest. This was my solution for my wife.
  5. Only shoot ball nose ammunition through the gun. I know...everyone wants fancy ammo. Does it make a difference? Sure. Absolutely. But ball ammo can do nearly as much damage. If you plan on filling an assailant with half a dozen holes, it really won't matter whether they came from ball or hollow point. Going back to our 1911 example, this gun and ball ammunition has killed a lot of people. Now, if you only get one round into Mr. Perpetrator, then yes, I would rather have a hollow point. In some cases though, you may be better off with ball anyway. Take the case where an assailant has body armour. A hollow point will expand on contact and won't penetrate. Ball will hold together better and give you the best chance at penetrating.

So, in summation: Don't buy a gun and just try it out with ball, then throw fancy hollowpoint ammo in it and assume that it will function. It's a dangerous proposition that may have a bad ending. Know how your gun will function in all situations and take steps to rectify any potential issues. It could save your life. And saving your life is worth  a lot more than saving a few dollars.

To follow up on a recent letter: Yes, stock up on shotgun shells! The availability of shotgun shells here locally (northern Gulf Coast) seems to have improved in some stores-but by no means all retail outlets- in recent weeks. For a while there wasn't much to be found. Shells that were available generally had a high price or were of a variety that fell outside the range of everyday use (i.e. high-priced shells loaded with tungsten or steel shot.) If a person needs shotshells and you can find a good product that meets your needs, then I suggest you buy them by the case. If you don't, then your only regret will be not buying them when you had the opportunity. - J.B. and Co.

Friday, May 17, 2013

 I am struck by the continued availability of a variety of 12 gauge during this severe ammo shortage.  As we all know, the 12 gauge is probably one of the most versatile and powerful firearms we can have in a survival battery, or even just to have around during normal times.  I live in Houston, Texas and can't vouch for the rest of the country but I see plenty of 12 Gauge ammo everywhere I go.  The Bass Pro Shops flyer I just got even has Federal target loads in it for $6.49 per box of 25, that's 26 cents per round!  With 9mm, .223, and the like hovering around an average of $1 per round, this seems like a steal, by comparison.  Anyway, all the sporting good stores used to have plenty of sales on a variety of ammo, but now the only thing anyone seems to have enough of to even bother advertising is the 12 Gauge.  Yes, maybe some 20 gauge and .410 as well.  My point is: like-minded individuals should take this opportunity to make sure they are fully stocked with all flavors of shotshells.  Just six months ago it seemed absurd to think that we would now have a hard time finding .22 Long Rifle ammo.  Most would say we have not entered TEOTWAWKI as of yet, but the bare ammo shelves at the store make me wonder.  Even my 12 year old son is taken aback by the continued sight of these bare shelves.  Could the shotgun shells be gone in the next six months?  What a scary sight that would be. - David O.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

In response to the letter about swapping out devices that use button batteries, I would point out that some EOTech holographic sights use standard AA batteries, that are easily recharged. The EOTech 512 is an example. These sights are robust, easy to use and stay calibrated through heavy use. 

Combined with the Sanyo Eneloop AA batteries the EOTech sight would be useful for many years to anyone with a solar battery charger. The Eneloop batteries can be recharged over 1,500 times and unlike other rechargeables, they maintain 75% of their charge after three years of storage. While the EOTech doesn't have the ambient light intake or tritium sights of the mentioned Trijicon, it is an option that folks should explore as they compare options. Just my humble opinion. - Ohio Shawn

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

James Wesley,
I have found red dot scopes to be real helpful, and great for target shooting and plinking.  The problem of course are the [button] batteries. I have a cheap red dot on one of my [Ruger] 10/22 fun plinking gun.  Everyone loves it.  However, too Many times I have left the sight turned on only to have a useless device atop my rifle. I have spent much money on the special "photo type" batteries for these illuminated scopes (with and without reticles). Those scopes that have a regular reticle and the option of illumination is not as catastrophic as a red dot with a dead battery and no quick back up iron sights.  I have added Trijicon RMR Dual-Illuminated Sight (Ruggedized Miniature Reflex) to two of my survival rifles. The illumination of the dot is done with with ambient light and has tritium illumination for low light/night conditions.  The great thing is the the ambient illumination will last forever.  It is always there - no switches, no batteries, no problem.  In a TEOTWAWKI situation this is what you want.  If you are on watch at night or low light the tritium illumination is always there when you need it.  Yes they are expensive ~$500, well worth the investment, they are built rugged and solidly reliable.  This could be your life depending on this device, how much is that worth?  Do you want to bet your life on a $39 piece of junk?  You get what you pay for.  Yes the tritium will degrade, that will be anywhere from 5 to 15 years depending on who you talk to and how good your eyes are. However the daytime function will always be there.  The sights can always be returned Trijicon and the tritium replaced for a fee.  the choice if color is amber or green - no red, I have no problem with the amber.  As time goes on how much have you spent on these expensive batteries?  Something to consider.  I have no association with Trijicon or any financial interest, just a satisfied customer. - Richie in New York City

JWR Replies: Most people don't realize it, but most disposable button batteries can be recharged. And even better for preppers, there are very compact photovoltaic button battery chargers available. Just be advised that these are not automatically regulated, so you have to keep track of the number of hours that they are charging in full sunlight.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A recurring theme in western journalism, academia, and collectivist politics is the quaint notion that firearms are intrinsically evil. That is, that they have a will of their own, that somehow inspires their owners to murder and mayhem. I liken this nonsensical belief to voodoo.

The "guns are evil" viewpoint was encapsulated by social psychologist Leonard Berkowitz when he wrote: “Guns not only permit violence, they can stimulate it as well. The finger pulls the trigger, but the trigger may also be pulling the finger.” I am astounded that something like that can be earnestly said or written in modern times, and not immediately get shouted down. This statement betrays an outlook that is not much different than that of a practitioner of Voodoo. And to see this espoused by some with a nomen appendage like "Ph.D." makes it even more absurd. (Leonard Berkowitz was awarded a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Michigan in 1951. But apparently U. of M.'s doctoral program did not include courses in logic. And his study of what he called "the weapons effect" was conducted quite unscientifically.) Just imagine if he or one of his academic cohort were to proclaim: "Typewriters not only permit libel, they can stimulate it as well. The fingers tap the keys, but the keys may also be pulling the finger toward the keyboard by an unseen force, stimulating libel.” Any psychologist who trots out such nonsense needs to consult a psychiatrist.

I have a few questions for Dr. Berkowitz and his peers:

1.) What is the mechanical difference between a "target pistol" and a "murder weapon"?

2.) What is a "Nazi Luger"? Can a Luger pistol join the National Socialist party, and share their hatred of perceived Untermenschen and wish to exterminate them? By the same token, what is a "Communist AK-47"?

3.) How many people have been killed by guns without someone physically pulling the trigger? And in any very rare exception to the norm, was it a mechanical defect or negligent handling at fault, or did the gun really wish to do harm and "go off by itself."?

4.) Why have gun makers been sued for wrongful death because of murders committed with their products? (If a gun does indeed consistently fire a bullet at high velocity when the safety mechanism is disengaged and the trigger is pulled, then isn't that device working just as designed?)

5.) What, pray tell, is the distinguishing characteristics of an "assault" rifle, and what differentiates it from a "hunting" rifle? Does the attachment of a black plastic buttstock make a gun in any way more wicked, murderous, or bent on assault than attaching a pretty wooden stock?

6.) Is a magazine capacity of 16 rounds inherently more evil, criminal or sinister than a capacity of 15 rounds? (This was threshold that the geniuses in the Colorado legislature recently declared, complete with jail term penalties. OBTW, Canada set the threshold of evil at a mere five rounds, for semiautomatic long guns.)

Let step back and look at these tools logically and dispassionately: A firearm cartridge can be thought of as a simple single-use internal combustion engine, with a piston that does not reciprocate. Instead, it takes a one-way flight. The engine housing is a brass cartridge case, and the "vehicle" is the entire gun. The pistons as are called bullets. The fuel for these engines (gunpowder) creates the expanding gasses that drive the pistons. Cartridge firearms are compact vehicles for change that have shaped modern history. The righteousness of their use is entirely up to their users, since like any other tool they can be used both for good or for ill.  A firearm is just a tool with no volition. A rifle is no different than a claw hammer. To wit: A hammer can be used to build a house, or it can be used to bash in someone’s skull—the choice of uses is entirely up to the owner.  A bulldozer can be used to build roads, or to destroy houses. A rifle can be used to drill holes in paper targets, or to dispatch a marauding bear, or to murder your fellow man. Again, the choice of uses is entirely up to the user. But, alas, even though it is the 21st Century, we are still dealing with voodoo-like superstition. If you get angry or drunk and you then use your Chrysler car to run over a neighbor's child, should your neighbor then launch an organization called "The Coalition to Ban Chryslers," to punish all Chrysler owners?

I am also opposed to all so-called “gun control” laws because they are a form of prior restraint. The gun grabbers presuppose ill-intent on the part of law-abiding citizens and even the guns themselves. I find these laws akin to the concept of “pre-crime”—a term coined by science fiction novelist Phillip K. Dick, in his novel Minority Report. (It was later turned into a movie, starring Tom Cruise.)

If a firearm is used by a criminal or psychopath with evil intentions, then it is a tool for evil. But if it is used for good (to defend life and property), then it is a tool for good. A firearm by itself has no sentience, no volition, no moral force, and no politics. The proper term for this is an adiaphorous object--something that is neither good nor evil. A firearm is simply a cleverly-designed construction of metal, wood, and plastic in the form of a precision tool. Granted, a firearms magnifies the reach of a man's volition. But so does a long bow, and so does a telephone and the Internet. But to deride the tool itself instead of someone who abuses it is profoundly illogical and superstitious.

So why do they disparage the tool and not the one who wrongly wields it? Why isn't gasoline seen as evil, since Julio Gonzalez used it to kill 87 people at the Happy Land Club in his murderous arson, in 1990? And why aren't there calls to ban nitrogen fertilizer, since Timothy McVeigh used it to kill 168 people in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995? And shouldn't Boeing brand jet aircraft be banned, since they were used to take nearly 3,000 innocent lives on September 11, 2001? And aren't pressure cookers now the weapon of choice of Islamic terrorists?

Ever since the invention accurate rifled firearms, the course of human history has been set by the men who wield them. For someone to exclude themselves or seek to disenfranchise others from owning or carrying them is the most absurdly illogical and downright suicidal attitude imaginable. It is obvious that so-called "Gun Control" laws have nothing to do with the criminal misuse of guns, since criminals ignore all laws, by definition. Only honest, law-abiding citizens obey these laws. Rather, these laws are just about control--namely people control. Dictators cannot dictate unless they have unarmed subjects.

Here it is, in quintessence: You are either a man with a gun, or you are mere human cattle for the slaughter. The choice is yours. I prefer to be armed and vigilant rather than being at the mercy of some would-be slave master. There is no notch in my ear.

Because they are such useful tools, our founding fathers recognized the great importance of safeguarding our ownership, carry, and free use of arms. Like the printing press, they were specifically protected by the Bill of Rights. These enumerated rights should be taken at face value and not misconstrued. The Second Amendment is about protecting your right to go deer hunting the same way that the First Amendment is about protecting your right to publish poetry.

Please speak up when you see someone preaching voodoo gun hatred. Violence involving firearms is actually down 39% in the U.S. since 1993. But anti-gun rhetoric has recently been increasing. All of the "evil gun" talk is nothing more than an unfounded irrational fear and loathing that has no place in a modern society that recognizes facts and logic. Anyone who engages in this rhetoric should be immediately suspect. Odds are that they are halophantae with a hidden agenda. While they rail against an inanimate tool, I suspect that they are actually plotting against the liberty of a group of people with whom they disagree. They want to disarm you, so that they (or their hired armed thugs) will have a monopoly on force. And if the history of the 20th century taught us anything, it is that a monopoly on force inevitably leads to genocide. - JWR

For the life of me, ever since I was a little boy, who regularly carried some kind of folding knife, could I understand how a "switchblade" knife (read: automatic opening knife) is any more dangerous than any other knife. Somehow, I think we have Hollywood to thank for this nonsense going back many, many years, where they portrayed gang members using a switchblade to intimidate or kill someone. How on earth one can justify how a folding knife opens, to how lethal it is, is beyond my comprehension. I've said this many times in the past in my knife articles, and that is, I can draw my folding knife from my pocket, and open it faster, with a flick of my wrist, than I can an automatic folder. On an automatic folder, you have to index the knife and then find the sweet spot - the button - on the handle and then press it to open the knife. Still, I like automatic folders - and not because they open faster - they don't - at least not for me.
Many states ban the mere possession of an automatic opening knife - even if you keep it in your home. In my home state of Oregon, where automatic folders are made, and where they are legal to carry, many, many police officers mistakenly believe that an automatic opening folder is illegal. Ignorance is bliss!
Almost a year ago, I received the H&K Entourage automatic opening folder - a "switchblade" for testing. I never carried this knife, but kept it on my desk, and it was used almost daily for opening FedEx and UPS packages, as well as other chores around the house and homestead. To be honest, I had completely forgotten that I received this knife for testing for an article on SurvivalBlog - I just kept on using the knife daily, and it slipped my mind that I was to write this article about the knife - until I found the paperwork in a pile of papers on my desk from Benchmade Knives - who makes the H&K "Entourage." So, I figured I'd best get this article written.
First of all, it is a testament to how useful the Entourage was for daily chores around the house. Yes, it is faster opening, when I picked it up off my desk - as opposed to having to dig into my pants pocket to get my regular folding knife out to use all the time. The Entourage was just "there" all the time for me. What we have is a 3.74-inch 440C stainless steel blade, with a Rockwell hardness of 58-60 - and this is a bit hard, but the edge stays sharp a good long time - only problems I've ever encountered with 440C stainless steel is, it takes some work to get the edge back to hair-popping sharpness. However, I don't let my knife get very dull to start with. Unless I'm doing an intentionally destructive test, I keep a keen edge on my knives at all times.
The handle scales are made out of 6061-T6 anodized black aluminum. And, I should mention that, the blade on the Entourage is a Tanto style, which is one of my favorites. There is also a pocket clip on the handle scales, should you elect to carry the Entourage in your pants pocket. My sample had the plain edge, but you can also get a partially serrated edge, and those serrations really help out when cutting cardboard or rope.
There are friction points on the top and butt of the handle scales, that greatly aid in getting a secure grip on the knife in many different styles of knife fighting holds. And, there is a very slight upward angle on the front top of the handle scales for proper thumb placement in the fencing grip. On the bottom front of the handle scales, there are also friction points for proper placement of your index finger in the fencing grip. Closed length of the Entourage is 4.70-inches and opened it is 8.44-inches and it weighs-in at 4.50-ounces--not too heavy and not too light.
The button used for opening the Entourage is large enough that you can easily make contact with it with your right thumb, and there is an enhanced spring design for improved and faster opening times of the blade. I found my sample had the front pivot pin just a tad too tight, and it only took about half a turn with a Torx head driver, to get the tension a bit looser and more to my own liking. The blade seemed a bit slow springing out of the handle scales - but now it is perfect. And, during almost a year of testing and daily use, I never once had to re-adjust the tension on the front pivot pin.
I liked the black anodized handle scales, there were also grooves milled into the handle scales for a more secure grip. With the blackened blade, the knife has a very "tactical" look to it - very cool! On the top of the Entourage's handle scales, you will also find a sliding safety button - to lock the blade solidly open or closed - making this a virtual "fixed" blade folder in the locked open position.
I've mentioned this before, but thought I'd mention it again, for new SurvivalBlog readers. Some Preppers mistakenly believe that all survival situations call for bugging out to the boonies - such is not the case. If you live in the big city, you are more apt to need survival tools on a daily basis, and one tool I find useful on a daily basis is a folding knife. The Entourage isn't a wilderness survival knife - it's not designed or meant for that type of use, However, if you life in a big city, having a very well made Every Day Carry (EDC) folder is a handy thing to have. I just read a report this morning, about a group of more than 100 teens, who went on a rampage in downtown Chicago - my birth town, and people were attacked by this group. There is such a thing as disparity of force - which means basically, if you are outnumbered, you can use more force to fend off your attackers. In this case, when you are faced with multiple attackers, you would be justified in using a knife to defend yourself with.
The Entourage would make an outstanding EDC folder, it's well-made, strong, and it is priced at $170 - which is a very good price for a Benchmade produced knife. And, if you are into collecting logo knives, the H&K line is very collectible. I played with my Entourage for almost a year, and the blade was opened and closed thousands of times, and there wasn't a sign of the button or spring failing or working loose. Check out an Entourage, if you can legally own one in your locale or state. I think you'll be pleased with the Entourage. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

I'm writing in response to: Selecting a Prepper's Firearms, by Frog. First I can say that I like the idea of adding a Bushnell red dot to a few of my 'tools' - I wanted to add one with out getting stuff that would fail, and have been unwilling to buy anything overly expensive due to today's crazy market with it's inflated prices.  Red dot scope for say a 10-22 with a folding stock would be perfect match. (and it's around $100) - totally good call.

I only see a few issues with selection of firearms like the glock pistols and Remington 870 ( I have one - love it too.) - just one thing about Glocks I didn't like, and it might very well be my fault because they were my first reloads back a few years ago...- these are great accurate shooting pistols with stock factory ammo. I gave my reloads (that worked great in my Ruger P95DC) to a friend to shoot when he ran out of ammo, his Glock choked on them, badly enough that my friend had trouble clearing the ammo with out the aid of my leatherman.  That was not a good day, for him...glad we were only putting holes in paper.

It is just worth mentioning that some pistols have tight tolerances, and reloaded ammo might cause issues... When times are bad, reloads might be more prevalent might not work in them as well as stock factory ammo. Almost all ammo has a warning on it saying not to use reloaded ammo.

Being as it was one of my early loads before I started using a 'case' gauge, it could have been all me... reloaders might want to take note and invest in case gauges to prevent that same pop a finished round in the case gauge to test the brass for fit... if it fits in the gauge it should work in anything standard for what your testing. This should be one of the last steps before storing rounds you've reloaded up for use.

I started loading ammo back in 2003 or 2004- and like I said even if his Glock didn't like reloads my used Ruger would eat them all day.  This issue is why I have gauges for 9mm, .223, .308, .30-06 - and anything else I'm planning on loading I would plan on buying now, before things get bad...I'm not saying don't buy a Glock, or one pistol is better then another, any pistol is better then no pistol at all - I'm just saying be aware that some pistols and rifles are finicky in what you can use in them. How you use that information is your call - like be prepared and have a good supply of stock ammo, and only feed it stock ammo if you already know reloads might have issues. You should take the time now in good times to figure out will your selected defense weapon work with reloads, because in the future... (Ah you got me...  ammo is already scarce!) you'll want to know.

[JWR Adds: Glocks are notoriously temperamental with cast lead bullets and copper washed lead bullets in reloads, and the occasional expensive and potentially dangerous "Glock Ka-Boom" can be expected with their use.]

The other note is the first thing a guy/gal should do when buying an 870 is get an aluminum tube replacement for that little plastic piece that pushes the shells up in the shell holder... the plastic ones wear out at the worst times- so that is worth mentioning too.  Someone I know gave me this advice when I got my 870 home defense shotgun. Good advice is worth repeating.

And finally, sure! - if I could afford a PTR91 with lots of cheap mags I'd have purchased one already... that weapon was close to $2,000 before the prices inflated, it's probably way out of my price range now. Get what ever you can get, learn how it works, practice with it, take care of it well.- Fitzy in Pennsylvania

Friday, May 10, 2013

Introductory note: This guide is mainly aimed at the American prepper.

Without a doubt, firearms are one of the most important preps we have to make; without a way to defend them, none of the other supplies we amass are truly accounted for. So, when the beginning prepper sets out on the road to self-sufficiency and preparedness, we want to maximize our dollars; buy once, cry once. Perhaps you're not a 'gun guy,' like some of us, or perhaps you're only used to hunting, or sport shooting. Which guns should be considered, and why? Hopefully, this will help.

Gun number one: The Ruger 10/22. .22LR is an incredibly important round to have covered; besides being the most common round in the continent (and world), it can take anything from mice to deer, if it has to, while being one of the most affordable cartridges to store and shoot (current inflated prices and availability, aside.) Additionally, if you are completely new to firearms, starting with a .22 is an absolute must. No recoil, little noise, and lightweight all make these guns easy to shoot. The polymer-stocked version of this gun is preferable for its durability and weather resistance, but not strictly necessary; threaded barrels are great to keep your options open, as well (more on muzzle accessories later).

Recommended accessories: Spare factory 10 or 25 round magazines, a 2-point sling, and an optic (either a red dot or low-magnification scope). The least expensive red dot worth considering is the Bushnell TRS-25 (I have two, on an AR and AK, respectively, and no failures in about three years and 4,500 rounds).

Gun number two: The AR-15. Now, I know many SurvivalBlog readers side with Rawles on the topic of defensive rifles, but I deviate -- and I'll explain why. First and foremost, commonality. The AR is ubiquitous; they are everywhere, in America, and spare parts will be around more for it than any other centerfire weapon. Now, of course, storing your own spare parts is good (and highly recommended), but more options are preferable to less. The AR is also effective to 600 meters (even with iron sights, as many High Power Rifle competitors can attest to; though optics are preferred!), and while this is less than what a good .308 can do, most engagements happen within 200 meters, anyway, and there are other advantages associated with the AR that I feel make up for this slight downfall, for a go-to defensive carbine. The AR has very, very little recoil, both because of the .223 round itself, and the direct impingement and buffer tube system the rifle uses. Without exaggeration, at close range, you can shoot the rifle as quickly as you can pull the trigger, and easily keep all the rounds in an 8" circle, using a red dot optic. This is an important consideration, because statistically, we know that most combat happens at close range, and the AR excels here; the lack of muzzle climb means that you can put more rounds on target more quickly than you can with a .308. We also must have an understanding of what kind of terminal ballistics we want out of our main rifles; instant incapacitation, which is only caused by hitting the central nervous system, the aorta, or the heart. Permanent wound channels and expanding hollow points are neat to read about, but the deciding factor in putting bad guys down is hitting the above targets. Knowing that, being able to put more rounds in them more quickly is preferable in a general-purpose defensive rifle. When buying your rifle, opt for a 16" barrel (M4 contour is usually the least expensive, but when possible, I recommend a heavier barrel; it retains accuracy better when hot). The midlength gas system is preferable, but not necessary; carbine length is almost always less expensive, and will work for you just fine. Always opt for a flat-top railed upper receiver unless you get a really good deal on an AR with an integrated carry handle.

Recommended accessories: Plenty of magazines (Magpul PMAGs, Lancer magazines, NATO aluminum mags with Magpul ant- tilt followers), Magpul ASAP sling plate, Magpul MS3 sling, back up iron sights (Magpul MBUS are less expensive and actually stand up better than metal sights in drop tests), a handstop or vertical foregrip for use with a high-thumb or thumb over bore grip, and a quality tactical flashlight of your choice (the Streamlight Polytac LED is affordable). For an optic, I strongly recommend a red dot sight; Aimpoint is the best if you can afford it, period. The H1 and T1 micros are best for their light weight and small size. For the budgeted prepper, the Primary Arms Micro sights with quick disconnect bases are your best option. For standard rifle and carbine handguards, there are extremely affordable bolt-on rail systems that attach via the upper and lower vent holes. As you can afford it, I also recommend upgrading to a Magpul STR stock; this stock lasts extremely well in drop tests compared to others, provides a better cheek weld, and lets you store spare batteries for your taclights. HSGI TACO rifle pouches are the best mag-carrying option, as well, and I recommend using them with a sturdy rigger's belt for the lightest gear possible; a lightweight chest rig like the Blue Force Gear Ten Speed M4 Rig is good for adding on for maximum carrying capacity.
Absolutely-don'ts: Optic in a non-quick disconnect mount, or internal modifications (they're less rugged than mil spec triggers and parts).

Gun number three: The Glock 19 or 17 pistol. Or, less preferably, a Glock 34. Glocks are the most reliable combat handguns in the world -- period. People who put guns to use when lives are on the line choose them over others by wide margins, and for good reason; they are extremely simple, extremely rugged, and extremely common. Much like the AR, Glocks benefit from having parts and accessory options everywhere. For new shooters, as well, the controls are as easy as can be; unless you have a malfunction, the only parts of the gun used to operate it are the mag release, and racking the slide during reloads. In a handgun, I strongly prefer not to have a manual safety, as well; if a pistol is coming out, it's to save your life, and you don't want anything impeding that. The Glock's trigger safety, as well as drop and hammer block safeties, totally prevent the firearm from discharging unless the trigger is pulled. As for the cartridge; 9mm is preferable to .40 and .45 for several reasons, much in the same style as .223 vs .308. It recoils less, holds more rounds, and is less expensive when prices aren't inflated. Besides that, all three rounds have almost identical wound channels with modern ammunition. A Gen 3 or 4 is what you want to look for; earlier models have compatibility issues.

Recommended accessories: Plenty of factory magazines (with +2 baseplates, if you like), a Surefire X300 or Streamlight TLR-1 weapon light, a kydex light-bearing holster (from Raven Concealment, Statureman, kydexbyparlusk, etc.), and either two- or three-dot sights. Make sure to get some HSGI TACO pistol pouches for carrying magazines, just like with the AR. A threaded barrel is a good option, as well.

Absolutely-don'ts: Grip plugs (they prevent you from pulling out stuck mags, and prevent water and debris from draining out the gun as it was designed), recoil buffers (they prevent a full slide cycle and can cause malfunctions, and also can break apart), and internal modifications or replacements (they're less rugged than factory triggers and parts).

Gun number three: The Remington 870 Express Magnum shotgun. Preferably, one made before 2003; since becoming owned by Cerberus, Remington has had occasional quality control issues. If you're buying the gun in person, inspect later guns; most are fine, but it's something to watch out for. While your AR will be a better defensive weapon than the shotgun, 12 gauge is extremely common, and worth having covered. It will allow you to hunt birds and small game, as well as being a good breaching tool with a shorter barrel. Make sure you get the Magnum version so you can use 3" shells, and not only 2 3/4"; polymer stocks are preferable, but not necessary.

Recommended accessories: Both a 26" or 28" bird barrel, and an 18.5" or 20" barrel for interpersonal use. Make sure you get the shorter barrel with threads to use choke tubes! Patterning is important! Shotguns do not throw walls of death like in the movies, and every pellet you launch is a liability; besides that, you want to destroy what you shoot at, and getting more pellets on target will do that. On the shorter barrel, having rifle or ghost ring sights is important; many companies make aftermarket sights if your barrel came without them. A shell carrier on the stock, and a velcro-based sidesaddle like the ModuLoader are also great for carrying ammunition. A Magpul MS3 sling and a single point sling attachment are good additions, as well. A taclight mounted to the pump is strongly preferable, as your support hand will always be able to manipulate it immediately, unlike mounted that clamp ahead of the gun's slide; you can drill and attach a section of rail to your pump to accommodate this, or attach something like a Magpul MOE forend with an illumination kit. If you want, as well, getting the gun MagnaPorted or Vang-Comped will reduce recoil and improve patterning.

Solvent Trap Adapters: Now, a foreword; if you are comfortable with getting fingerprinted and charged and made to wait for legal suppressors in your state, by all means, get some -- for every gun you have that can accept one. For the everyman, however, many companies are making a handy rainy-day buy. These adapters are made to screw onto various common thread sizes, such as for .22s, the AR, and threaded Glock barrels, and allow an oil filter to be screwed onto the exterior threads. This filter will catch, and allow you to recycle cleaning materials when cleaning weapons -- but it can also be registered and used as a suppressor. With the correct filters, on both AR-15s and AK pattern rifles, the filters do not block the iron sights, either. A quick web search will allow the interest to buy them, and it can easily be done in an extremely discreet manner. They're a good investment, but be warned! Shooting through an unregistered one is incredibly illegal, but having them put away in case you ever need them is perfectly within the law. [JWR Adds: Readers are warned that the legal status of Solvent Trap Adapters may change in coming years. Therefore, I recommend that you minimize ayn paper trail and buy them face to face with cash at gun shows and don't mention your name. And if you must order them from an Internet vendor, then only order them using Postal Money Orders, or better yet, Bitcoins.]

What next? Every physically-capable group member should have an AR and a Glock; doubling up on shotguns isn't as important, nor is doubling up on .22s. I suggest having at least one precision rifle in .308, as well; a Savage 10 FP-SR is an incredibly good value. And, I must admit, getting a PTR-91 and a backpack full of $2 mags when bought in bulk is not a bad idea. Besides that, make sure you have plenty of ammo safely stored. I would consider 3,000 rounds per fighting rifle a minimum! More is always better, and make sure you practice. For carbine and handgun, after you have basic marksmanship down (I suggest an Appleseed shoot; check their web site for meets near you), I strongly suggest looking at Travis Haley's Adaptive Carbine, and Adaptive Handgun. Many quality instructors have free videos available on youtube, or elsewhere.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I've always been a fan of western movies, and movies about the Founding of this country - America, and early pioneers. If you watched the movie with Mel Gibson, The Patriot   you will see many Patriots in the movie - and as it was in real-life - using tomahawks in Close Quarters Battle. Given my druthers, I'll take a well made and well-designed tomahawk into CQB over a knife any day of the week. And, even our American Natives, used some primitive type of tomahawk in battle. And, when trading posts popped up as the country grew westward, Native Americans were able to trade and buy tomahawks made out of steel, instead of one with knapped stone heads.
Columbia River Knife & Tool recently sent me their new Kangee T-Hawk for testing. And, I'll tell you, this is, without doubt, the most awesome tomahawk I've ever tested. It is well-designed and well made. It was designed by Ryan Johnson, a custom blade maker, and CRKT picked-up the design, making it affordable over a custom-made version. What is unique about the Kangee T-Hawk is that it is made from one solid piece of steel, with a curved handle and grip choils along the handle for enhanced gripping power. The handle is covered with glass filled Nylon and had an EDM finish - on it - for a VERY secure hold under any weather conditions.
The Kangee T-Hawk is made out of SK5 Carbon Steel - but it is coated with a black powder coating, to help it resist rust. The overall length of the T-Hawk is 13.74-inches - it has a long reach on it. and it weighs-in at 1-lb 8.4-ounces - not too heavy, and it balances nicely, considering its length. The dimensions of the blade aren't quite what they appear - CRKT lists the blade as almost 3-inches for the cutting head. However, the top of the blade is also sharpened, as well as the Tanto-style back of the blade - which gives you tremendous slashing and cutting power. One thing you must be aware of, when handling the T-Hawk is that, the top of the blade is sharp - VERY sharp. Many people for some reason, tend to pick-up or grip a tomahawk by the top of the head, instead of the handle - if you do that with the T-Hawk, you will readily slice you hand open, with a nasty wound, that runs deep. No, I didn't cut myself with it! The T-Hawk also comes with a black Kydex sheath with a MOLLE clip platform, for mounting it on a vest.
The bottom of the handle has three large holes in it, and I honestly don't see any tactical purpose to this, other than for cosmetics or to lighten the overall weight of the piece - but the holes wouldn't do much to lighten the load, but they are there just the same. I suppose one could attach a lanyard to one of the holes, and secure the T-Hawk to you hand that way - never a bad idea.
Okay, I had the Kangee T-Hawk for the better part of two months, and I used and abused it just about every way you can imagine. I did a lot of chopping of blackberry vines, and it worked great. I also chopped down some small trees and shrubs around the homestead. However, more than anything, I used the T-Hawk as a throwing hawk - and I threw the T-Hawk hundreds, if not thousands of times, into trees on my property. And, the amazing thing is, without much work, I could make the T-Hawk stick more often than not. When it would stick in a tree (and I missed trees completely a few times - hate to admit it) it would stick either in by the head, or the tip of the head, the top of the tomahawk head or the reverse tip.
The Kangee T-Hawk came hair-popping sharp, too - and I did have to re-sharpen it a few times, mostly do to my total abuse of the blade, but being carbon steel, it was easy to re-sharpen. I also used the T-Hawk for slicing in the in kitchen, while not designed for this type of work it did work - but you have to be very careful how you hold the sharp edge of the head. Chopping was no problem, although it wasn't designed as an "axe" per se, it could chop with the best hatchets I've had. And, it could easily slice though stacked cardboard boxes with ease, due to how sharp it was. And, without any effort, I could burry the tomahawk head deeply into cardboard. The reverse end, with the tanto-style tip would easily penetrate an old-style military steel pot helmet, too.
With the overall length of the Kangee T-Hawk, it really gives you a reach advantage, not offered with many large fighting knives. Plus, the power you would wield by slashing at an enemy - it could easily take an arm or a head off. We are talking one very serious edge weapon here. I also placed the T-Hawk between two bricks and jumped up and down on it - trying my best to bend it - no luck! With all the throwing I did, I was sure, at the very least, that I could break the glass filled Nylon handle scales - no such luck! I probably gave the T-Hawk the most abusive testing I've even given any edged weapon, and no matter what I did, to try and destroy it, I failed...very frustrating, to say the least.
If I were going behind enemy lines, this is the edged weapon I'd carry with me. I would have complete faith in the Kangee T-Hawk, to help me survive a hand-to-hand combat situation, or help me survive in the boonies. This is the tomahawk you want on your side or in your BOB when the SHTF. Ryan Johnson also designed the Chogan tomahawk for CRKT, however, I believe the Kangee T-Hawk would make for a better self-defense tool, and one that won't let you down under survival conditions - no matter what you throw at it. And, like all CRKT tools, it comes with a lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship and materials.
As a testament, to how popular the Kangee T-Hawk is, as of this writing, (Early April, 2013), CRKT is currently sold out. However, they expect another shipment in by the time this article appears in SurvivalBlog. Now, the Kangee T-Hawk doesn't come cheap, full-retail is $185.00 - however, like many CRKT products, you can find it discounted on many locations.
Special Ops military personnel are learning the benefits of a tomahawk in combat, and for survival situations. If they think that a tomahawk, a well-made one, is worthy of combat and survival, maybe you should consider one for your own survival needs. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Traditions Training Cartridges are weighted and built like real cartridges.  They include a rubber insert to function as snap caps. Unlike most aluminum snap caps, however, they are heavy and strong enough to properly cycle, without becoming damaged. I recently tested these in 12 gauge, .223 rifle and .45 ACP. 

The .45 ACP pack contained 5 cartridges with 6 rubber inserts.  They were "loaded" with 230 grain ball projectiles, and apart from their black coating, were almost indistinguishable from live ammo.  I cycled these through an Auto Ordnance 1911 clone, through a dozen different magazines with no problems with the cartridges. In fact, they helped me identify two problematic magazines.  They fed flawlessly.  The hammer drop felt noticeably different due to the rubber primer insert, but there were no issues with the action.  They ejected very positively, just like real cartridges.
I tested the pair of 12 gauge cartridges (two in the pack, inserts already in place) in both a side by side ERA coach gun and a Remington 870 riot gun.  They held up well to the mechanical ejection, and loaded perfectly.

The two-pack of .223 were tested in an M4 clone. Again, they cycled just like real ammo.  I randomly loaded both into a magazine of live ammo to practice stoppage drills.  There was no detectable difference in the load part of the cycle, and upon the hammer dropping, they extracted exactly as a dud round should.
These are a professionally made and tough test and training tool I recommend acquiring. 

They are available in gauges/calibers of 10 semiauto pistol, 7 revolver, 5 shotgun and an incredible 42 rifle calibers, including most common hunting calibers and several military surplus calibers. 
Manufacturer's suggested retail prices range from $9.98 for a dozen .22 long rifle caliber, to $15.98 for a single .50 BMG (which I very strongly recommend as part of your kit, given the power involved in these rifles).

These feel so realistic, I also strongly recommend paying extra attention to safety.  Do not keep them near your live ammo when performing function tests, and inspect carefully before loading. Always have the weapon pointed in a safe direction, and at a safe backstop. NOTE: I was furnished a pack each of .223, 12 gauge and .45 ACP free for evaluation.

Michael Z. Williamson (SurvivalBlog's Editor at Large)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

]Editor's Note: See my warning about this technique, below!]

With the current ammo shortages that have been plaguing the country and seem to have no end in sight, having a way to stock up on a key caliber for your preps is vital. Hindsight being 20/20 many of us now wish we would have put more of our valuable prepping budget towards stocking up on ballistic wampum. I believe I've found a way to still stock up on some very useful ammo while still making your valuable prepping dollars stretch just a bit farther.

The shotgun is universality accepted as being a part of almost every prepared person’s arms locker due to its flexibility and firepower. Of course the ammo shortage has also reached into the shotgun gauges, trying to find a box of 00 buck or slugs is almost impossible, and if you do their price has significantly increased in the last year. On the other hand a box of bird shot can be found relatively easily and for less than ten dollars ($8.99 at our local Wal-Mart.) While I wouldn’t want to be hit with bird shot its use as a self defense round is very limited. I’d like to discuss how to turn readily accessible bird shot into a formidable self defense frangible slug.                 

The “Waxer Slug” is a simple but great idea in my humble opinion. By removing the shot from a bird shot shell and mixing it with melted wax and putting it back you have made a frangible slug. The benefits of a waxer slug are pretty impressive. First and foremost is cost, they are dirt cheap to make, giving us the ability to stock up. Another benefit is that the effective range of the birdshot is actually increased, but it still has the low recoil of a bird shot load. Another benefit the waxer slug has is its slug like penetrating power, along with its unbelievable stopping power. This is due to the high transfer of energy into the target that frangible rounds are famous for. Basically when a wax slug hits something it penetrates a bit then shatters (fragments) back into its original shot form which can create massive wounds and unreal destruction to tissue and bone. You have to see these in use to really appreciate their destructive power. Of course there is always a downside to consider. High temperature can affect these so desert climate users beware.  Taking into consideration the melt temperature of wax, I would never uses these shells in Temperatures over 95 degrees. Also range is less than a real factory slug. A wax slug just isn’t very aerodynamic and has been known to tumble, so the optimal range is 50 yards, with 65 yards being the limit that I’ve been able to hit a torso target with six out of seven shots. Please balance the pros and cons to decide if this is for you.

Okay if you’re still interested... the first step you need to do is gather a few low cost materials. Of course Bird shot shells are the first item to procure. I’ve found the best success using shot ranging from 7.5 to 9. The larger size pellets tends to tear apart the slug while these smaller sizes cost less and work better (Win-Win). There are some other very basic materials that are needed and as you become familiar with the process you can add or substitute a few of them. One item that you will need will be a small pot (that your wife will not want back) this will be used to melt the wax. A larger pot that the small pot can fit into is optional but this you can borrow from your wife as you won’t mess it up. You’ll also need a cheap soup spoon (that your wife won’t miss). I suggest using a vice or a pair of pliers to bend the spoons end into more of a scoop to approximately fit the diameter of a shot shell. This will significantly cut down on the mess. The next item you will need will be a pair of scissors or a box cutting knife. Gloves also might come in handy as you will be dealing with hot items and lead.

Of course you will need some wax. The wax can be found in any number of places. Focusing on keeping this process as cheap as possible I have used broken crayons which of course are free if you have children. Another supply source of course is candle wax. My candle wax is also free because I recycle the last ½ inch that seems to never be used from my wife’s scented candles. Yes I have to put up with scented shells but I keep them in a separate ammo can so I don’t take them into the field by mistake. I don’t want to chase away game or give away a position because I saved a few pennies on wax. Another source of wax is of course is gulf wax. For only a few bucks a block of Gulf wax will make a couple hundred shells easily with none of the afore mentioned scent problem to mess with.
A side note, if are a organizational freak like me, you can color code your wax for different shot sizes to be different colors or you can color code all the scented shells are red while the unscented shells are blue. Pick which ever colors work for you. My good friend has mixed up a "Zombie Green" color just to look cool. No one said you can't have fun while getting prepared.  

After you have gathered all of your materials, the first step is to trim off the top 16th of an inch off of the shot gun shell. If possible just remove the crimped edge of the shell so that you can remove the top. You can use scissors, a sharp knife, or a box cutter whichever you are more comfortable with. Please be careful as it is easy to slip and trim your thumb instead of the plastic shell using a box cutter.  Something to keep in mind before you trim your first shell is that your goal is to remove (and retain) the shot pellets and leave as much of the shell intact as possible, so the wad doesn’t become loose. It only takes 1-2 shells to get the amount to trim right. After the top is open pour the shot (small ball bearings) into a small container as we will need it again in a few minutes.
If you wife will let you play in her kitchen, it will save some additional money, if not a single eye hot plate for your work bench is the answer. At around twenty dollars it might be worth it if you plan on making a lot of wax slugs. Either way take your large pot and fill it 1/3 full of hot water. Place your chosen wax supply in the smaller pot and then put the smaller pot inside the larger pot.  Then turn up the heat to bring the water to a boil.  This will melt the wax while reducing the risk of overheating it. The melt temperature of wax differs but 125 to 175 degrees is a good target.  Be careful as wax can combust. The flash point is different for different waxes but the rule to follow is “If the wax begins to smoke lower the temperature!”  Practice vigilance when you melt wax, don’t leave it unattended while heating.  If it does combust DO NOT pour water over it, remain calm turn off the heat and put a lid over the pot to smother the flame.  I have never had this problem but we are supposed to be prepared aren’t we?

After the wax has liquefied pour in the shot from the prior step. Mix them with the wax and let them warm up a bit so the wax infuses the shot.  Take your shells from the first step and place them on a paper plate or a pie pan. This is to contain the mess, no matter how steady your hand is you will spill some shot.  Slowly spoon the shot into the shell directly onto the wad. You can use the bent spoon as I do, a small funnel, or I’ve even used a folded piece of paper for this step. Whatever works best for you. As you fill the shell with the shot mix, wax will leak through the cuts in the plastic wad but this is fine as it will keep your slug from falling out on accident. The goal is to fill the shell with mostly shot--not all wax. Some wax is fine, but you want as much shot as possible up to the top of the wad. Do not have shot past the top of the wad.

After the shell is full of shot (within a 16th of an inch of the top) top it off with a bit of liquid wax to make a sort of smooth top seal. This is an important step as you do not want any shot sticking out on top. There is a very slim chance of a pellet that does protrude striking another shell’s primer in a loading tube thus ruining your weapon and possibly ruining you. Plan for the worst and make sure that never happens by having strict quality control.                 

Set the shells to the side for a few minutes to cool. After about two or three minutes the wax will have cooled and hardened enough to clean off the outside of the shell. I use the knife from the first step to lightly scrape off the excess wax that tends to drip down the side of the shell.  This is a tedious final step but vital to ensure proper feeding in pump shotguns.

Now to answer two questions before they are asked:

1. I’ve shot a few hundred wax slug rounds and have found no noticeable wax build up in the barrel. Of course I still clean my weapon after each use, but I’ve found no additional cleaning was needed above what I do when I shoot normal factory rounds.

2. How is adjusting the weight of shot sent downrange safe? The truth is that you’ll actually end up loading slightly less shot following this procedure and the weight of the wax is insufficient to change the weight of the shot in any significant way. So the power load is still well within the safe range.          
One other thing to consider, adding some extra flexibility to this process is another option.  Instead of using wax try using hot glue. Hot glue will increase your cost but it will make a much harder slug which will not fragment as easily thus ensuring greater penetration, also using hot glue instead of wax will significantly reduce the temperature limitation of wax. Depending on your needs this option might be useful to you, but as always YMMV.

I realize this isn't for everyone but with the proper safety checks in place, I do believe that the ability to turn an inexpensive, readily available round into a formidable defense round is worth sharing.

JWR Adds This Important Safety Warning: Reader Ken S. wrote:

"Making slugs using wax is VERY DANGEROUS!!!!  It is an old idea from the past that got some traction in the old timers myth telling.  On the second or third shot you can have enough wax build-up in the barrel to cause the next shot to stick [part way down the barrel] resulting in a blown up shotgun [when a subsequent shell is fired.]  I know.  It happened to me about 50 years ago.   I totally destroyed a Remington pump gun and am very lucky I escaped with some minor cuts and bruises.  [The usefulness of wax-filled shells] is a rural myth.  Do not try it.  I have heard this story re-surfacing every few years and everyone I ever heard of that tried it ended up blowing up their gun.  Sometimes with serious injury.  Please alert your readers."

Based on Ken's experience, clearly the wax shell technique would only be suitable for a single-shot shotgun, and only then if the gun's bore were inspected and thoroughly cleaned between shots. Therefore, I cannot recommend using "waxers" for self defense, or anything beyond single shot use, in absolutely desperate situations. (And I mean truly desperate, such as: You have ONLY a handful of birdshot shells, yet you must kill a deer or face starvation for the coming winter.)

As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, a much more safe technique that yields similar results is making cut shells, but this is not advised for repeating (pump or auto) shotguns. As with any other ammunition modification, use great caution. If a cut shell were to come apart inside your gun's magazine tube, it would create a horrible mess and probably result in a jam that might take a long time to clear. Therefore, I cannot recommend using cut shells for self defense either. (That is, where someone is returning fire--unless you are desperate and have no other alternative.) But cut shells might suffice for hunting or for culling large garden raiders like deer or feral pigs.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I've always been a big fan of Ruger firearms - all of them! There's many reasons for my liking Ruger firearms, first of all, I find their firearms robust, strong and well-designed. Ruger doesn't simply copy some other designs for the most part - instead, they are innovators in many ways. I still remember when the first Ruger P-85 9mm handguns came out, and everyone thought they wouldn't last because they were made from "investment casting" aluminum frames- Ruger proved everyone wrong.
A few years ago, I tested the Ruger SR556 piston-driven AR-style rifle, and loved it. Everyone was jumping on the piston-driven AR bandwagon, and Ruger was no different, they than they didn't copy anyone else's piston-driven design - they came up with their own, after a lot of research and development. The SR556 comes with all the bells and whistles you can ask for, and then some - including a nice padded carrying case, several MagPul PMags - which I personally believe are the best AR mags on the market, and top-of-the-line pop-up front and rear sights and many other accessories, that don't come on many AR-style rifles.
However, not everyone wanted or needed all that the SR556 came with as standard equipment, nor was everyone willing to pay the almost $2,000 price tag. Now comes the Ruger SR556E. Many people mistakenly believe that the "E" stands for an "Economy" model, but that is NOT the case. For the past several months, I have been testing the SR556E sample, and I have found nothing economical about this neat little rifle. What we have is a 5.56mm carbine, that can also fire .223 Remington ammo. The gun only weighs-in at a mere 7.36-pounds, a bit lighter and it balances better than the SR556 does in my humble opinion.  The SR556E also comes with a 16-inch cold hammer forged mil-spec 41V45 barrel with a flash suppressor on the end of the barrel. There is also a 6-position telescoping stock - closed the gun is 32.75-inches long and fully-open the gun is 36-inches in length. The flat top upper also has a forearm that has a Picatinny rail for mounting accessories at the 12:00 O'clock position and you can add other rails to the 3, 6 and 9 positions and these are sold separately. There is also a dust cover over the ejection port, and a forward assist - that I never recommend anyone use - it only leads to more problems, but it's there just the same.The SR556E also comes with a soft padded carrying case.
I like the MagPul (I believe that's the make) pop-up rapid deployment front and rear sights - they are outstanding. The front sight is adjustable for elevation and the rear sight is adjustable for windage. Where one would normally find the gas block for a direct impingement operating system, we have the patent-pending 4-position gas regulator. That's right, this is NOT a direct gas impingement gun, it has a two-stage piston system that is chrome plated for easier maintenance, and the hot gases vent out of the bottom on this two-stage piston, causing the gun to run cleaner and cooler, and that is a very good thing in my book. The direct gas impingement system vents dirty, hot gases directly into the bolt and bolt carrier - causing guns to run dirty and very hot - not a good thing in many instances - it can lead to malfunctions if the gun isn't properly cleaned and lubed on a regular basis - as in combat!
The 4-position gas regulator can also be completely closed off so the action doesn't cycle for using a suppressor, where you don't want any noise from the bolt cycling back and forth [or any sound of gasses escaping a gas port]. The other three positions are for running various types of ammo, and if your gun starts to run a bit dirty, you can adjust the gas regulator to a different position. Ruger ships the SR556E with the gas regulator set at the #2 position and suggests you do most of your shooting from this position. There is a complete tutorial video on the Ruger web site, that demonstrates the various settings. I left my sample on the #2 setting, and never looked back - although, I did play around with the different settings for just a bit - just to see how they function and how the gun ran - it ran fine in all but the closed position. However, for all my actual function testing and accuracy testing, the gun was left in the #2 position.
One thing you will readily notice with a piston-driven AR-style of rifle is the different recoil impulse. Hard to explain, but the gun runs a bit "differently" than a direct impingement operating system - it runs smoother, and it seems to run a tad quieter, too. Again, hard to explain, however if you shoot the SR556E next to a direct gas impingement rifle, you will hear and notice the difference in very short order. Now, some piston-driven AR-style rifles have had problems with "carrier tilt" - in that, the bolt carrier tends to tilt downward into the buffer tube, causing unnecessary wear and tear. Ruger overcame this problem by redesigning part of the bolt - removing some material here and there, and there isn't any problem with carrier tilt. You might notice a little bit or wear from the anodized coating inside the buffer tube, but no actual wear on the material. Ruger did their homework - as they always do!
During my initial testing of the SR556E, I ran 5, thirty round magazines through the gun as fast as I could pull the trigger. When I was done, there were zero malfunctions, and I broke the action open and pulled the bolt carrier out - it was cool to the touch. Try that with a direct impingement AR and you'll burn your fingers after just running one 30-rd mag through the gun. Additionally, the bolt carrier and bolt were still very clean - one mag through a direct impingement AR and the upper receiver and bolt carrier and bolt are dirty, very dirty - especially if you run some Russian-made .223 ammo through an AR.
I ran well over 500 rounds of various .223 Rem and 5.56mm ammo through the SR556E - however, in future testing, I won't burn-up that much ammo - not with the big ammo drought we are facing, and my inside sources tell me that, they expect ammo to be in short supply for about two more years - or even longer, depending on the political climate in DC and in some states. Be advised and act accordingly. In future firearms tests, I'm only going to run about 200 rounds through gun samples. Even with my several sources of ammo for use in my articles, ammo is still hard to come by these days. My sources want to give me more, but they don't have it - every round they make goes out the door each day - they don't have a warehouse full of ammo any longer.
From Buffalo Bore Ammunition I had their Sniper .223 ammo - a 55 grain Ballistic Tip bullet, a 69 grain JHP and their heavy 77 grain JHP - which is recommended for barrel twist of 1:8 or 1:7 - the SR556E comes with a 1:9 barrel twist - the most popular for civilian AR style rifles. From the good folks at Black Hills Ammunition, I had a wide assortment of .223 - a 52 grain Match HP, 55 grain FMJ - new and reloaded, 55 grain SP, 68 grain Heavy Match HP and their newly released to the public, 5.56mm 77 grain OTM ammo - this is almost the exact same ammo that Black Hills Ammunition - and Black Hills Ammunition alone - provides to all the US Special Forces - no other maker produces this ammo. I also had a couple boxes of Winchester 55 grain FMJ USA brand .223 on-hand, and I use a lot of this for simple function testing - its a great round and less expensive than burning-up some more expensive ammo for function testing.
Once I had the SR566E zeroed, I did all my shooting at the 100-yard mark for accuracy testing - although the gun was zeroed for 300-yards - just my zero mark with all my AR-style of rifles. The Buffalo Bore, Black Hills and even the Winchester 55 grain FMJ loads were all giving me 3-inch groups if I did my part, with open sights, at 100-yards. This is about average for many AR-style rifles - nothing to write home about in the accuracy department. The Black Hills new and reloaded 55 grain FMJ ammo gave me the same accuracy results, so don't go thinking you are getting slighted by using reloaded ammo instead of brand-new ammo all the time. The Black Hills 52 grain Match HP load gave me groups a little under 3-inches - better, but I knew the SR556E could do better - a lot better. I should note that the Black Hills 55 grain SP gave me 3-inch groups as well - and this would make a dandy load for varmints - even smaller dear, at close-in ranges. Although, I suggest using a larger caliber rifle round for deer - the .223 can still do the job if you place your shots where they need to go.
The Buffalo Bore 69 grain JHP was giving me groups right at the 2-inch mark, and I was starting to get impressed with the Ruger. The Black Hills Ammunition, 68 grain Heavy Match HP load was giving me groups around an inch and a half if I did my part - I've found this to be a very accurate load in all AR-style rifles I've tried it in. I ran out of the Buffalo Bore 69 grain JHP load, just as I was getting a good feel for it - and I believe it can match the Black Hills 68 grain Heavy Match HP load in the accuracy department.
Last up were the two heaviest loads, and you should be advised that, some rifles with a 1:9 barrel twist will only accurately shoot bullet weights up to about 68 or 69 grains - some will even shoot 75-grain bullets - but not all. Each gun's barrel is a little different, and as I've said before in my articles, experiment with your gun and various types, brand and weights of bullets, to see which one will shoot most accurately in your gun. The Buffalo Bore 77 grain JHP and the Black Hills 77 grain OTM 5.56mm loads were both giving me groups in the 3 to 3 1/2 inch range. I honestly didn't expect either one of those rounds to actually give me accuracy this good - considering the SR556 has the 1:9 inch barrel twist. I will admit though, that there were some groups that opened-up quite a bit more - however, I was advised by both Tim Sundles at Buffalo Bore and Jeff Hoffman at Black Hills, that it might be a waste of good ammo, shooting these heavier loads in the 1:9 barrel twist. Well, not a waste of money, but it proved to me, that in a pinch, you can shoot these heavier bullets in the 1:9 inch barrels, just don't expect the accuracy you think you'll get. I have fired both of these loads in another AR-style rifle with a 1:7 inch barrel twist, and had outstanding accuracy in the one inch to an inch and half range if I did my part. So, I know both of these heavier loads can shoot a lot more accurately in the right barrels, than they did in the SR556E.
During all my testing, I had no malfunctions of any sort. When I tested the original SR556 when it first came out, I did have a couple failures to extract in the first magazine, but after that, the gun ran fine. So, I was very pleased with the performance of the SR556E over the course of more than 3-months of testing. I never cleaned the gun during all this time, nor did I give it any further lubrication, other than the day I got the gun and inspected and lubed it. The gun was extremely clean at the end of my testing - and I believe I could have easily shot several thousand more rounds without any problems or further cleaning or lube. The SR556E with the two-stage piston-driven system really proved it's worth and ran cleaner and cooler than direct impingement ARs do. There is no comparison between the two systems in my humble opinion. If you want a gun that runs smoother, cleaner and cooler, you need to take a close look at the SR556E, as opposed to a direct impingement operating system. Now, with that said, I'm not about to take my other ARs that are direct impingement and sell them or toss them in the trash - they all work just fine - I don't keep guns around that don't work - simple as that. I either make them run properly, or I get rid of them if I can't fix the problems.
Now for the good news and the bad news. The good news is, the Ruger SR556E has a full-retail of only $1,375 and that's a bargain in my book - for all that you get - there are other piston-driven ARs on the market that retail for a whole lot more, but they don't give you more. Now for the bad news, with the big drought on all AR-style guns these days, if you can find an SR556E, they are going for about $2,000 these days. No, Ruger did not raise their prices, it's just supply and demand, and all SR556 rifles are in great demand, ever since they came out, people have wanted them. If you're in the market for a gas-piston AR, then take a very close look at the SR556E from Ruger - I think you'll like what you see - just don't pay too much - shop around and spend your money carefully. Now, after my wife shot my sample SR556E, she wants one of her own - she owns a different brand of AR-style rifle - a direct impingement version and while she shoots it very accurately, and hasn't had any problems with it - other than a few hang-ups with some Russian-made .223 ammo - she just likes the way the SR556E handles, and she doesn't hear that "twang" inside the buffer tube, like you hear with many direct impingement ARs - I personally don't hear it - after so many years of shooting, I have some hearing loss. But now I have to find a way to not only pay for my own SR556E sample, I have to see if Ruger can ship me another one for the wife. I should have learned long ago, to not let my wife shoot any of my gun samples, she has fallen in love with more than one and ended up in her growing collection.  - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

One topic that has come up recently is that license holders are more law-abiding than the general population, presumably because they’ve undergone background checks by the state.    The reality is that this has been shown in multiple case reviews.
A 2011 study in Texas concluded that CCW/CCL permit holders generally do not use guns to commit crimes and they commit crimes of any nature much less frequently than the general population of Texas.
According to an article by the Beaufort Observer concerning the study:
 “The Texas Department of Public Safety published a list of crimes committed in Texas in 2011 by everyone convicted and by those convicted who also held CCL's. The bottom line: Concealed carry permit holders commit less than 1% of the crimes. If you want to be exact, they committed two tenths of one percent of the crimes in 2011. And not all of those involved firearms or violence.”

“The data show that 63,679 people were convicted of a long list of crimes. Of those 63 thousand, only 120 were CCL holders.”

Ironically, if you drill down into the data it shows that the most frequently committed crime by CCL holders were domestic violence related crimes.”
Likewise, a recent article looking at Kansas CCW permit holders by the Wichita Eagle concluded the same:
“Of the 51,078 permits that have been issued by the state since the law took effect in 2007, 44 permit holders have been charged with a crime while using a firearm through late October, according to records provided by the Kansas Attorney General’s Office.    That works out to one charge for every 1,161 permit holders, or 0.09 percent.   The numbers squeeze even tighter when you consider that of the 44 permit holders charged, 17 licenses have been revoked because they were convicted of a crime that disqualifies them from having a permit.
Additionally, a 2011 New York Times article derived that among North Carolina permit holders, they were 5.48 times less likely to commit a violent crime.
Granted, there is no guarantee that someone with a clean past cannot commit a future crime – we are all born without a criminal conviction.     However, it would seem impossible not to concede that those who legally carry a weapon are the Good Guys.

Thanks again, - Doc C. in Flyover Country

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I currently provide consulting services to major global corporations. One effective way to do battle with a competitor is to place yourself in their shoes and plan out your own demise – exactly what I will do here today. Below is my concise strategy to completely ban firearms in the US within 10 years. I am not alone here, rest assured there are many groups that have paid tidy sums to have the same roadmap developed and are currently rolling it out in a very deliberate manner.

Step 1 – Divide to conquer. We know there were not enough votes to maintain the AWB and there are more gun owners now then there were in 2004. We know there is Youtube and forums that people gather on and multiply like cockroaches. We know that about 5 million AR-15s have been sold and probably the same magnitude of AK-47s if not more. We have surveys, Freedom of Information requests and NICS records at our disposal. We cannot defeat the entire gun owning US and we know it, but it doesn’t matter one bit. Let them believe the NRA is all powerful and they don’t have to act on their own, much less as a group.

First, make this a Democrat versus Republican issue. This will cut their forces in half immediately.

Next, divide the gun owners into niche groups and get them to turn on each other. We know there are gun owners that only hunt. We’ll craft a message that explains they hunt with three shotgun shells, why would anyone need a Saiga baby killer that can accept 10 or 20? That gun is only meant to destroy lives, you can’t even legally carry one into the field. That will resonate with at least some. We also know some only target or competitively shoot. Why would you need a 100 round drum magazine? Find a time when it was used to kill and convince them to give up someone else’s 100 round drum, in return for not touching their 1911. Then, find all the new concealed handgun people and show them how ridiculous it is to have a flash hider and PVS-14 night vision scope. These are offensive tools for the military and how would you like it if they got in the wrong hands and the bad guys entered your home one night with them? If we can make a reasonable law about offensive weapons, I’m sure we can live with your right to defend yourself against criminals trying to get them to kill your family and steal your guns.

This is by far the most powerful and greatest strategy to achieve our goal, divide the group off and pick them off one at a time. If we do nothing else, do this.

We will also hit them at the local, state and federal level. We have politicians and the media at all levels and they don’t. Make them defend several fronts and confuse the issue by launching similar but different bills. Have ten different definitions of an “assault rifle” and make them tell everyone how great assault is. “Assault” is a crime, force them to defend it daily. Our goal is to chip away and develop a base to build on; we just need small victories and don’t really care where they are or what we take out of their hands. Let the genie out of the bottle and she won’t go back.

Finally, divide the supply chain and make independent deals. Make a deal with Wal-Mart to slack off the government heat in exchange for them to voluntarily agree to stop selling semi-automatic weapons and 5.56 ammunition. Make a deal with the NRA to expand background checks in return for a larger voice or a few extra cops. is probably willing to do just about anything as are the other retailers from the west coast. People will see all of these big companies coming on board and each deal by itself will make some sense. Together, we gain a tremendous amount without giving anything up. It’s like winning without the burden of a congressional vote. Church groups are golden, get them on stage with you and host discussions about how bad guns are. Pass out candles and framed pictures of the fallen. Make sure we develop the agenda and makes sure it is gun control.

Step 2 – Hearts, not minds. Babies dying. Families destroyed. Tragic accidents. Candlelight vigil. Sensible steps. Moral obligation. Reasonable response. Blood. Funerals. Mothers crying. President’s crying. Enough is enough. Why is the US so much worse? Emotion sells, don’t deviate.

We sell to the heart and ignore the mind. People on average don’t know history and won’t take the time to research anything we or the other side says – plus, they tend to be limited by the truth. If we say it, it is true. “Assault weapons” are what we say they are, and can and should expand over time. The 5.56 is a high-powered killing machine designed to mow down military enemies 1,000 yards away and has no civilian use. Tyranny is so dead we don’t even bring it up unless we are talking about the Middle East. The second amendment applies to hunting with muskets. High capacity is anything over one round. Everything is high-powered.

Make up new names or find ugly names like “street sweeper.” “Tactical” companies play right in, go out and find guns with pictures of snakes, infidels, skulls and goblins on them. Put them on the news, in the press and on the morning and evening shows. Use those pictures for stories they aren’t even related to. Make famous a few YouTuber mall ninjas and tough guys who don’t shave. Use the word militia and northern Idaho with pictures of skinheads from the 1980s.

Answer questions with questions. Q: Do you believe in a natural right of self-defense? A: How many little children have to die before we act?

Statistics are great, start with strong societies like Japan that are inherently peaceful. They have no guns and just about no murders, case closed. Don’t worry about places like Chicago, nobody outside inner city Chicago knows or really cares. Chicago doesn’t even care. Canada and the UK are safe too. We want to be just like them, probably even better. The university brigade is your best friend here, start with UC Berkeley and go out from there. Find the janitor at Harvard and get him on MSNBC and CNN. He is an expert in a suit and tie and we all believe him. Combine university experts with their anecdotal statistics. Better yet, find a crazy gun owner and have a debate showing everyone how rabid they are.

Our side is the “pro” side and their side is the “anti” side. Remember how we turned the pro-life crowd into anti-abortion activists? Activists shoot people and blow up buildings. Pro-safety is the first step but not the last. Develop a name other than “gun owner” or “gun rights” and certainly stay away from the word constitution. Our enemies are anti-_____ activists, fill in the blank.

Finally, send every gun death story to the media and discuss it during all press briefings. Every issue can be tied back to the tragedy of the day. Are you old enough to remember when the nightly news read every American death nightly during the latter part of the Vietnam War? It is flat out effective. If it ends up showing something you don’t want to see (like the Oregon shooting stopped by a legally armed citizen who didn’t even need to fire a shot), simply let it fade. Nobody will pick it up except maybe Faux News. Every article should contain the following words: high-powered, high-capacity, military style, arsenal, explosives, cache, bulletproof vest, legally owned and certainly assault rifle. Have a high count for something; the number of deaths this year, the number of mass shootings, number of guns at the scene, number of bullets, just find big numbers. Don’t worry about accuracy, who is going to argue with you and take the side of the killer? Nobody will notice when the 10 assault rifle cache discovered in his car turns into only one two weeks from now.

Publicize reloading. Send the ATF in to inspect illegal ammunition factories cranking out thousands of high-power rounds in garages. Did you know your neighbor had a stockpile of explosive gunpowder, 5,000 detonators and 5,000 armor piercing bullets and was assembling them in the garage near the playground your kid uses? Let them argue terminology and defend the terrorists. We probably need a hotline like we had for drugs as well as several stock homemade videos of explosions and anarchists for the news to use.

Step 3 – Diversion - “an attack or feint that draws the attention and force of an enemy from the point of the principal operation” (from

Beat the “ban” drum. Beat the executive order drum even louder. Let Feinstein and all of the pro-safety groups whip them into a frenzy. While the other side is all lathered up and running around putting out fires, we are free to get work done. Use existing powers to limit or tax imports (creating US jobs or protecting US manufactures from those pesky Russians and Chinese dumping illegal cheap imports into the US). Pass regulations to make it just about impossible to be an FFL. Raid a few. Send IRS auditors to the rest.

Work on Internet sales, how can they actually verify someone is 18 or 21? There should be a couple dozen hoops to set up somewhere. A good raid or ten would work well here too and doesn’t require anyone to vote on anything. Use stock pictures of a gun shop in the seedy part of town and tie it back to a shooting – “in a store like this…..” even if the store had nothing to do with any crimes.

Undercover gun show footage is great – everyone knows that is where evil goes for fun. We prove our point and make people afraid to buy or sell. Beat on the gun show loophole but never define it. “Narrow” it six or seven times, always limiting something but never quite fixing the problem.

What about shooting ranges? Do they comply with zoning requirements? How about making new ones? Noise ordinances? Have we tested nearby water for lead? I bet we can find a few holes in the outside wall the local news would love to hear about. What chemicals are in primers or powder that can hurt people or damage the environment? Same goes with gun stores, the city really should find a way to ban the sale of arms and ammunitions within city or county limits, don’t we have an attorney they could borrow or a “best practice” from another city we could share with them?

Get the point yet? Make life miserable for gun merchants and owners. Many will throw in the towel and give up. Make them drive long distances, spend lots of money and take tremendous amounts time to do the simplest task. Their group will get smaller over time and eventually they will go down in a whimper.

Step 4 – Money talks, especially when they don’t have any. Remember sin taxes on cigarettes and liquor? We make more money from smokes than Marlboro! Tax ammunition 50% and use the money for victim support and trauma bandages for first responders. Put it up for a vote with no riders, let them vote against grieving mothers.

Parlay this with Step 1 – people accept more taxes as long as we tax someone else. Go round and round and eventually you have everyone. Divide ammunition up and start with taxes on military ammunition, “armor piercing” or hollow points. What is military ammunition you ask? It is something we don’t want them to have. Expand it over time. A .308 or 30-06 can and will pierce a police officer’s Level IIIA vest, do we even have a name for ultra-high power cop killer armor piercing bullets yet? Vilify reloading, they are some of the most dedicated.

An NFA firearm or accessory now costs $200 just for the tax stamp, simply expand it to include things we can’t yet ban. Who would argue against a more solid background check for assault rifles (remember the truth doesn’t really matter here). $200 for the rifle stamp, $200 for a magazine stamp, $1,000 for a rifle (isn’t supply and demand great?), $600 for a case of ammo, $100 for mandatory locks and cases for the home and vehicle followed up with $150 for a state license = Joe be too broke to be a gun owner.

Levy a $1,000 annual FFL renewal fee plus $50 per firearm sale and use the money for more inspectors. We probably only have a few, or at least that is our story. Shouldn’t they also need $50,000,000 in liability insurance as a minimum? How can a hairdresser be required to be licensed, but not a guy selling the most high-powered weapon known to man? The owner and all their staff needs to be federally certified and licensed as well and that’s going to cost money a guy making $12 an hour just won’t have. The instructors are private citizens that also need to be certified. To protect the workers and gun shop owners, we’ll limit what they can charge to $50 for the four day course which will naturally restrict how many classes they offer and where. Add a test that they send in to us for an eight week grading process. They will have found another job by the time they get the results. Annual renewals with excessive paperwork work well.

Don’t forget about the local level, they deserve love too. They need the money new licenses and permits can provide – plus two sets of permits beats one any day. Inspectors are people that need jobs too, especially if we reward the ones that issue the most citations with promotions. Let’s see how they like “pay for performance.”

Step 5 – Frame it and hang it on our wall. We experienced a near miss when the NRA proposed an idea to end the real problem – social violence. This should serve as a stark reminder of our need to completely define the discussion. For anyone not paying attention, we are aiming to end gun ownership. Use tragic events to frame the discussion of gun control. Debate gun control, not violence or our society.

What would have happened if the NRA proposed a gathering at their headquarters to develop a comprehensive proposal to curb violence by addressing it as a social problem?

We frame the issue, we choose the venue and we choose the participant list. The issue is always gun control, we don’t debate the problem, we debate a version of the solution – gun control. The only question we want to hear is what type of gun control is best? How many rounds do people need? Should this gun be legal?

Use tragic events, then quickly transition to the core issue of disarming the nation. Every tragedy has the same solution.

Debrief – It would be almost comical if it weren’t playing out on the news every night. President Obama has chosen this place and this time as the battle royale. This is the big one. Canada had theirs, so did the UK and New Zealand. Today in the UK, you can be arrested for carrying a baseball bat in your car. I say this to reinforce the fact that you are either in support of private gun ownership or not. This isn’t the time to debate what types of magazines are “necessary”. Win this battle or the only magazine you will be buying will be Newsweek.

Six main reasons were cited by the authors as to why the Second Amendment is necessary (reference Wikipedia):

• Deter a tyrannical government
• Repel invasion
• Suppress insurrection
• Facilitate the natural right of self-defense
• Participate in law enforcement
• Enable the people to organize a militia system

Hunting and target shooting are notably absent. In fact, all of the above justifications involve fighting or war-time activities. The Second Amendment has nothing to do with deer or pieces of paper with circles on them. Noah Webster perhaps summarized it most eloquently (my emphasis) “Before a standing army can rule the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States.”

I now take the liberty of combining the six known justifications for the Second Amendment into two:

• Defend the country against a tyrannical government
• Defend ourselves, our family and our neighbors against people who wish to harm and kill us

The most effective (and only logical) argument that the Second Amendment is antiquated and should be removed or revised would be to argue that these are modern times and the two bullets above longer exist. Regarding tyrannical government, as of this writing the world has witnessed the beginning of at least five revolutions in the last two years: Egypt, Syria, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia. In the last decade, at least five additional governments were overthrown by their citizens. I refuse to participate in the fantasy that American leaders are somehow genetically immune to future tyranny – it is an unfortunate human trait.

Neither can a sane person assume that Americans will never again face war or crime that requires citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves or the nation. Our armed forces and law enforcement are the best trained, best equipped, finest organization that has ever walked the Earth, yet we cannot expect them to be everywhere, always. Reference the LA riots, 9-11, Katrina, or any of the 6.6 million violent crimes committed every year in the US during “peace time.”

We need semi-automatic rifles with full capacity magazines for the same reason the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, police, National Guard, FBI, CIA, State Department, Secret Service, Border Patrol, and Homeland Security do – they are a very effective tool for stopping bad people from doing bad things to those we care about. Go back to the LA riots, if you were looking out your window and an armed group of thugs was heading to your front door, what weapon would you want?

If you think this is a republican vs. democrat or liberal vs. conservative debate, please wake up. Republicans, if you ever want to find a concentrated group of gun enthusiasts, head over to the union hall. The fight is those for the constitution and those against it. If one amendment falls, what holds the other ones up?

What do we do? Easy to say, hard to do – act as one unit and stand for someone you may not even agree with. You may only hunt birds and actually really despise the AK-47 and the punks on Youtube. The thing is that someday you will probably need that guy with the AK to stand for you. If he falls, who do you think is next? My daughter’s NRA instructor hit the nail on the head by having a student break a pencil. Then he handed 15 to the strongest guy in the class that couldn’t break them all at one time. Realize that there is an agenda to disarm you and this is simply the first fight.

The future depends on sportsmen and gun owners, make more of them. Find more like you and band together – you’ll need reassurance and a strong partner. Join whatever organization floats your boat, better yet join three or four.

Take your kid hunting. Take a neighbor shooting. Teach them both to be safe and respectful of life. Attend a rally or protest in a suit armed with children, mothers, an honest face and a bunch of facts. Volunteer as a gun owning group, volunteer to teach hunters education. Take the Scout troop to the rifle range to shoot arrows. Take a class or teach a class. Host a swap meet at the range. Invite people out to your property for shooting or hunting. Turn a fisherman into a hunter. Turn a bird hunter into a defensive pistol shooter. Buy them all a pocket constitution. Have you ever heard of Project Appleseed? They will send someone out to talk to your group for free.

You don’t have to be a gun owner to respect the constitution. Talk with as many people as you can, you may be surprised how many non-gun owners are just as afraid as you.

Buy arms and ammunition, a right not exercised is a right lost. You shouldn’t need another reason to pick up a new gun, magazines, ammunition or parts right now. Do it. Buy whatever you need, buy whatever you may need - the industry needs your support. Firearms, ammunition, magazines, parts, holsters, targets, everything. Make sure to tell the vendors your support is based on their support, one big happy family. Find the ones that actively donate and work with GOA and the NRA. Send them a letter thanking them – they will probably be getting a lot of heat soon. Convince others to do the same. Could you talk to 10 people to get them to send a single e-mail, letter or call? Do they support second amendment groups? Ask them why not and remind them their competitors do. Keep the heat on anyone that starts to go soft on our rights. Use your Youtube channel or your blog to magnify your efforts. Link to other like-minded messages.

Get a concealed carry permit and use it. In my state, each and every one either goes across the desk of a sheriff or police chief. What message will the small town sheriff that is up for re-election next year get if 500 cross his desk this month? Meet your local sheriff or police chief and thank them for what they do. Go as a sportsman’s group and hit the fire station on the way home.

Watch each company that meets with the administration or state and local government. Write them a letter thanking them for what they do and letting them know your continued business 100% depends on helping defend our constitutional rights. Let them know about your YouTube channel with 50,000 subscribers or the 10 forums you regularly post to. Send the letter out to other companies just in case. They may be caving or preparing to fight, you don’t know without asking.

For an offensive strategy, how about we also talk about the 2,500 babies killed every day in abortion clinics? Maybe we can discuss how Obama and David Gregory’s kids go to a school with 11 armed guards? Remind them this is in addition to the Secret Service, the school had the guards long before the Obama kids showed up – Obama and David chose to protect their kids with guns and now want yours. What about Bloomberg’s bodyguards? Hypocrisy doesn’t play well with most Americans. They already know politicians have a tendency to be elitist hypocrites, feed that fire with some good old facts.

The solution is measured, appropriate action in massive quantity. Pull people toward us, don’t push them away. Act as if your life depends on it because it just may. What are you going to do TODAY? What can you do during your lunch break? What about for 30 minutes tonight?

You have a natural right of self-protection that you enjoy today because patriots banded together and gave their life so that you can be free. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring; liberty is the one gift we must give to our children and grandchildren just as it was handed down to us.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

On March 10, 2013, the Governor of Colorado signed into law three new statutes that pertain to gun and magazine owners throughout the state. In this post, I will address the addition of C.R.S. 18-12-112, having to do with “Private Firearms Transfer”. No reader should consider this post to be legal advice for themselves or anyone else. My intent is to educate you on the law and for you to make your own decisions. 
On and after July 1, 2013, a person who is not a licensed gun dealer, before they transfer or attempt to transfer possession of a firearm to a transferee, they must:
1. Require that a background check be conducted of the prospective transferee;
2. Obtain approval of a transfer from CBI after a background check has been requested by a licensed gun dealer.
In order to understand the law you must start with the definitions. A “Transferee” means a person who desires to receive or acquire a firearm from the “Transferor”. A “Transferor” is the person who either owns or has possession of the firearm for a number of reasons.

If you are not a licensed gun dealer and you want to transfer possession of a firearm to a transferee, you will have to utilize the services of a licensed gun dealer for the purpose of having them provide you a background check of the transferee. The licensed gun dealer will provide the same background check and fill out the same paperwork as if they were selling the transferee the firearm themselves. For this service, the licensed gun dealer may not charge more than ten dollars.
Once the licensed gun dealer completes the background check of the transferee, they shall provide the transferor a copy of the results of the background check, including CBI’s approval or disapproval of the transfer. The approval will be valid for 30 days and valid only for the transferor and transferee.
The licensed gun dealer will be required to record the transfer and retain the records as they would on any retail gun purchase.

A person who violates this statute shall be guilty of a Class 1 Misdemeanor. This is the highest level of Misdemeanor and is punishable by six months to eighteen months imprisonment and/or a Five hundred dollars and up to a Five thousand dollar fine or both. There is an additional punishment associated with a violation of this statute. The violator shall also be prohibited from possessing a firearm for two years, beginning on the date of his or her conviction. If convicted, the State Court Administrator will report the conviction to National Instant Criminal Background Check System. You will not be able to legally possess a firearm in Colorado during the prohibition time. What is not clear is how other states will view this restriction. Will they too also determine that you are not to carry in their state?
Remember prohibition time period starts at the time of your conviction. That means if you go to trial on the matter, it could be anywhere from six months to a year before your conviction actually occurs.
Additionally, if you violate this statute you MAY be jointly and severally liable for any civil damages proximately caused by the transferee’s subsequent use of the firearm. I will expound on this below.

There are numerous exceptions within this statute. The background requirement does not apply to the following:
1. The transfer of an antique firearm; [JWR Adds: See my FAQ page on antique guns. I predict that pre-1899 antiques will become increasingly important, as gun laws expand in some states in coming years.]
2. A bona fide gift or loan between immediate family members;
3. A transfer that occurs by operation of law or because of the death of a person for whom the transferor is an executor of a will or trust;
4. A transfer that is temporary and occurs while in the home of the unlicensed transferee if, the transferee is not prohibited from possessing firearms and the unlicensed transferee reasonably believes that the possession of the firearm is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury to the unlicensed transferee;
5. A temporary transfer of possession without transfer of ownership or a title to ownership occurs at:
a. At a shooting range;
b. At a target firearm shooting competition;
c. While hunting, fishing, target shooting or trapping if:
1. All hunting, fishing, target shooting or trapping is legal in all places where the unlicensed transferee is possessing the firearm; and
2. The unlicensed transferee holds any license or permit that is required
d. Any temporary transfer occurs while in the continuous presence of the owner of the firearm;
e. A temporary transfer cannot be for more than 72 hours. Should the transferee use your firearm unlawfully, you may be jointly and severally liable for damages proximately caused by the transferee’s use.
f. A transfer that is made to facilitate the repair or maintenance of the firearm.
g. A transfer from a person who is serving in the Armed Forces of the US who will be deploying within 30 days and the transfer go to an immediate family member.

All I have heard over and over from the politicians in Colorado is that this is not a gun registry. Yet, now all private guns sales will be recorded in the books of licensed gun dealers. These records are required to be kept for twenty (20) years after the transfer occurs and the records are open for inspection at any time by the ATF. Additionally, should the licensed gun dealer go out of business or decides to retire, he/she is required to forward all of their gun records to the ATF. Knowing this, please tell me how this is not a gun registry.

The punishment for the violation of this statute is severe. A Class 1 misdemeanor can include jail time if the Judge chooses to sentence you with such and the monetary fine can range from five hundred to five thousand dollars. But the addition of the loss of possession of ANY firearm for two years is well beyond what I would consider to be fair punishment.

As with the Large Capacity Magazine law, it appears that the goal of these laws are to disarm and remove guns from citizens as opposed to punishing them for not completing paperwork. I would like to see the true statistics relating to how many criminals are buying guns from private citizens before committing their crimes. Using common sense, we know that is not how they are arming themselves. The criminals are acting as criminals by stealing the guns and then using them in the commission of crimes. This law does nothing more than regulate (control) law abiding citizens when selling their own private property.

Another punishment for violation of this statute is the attachment of joint and several liability for any civil damages proximately caused by the transferee’s subsequent use of the firearm. Joint and several liability means that if three people were involved in the matter and all three were found to be liable, the damaged party could pursue all three people or just one to recover the whole amount. Given this, the person with the deepest pocket looses.

Read alongside the Large Capacity Magazine law, this law will allow firearms that utilize Large Capacity Magazines to be transferred but just without the Large Capacity Magazines. Again, just a coincidence or the grand plan all along?

Currently, 40 out of 62 Sheriffs in Colorado will be filing suit against the state of Colorado to determine whether this law and the large capacity magazine law are constitutional. While this is good, it will be a long and expensive route to take in order to get a resolution.

I will continue to update my blog as more information about this statute becomes available. Visit and leave me your questions.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Just as I warned SurvivalBlog readers, it appears that the BHO Administration is taking executive action on firearms importation. Take a few minutes to read this: After Senate setback, Obama quietly moving forward with gun regulation. Here is the key portion of the article:

"The Importation of Defense Articles and Defense Services -- U.S. Munitions Import List references executive orders, amends ATF regulations and clarifies Attorney General authority “to designate defense articles and defense services as part of the statutory USML for purposes of permanent import controls,” among other clauses specified in heavy legalese requiring commensurate analysis to identify just what the administration’s intentions are. Among the speculations of what this could enable are concerns that importing and International Traffic in Arms Regulations [ITAR] may go forward to reflect key elements within the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty." [Emphasis added.]

Depending on how it is implemented, the implications of this change could be huge. With the stroke of a pen and without the consent of Congress, ATF bureaucrats could make ANY gun part or accessory (including magazines) or ammunition that were originally manufactured or perhaps even those designed for military use no longer legal for importation for civilian use. That might mean no more milsurp parts sets. No more milsurp magazines. No more milsurp ammo. No more milsurp optics. Perhaps not even spare firing pins. This could be ugly.

I strongly recommend that you stock up on magazines, ammunition and spare parts for any of your imported military pattern guns, as soon as possible! Once an import ban is implemented, prices will skyrocket. Importation of Chinese military guns and ammunition was banned during the Clinton Administration, but importers quickly worked around that, by tapping other sources. But imagine if all of the channels for military surplus are cut off. That mean no more spam cans of any of the Russian calibers, no more battle packs of .223 or .308, and no more affordable AK, HK, FAL, Galil, or SIG magazines.

This may be just the first of several executive actions/orders. There is also the possibility of a blanket ban on the importation of any civilian magazines (Glock, SIG, Beretta, etc.) of more than 10 round capacity, by declaring them "non-sporting." There is a precedent for that, as well, set in 1989. That ban could be grossly widened. And don't look for too much support from American gun makers on this issue. They actually benefit from import bans. They benefited in 1968, when import of most of the milsurp rifles stopped. And they benefited again with the 1989 Import Ban.

Don't dawdle. Be proactive! If you wait until after the door slams shut, then you will be paying two or three times the price. If there is a gun show near you this weekend, then you should be there, with a wad of cash. - J.W.R.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

I take a different approach, but one that may prove useful for other ladies. My husband is military, so that would make me the military spouse. However, I can tell you from experience that there SHOULD be a survival guide to being a military spouse. Now, I don’t plan on making this some betty home maker guide; Because in my opinion there is so many other survival aspects that us ladies should be aware of when our husbands are away. Unfortunately, we are not aware of these survival tactics until some misfortune is staring us in the face and we are left to handle it by ourselves.

First off ladies, you should ALWAYS make sure you have a survival travel pack in your vehicle. (Mind you it doesn’t need to be a pack so to speak, just a tidy area with survival things handy.) In this “pack” there should be jumper cables, fluids for your car, a jug of water, road flares, a jack, tire rod, first aid kit, fix a flat, MREs (or some sort of compact food, protein bars are nice to.) A knife/and or multi tool, a fire starter (rather it be a good name brand lighter, matches, or an actual fire starter), tinder shavings, rope, extra set of clothes and shoes, and an emergency radio/flashlight (I, personally have a 2-in-1) with extra batteries. I also HIGHLY recommend a book called,“SAS Survival Guide Handbook”, They sell this in a pocket size version which you can easily put in that survival pack. This book not only shows you what plants to eat, but which one too not eat. It has great first aid advice, talks of poisonous animals, insects,etc….it truly is an all-around lifesaving book. (You can purchase it on Amazon for about $8.)

Since, I am on the subject of jacks and tire rods; one should become familiar with how to use these tools. (Have your husband show you before he leaves and YouTube is great as well.) You should also know how to change your own oil/fluids, jump your battery, and you should become familiar with your engine. I recommend a short mechanical course on the weekends, or again YouTube can be useful or Google. When packing MREs or food related items, keep track of your expiration dates, and make sure there is enough for each person (in my case I have two children.) The same goes for the water. I keep bottled water in my car; The jug of water is good in case your vehicle over heats or you just need extra water.  When it comes to the knife, learn how to sharpen your knife and learn its different uses. (Same with the multi-tool.) Also, make sure to Google and/or YouTube ropes and knots…it may make a real difference on day. For the clothes/shoes make sure you change them out with the season. If its winter you will need good insulated boots and wool socks, gloves, hat and long johns. (Remember Wool is the better choice as cotton will keep you cold and wet.)

Since I have mentioned water, I want to take a minute to go over some important factors on water. We all know its vitally important, more so than food. If you ever get in a situation where you are out of water and need to find more water then follow some of this advice. First off, NEVER, drink unsterilized water. If you are prepared for an emergency (such as your survival pack in the car.) you should have your jug that had your water, tinder shavings and fire starter. You can collect the water and boil it before you drink it. Un-boiled water can have dangerous pathogens in it. If you are in a cold climate and think you’re going to eat snow…DON’T! Eating snow can bring down your core body temperature. Again, you can boil the snow down to water…kills pathogens and in turn heats up the water. If this sounds like too much work you can buy filtrated straws that will filter the water your ingesting.(Make sure to buy one for each person or even two for each person, as the straws only filter about 20 gallons of water and you never know how long it will take to get rescued.)

And with water is food. Now, I will touch base with you on food preservation and proper storage. Canning food is a rather simple task and it can not only be useful, but even lifesaving in case of an emergency.  I will start by informing you of the importance of proper canning, to help prevent illness due to improper storage. Fresh foods, like those out of your garden, consist of a high percentage of water.
The high percentage of water in most fresh foods makes them VERY perishable. They spoil or lose their quality for several reasons:

  • growth of undesirable microorganisms-bacteria, molds, and yeasts,
  • activity of food enzymes,
  • reactions with oxygen,
  • Moisture loss.

Microorganisms live and multiply quickly on the surfaces of fresh food and on the inside of bruised, insect-damaged, and diseased food. Oxygen and enzymes are present throughout fresh food tissues.
Proper canning practices include:

  • carefully selecting and washing fresh food,
  • peeling some fresh foods,
  • hot packing many foods,
  • adding acids (lemon juice or vinegar) to some foods,
  • using acceptable jars and self-sealing lids,
  • Processing jars in a boiling-water or pressure canner for the correct period of time.

Collectively, these practices remove oxygen; destroy enzymes; prevent the growth of undesirable bacteria, yeasts, and molds; and help form a high vacuum in jars. You can purchase a good vacuum for roughly $100-$200 to make sure a tight seal forms, which will keep liquid in and air and microorganisms out.
The “canning” world is full of excitement, and great potential in all aspects of daily living. I would HIGHLY suggest one par take in this living experience; And even pass it on to children and grandchildren.  Its can save money, and is can be a healthy way of eating.

Another, more far out idea is if your stranded outside, one can eat off the land (plants, insects, Etc.). (Remember that awesome book; I said to buy off Amazon? “SAS Survival Handbook”…yes that $8 book MIGHT help save your life.)

I would also like to touch on the importance of taking a defensive driving course. Being military you never know where you will be and each place has different climates (I went from Florida to Alaska, and learning to drive on ice has been a challenge)

Next, I want to talk with you about protection. When our husbands are home, we rely on them to protect the home front. However, when they are way it is OUR job to protect and defend our home front.  I want to advise you to take a shooting class. Research guns, their specific uses (as each gun has a different use/specs) then take a safety course and learn how to properly defend yourself, family and home.  I would also recommend getting a carry permit if your state allows it. Again research the gun, and your state laws. If you do not like guns, learn to self-defend with a knife or even take a self-defense course.

I also want to stress the importance of Always being familiar with your surroundings. It is one of the most lifesaving things a person can do. Research your surroundings, take trips and learn it like the back of your hand.  When or if you work, learn to take different ways home. You never know if you have a stalker and this way you keep people guessing which way you might go.  This also comes into play within your home. If a stranger is to break into your home…DO NOT, I REPEAT…DO NOT go an try to find the intruder…remain calm, and quiet. You know your home better than they do. Lay low and wait for them to come to you and then take action.

As for more home front survival; learn and familiarize yourself with the more laid back task such as: power tools, fire extinguishers, and your breaker box.  If a fire breaks out, you need to have an escape plan and know how to use that fire extinguisher. If you need to fix something you will need to learn how to properly and safely use the power tools. The breaker box is great to be familiar with as you never know when you might trip a breaker.

I know this is not your everyday…stuck out in the wild survival things. However, Ever since my husband has joined the Military, I have come across a lot of women who truly have no idea what to do in case of an emergency or they depend on others to save them.  Even if I only reach out to one person, maybe that one person will survive, become stronger and pass along this vital information to another.  I hope you all have enjoyed my brief ideas and knowledge and happy, safe living to you all.

James Wesley,
I should  have known I was in trouble when it took an hour to get in the gates, my wallet was light with cash and some of the parking areas were "4 wheel drive only", due to rain.  Later, after 36 hours of driving fueled by Caffeine, Caffeine and oh yeah, more caffeine (otherwise known as Coffee, Coca-Cola and chocolate) I was flattened my some kind of sabotage by my heart. The doctor told me I needed to start slowing down in life. I replied that the Revolution/Economic Armageddon  freight train was bearing down on me and I didn’t have time to stand around gawking like a tourist. He then told me he wished he was ready to retire to avoid Obama Care and asked how much .357 SIG was at the show. (True story, I hadn’t even known that he owned a gun!)
The only 9mm for sale by Friday (dealers and shooters can buy on Thursday) was one guy with Tula steel cased $259 for 500 rounds. I managed to buy some 9mm for a friend with Federal and Remington selling on the dust choked side market for $20-25 a box from people wandering around. One of these guys with a backpack full of ammo sold me two Olin-Mathieson (Winchester) M14 mags with the GI pouch for $50, which with the current craziness, I considered a minor victory. I believe the lowest retail price I have found original 50’s-70’s contract magazines for since the Clinton 1994 crime bill was $20each, about seven years ago.
I didn’t see any .223 for less than the range of $600-to-$800 per thousand. I passed two kids who were each carrying a half case that they said they got for $500/1000. It didn’t have the usually Russian markings on the boxes so I am not sure what it was. .308 was unaffordable at basically $1 round. I did see a case of Lake City match for $30 a box, but couldn’t find it later so I imagine it disappeared pretty quick. AK/SKS ammo was $325 -$375 with J&G ammo the lowest I believe.  AK74 ammo was $450 a case of 2400 (instead of the normal $275-300) which I told one dealer was highway robbery considering how little demand and how few people used it. Mosin ammo was $160 to $180 for two tins of 440 in a case.
Copes Distributing had several types of AR mags for $15 bucks new but one of them intrigued me. It was a dull gray in color and made in Oconomowoc, the same town La Belle Industries used to produce them in Wisconsin. It was by H&K tactical with what I was told were Magpul anti-tilt followers with similar top of the follower design as the Belgium FN-FNC mags. Looked and felt slick so I bought a few. They also had new Checkmate industries M14 mags for $30 so my backpack swallowed a few of those as well.  APEX Gun Parts had the best buy on HK Alloy G3 mags for $3. Saw several dealers with Original German Contract G-3 steel mags for $9-10. I don’t know why you would chose alloy at that price except to dump, lose or barter later. All the CETME ones I saw were over $20 per. DSA wants $10 for FAL  mags. Guy told me that if I bought 20 he would go $8 for me. Apparently, my pathetic look still needs work and some accessories like one of those old iron-on lettered t-shirts that states some kind of wisdom like “unemployed since 92” on it. He apparently was too young to have much experience reading faces, as mine obviously had a stupid looking painful grimace and said $5 all over it.
One old codger had 30+ cases of .22LR he was selling for $50 a brick and he had CCI mini-mags for $60. I looked at the shipping label and it was from 1982 and said “pkg 1 of 32”. He assured me they tested a brick and it all fired. I bought a brick or two for a friend and went on my way. Everything else at the show was $80 a brick unless they had some of this guys 1982 score. When I went back later, a dealer had bought all he had left and put $70 on it. This new dealer told me when he got back to Ohio he could get $80 all day long for it.  He told me the subsonic 22Lr was going for $90 minimum a brick. Seems like early last year I thought that $30 a brick for that was akin to rape.
My ongoing AR conversion to 5.45mm took another step back since the October show as I am getting at best 1 out of 7 primer ignition. Model 1 sales who sold me the barrel and bolt was strangely absent from this show (due to lack of product I suppose, although it could have been they had gotten wind through the grapevine that I was coming to talk to them, yet again) so I talked with the guys at Doublestar/J&T who opined that I should try to file a very small amount off of the tube where the firing pin flange hits against it. Ok, I will investigate this further. At this rate I will have this thing running like a finely tuned racing engine about 2 days after Jesus returns.
I bought a bag full of FAL parts (springs, firing pins, flash hiders, recoil and gas springs) from Dan the FAL Guy for $50. Sarco wanted $15 bucks for a firing pin itself. Cripes. I picked ups some stainless steel AP 8mm bullets for $20 a 100 and (API) 7.62x54r  full rounds for .50 a piece/$50 per hundred. I would tell you were but I want to try and get some more. I got all the brass cased ones they had left. I hiked back to the swampy hill my car was tenaciously clinging too, alongside some guy who said he had an FFL and had a NIB Springfield Armory MIA he said he got for $1300. He stated that he couldn’t even get them in due to the late unpleasantness so he jumped at the chance. I absolutely would have traded one of my perfectly functioning kidneys and a bad check if I had seen it first.  I also bought 2 dozen large orange floating smoke grenades? For ships and life rafts for $5 per. Someone asked me what I was going to use them for. I stated that if something was chasing me I was going to pop one or two and keep running. Everyone but this guy, has obviously read their JRR Tolkien and knows that Obama’s Ring Wraiths cannot stay in the presence of iridescent orange?
There were a number of items that I normally buy and see that shouldn’t be mentioned on a public forum that disappeared rather quickly, when normally there is plenty of it. Huummmm? Lance, the seller of eclectic books and videos, added “Saints and Sinners” to my collection, a WWII movie about some survivors at Malmedy trying to get back to American lines. Kudos to the writer for correctly (according to both sides) showing that the massacre started when a USGI jailbreak started and not pre-meditated murder. Sadly, it was more about a bunch of guys trying to mesh together in trying circumstances than combat. Good production values though. Still waiting to watch “the war of the arrows”. My big Berkey water filter is gleaming with pride  and strutting around the kitchen now that it has some new black chemical reducing filters and bottom fluoride filters. It set me back about $150 dollars along with some other parts, but here’s hoping that it will delay my chances of a chemical induced neurological disorder from the municipal water supply for at least another year. - T.A.B.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I still remember when I first laid my hands on a "butterfly" style knife - it was back in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1986 or 1987. I thought they were a bit strange-looking, to say the least. And the examples I handled were all very cheaply made on top of it all. I just didn't get what all the fuss was about, watching people doing the "twirl" with the butterfly knives - they had to whipped these knives out of their pockets and fling them around, until they opened and locked in their hand. Seemed like a lot of work, when I was simply able to draw a folder from my pocket and push the blade open with a thumb stud or hole in the blade - in a lot less time. Yeah, it didn't look very impressive - my method of opening a knife, but it was fast, and the knives I carried back then, were much better built - not some cheap stuff from China or Taiwan. Besides, I've been of the opinion, if I have to fast-draw a knife to use it to save my bacon, I think I've already lost the fight.
For some strange reason, the FedGov decided to ban the importation of butterfly knives into this country. Apparently, they are more deadly than other knives - the same lame thinking that has so many federal restrictions on automatic folders - "switchblades" if you will. And, I can still open a folding knife with a thumb stud or hole in the blade, faster than a person can push the button on an automatic knife. I guess we have Hollywood to thank for bans and restrictions on certain types of knives (and firearms [and firearms sound supressors]). As well as ill-informed politicians, who believe a person can mail-order a firearms or buy one over the Internet. I had a discussion with a friend about this, and "yes" you can purchase a firearm over the Internet - I'm not disputing that. However, delivery of that firearm across state lines must be made through a licensed gun dealer - you can't have the gun shipped directly to you. However, the politicians don't bother to tell the lamestream news media this, and they are too stupid to research it for themselves. Don't even get me started. Of course, importers have gotten around the import restrictions on automatic and butterfly knives, but not importing the knives as complete knives - they come in parts - and are assembled here.
Over the years, I've owned a few butterfly knives, but I never once owned a cheap one. I've had several samples from the leader, that is Benchmade Knives and they don't produce any junk. I recently received the newest butterfly knife from Benchmade, and this one, is probably the stoutest butterfly folder I've ever run across. We have the Model 63 Bali-Song Bowie. Benchmade is the leader in my humble opinion when it comes to butterfly-style knives. BTW, the "Bali-Song" name and distinctive butterfly logo are trademarks owned by Benchmade, so don't refer to all butterfly knives as "Bali-Songs"--they are not!
The 63 Bali-Song Bowie is a butterfly folder--if you can call these types of knives "folders" they do fold - sorta. It has a blade made out of D2 tool steel - some really tough and hard-working steel - it's not a true stainless steel, and it can rust or stain if not properly cared for. However, D2 tool steel takes an edge and it lasts a long, long time. Only downside is, if you let the D2 get too dull, it is a pain to get it re-sharpened - be advised, keep a good edge on D2 knife blades. The blade is long, 4.25-inches - and may not be legal to carry in some locales - check the laws in your area. And, needless to say, this is a clipped Bowie-style blade - always one of my favorite designs. The blade thickness is 0.120-inches - plenty thick for a folding knife. The hand is made out of machined stainless steel and is 0.480-inches thick, with holes in the handle to lighten the overall weight of the knife - which is 6.39-ounces. The D2 tool steel blade has a Rockwell hardness of 60-62 - very hard, but as I pointed out, it holds an edge for a long, long time.

Some butterfly knives come with a pocket clip, the 63 Bali-Song Bowie does not, however it comes in a very heavy-duty Nylon sheath that you wear on your belt, with Velcro closures. The overall length of the 63 Bali-Song Bowie is 9.20-inches open and closed it's 5.27-inches, so this isn't a small knife by any means. To keep the handles closed on the knife, there is a T-latch lock - which fits the two handles together snuggly, when the knife is opened or closed. It took some effort to open the T-latch lock - this isn't a knife you can draw and fling open, like the cheap models that are so loose, you worry about them actually coming apart when you fling them open. And, when the handles are opened and locked in place, there is zero movement - the handles lock together "that" tightly - there is no slop in the blade or handles.
One thing I really like about butterfly knives - good ones - is that you can't accidentally close the blade on your fingers as long as you're holding the knife in your hand with a secure grip. The handles are opened 180-degrees exposing the blade, and the handle scales lock together - and even if they didn't lock, so long as you have a secure hold on the knife, the blade can't close on you. This is a super-strong locking method. However, if you have a cheap imported butterfly knife, the pivot pin can break or even the blade or handle scales can break - many are made from die-cast zinc - not a good material for this type of knife design.
I really liked the heavily clipped Bowie-style blade on the 63 Bali-Song, then again, as I mentioned before, I've always been partial to this type of blade design - it's a proven one for many tasks. However, I personally see the 63 Bali-Song as a knife to be used for self-defense purpose - although, it can be used for a variety of other daily tasks. As far as I'm concerned, butterfly knives are best reserved for self-defense purposes in my book. I did use the 63 for tasks around the house, and some outdoor chores. The blade on my sample was razor-sharp, and I expected nothing less from a Benchmade knife. One test I always give knives is to see how well they can cut through a blackberry vine - and these are very tough plants. The 63 had no problems easily cutting through blackberry vines with one slashing movement - like I said, these knives are best suited for self-defense purposes, and in a folding-type knife, slashing cuts are what wins the day - deep and repeated slashing cuts.
I did "stab" the 63 into stacked cardboard, and it easily penetrated the full length of the blade. I didn't find the stainless steel handles to be of any hindrance - the holes machined into the handles actually allow the meat of your hand to get a better hold on the knife - the meat of the hand, during a secure grip, flows into the holes, giving you a stronger grip on the knife. I have seen people place skateboard tape on the handles of butterfly knives, because they found the handles too slick. However, that defeats the purpose of being able to fling and rotate the knife open. I'm no expert when it comes to doing a butterfly knife "twirl" or ""dance" to open one, but I didn't have any problems with the 62 Bali-Song, once I unlatched the T-latch lock.
If you want one of the strongest "folding" knife designs on the market, one that won't fail you, it's going to be hard to beat the 63 Bali-Song Bowie from Benchmade. The only thing is, you have to check your local laws and ordinances, to make sure this type of knife is legal for you to own and carry. Sadly, there are a lot of places that have just completely banned this type of a knife. If you're in the market for a super-strong knife for self-defense, and you can own a butterfly type knife, that a close look at the Benchmade 63 Bali-Song. Only thing is, they don't come cheap, full-retail is $350 and they are very hard to come by. The good thing is, this knife will last you a lifetime, without any problems, and if you should have a problem, Benchmade's lifetime warranty will cover any problems because of material or workmanship.
So, if you're in the market, for what might well be the very best butterfly knife on the market, check out the 63 Bali-Song from Benchmade. Just don't buy any junk imports and thing you are getting the same quality you'll get from Benchmade - not even in the same ballpark. Benchmade is the leader in quality butterfly type knifes - bar none!    - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Captain Rawles,
I would like to tell your readers about a piece missing on HK Model 91s and clones, except for some Vectors.  This is the paddle magazine release.  With this latest skyrocketing of prices and the cheap availability of HK .308 magazines, you have suggested these type rifles.  I have had my beloved PTR for years, but only recently had what I consider the most important upgrade added to it: My paddle magazine release.  The G3 rifle (which all these are civilian copies of) had the paddle magazine release, but since it also used the pushpin mount/hole for the select fire trigger pack, HK did away with it when it released the HK 91 to make it harder for people to convert the weapon to a machinegun.  This must be done carefully because if you drill a hole to mount the bushing for the paddle mag release and drill the hole [all the way through the receiver] then [legally] you have just created an unregistered machinegun [in the United States], per the pronouncements of the BATFE.

It is recommended that a professional gunsmith do this, although parts are available on and  My preferred gunsmith for this was Bill Springfield, in Colorado.  He also does tune ups for HK triggers.  Having the paddle mag release not only makes the rifle more ambidextrous-friendly, but speeds up reload time and is just plain easier.  The pushbutton release on HKs is just out of reach of my finger, so I had to shift my hand to push the button, forcing me to juggle the rifle around, making things clumsy, difficult, and slow.  No more.  If I ever get another HK, the first thing I will have done is have this important piece installed.  It was somewhat expensive, around $200 for the work, plus parts and shipping, but well worth it.  Turnaround time was about three weeks for me, and I did not like not having my rifle for that period of time, but again it is well worth it.  I encourage your readers who have HK-91s or clones (or 5.56 or 9mm versions, HK93s and 94s respectively) to consider this important upgrade. - Allen in N.C.

Captain Rawles:
I read the text of the draft Toomey-Manchin-Schumer Amendment. It does not define the word "publication." Because there are several common definitions of the word, including the transitive verb ,"publish" could include just telling two or more people at once that you have a gun for sale. 

Also the "safe travel" provision does not include magazines, so if you are stopped in New York or Connecticut or Maryland with a 30 round mag while driving from Pennsylvania to New Hampshire (for example) then you are a felon.  Also NY SAFE act bans transport of Guns AND Ammo,  the Toomey-Manchin-Schumer Amendment only protects transport Guns OR Ammo, it may seem a small distinction, but as an attorney  I can tell you it does matter.  If under the SAFE act you are stopped traveling through, with an AR-15 and some ammo, both locked in your trunk, you are not protected by McClure-Volkmer. Regards, - W.M.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Building up a skill set can easily be argued the most critical survival ability available. One skill set often overlooked is bartering. Trading a good or service for another. Looking at tangible items, one recent item everyone has noticed is the new price for ammo and certain rifles. The adage “buy low sell high” still applies if you can do so and still maintain your own needed stock.

About four and a half years ago AR-15s were roughly the same inflated cost as today (after BHO was elected), there was a massive panic and parts were scarce. It took four months to get a muzzle brake that I ordered two month prior to the election! At the time I had what I wanted, but no extras. I stayed out of the buying panic and saved. Fast forward six months later, and AR lowers and uppers had dropped to $60 per piece. I bought two of each at that price. Barrels with gas tubes and blocks were around $125, stocks and Lower parts kits around $60. Two complete bolt carrier groups were bought at a local gun show for $110 each. Gradually I built two complete AR-15s as I could afford to. Over the next three year, 5.56mm ammo could be found for $4-$5 per 20 round box at Cabela's and other stores. Again I bought when I had a few extra dollars, not going into debt but taking a bargain when I find it. I filled up my ammo locker plus ammo cans over those plentiful years. Not hoarding, no one else was buying at that time I was just stocking up when it was inexpensive.

Spent on building each AR:

$60 lower
$50 upper
$125 barrel, gas block, handguard and accessories.
$60 Lower Parts Kit
$50 stock
$110 bolt carrier
$10 charging handle

Today history repeats and those two AR-15s I built for $500-$600 dollars sold for $1,100-$1,300. People were glad to find them at that price and I had many potential buyers. Ammo sold for $20 a box and again I had to turn people away. This allowed me to buy a .50 BMG rifle and 100 rounds of ammo plus solar panels and equipment. I do not view this as taking advantage of anyone, they may find that the rifles are worth double in a year or less. Personally I use a gun forum for selling firearms. If you plan to as well please post that you will follow all applicable  laws on your classified ad and if you want to reduce questionable or shady buyers mention transfer at an FFL. I had many cash offers who backed out when I mentioned meeting at a FFL. For the sale met there but we used a local electronic form with checked Licenses/background checks.

The "no background check" media slant is a total fallacy in my state. We pay the $100 license, classes and background checks prior to even getting a license much less a purchase. At the time of purchase the Electronic form is also checked immediately (when it works). Yet the media still proclaims we have no background checks for private sales.

Another interesting point building and selling these AR-15s. I had three for sale, two low-end  ARs built from generic parts and one higher end with better manufactures, better parts, more bells and whistles. The lower end ARs sold, the better built AR has still not sold. It cost $1,000 to build but for not sell for $400 more. The $500-600 ar sold for over twice what I paid. Lesson learned, buy decent quantity cheap and have multiples rather than one or two higher end rifles. One buyer of the cheaper AR-15s stated he was going to replace all the hardware with Magpul items. They would not pay more for parts they were going to replace anyway. They wanted a basic AR now.

Scopes can cost as much or more then the rifles in many cases. It is hard to justify $400-$1,500 on a quality trusted brand scope without personally testing each option. Should I buy a holographic unmagnified or magnified? Backup sights? Carry handle? Fixed sights? What magnification? Too many options not enough money. Just to test out options I pick up various clones on eBay for 1/10th the price. Some are well made, some are junk. But I can then find out what I like and the pros and cons of each prior to investing in a good scope. Plus when I sell a rifle I will throw a cheap scope in clearly advertised as a clone.

If the gun market crashes again in the near future I will again take part in a group buy on my gun forum for AR parts and restock. For ammo I will also refill my cabinet, again these are tangibles which reduce the effects on everyone of panic buying. Both have done much better then my 401(k) and my property value. If it was a true emergency or SHTF event I can only imagine what they would be worth. Another buy low option in my toolbox has been group buys. I ran one for my gun forum, I saved 10% on my upper and helped out many like minded individuals. Karma was returned as another member helped me buy bulk ammo. To repeat, I have never hoarded during a panic I had my larder of ammo and sold off some to reduce to panic not increase it.

Also on a buy low, sell high note: Craigslist has many free listings in the fall for summer items. Pools, lawn tractors, gardening equipment, summer items. Same for winter items such as a snowblower, snow shovel in the spring. Take these items if you get a chance and have space. you have 3-6 months to repair these and then resell in when they are in season. Buy low (better yet obtain free) and sell high. Plus you gain repair skills, worst case you scrap it for money to buy.... tangibles!

I have used Craigslist three ways each with its benefits and drawbacks.

  1. Search Free stuff listings. Free stuff has a list for multiple items and it displays everything even if it is misspelled (e.g. snow blower versus nsow blower) Disadvantage: You have to catch it quick and be nearby. Many people list at and put it out or give it to the first person to respond. If it is a distance away there is a decent chance it is not worth the time or gas to respond.
  2. Search for what you want. Advantage: You find only what you are looking for and narrow the list down easily. Disadvantage: Many items are long gone and if anything in someone’s listing does not match your search it will not hit. This can be a misspelling or different description. Think fuel can vs gas can vs fuel storage container vs... an infinite number. If you do see what you want ask about it, sometimes people are looking to make space and not have to pay for disposal.
  3. Post an add (preferably multiple ads) for what you are looking for. Advantage: Better chance of finding exactly what you want. Disadvantage: Dealing with many emails from every person with computer access. People will flag your listing for no reason other then they want the same thing.  You can work around this with multiple ads using different wording, get creative. The person flagging your ad will likely not find all your other ads. You will receive many,many emails from people who do not read all the details in your add or are tire kickers.


On a related "buy low" note: BUY SOLAR PANELS NOW! China flooded the market and undercut the prices driving everyone else out of the business. Then China bought all the US and European equipment in the past three years. China did this with the rare earths and then raised the prices from $4-5 per pound to $150-200 per pound. If history repeats (which is always does) with PV solar as it has with many other areas we are due for a massive price increase soon. The former solar manufacturers are protesting but we have already been “informed” by the MSM that the proposed import taxes only hurt the solar installation companies in those countries. Which is a two faced truth, it does now that China has shut down local production.

“Local production” in Germany and the US were factories in massive aircraft hangers with high volume setups, state of the art setups and robotics very efficient and well planned out. These were not a local machine shop or Mom and Pop shop getting squeezed out.

I visited one such factory in Germany during training for a  machine transfer to the US for use outside of solar. I went out to lunch with one of the scientists and and engineers who were about to be laid off. Sad to say they saw no reason for anyone to own a gun even with their own country’s history. I almost mentioned my 85 year old German Aunt, who is Jewish, her family fled the Nazis when they came for her dad. Her dad was a German Judge at the time, fortunately her mom told the young officer to come back at a respectable hour and he left. They fled that night, if her mother had not talked the officer out of the arrest they would have had no way to stop them. What kept me from going that route was their talk of the greatness of BHO and how we was fixing all our problems. This while talking to educated individuals who were being laid off en masse because of the same politics and spending. I knew a lost cause when I saw one. Sad it is a beautiful country with excellent beer, wine and very nice people. Too much Kool aid drinking though.

The USA can only survive for so long as a retailer, not manufacturing much of anything even food is imported from China. Many lathes, tools and mills can be found cheaply now with factories still shutting down. Get the tools and develop the skills, they will be needed. Most AR/AK/FAL gun replacement parts can be made and heat-treated with basic machine shop knowledge. Do your homework for what is legal to make and what is not prior to any projects. Getting these machines is rarely free, if you have extra from selling an AR and or ammo it helps.If you can barter now for a used machine and learn on it. You gain multiple skills and tangible goods for trade. The clock is ticking... Make it count.

Friday, April 5, 2013

On March 10, 2013, the Governor of Colorado signed into law three new statutes that pertain to gun and magazine owners throughout the state. In this post, I will start with the addition of C.R.S. 18-12-301, having to do with “Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines”.

We will first begin with the name of the bill. As many of you know, a magazine which holds more than 15 rounds is not a “Large Capacity” magazine but in many cases just the stock or standard magazine that comes with the firearm. However, if you asked my mother, who is not a gun owner, “Do you think people should have access to “large capacity magazines”, she would answer,”No, why do you need any more bullets than a standard capacity ammunition magazine can hold? ”.  So without knowing about magazines, she would say she is in favor of such a law. Same could hold true with a jury, more on that below.
Next, this piece of legislation was passed without guidance or suggestions from those who would be most affected. The politicians did not care about input from the citizens of Colorado. They knew their window of time was limited and they had to get this passed post haste. Whenever this occurs, we get bad law. This is bad law.

Some of the people tasked with having to enforce this law, namely law enforcement and district attorneys, have come out against it. For example, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa and Weld County Sheriff John Cooke have stated that this law will do nothing to protect the citizens of Colorado and that they will not enforce it. El Paso County District Attorney Dan Mays has come out recently being critical of the law stating, “Quite frankly, that’s what this is, window dressing”.

I am not so naïve to believe that the sponsors of this bill had our best interests in mind when creating this law. This law was created for other purposes. As is coming out in the news in New York, Mayor Bloomberg’s group has been writing these laws or openly “assisting” with their creation. As such, they are heavily flawed and designed to be able to remove guns from the public. The true effect of the recent New York laws are coming to light and the citizens are not happy. New Yorkers have found that what was sold to them in the name of safety is making life for them more dangerous. The New York politicians are placing the blame on Mayor Bloomberg’s people and stating that they did not fully understand the impact of the laws when enacted. I feel the same will happen in Colorado.

But for now, we have these laws and we will be impacted by them so you need to know how they can affect you. As usual, I am not providing the reader with legal advice. I am just educating you on what the law is and how I will respond to them. You will choose on your own how you will choose to respond.

Most statutes begin with certain definitions so that it is clear when we use words contained within the statute, we all understand how the word is to be used.
C.R.S. 18-12-301 (2)(a) defines the term, “Large Capacity Magazine”. It states, (I) A fixed or detachable magazine, box, drum, feed strip or similar device capable of accepting, or that is designed to be readily converted to accept, more than fifteen rounds of ammunition.
As you can see, there is a huge problem with this definition. The wording, “or that is designed to be readily converted to accept”, is flawed at best. Why? With this definition, a police officer or prosecutor could expand the definition of a magazine.
If I am a prosecutor who is deciding whether to charge someone with a violation of this law, I would want to see what magazine the person had on his person when arrested. If the magazine had the capacity to hold fifteen or less rounds of ammunition, I would not charge the person. But if I did not like citizens possessing guns or magazines with fifteen rounds because of my personal agenda, I would use the defining language to state that the magazine “could be readily converted” to hold more than fifteen rounds so it is a chargeable offense.

As many of you know, a magazine has a certain capacity for the number of rounds it holds. But on many magazines, you can remove the bottom plate and add a device that will extend the magazine. By doing so, you allow for more rounds to be loaded into the magazine.

So in the hands of a district attorney, jury or Judge who are against a citizen’s Second Amendment’s rights and do not like people having the ability to protect themselves with firearms, it could be argued that all magazines that people possess are designed to be  “readily converted” to accept more than fifteen rounds of ammunition. If so, you can be found guilty of a Class 2 Misdemeanor for possession of standard magazine.  Incredible coincidence or the grand plan all along? You decide. [JWR Adds: Magazine extensions are indeed available for a wide variety of pistol magazines. See for example, those made by Taylor Freelance and Scherer.]

There are two other points to note from the definition section of this law. First, if the magazine is only capable of operating with .22 caliber rimfire ammunition it is not affected by this law. Perhaps the discussion of the capability of the .22 round will become more popular again. Second, a magazine that is contained on a “lever-action” firearm is not affected. This would include the cowboy style rifles that were used in the movies and old tv shows.
C.R.S. 18-12-302 deals with the penalties and exceptions to the law. Section (1)(a) states as follows:
Except as otherwise provided in this section, on and after July 1, 2013, a person who sells, transfers, or possesses a large capacity magazine commits a Class 2 Misdemeanor.

This means starting on July 1, 2013, if you have what is defined as a “large capacity magazine”, you cannot sell, transfer or possess it legally. We will talk about the exceptions to this below but for now we will start with the definitions again.
For the individual, I think we all understand what it means to “sell”. But what does “transfer” mean in this circumstance? Does this mean that we cannot give away such a magazine when we die through a will or trust? I think that is what could and will be argued by a prosecutor. What if I am at the range and someone offers to me a chance to shoot their firearm and they have a non-compliant magazine? By allowing me to borrow the firearm to shoot for a minute or two, is that a “transfer”? Again, it could be argued that way.

The same holds true for the word, “possesses”. Who “possesses” a magazine if the non-compliant magazine is found in a house or car? Will my children be charged with such a violation if I am found to have a non-compliant magazine in my home? Can more than one person possess a magazine?
In People v. Garcia, 595 P. 2d 228, the Colorado Supreme Court stated “The common sense definition of "possession," as it is used in this statute, is the actual or physical control of a firearm.[4]  However, they included a footnote to that statement. That footnote reads:

[4] The determination of whether or not a firearm is within one's actual or physical control is a question of fact for the jury. However, it is clear that the mere ownership of a firearm is not sufficient to constitute "possession" under the statute. Some of the factors which could be considered by the trier of fact in making this determination are: (1) the proximately of the defendant to the firearm; (2) the ordinary place of storage of the firearm; (3) the defendant's awareness of the presence of the firearm; (4) locks or other physical impediments which preclude ready access to the firearm.

Using this legal precedent, a prosecutor could use those four factors to charge anyone with a violation of this statute. Not just the owner of the firearm but anyone near or aware of the magazine(s).  I hope you can see how in the hands of an overzealous Government agent, this could become ugly very quickly.
The first conviction of the statute will be a Class 2 Misdemeanor. If you are convicted a second time, you will be facing a Class 1 Misdemeanor.  If you should use such a magazine during the commission of a felony or any crime of violence, you will be committing a Class 6 Felony as well. Crimes are divided into two categories, Misdemeanors and Felonies. Within each type of crimes, there are different classes. Class 1 is the highest class within that crime category and a Class 6 class is the lowest.

While there is a grandfather clause within this statute, it is limited or conditional. In order to possess a large capacity magazine, you must have owned the large capacity magazine before July 1, 2013 and you must have maintained “continuous possession” of the magazine. See section (2)(a).
So again, we start with the definitions: what does it mean to “own”? Can more than one person “own” a magazine? Again, back to my previous example- if a non-compliant magazine is found in my house who owns it? Me, my wife, my children? In Colorado, it is illegal for someone under the age of 18 to possess a firearm, unless certain exemptions apply. Since my children can not possess a firearm, they cannot own the magazine that comes with the firearm. In that circumstance can my children be charged with possessing a non compliant magazine found at my house even though they do not own it? Or what about my wife? Will I be forced to say that my wife “owns” the magazine so I get arrested for not having the exception apply to me?

For the exception to apply, we must have also “continuously possessed the magazine”. So what does that mean? If we take the firearm and magazine to be worked on by a gunsmith have we lost our continuous possession? If we loan the firearm and magazine to a friend, have we broken the possession? Again, can more than one person continuously possess a magazine? If the magazine is listed within a gun trust, has the possession be broken? As an NRA certified instructor, if I let a student shoot my firearm, have I broken my continuous possession? I do not know.

Remember that the exception only allows you to possess a large capacity magazine. It is still a violation of the law if you “sell” or “transfer” a large capacity magazine.

In order for the exception to apply, the person who is charged must assert the exception mentioned above, i.e., you owned the magazine as of July 1, 2013 and you maintained continuous possession of the magazine.

Unlike the provisions of C.R.S.  18-1-704.5(2), the so called “Make my Day” law, this law does not allow for a defendant to raise the assertion and receive immunity from further criminal prosecution.  Instead, in order to raise the assertion it reads to be an affirmative defense. This means that in order to assert the exception and not be found guilty, you must fight the charge. This means that you will  have to go to trial. Once there, you will be required to raise the exceptions by presenting some credible evidence supporting the exceptions. Once done, the prosecution must then refute your assertions beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a higher burden of proof than the defendant’s burden of proof when asserting the exceptions. While is this better for the defendant, you still must go to trial to assert the exceptions.

But how can a person prove such an assertion? Will your personal statement that you owned and maintained continuous possession of the magazine satisfy the Judge or jury? I don’t know. I, for one, will be finding and keeping any and all receipts that I have for any large capacity magazine(s) that I own. No receipts? I would suggest that you take a photograph or video of any of the large capacity magazines that you now currently own. Make sure that the video or photograph includes a date stamp.

After you assert the exception, the burden of proof shifts back to the prosecution to refute your assertion. How will they refute my assertion? Calling my wife or my children as a witness against me? Subpoena my credit card statements to show when the purchase occurred? Call friends that I shoot with to determine if I allowed them to borrow the magazine? If in the hands of a biased prosecutor, this law could provide them with the backing to abuse the gun owner and his/her family.

To conclude, here are some of the areas where I could see the police and district attorneys using this statute to abuse gun owners:
1. If you are open carrying a semi-automatic handgun, this law will provide the police probable cause to stop and detain you while they determine if you are violating this statute (which the police could not do legally before this law);
2. This law will provide the police the ability to disarm you while they determine the capacity of your magazine (which was not legal before this law);
3. If you inform the police that you are conceal carrying a handgun, you can be stopped and detained to determine the capacity of the magazine (which before this law was not a valid reason to detain you);
4. If your magazine carries more than 15 rounds of ammunition, you could be arrested or cited for a violation of this law and your firearm and magazine taken as evidence while you prove your innocence. Remember, in order to fully assert your exemptions, you must go to trial. This will take time and you will be without your handgun and magazine until after the trial.
5. Should you now claim your Fifth Amendment right if asked by a police officer whether you are carrying a firearm? Perhaps if your magazine holds more than 15 rounds of ammunition. If you do so, what will be the police officer’s response? Arrest you? Let you go?
6. As stated above, who possesses a magazine when it is found in a person’s home or car? And, for the exception, who owns and maintains continuous possession of a large capacity magazine when it is located in an area where multiple people are?
1. After receiving the firearm and magazine as evidence, the district attorney could use the threat of a trial on defendants to make them accept a plea deal that will include the loss of your firearm and magazine forever.
2. What will they do when you die owning a large capacity magazine? Would they charge the executor of your will if a transfer per your will takes place after you die? What actually is that executor to do with the magazine at that point? Turn it in to the police? Given that, it will not be that long before all of the current owners of large capacity magazines pass away and their magazines destroyed after being turned in the police. Call it self- directed gun confiscation.
3. Going on a “fishing expedition” trying to refute my exception assertions. This can be accomplished by requesting any and all documents, people, etc that could be used to refute my exception assertions.
4. Tying up the defendant in a long, expensive trial while at the same time not allowing the defendant to have possession of their handgun(s) while the trial is ongoing.
5. With the way that this law is written, if you plan on asserting the exceptions you will be waiving your 5th Amendment rights to self incrimination. By that I mean you will have to testify to assert the exemptions. This will give the prosecutor the ability to cross examine you as they attempt to refute your assertions.
What can you do right now? First, support your local Sheriff if they are opposed to these gun laws. Call them and voice your support. They need to hear from their supporters. Second, join the effort to recall Senator John Morse. He was the gang leader in the creation of this legislation. As we all remember from grade school, if you do not fight back hard when the bully picks on you, he will return again and again. A message must be sent to our local legislators. You can look up the recall effort on Facebook for more information. Alternatively, you can go to

I will continue to update my blog as more information about this statute becomes available. Visit and leave me your questions.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Connecticut is known as a progenitor of American Liberty. There were some small War of Independence battles fought at Stonington (1775), Danbury (1777), New Haven (1779), and New London (1781.) But sadly, legislators in Connecticut just dutifully lined up for their Kool-Aid cups and voted for a ban so-called "assault" weapons, a ban on private party sales of used guns, creates a new "ammunition eligibility certificate," and mandates a ban on the manufacture or sale and a registry for high capacity magazines. Do these buffoons have any concept of how many millions of magazines larger that 10 round capacity exist, or that virtually none of them carry a serial number? How do they expect to register a commodity? And what happens if someone miscounts their magazines, or misses a few of them in some forgotten box in the back of a closet? Does that make them a felon? And how, pray tell, is someone supposed to register each link in a disintegrating belt? (The last time I bought .223 and .308 links, they came to me in boxes of roughly 1,000 or 2,000 links per box. They are difficult to count, so they are sold by the pound. You can buy 1,000 of them for as little as $17, and of course they can be assembled ("manufactured") into belts of any length desired. So exactly how will that part of the registry work? Would someone have to ask to have a belt de-registered, once it is fired and hence no longer of 11+ round length? And how could a belt be linked together longer than 9 rounds, after the effective date of the new law? Talk about "Unintended Consequences"!

Oh, and let's not forget the new Connecticut law's New York style "honor system" provision, which dictates that owners of full capacity magazines can load their magazines up to 30 cartridges, but only at home, but just 10 rounds if they are carried outside of their homes unless they're at an approved shooting range. Miscounting cartridges and loading just one too many would be a punishable offense. Stopping short of enacting an outright ban on full capacity magazines and this idiotic honor system provision were characterized as "gracious compromises." As one commenter at the Northeast Shooters Forum aptly put it: "... how generous our Overlords are." Do any Connecticut legislators believe that mass murderers will abide by any of this arbitrary nonsense?

It is noteworthy that the vote on this legislation came on Monday, April 1, 2013. (April Fools Days.) What fools (and tools) they are!

I urge Connecticut residents to do your best to fight this legislatively in the courts, but if all else fails, then vote with your feet. Speaking of which... I just heard that in light of this new legislation Todd Savage of has announced that he has added Connecticut to his list of states that qualify for a 20% discount for "gun law refugee" clients. He is now extending the 20% discount to residents of California, Connecticut, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York who identify themselves as gun law refugees. - J.W.R.

Monday, April 1, 2013

In more than 45 years of shooting, I've tried just about every kind of lube and gun cleaner on the market. Some work a little better than others, and some don't work very well at all. Anyone who is serious about taking care of their firearms, for self-defense, combat, military missions or survival, had better take very good care of their firearms. If you don't properly care for your weapons, they will fail you, just when you need them the most. I couldn't tell you the number of students who have trained under me, who have had their firearms fail them during one of my courses. One of the biggest causes for weapon failure, was either poor quality aftermarket magazines, or poorly maintained firearms - meaning, they didn't lube their firearms at all. Inside of 50 rounds of firing, their firearms would start malfunctioning because of the heat and friction involved. Now, while this may be acceptable under range conditions - it is not acceptable under life and death conditions.
Many malfunctions were easily corrected by simply applying some lube on handguns in my classes. I always have a range box with me, as well as a first-aid kit. I've yet to use the first-aid, but I've used the range box with a variety of tools and cleaning equipment, to get guns up and running once again. It's almost like I've performed some type of "magic" on a student's firearms, when a little lube is applied, the guns start working again. I've had quite a few students tells me that they don't use any lube at all, because they don't want their firearms to attract dirt or lint, of they fear the lube will get on their clothes. Excuse me? You're worried about a little lube getting on your clothes - instead of worrying about your firearm failing you, when you need it most? Stupidity never ceases to amaze me in some people.
The days of using plain old "gun oil" have long passed, in my humble opinion. Sure, plain old gun oil is still on the market, and I guess it's ok to use on a hunting firearm, prior to going out to a hunt. However, in harsh conditions, plain old gun oil will still fail you, when you don't want it to. And, it still amazes me that people use WD-40 as a lube - you are only inviting trouble if you use WD-40 as a lube - it is not a "lube" per se - it is a penetrating oil. WD-40 does not provide very good lubrication on anything, especially firearms - it will wear-off in very short order.
There are a good many different types of CLP (Cleaner, Lube and Preservative) compounds on the market these days. One of my most often used is Break-Free, and while I use it more than any other type of CLP, it isn't perfect in my book. A new family of products have been introduced by Italian Gun Grease - a company that I had heard of, nor their products. A box of various sample Italian Gun Grease products showed in my post office box one day, and when I opened it, I thought to myself "Oh great, another CLP, just like so many other similar products...." I was wrong!
One of the biggest threats to your firearms is heat build-up, followed by deposits of carbon and unburned powder. And, I'm not sure which is the biggest threat to causing a malfunction, however with no scientific study under my belt, I'm going to say that friction is the bigger problem. Metal-on-metal, with high-heat, will cause your firearms to malfunction. I've taken a few firearms courses over the years myself, and I've seen what happens when firearms are not properly cleaned and lubed - in the course of shooting maybe 500 - 1,000 rounds in a day, firearms stop working. I have never had that problem, because I've always cleaned and maintained my firearms properly, but I've seen other students who had repeated failures, because their guns were dirty and not properly lubed.
I think many in the firearms industry have solved the problem of producing a good all 'round lube, with some of the CLP products on the market. However, they haven't solved the problem of the accumulation of carbon and particulate matter, that can also cause firearms to malfunction under extreme conditions - until now! Italian Gun Grease set out to solve the problem. I believe IGG has solved the problem not only by producing a great lube, but also came away with a game changer, that helps prevent the build-up of carbon and burnt powder on firearms.
IGG lubes are very different, they are not true lubes, they contain a proprietary metal conditioner that are actually heat-activated. Their so-called "Heat-Seeking Molecule" formula penetrates into and fills the microscopic gaps where points of friction exist.  IGG doesn't burn-up in high heat, something that can't be said for other lubes on the market. What this does is, it actually produces a very hard, high, heat, high pressure resistant polished surface that can cut friction by as much as 85%. This isn't just a little better than the competition, it's a whole lot better than ordinary CLP products. IGG products may appear dry, but they are producing the protection you need from friction, and it doesn't allow carbon and other crud to build-up in the critical friction areas of firearms.
According to the IGG web site, their lube has an operating temperature range of between -45 degrees, all the way up to 430-degrees. Now, we couldn't last but a moment in 430 degree temps, but the inside and and high friction areas of firearms can reach 300-degrees in rapid or automatic fire. We can operate in -45 degree temps in some areas of the world, and this is where a lot of other lubes fail - they congeal, and don't provide proper lubrication, 'causing firearms to fail, just the same as if they had no lube at all. More information is posted on the IGG web site, and it is worth the time to read it.
I do a lot of shooting for my firearms articles. In some instances, I'll burn through 500 rounds of ammo in an AR-15 or AK-47 style rifle in an hour or less, when I'm doing function rather than accuracy testing. In handguns, I might burn through a couple hundred rounds of ammo in an hour. Then I'll continue testing over several days for accuracy, and testing different types of ammo. The thing is, during most of my firearms test, I don't routinely stop and clean and lube the firearms, unless there is a problem. I usually clean and lube a firearm prior to testing, and then after the testing give the firearms another good cleaning and lube. I know when testing semiauto rifles like ARs or AKs, the guns get very hot, and at the end of my testing, much of the lube is burned-off, and there is a lot of carbon and other crud built-up, that can cause problems and malfunctions.
Over a two month period, I only used IGG products in various firearms, and I will say, I was very impressed with the results. While there didn't appear to be any sort of lube or protection in high-friction areas, like slide rails or locking lugs, the protection was there, you could actually feel how much smoother a slide or bolt was moving both while firing the firearms and while working a slide or bolt.
Italian Gun Grease has several different products on the market, and I highly recommend their Tactical Formula 2 - which is designed for combat use. They also have Advanced Formula 2 for hunter applications, however, for my money, I'd just stick with the Tactical Formula 2 for all my needs, especially in a combat or survival situation - just seems like it would give better protection all the way around. They also have True Grease, and I recommend this for the locking lugs on semi-auto pistols, especially 1911-type pistols. You'd be surprised how many people don't bother to lube the locking lugs at all on a 1911 - and this is a very important area where friction can build-up. IGG also has cleaning kits, that can cover most of your handgun and rifle needs, all in one handy pouch. This is a great little kit to place in your BOB or range bag - just perfect for survival or combat scenarios, with a good supply of Tactical Formula 2 - their combat lube.
I gave some sample IGG grease to other shooters, and asked for their feedback, and each one came away with the impression that IGG lubes worked better than whatever other products they were using - they all said that their firearms seemed to operate smoother and there was less buildup of crud and carbon.  Okay, IGG products made a believer out of me, and I highly recommend all their products to anyone who is serious about survival or who might be in a combat zone, where failure of your weapon is not an option you can afford. You'll find IGG products are competitively priced compared to some of the other CLP products on the market, so it's a small investment, that can return great dividends if you want some of the best lubes you can get for your weapons.   - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I hope your readers don’t lump all police officers into the ignorant category. I’m retired now, but I clearly remember an instance about 15 years ago…
I was on grave shift and received a call of a man with a gun in a Shari’s restaurant at about 2 a.m.. When I asked the dispatcher what the man was doing, she told me he was eating.
I walked in and spotted him fairly quickly. He had a Ruger Blackhawk in a leather western style holster. I sat down in the booth with him and asked him why he was wearing the gun.
He explained that he and some friends had been out 4-wheeling and target practicing. Since his truck didn’t have doors, (it was summer), he didn’t want to leave it in the truck and since he didn’t have a CCW permit, he decided to wear it open carry.
I congratulated him for exercising his Second Amendment rights.
I then informed him of a little known fact in Oregon law: One may carry concealed if one is going to or from hunting or fishing or to or from target practicing. I then told him that he should alway carry a cardboard-backed target, earmuffs, live ammo and fireed brass in his car as “proof” that he has just been target practicing. And that he could carry concealed to not alarm the sheeple. I showed him the law in writing with my pocket guide I always carried.
The restaurant manager seemed rather displeased that a patron had a gun. I then pointed to mine and asked her if it bothered her. She said no, because I was the police. I told her that her restaurant was a safer place with an armed customer and left.
My sergeant was rather displeased that I didn’t have the “suspect's” name. And that is another story. - Tom in Oregon

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

As a former prosecutor and now criminal defense attorney practicing in Florida, I offer some insights gained by experience for the patriotic reader.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in U.S. federal and state prisons, and county jails at year-end 2010 – about 0.7% of adults in the U.S. resident population. Additionally, 4,933,667 adults at year-end 2009 were on probation or on parole. In total, 7,225,800 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail or prison) in 2009 – about 3.1% of adults in the U.S. resident population. With the statist establishment criminalizing everything, and the prosecution machine grinding out prison inmates every day, a dedicated “prepper,” gun-owner or survivalist has much to be wary of when dealing with of law enforcement officers.

Obviously, the first bit of advice is to not violate the law. Unfortunately, there are so many laws on the books that almost everyone is a criminal. For more on this point, see Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything by Gene Healy and Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent by Harvey Silverglate. With the new proposals to ban certain capacity magazines and firearms and to seek a universal gun registration system, many people have become concerned that the law abiding citizen will be labeled a criminal by the state.

We must also recognize that when lawful gun owners discuss the use of force (including lethal force) in defense of self and others, we are not talking about a hypothetical construct. In the event of TEOTWAWKI, this may be an everyday reality. How functional the police and law enforcement agencies are in such an event is unknowable, but planning for such an eventuality can only be smart. It is not hard to imagine a scenario where you defend your home against a home invader using your legally carried firearm, but are faced with the ugly possibility of life in prison. The taking of a human life is no small thing. In Florida, the illegal use of a firearm that results in death carries a minimum mandatory life in prison sentence. Would you plea to a reduced charge for less prison time or take your chances with a jury? Are you sure? The best thing to do is to give your defense attorney the best case you can by planning ahead and understanding how to react to police.

One is reminded of the dilemma faced by the survivors in JWR’s novel Patriots where the protagonists must decide what to do with the bodies and belongings of the armed marauders who have attacked their camp. I would suggest that having a flexible plan to deal with the aftermath of armed citizen conflict should be part of your considerations. Obviously, TEOTWAWKI can come in many varieties with varying levels of societal dysfunction and different responses to such a situation may be called for. This essay presupposes that the police are still actively functioning and that the current U.S. Constitution is still in force.

You must understand that police are state agents. While most of us perceive the police are our friends, neighbors and protectors, it is very easy for this relationship to flip wherein we are the targets of tyrannical state power. Note, for example, the demonization of certain “right wing fringe groups” that believe in such crazy ideas at the founding documents and the right to gun ownership! I am of the belief that the likelihood of Blackhawk helicopters, drones or military strikes against civilians is remote. On the other hand, when TSHTF, the behavior of the local police forces will be one of the critical components as to how things will unfold. All the preps in the world will be of no use if you are sitting in a jail or prison cell. Knowing how to stay out of jail and prison is a critical bit of knowledge for everyone to have. Because the local police forces are the entry point for our prison and jail populations, you should know how the police deal with you.

It is important to understand that there are three levels of police citizen encounters: 1) consensual encounter, 2) investigatory stop and 3) detainer and arrest. See Popple v. State, 626 So. 2d 185, 186 (Fla. 1993).

The first level, “consensual encounter,” involves only minimal police contact, during which a citizen may either voluntarily comply with a police officer's requests or choose to ignore them. A consensual encounter is not a seizure, so it may occur without repercussion, even when a police officer has no reason to suspect that criminal activity is afoot. Because the citizen is free to leave during a consensual encounter, constitutional safeguards are not invoked. Therefore, anything you say in a consensual encounter will be admissible against you. Often, consensual encounters are the basis for many a search. The police officer will ask, “Do you mind if I search your car?” Because it is a question, you have a right to refuse the offer – and you should. An officer may ask you at a highway check point, “would you mind pulling over to the side of the road for a moment?” The response to this is a polite, “I would respectfully decline. I would like to be on my way. Are you ordering me to the side of the road?” If the answer is yes, then understand that you are now adversarial to the police, and are being targeted for arrest. If you are free to leave, then by all means leave. 

The second level of police-citizen encounter is an investigatory stop. At this level, a police officer may reasonably detain a citizen temporarily if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime. In order not to violate a citizen's Fourth Amendment rights, an investigatory stop requires a well-founded, articulable suspicion of criminal activity. An investigatory stop requires a factual basis to support it. Unfortunately, this test is subjective and can be falsely created after the fact by an officer. In an investigatory stop police have a right to search for weapons in what is called a Terry search (after Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) if they suspect a person has a weapon. Thus, if you are detained and a police officer asks you if you have “anything on you that he should know about” the correct response is “I have a permit to carry a concealed weapon which is located in my right front pocket.” Note how you say you have a permit first, which reduced the alarm for you being armed. Do not grab for the weapon. Let the officer retrieve the weapon, if he chooses.

The third level of police-citizen encounter is an arrest supported by probable cause that a crime has been or is being committed. A person is arrested or detained. It is only at this point that your ‘right to remain silent’ and ‘right to an attorney’ protections apply. Invoke them immediately. Further, always be polite. There is no reason to get indignant, angry or out of control – those things can only make your life worse when dealing with a police officer.
Back to our earlier example wherein an intruder is justifiably shot, what is it you should say to police? The answer is quite simple: Do not talk to the police. Instead, immediately invoke your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. There is nothing you can say that will dissuade them from arresting you if that is their intent. There is nothing you can say that cannot also be told to them through your attorney. Having your attorney speak for you allows you to tell your side without the problem of implicating yourself in a crime. Exercise your right and then keep quiet. In many jurisdictions, police are given a 48 hour cooling off period before they are questioned about any police involved shootings. If the police have a waiting period to talk about justifiable shootings, then why not you? Help those who want to help you – and we are not talking about the police! The police are there to put you in jail. Otherwise, why do they want to talk to you? There is no information that you can give them that will persuade them to let you go that cannot also be provided through your defense attorney. If you are under arrest, you are not their “friend.”

I have seen people hang themselves with a statement to police on life felonies for the price of a cop-bought basket of chicken. Thus, do not talk with the police. Sadly, I have also seen many cases where an accused citizen’s comments were misunderstood by the police (either intentionally or accidentally) and used against them. If you find yourself being questioned by the police, politely decline to answer, and tell them you would be happy to answer any questions directed to your attorney. If you are read your Miranda rights, immediately and unequivocally invoke your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney. Then, do not talk about your case! That means, do not talk about it with the friend they bring into the room with you (your conversations are being recorded). Don’t talk about it on the jail phone (also recorded). Don’t talk about it in code (doesn’t work.) Don’t talk about it with fellow inmates (they will turn snitch.) Police love to place you in situations with other people (other than your attorney) that tempt you to talk about your case. The only person you talk to about the case is your attorney.

Another point: don’t be discouraged that an attorney does not magically appear in front of you when you request one. Your attorney only has to be provided to you at arraignment, which can be many days off. Often the police will use this delay to wear out the person being held. People become impatient with the system when after they invoke their right to an attorney they are abandoned in the questioning room for several hours as the police prepare the paperwork to transport them to jail. Time after time, citizens give up their rights and talk to the police to their detriment because the arrestee thinks they can talk their way out of jail. All they end up doing is talking their way into prison!

It is also vital to understand the police use of force continuum. Many police agencies rely on a use of force continuum (also called the use of force matrix) when dealing with citizens. Generally, law enforcement can utilize an amount of force one level above what is presently being exerted against them. Here is an example of the matrix.  As you can see from the matrix, if you are only verbally opposing arrest, the police officer may use physical force against you. It is vitally important for the responsible gun owner to know about this matrix. Many people get into big, big trouble when they think they are being wrongfully arrested and argue with the police. The police then respond with an allowable use of physical force, which is then physically resisted by the suspect. In Florida, while it is true that one can resist an illegal arrest without violence, a person cannot in any circumstance resist arrest (even an illegal arrest) with violence. A citizen’s righteous indignation may have been originally justified. But by trying to resolve the dispute with the police on the side of the road, they turn an encounter with the police into a felony charge that lands them in prison. If you are being detained and “think” you know the law and decide to oppose your arrest understand this: whether an arrest is illegal or not will not be determined on the side of the road. Instead, it will be in a courtroom by a judge and prosecutor who are agents of the state. When the police are writing up their report, guess whose side it will take. The worst mistake you can make is to become indignant and physically oppose an arrest. Note that under the matrix, active physical resistance by a person can be met by police with deadly force.

Finally and sadly, you must be aware of the reality and existence of police corruption. While it is true that defense attorneys perceive higher rates of wrongful conviction in the jurisdictions than do judges, prosecutors, and police, the differing opinion of the defense attorneys could be explained by their closer relationship to the defendants. See Ramsey and Frank “Wrongful Conviction” 2007. Judges, prosecutors, and police rarely have contact with a defendant at his most candid, whereas the defense attorney often gains substantial insight into a case through the defendant’s perspective. Often, there are factual disagreements between a defendant’s version of events versus that of a police officer. While it is a defense attorney’s obligation to advocate for their client, defense attorneys also recognize that the other groups almost always side with law enforcement when matters of credibility are at issue. Most defense attorneys understand that the current legal regime provides no protection against unreasonable illegal searches by corrupt police officers and law enforcement officials. This is rarely accounted for by the other three groups, who often work closely together as part of a law enforcement regime.
While actual framing and planting of evidence by law enforcement is possible, most of the corruption does not involve such blatant frame ups. Rather, it takes the form of self-justification, i.e. since we know the defendant is guilty, lying about the circumstances of an arrest is justified since “they are guilty anyway.” Such lying, when accepted and institutionalized as a regular part of the process, effectively eviscerates the individual protections of the Constitution. The individual Rights enshrined in the Constitution only exist if the procedures afforded individual defendants are respected.

Police procedure is where the rubber meets the road in Constitutional law. Fabricated justifications by police destroy Constitutional protections. For example, “Stop and search” has become an increasingly common tactic for normal law enforcement. “NYPD "Stop and Frisks" Hit All-Time High - City police officers stopped and questioned 684,330 people on the street last year.” Feb. 14, 2012 Can it be said that all of these stops were supported by probable cause? What exactly is going on here?

Many laymen would be surprised to learn that since 1996, there is no longer any such thing as a pre-textual stop. The Supreme Court case Whren v. United States, 517 U.S. 806 (1996) effectively removed any defense attorney check on corrupt police officers. The Court ruled, “As a general matter, the decision to stop an automobile is reasonable where the police have probable cause to believe that a traffic violation has occurred.” “Subjective intentions play no role in ordinary, probable-cause Fourth Amendment analysis.” Whren; See also United States v. Holloman, 113 F.3d 192, 194 (11th Cir.1997) (stating that Whren “squarely rejected the pre-textual stop analysis” and that an officer's “ulterior motives” for a stop are not relevant so long as it is justified by probable cause). This ruling effectively disarmed the defense check on police corruption, thus placing the entire burden for rooting out impermissible behavior on law enforcement themselves and the prosecutors who often serve as a rubberstamping branch of their local law enforcement agencies.

Two common scenarios are commonly subject to this type of corruption: 1) justifying probable cause to stop a vehicle and 2) justifying probable cause to search a vehicle or person. When justifying probable cause to stop a vehicle, there are many un-falsifiable strategies an officer can use to justify a stop, placing his word against that of the defendant.  This places the prosecutor and the court in a position of having to doubt the word of a law enforcement agent over that of an accused defendant. Most courts, almost as a rule, side with law enforcement in this circumstance. It is not my intent to argue that anything like a majority of cases are in fact falsified. Rather, it is to explain that there is no external check on police falsifications available to defense attorneys. Therefore, it is currently incumbent on prosecutors, judges and other law enforcement officials to self enforce. Understanding some all too common techniques of petty police corruption (in the Appendix below) should shed some insight into the indices of falsification.

As someone who could be on the receiving end of this, you, the reader, should know that the best way to deal with police officer (whether or not they are operating in a legal manner) is not to argue with them, but to remain silent and ask for an attorney.
How petty police corruption often undermines the current constitutional search and seizure framework.

The following are ways a corrupt officer can justify stopping a vehicle based on probable cause. Because the current state of the law does not have a defense check on police power, a police officer who is willing to lie can stop any vehicle based on an after the fact, made up, unverifiable reason. Some examples of the many excuses that can be used to justify stopping a vehicle in Florida are outlined below:
I.                    “You rolled a stop sign.”
A.      (The officer testified unequivocally that defendant failed to stop at the stop sign, while defendant testified unequivocally that he made a full and complete stop. The officer's testimony was more credible in those areas where it conflicted with defendant's testimony. As a matter of fact, defendant committed a traffic infraction in violation of Florida law by failing to come to a complete stop at the stop sign. Therefore, the officer's stop of the vehicle did not violate the Fourth Amendment). United States v. Maddox, 2005 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34838 (M.D. Fla. Dec. 6, 2005)
B.      (Officer stopped a truck for running a stop sign when exiting the complex and received permission to search the truck from the male driver.) Holland v. State, 696 So. 2d 757, 758 (Fla. 1997)
C.      (Defendant committed various moving violations-rolling through several stop signs-which prompted the officers to lawfully stop his vehicle. Thus, the officers had probable cause to stop Defendant.) United States v. Jefferson, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143674, 6-7 (S.D. Fla. Dec. 19, 2010)
D.      (Officer alleged Defendant drove his van past an agricultural inspection station he was required to stop at, justifying stop). Grimes v State, 1982 Fla. App. LEXIS 19563 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. Mar. 29, 1982)
II.                  “Your tail light was out.” (Police officer had probable cause to stop the vehicle for driving after dark without its tail lights illuminated). United States v. St. Louis, 255 Fed. Appx. 432 (11th Cir. Fla. 2007) Note that this allows for the possibility that the individual simply had turned out his lights with the switch, making the fact completely dependant on the officer’s observations.
III.                “Your tag light was out.”
A.      (Officer can stop a car for an inoperable tag light) See Cole v. State, 838 So. 2d 1205, 1205 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003)
B.      (While maintaining that the tag light did not work, the State also argued that the validity of the stop of defendant's vehicle did not depend on whether the light worked; the State claimed the stop was valid if the deputy had a reasonable suspicion that a traffic infraction had occurred). State v. Lee, 957 So. 2d 76 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 2007) Note that the language of the opinion allows for later testimony that the tag light in fact works – all that is required is that the deputy had a reasonable suspicion that it did not. This inquiry into the officer’s subjective intent is exactly the inquiry that the Supreme Court was trying to avoid in Whren.
IV.                “Your window tinting is too dark.” (Officer can stop based on a tint violation), See Lawrence v. State, 942 So. 2d 467, 468 (Fla. 4th DCA 2006); Davis v. State, 788 So. 2d 308, 309 (Fla. 5th DCA 2001).
V.                   “Your license tag is dirty and I can’t read it.”
A.      “… the word "Florida," the registration decal, and the alphanumeric designation shall be clear and distinct and free from defacement, mutilation, grease, and other obscuring matter, so that they will be plainly visible and legible at all times 100 feet from the rear or front.” Fla. Stat. § 316.605 Note that the officer’s opinion of a dirty tag cannot be falsified, since the officer can claim that the tag was subject to post-arrest cleaning.
VI.                “Your windshield is cracked.”
A.      (Stop is valid when a deputy stopped defendant's vehicle after he observed a severe crack in the vehicle's windshield). United States v. Anderson, 367 Fed. Appx. 30 (11th Cir. Fla. 2010)
B.      Any police officer may at any time, upon reasonable cause to believe that a vehicle is unsafe or not equipped as required by law, or that its equipment is not in proper adjustment or repair, require the driver of the vehicle to stop and submit the vehicle to an inspection and such test with reference thereto as may be appropriate. Fla. Stat. § 316.610(1)
VII.              “You crossed the center line.” (Officer testified that he stopped the vehicle because he observed it cross over the center line twice and because the vehicle was impeding traffic by traveling far below the normal speed limit). State v. Thomas, 714 So. 2d 1176 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 1998)
The following are ways a corrupt officer can justify searching a vehicle based on probable cause.  Based on the current state of the law, after the vehicle was stopped a police officer can the search any vehicle based on a made up, unverifiable reason. The following are examples of the many excuses can be used to justify searching a stopped vehicle or person in Florida are outlined below.
I.                    “He acted nervous.” (Defendant became extremely "nervous" and "jittery" during his pre-search interaction with Officer) State v. Betz, 815 So. 2d 627, 633 (Fla. 2002)
II.                  “He made furtive movements.” What exactly is a “furtive” movement? This term, while hardly ever used in normal conversation, is commonly used by deputies when testifying to justify searches and actions, as a search of the term “furtive movement” in Westlaw easily demonstrates. [See, for example, Lightbourne v. State, 438 So. 2d 380 (Fla. 1983) (Pat down of individual justified when officer observes furtive movements combined with nervous appearance), and over 112 such references.] A search indicates 135 hits in Florida, and 2740 hits nationwide. The relative suspiciousness of a movement, or even its existence, is a matter of opinion of the officer who is subject to prosecutorial and judicial deference even in the face of defense disagreement.
III.                Detainee is “Unusually calm” (Defendant was unusually calm, actually lounging on the side of the interstate). State v. Petion, 992 So. 2d 889, 892-893 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 2008)
IV.                “He gave consent to search.” (Consent to search after tag light stop includes tearing the vehicle apart for an hour with tools). State v. Petion, 992 So. 2d 889, 893 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 2008) (Consent can be a mere shrug). State v. Jennings, 968 So. 2d 694 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. 2007). (The inspector asked to look in the van, and inspector alleged that appellant consented). Grimes v State, 1982 Fla. App. LEXIS 19563 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. Mar. 29, 1982) Consent is often a matter of opinion of the officer, who is subject to prosecutorial and judicial deference even in the face of defense disagreement.
V.                  “I smelled what appeared to be marijuana.” (The odor of burnt cannabis emanating from a vehicle constitutes probable cause to search all occupants of that vehicle) State v. Williams, 967 So. 2d 941 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. 2007); Wynn v. State, 14 So. 3d 1094, 1096 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2d Dist. 2009); Nazien v. State, 36 So. 3d 184, 185 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 3d Dist. 2010); State v. T.P., 835 So. 2d 1277, 1278 (Fla. 4th DCA 2003); State v. Williams, 739 So. 2d 717 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 1999); State v. Betz, 815 So. 2d 627, 633 (Fla. 2002); (Odor of burnt or burning cannabis detected as the deputy approached defendant provided him with probable cause to search the vehicle). State v. Lee, 957 So. 2d 76 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 5th Dist. 2007); (The odor of marijuana gave probable cause to search the bales), Grimes v State, 1982 Fla. App. LEXIS 19563 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. Mar. 29, 1982) While the smell of marijuana alone gives an officer a basis to search, it does not appear dependant on actually finding marijuana. Therefore, invisible and transitory smells can be not be independently verified outside of the officer’s word.

On March 20th, Colorado's Democrat Governor John Hickenlooper did a very foolish thing. He signed into law a ban on any magazine over 15 round capacity with a ban on shotguns with tubular magazines that can hold more than 28 lineal inches of shotshells, and another law that will ban private party sales of guns. (All transfers except a few within families will have to be handled through Federally licensed dealers. )

Because the magazine ban won't take effect until July 1, 2013, I can predict an unintended consequence: Close to one million magazines of 16+ round capacity will be purchased by Coloradans in the next three months. It is in their own best interest to immediately stock up their lifetime supply. So, instead of reducing the number of full capacity magazines in private hands, Colorado's legislature has triggered a spending spree that will likely double or triple the number of 16+ round magazines in the state. Perhaps one million more magazines will be marched (well, mailed, actually) into Colorado.

The next few big gun shows in Colorado will surely be memorable events. Something tells me that the dealers will be headed home in substantially lighter vehicles. (Any readers who are gun show vendors, take note. Reserve your tables, soon, and bring a large inventory of magazines.)

As I've mentioned before, the new law's grandfather clause is not multigenerational. It will be limited to only then-current owners on June 30th. Therefore I have urged Coloradans to be sure to properly document the gift of your magazines to your children and grandchildren, and have those records notarized.

If you have friends who live in Colorado, help them out, before the end of June. Many magazines are scarce, at present. Even Glock magazines are hard to find. Do you bit to support the Boulder Airlift. And if any Coloradans wisely vote with your feet and move to a Free State before July, then I recommend that you sell most of your 16+ round rifle magazines and 9+ round shotguns magazines to local friends before you depart, and then immediately buy replacements once you've moved.

Another unintended consequence of the new laws will be be political. The democrats have enraged Colorado's gun owners. In the 2014 election we will probably see a huge backlash. As recently as December, Governor John Hickenlooper was deemed "safe for re-election" in 2014. I have news for him: Gun owners have a long memory.

The national political landscape may change in 2014, as well. Let's not forget that 20 Democratic US senators face re-election in 2014. If they push civilian disarmament too far, many of those senators may get the boot. - J.W.R.

Mr. Rawles,
I read your essay "The Right to Open Carry Guns: Use It or Lose It," with interest.  I watched the videos you linked to with horror.  I was awestruck.

It is a shock to my system to see law enforcement officers so poorly trained and so willing to violate rights of citizens.  Perhaps I should know better by now.  To think that just one telephone call from a "concerned citizen" is enough to cause the police to violate a law abiding persons civil rights is terrifying.

I live in an extremely 2nd amendment friendly state, Arizona.  It is very common to see open carry just about everywhere, with the only real exceptions being schools, court houses and bars.  If you venture out, even in the large cities, you will see a variety of people from all walks of life going about their daily business with an openly carried handgun.  No one freaks out and no one calls the cops. It's been this way as far back as I can remember.

But, one of the freedoms that makes Arizona special may actually cause a hindrance to liberty if we are not careful.  Constitutional concealed carry passed a couple of years ago here in Arizona.  And while it is still extremely common to see open carry, many people have moved to concealed carry since the law passed.  I am a little afraid that this trend could cause the local population to become less familiar and comfortable with open carry. Plus, we have many people that move to Arizona from less gun free states.  I hate to think that in the near future, our law enforcement may be pressured to react because someone saw a "person with a gun" in public.  What a sad day that will be.

In an effort to stop the trend, I would like to encourage my fellow Arizonans to not take our exceptional freedom for granted.  Even if you regularly carry concealed, as so may of us do, set aside one or two days a week to open carry.  If we can keep it commonplace, we may save everyone problems down the line.  

Thank you for the work you do. - Ralph in Arizona

Monday, March 25, 2013

The American concealed carry movement can now be chalked up as a bona fide victory. CCW permits are now available in 48+ states. (To be safe I'd say around 46 or 47 states, depending on several factors. For example, permit issuance policies are not always uniformly non-discretionary in every county within a state.)

The logical successors to the concealed carry movement are the Constitutional Carry Movement (aka permitless concealed carry) and the Open Carry Movement. In my opinion, both of these are worthy endeavors.

I've said the following before, but it bears repeating:

Whenever someone must buy a license or pay a fee to exercise a right, then it is something less than a right. It is in fact a mere privilege, subject to the whim of petty bureaucrats. Fundamental rights are not abstract tokens that are given or sold by other men. They are in fact primary liberties bestowed upon us by God, our maker. Rights are not substantially secured by asking, "Mother may I?" of any government agency. Rights are more properly demanded or boldly seized and then conspicuously exercised regularly. This secures the liberties that have legitimately belonged to us since birth. If need be, lost rights can and must be restored through proscriptive use. If you live in a land where your rights have been marginalized into privileges, then it is either time to change your government, or to change your address. 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.

(Note: I occasionally quote myself, but at least I don't refer to myself in the Third Person.)

I applaud the folks who open carry in states where it is legal, but where it is still frowned upon. This is principled patriotism, in action. Some might consider this merely grandstanding, but it is not! Rather, it is an important educational process, both for the public at large and for our public servants. (Many police are woefully ignorant about their own state laws.) At times these open carry encounters with police involve risk. Sometimes they take persistence. And they generally require standing firm when the police apply a double standard. (Repeatedly, courts have found that open carry, in an open carry state, does not give police a reasonable articulable suspicion that any crime is occurring--hence an open carrying pedestrian or motorist should be treated no differently that someone who is unarmed.) At times, proving such points requires litigation. (Thankfully, most of those court cases--like a 1920s case in North Carolina or a 2009 case in Wisconsin--rule in favor of the plaintiffs.)

Just rarely, negative encounters with police even take place inside The American Redoubt.

Overall, the effect of open carry demonstrations have been positive and restorative. But in some statist bastions, they have resulted in the state enacting even worse laws.

I'm confident that eventually our public servants will learn.

Before exercising your right to open carry be sure to research your State's open carry, concealed carry, and Stop and Identify ("Terry Stop") laws, in detail.

In closing: To America's open carriers: You are to be commended, as Watchmen on the Wall! - J.W.R.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns political pressure group is hard at work. Working with several paid lobbyist, advertising, and public relations firmss, they are about to launch a $12 million television ad campaign, pressing for "comprehensive background checks". Banning private party sales of used guns (forcing all gun sales to go through licensed dealers) will lay the groundwork for a nationwide system of gun registration. But Bloomberg's Buddies have some public relations problems...

The latest news is that another member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns has been arrested. This time it was Mayor Craig Lowe of Gainesville, Florida, arrested for drunk driving. The arresting officer found the mayor sleeping it off, in his wrecked car. Lowe was one of 30 mayors recently featured in a Bloomberg-funded anti-gun commercial.

And the same week Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania, Mayor James Schiliro, got himself in very deep trouble, by falsely imprisoning and providing alcohol to an underage man, and drunkenly firing a gun inside his home, reportedly to intimidate the young man into having oral homosexual relations. (In this incident, it was also reported the Mayor had first ordered a borough police officer to pick up the 20-year-old and bring him to his home.) As with many other criminal mayors, Bloomberg's anti-gun organization quickly dropped Schiliro from their roster, to distance themselves. (Coincidentally, it was a desire for boys and young men that also landed Coaldale Pennsylvania Mayor Richard P. Corkery in jail on 28 charges of possession of child pornography. He too was a Mayors Against Illegal Guns member. )

Meanwhile, sentencing is expected this week for John Bencivengo, the former mayor of Hamilton Township--a suburb of Trenton, New Jersey. He was convicted last November on extortion, money laundering and bribery-related counts. He too was a Mayors Against Illegal Guns member.

These events were heralded just a few weeks after former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted, and just days after former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was found guilty of 24 additional corruption charges. They too were Mayors Against Illegal Guns members.

Illegal guns aren't a problem, but illegal mayors in Bloomberg's "crime fighting" group certainly are! (There were at least 20 of them (if you include Felix Roque), at last count.) Mikey Bloomberg seems to attract these low-lifes. Contact your legislators to insist that they Close the Mayor's Office Loophole! Tell them that you support comprehensive background checks on Mayoral candidates. That's just a commonsense step. And something needs to be done about High Capacity Mayors--you know, the mayors with a high capacity for corruption and influence peddling, a high capacity for campaign contribution fraud, a high capacity for pedophilia, a high capacity for alcohol abuse, a high capacity for assault, a high capacity for theft, a high capacity for money laundering, a high capacity for conspiracy, a high capacity for extortion, and a high capacity for racketeering.

These criminals have gained access to mayor's chairs one too many times. It is far too easy for criminals to become mayors. Demand a Plan and Demand Action, America! - J.W.R.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Captain Rawles,
People may already know this one, but if not, then here is a trick for anyone with a Mossberg 500/590 shotgun who wants to know how to remove shells from the tube magazine without cycling the action"

Inside the loading port located on the left is a small piece of metal [called a shell stop] which holds the shells in the magazine (it's easy to see with a shell in the magazine).  Pushing this in allows shells to be removed from the magazine one-by-one swiftly and silently.  Push the piece in until a shell pops out of the magazine, release the metal piece, repeat.  I use this trick during hunting season to unload my shotgun for transportation purposes.  It takes some practice, but it works well on low/high brass shells.  It sure beats having to pointlessly manipulate the action and damage the rims of shotshells by doing so. 
Respectfully Yours, - D. from Michigan 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The biggest weakness in preparedness planning is not a forgotten survival item, or too few cartridges.  The invisible weakness is lack of real time experience   It's one thing to say your going to raise your own food, and maybe you have all the seeds and tools to do it stored away.  But if you have never actually planted a huge garden and tried to live off it your first year is going to be full of failures (see: learning opportunities) that could be potentially deadly in real survival time.  The same goes for every aspect of survival and emergency situation response.  Personally I have always wondered how I would react in a real SHTF situation.  Would I freeze?  React too slowly?  Freak out?

Police agencies recommend that you think out potential dangerous situations frequently and plan how you would react.  Such as an intruder in your house, or someone trying to break through the door.  This helps when you actually are confronted by the situation.  My husband and I have talked about what we would do, and even discussed it to a certain extent with out daughter who is 15 so she can be safe and help keep her younger siblings safe while we deal with the situation.  She often complained about it because we have always lived in the country or in small rural towns.  I have tried to tell her that drugs are still just as much a problem in these kind of communities, but like most people, she thought that if you live in a small community is must be safer.  Most people do not realize that while the population is small, the statistical drug abuse rates and alcohol rates are as high or higher than large cities.

As a woman moreover, my concern is how I would react and effectively defend myself against a man coming onto my property or into my home and threatening me and my children while I'm alone.  I am a home-maker so I am alone with the children most of every day.  This is one reason I keep firearms as protection.  Guns have been called The Great Equalizer and for women this is especially true.  I know that when it comes to a confrontation with a man I am not going to win.  Men are bigger and stronger and no Politically Correct foolishness is going to change that fact.  My father stressed that women should know how to handle guns and carry one because violent crimes against woman are common.  He taught his daughters how to use all styles of firearms with proficiency and safety so while I wish that I lived in the world of puppies and rainbows I see the necessity to posses guns.

Yesterday morning started out just like normal.  I was making breakfast for my four children and drinking a cup of coffee.  Everything was fine and dandy when suddenly my four year old son said "Mommy a man just walked through our side yard!"  I was surprised and concerned since it was 7:00 in the morning and nobody should be in our yard.  I called to my husband, who was luckily still home.  If it had been 15 minutes later he would have been gone.  I told my husband what our four year old had said and after asking which way the man had gone, which was towards the back yard, he went out to take a look.

While all this was happening our amazing guard dog golden retriever was snoring gently in corner!  My husband first looked out that back window and sure enough a man was out at our chicken run.  He let me know that and then walked out to talk to the man.  Almost instantly he was back in the house.

"Lock the doors and call 911, he said, this guys is off his rocker"  The man was at that time trying to pull down our chicken fence and when my husband asked him what he was doing he said "This is a mirror and it must come down".  He had no slurred speech and was walking just fine but my husband said the way he looked was extremely creepy.  The man was obviously on some sort of drugs or in the grips of a psychotic episode.  

My first thought was bath salts or spice, as both of those have been in the news allot.  People in the grips of these drugs are extremely dangerous as it can cause violent psychosis to the point where they strip off their clothes and attack people.  There have been constant and increasing reports across the country of people on these drugs not just attacking but also trying to eat other people!  They do not respond to pain and have unnatural strength.

Needless to say neither my husband or I wanted to get into a physical altercation with this man.  My husband monitored him through a window while I immediately got the children upstairs and into a secure room.  Our back door is very unsecure, I could probably break through it with one kick so I was concerned what would happen if this man tried to come in.  I also considered that this man may be armed and wanted my children as far away from flying bullets with as many walls between them as possible.  This took about 20 seconds and then I was calling 911.  I felt no fear or panic, just an eerie calm with very clear thinking.  Every thought of mine was to  keep my children safe and remove the threat from my family.  As soon as I got to the phone my husband went and got the pump action shotgun loaded with slugs.  He stood by the window and continued to watch the man and report what he was doing so I could then tell the 911 operator.  

After trying to rip down the fence the man was now hitting his head repeatedly against it.  I told the operator to warn the responding officers that the man appeared to be hallucinating.  Now my husband told me the man was shaking and twitching and had again switched to trying to tear the fence down.  

Within four minutes of the initial 911 call the officers were on our property, which is one of the great things about living in a small town.  As soon as they arrived and had engaged in conversation with the man my husband went and put the shotgun away.  No need to get into an uncomfortable discussion on our firearms.

The man went with the officers with no struggle thank goodness and we then gave our statements.  Apparently the man had been causing trouble all night but since the previous people had not wanted to press charges he was allowed to walk.  We pressed charges for trespassing simply because the man otherwise would have been let go to terrorize some other family.  In jail he would be evaluated and not let go till he sobered up off of whatever he had taken.

All in all I think we handled the situation just right with only a few mistakes.  The first mistake was my husband going out and confronting the man without any defensive weapons.  Due to the fact that people hyped up on street drugs are often impervious to pain and display extreme strength this could have been really bad if the guy had gone after my husband.  My husband is very physically fit and strong.  He also is pretty confident on handling dangerous situations, but if taken by the element of surprise he could have been overpowered before he could react.  I of course would have gotten the shotgun immediately and dealt with the situation but my husband would have been injured.

Also I should have been armed as well.  That way if the guy had gotten through my husband and the shotgun he wouldn't have gotten through me.

The after-effects of this incident were what you would expect.  There was much soothing needed for my children, and we had to explain why the man was acting the way he did.  That night both me and my husband had a hard time sleeping.  Also my husband came up and hugged me right after the police left.  We had been having an ongoing marital debate about locked doors.  I always keep the doors double locked even though we live in a small town and this annoyed my husband when he would come home at night.  My statement every night was the same.  "I don't want anyone able to just walk into my house!" to which he would then blow off as unnecessary paranoia.

After this incident however he told me that if he ever gave me trouble about the locked doors again I was to punch him in the face!

During this whole incident I certainly felt concerned, but not panicked   The main reason for this was because both my husband and I are armed and know how to use them.  This man was not getting into our house.  This gave me a real calmness.  I cannot imagine what I would have felt like if we had not been armed and had to rely on nothing more than a locked door to protect us.  I have been teased often by anti gun family members about my penchant for carrying defence weapons.  But as I have heard stated many times before you don't need a gun until you really need a gun.  And then if you don't have one you are screwed.

What really disturbed me was what would have happened if one of my children had gone outside to feed the animals like they usually do while that man was out there.  They would have tried talking to him not realizing he was unbalanced.

I definitely recommend planning out what you would do in situations like these. It is so important to think out your priorities and who does what in a crises.  From our previous discussions it helped us spring to action and not panic.

As a last note we are this very weekend re-enforcing our back door so that it will take more than a hard tug to get through it.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Without a doubt, the hottest selling long-gun these days is some sort of AR-15/M4 type of gun. Thanks to the efforts of anti-gunners like Dianne Feinstein and Barack Obama, with their proposed bans on certain classes or types of firearms, there has been a run on these types of guns that has never been seen before. With looming threats of banning certain types of firearms, as well as magazines over 10 rounds, the American People are waking up, and are spending their hard-earned money on what they presume will be banned or regulated. Without a doubt, this has led to a buying frenzy, like no other in firearms in history to the best of recollection. This has also led to a shortage of ammunition, the likes we have never seen before, and I suspect it will take the ammo companies a couple years to catch-up with supply and demand. The hottest-selling ammo right now is .22 LR followed by .223 Rem/5.56mm and then 9mm - however, most calibers are in short supply these days. Retail prices on ammo has about doubled or even tripled in may instance. Some mail-order ammo reseller companies have completely ripped-off their customers - what used to cost $150 now cost almost a $1,000 for certain types of ammo. I hope that SurvivalBlog readers are taking note of which companies are doing this, and won't throw their business to these companies. I know I won't!
For the past three months, I've been testing the SIGSauer M400 Enhanced version of their M4-type carbine. This is, for some reason, one of the most in-demand M4-type rifles on the market these days. At my local Wal-Mart, they usually carry a SIG-Sauer M400 in-stock. However with the recent buying frenzy, these firearms go out the door as fast as they come in. For several months now, there have been customers camped out in the sporting goods department of my local Wal-Mart store. They arrive early in the morning, and borrow some folding chairs from the camping section, and sit at the gun counter, waiting for UPS or FedEx to arrive with a few M400 guns. Some days none arrive, and some days only a few arrive.
I requested the M400 Enhanced version, because I wanted something a little bit different. The Enhanced version comes with a flat-top receiver, that has a fold-down rear sight. It is also equipped with MagPul Original Equipment (MOE) furniture - butt stock, pistol grip and forend. I like the look and feel of the MagPul furniture, especially their butt stocks. The M400 also comes with a MagPul 30 round magazine. (An aside: You had better get plenty while you still can. MagPul is located in Colorado, and they have promised to move from that state, if they enact a ban on magazines over 15 rounds. If MagPul does indeed move, it will take quite a while for them to set-up shop again, so get some of these mags while they are still available - or before they get banned by the FedGov with some of their looney legislation that has been proposed.)
The M400 is a 5.56mm caliber rifle, that can also handle .223 Remington, and FYI they are not the same caliber. If you happen to have a rifle that is a .223 Remington caliber, do not shoot 5.56mm ammo through it without consulting the manufacturer's web site!  The M400 is also direct impingement via a gas tube, just like the original AR-15s are. Overall length is 35.6-inches long with the stock fully open, and 32.5-inches with the stock fully closed. The barrel is 16-inches long with a 1 in 7 inch twist, so you can fire some heavier bullets. The gun weighs in at 6.7-pounds and the trigger pull is stated at 7.8-pounds, but my sample felt much lighter than that, with no over-travel or grittiness at all. There is also a flash suppressor on the end of the barrel and the barrel has a unique shape to it - not quite M4-ish, nor is is plain, either - check it out on the web site. The barrel is forged with a phosphate coating on the outside, and chrome-lined inside, that helps it stand-up to harsh weather conditions. The lower receiver is forged aluminum - 7075-T6!
Okay, so we have