Notes for Tuesday – July 29, 2014

July 29th, 1805, is the birthday of Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville, who died April 16, 1859,

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Today we present another entry for Round 53 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $11,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three course (a $1,195 value),
  2. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  3. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  4. A $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  5. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value),
  6. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  7. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  8. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of GoldAndSilverOnline.com, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  9. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  10. KellyKettleUSA.com is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  11. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  12. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate.

Second Prize:

  1. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  2. A FloJak EarthStraw “Code Red” 100-foot well pump system (a $500 value), courtesy of FloJak.com,
  3. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value),
  9. Dri-Harvestfoods.com in Bozeman, Montana is providing a prize bundle with Beans, Buttermilk Powder, Montana Hard Red Wheat, Drink Mixes, and White Rice, valued at $333,
  10. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  11. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  12. RepackBoxis providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security,
  5. A MURS Dakota Alert Base Station Kit with a retail value of $240 from JRH Enterprises,
  6. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  7. Ambra Le Roy Medical Products in North Carolina is donating a bundle of their traditional wound care and first aid supplies, with a value of $208, and
  8. SurvivalBased.com is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.

Round 53 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Killing, Dying, and Death – Part II, by M.H.

Are fighters born or made? Who knows. That has been well analyzed by many psychiatrists who generally lack the key ingredient of first hand combat experience. Research that on your own if you choose. I will tell you it does not matter. If you were born that way, good for you; if not, MAKE yourself the fighter!

What does it take to become the fighter though? It takes mental training, physical fitness, and of course both general and specific training.

Mental training.

Some call it visualization training. You go over the scenario of choice in your head and examine the ways to make the outcome in your favor, and then you make them work. It is used as positive imagery, to help you think you can defeat Goliath rather than be overcome by fear. Visualizing yourself getting defeated is a sure way to make sure you get defeated. God’s will aside, and faith in God aside, David had an “I will kill this giant” attitude. Do you think the outcome would have been the same if he would have thought like every man in King Saul’s army?

Every day in Iraq, I would mentally go over possible scenarios that could happen, and in those scenarios I would always make myself win. When I say win, I mean that I and mine live and my enemies die. To this day, I still use this method of mental training. If I am walking through the woods with my wife and kids and a black bear runs into us and does not run away instantly, I will be dropping my ruck/daughter for my wife to grab, and I will be going head on, running fast, into the animal. However, what if there is no time to drop my ruck that I carry my daughter in? Well, I may not charge the animal, but rather I’ll go lateral to it while instructing my wife the other direction as I shoot. What if, for some retarded reason, I don’t have my gun? I will dump my ruck, regardless of it all, and go at the animal with my knife or whatever weapon of opportunity I can grab, so my family can get to safety. Is that likely to result in my getting mauled rather than my kicking a bear’s butt? It’s likely, but I’d rather get eaten fighting than never think about it and stare in panic, or try to outrun a bear while carrying my three-year-old and my wife carrying our two year old. The key is that I will make the most aggressive, violent action possible to the point that that bear wonders what is happening to him, as I stab him in the eye with a stick, repeatedly. I do not let anything but my winning enter my mind, no matter the odds. If I had the thought that there was no possible way I’m going to fight off or kill a bear with my pocket knife, then I have already accepted defeat and may as well lie down in the trail and let him eat me and my family. (This is just an example. If you live in Alaska and want to fake dead for a grizzly, work through that in your own mind.)

Throw an angry squirrel into a van full of linebackers. That little guy, through rapid aggressive action, will have big “tough” men jumping out the doors in no time. One good smack is all it would take to kill the squirrel, but the squirrel does not care. All he knows is he wants to destroy everyone in the van, and he will.

What choice should you make? Is there a right choice or a wrong choice? No. Just make a choice, and make it fast, aggressive, and violent. Hesitation will get you killed. Having already lived through similar scenarios in your mind will help your auto pilot work how you taught it to work. All the while, you know if you do die, it will be taking as many of your enemies with you as humanly possible, before you choke to death on your own blood.

Physical fitness.

This may seem insensitive and harsh, but if you are obese, all the mental visualization training will not get you whopping up on anybody who requires you to do much more then throw your weight on them. Get off your butt, and go hike up a mountain. Don’t give me that “I’m putting on fat for food when the supply dwindles down” excuse. Do you need to look all muscular and fit? No, nor should that be a goal. It may be a byproduct of your training, dependent on your body type, but it is secondary to the focus of being strong, fast, agile, and having endurance. You need endurance to thrown on a ruck and go hiking for ten miles in the dark because your retreat was burned to the ground and half your friends were killed. You need speed to run into firefights or away from firefights, depending on the situation (that is another topic). You need strength to grab your buddy and throw him on your shoulders because his leg just got blown off, or to pull something up a cliff. You also need agility as you run through the woods or walk over rough terrain with your weapon at the ready. Some are born for more of one then the other, but don’t excuse yourself because of your body type. Work is the key word here folks. Do the best with the body type God gave you. If you are truly “big” boned, you should be stronger than an ox without much trouble, but you may have to work for endurance. Smaller builds may have to work more for strength, but you will have better speed and agility. We are all here for different reasons and with different gifts, just make sure you don’t so limit yourself to one thing that you are hopelessly lacking in another.

Ladies, you too can be much stronger than you think. Will you match the strength of a man? No, but that does not mean you should limit yourself to elliptical machines and long walks. Do some pull ups and squats!

I currently work in the medical field, and I can tell you that overweight and obese patients cannot hardly help themselves out of bed when they are remotely sick. Healthy-weighted, 90 year old ladies may have a horrible pneumonia, but they can still walk around. Fat is also harder to grab onto. Take two unconscious men– one who is 200 lbs of muscle, at 5’8′, and the other who is 200 lbs of fat at 5’8″. The fat guy is twice as hard to pick up and move around as the other. So, in addition to making yourself more useful in general, by having a healthy body fat percentage, you make it easier for your buddy to help you if needed.

You will be a better fighter if you are fit. No question about it. Your body will handle stress better. You will live longer, if you don’t get killed first, and you will feel better, sleep better, and even look better. You can get more work done. In general, it just makes sense, but it’s hard to workout. Cry me a river. You think TEOTWAWKI is going to be easy? Your 1-week practice run of living out of the pantry was easy; try doing that while running security patrols in 0 degree temperatures, getting your compound shot to bits, carrying buckets of water ½ mile since the well went dry, explaining to your kids that Grandma and Grandpa’s house just got burned down since there will be no “sheltering” your children from what will become the new norm. It’s all hard. So go do something that gets/keeps you in shape.

With all that being said, I’m 30 years old. A 50 year old may have a hard time doing what I do. Recognize your limitations but don’t use that as an excuse. I would not currently go on an event that involved swimming a mile. I know that I would be a hazard at this time, since I have not been keeping up on my swimming! Don’t be the one who becomes a liability because you can’t physically do something you should have known was impossible or too difficult for you. If you cannot do a pull up, perhaps you should avoid the event that would require a lot of rope climbing or rock climbing, eh?

Training

Training is getting up and doing it! That is the only way you will learn new things and perfect them. Ever hear about the guy who buys all the latest gear to go hiking with and ends up dumping it or quitting, because he never tried it in the field before he went out on a seven day hunt? The same applies for preparedness. You have a state of the art piston driven AR15 with a $2000 Nightforce scope and Surefire flashlight that you have only shot 40 times out to 100 yards with plinking ammo instead of your “survival” ammo. So, let’s say I come along at 400 yards with my spray painted, scuffed up, AR with a $800 scope with ammo that I know what it does and have it written on my gun because my gun is a tool, not a pretty thing to look at. I am going to kill you and give your fancy AR15 to one of my buddies. Not really, because I am not a murderer, but you get the point, I hope.

I hand-built a child carrier for my 35-pound daughter to attach to my Kifaru ruck, and I have since built a second one that works better. Why? Because I noticed on a 12-mile hike that it did not ride quite right, and I knew I could make it better. The better it rides me, the further I can go and the more useful I am when I get where were going. I no longer wear hoodies with the pass through waist pocket or leave my right lower pocket unzipped on my coats, if I’m openly carrying in the woods, because I’ve noticed a tendency for that little bit of material to stick out enough to catch my muzzle as I draw. How do I know that? I know that from experience drawing in different clothes. If somebody would have told me that, it would have made sense. However, nothing is as good as doing it yourself to figure things out.

Thinking I’m just going to shoot bad guys from my retreat hill top without getting on said hilltop, with my rifle of choice and ranging stuff out and making range cards so I KNOW I can shoot bad guys from said hilltop, is foolish at best. Reading about how to start an IV because your kid got a gut bug and is severely dehydrated is great. Try doing it sometime, because it’s not as easy as it looks on YouTube. If you can’t get it, get an ER nurse to teach you, lest the time you really need it, you cannot do it. Doing mag changes standing in your living room watching a Die Hard 3 is better than nothing, but how about magazine changes while lying in the mud or snow? Or while running? Or after a max set of pullups? Better yet while your buddy throws a bucket of sand or mud on your face?

Train with your gear on that you plan to use! A popular movement now is the IPSC-style shooting. Running from obstacle to obstacle, shooting around stuff, under stuff, and so on is great, right? Aside from the fact that there are some incredible shooters doing these events, let’s look at it in terms of combat patrolling, climbing up mountains or buildings, crossing rivers, and riding horses and four-wheelers, while snowshoeing, and so on: Do you plan to put on a belt that pushes your mags and pistol 2″ out from your body with no form of retention other than friction? What happens when you put on a chest rig for that AR you plan on carrying? What about the body armor and plates you plan on putting on before you hike to your retreat? What about putting on a ruck with all your gear to get from A to B? While not trying to take away any value from IPSC events, I want you to train how you plan to fight. I love friction retention mag holders, for the SPEED and simplicity. Would I jump out of a plane, rappel a cliff, or cross a raging river with such a device? Let me see… No way. Would you? I really like the buckle on my drop holster right in front of my thigh, right until I lay down and it makes more noise than needed by hitting/scraping the floor. So, I move the buckle more to the inside of my thigh and I use retention mag pouches. Is it slower, yes, but they are always there.

Do I like all my gear on my waist? Of course. Well the waist belt on my ruck doesn’t do much good if it has to go around a pistol, three mags, a flashlight, and a knife. Not too long ago, in the Marine Corps as a Scout Sniper, I never used a waist belt with a very heavy ruck at times, just so I could dump that thing faster than a hot potato, if need be. Now I’m not so tough, and my scapula’s hurt from all that abuse, so I use a waist belt most of the time. Other gear is adjusted accordingly. Occasionally, in getting off my rear and putting my gear on, I find the shortcomings in both my setup and my training, so I know what to adjust and/or practice more.

You must also continually train. This may be hard to do, but I think of all the times I have sat on my rear and watched a movie when I could have been training, even in a small way. What a waste. People often think that the military’s special forces are just super human and have so much cool gear that they can’t help but be awesome. Not really, they just train more than the conventional military. Training will make you learn what works and what does not. Head knowledge is nothing, if you have not tested and proven it.

Put the big three together and you will be better at killing the enemy and protecting the good people– family or not, whomever that may be. A fit, trained guy scared of dying is worth little when the going gets rough. A mentally prepared fit guy with no training is worth a little more. A mentally prepared, trained, fit guy or gal is priceless. Remember though, just because you train hard and prepare does not mean you won’t end up crawling through a ditch holding your bowels in with your foot blown off and no ammo left. However, you still have a knife that will take one more evil guy out, right?

A sidebar

As I mentioned earlier, I would return to a certain point about the so called “tough” guys in the Marines I dealt with. They were pansies, thugs, disgraces to the real fighters. Sure, not everybody was a motivated fearless fighter, but at least some did not run from trouble. Remember, that Nazi storm troopers or typical thugs are tough when the odds are in their favor. One thug by his lonesome is going to try to blend in, so he can live another day. He is not likely so dedicated to his cause that he is willing to die for it. A perfect example of this mindset, politics aside, is the Bundy Ranch incident. All the BLM guys were real tough and aggressive until they were massively outnumbered. All of a sudden a bunch of guys “just doing their jobs” were not so anxious to do their jobs any more. Currently, we have SWAT teams taking down one man in one house with MRAPs and 20 officers. If they know the guy is a potential fighter, they up that significantly, like in Waco Texas. I am not using these examples to encourage anything lawless but rather to demonstrate the very common lack of combat mindset that individuals have.

Letter Re: To Use Body Armor or Not

My sincerest condolences to the author. It’s always tragic to lose one of our own, especially as young as his father was at 42.

Concerning the author’s questions, his Dad was wise on the policy of armor usage in a given AO. My personal combat experience, and lessons learned from others have taught me the following:

  1. Armor is a great tool, and only plated armor (lvl IV) counts when you have rifles pointed your way.
  2. Getting shot with armor/plates suck. There’s a lot of kinetic energy getting transferred from the bullet, to your armor, then to the sack of meat that is your body. A friend who got shot via 7.62x54R from an unknown distance square on his SAPI (Small Arms Protective Insert, lvl IV) plate was knocked off his feet and alluded the experience to that of getting hit with a sledge hammer. He was bruised badly but lived to smoke again.
  3. Armor is not perfect; it is there to buy you time and nothing else. By time, I refer the means to get acceptable levels of trauma care. Take my aforementioned friend for example. Had he not been wearing his plate carrier that day, the time required to save his life from a debilitating sucking chest wound would’ve been critically shorter than to having just a self-managed fractured rib.
  4. Time is life; speed and maneuverability need to be balanced to optimize your chances in a given firefight. Teams figure out what the overall mission plan requires, how much support they can rely on, and as a final gut check, how fast they can get in and out of an area by themselves if everything falls apart. Some higher speed lower drag guys wear nothing but LBE’s and bump helmets because their op tempo demands it. On the other side of the coin, where you have much less organic support and are pretty much restricted to a smaller unit, armor becomes a necessity to maintain your time and effectiveness in a given firefight. How you pick and kit up for your AO is ultimately up to you. Just be honest with yourself and your own physical limitations.
  5. Always follow through in gun fights. If one of your friends or loved ones go down in the middle of the fight, you have to resist the urge to help them and, instead, keep pulling that trigger! It may seem counter-intuitive, but for the best chances of your team surviving contact you need every possible rifle engaged on targets. If and only when you feel you have the situation contained (successfully broken contact) or in a lull between fires, can you then start assisting the wounded. Again, armor is just there to buy time before receiving upper echelon care. For appendages that are not covered by armor, tourniquets are a great tool (learn how to effectively use them) and a must have on everyone’s IFAK.
  6. Learn how to fix people up. Anybody can break a person, but very few know how to put one back together. That skill set alone is immensely valuable, both on and off the battlefield, and it’s knowledge you can use throughout the rest of your life. Combat is a two part process. Everyone likes to glorify and teach the tactical portion of it, but the ugly truth is you’ll need just as much training time on the medical-trauma side of it too, just to feel confident in what you’re doing WHEN (not IF) the time arises. People can freeze up in any hyper stress inducing situation, whether it be from bullets sent your way, or having to perform triage on your mangled and barely alive best friend. Good training will allow you to control your stress and think/act critically, or at the very least put you into an autonomous mode where lifesaving skills become more of a reflexive action based upon environmental conditions. Having both the tactical and medical skills honed will make you a very solid warrior and a desirable asset to any team.

Regards, D.R.

News From The American Redoubt:

Wyoming: Common Core opponents say states’ repeal boosts momentum

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Lightning strike kills 4 cows, calf in Northern Idaho

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Hiker Shoots Bear Near Mount Brown in Glacier Park

JWR Adds: Statistically, pepper spray is more effective at stopping charging bears, but I also always carry a large-bore pistol when out in the woods for the “Lead Spray” option.

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Mamma beaver, baby nabbed trying to get inside Eagle WinCo – RBS

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Idaho woman appeals NSA surveillance lawsuit – RBS

Odds ‘n Sods:

Mad Max: Fury Road – Comic-Con First Look [HD] – G.G.

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Two Americans Stricken With Deadly Ebola Virus in Liberia

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The borders are closed, but the airport remains open? Liberia Closes Borders to Curb Ebola Outbreak – T.P.

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Two Persistent Energy Myths With Attendant Conspiracy Theories. – J.S.

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While illegals get bus trips, Americans are being tazed and arrested by border patrol 100 miles away from the border. – B.B.

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8 Insane Things Put in Place by John McCain’s $100 Million Pro-Invasion Spending Bill . – B.S.

Notes for Monday – July 28, 2014

28 July 1914 – The 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I– the war that irreparably changed geopolitics. Officially, the war lasted until November 11, 1918, but American troops were still running around shooting Russians well into 1919.

Guest Article: July In Precious Metals, by Steven Cochran of Gainesville Coins.

Welcome to SurvivalBlog’s Precious Metals Month in Review, where we take a look at “the month that was” in precious metals. Each month, we cover the price action of gold and silver, and we examine the “what” and “why” behind those numbers.

The summer months are slow times for both stocks and commodities, with thin volume as many investors and traders taking summer vacation. Because of this, large orders can sometimes make big ripples. We saw this again in July, just like we did in June.

The June closing prices for precious metals were: Gold: $1325 Silver: $20.96 Platinum: $1482 Palladium: $840

July started with a bang for the PGMs, with both of them breaking through resistance levels. Platinum gained $22 an ounce to $1504, and palladium jumped $11 to $851. Gold closed the first day of trading near a three-month high, at $1326, and silver was only two cents from the $21 mark.

The highs for the month were hit on July 13, sparked by a banking crisis in Portugal. Gold closed at $1339, silver at $21.45, and platinum at $1508. Palladium waited until July 17, when new sanctions were announced by the U.S. against Russia, for arming and supporting rebels in Eastern Ukraine. The high closing price for palladium was $883, a price level last seen in 2001.

The second half of the month saw some unwinding of safe haven positions, as the stock markets decided they were more afraid of the Fed hiking interest rates than they were of World War III possibly starting.

Precious Metals Market Drivers in July

European Banking System

On July 10, the parent company of Portugal’s second-largest bank defaulted on a corporate bond payment, frightening the markets that the bank would be on the hook for the bad debt. Stocks tumbled, and gold saw a heavy rush of buying that shot the price up over $1,334.

Malaysian Airliner Shot Down By Ukrainian Rebels

On July 17, only hours after the U.S. announced new sanctions against Russia for its support of rebels in Eastern Ukraine, those same rebels shot down a civilian airliner cruising at an altitude of over 30,000 feet, killing all 298 people aboard. The rebels had previously boasted about having sophisticated long range SA 11 “Buk” surface to air missiles, which they had been using to shoot down Ukrainian Air Force planes.

The downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 threw the markets into turmoil. Europe is pretty much held hostage by its dependence on Russian natural gas, the way the U.S. was dependent on OPEC oil in the 1970s. The thought of that supply being disrupted by Russia in retaliation for any sanctions is painful. France is going ahead with delivery of the aircraft carrier that they have built for Russia, and when Britain complained, the French Foreign Minister said maybe the UK should remove the log from its own eye, and clear up all the Russian billions hiding in London banks.

Israel Invasion Of Gaza

Deciding that airstrikes weren’t convincing the terrorist group Hamas to stop shooting unguided rockets at Israeli cities, the IDF rolled into the Gaza Strip to root them out. The day that they picked to start operations was the same day the Ukrainian rebels shot down the Malaysian airliner, making traders wonder if the whole world was about to catch fire.

Israel has been catching heat for the deaths of Palestinian civilians, but after finding rockets in UN-built schools, the Israeli army has to consider every building a possible target. U.S. and European airlines stopped flying into Tel Aviv for a couple of days, after a Hamas rocket landed a mile from the runway. No one was willing to be the next “MH17” and gamble the lives of their crews and passengers until it was proven Hamas had been driven out of rocket range of the airport.

Yellen/Fed

Janet Yellen, in testimony before Congress, refused to admit that the “too big to fail” banks, like JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs, were larger than they were before the 2008 financial crisis and refused calls to use Fed interest rate policy to fight asset bubbles that these same policies have created. The same day, one or more of those banks decided to sell over three million ounces of “paper gold” (contracts) on the COMEX to hammer gold lower. Unfortunately for them, the result by the end of the day was gold closing only $7 lower.

Platinum Mining

The world’s largest platinum company, Anglo American Platinum, is putting several of its mines in South Africa up for sale. The mines account for 1/3 of the company’s global production but are far more expensive to run than their newer mines. Any sale would doubtlessly mean layoffs, which has the labor unions throwing a fit. The unions were warned that if they forced the companies to agree to a 140% pay raise, that this was going to happen.

In related news, the largest platinum mine in Zimbabwe suffered a major cave-in, closing off half of the deposits. Zimplats, the operators of the mine, said it will take over four years to safely tunnel around the dangerous area to get to those deposits. This means 45,000 fewer ounces of platinum will hit the market for the next four years, worsening the shortage.

On The Retail Front

Underwater salvage company Odyssey Marine released the first inventory of treasure recovered from the wreck of the SS Central America, the famous “Ship of Gold.” Efforts had halted temporarily when the old company of fugitive treasure hunter Tommy Thompson sued, claiming that they still owned the wreck. A federal judge threw the case out of court, saying that the investors who were bilked by Thompson before he disappeared were the proper owners of the treasure.

The kingdom of Dubai, fighting one of the world’s highest obesity rates, is paying its citizens in gold to lose weight. People who register for the two month challenge will get one gram of gold for every kilogram of weight they lose, if they lose at least two kg (4.4 lb). Those families with children under 13 who sign up for the event will be double the gold reward, if the child loses two kg or more.

This might work out cheaper per person than Obamacare!

Ed Steer at Casey Research talks about how the Russian Central Bank bought 500,000 ounces of gold last month, following the 300,000 ounces in May that we reported. The Russians have bought a total of 1.5 million ounces of gold in the last three months.

Market Buzz

Gold manipulation is getting more mainstream traction. A committee in Britain’s House of Commons asked the nation’s top financial regulator to investigate manipulation of the gold market. The Chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority said that his agency lacked the authority to do so, and that there wasn’t any manipulation anyway. He must have forgotten his own agency fining Barclays $44 million over gold fix manipulation by one of their traders last month.

THE SILVER FIX IS DEAD: The London Bullion Market Association has awarded the contract for a new silver fix to CME Group and Thomson Reuters. CME Group will supply the data and the algorithms to decide the benchmark price, while TR will administer and audit the system. Personally, I’m not sold on the idea. CME Group controls the COMEX, Nymex, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, and the Chicago Board of Trade, which makes them the world’s largest marketplace for futures contracts and derivatives. I’m thinking physical gold isn’t going to get much attention.

China’s outlook on gold is the subject of a couple of more articles this week. Jeff Clark of Casey Research talks about “Western Delusions vs Chinese Realities” when it comes to gold. He sums it up pretty clearly when he notes “[Chinese] buy in preparation for a new monetary order – not as a trade they hope earns them a profit.” An article at Equities.com talks about “Why China Is Really Buying All That Gold.”

Back at home, Rick Rule of Sprott Asset Management reminds us that these pullbacks on gold are perfectly normal, as the price grinds higher. Every pullback ends at a higher point than the one previous, as we stair-step higher.

Peter Schiff talks about the stock market and how more and more experts believe it is set up for a crash.

Jim Grant tells Fox Business Network that the Fed is behind the curve on inflation, and its policy of reacting to situations instead of taking preventative measures means that we are going to see a “thunderclap” of a crisis. The Fed being behind on inflation means that real interest rates (interest rates minus inflation) will stay negative. This is good news for gold and bad news for bonds.

Looking Ahead

The markets will start picking up near the end of next month, as the wedding and festival season in India starts cranking up. Even though the Indian government hasn’t relaxed the restrictions on gold imports, that gold is still getting into the country. Smuggling is still increasing, and the police can’t stop even 1/10th of it. That gold is still being bought somewhere before being smuggled in, which means physical gold demand is still holding up.

Let’s end this month’s column with some words of wisdom from the former director of the U.S. Mint, Philip Diehl, with his article “Three Gold Myths That Confuse Buyers.”

Scot’s Product Review: DRD Tactical CDR-15-556

AR-15s are pretty common these days. I like them a lot, though they aren’t perfect by any means. We can quibble about the caliber and gas systems all day, but they have good ergonomics and are widespread and popular. Good ones are reliable. I hadn’t really planned on reviewing factory-made AR-15’s, as they such a generic, well-known commodity, but when DRD Tactical offered one, they put a word in the subject header that made me interested. The word was “takedown”. Takedowns are something that I have always found fascinating, and DRD builds a takedown version of the AR.

The idea of being able to make something smaller for storage and travel appeals to me a lot. Long arm cases are bulky and attract attention. Being able to travel with a smaller case has real advantages. Portability and stealth are the obvious ones, but another thought that crossed my mind is that this system makes it easy and less expensive to have a multi-purpose, multi-cartridge AR. You could have a long, heavy barrel for precision and a short, light one for close, fast work. All you need to do is add a barrel as opposed to a whole new upper receiver. There are several interesting cartridges, such as .300 AAC based on the .223 case, and all you need for them is another barrel. There are some other cartridges, such as 6.5mm Grendel or 6.8mm SPC, that do require another bolt and more magazines, but even so, that’s less money than a whole upper. These calibers are often more effective on larger game, and I believe some states still ban the use of any .22 caliber weapon on deer, so it expands the use of your AR. This could also be very helpful for shooters in states with restrictive laws. They could have one gun (the lower receiver) and many variants.

Besides carbines, DRD has a very nice case. The carbine I tested arrived in one, and although I knew it was going to be compact, I was still impressed by how small it seemed. It is only 13.5×18.5×7 inches on the outside. The inside, of course, is smaller, but it is long enough on the diagonal to hold the longest component– the 16 inch barrel, which with flash suppressor and barrel extension is about 18 inches. The case is made of a heavy duty polymer and lined with shock absorbing foam. It is very unlikely anyone would guess it could hold a rifle.

There are three levels in the case with custom cutouts. The lid holds a barrel and hand guard, and a space that could hold magazines came filled with a pair of safety glasses and ear plugs. The top level in the bottom of the case holds the lower receiver with attached stock. There is also room for a sight and another magazine. The bottom level holds another barrel that can be a different caliber and two more magazines for a total of four. The case also has room for a suppressor, if one has that sort of thing, and some other odds and ends. The spare barrel insert can be replaced with one that holds a pistol with seven magazines and other accessories. The foam inserts for the case are backed with a thick piece of plastic sheeting that has been cut on a bevel to prevent sharp edges. That’s a nice detail for all products and one often missed. My 1911, though, felt snubbed by the pistol insert which clearly shows the outline of a Glock, but I reassured it that about 30 seconds with an X-ACTO knife would make it very 1911 friendly.

The whole setup would make a wonderful prop for a spy movie, and you can get a Walter Mitty rush as you open the case and start assembling the rifle. Walter Mitty aside, it is easy to appreciate how nice this would be for low profile travel at any time and especially during a bug out situation. The case looks like something that should carry camera or computer equipment rather than an AR-15. It provides excellent protection for the rifle and gear to boot. These features also appeal to DRD’s law enforcement customers, who find them advantageous in today’s downsized cruisers as well as for motor officers.

The carbine I got is the CRD-15-556. I am also going to be able to test the .300 AAC Blackout version but will write that as an update at another time, as I have been having trouble laying in a sufficient supply of ammunition in that caliber.

My first response after popping open the case was to start putting things together. It is very obvious how to do it. You need to make sure the bolt is locked back so the barrel can seat, then line up the gas tube with the hole in the upper receiver, and slip the barrel on. There is a knurled barrel nut that you tighten. It was pretty stiff and hard to turn the first few times I tried. It was actually hard enough that I double checked the instructions just to be sure I wasn’t missing anything, but it was just the fact that it was new. After a few dozen assemblies, it goes together easily.

After securing the barrel with the nut, you slip the hand guard on over the barrel. It seats against the upper receiver, and there is a dovetail on it that lines up with a matching cut on the receiver. This assures that the hand guard is properly lined up and also keeps the hand guard from rotating the barrel nut, which could be a bad thing. There is a cross pin that snaps through the hand guard and engages in a slot on the barrel nut. Finally, you close a lever clamp on the hand guard that tightly secures everything together. It is adjustable, so should there be any wear down the road, you can make up for it. DRD says you can assemble the carbine in a minute or less, and I found that to be easily doable.

They warn not to let the bolt slam forward without a barrel installed, which seems pretty obvious to me, but it might not to some. The bolt seats in the barrel extension; when that isn’t mounted, you are slamming hardened steel into the aluminum charging handle and receiver. I decided to leave a short five-round magazine in the carbine just to be sure the bolt stayed back.

I was impressed with how solidly the carbine came together. The quality of finish is very high. The pistol grip and collapsible stock came from Magpul and show the expected Magpul quality. The pistol grip has a storage compartment, which is something I really appreciate. I like to stuff a few spare parts in it. The carbine I received to test included three Magpul magazines and two additional rails for the hand guard.

The hand guard is 13 inches long, made of aluminum and marked DRD Tactical. It free floats the barrel, which is a good thing as accessories and slings mounted on the hand guard can affect accuracy, if the barrel isn’t free floated. It takes Magpul MOE accessories, so you can festoon the carbine with all sorts of stuff or leave it slick. There is a full length rail on the top of the hand guard that has plenty of room to mount a front sight and other accessories along with a backup rear sight and scope or red dot sight. The Magpul accessories are a lightweight polymer, so they aren’t going to make it much heavier, thankfully. If you want, you can get covers for the rails to form a more conventional hand guard.

The upper and lower receivers are billet receivers. I’ve seen a lot of squabbling over which is better, billet or forged, and have concluded that, in the end, as long as they are made by competent manufacturers, you can get a great AR with either. DRD feels that since they can make a billet upper receiver thicker, it is more rigid which makes for a better carbine. One clear difference is that billet receivers usually look better and the process allows for some additional tweaks. DRD’s lower, for example, has a fixed trigger guard that is machined as an integral part of the lower receiver. Besides reduced complexity, I think it could make the receiver a bit stronger. It is probably easier to incorporate the dovetail that aligns the hand guard and upper receiver on a billet receiver. DRD makes their receivers in house on CNC equipment.

I noticed that the DRD upper uses the same threads as a standard upper, so you could use it for a conventional build if you wanted to. They sell the upper in a kit form, to allow you to build your own takedown rifle, as well as complete rifles and complete uppers.

I found that the upper and lower fit together quite well. You sometimes handle AR’s that have a lot of slop, which people correct with rubber wedges that fit in the lower. It is much nicer when that you don’t need that sort of thing, and the DRD receivers won’t.

The 5.56mm barrel is chrome lined and of the so-called “government” profile, which means it lacks the extra cuts ahead of the front sight base used for a grenade launcher. It is thinner under the hand guard than it is in front of the sight to save weight. It has a 1-7 twist, which is preferred by many, as it stabilizes the heavier bullets that have become more and more popular over the years. It is 16 inches long and fitted with what appears to be a standard A2 style flash hider. These are very effective, and when I’ve shot in night classes, seemed to work as well as some of the trendy, expensive models. The barrel is made for DRD by a major defense contractor I can’t name but one you would trust and respect.

The trigger on the DRD is pretty typical AR-15 with some creep, and it breaks at about 7.5 pounds. The various small parts all appear to be of high quality and well finished. No backup sights were provided. DRD says most of their customers prefer to select their own. The controls are for right-handed shooters.

It weighs just under seven pounds on my postal scale, which isn’t bad for a carbine with a 13-inch hand guard. My LMT M4 clone weighs in at 6.8 pounds with the lighter issue hand guards that don’t float the barrel or allow for attachment of accessories.

The bolt carrier group, a very critical component on the AR, is finished in nickel boron– a silver material that makes the parts slippery and longer lasting. It also makes them easier to clean. The extractor, ejector pins, and firing pin retainer pin are the only parts that don’t get this finish, as they are too small for the process. They are Parkerized, instead. The bolt is made of the military-specified Carpenter 158 alloy. The carrier key screws are staked, so they won’t come loose. It has the M16-style carrier, which is a good thing. The M16 carrier weighs more than the semi-auto version, which helps promote slower and more consistent cycling. The assembly is made for DRD by a major AR supplier.

I was pleased that DRD shipped the carbine with the bolt well lubricated. AR’s need lube in the action to function properly. Some argue that coatings like nickel boron don’t need lube, but I remain convinced that it is better to be safe and lube.

The carbine has a mid-length gas system. When AR’s with carbine length barrels first came out, the military wanted them to use the standard M16 bayonet. They were, therefore, fitted with the M16-style, front sight base that incorporates a bayonet lug. To use the standard M16 bayonet, the front sight base has to be rather far back from the muzzle. Since the front sight base also serves as part of the channel for the gas that operates the action, it forced the gas port to be located in what turned out not to be the optimal location. By moving the port about two inches forward with a mid-length system, the speed of operation is reduced, which improves functioning. It helps a lot in preventing the extraction issues that trouble some AR carbines. Most AR carbines on the civilian market use the carbine length gas system rather than the better mid-length one, despite the fact that very few of us even own a bayonet. Adding insult to injury, the civilian ones generally have 16-inch barrels, while the military ones have a 14.5-inch barrel. This means the bayonet doesn’t even fit properly. By relocating the sight base and adding a half inch to the barrel, there would be plenty of room for these civilian carbines to have the better mid-length gas system and properly fit a bayonet, as if that mattered one whit.

The DRD has a standard weight carbine buffer. Some argue that a heavier buffer is better, but the proof is in the function. If it works smoothly all the time and ejects cartridge cases into a relatively neat pile, then life is good and you don’t fret. The use of the mid-length system, in my view, reduces the need for a heavier buffer, which is intended to slow the operation of the action, the same thing the mid-length gas system does.

Overall then, the DRD looks like a pretty typical high-quality AR, save for that takedown lever on the right side of the hand guard, which reveals that there is, indeed, something different about it. The key question for me is “Does this takedown feature compromise the carbine in any way?” My biggest concern was how well the carbine would hold zero when the barrel is removed and reinstalled. My second was reliability and longevity, and the third was accuracy.

My first step was to simply fire a few rounds to give the parts a chance to settle in. The first 60 rounds were fired at a 15-yard indoor range, and there were no problems. I did note that the recoil seemed slightly milder and had a smoother impulse than my almost identically configured carbine with the carbine length gas system. My nine-year-old son mentioned the same thing without any prompting, so it wasn’t just me. I attribute this to the mid-length gas system.

I wanted to keep this barrel clean, since I’m evaluating accuracy and a clean barrel allows for more consistent testing. One perk of this system is that it makes cleaning easier. Since the upper becomes a much smaller part, it is easy to dunk it in solvent for cleaning. The barrel extension is hard to get spotless in a regular AR, but when you can just pop off the barrel, it is easy to get to the lugs and make sure they are perfectly clean. It also occurs to me to look for a small solvent tank that I could drop the barrel in for a good soak before cleaning.

The bolt cleaned easily, something I credit to the nickel boron coating. It is very slick, and dirt has trouble adhering to it. Since it is silver, it is easy to see if it is clean or not. Even the bolt tail came completely clean after applying some carbon solvent and doing a small bit of brushing. I did not have to resort to a scraper.

I decided to check the headspace while I had the bolt a part, as you have to remove the extractor and ejector to do it. It came out just about perfect. The Go gages for both .223 and 5.56 allowed the bolt to close, while the Field .223 and 5.56 maximum ones would not.

My next range trips were to longer facilities– one indoor and the other outdoor. I wanted to see what it could do at 100 yards. Again, there were no functioning issues. Like almost every AR with a 1-7 twist barrel, it liked Federal Gold Medal Match with the Sierra 69 grain MatchKing bullet. I got groups averaging about ¾ inches with a flier spreading each group to 1 to 1 ½ inches. I was using a Leupold 3.5-10x VXIII scope set at 10x. This was the most accurate load in this carbine, and the groups were quite good considering the shooter. Accuracy with an assortment of 55 grain soft point and full metal jacket loads ran from 2-3 inches which is typical for me shooting this style carbine. Remember that a better shooter than I am would cut these group sizes. I also think a match trigger would help.

I really wanted to see how well the rifle retained its zero when the barrel was removed and reinstalled, as there would be a real problem if you couldn’t count on it staying close. I was pleased to see that the zero didn’t change. One of the smallest groups I shot was when I was making this test. I had expected the hits to wander a bit, so I was surprised when it actually put them on top of the prior group shot without messing with the barrel.

Another concern I had about the takedown feature was the barrel nut loosening. A spokesperson for DRD says that it can loosen very slightly if you run a lot of rounds through the carbine, but the hand guard clamp keeps it from loosening enough to affect functioning. This appeared to be the case. I initially checked it between each five round group, and it stayed tight, but after sixty rounds without checking, I was able to snug it very slightly. It never seemed to get any looser than that during my shooting. I didn’t see any problems that arose from this. Something I would be tempted to do, however, is put a wrench in the kit to tighten the nut. It takes the same wrench as the castle nut, and if you wanted to be really fussy, you could include a torque wrench. DRD feels this isn’t necessary, and I have to agree with them despite my inherent fussiness.

Speaking of the castle nut, which holds on the buffer tube, it isn’t staked. DRD says they haven’t had problems with them coming loose and many of their customers prefer being able to take things apart without having to remove the stake.

Another thing I fretted over a bit (worrying is my hobby) was the gas tube on a disassembled barrel. DRD says that yes, they have had people bend them, but it sounded as if it was serious negligence on the users part. AR gas tubes are very rigid, and I decided that with reasonable care, this isn’t a problem.

DRD is going to let me keep this for a bit to do some more testing, so I plan to report back on it in both 5.56 and .300 AAC. I want to see how long it can go without cleaning (I’m hoping the bolt remains as easy to clean) and try a wider variety of ammunition in it, particularly some of the 62-64 grain bonded bullets and 77 grain match loads in .223.

I have enjoyed my experience with this carbine and am looking forward to spending more time with it. If it were mine, I would add ambidextrous controls, as my son and I are left-handed. I would also upgrade the trigger. I am not a great shooter and have found that a really good trigger helps me a lot. I am impressed enough to be looking for funds to buy one of their upper build kits. I think a .300 AAC might be the ticket for my son’s first hog hunting trip, and this would be a good way to build one.

DRD Tactical makes their rifles in Dallas, Georgia. The CDR-15-556 has an MSRP of $2091, but I noticed that you can find them on Gun Broker for around 20% less. The price may seem high, but when you compare it to similarly equipped premium AR’s (and add in the case) the price is in line. You also need to consider that it has billet receivers, which cost more to make. Add in the takedown feature, and you have a pretty good value.

DRD also has a similar line of rifles in .308 Winchester, as well as a new design takedown rifle with a folding stock that they are submitting for consideration to the U.S. Joint and Special Operations Program. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor, Scot Frank Erie

Recipe of the Week: Honey Lemonade, by T.C.

This is a recipe that I got from a local beekeeper for honey lemonade. It is delicious and simple to make.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cups water

Directions:

  • Mix all together in a blender.
  • Let chill and then enjoy.

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Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

Letter Re: Our Struggle With Survivalism

Hi Hugh,

I think it’s necessary to add a #10 to R.B.’s factors for experiencing pessimism:

10. A lot of people out there are waiting for some trigger event that will signal the start of a collapse. In reality, it has already occurred. That event has been the collapse of our government. We no longer have a government that upholds the rule of law. We are seeing epic lawlessness displayed by all of the government institutions. Our representatives and senators are truly ineffective against the growing power of a very, very small group of individuals who have control over very, very large government organizations. The DOJ has been completely corrupted at all levels. The NSA has taken what could be considered the culmination of human technology, the Computer Age, along with the once noble ability to find the “bad guys” out there and has churned it into a cesspool of corrupt political motives, blackmail, extortion, etc., etc., etc., that puts the East German Stasi to shame.

We are seeing one manufactured crisis after another. They are deadly, and someone is spending billions to get this all accomplished. The data coming in from all over the world which debunks the propaganda, the lies, lies, and more lies is constantly attacked by the NSA by scrubbing the data from the Internet and attacking/hacking truth sites. We see data, links, and evidence constantly tampered with by those that control the workings of the Internet. We now know that the high tech companies have been strong armed into engineering back doors into everything electronic for the purpose of NSA access. They CAN get into your computer. The only way to stop them would be to nuke them out of their caverns and have hi-tech companies rebuild the Internet with technology that would never allow this type of single-point control again. I don’t see that happening.

If you take a stand and expose political corruption, your computer is hacked, and your electronic communications are interfered with (trust me on this one). I believe we are at a point of no return. There is no curing the disease this country is infected with. It is too strong, too inaccessible, and too widespread. A country simply cannot exist under these circumstances. You cannot maintain a lawful country under an unlawful government. The citizens are SLOWLY waking up, and I believe this is why we are seeing an increase in events to create an environment where the government can clamp down and why we see a government hell-bent on building a domestic military and staging for an internal war.

THAT, and the ensuing fallout, is what I am preparing for. – P.B.

Odds ‘n Sods:

Here is a very important story for SurvivalBlog readers. A recent California court decision has stripped water rights from well owners, and the management of underground water supplies could now be regulated, if this court case is upheld. Expect meters and limits on water pumping “in the name of fairness” and to “protect this endangered species”. Court ends Private Property Rights: Lawsuit could expand state control of groundwater. – C.K.

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The District of Columbia Loses a key Handgun Control Federal Court Decision Tonight. – H.L.

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Nanny-State of the Week: Wisconsin Towns Fight Repeal of Bow Ban. – G.S.

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Man Says Police Wouldn’t Let Him Help His Dog After They Shot It. – B.B.

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NYPD Officer Loses Badge and Gun After Stomping on a Man’s Head . – T.P.