Notes for Tuesday – July 28, 2015

28 July 1914 It’s 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 until well into 1919.

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Camping Survival is having a moving sale with 30% off of Mountain House #10 cans. Backpackers pantry is also on sale.

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Today, we present another entry for Round 59 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,000+ worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate, good for any one, two, or three day 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. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hard case to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR type rifle to have quick change barrel, which can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools, and a compact carry capability in a hard case or 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  4. Gun Mag Warehouse is providing 20 Magpul pmags 30rd Magazines (a value of $300) and a Gun Mag Warehouse T-Shirt. (An equivalent prize will be awarded for residents in states with magazine restrictions.),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A pre-selected assortment of military surplus gear from CJL Enterprize (a $300 value),
  7. A Model 120 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $340 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  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. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $300 gift certificate, and
  12. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value).

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. The Ark Institute is 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,
  4. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  5. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  6. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate, and
  7. RepackBox is 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, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit,
  7. Montie Gear is donating a Precision Rest (a $249 value), and
  8. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 59 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.

Thoughts on Pre-Event Healthcare Preparations – Part 2 , by B.E.

Waste Elimination

When confronting sanitation issues, the basics are still the most important. Practicing good personal hygiene, such as bathing regularly and washing hands before handling food, eating, and after using the toilet, will prevent the spread of pathogens. However, sanitation can be over done. All these antimicrobial soaps and hand sanitizers are probably contributing to the emergence of MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus) and other resistant bacteria that are so prevalent in the news now days.

I don’t think the importance of waste elimination can be overemphasized, despite it not being a very palatable subject (no pun intended). In addition to treatment of drinking water, proper waste disposal is vital for maintenance of health in a grid down scenario. Assuming TEOTWAWKI will eliminate indoor plumbing, we may all be digging outhouses in the backyard.

So how does this translate into basic preps for the homeowner? Obviously, the answer is where will your waste disposal occur? I’m not suggesting you dig an outhouse in your back yard tomorrow, unless you already have a bug out location built and stocked. If that is the case, then you might want to consider a just-in-case alternative location for waste elimination. I’m talking about having at least a bucket with bags or sawdust that can be used indoors and having reviewed or printed off the information in the article from this website “An Essential Prep: The Outhouse, by KMH“.

I’m trying not to be redundant, but if you have at least considered where waste will occur in a scenario where you lack indoor plumbing you will be well ahead of the rest of the population. Just remember that any waste elimination should be at least 200 feet from a water source and that proper sanitation is a must for healthy living. In addition to thinking about water and sanitation from a healthcare standpoint, I suggest we all be proactive in getting our medical preps in order. There have been a number of excellent articles about first aid kits, so I would like to discuss other aspects of personal healthcare preparation.

Personal Healthcare Preparation

Medications

In addition to keeping accurate records of your vaccinations and health history in your bug out bag (so you don’t have to get that extra tetanus shot), I strongly suggest that anyone that is on daily medication have at least one to three months storage of the medication.

This can be difficult if you are on a fixed budget, especially with the prohibitive cost of pharmaceuticals. However, this can be accomplished a number of ways. The easiest and most obvious is to order your medication as a 90-day supply and always try and refill when you have a month left. Unfortunately, this method is subject to the whims of your insurance company (who continues to attempt to practice medicine without a license, but again I digress). If your insurance is such that a 90-day supply is not allowed, you may need to save up and buy a months worth of medicine at the same time you fill your insurance-covered prescription. If you are on multiple medications that are essential to your health, this may take a while to save up and buy with cash so you are always a month ahead.

Your health care provider should be willing to write an extra prescription or change to the 90-day supply if you talk with them and explain that you want to be ahead just in case of future money issues, disaster, travel, or unforeseen circumstances. If you don’t have a regular health care provider, you may need to establish a relationship with one before asking them to write for extra medication. Most health care providers don’t have a problem with this, as long as there is a standing relationship with the patient. Another method to increase your emergency supply would be to obtain an extra month or two from abroad. In particular, Mexico and South America prices are significantly less expensive on most medications. However, the controls that are in place to assure safety and efficacy of medications in the United States are not the same in other countries, so buyer beware. It will be important to have a prescription to show customs if you are asked when re-entering the country.

There is still another option, but it will only work with things that are multi-dose delivery medications, such as asthma medicines. Assume you are on albuterol; when you see your physician for your yearly check up, ask him to give you 12 refills and then make sure and refill your medicines every month whether you are out of the medicine or not, or if you are on a daily inhaled steroid, such as Flovent one puff once or twice each day, ask your doctor to write the prescription for two puffs twice per day, even if you are on a lower daily dose. That way you will get multiple months out of one prescription, and as you continue to fill the prescription every month you will quickly have your month reserve. Finally, ask if your provider has any samples, again explaining that you w ould like a few extra doses in case of unforeseen issues. Most physicians are more than happy to help you if they have samples of your particular medication.

Physical Health

Other personal medical preparation should involve resolving issues now that you have been having or ignored for multiple years.

I understand that most people don’t have time to go to the doctor, be referred to a specialist, get that bum knee or torn rotator cuff operated on, and then spend all that time rehabbing the injury. However, imagine what might happen if you continue to ignore the warnings your body has been giving you and all of the sudden there is not the medical care available to you that we take for granted. How are you going to survive in a world of no conveniences if that injury or illness gets so bad you can’t perform your share of the load or even handle the basic activities of daily living?

If you are the person that is refusing to get that physical exam, those tests that sound less than fun, address embarrassing concerns or nagging injuries, you probably would be better off stopping all of the preparation now and enjoy spending your resources on entertainment and frivolities before disaster strikes. You most likely will struggle in a post apocalyptic world with physical restrictions and just think how upset you would be knowing you could have fixed those things. I am not saying that those with physical disabilities are doomed; I’m saying if you have a physical issue that can be fixed, now is the time to see someone about it.

Dental Health

Now let’s talk about dental health maintenance. Can you imagine what life would be like when a dental visit isn’t possible? What will you do with the abscessed tooth, the cavity that is keeping you awake at night, the broken tooth, the heat/cold sensitive tooth? I hate mouth pain, so a deficiency in this healthcare preparation scares me more than others. I have read accounts of what passed for dental care prior to the invention of modern techniques, and I say “no, thank you” to pulling a tooth without anesthetic. My personal preparation in this regard is that I have made friends with a number of dentists in the hope that I would have a resource in TEOTWAWKI scenario :).

However, regardless if you make friends with a dentist or invite them into your preparedness circle, everyone should have optimal oral hygiene at all times, so that if an event occurs you aren’t already in trouble from an dental point of view. Routine dental maintenance while services are available is a must. Resolve those problems now; stop procrastinating.

Do your preparedness supplies include the ability to continue routine dental care after an event? Do ?ou have toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss? Do you have the means and correct tools to extract a tooth if you have to? What about a supply of numbing agent? Do you even have instructions on how one goes about extracting a tooth if necessary? There was an episode of The Deadliest Catch where a fisherman tries to extract his own tooth with pliers and ends up breaking the tooth. What would be worse, being stuck on the Bering sea with a sore tooth or a sore broken off tooth? Dentistry is a vocation and skill and when amateurs play at it, all sorts of bad things can happen, so I would also advocate that your cache include at least some form of written information on the management of dental problems (if you are unable to cache a dentist) so that you aren’t having to make it up as you go. We have purchased the book Where There Is No Dentist, but I’ll still be trading anything to my dentist friends for their help, if I have a real problem.

Physical Fitness

If you are the average American, you are likely overweight and out of shape. You might be under the assumption that you can procrastinate getting into shape in that you will be forced to get in shape with all the manual labor you will be doing once society falls apart. This is probably true; however, if you have to bug out or run from danger before all that manual labor forces you to get in shape, it probably behooves you to do something about your fitness level now.

A nutritionist I work with outlined the most common reasons we, as a nation, are out of shape and overweight.

  1. We eat out entirely too much. At most we should be eating out once per month.
  2. Every convenience and entertainment in our life promotes a sedentary life style. Find something active that you enjoy doing, and get out and do it. Exercise for the sake of exercise is rarely sustainable over the long haul, unless you enjoy the activity.
  3. We take second, third, and fourth helpings at each meal, or we require a dessert after every meal. If you eat like you should be managing your money i.e. living off of 75% of your take home pay, then you should eat until you are 75% satisfied.

Below are some standard charts of where you should be for optimal weight.

WeightCharts

Based on these charts, I should be at least 6 foot 4 inches tall; I’m not. While I think all the personal health preps are important, this one may be the one that saves your life in the first weeks after a disaster.

Letter Re: Radio Basics Presentation

Hugh,

This is in reference to the “Radio Basics Presentation” and the follow-up information from “W.A.

A few points of clarification on a CB myth that just will not go away.

CB radio actually has 40 channels. That’s it; there are just 40 channels.

There are two modes of transmission authorized on CB radio: Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Single Sideband (SSB). On any given channel you can select between the two modes of transmission. You can select AM mode or SSB. With SSB operation, you can select either the Lower Sideband (LSB) or the Upper Sideband (USB) mode. While this gives you the option of three different “modes” per channel, it does not change the fact that there are only 40 channels. When you spin the channel selector knob, regardless of what transmission mode you have selected, you still only see 40 channels on the display.

These 40 channels must be shared by everyone. AM and SSB signals do not mix. For practical purposes, there can only be one conversation on a channel at the same time. You cannot have two persons talking on AM mode, two persons talking on LSB, and two more persons talking on USB, all trying to use the same channel. It just doesn’t work.

CB radio manufacturers have used the sales pitch of “120 channels” in their advertising for years. And that’s all it is, a sales pitch or gimmick that falsely gives the impression that SSB operation gives you more channels. It doesn’t. There are only 40 channels.

Another sales gimmick: for years Radio Shack claimed their CB radios had “5-watts of power”. They don’t. Back when there were only 23 channels authorized for CB radio, the FCC regulations specified the output power could not exceed “5-watts input to the final amplifier stage”. This was a common measurement associated with tube-type radio equipment. When measured at the output connector on the back of the radio, most “5-watt input” CB radios had an actual output power of 3.5 to 3.8 watts.

When the FCC authorized 40 channels, it also updated the regulations to match the solid-state radios that had become the norm. The “5-watt input” regulation was changed to the far simpler “4-watt output” standard. But for years, Radio Shack continued to advertise their CB radios as having “5-watts”. The ads were careful not to mention “output power”, since that would imply violation of the FCC regulations. The Radio Shack CB radios all put out the maximum of 4-watts output power. The mention of “5-watts” was just advertising hype.

I also recall seeing a Midland CB radio advertised as having “7-watts of power!*”. But if you followed the asterisk down to the fine print, you saw that statement was clarified as “7-watts of audio power to the speaker”. While the extra audio power to the speaker might be helpful in a noisy truck cab, it has absolutely nothing to do with RF output power to the antenna. Again, it was just advertising hype. Buyer beware!

Since AM and SSB signals don’t mix well on the same channel, it is important to know where the SSB’ers hang out. After the 40 channels were authorized by the FCC, the SSB’ers moved up to Channels 36-40. Channel 36 LSB became the “calling channel” to monitor when attempting to make a SSB contact. Once contact was established, the conversation was often moved to Channels 37-40. AM operators who wandered onto one of the top five channels were often told bluntly that they were on a “SSB only” channel. This “gentleman’s agreement” limited the SSB operators to five channels, leaving the remaining 35 channels to the AM operators. Considering the far greater output power authorized for SSB operation, it was to the benefit of the AM operators to let the SSB operators have their five channels to operate on.

Another point of clarification: the 40 channels from 26.965 to 27.405 MHz are the ONLY authorized CB channels. Anything else is illegal. In like fashion, the authorized RF output power levels are 4-watts for AM radios and 12 watts Peak Envelope Power (PEP) for SSB radios. Anything above those levels is illegal.

The 40 CB channels can be crowded. There are a lot of folks sharing the same channels. It is similar to being in a crowded sports stadium packed with fans. The noise level can be deafening. However, with the crowd comes a degree of anonymity. It can be difficult for an eavesdropper to pick out your conversation with your buddy from all the other conversations going on. There is safety in numbers, especially if you blend in with the crowd and avoid drawing attention to yourself.

It therefore baffles me that there are so many people who like to run outrageous output power levels far in excess of the legal limits. Or they are fascinated by “freeband” operation on illegal channels below Channel 1 or above Channel 40. They use modified CB or Ham radios, or purchase “Export” CB radio models. The advertising for “Export” CB radio models hint that they are legal to own somewhere, as long as they are exported to that location. However, the fact is that “Export” CB radio models have a combination of channels, modes, power output, and other features that make them illegal in every single country in the world. There is no place on earth where they may be legally used.

What these people fail to realize is that by their actions they have left the crowded sports stadium and the anonymity of the crowd. They are now outside the stadium in a huge open field, wearing a red t-shirt and waving a red flag. They are easy to spot and to identify. A sweep of the radio spectrum above and below the 40 CB channels, using a shortwave receiver or spectrum analyzer, will quickly reveal their signals. Using excessive output power will really make the signal stand out. The concepts of OPSEC and maintaining a low profile have been completely eliminated. Your signal stands out like a nail sticking up from a board. Those are the very same nails that get hammered. If you want to survive WTSHF, you had better learn to not stick out. Don’t make it easy for the government monitoring stations to find you by operating out of band or with high power. Learn to blend in with the crowd. There is safety in numbers. – 73 de Sarge

News From The American Redoubt:

The Bard of the American Redoubt, Alex Barron of the Charles Carroll Society will be presenting how individuals can increase their online anonymity and security called the Patriot Darknet and an answer to soft tyranny called Soft Secession at the 3rd Annual Liberty Expo and film festival hosted at the Best Western Plus Coeur d’ Alene Inn deep in the American Redoubt. Come out and listen to various patriot speakers discuss the challenges to liberty in the Redoubt and nationally. Read more.

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Joint venture to develop new Bakken refinery

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Otter announces Idaho Cybersecurity Cabinet Task Force

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West Nile Virus detected in Grant County

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Sandpoint man’s family asks for answers in disappearance

Economics and Investing:

This is how much land prices have changed, and how much they haven’t – H.L.

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Fear Rises As Financial Markets All Over The Planet Start To Crash

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Pessimism Amongst Oil Traders Reaches 5 Year High

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Historically, When Junk Bonds Have Shown An Extreme Negative Divergence While Stocks Were Near Their 52-week Highs, Stocks Have Almost Unanimously Succumbed To Weakness As Well.

Odds ‘n Sods:

NC mandates chicken registration – G.G.

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Apparently now cooking outside is illegal? – E.M.

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Fundamental Change – Military Recruitment Centers in Obama’s America…

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A lighthearted, satirical video series on liberty: Love Gov: From First Date to Mandate personifies the increasing folly, cost, intrusiveness, and absurdities of Big Government in the lives of everyone. While it is presented in a lighthearted manner, it tackles a serious issue and hopefully increases awareness among the often clueless “Millennials”.

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The Coming Enslavement of Communism – T.P.

Scot’s Product Review: CMMG Mutant Mk47 AKM

If you like the 7.62x39mm Russian cartridge but aren’t a fan of the AK47 or SKS, CMMG may have just the rifle for you. At first glance it looks like an AR, but the second look tells you something is different. They call it the Mutant because, while it uses a lot of the basic AR platform, both the upper and lower receivers are unique as they were re-sized for the cartridge and to use the AK magazine. In other words, it is not a standard AR by any means though some parts will interchange, like the trigger group, safety, and stock. It does, however, operate much like an AR, other than changing the magazine.

The Mutant answers the need for a more potent weapon than the AR15. Many feel that the cartridge native to the AR, the .223 Remington/5.56x45mm NATO, just doesn’t hit hard enough. While the round has dropped many a target over the last 50 plus years, there have been many stories of failures. The round started off touted as an amazing killer in the early days of Vietnam with stories of ripping enemy soldiers into shreds. These effects were usually attributed to the bullet yawing, tumbling, and fragmenting through the target. We later, however, heard stories that it was a failure when it didn’t do those things and all you got was a neat .22 caliber hole that didn’t impress enemies very much. The failure stories grew as time passed. New loadings, like the M855 with a 62-grain bullet that replaced the original 55 grain M193 load, appeared to fail far more often. Complaints from soldiers in the Blackhawk Down street battle in Mogadishu in 1993 confirmed to many that there was indeed something wrong.

Shortening barrels hasn’t helped. The AR originally had 20-inch barrels, but the current M4 has a 14.5-inch one. Even shorter barrels are used for special purposes. Every shortening of the barrel means lost velocity, which reduces the likelihood that the bullet will yaw on impact.

Curiously, according to Army surveys on weapons, while one soldier is very happy with his weapon and ammunition, the next is terribly disappointed. One line of reasoning for this conundrum surfaced in reading about Dr. Gary Roberts’ work on the Internet. Roberts is a dental surgeon and Navy Lt. Commander who has spent a lot of time researching wound ballistics. He is a consultant to many governmental organizations and shares some of his work with the rest of us. He noted that while some M4’s will stabilize the bullets better than others, some bullets are less likely to yaw on impact. With no yaw, you get a marginal wound.

Another issue has been performance through barriers, such as auto glass. Small, fast, light bullets often end up passing through barriers, and bullet bits don’t do much to bad guys. Shooting into cars came up a lot in the Middle East, where the car bomb is a weapon of choice.

Some argue that loading it with the right bullet is the answer, and there has been a lot of research to develop better ones. Some researchers look for bullets that don’t need to yaw on impact, while others look for bullets that yaw and tumble reliably. One of the new loads the MK262 with a 77-grain match bullet is used by our special ops troops and anyone else who can get them. While they still have problems getting through barriers, the commentary from the war zones has been very positive on their performance. There are also bullets designed to pass through barriers and still hit hard enough to do damage. These include the MK318 Special Operations Science and Technology (SOST) round with a 62-grain bullet. Reports from the Mideast say that it has been used effectively by Marines in combat and is now their round of choice.

Besides improving the .223 cartridge, there have been a number of efforts to get more powerful cartridge with larger bullets into the AR. Two results have been the 6.8mm SPC and .300 AAC Blackout. The 6.8 developed out of a military desire to get as much reach and impact from the AR platform as possible. The .300 round focused more on optimum performance in short-barreled rifles and the ability to use subsonic ammunition for quiet operation with suppressors. The .300 Blackout has acquired a devoted following among hog hunters.

Both rounds appear to work well and have strong supporters. The chief problems both face is scarcity and cost. While both function in a standard AR receiver, they obviously require new barrels. The 6.8 also needs a different bolt and magazines. If you could easily get ammunition, especially low cost stuff for practice, I think these rounds would be far more popular.

One other drawback with the Blackout is that a few people have managed to chamber them in .223 rifles. The results are not pretty. After I pulled out the firing pin, I tried it in the DRD Tactical http://survivalblog.com/scots-product-review-drd-tactical-cdr-15-556/ I reviewed last year and the bolt would not close, but this was with factory ammo and crimped bullets. If a bullet weren’t crimped or the case had weak neck tension, the bullet might be pushed deeper into the case and the cartridge could chamber. This scares the dickens out of me, and I try to avoid having a .223 and a .300 AAC in operation at the same time.

There is, however, another cartridge that many think ideal in this size weapon; it’s the 7.62x39mm Russian used in the SKS and AK47. It hits harder than .300 Blackout by about 200 feet per second (FPS) to boot. The problem has been getting it to function in the AR, which was made for a smaller, differently shaped cartridge. You have probably noticed that the AK magazine has a lot more curve than the AR magazine. This has to do with the cartridge being tapered more than the .223 Remington. Trying to feed the 7.62 through an AR-shaped magazine has not been completely successful, and the AR magazine well precludes adding more curve to the AR magazine.

Another problem is the bolt. The case head of the Russian round is much larger than the .223, and when you mill out the bolt face to take the 7.62 you are left with a lot less bolt. That affects the robustness of the rifle.

One might ask why not just toss the AR and get an AK? That’s a good question and certainly a good answer for many. I recently spent a fair amount of time with an AK and found that many of my prejudices towards the weapon were unfounded. That said, I find the ergonomics of the AR much better for me, particularly the operation of the safety. I also think the AR design is more accurate, which was born out in this test. We can debate how much accuracy one needs in a defensive rifle, but in the end it is sort of like money. It is hard to have too much, though we don’t want to compromise ourselves to get it.

Oh yeah, there is also the matter of optics. Putting them on the AK is expensive and many mounts don’t hold zero. That’s a huge advantage for the AR.

The idea of an AR that shoots 7.62×39 is appealing to many, however, and CMMG has overcome the two key issues– the magazine and the bolt– by building an AR-based rifle with unique parts to provide robustness and function.

The key to solving the magazine and bolt issues was new upper and lower receivers. Stock AR15 or AR10 receivers simply can’t take an AK magazine and if they were to make the bolt the optimum size for the Russian round, the AR15 one is too small, and the AR10 one is longer than necessary. It is the same sort of problem Goldilocks faced with porridge. She wanted it just right and so did CMMG.

CMMG, therefore, designed new receivers to take a shortened AR10 bolt carrier group and the AK magazine. They used computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines to make them from a billet of 7075-T-6 aluminum. This means taking a solid chunk of forged aluminum and using the machines to cut away everything that isn’t receiver. AR receivers are usually forged into the shape of the receiver by beating on hot metal. They then receive relatively minor machining to make them into guns. Forging receivers, however, requires a lot of serious industrial equipment, and there are very few companies in the U.S. equipped to do it. Getting someone to make the unique receivers CMMG needed by forging would have been very expensive, and CNC offered a way to get them at reasonable cost.

People argue a lot about one process being better than the other. Some say that a forging is stronger, while others poo poo that point and note that a CNC receiver can be more precisely made than a forging. The forging backers counter that while tolerances matter, forging is good enough and they point to all of the fine AR’s made their way. I’m of the mind, after reading arguments from both sides, that either process can make excellent rifles. The one point I will give the CNC folks is that the finish is usually prettier on their products and they can easily incorporate things like flared magazine wells or just more style if they feel like it.

One of the great things about the Mutant is that it takes a lot of standard AR15 parts, including the fire control group. If you want a different trigger or safety, just head to your favorite dealer and ante up. It also uses standard AR furniture.

Once CMMG solved the receiver problems, they turned to the bolt carrier group. Like the receivers, it is a hybrid. It uses the bolt from an AR10 to get the diameter they feel is needed for reliability and strength, while the AR10 carrier is shortened to no longer than needed to function with the cartridge. They could have simply put it in a full-sized AR10, but then they would have had a heavier, bulkier rifle. Since they brought the whole thing in at 7.2 pounds, I think they did a good job. It is a rare AR10 that is this light, and I have handled a lot of AR15’s that are heavier despite shooting a weaker round. It is also lighter than most AK’s which run close to 8 pounds.

The Mutant is well equipped out of the box, though it lacks iron sights. Many users will want a specific sight, so rather than hang something on it you might throw away, CMMG leaves it up to you to get what you want.

I really like the excellent 15-inch KeyMod handguard CMMG uses. It is made of a lightweight aluminum alloy and has a full length Picatinny rail on the top that lines up with the one on the upper receiver. There is plenty of room for your scope and sights exactly where you want them. The front sight can be almost at the muzzle, extending sight radius to improve accuracy. There is plenty of extra space for lasers or night vision if you have them. On the sides and bottom are rows of holes on which you can hang a number of KeyMod accessories.

KeyMod, by the way, is a shared standard created by Vltor Weapons Systems and brought to market by Noveske Rifle Works. Vltor and Noveske placed the standard into the public domain, and other companies jumped on the bandwagon making products that can share attachments. This was of great benefit to users and generous of Vltor and Noveske. The idea is to have keyhole-like slots cut into handguards that can be used to attach accessories. This makes for a far lighter system than covering the handguard with Picatinny rails. It is also more comfortable to hold onto.

The two main things you will probably put into those slots will be an attachment point for a quick detachable (QD) sling swivel and some strips of Picatinny rail for a light and switch. Some versions of the CMMG handguard have QD holes present, but this one didn’t. You can also get adapters for bipods and grips. By only adding enough mounting points for what you actually need, you save weight and make the rifle sleeker to handle.

One thing these handguards don’t do as well as the old fashioned ones is protect you from heat, but you can get lightweight covers to shield you.

The handguard free floats the barrel, which means it transfers no pressure to the barrel from the sling or the hardware you hang on it. This may or may not make the rifle more intrinsically accurate (I think it does but some don’t); it does make it more consistent. Pressure on the barrel can affect where the bullet goes, and if you vary the pressure you get different points of impact. Heating can also affect consistency, and again a free floated barrel will react more consistently.

The stock is a very nice Magpul MOE. It is comfortable and works well. I find them harder to get off the rifle than an issue one, though. You have to kind of pull while poking into a catch to get it off, but it doesn’t have to come off very often.

The pistol grip is also Magpul MOE, and I like the way it feels. It has a storage compartment to hold stuff, and there are optional inserts to hold specific things like batteries, spare parts, or lube. I wish the compartment cover was retained to the grip, however. Since there are interchangeable covers to hold different items, they have to be removable, but I’m clumsy and drop stuff in the dirt. A detachable strap might be good to retain it.

One thing the Mutant shares with its AK sibling is the lack of bolt catch. Apparently the communists felt their troops didn’t need to be warned they had run dry by the bolt locking back, so they left that off. That means the magazines don’t provide a means to put this feature into a rifle that uses them. I wish, however, there was a manual bolt lock back, as sometimes it is nice to lock a weapon open. Many ranges desire just that during target change times.

Another problem is that when you run dry and get a click, you have to run the bolt to chamber a new round. That takes more work than hitting the bolt release on an AR and gets us to one feature I think CMMG really needs to work on. The charging handle is the same size you find on a stock AR and is for right-handed shooters. The larger shape of the Mutant receiver further complicates the matter so it is harder than the one on a standard AR. You can replace the latch on the handle with a larger one, but since the Mutant has a unique length charging handle, you can’t just dump it and upgrade to an ambidextrous handle.

The trigger on the sample I’m reviewing is the best trigger I’ve encountered on an AR. It is 5.5 pounds, which isn’t light, but it is clean and crisp, which makes it very manageable for a defensive or hunting weapon. It’s the first AR I’ve handled that didn’t make me want to immediately send money to Geissele for a new trigger. If all of them are this good, praise be.

The gas system is direct impingement, just like normal AR’s. That means gas goes directly into the bolt to start things moving. Many don’t like this, as it puts dirt into the action. A piston gun would keep fouling out of the action, but at the cost of more parts and weight. I’ve listened to target shooters explain that the less mass you have bouncing around, the more accuracy and consistency you can get from a rifle. I use both types of rifles and find either to work well, though I prefer cleaning a piston gun. It is not a deal breaker for me either way.

The barrel is 16.1 inches long to keep it from needing federal approval and has a muzzle brake fitted that worked well at reducing muzzle jump and recoil. This is at the cost of more flash and blast, however. If it were mine, I would probably eventually get around to replacing it with a flash hider, as I hate blast and flash. It would bounce around more, but I don’t find the recoil of a 7.62×39 bothersome. One needs to consider their own priorities on this point, of course.

So how does the thing shoot? Quite well, in fact. I tried seven loads and was very pleased with accuracy. I used my Leupold Vari-X III 3.5-10x50mm set at 10x at 100 yards in an indoor range. Groups were analyzed with OnTarget software, which allows you to scan a target and input the location of the bullet holes. It then computes the center to center distance from the two that are the farthest apart. This measurement is what we usually see when people talk about group sizes. It also gives us the average to center, which may be more useful as it tells us how far from our aiming point our shots will land on average. It then provides the group height and width, which can tell us if there is a pattern other than round. I would like to have perfectly round groups, but I often see tall or wide ones instead.

The Winchester PowerPoint was the best load I tried for accuracy, and it was nice to find it is well regarded for hunting and self-defense. This is brass cased, reloadable ammo.

The second best was Silver Bear soft points in steel cases you can’t reload, but when you can find it, it is usually quite inexpensive. I haven’t found much information on its effectiveness for hunting or self-defense, however.

The groups gradually widened from that point, and the worst was only 3.4 inches center to center, which is quite acceptable accuracy for a defensive carbine. I was hoping for better from this load, however, as it is the Hornady SST in steel cases, which makes it fairly cheap and it is well regarded for hunting. I had a flier in both of groups I fired, which badly affected the numbers. It is possible I pulled the shots, but I thought I was doing okay, so I left them in. Without the fliers, this would have been the most accurate load.

I shot two five shot groups with each load and used the worst for the report.

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Besides shooting off the bench in an air-conditioned range, I took it outdoors in the hostile southeastern heat and humidity and blew through about 300 rounds running drills. Other than magazine changes and a bit more recoil, it was much like running an AR in .223. I found magazine changes slower and more awkward than with an AR. The AR magazine drops when you hit the release, and the new one goes straight in. If the bolt is locked back, you hit the bolt release and go. With the Mutant or AK, you have to push a lever that hangs down behind the magazine and rock it out. You then rock in a new one and if the gun has been run dry, run the bolt.

To me, it is clear the AR is simpler to reload, but it is also clear from watching good shooters handle AK’s that the time gap can be small. Skill matters the most.

I was slightly slower on splits with the Mutant due to the recoil, but that is to be expected. Since you are hitting harder, you probably don’t need to hit as often.

One issue that came up was that this rifle did not like the steel communist magazines I have. They are Bulgarian, Polish, and Rumanian. They all worked well in an AK, so there is some issue with them and the CMMG. The Rumanian magazine does not want to go in at all. The Bulgarian will go in partially loaded, but the more rounds you put in it the harder it is to seat, and at 30 rounds it is almost impossible to get in. The Polish magazine would seat, but I had six feeding failures. CMMG’s spokesperson assured me the rifle is intended to work with all AK magazines, so I presume this is a problem with this individual rifle and these particular magazines and that CMMG would take care of it. This rifle was not new and had been through the hands of several other writers and that might have been a factor. If you are buying one over the counter, it might be a good idea to check if this matters to you. Some other reviewers have had no issue with any magazines, while others have also identified individual magazines that wouldn’t work.

On the other hand, it was absolutely perfect with the polymer Magpul MOE magazines that came with it and a Tapco 20 round polymer magazine. If it were me, I would be very, very happy with the Magpul ones. They are lighter than steel and won’t rust. My steel ones started rusting on the way home from the range the first time I used them (and to be fair, sweated on them.)

I was very impressed with this rifle. It is making me do a lot of hard thinking about defensive long guns. I have always enjoyed shooting the AR, and as the system has gotten more modular and easier to adapt to one’s needs I have grown very fond of it. I think the 7.62×39 hits harder at the ranges most of us can realistically require for self-defense or hunting. A .30 caliber bullet simply makes more sense to me for medium game. I’m looking back and forth between the CMMG and my AR’s and wondering if I should make a switch.

The only drawback to the Mutant is price. Getting it right wasn’t inexpensive. The base model Mk47 T goes for $1,499.95 list. It is basically the same gun as the Mk47 AKM tested here, but has a standard AR stock and pistol grip rather that the upgraded Magpul furniture. The Mk47 AKM lists for $1,649.95. The top end Mk47 AKM2 adds the very nice Geissele SSA trigger and goes for $1,849.95. All three models get the excellent handguard. I do note that they can be found for about $200 less on Gun Broker.

It would be easy to justify getting the entry model and upgrading later as it wouldn’t cost anymore and would give you some spare parts. You can, however, get a decent AR or AK in the $500-700 range these days. If you are just starting out on your defensive battery and like the 7.62×39 cartridge, you could always get an AK, a bunch of Magpul magazines, and ammo and upgrade to the Mutant later, and either sell the AK or keep if for a backup. If you value accuracy and ergonomics, you will be drawn to the Mutant.

– SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor, Scot Frank Eire

Pat Cascio’s Product Review: Kershaw Knives – Launch 1

We have Hollywood to thank for portraying automatic knives as being demonized by not only states laws and statutes but fed gov laws, too. I don’t know where the term “switch blade” came from, and it is puzzling when you think about it. The blade doesn’t “switch” when you open it, does it? No, the blade on an automatic folder flings open when you press a button on the handle of the knife. However, for some strange reason, the ill-informed still call automatic opening folding knives “switch blades” for some reason, and they believe, stupidly, that an automatic opening folding knife is more dangerous than other folding knives. To be sure, back in the 1950s, “switch blade” knives were all the rage in my neighborhood in Chicago. Quite honestly, they were junk imports from Italy that you couldn’t slice butter with, unless the butter was warmed, and they all had a “Stiletto” blade, which is only good for poking not even worthy of the term “stabbing”, if you ask me. Still, if you were a gang member, you had to pack a “switch blade” knife.

It is illegal to import automatic opening knives into the USA. However, that doesn’t stop importers from importing the knives in kits and then assembling them here, or adding a spring and push button once the knives arrive on our shores. I’ve examined literally hundreds of cheaply made imports, most from China and some from Italy, that were made into an automatic opening folder. Every last one was junk, plain and simple! If you applied any up or down or side-to-side force on the blade, they would either break or the blade would come apart from the handle of the knife. Also, there was no putting any kind of an edge on those blades. It couldn’t be done. They were dull, and stayed dull.

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Many police officers, including my home state of Oregon, still believe that an automatic knife is illegal to own, and they still arrest people for carrying them in Oregon, only to have the cases dropped before going to trial or dismissed when they do go to trial. There are several knife companies in Oregon that produce automatic opening knives. If they were illegal, they would sure know about it and stop making ’em. However, in Oregon, it is a little bit tricky when it comes to actually carrying an automatic opening folder. It can’t be “concealed” in your pocket; it has to be “showing” in some manner; if that means a pocket/clothing clip, that’s fine. If that means it is carried in a belt sheath, that’s fine, too, even if the belt sheath is actually covered by a jacket it is still legal. Go figure out this stupid interpretation of the law. I’ve gotten into more than a few polite conversations with police officers who still stupidly believe owning or carrying an automatic opening folding knife is illegal, and I point them to the Internet and have them look it up themselves. The Oregon Supreme Court ruled that automatic opening folding knives are covered by the laws referring to owning “arms”, just like firearms.

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Kershaw Knives was started in 1974, by Pete Kershaw, and his company rapidly gained a reputation for manufacturing some outstanding cutlery. In 1977, the KAI Group from Japan saw what was happening and made Pete Kershaw an offer to purchase his growing business, and as they say, the rest is history. Over the years, Kershaw Knives www.kershawknives.com have won numerous awards, including, but not limited to: Overall Knife Of the Year, Knife Collaborations Of The Year, Most Innovative American Design, and Kitchen Knife Of the Year, just to mention a very few of their awards. Here’s a little tidbit of information; KAI in Japan makes most of the razor blades we use; no company makes more razor blades. So, no matter what name is on your razor blade package, there’s a good chance it was made by the KAI Group. For those who don’t realize it, Zero Tolerance knives are a division of Kershaw Knives. The ZT knives are rough use knives, designed for professional use. They are overbuilt and super-tough! One last thing, Kershaw has a lifetime warranty on their knives, and they mean it; it’s lifetime! If there is a defect, they will correct it or replace it in their products. That includes those made in the USA and those made in China as well.

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I recently received the Kershaw Launch 1 automatic opening folder for testing, and here’s a quick run down on the specs. It is made in the USA. The blade steel is CPM154, a powdered blade steel that is very uniform and takes and holds an edge. The blade is black wash finish for a nice subdued and tactical look, as are the Aluminum handle scales. The blade length is 3.4 inches long, with an overall length opened right at eight inches. The knife only weighs four ounces; it’s a light weight, to be sure. The pocket/clothing clip is reversible, too, which is nice! The spring used to kick the blade open is super strong; once the button’s pressed, the spring really flings that blade open in a split second. I played with opening and closing the sample I had hundreds and hundreds of times, yet there were no failures to open or for the blade to stay locked open, solidly! The button for opening the knife is slightly recessed, so you don’t have to worry about the blade opening in your pocket. I’ve been there and done that, with some other automatic knives.

Now, keep this in mid, the Launch 1 is made in the USA at the Kershaw plant in Tualatin, OR, and you can glean information on this knife on their website. However, you can NOT place an order for one. Automatic opening knives are strictly regulated by FedGov laws. You can only purchase this knife from an authorized Kershaw stocking dealer, and if the laws in your state say you can’t have it, you can’t have it. There are exceptions made for police and military personnel. That’s something you need to check into, if you want to purchase the Launch 1, and they have several other Launch models, too. Once more, automatic opening folding knives are strictly regulated!

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I tested the Launch 1 for about two weeks, using it for all manner of cutting chores on my digs, as well as around the kitchen, mostly slicing and dicing veggies. I actually did a little bit of “whittling”. For those who don’t know what that is, it is a simple thing to pass the time of day. When I was a kid, you’d always see adults and kids sitting on their front stoop, whittling on a piece of wood, just shaving thin slices off the wood to pass the time of day. Guess what? Yep, no one called the police on you for having a knife. Today’s youth are missing out on this. Instead, they spend their free-time playing video games or texting on their cell phones. To me, back in the day, it was just plain fun to sit there with friends or my grandfather, whittling on a piece of wood all day long. Go figure, huh?

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The Launch 1 isn’t designed for heavy-duty use. Instead it is an everyday folder, one you’d use for opening mail or packages, cutting some rope, and simple chores like that. Many people mistakenly believe that in order for a knife, whether fixed blade or folder, to be a “survival knife” it has to have saw back teeth on it, have a blade at least a foot long, and be able to rip open the engine block on a V8! Most “survival” type chores are everyday tasks that requires a good, well-made folding knife. I’d have a hard time “surviving” through a single day without some kind of folding knife on my person. I’m always using a knife for cutting open a box from USPS, FedEx, or UPS or for chores around my small homestead.

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If you can legally own an automatic opening folding knife, take a close look at the Launch 1 from Kershaw Knives. I think you’ll like it; it’s light-weight, plenty sharp, has a great steel blade, locks-up tight when opened and closed, and it has a lifetime warranty too. Its full retail is $159.00, and that’s not a bad price at all for Kershaw quality and for a superior automatic opening folding knife. Always check your local, state, and federal laws regarding ownership of automatic knives. Luckily, I live in Oregon, and we can own and carry automatic folders, even if most police officers don’t think we can.

– Senior Product Review Editor, Pat Cascio

Recipe of the Week: Luscious Chocolate Sauce, by C.S.

This recipe yields about 2-2 ½ cups of sauce.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Put condensed milk, chocolate, and salt in the top of a double boiler. Add water to the lower portion and heat water to boiling.
  2. Cook contents over rapidly boiling water, stirring often, until thick (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat.
  3. Slowly stir in hot water to desired constancy.
  4. Stir in vanilla extract; remove from heat and cool to use in recipes or as topping.

Note: If you have any leftover sauce, refrigerate it. If it becomes thicker than you like, just add more HOT water and thin to desired consistency.

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Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

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

Letter Re: Uncommon Calibers

Hugh,

I can respectfully understand one reason that someone would switch to a non-standard unpopular cartridge; hear me out on this one. I don’t want to start an argument about what is better; I just want to say whatever you have at hand that you can hit a target with might be what’s best for you! Whatever works for you is what you might want to stock up on. It’s always cheaper to have common stuff, but it might not be your best solution.

Consider my situation. I found out this year that I have carpel tunnel and my right hand has nerve damage, after years of doing computer-related work. I started noticing that my hands would become painful upon waking up and even get numb at times during the day.

I used to carry (concealed a Sig P290 or Ruger P95DC 9mm or a heavy 357 Ruger GP100 357) but realized that the recoil wasn’t doing my hands any favors (and I noticed that I’m shooting a lot less also). I realized I had zero issue shooting a 22, due to no recoil at all, and so I decided that I needed to read up and research 22 for self defense. (It’s not an idea I accepted at first, for obvious reasons.)

Then I stumbled on to this, and this article made me take a look and decide the merits of shelling out the cash.

The five seven pistol has a 20 round standard magazine, and the PS90 carbine has a 50 round standard magazine along with an Eotech sight and 3x magnifier that makes shooting easier on the hands and quick follow up shots due to almost zero recoil!

Both the pistol and carbine are as comfortable as shooting a 22 magnum. The down sides are it’s expensive to purchase and feed and not every shop carries the ammo, but ammo is always something I stock up on when I can find it anyhow out of habit. You really can’t reload this cartridge because of the FN special lube they use on the cases, so it’s something to consider if you have been into reloading your own. :/ (I found that the American Eagle co doesn’t use the FN lube making their ammo jam on the last round out of a full 50 round mag, yet only on the carbine is this problematic. It’s 100% reliable on the pistol, so it’s not really an issue. It’s just more of something to be aware of!)

I wish I could locate a good source for a P90 cleaning kit that used to come standard (hidden in the stocks) in the early model P90s (the full auto, class 3, short barreled version of this carbine). I can’t find them anywhere inexpensive. It’s not like you can call FN in Belgium and ask the manufacturer for the extras, but I guess a boresnake will do just fine for cleaning anyhow. The blue boxes are $30 each, so figure that it’s $30 to fill up one 50 round mag and that’s kind of a pricey option. On a good note, I can conceal the pistol and use the same ammo in the carbine. You could carry this carbine concealed in a backpack if you needed to. (So that’s a plus over a full-sized rifle.)

Oh, another thing I just thought of, my wife enjoys shooting the PS90 in this configuration since she can hit a cigarette pack-sized target at 50 yards all day with this setup.

On that note, I wish you well and hope that whatever you decide to choose as your personal cartridge of choice is one you can use most effectively when you most need it. This kind of thing is a personal choice that you have to decide what is best for your shooting ability.

(I still have my 5.56 AR platform, so don’t discount using something very popular either.) I think there is merit in knowing that you can and will likely find 5.56 or 9mm in bad times on the bad guys and the underground market. I’m pretty certain I will not find 5.7x28mm on all but SWAT and some big city police officers who carry the duty pistol (five seven MK2 or officers model), if I can find it at all.

So knowing that, plan accordingly to stock up on your hard-to-find ammo now, while you can get it (if you can actually find it today). – Fitzy in Pa

Economics and Investing:

Default Nears: UBS’s Puerto Rico Bond Funds Implode, “Collateral Value” Drops to Zero, Investors Screwed – H.L.

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Credit card debt makes up for lack of income growth: Credit card debt outstanding back up to $900 billion. Since 1980 household income up 300% while credit card debt up 1,760%.

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Could Another Great Financial Crisis Be Just Around The Corner?

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1.5 Million Teens Don’t Think They Can Get a Job In This Economy

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Oil Price Rout Set To Inflict Real Pain On Russia