Notes for Tuesday – October 21, 2014

Release Day for Liberators!

Liberators Cover

My latest novel Liberators: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse was released today (Tuesday, October 21, 2014) by E.P. Dutton. I hope that you’ll enjoy reading it. It is the longest book in the Patriots novel series, and it ties together many characters from the previous installments. This novel describes both a harrowing and lengthy cross-country journey from the DC Beltway to Idaho, as well as many adventures in western Canada, as the nation suffers two waves of foreign invasion. This novel has an emphasis on intelligence analysis and resistance warfare tactics.

In addition to the hardcover edition, there is also an e-book and audiobook of Liberators being released today. (The audiobook was expertly narrated by Eric G. Dove.)

If you plan to buy any copies for Christmas gifts, then please order them today. That will help push the book into the top 20 on Amazon’s sales ranks. Many Thanks! – JWR

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Today, we present another entry for Round 54 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The $12,100+ 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. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 Nato QD Billet upper with a hammer forged, chromlined barrel and a hardcase 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 then 1 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 Warehouseis providing 30 DMPS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448.95) 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 $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear,
  7. A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from (a $300 value),
  8. A $300 gift certificate from Freeze Dry Guy,
  9. A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo,
  10. A roll of $10 face value in pre-1965 U.S. 90% silver quarters, courtesy of, (currently valued at around $180 postpaid),
  11. Both VPN tunnel and DigitalSafe annual subscriptions from Privacy Abroad (a combined value of $195),
  12. is donating both an AquaBrick water filtration kit and a Stainless Medium Scout Kelly Kettle Complete Kit with a combined retail value of $304,
  13. 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,
  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 (a $270 value),
  8. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value),
  9. is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  10. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  11. 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. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances,
  6. 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
  7. APEX Gun Parts is donating a $250 purchase credit, and
  8. is donating a $500 gift certificate to their store.
  9. Montie Gearis donating a Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack. (a $379 value).

Round 54 ends on September 30st, 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.

Five Things You Need To Do To Be Prepared To Defend Yourself, Family, and Home, by E.W.

  1. Buy weapons, not just guns.

    You’ve heard the expression “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. This applies to the realm of tools for defending yourself, your family, home, and neighborhood. Put simply, you need to buy weapons and not just guns. Then, you need to know how to use them.

    Simply purchasing a battle carbine or several different firearms and a bunch of ammunition is not a complete approach to the solution of personal defense. It may be a good start, but there’s more to this whole thing.

    One way to think of this is geographically. Battle conditions are continually determined by geography. Geography determines distance of engagement, use of cover, available resources, and so forth. If you are in a parking complex and find yourself facing an attacker with a knife, the nature of the situation and geography dictates certain things about your options for handling the problem. If you’re in a parking complex, you’re probably going to or from work in the city. This means you probably don’t have the practical option of a good carbine but instead may be able to use a handgun. A parking garage means relatively shorter distances, and the nature of that attack also suggests close engagement. Close distances shorten the amount of time you have to react. Is there cover or are there obstacles you can use to buy yourself some time? Probably, and if you can then you should.

    By contrast, the problem of defending your home and neighborhood presents a different set of dilemmas but also some advantages. This is why different crises require different approaches and often different tools, even when the basic threat and basic goals are the same.

    The best remedy is prevention. This applies in defense. If you can keep the problem from happening in the first place, you are much better off. Here’s an example: You are worried about your home being approached from the back through your alleyway. What can you do to limit access and alert you or your neighbors to the approach of a potential threat? This is where you need to look at the situation and the resources, while being realistic and creative. Falling a tree across the alley at the end of the block with your chainsaw or hand cross cut saw and axe (you have these, right?) can be an effective deterrent to vehicles and is probably a good option. It’s not going to stop most people on foot, however, and can’t be expected to solve the potential problem alone. What else could be done in this situation? If you can’t keep everything and everyone out, at least you want to know when someone approaches. You might rework a trail camera to alert you when it detects movement, or you could go low tech and set up a hidden trip wire alert device. Have you studied on how to do this type of thing? The overall point is planning and preparation. The idea is to work smarter, not harder, as they say.

    If the situation devolves to where you need to use force, lethal or otherwise, to protect you and your family, you still want to have options. If you have to engage a person inside or close to your house, what weapon is the best option for this? Will this work just as well if you have to engage at a greater distance? What is the greatest distance you are likely to have to engage? Is there a great variation in potential distance? These are some factors you need to look at when choosing your tools and weapons to defend your home as you address the problem from every angle.

  2. Train with everything.

    What do you train with? Do you use a rifle and handgun or a shotgun? These are the most common. However, if that’s the extent of your training program, you’re limiting your options. Not only should you train with a wide variety of weapons– firearms, edged weapons, personal weapons such as used in various martial arts, and so forth– but also with items not normally considered as such. Most of these things would not be your first choice, but under certain circumstances they may become your best or only choice. These could include vehicles, a shovel, and combustible items; the list goes on. You are limited only by your desire to choose one tool over another. Are you prepared to use such items as weapons, if needed? Could you do this effectively?

    Now, I’m not necessarily suggesting you practice using your car to ram things or maneuvers for hitting man-sized objects. You could though. However, it’s probably more realistic to train for some of these things using the mental rehearsal technique. This method has been shown to greatly increase a person’s success in a particular activity even when they haven’t had the opportunity to actually participate in it. You can do this at almost any time throughout the day and keep your mental activity sharp and your mind working.

  3. Lone Rangers die first.

    One of the greatest trends in today’s survival information world is the “bug out” concept. I understand there are scenarios in which getting out of your area is your only safe option. However, I feel this concept has been over marketed to the point where it’s more the latest style in the survival realm than actually the best choice for many people most of the time.

    If your crisis plan is to bug out, you should first ask yourself why. What is the pressing need to leave your home and neighborhood? Unless there is one, you might be someone who’s gone along with the “bug out” fad without giving it the consideration it deserves.

    If you do have a compelling reason to bug out, make sure you have weighed all the pros and cons connected to that. Where are you bugging out to? Is it a fully stocked, prepped, and self-sustaining wilderness retreat? That’s the dream. If that’s where you are going, great! Still, the reality is, for most of us, that this will only be a dream. (If you have such a place, my next question is why you don’t already live there.) Are you bugging out to a relative’s house in the country? How far is it and what kind of traveling obstacles will you confront? What kind of transportation do you have?

    Even if you do have a good place to bug out to, what will you be able to bring with you? Do you plan to return at some point, and when? Are you prepared to find supplies or property in your house gone or destroyed after you weren’t there to protect it from other hungry people or looters? What will you do when supplies at your bug out location are used up? If, for example, your plan is to leave your house in the city or suburbs and drive to the mountains with a tent, a 72-hour kit, and some extra food and water, I would suggest you reconsider. First, you would be leaving the sturdy and dependable shelter and protection of your home. You would be leaving any good people that could help you, and who you could help. (You have networked with your neighbors, right?) You would be leaving a lot of resources behind. You would be on your own with limited supplies. What if it’s winter? A tent probably won’t cut it. What do you do when your food runs out? Suffice to say, you need to make sure you are not trading one set of problems for a worse set.

    Additionally, bugging out often means losing the strength of numbers. In almost any dangerous situation, your ability to handle it is exponentially greater with each dependable person you have on your side. For instance, you can’t be skilled in every possible area. As people seeking to be prepared, we try to be well versed in a variety of skills, but there is always someone who knows a skill we do not or who can perform the skill better. Unless you know everything from fixing vehicles to stitching wounds, you’ll benefit from other people and they from you.

  4. Rethink your training.

    What would it be like to experience a terrorist attack in your city? What is it like when a flood comes? What happens in a gunfight? The question is, do you really know, or do you think you know? Are you basing your training on what you think will happen instead of what really takes place in any given scenario?

    This is important. The short answer to this is that unless you have experienced it yourself, you will not understand one hundred percent what can happen. This is not to say you cannot educate yourself sufficiently to adequately handle a given situation. The pit fall comes with gleaning information and training practices that are not based upon reality. Often we see a certain method of doing something in response to a particular crisis, but is it correct?

    An example is the tactical or combat world of training. There are many different ideas about how to do essentially the same things, and some are better than others. Some methods were developed for a specific situation and location; these methods were never meant to become a standard practice, yet they have become so simply because an elite group somewhere employed it for a particular situation, and it has since gained popularity beyond its intended application.

    For instance, some training programs for stopping active shooter situations put an emphasis on team movement, such as maneuvering through a building with a four man team. The problem with this is, based on what we know about active shooter scenarios, the likelihood of gathering four officers to respond to an in-progress shooter is slim to none in a time frame that would even be effective. Some departments may not even have four people working at one time. Since this is the reality for many communities, it would serve much better to train individual officers to be best equipped to operate as a one man response, or maybe two if you were fortunate. This is how more lives could be saved: an immediate response by a person trained to operate in that manner. It does nothing for the officer to train as part of a four or five man team when it’s very unlikely he will actually do this. Team movement and tactics are very useful and much preferred for various applications, but it’s not an across the board solution. To present it as such is a detrimental training practice.

    The lesson to take away here is that you need to train for reality. What really happens in scenario “A”? Can you and some training buddies duplicate a part of the scenario to see what actually happens? If not, can you simulate it with enough accuracy to be a valid training tool? Lastly, if neither is feasible, whom can we learn from who has experienced it?

  5. There is no 911.

    If you live in the city, you are familiar with the police department that operates within that community. If you live out in the country, your local law enforcement is likely to be the Sheriff’s office. However, I doubt you have the opportunity to observe most of the things or types of situations law enforcement deals with day to day. This is not a bad thing; we pay these guys to handle this kind of thing so we don’t have to. That’s good, because you have better things to do, like make money, take care of your family, buy groceries, or whatever. Since there is much that most people never get to see, I think it is hard at times for people to understand some facts about law enforcement, crime, or other situations, and the balance between them.

    Everything you see cops doing and a lot more you don’t makes up the “normal” call or crime volume in your community. The important thing to understand is that your local law enforcement agency is staffed and equipped to handle only this “normal” level or amount of crime. If your area experiences a major crisis event, the need for police intervention will balloon far beyond the usual. There will not be enough people and resources to meet the need. It’s an unfortunate fact of life, but the chances of the cops showing up when you call during a major crisis situation is slim to none. This is compounded by the fact that some cities and communities have a shortage in this area even at a “normal level”. Merely keeping the general peace is likely to be a tall order just by itself.

    What does this mean for you? You are responsible for your own safety and those who are in your care. This is where your neighborhood network becomes invaluable. Planning and preparation will serve you well, and part of this is knowing in advance what you will likely be facing.

Letter Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer


First I wish to thank you for taking the time to do the review on the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer. It was VERY informative.

I do have two quick questions. Do you know if the vacuum pump is a single stage or a two stage pump? Also, do you think that a … oh, let’s call it a “Noise Muffling Box” could be built around the pump to help cut down on the noise? If so, do you think it would make much of a difference?

Thank you again for the review and for the wonderful website.

Respectfully – T.W.

Hugh Replies: The vacuum pump is a cartridge-type pump and does generate considerable noise. I also have a laboratory vane pump that is quite a bit quieter but much more expensive. I think it would be possible to build a noise muffling box, but you must make sure that there is sufficient air flow around the pump, as it does generate heat. The oil runs hot enough that it is uncomfortable to the touch when active. Originally, I thought about penetrating the wall with the pump lines, but then I realized that it was easier to place the whole unit in a place out-of-sight/out-of-hearing, since you don’t have to constantly monitor it.

Economics and Investing:

Why the Fed Will Continue to Print Money in 2015

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Paul Craig Roberts: Dollar Is The Weak Spot For U.S.

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

FED’S ROSENGREN: I Can ‘Easily Imagine’ Us Holding Off On Rate Hikes Until 2016 – More Fed backpedaling. An end to QE this month is becoming less likely, and yet still “no one” will see this coming.

Bullard Risks Ignoring Bullard With `Pessimistic Signal’ on QE – This signal will eventually someday happen, awaking the generally dumb public to what we all know and then it’s “Katie bar the door”, a flood out of the dollar and into tangibles of all kinds.

Video: Peter Schiff- QE4 Is Coming

Odds ‘n Sods:

Massive Fire at UK Power Station, Risk of Winter Blackouts Increases. – G.P.

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Reader Bob G. suggested this fascinating web page, with frequent updates on disease outbreaks: Health Map The site is described as: “…a team of researchers, epidemiologists and software developers at Boston Children’s Hospital… [providing] …online informal sources for disease outbreak monitoring and real-time surveillance of emerging public health threats.”

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One-third of working Americans support two-thirds of the population: The hidden figures of those not in the labor force and transfer payments.

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Top Scientist: This Version Of Ebola Looks Like ‘A Very Different Bug’. – B.B.

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Take a look at Mark Rubinstein’s interview with JWR in the Huffington Post on Liberators.

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.” – Samuel Adams

Notes for Monday – October 20, 2014

October 20th is the birthday of actor Viggo Mortensen (born 1958.) He lives somewhere in the American Redoubt. On his ranch is his horse-for-life “TJ”–one of the five paint horses used in the filming of the movie Hidalgo.

This is also the birthday of “fast and fancy” shootist Ed McGivern (born 1874, died December 12, 1957.) He was born in Nebraska but was a long-time resident of Butte, Montana.

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JWR’s latest novel Liberators: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse will be released on Tuesday, October 21st. If you plan to buy any copies in bulk, then please order them on that day.

Guest Article: Lights Out, by NightlyJazz

Not to take away from the novel of the same name by David Crawford–which really is an excellent book that I do recommend you read as well as save a hard copy–I experienced my own little Lights Out situation.

I’ve always wanted to test my preps by switching off the electricity and running everything off the grid, but I never pulled the trigger. I kept telling myself that I did not have enough equipment to do a test, plus there was also the fact that I was afraid, as a single father of one-, two-, and three-year olds, my children would freak out if I plunged them into darkness.

Imagine my surprise to arrive home one Friday evening to discover that the power had been turned off for non-payment. While I was able to make a payment, the offices were closed and there was no one to come out and turn the power back on until the next day. I thought, “It’s no problem. I’m a prepper and I have enough supplies to at least get us through the night.” Yeah right. I was in for a surprise.

Here are some things to think about. We congregated in one room to conserve heat. I entertained the kids for a few hours, fed them, and then they went off to bed. It was easy enough.

Refrigerators/Freezers. Do not open the freezers, and keep the fridge openings down to a minimum.

Water. The water was still on, so I did not have to worry about that. I do have a few hundred gallons stored though.

Cooking Food. Although I have a charcoal pit, I did not want to open the freezer to take anything out. Instead, I pulled out the jetboil and heated enough water to have a Mountain House meal. We had the chicken and rice dinner, which tasted pretty good to me, but the children would not eat it.

Emergency Food. I have to say this did not work because two of my three children would not eat it. Yes, I understand you should stock what you eat and I pretty much do that, but at the present time, most of my food stores are perishable as I purchased ¼ of a cow, a couple dozen chickens, and lots of frozen food. I do have other items, but what I pulled out to eat is the Mountain House.

Power. I have a generator large enough to run two freezers, the fridge, electronics for entertainment, and lights. I also have 50 gallons of gas to run the genny for a long enough time. What I did not have was an extension cord to run from the generator outside to anywhere in the house. I had not one single extension cord. Sure, I have power strips that are the three feet variety, but I had no extension cords, so we had no power.

I had only eight D-cell batteries none of which were rechargeable and no way to recharge them even if they were. While I have lots of AAA and AA batteries, I have no way to charge them without the generator.

Propane. I have lots of propane– about 20 small bottles, regular barbecue pit bottles, and a 100-lb bottle. Besides the Big Buddy, I have absolutely nothing else to use the propane for. As it was a warm night, the propane was not useful. I had no lighting, nor a two-burner cook top that uses propane. I don’t even have a propane barbecue grill.

Lights. I have two lanterns and two different types of fuel– a clear fuel substance you find in the candle section at Walmart as well as kerosene. I purchased a lantern from each of the sections as well. So I light up the lanterns and get an alarming (annoying) amount of black smoke coming from each one. I go to open the windows and none of them will open. I’m a renter and had never attempted to open them before. I do have head lamps, which worked well. The headlamps, a flashlight, and a couple of light sticks pretty much sustained me through the night. While I do have a combo emergency light with a radio and signal light included, it shorted out and kept blinking in and out. There is nothing like seeing your equipment fail when it’s time to use it.

Entertainment. I have lots of electronic entertainment items. While my children have a playroom, there’s nothing in the way of board games, puzzles, or even crayons for that matter. Over a longer period of time, my entertainment options are too limited at the moment.

Some of the lessons I learned, include:

  • Don’t just purchase without a clear plan. I think this was the most important lesson.
  • Testing is essential. Plan a thorough test, and put it on the calendar. Then, stick to the plan. I chickened out. We went to IHOP for breakfast the next day.
  • I needed a complete end-to-end power system. I went out the next day and purchased two contractor’s extension cords from Sam’s Club and purchased more D-cell batteries. I also realized I need a solar option to recharge batteries.
  • As far as emergency food is concerned, it’s important that the children actually eat the freeze-dried food. If we have to bug out, that’s what’ll be on the menu. I know I like it, but they need to be introduced to it. I’ll server it to them twice a month moving forward.
  • Ventilation is important for the use of the lanterns and the propane. CO2 detectors are needed throughout the house.
  • I have only one small fire extinguisher and need more.

This was an extremely simple test that I failed. How would you fair in such a situation?

Scot’s Product Review: FLIR LS-Series Thermal Imaging Camera

Seeing in the dark is something we poor humans aren’t good at. The term “cover of darkness” is an apt description, and if we can penetrate it we have a serious advantage over those who can’t. This also applies to anything that obscures visibility, such as smoke, haze, or other obstructions. We often hear the buzz phrase “force multiplier”, and anything that helps us see when our opponent can’t is a big one in my book. Being able to detect attackers first or control our own people is pretty huge, as the perils of being clueless are obvious. Besides the “golly gee whiz” factor of getting play with this sort of equipment, I thought it important to discuss how useful this technology could be to preppers as well as how dangerous it is if the wrong folks have it.

There are basically two technical strategies to seeing in the dark. One depends on the light reflected from the target. The Gen I, II, and III night vision devices we see advertised are of this type. They allow us to see short wave infrared (SWIR), also called near infrared. This is a form of light that is just outside our ability to perceive it. An image intensifier can convert it into visible light that we can see in a night vision device. Gen III units also show us a bit of visible light. Since we are seeing reflected light, the target has to be lit by a light source for us to perceive it. The earliest units required an infrared floodlight. The newest and most expensive models will let us see with the help of moonlight, starlight, or even the glow from city lights reflected from low clouds. While each successive generation requires less and less SWIR light reflected from the target to allow you to see it, if someone is in a shadowed area or it is a cloudy night away from all other lights, you won’t be able to see them, even with the best unit, unless you shine a SWIR light on them. This has obvious disadvantages. Your light, at worst, is going to be a bullet magnet if a hostile also has this sort of night vision.

The military PVS-14 is a commonly seen example of this sort of gear. They provide the green image we often associate with night vision from having seen it on the news.

Then there are thermal units, like the FLIR LS I am writing about in this review. It is made by FLIR Systems, Inc. It detects the long wave infrared (LWIR) or far infrared energy emitted by all objects. It sees heat, in other words. Since it is detecting emissions and not reflections, it is completely passive and won’t give you away. Further, it can detect objects in total, absolute darkness, which is a pretty amazing feat. You have probably seen a lot of this type of imaging on TV when you watch terrorists targeted by aircraft or police chases from helicopters. What makes this work so well is that animals (other than reptiles and the like) are almost always a different temperature than their surrounding terrain.

Unlike SWIR imagers, the LWIR ones can be helpful in spotting targets in daylight. It can make it far easier to see an animal or person in foliage or through haze, even if they are wearing good camouflage. You see them as a very bright object against the background.

This video can help show some of the differences between thermal and SWIR night vision equipment. The people who made it appear to be vested in LWIR technology, so they do stress the advantages.

Thermal imaging is becoming more and more popular in law enforcement and units like the one I am reviewing are small and light enough to carry easily. It weighs less than a pound and is under seven inches long and about 2.5 inches in diameter (though it isn’t perfectly round). It has a built-in lithium ion rechargeable battery that gives about five hours of service. It charges with a USB cable. The only drawback is the cost, which starts at about $5,000.

These devices usually provide a black and white image, but they can add color to indicate the temperatures of objects in the field of view. One helpful trick with this one is that you can tell it to display hot things as lighter than cooler things or reverse it and have the hot things dark. Depending on the background, changing the view might make it easier to see targets. You can adjust the settings for how bright to make certain temperatures. You can also tell it to show things above a certain temperature as red, which could help make animals pop out even better when you are scanning with it. A FLIR Systems video will show how some of these options work pretty well.

It is possible to defeat SWIR units, like the PVS-14, with good camouflage and maintaining awareness of surroundings. If you stay in the shadows and avoid being silhouetted against the sky or a bright background, it is far harder to be spotted. The only way to see into deep shadows with this equipment is to use an infrared illuminator, which will give you away. Interestingly, some fabrics and how they are laundered can make you much more visible. The fabric brighteners and softeners that make your clothes look clean also make you more visible under IR. It would be best, if you worry about this, to look for some of the special detergents used for hunting clothes that don’t have the brighteners or softeners.

I think thermal imagers are far tougher to defeat than SWIR devices. The best way appears to be putting something between the imager and yourself that blocks your heat radiation. That part isn’t very hard. The problem is that if you block yourself with something that does not blend in with the surroundings, you will create a suspicious anomaly that can attract attention. First, your screen has to be at about the same temperature as the surroundings or it will show. It also has to have the same heat texture as the surroundings. Just as light reveals texture to our eyes, thermal energy exposes a texture that shows up in the thermal imager. A material that is very uniform, as a man-made object might be, is going to look suspicious. If it has straight edges, they could also attract attention as there are few truly straight lines in nature. Further, everything in nature is constantly changing temperature over time. It gets hotter as the sun goes up and cooler as it goes down. If your screen gives up or absorbs heat at a different rate than its surroundings, it can expose you. Your cover could also absorb your own heat and reveal you that way.

There is camouflage clothing intended to defeat thermal night vision. While it is clearly a major help, it is still possible to see the camouflaged subjects using LWIR equipment. They no longer show hot spots; instead, they show as dark blotches that don’t belong in the scene. An alert operator will be curious about that. Since camouflage clothing has to trap your radiant heat it will have drawbacks in hot climates. If you are moving and you change to a warmer or colder location, it has to be able to adapt to it quickly or you will standout. When you are standing, it will not necessarily be the same temperature as what’s behind you. I am trying hard to stress the difficulties of dealing with this. We can pretty much make ourselves invisible to normal vision without much trouble, and with some knowledge and care we can disappear to SWIR devices, but this thermal stuff is far more complex of a problem. Some materials that offer good blocking of thermal energy, like aluminum foil, are highly visible to even the Mark I Eyeball. We now have a three-way problem– normal vision, SWIR, and thermal– to defeat.

I’ve heard suggestions for using diversionary devices, like flares or fire bombs, to blind thermal imagers, but they appear to regain their sight fairly quickly. When you move out of the bloom from the fire, you will show up. If the enemy has an area weapon, they could just target the bloom. A better plan would be to hide amongst something, like a herd of animals, but those aren’t always available. A city will certainly offer more options than the countryside. I was not able to verify it, but different types of foliage appear to offer varying degrees of concealment. Learning which is best could be helpful. Hiding under a car could also help, especially if it was warm from driving.

There are units that can blend visible and thermal images, which will provide more details for the observer. These are showing up in light aircraft, and the results are impressive http://ww This corrects one of the startling features, to me at least, of the LWIR units. You cannot see visible light in the display. This means someone can be walking about shining a flashlight and you can’t see them through the unit. If a light doesn’t make much heat, you won’t even be aware of it. The blended view gives you both. Some units blend visible, thermal, and SWIR into the same display and also allow you to select between each type in case a target is visible to one and not another.

There is also talk of applying computer image analysis to thermal imaging that can detect anomalies in the scanner area and mark them for the operator to investigate.

The unit I’m reviewing is owned by a friend I will call Apollo, for the Greek god of light. He has worked with a wide array of technology over the years and has spent a lot of time with the electromagnetic spectrum, video, photography, and a host of other things I have trouble understanding. Much of Apollo’s time has been at a major university. In his spare time, he is a very serious gun guy who has shot most everything from an action pistol to a long range rifle. He grew up traveling the world with his scientist father and traipsed through revolutions, roadside ambushes, and the like as a child and teen. Apollo is very aware of what the world can dish out, but it doesn’t shake his strong faith as a Christian. He is a very good guy and highly knowledgeable in many areas, and I’m lucky he lets me be his friend. I wanted to explain all that so you would know I had some serious help writing this. He was kind enough to let me spend several hours picking his brain and working with his FLIR LS. Without his help, I would have been underwater at times.

In case you are wondering, they call the FLIR LS a camera, because it is a video camera. It simply sees heat rather than light. While you can connect it to a video recorder, it is more likely to be used as a monocular.

Looking through the eyepiece is initially confusing. You have to tell yourself you are seeing the world in a completely different manner. It is a monochromatic world, and some things we can easily see become invisible, like light foliage and normal lights. Other things become brilliant glowing masses, like the surface of a road. Things like cars take on different shapes. Black tires glow white from the heat made as they rolled over pavement.

What is shocking is how visible animals and particularly people are. Apollo says this unit can detect an unshielded human at 1,000 yards, even if they are in the deepest shadow on the darkest night. Based on the couple of hours I used it, I believe him. I was especially impressed with how well I could see him at 100 yards through brush. While it broke up his shape, it was patently obvious that there was something there I needed to check out.

I was quite surprised by how easy it is to see footsteps using the FLIR LS. You leave less of an imprint with thick soled shoes, and they do fade fairly quickly, but if you aren’t too far behind someone, you can probably follow them with the FLIR.

I did find the narrowness of the view makes it a little difficult to maintain situational awareness. You can, if you don’t stay sharp, lose a target. The field of view isn’t large, so you have to keep scanning or you will miss something. Scan too quickly, though, and you may go past a target.

There is a visible laser in the unit, so you can mark a target for someone without a thermal imager, but you can’t see it through the imager.

You lose night vision in the eye looking through the imager. This is a common problem, however, with all night vision gear. Most of us will bring it straight up to our master eye to view with it, but that could be a problem for a shooter, unless they also have a thermal or night vision sight. It would be better to use the non-dominant eye and save the master for the sights.

I had trouble trying to use it as I walked around. Objects that are close go out of focus. As I already mentioned, light foliage sort of disappears, so I walked into branches. I had a lot of trouble keeping both eyes open, and even if I did, the brightness of the viewfinder overwhelmed my brain, so that’s all I really saw. Overall, if I had to use night vision to negotiate a trail in the dark, I would probably feel more comfortable using a SWIR type. This may be simply a matter of my limited experience with thermal. I suspect it also has to do with the limitations of the tiny screen in the unit. On the occasions I’ve gotten to ride in a FLIR equipped helicopter, it seemed a lot easier to see. The overhead view might be a factor.

Things look more natural to me using the SWIR viewers. I think that might be because we are used to seeing things by reflected light. I get a better sense of distance and depth with SWIR than I did with thermal. That said, I can see things, like animals, far more easily with thermal; that, to me, is the most important element of this discussion.

When blended SWIR/LWIR units come down in price, they will make for a much better experience, judging by the videos I’ve seen from them.

I wish the battery pack in the unit were user replaceable. This sort of pack usually gives at least five years of service, but you could power it with an external pack, should the internal battery die and you can’t get it replaced.

I didn’t get to use it on a cold night. Apollo says the colder it is, the better it works. That agrees with what I saw in some videos using thermal in the snow. It also seems to work beautifully over water. It would be outstanding for finding a swimmer in the water.

One quirk is that it can’t see through glass. Images reflect nicely from glass, but glass blocks the wavelengths that image heat. Some think this means a sheet of glass could make a shield, but glass looks different from other objects in nature, so an alert observer might give a piece of glass in an unusual location a second look. Glass also gives and takes up heat at a different rate than most natural terrain, and if you touch it or even get close to it, it will warm rapidly, giving away your position.

FLIR Sytems makes a bewildering number of thermal imagers. Some have industrial and construction applications. Marine and aviation uses are also covered by the product line. There are several models for public safety as well as models for sportsmen. The FLIR LS Apollo chose appears to be a good blend of features for the prepper, but I’m not sure if one could be served almost as well with a lower cost model. I would rather give up some capability and at least have it than hold out for the best. They start at about $1,800, and apparently the sky is the limit when you get into the military area.

There are rifle sight versions as well as viewers, and they are quite popular with hog and predator hunters where it is legal to shoot at night. YouTube has a number of videos of this equipment in use by hunters, and it can help give you an idea of how well they work. These start at $3,500.

FLIR Systems, Inc. is a U.S. company. The unit I reviewed had stickers inside proclaiming that the key bits are made in the U.S.

My minor quibbles with the limitations of this technology do not in any way reduce my desire to own it. I always fret over anything that uses electricity or depends on advanced technology, but I think this is a game changer if you have to operate in the dark. Since I don’t control the sun, I am going to spend a lot of hours in the dark. This could save one’s life, if things were to go wrong. On the other hand, if you are up against someone who has it, you are in trouble. It would be wise to do some searches on countering thermal imagers to start getting some ideas on how to deal with it. Despite the effectiveness of this technology, you can erode its power if you have some knowledge. This site has what Apollo says is knowledgeable information on countering thermal imaging. It discusses how different materials have different levels emissivity of thermal energy, which is helpful for understanding the issues. An object that emits thermal more efficiently will look brighter than a less-efficient one, even if they are of the same temperature. This could make hiding even more complicated.

There are a lot of night vision users on this site if you want to do some further research on the devices themselves and how hunters use them in the field. – SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor, Scot Frank Erie

Recipe of the Week: Swiss Steak with a Kick by Mrs. HJL

This is a simple recipe that our family likes to cook using the crock pot. It’s a regular dish. We modified the traditional version to use some green chili and/or jalapeno peppers, which you can use to suit your personal tastes.

1 1/2 to 2 lb round steak, cut into six to eight serving portions

2 Tbsp flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp butter (or oil)

1 onion, chopped

1/2 bell pepper, chopped

1 or 2 small cans green chili, chopped

1 can tomato soup (or 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes and omit water below)

1/2 cup water

1 jalapeno, diced (optional)

Use a meat tenderizer to pound meat a little. Sprinkle with flour, salt, and pepper; pound this into meat, repeating until all pieces are tenderized and seasoned. Brown steak in butter with onion and bell pepper. Add tomato soup and water. Bring to a boil. Transfer to crock pot. Pour in chopped green chili and stir. (You can add some jalapenos and/or cayenne for even more heat; we do when we aren’t sharing with company.) Cover and cook on low for six to eight hours, or on high temperature for four hours. Serve with rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta and a green vegetable. Don’t forget some bread or crackers for eating the yummy broth! – Mrs. Paul

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

Letter: Bullet Proof 3-Ring Binder

My daughter had a science project due and she asked for my help. So, I helped her build a bullet proof 3-ring binder. Her goal was for the binder to stop a .223 bullet.

The specs are as follows:

The size is 12″ tall by 11″ wide

The layers:

The front cover:

  1. 1/4″ Ultra High Density Plastic
  2. 1/16″ Steel
  3. 1 panel of Kevlar bullet proof material from a bullet proof vest that expired in 1998. I folded the panel so the panel would fit inside the above dimensions and duct taped them in place.
  4. 1/4″ Ultra High Density Plastic
  5. She then drilled a hole in the four corners and bolted the parts in place.

The center:

  1. 120 pages of notebook paper in the rings.
  2. The rings are a standard 3″ binder rings drilled out of a used binder and attached to a 1/4″ Ultra High Density Plastic strip that was piano hinged to the front and back cover.

The back cover:

  1. 1/4″ Ultra High Density Plastic
  2. 1/16″ Steel
  3. 1/4″ Ultra High Density Plastic
  4. She then drilled a hole in the four corners and bolted the parts in place.

She then attached, to the front cover, an additional 1/4″ thick by 4″ wide Ultra High Density Plastic strip.

The test:

An officer on the local police department shot the binder. The binder was in a closed position sitting on a table. He shot three times at it, and it stopped all three bullets. The binder did not even fall over. The bullet that struck the part of the binder without the additional 1/4″ thick by 4″ wide Ultra High Density Plastic strip went through the front cover and lodged in the notebook paper. He shot it twice through the attached strip. These two bullets did not penetrate the final 1/4″ Ultra high density plastic in the front cover. The officer was standing 15 yards from the binder. Either way, the projectiles never made it to the back cover.

He then shot it through the back cover, which is lacking a Kevlar panel. The bullet lodged in the front cover.

The problems:

  1. Weight; it weighs 19 pounds!
  2. It is bulky.
  3. It was nicked named the Sasquatch Binder
  4. After the Science Fair, we will test it further and see when it fails.

The summary:

My daughter’s idea finished second; she was robbed! The binder was over-engineered. For the binder to stop a .223 from 15 yards and never go through the paper was a little too much. Just for fun, we took the binder to a shooting range with the intention of taking it to its breaking point. Many people volunteered to shoot it. One gentleman shot it with a .308 from 20 yards; the bullet lodged in the back cover. Another person shot it with a 30-30; it too lodged in the back cover. Finally, a postal worker pulled out a M-14. He shot it on full auto and the binder was still intact after 7 rounds. The paper was shredded. The binder turned over, but the back cover was not breached. It was over engineered. In a school shooting scenario, it needs to stop nothing larger than a .223

The need:

I have spoken with some attorneys. The process of making the binder is not able to be protected by any type of patent. However, we have applied to trademark the name Sasquatch Binder.

This is why I am sharing this idea with your community. The weight has got to come down so that kindergarteners thru executives will want one. A process of making the binder must be invented so that a new molecular compound or a new method of manufacturing is made.

This one binder cost us about $200, which is way too high. However, my daughter learned about bullets and their velocity and strength. It also takes density to stop a bullet. She had a great idea to save life in a school shooting scenario. As a CPA, I look at the cost, but as a parent, I look at the benefit. In this case, spending $200 on a science fair was too much. If a child’s life is ever spared on account of this, it was well worth the $200. Would I pay $200 for a binder that weighed 2.5 pounds and promised to stop a 9mm to a .223? It might be worth it. Respectfully, Happy Howie

Economics and Investing:

The World Has Less Than 5 Days Worth Of Copper Inventories

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Japanese Stocks Tumble After BOJ Bond-Buying Operation Fails For First Time Since Abenomics

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Yellen says rising income inequality in U.S. ‘greatly’ concerns her. And since when is this any of the Fed’s concern? This progressive horse manure will drive our once-great nation right over a cliff. – J.H.

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Russians and Chinese are ditching the dollar as Europeans start using renminbi in their reserves