Notes for Friday – February 27, 2015

Today, we present another entry for Round 57 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 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 then 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 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448) 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. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. 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,
  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 Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 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 57 ends on March 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.

Your Brain On Paper—How to Write Useful Operating Instructions, by M.R. – Part 1

Do you have any idea how much of your prepper knowledge is actually recorded in your head and nowhere else? I’m talking about details that you think are common knowledge but aren’t actually common among those in your survival party. If you are the key member of the group—the one who has done the lion’s share of planning and training, it’s likely that others don’t know as much as you think they know or that they will be able to remember as much as you think they will. If you drop off your twig unexpectedly or suffer a mentally-incapacitating illness or accident prior or during a SHTF event, that lack of knowledge among the rest of the group may be their unforeseen Achilles heel.

A recent change in my health, in addition to my advancing age, convinced me that I needed to view my survival preparations from the perspective of not being there to carry out the plan as the primary leader. Would my family be able to put to use all that I had planned for? Of what value are decades of planning and preparations on my part, if I have failed at passing on sufficient knowledge for them to survive without me?

A surprising number of survivalists have military or government employment backgrounds. This topic is nothing new to them. They are already aware of the central role of operating procedures or operating instructions in government organizations. The same is true of those who have worked in civilian organizations such as law enforcement, hospitals, and in industries that handle hazardous materials or carry out functions that, if done improperly, can get someone hurt or killed.

If you’ve been around operating instructions in those settings, they probably left a bad taste. You have memories of the excessive bureaucratic nonsense and overkill that is invariably the product of governments and large organizations. However, you are in charge now. You can compose operating instructions that are meaningful to you and your loved ones or survival group.

This blog post has been written to help you understand why you need operating instructions, what good instructions contain, and how to write and maintain your own set of instructions. A short trip to the office supply store and some head-scratching time can produce a good set of operating instructions. The result is that it will minimize the impact of your loss to the party, should something unforeseen occur, such as you being separated from the group. Reviewing them with your family or group and securing the collection in a common area will give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the ship won’t go down if it loses the captain.

Let’s sell you on the idea by choosing a common topic area of survival preps— emergency water supplies. You’ve done your homework. You read and studied and then purchased what you needed to process and store water for hard times. You now have a solid collection of storage containers filled with potable water, and you have the tools required to treat the water and access it when needed. Job well done! However, if the information in your head is not also stored so that others can access it, your diligent preps may suffer a potentially fatal and certainly inconvenient end result. If all the knowledge that remains in your head remains only in your head, your spouse and children as well as any others who may be depending upon that water are left on their own.

Are we making too much of this? Not at all. Having great storage containers filled with water is of questionable worth, if the group that needs the water does not know where they are stored. Are there items critical to purification or filtration? Where, what, when, and how? Sure, you told some of them or all of them. Or did you? Do they even remember? If you stored water, was it safe to drink to begin with? What date did you fill the containers? Where is that special tool needed to open the containers without damage to the container itself?

These are the sort of details that are just as important as the physical water itself. You spent many hours and many dollars putting your plan into place. It would be a shame to see the plan crippled by something as simple as a bit of paper that could serve as a reference and resource.

As much as I don’t miss the overarching bureaucratic mess of keeping up with all too many “OI’s” when I was in the military, I did learn some valuable things. An old sergeant once chewed me out for being such an idiot as to assume something. He said, “Do you know what ASSUME stands for, Dummy? ASSUME is making an A** out of U and ME.” Don’t assume anyone knows what you know or will remember what you have taught them.

Parts of a Good Instruction

A good operating instruction should be written to enable the reader to carry on the activity area covered in the instruction without you. There are some areas that are more important to cover than other areas. This list is not all-inclusive. Think of it as a minimum. You can add other information, of course, but here are some suggested minimums, drawn from instructions common to military organizations.

Title: In our example, this would be something like “Emergency Water Storage and Purification.”

Purpose Statement: Yes, you really need to cover this. Don’t assume everyone who needs to know the information is clear about the purpose of the instruction. In our example, it might be something like, “This instruction covers the amount and location of water currently stored at our home, in our vehicles, and at our safe location. It also covers the purification methods, chemicals, and equipment needed to purify water dispensed from the containers and to fill them. The sources we are planning to use to obtain water locally, while traveling, and at the safe location are listed, as are vendors and sources for replacement supplies.”

Explanation of Terms: You might readily understand what a bung wrench is. Don’t assume your spouse or teenager knows. When you use the term “chlorine powder” you need to explain if it is labeled by another chemical name, such as calcium hypochlorite. To identify the terms you need to explain, walk yourself mentally through the process as though you were explaining it all to a non-prepper. This list of terms and their explanations is where you can also make things absolutely clear. “Blue storage container” might seem obvious, but if you have used different sizes and that info is important, the explanation might be better as, “Water storage container. Blue plastic. Twenty-eight, 5 gallon cubes. In basement at safe spot location.”

Responsibilities: This is where you can use the operating instruction to serve as a diagram and flow chart as well as assign duties. In our example, this might designate your two older sons as those charged with checking the freshness of stored water and replenishing it at specific intervals of time. In a very real sense, think of it also as a letter of last instructions—using your position as leader to pass the torch to someone else. Who is to take over the primary role in both maintaining the instruction and supervising the knowledge area and task?

Policy: This is where you can discuss in detail the “how, when, and where” of the subject. It’s where you delineate specifics and address multiple locations, or variances in the policy. A good instruction will address all locations, tools, supplies, and procedures used or needed. How is the water to be disinfected? How often? With what? How much of the chemical? Where are the supplies and tools stored? This is the meat of the operating instruction. Imagine yourself instructing someone in how to carry out the task by making a YouTube sort of how-to video. “Policy” would be the transcript of that video.

References and Attachments: This is the place where you can list important information that the reader can go to or needs for further information than what is provided in the policy. In our example, references might include a cross reference to a household inventory list of all supplies. It might include a list of vendors of water supplies or a material safety data sheet concerning the chemicals that are used. Owner’s or technical manuals for equipment, for example, might also be included. You may find it handy to make those references that are not other operating instructions, themselves, attachments to the instruction.

Date of Instruction and Review: This is where you indicate the creation date of the operating instruction. This is more important than usually realized. It tells the reader the currency of the information. Imagine picking up a book that looks like current information and then noticing that it was written fifty years ago and has been updated. You might have doubts. You would have doubts.

You should have an area that will allow you to indicate that you have reviewed it and the date you most recently reviewed it. You should also indicate if you made changes. If you are listing changes, it is likewise critical that you cross out the information changed in the instruction. You want to insure that it is clear what is no longer current or to be followed. You can write in the new information, legibly, rather than edit and reprint the instruction, although the neat-freaks among us might choose to revise a saved electronic copy that was used to print out the hard copy.

Frequency of review depends on how critical the information is or how often it is subject to change or updating. Once per year is usually sufficient. It is not so often to become burdensome or skipped, and not too infrequent so as to miss changes that need to be changed or updated. An exception is when you make changes to preps that need to be updated right away. For example, if you just changed your method of water purification; that is something important enough to justify making the changes right away. It would be hard to purify water with supplies or equipment you no longer possess or intuitively to know how to use new supplies or equipment.

Location(s) of Instructions: The purpose of this area is to handle the situation of multiple copies of the instruction. Perhaps you have a second copy of the operating instruction binder at your safe location or a copy in your bug-out vehicle. Listing them here is critical, so that you don’t overlook a copy when you are changing any information in the instruction. Keep in mind that multiple copies are not always better that one. The more is not the merrier; they all have to be kept current, with none overlooked. The fewer copies, the more likely you will not overlook updating all copies and that the info the reader has at the time of need is current and correct.

Log: This is my own preferred last item in the instruction, not a normal inclusion in military operating instructions. It is simply an area that I can annotate my thoughts and date them. “Reviewed but no time to update yet. I think the information on chlorine use might be out of date, or even incorrect. I need to get this information ASAP.” This is then followed by a date and initials. It lets the reader know that you were in doubt and had plans but had not gotten around to carrying them out. It allows for adding important information short of a formal review. It gives an opportunity to add or modify to some extent without formal review and editing.

Letter Re: To Camo or Not To Camo?, by J.M.

Good morning, Hugh,

J.M.’s letter on camouflage is a good one. As for group members procuring the more expensive camo patterns, digital camo is nearly impossible to duplicate, but “generic casual camo” can be home made. Begin with clothing of an appropriate base color. Desert requires tan shirts and pants, woodland a medium brown, urban a medium gray, and so forth. (Don’t get shirts and pants in exactly the same base shade; it’ll look like a suit.) A few dollars of clothing dye, rubber gloves, and some rags or inexpensive paintbrushes will allow adding random shapes of complimentary colors. When fully dry – give it a day or longer – washing inside a cloth bag will help soften the colors. Other than fall leaves, there are very few naturally occurring bright colors in nature. Use warm water and no common household detergents to avoid restoring the UV brighteners. No detergent “kills” UV dyes, but most household detergents restore UV brighteners with every wash, and check the labels on the dyes you plan to use. Atsko makes soaps and a spray that reduce UV reflectivity, but by how much seems to depend on the fabric material and if brighteners were incorporated during manufacture.

Pro tip: If you’re serious about homemade camo, carry a UV flashlight to test the “base” clothing before you buy it. Amazon sells several, from about $7 to $20. Not a bad idea to test manufactured camo as well. It may have been manufactured with UV brighteners or washed in them.

2nd Pro tip: Since few people outside of the military, LE and serious hunters use UV lights, it’s possible to use dark materials as “guide material” if they will fluoresce dimly under UV light. They won’t show up well under a white light flashlight, but glow under black light. They will stand out somewhat under direct sunlight because it has a lot of UV in it.

Don’t forget “urban camouflage” – generic, nondescript clothing. Medium gray, light-medium gray, faded medium brown, or faded dark blue pants, faded medium brown or green T-shirt, faded loose fitting overshirt with a nondescript pattern, faded medium blue, worn gray, dark blue or charcoal baseball cap, scuffed leather shoes or boots, or dirty and worn generic running shoes that didn’t start out as white. FYI, many running shoes have reflective strips built in; it’s hard to find ones that don’t, but they can be located. Don’t forget laces; white ones will have had UV brighteners added during manufacture. The look you’re striving for is “unremarkable and forgettable.” Avoid anything with logos, they’re usually contrasting colors and too easily noticed and remembered. If what you need to carry won’t fit in pockets or on belts, smaller backpacks are less noticeable than large ones, scuffed and dirty is better than new and clean. Avoid jewelry, including wrist watches, or anything unique. Fit should be large enough to conceal, but not so large it’s baggy and raises suspicions about what you may be hiding. Avoid sharp creases and matching garments among couples or groups. Nothing says “pay attention to me” like several people wearing the same thing, even if that thing is only one article of clothing.

An oversize lightweight overshirt, in either generic “urban camo” or homemade field camo, can be tightly rolled up (folding produces creases, creases produce shadow lines, and straight lines shout “man made”) and used as temporary camo, even covering a small backpack if necessary. Urban camo can be easily covered with, or switched for, a woodland pattern as one leaves the asphalt jungle, and vice-versa.

N.K.

Economics and Investing:

Take Your Money And Run!! Global Central Bank Conspiracy Exposed – Next Step: Confiscating Your Bank Deposits. – B.B.

o o o

Paranoia And Purges For Venezuela As Oil Misery Continues

o o o

Items from Mr. Econocobas:

This Is What Happens To Gold In A Hyperinflationary Currency Crisis: Ukraine Edition

Consumer Comfort Falls to 2015 Low as View of U.S. Economy Dims

David Stockman- The Pathetic ‘Talk Therapy’ Of Janet Yellen

100 Reasons Why Janet Yellen Is Freaking Out About ‘Audit The Fed’

Odds ‘n Sods:

The Mandatory Dash Cam Is Coming. – G.G.

HJL adds: While I think dash cams are a great idea and truly believe that every car should have them, it’s the “mandatory” part that gets me.

o o o

Update: Charges Dropped Against 72-Year-Old NJ Man With Flintlock Pistol. – JBG

o o o

Language warning: U.S. Military Using Giant Blimp To Surveil Movements Of Maryland Residents. G.P.

o o o

The most mismanaged federal organization now has permanent seizure powers. What could possibly go wrong here: Quiet Change Expands ATF Power to Seize Property. – B.B.

o o o

Cell phone video saves innocent man from lying police set-up.. – T.P.

Notes for Thursday – February 26, 2015

Today, we present another entry for Round 57 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 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 then 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 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448) 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. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. 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,
  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 Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 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 57 ends on March 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.

Range Brass to Finished Cartridge, Tips For The Ubiquitous .223 Cartridge, by R.W. – Part 3

On full charge cartridges, you need to watch for defects, so:

  • Look for any swelling, cracks, splits, or thinning of the brass.
  • Check for fouling, debris, or dirt jammed into the cavity of the shell case. It may be generally noted that discoloring around the top of the case at the neck radius is common with most military surplus brass and will often be polished off in the cleaning of the shell cases.
  • Watch for any heavy corrosion or pitting, as this should be a warning that the bullet has lost some ductility and integrity due to the oxidization process, and it should not be reloaded for fear of failure during the detonation of the round.
  • Always inspect every used shell case for damage or non-conformity, prior to reloading or use.

Primer pockets should also be checked for obstructions in the pinhole leading into the body of cavity, and some like to scrape out the primer residue between reloadings. Again this article is for entertainment purposes and is not a comprehensive text.

If you are not aware, there are two major sources of reloadable military caliber, or “so called” NATO ammo (.556 x 45, .762 x 51, and so forth). The two sources of such brass are the spent cartridges from civilian ammo manufacturers and the surplus military cartridge market. The surplus military cartridges have several avenues of reaching the reloaders’ hands, but for anyone who is picking up range brass or purchasing non-refurbished, used range brass, repurposing either of these two sources of reloadable brass have their pros and cons when it comes to their use in building a new round from components purchased for reloading. The military stuff is going to take some modifications and trickery to make function at the amateur level of reloading that we are dealing with in this article. The two biggest advantages of the military surplus brass are cost and availability. The two biggest drawbacks to the surplus brass shell cases are often an elongated, case neck, length and the military specified, primer pocket crimp. The majority of the cases I seem to acquire from the range or used market, fall into the military, surplus, brass category. Military surplus ammo is usually cheaper or easier to come by, but it requires additional processing for use in reloading. There are a few manufacturers out there who are commercially reprocessing and selling used, surplus brass, but the cost starts to approach that of new brass, and often these cases are not available for purchase.

Your most logical next question might be: how do I reprocess my own range finds that are military surplus so that I am able to use them to load my own rounds? Before I answer this question, allow me to caution anyone who wants to pursue this endeavor. Always follow safe limits set by the powder manufacturer and specifications published in the manufacturer’s reloading publications for the caliber of bullet you are thinking about reloading. Using safe practices and known standards are safest ways to repurpose surplus military brass as well as their civilian cousins. A person can spend a lot of time and effort in producing ammo at home, but I will try and let you know a few ways to safely go about gaining similar, safe results. Remember at the beginning of the article I told you some might call me down right cheap, but I still follow the safest standards available, and I recommend this to anyone considering reloading their own ammo, after all we all want to remain safe and enjoy this hobby for as long as we can. Additionally, we hope we will be able to pass the skills and knowledge on to others.

I will now share some of the low cost, low tech ways that have proven safe for me during the reconditioning of spent brass so that you can have your budget left more intact to buy the components rather than the high tech tools available to rework military, surplus brass. Again, always, this information is used for entertainment purposes and should not be taken as gospel. Consult your loading manuals, copyrighted materials, and publications for data pertaining to making your own ammo.

The main tools I find necessary for the compliance to standards or re-sizing of the overall length on any used brass, whether military surplus or from a civilian cartridge used for reloading purposes, are: a case length gauge (Wilson tools) or caliper (Franklin Arsenal) for measuring the case length of the shell case. These overall case length specs are generally found in the manuals printed by the companies selling reloading presses and dies (see list above).

The second tool I find necessary for the process of re-sizing the neck length (actually the overall case length is measured, but the neck length is the part of the case shortened for reloading) is the case neck cutting tool or chuck. This cutting tool, when combined with the appropriate caliber, length gauge will allow for the safe removal of materials from the overall shell case length. Once you have chosen a method to measure case length, you then need to decide if you want to purchase a motor-driven turning tool or hand powered lathe-type cutting tool or just use a file to correct the case length. I decided to go the inexpensive (cost effective) route, and I purchased a hand drill-mounted, cutting tool to take down the neck length using a pin-mounted depth gauge (Lee or Hornady). These can be had for less than $25 for each caliber (for the chuck/cutter head, depth gauge pin, and hand adapter). I recommend asking a person you know who reloads rifle ammo, or go search on YouTube to learn more about this technique, as it is not talked about much in reloading circles. This manual method is very low tech, and it is almost as easy as filing the case neck down, but it’s a lot less time consuming and less messy.

In order to attain the proper amount of brass to be removed from the case, begin the trimming process as outlined by the tool manufacturer. (It is the law, you know, to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter.) The case should then be trimmed on the outer rim and inner rim, prior to reloading, using a small trimming tool designed for this purpose (Lee, RCBS). I really like the tool made by Lee that is intended for this purpose, but anyone making a case trimmer will have their own version of the same.

The second process in repurposing the surplus brass case is to reshape the primer pocket, in order to remove the roll crimp and bevel the outer lip of the primer pocket of the shell case. There are a couple of different ways to do this. The primary method available is to use a primer pocket reamer de-burring tool (Lyman) made by several of the bullet manufacturers. These tools come in two basic sizes– one for large primer pockets and one for small primer pockets. The .223 case calls for a small rifle primer, so that is the one we need. These should be available at most shops that sell reloading supplies. This tool can be used manually or can be removed from the handle and placed in a cordless drill and used at a bit higher output. These tools should cost around $10.00 for a single primer size or purchased in kits with other bits used in the reloading process.

There are other options for re-sizing the primer pocket, but these will cost between $70 to $100 or more to purchase. I am sure there is a “break-even point”; the more ammo you shoot and reload, the easier it will be to decide the cost effectiveness of the added expense of buying this tool. One manufacturer calls this a primer swaging tool (RCBS) while others may have another name, but basically they have a die that is pressed into the primer pocket at the bottom of the case that presses the existing hole to the proper shape without the necessity of reaming or boring out the old pocket to make room for the primer by removing the roll crimp in this area.

The only other step I perform prior to starting the process of turning salvaged brass into a live round of ammo is that I use a (Lee) case lube, which often comes as a paste in a tube that looks a lot like hand cream, to lubricate the case before starting the bullet building process. I put a tiny dab of the lube on the case and work it on by hand as I place the brass in the first (de-priming /sizing) die. I do recommend that once the bullet is ready to take to the range, load in a magazine, or store in a box for later use, you wipe any residue from the bullet lube off of the shell case since it is mildly corrosive. I will often case tumble my used cases in a vibrating tumbler (Frankford Arsenal) using the corn cob media and a polishing compound, prior to starting the reconditioning of the used case. While this step is not necessary, it does give the bullet a lot more finished look and if left in the vibrator for two hours or more will remove carbon/powder residue from inside the case, making for a better purchase between slug and case neck as well as a truer case neck diameter. I leave the spent primer in the case while tumbling to keep the primer pocket from filling with debris.

I have left out a lot of the details and steps to loading a shell and turning it into a bullet, but I will possibly publish a second part to this saga. Most of the subsequent steps are considered universal, but I do recommend case sizing to the smaller diameter using the deliberately undersized die that is called a T/C die and trying to run the bulges left from detonation out of the lower case section as close to the rim end of the case as possible, taking the re-sizing die down as far as you can. In order to insure a properly-sized case for any tight tolerance chamber, I will re-size the case prior to the de-capping step and after the bullet is seated on the shell casing as extra insurance for a proper fit. I also recommend that all case necks are resized prior to the bullet being seated for optimal purchase between case and slug. There are a myriad of locations on YouTube that can tell you more about the entire process, and the video instructions with close-ups of the process can be of great help to shorten the learning curve.

As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words” and also, “seeing is believing”.

Basically, make sure you know what gun powder to use, how much to use, and that the slug is properly seated to the correct depth for the overall cartridge length. Also, know prior to loading that the shell case is defect free and in spec. Follow all the published guidelines given in the sizing die kit, the loading manuals furnished by the powder manufacturer, quantities of powder to use, and the bullet size and weight, as the powder charge will be dependent on these parameters. You can also refer to one of the many how-to publications available as well as going to a powder company’s web site.

I left out many of the details in the steps described decamping (de-priming the case), sizing the case to tolerance, loading the case with powder (know how much to use by referring to powder manufacturer’s loading data), seating the bullet to depth, and making sure the bullet length, size, and length is compatible to the chamber of your gun. However, one thing I will recommend is that when dealing with a semi-auto load, you should try to get the bullet to a slightly smaller size than with bolt action or lever action guns by purchasing dies that are designed for semi-auto loading or you may run into chambering issues, which may lead to failure to feed or other dangerous or problematic issues at the very least, which leads to much frustration.

With the proper caution, quality control, tools training, and patience reloading the .223 can be rather satisfying as well as creating an opportunity to save a few bucks on ammo. You will also have the ability to load a custom-made round that will function in the unique niche you desire. Often we find reloading allows us to shoot a few more rounds down range with the shooting budget remaining in one piece. In addition, you will have the ability and satisfaction to produce bullets of superior accuracy and more diverse capabilities at a greatly reduced price. I would also like to add that it is a good practice to keep track of your favorite load data so you know what you are shooting at the range. Your gun may fall in love with a certain load, and you will know what that load is, if you label or journal this information.

Have fun, be safe, and perhaps I will see you on the range. You will probably know it is me. I will be the strange fellow that comes up to you and asks if you are going to need those used shell cases to reload or if it is alright if I pick them up for you. By the way, are you finished with the empty cartridge box? I can get rid of that for you, too!

I hope I have help and not hindered you from pursuing this new hobby. I can tell you this, I never missed a beat in getting to the gun range due to a shortage of ammo, even during the last few years after some of our politicians tried to make it next to impossible. I was able to purchase components in most all cases when the factory stuff was no where to be found or way too expensive to even consider buying.

Letter Re: I-594

Hugh,

The dots to connect include the fact that almost all of this was financed by Microsoft fortunes. There’s the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s donations to the legislation. They’re also known activists for universal population control and vaccination. The past chairman of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, and his wife gave a million or so to the anti-gun campaign. He bought the LA Clippers basketball team for a couple of billion dollars. Another heavy donor was Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and good friend of Bill Gates. Paul Allen is also the owner of the Seattle Seahawks NFL team, which, as a letter said, is the only NFL team that donates 100% of its (political donation) money to Democrat candidates, and as we’ve seen, certainly to Democrat party causes. The anti-gun propaganda was bought and paid for by these powerful billionaires. Billionaires buy and control our politics. Only the super rich can afford to do this; small individual donors are shut out. We are coming to a stage in our history where we are reverting to the Feudal system. There are those who own it all, and we peasants are to be controlled and turned into lackeys and servants. Some of us know who our enemies are. They are the new rich who despise us and mean to conquer us, and they’re doing it. Hunker down, bunker down, and be prepared for the horrors to come. They’ve already been bought and paid for. – SHO

Hugh’s Quote of the Day:

“Now observe that in all the propaganda of the ecologists—amidst all their appeals to nature and pleas for ‘harmony with nature’—there is no discussion of man’s needs and the requirements of his survival. Man is treated as if he were an unnatural phenomenon. Man cannot survive in the kind of state of nature that the ecologists envision—i.e., on the level of sea urchins or polar bears…

In order to survive, man has to discover and produce everything he needs, which means that he has to alter his background and adapt it to his needs. Nature has not equipped him for adapting himself to his background in the manner of animals. From the most primitive cultures to the most advanced civilizations, man has had to manufacture things; his well-being depends on his success at production. The lowest human tribe cannot survive without that alleged source of pollution: fire. It is not merely symbolic that fire was the property of the gods which Prometheus brought to man. The ecologists are the new vultures swarming to extinguish that fire.” ― Ayn Rand, The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution

Notes for Wednesday – February 25, 2015

February 25th is the birthday of bluegrass music legend Ralph Stanley. (born 1927). His harmonizing and high tenor soloshave an almost haunting sound to them, but I must mention that I was disappointed to hear that he once made a campaign commercial for BHO, back in 2008. Something tells me that he now regrets having done so.

o o o

KI4U, Inc is offering a Radiation Detector (RADSticker) for the cost of shipping ($1). First come, first served, and limit of one per customer. They’ve set aside 1000 stickers for this promotion.

o o o

Today, we present another entry for Round 57 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 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 then 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 30 DPMS AR-15 .223/5.56 30 Round Gray Mil Spec w/ Magpul Follower Magazines (a value of $448) 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. Acorn Supplies is donating a Deluxe Food Storage Survival Kit with a retail value of $350,
  4. The Ark Instituteis donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  5. $300 worth of ammo from Patriot Firearms and Munitions. (They also offer a 10% discount for all SurvivalBlog readers with coupon code SVB10P),
  6. A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials,
  7. Twenty Five books, of the winners choice, of any books published by PrepperPress.com (a $270 value),
  8. TexasgiBrass.com is providing a $150 gift certificate,
  9. Organized Prepper is providing a $500 gift certificate, and
  10. 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,
  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 Y-Shot Slingshot and a Locking Rifle Rack (a $379 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 57 ends on March 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.

Range Brass to Finished Cartridge, Tips For The Ubiquitous .223 Cartridge, by R.W. – Part 2

Why would anyone go to the risk or bother to reload their own bullets, if all things are equal? For instance, why reload if reloading materials are just as available as finished bullets and conversely there are no shortages or sticker shock encountered in either? That’s a good question. My advice is to leave no stone unturned, dig a little deeper, and keep all of your options open. Not all bullets are created equal, of course. Even if all manufacturers made the same specifications, performance and accuracy would vary wildly, or else the science of punching holes in paper to find a optimal load would not be necessary. Furthermore, some calibers, grain weights, bullet types, and powder loads may be nearly impossible to find and purchase at the cheaper price mentioned previously. Hollow points, soft points, various grain weight, bullets, or specialty loads, such as match loads, tracers, semi-armor piercing, and the like may not come in a factory-loaded cartridge, or it may be almost impossible to afford to shoot or practice with them due to their price or lack of availability. Most of the low cost .223 ammo out there today is going to be of the ball ammo, full metal jacket, or target grade ammo with average speed and grain weights, which will have a speed around the 2800 to 3200 fps (feet per second) and average grain weight between .50 and .55 grains in a fmjbt (full metal jacket, boat tail slug). Any of the other variations of grain weight, speed, and slug configuration will generally cost you a lot more per round to shoot with some of the match grade, expansive tipped or heavier grain bullets costing over $1.00 per bullet. All things being equal, if you are just plinking and want to go to the target range to hunt and stalk a paper target, I recommend purchasing the practice ammo, getting the “run of the mill” target stuff, and skipping reloading at this time, until the next ammo crunch occurs; then, pull up this article, get both your credit card and calender (because you’ll be waiting for items on back order), and start over at the beginning. However, if you think you might need to hunt or shoot something other than paper, you might want to look into reloading.

Let me draw you back from my rabbit trail a second and try and coach you through a few money-saving tips of the .223 reloading process. First, I have a few options, which you may want to consider, that may save you money. Keep in mind that as a hobby we do not take into consideration the time it takes to produce a cartridge at home, or the price of making your own becomes much more ambiguous if not downright problematic.

Let’s just say for the sake of argument, you decide that I might be on to something, and you have been able to practice hand loading with a friend. Since you believe you have the aptitude and fortitude to make your own rounds, you have purchased/accumulated slugs, powder, primers, and brass shell cases, watched 25 videos on reloading at various YouTube sites, and located a source(s) of reloading equipment. Before you take the final plunge of purchasing any reloading equipment, I recommend the following:

  1. First of all for the sake of ease and climbing safely on to the learning curve of reloading, I recommend a single stage press as your primary learning tool. The secret of learning any new endeavor is to survive long enough to get good at it by doing it safely and correctly. I believe is by keeping it simple that you will be keeping it safe.
  2. Next, do your homework and go online to determine fair market prices for your reloading equipment needs. Most of the primary manufacturers of reloading equipment will have a package deal that offers most everything you will need on the hardware side of reloading to get you started– press, scale, funnel, primer, powder dispenser, and other sundry tools including reloading manuals or booklets on proper load data for most of the common calibers being used today. You will typically need to purchase a set of reloading dies, but there are even kits out there that may have these included in several of the more popular caliber configurations.
  3. Once this is done, I then recommend you check prices at your local gun shops or reloading supply house. If their prices are even remotely competitive, I would give the local store the nod. You never know when you might need to get those last minute supplies for reloading, and going local will keep these shops around for just such a trip. If you cannot get close to a fair price from your local dealers, then I recommend a gun show at a larger venue if your area is fortunate enough to have them. If all else fails, go to the Internet and try your hand at eBay or Amazon. Each one of these options has their pros and cons, but I have had success with all of them, and hopefully you will also.

If you had good fortune, during the time you spent learning and practicing how to reload with a friend, you were informed of or noticed one thing almost immediately– of all of the components that it takes to make a bullet go out of the end of the barrel of your favorite shooting platform, all of the items are consumables, except for the shell case. (What did I tell you about the saving of brass and packaging?) Folks out there in reloading land understand that brass is a wonderfully ductile metal that can be worked easily with the proper tools and dies into a reusable product. (It may be noted here that there are some who cast pistol caliber slugs at home, but for the average reloader this is not an option in the making of the rifle rounds, due to the higher muzzle velocity causing the need to use a copper jacketed bullet. That’s all for another time and another article!)

HACK ALERT! One of the subcategories of the reloading hobby is coming up with cheap alternatives to acquiring new shell casings in order to make new bullets. As seen above, the brass case is the one component that is reused multiple times in the reloading process, and this gives the home reloader an edge over the manufacturer of new ammo when it comes to production costs. It should be noted here that there are at this time, several manufacturers using reconditioned brass. These include Black Hills as well as others, and they’re offering these bullets at commercial outlets. Some local “garage shops” in your area may be doing the same and offering ammo for sale at the local gun show. The reconditioned ammo (made from used brass and new components) can generally be had at a cash advantage over the brand new stuff, but once again your savings is not going to be found with the target variety ammo, rather it’s with the more exotic loadings for your cartridges.

Brass can be purchased new, of course, and even purchased used, but scavenging brass from one of your local public or private gun ranges can save you huge amounts of your reloading dollar. Some of these resources may not be available to you, but if you have a public range, picking up spent cartridges is a very real possibility for procuring brass. This may or may not be highly competitive where you live, but around these parts it has become very much so due in large part to a lot of retired or unemployed folks supplementing their income or their hobby of reloading, by finding, sorting, and selling or trading used brass. This brass picked up from the range will usually need to be sorted by caliber, manufacture, and condition (damaged cases are not uncommon); it must also be cleaned and then processed for home use or marketed for sale or trade. Some of the range-find brass may wind up on the market at gun shows or gun stores. Most can be had in bulk for the reasonable price of $0.05 to $0.10 per round. Often, for $10.00 you can get 100 once-fired cases at these locations. This can be a savings of 50% over the retail prices of new brass, in most cases (no pun intended).

While on the subject of purchasing new brass for reloading, it is often nice to be able to start your reloading experience or training using new brass. There are a few advantages to using new brass to make your first few batches of reloads. A few advantages are that they are:

  • ready to use,
  • require no reworking of the case nor any need to measure the case for the correct specifications of the caliber you are working with, and
  • will offer a degree of uniformity and compliance that are what a reloader dreams of when re-sizing his used cases.

The brass can often be found at the same locations as mentioned earlier in the article, using any one of your vendors of choice. If you purchase brass in large quantities (500-1000), you will normally save a few cents a case and often shipping, and these savings can add up. As noted earlier, there are huge savings to be had by procuring shell cases in used condition. It should be noted here that brass cases are not the only form of cases manufactured, as there are also cases made of nickel plate brass, mild steel, and aluminum with a smattering of other materials used but not normally found. In most instances, the brass and nickel-plated brass are reloadable. The problem comes in when you understand that the militaries of the world specify and/or often use Berdan primers, whereas the civilian rounds produced for the mass markets are made with a Boxer primer. The good news is that I have not encountered or heard of any cartridges being made for the .223 cailber using Berdan primers. I am not sure, but it may be because the small primers, called for in the .223, are seldom specified with Berdan primers, but in the category of good information to be aware of, put this information in your tool belt for bullets using large primers, such as the .308, 30-06 and other military calibers. More than one reloader has been surprised when trying to decap/deprime a mil spec shell case and broken the decaping pin off of the arbor of the die. [Editor's Note: European manufactured brass is generally Berdan primed unless it was made specifically for the US domestic market. While you generally don't have to worry about that if you are purchasing new brass, those who reload need to check carefully, because there is quite a bit of imported ammo that is Berdan primed.]

Many shell cases will be able to be reloaded after reshaping with the proper die for at least five times or more, prior to defects forming on the cases, such as the primer pocket being worn or the case neck splitting (more technical nomenclature to be sure), but if you are going to reload then you will probably have already learned the terms I just mentioned. There are ways to extend the longevity of the body of the brass, BUT ON THE PRIMER POCKET there is NOT SO MUCH.

Letter Re: To Camo or Not To Camo?, by J.M.

HJL,

J.M.’s point about having an agreement with your team about what to wear when you are approaching a team compound so you can be recognized as belonging to part of a team brought up a very good point that I think deserves closer examination. Basically what J.M. is talking about is a method of authentication. He also did bring up some of the weak points of using this as authentication, such as if you get commonly available camouflage will someone be able to infiltrate? Let’s take it a step further. What if you get extremely custom one-of-a-kind camouflage and you feel that you can rely on it, and then one of your team mates gets captured, killed, or loses their gear? Now do you feel that method of authentication is still reliable, when people might be able to get even closer without raising an alarm? My point is think about your methods of authentication. There are three factors of authentication, which are: 1) Something you know, 2) Something you have, and 3) Something your are. We should take these into account as we establish our SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), both for initial approach to the post as well as when returning from patrol or hunting/foraging. Also, keep in mind, not only should there be a method for folks approaching the retreat to authenticate themselves to those already there, there should also be a way that the occupants of the retreat can authenticate themselves to those approaching and indicate that it is safe to come in. So what are some ideas that could be used? Something you know: You could use a challenge and a password such as the D-Day Flash! Thunder! (Keep in mind there was a backup for that with the little cricket clickers the GIs were issued.) The downside of this is someone could overhear and compromise the password. You could make this more complex by having a date or weather-related password rotation. You could use a flashlight to send a specific series of long and short flashes. It could be actual Morse code but does not have to be. You could have a specific hand signal or a way to carry your gear.

To authenticate a “safe to approach/ friendly occupied post” you could open the shutters of a specific window or place a specific blanket on a clothes line. Certain folklore states that certain patterns of quilts on clothes lines were used as signals for the underground railroad. This was debunked by quilt scholars in the 1990s, but just because it’s not historically true does not mean it’s not a good idea. So what other signals could you hide in plane sight? What about one that states it’s unsafe to approach and meet at rally point A? Just think this out and see what other things you could come up with for signals for authentication?

How about something you have?

Well that custom pattern of uniform is something you have, but we already saw how that could be compromised. What else could you do with something you have? What about combining something you have with something you know? Now if the uniform is stolen, they might not get the full authentication procedure, which will help alert your team mates. So you could take the flashlight signal and change that to a specific colored laser issued to everyone. Now okay, if the laser is stolen, they might not know it’s an authentication tool. Even if they know that, now they have to know to approach a specific part of the retreat with a specific on/off pattern.

You could take the uniform idea and add the knowledge that you must approach the post with your hat off in your left hand with your right pant leg bloused into the boot and the left one hanging free. It looks silly, but who would think to do that if they stole your uniform and learned of the retreat location?

I think that something you are, while an effective (yet not fool proof and in many cases able to be faked) tool in today’s times, I don’t think this will be the most reliable means of authentication in a TEOTWAWKI situation. Electronic biometrics are expensive, can be fragile, and power for them might not be available. Plus, in most cases, the subject has to be closer than you would want them to be if you were not sure who it is that is approaching your retreat. You might say, how about keeping pictures of all of the team mates? There are two problems with this. First, I would make sure you had them as part of your emergency destruction SOP, if you got overrun. For the second problem, imagine this scenario. You have a somewhat chubby, pale, clean-shaven team mate who is stuck 500 miles away from the retreat when SHTF. He ends up having to spend quite a while roughing it and hoofing it to the retreat. What are the chances he is going to look like his picture or how you remember him when he gets there? This is why I say, while there are three factors of authentication, I would prefer to rely on a combination of the first two for a TEOTWAWKI situation.

Okay, so what happens if you don’t loose your stuff but are taken hostage instead? What if the bad guys see someone out foraging that they figure is from a retreat and they take him hostage and follow their tracks back to the retreat? Should they go through torture to avoid giving a signal? Should they risk being a friendly fire casualty by approaching without a signal? This is where “duress” signals come into play. This makes it look like you are authenticating, but in actuality you are signaling that you are under duress and it gives your team warning to tactically deploy with discretion to give you and your new companions a proper greeting. Duress signals should be added as part of the SOP for replies from the compound as well. If you are overrun or surprised through treachery while part of your party is out, you want the ability to appear to be signaling them all clear in the eyes of the adversary while in reality sending the signal that all is not well. – G.V.