Notes for Friday – March 06, 2015

A SurvivalBlog reader has notified us that Tactical Machining out of Florida is having a blow out sale on 80% AR-15 Lowers. These are unblemished and if you buy three or more, they are only $29.

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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 Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  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, and
  9. 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.

The Time Has Come, by JTH

Suddenly it hit me. We are DOING IT! After years of dreaming about moving to the Redoubt, planning, plotting, learning new skills, understanding what is important, we are finally doing it. I am scared and excited at the same time. We have two more months of frantic remodeling and updating our home, in order to get top dollar, and then we’ll put the house on the market. After searching for property in Idaho online and with the help of several couples who live in Idaho and a realtor recommendation, it’s time to make a couple of trips out and get serious about finding the right property. My wants and desires are crystal clear. So are my husband’s. We want exactly opposite things.

It has taken years for my husband to accept and agree that we need to get out of Dodge while the getting is good. He is not wholeheartedly into this. He just wants a happy wife at this point. He has no desire to homestead or farm, and he has close to zero skills in that regard. He is afraid I will ask him to help me clean a chicken coop. He said to me the other day, out of the blue, “NO GOATS!” You have to laugh. I just want chickens and maybe a Jersey cow for milk, a large garden, fresh air, and some land far enough away from the masses, yet close enough to get to a good hospital. It’s not so simple. I thought it might be helpful to others who are dreaming and planning to cover the major topics, not all of which are about logistics.

Budget

The first major goal that we have is to be debt free or as much as is possible. We do not want to trade one rat race for another. The finances have to work, or there is no point in moving. We have a good home on a nice lot in a friendly area that we can afford. However, what if the economy collapses and the downtown lights, which we can see from our front view windows, suddenly seem too close for comfort? What if I lose my job? There are a lot of “what if’s” in these uncertain times. What we can afford will be wholly dependent upon what we can pull out of the house sale and retirement funds. There is also the matter of our cars, both aging with many, many miles on them. We need at least one newer and reliable all-wheel-drive vehicle that will last a good long time. We plan to pay cash for a newer car. What about the expenses of moving? All these things have to be considered. We have guesstimated and taken into account the above and more, but only the actual experience will truly inform us. My biggest fear in regards to finances is that we will not stick to our budget and will allow our desire for comfort and ease, to which we are quite accustomed, rule over practicality. I would be happy with a humble abode out in the sticks. My husband is looking at golf course property. It is going to be tough, and it will take a lot of compromise and negotiation to make an actual property purchase that we can both agree on.

Family

The second major consideration is the distance between us and our large and extended family. We have children and grandchildren. They do not want us to move further away. They are worried about “the parentals”, our health especially. Currently, most of them can get to us in half a day’s drive, but if we move, it would be a 10-13 hour drive in good weather with no mishaps. Our parents are elderly and in poor health, so we have to think about being able to get to them if need be. I have always wanted to plan on a family retreat property, but my sister who has gone before me in moving to the Redoubt gave some wise advice. She said, “Do what is right for you and your husband. If the children come or follow, that will be good, but they may never.” Sigh. My conclusion: We cannot convince the family to come with us, nor can we afford to provide for everyone, so we must focus on doing what is right for us. It is funny actually; several of my children are beginning to look online at property in the Redoubt, thinking that they may eventually move too. It would be grand if they could, but I cannot plan around their plans.

Location

The location goals, for us, include:

  • lower elevations,
  • small acreage for organic farming and chickens,
  • a good well,
  • septic,
  • ability to connect to the Internet (for my job),
  • a home in good condition (no fixer uppers) with enough square footage for our needs and visiting family, and
  • in a sparsely-populated area with good roads back to town.

The acreage needs to have irrigation in place or the ability to develop it easily. My plan is to begin a small organic farm that could potentially turn into a business down the line, if needed. I want to be far away from the masses, major freeways, shopping malls, planned communities, and major downtown areas. However, my husband and I both have major health needs, so we need to be able to make the drive to doctors and hospitals. An hour or two driving would not be too bad, but it might be wiser to be even closer. My husband is very social and participates in many community activities and sports related events. If he could not get to the things he loves, he would be miserable. The idea of being snowed in and cuddling in front of the fire may be one of my fantasies, but it is not his. He would actually prefer a condominium in Maui. Northern Idaho, we have decided, is just too cold for us. Eastern Idaho is too far away from family. We are not the hardy, “put on the snowshoes” kind of people, so the mountainous regions are out of the question. We have settled for looking in the Southwestern region, from the Oregon state line to the Payette and Boise National forests. We have friends in this region, which should make our resettlement more enjoyable. While we do not want to live in Boise, the capital, it has many of the services we need, including a major airport. There are many property choices outside the mainstream of that area with plenty of acreage and great water resources with reasonable prices. The location will be, perhaps, the biggest compromise of all between us. I have read every survival book written and am a big fan of JWR. I understand the components of the optimum retreat property, but I am married to a wonderful man who thinks I am a bit off my rocker, and he is my first priority. The purpose of moving to the Redoubt in general is to become debt-free, self-sufficient, and to live in a state where the consensus is politically conservative, patriotic, and God-fearing. God will bless our efforts to find the right spot for us both. I know that the Lord knows better than we do about what we need and want. Moreover, the most amazing thing is that God knows the future. No matter how hard I prep and plan, it could all be in vain, and only the Lord knows that. We just do the best we can with what we have and trust Him.

Reality

I made a long and detailed list of all the things I want in our new property and in my own life. I have wanted to do this for a good seven years now and have studied every aspect and practiced my skills. I realize I am not going to get everything I want or think I need. I realize that I may not physically be able to do all that I want to do. My health has been terrible the last couple of years, and honestly, my life might be cut short, so what does that mean? It means that in spite of the detailed “survival retreat property” I have in mind, I have to be realistic and find something that fits my life now and in the possibly unhappy future. We have to be able to sell the property if need be, so finding the right kind of property from a realtor’s perspective is critically important. From a spiritual and intellectual perspective, I want to try living a different kind of life before my time is up on earth. My S could HTF before the world’s does, so being practical and realistic has to be the overriding goal. Many times, I have been tempted to just do what my husband wants– buy a condominium in Maui, forget the terrorists and the world chaos, and enjoy what is left of my time while sipping on a Mai Tai. However, this dream is one I have had a very long time, and I feel compelled to pursue it.

Looking For a New Offshore Server For SurvivalBlog

Since we no longer have a backup server in Sweden (a long story of which I’ll spare you the details), we are now looking to lease another dedicated offshore backup server for SurvivalBlog. This needs to be a dedicated server with very stable power (preferably hydroelectrically-sourced), 99%+ uptime, and rock-solid stable IP addresses. (Our IP address cannot change, once it is established.) Keep in mind that this server must be capable of regularly handling 25 mbps. We’d also like it to be in a country that is not excessively buddy-buddy with the U.S. government. However, at the same time, we don’t want it to be a country that is anti-western. One other consideration is that the server needs to be owned by a company that has not been tainted by hosting gambling, pornography, or torrent-style downloads. (This will minimize the risk of a “site-wide” government-ordered takedown.) Some good candidate countries for the server could include: Iceland, Chile, Greenland, Finland, Switzerland, Ireland, Portugal, and the Czech Republic. So, if you have a server available, or you know of a company that you can personally recommend, then please let us know, via e-mail. Note that we are willing to pay current competitive market rates for leasing this dedicated server, and that this will very likely be a contract that we will renew, year after year. Thanks! – JWR

What’s the Story Behind ATF “Banning” 5.56mm Ammo?

(. . . and what can you do about it?)

By Glenn D. Bellamy, Armorer-at-Law®

There’s been no shortage of misinformation and hyperbole about an ATF memo released on February 13th reported to “ban AR15 ammo”. The memo describes a “framework” by which ATF proposes it would consider requests for “sporting purpose” exemptions under the federal statute banning the manufacture, importation, or sale (but not possession) of “armor piercing” projectiles. I’ve searched and researched the law and the facts behind it with passion over the last two weeks. I’m tempted to write a legal brief in opposition, or at least to give it a thorough fisking. But that would bore you and be wasted on the ATF at this point.

Instead, I’ll give you the skinny on what’s going on and the most effective thing(s) you can do about it.

The Skinny

Back in 1986, Congress debated—and passed—a law purported to protect law enforcement officers from evil “cop killer” bullets (the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act). Since virtually every rifle round will penetrate the soft body armor worn by police, the law became focused on ammunition designed for handguns. Rather than define what would be prohibited by performance (whether it could penetrate body armor), they compromised on a definition based on the projectile or projectile core being “constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium”. Certain ammunition was expressly excluded from the ban, including lead-free shot pellets and any projectile “which the Attorney General finds is primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes”. Later, the law was amended to add a second category: full jacketed projectiles larger than .22 caliber “designed and intended for use in a handgun” and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight.

M855 “ball” ammo (and its NATO counterpart, designated SS109), sometimes called “green tip,” uses a copper-jacketed projectile with a core made in part from steel and part from lead. Since its core is not made “entirely” from steel and its jacket is less than 25% of the total weight, it does not fall within the scope of either definition of “armor piercing” ammo in the law. Nevertheless, as soon as the law was passed in 1986, ATF “granted” an unnecessary “sporting purposes” exemption for M855 ammo. In the “Framework” memo, ATF (erroneously) says “AR-type handguns were not commercially available when the armor piercing ammunition exemption was granted in 1986”. If that were true, then no exemption would have been necessary. The statute only applies to handgun ammo. Now, citing the proliferation of AR-platform handguns and glossing over the fact that its projectile core is not made “entirely” of steel, ATF singled out M855 as a specific example of ammo that would fail the criteria of its new “framework” and is withdrawing its prior “exemption”.

ATF is blatantly misreading the language of the federal law. The statute says:

. . . a projectile or projectile core being which may be used in a handgun and which is constructed entirely (excluding the presence of traces of other substances) from one or a combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper, or depleted uranium. (Emphasis added)

Although not explained in the memo, ATF issued a “Special Advisory” dated February 27, 2015, revealing their distortion of the law:

It is important to note that the limitation on “armor piercing ammunition” in the GCA does not apply to projectiles manufactured exclusively from non-restricted materials, such as copper and lead; it only applies to projectiles that include the specifically restricted materials and can be used in a handgun.

See the difference? This is a perversion of the clear language of the law and cannot be tolerated.

What To Do?

This “framework” has been a couple of years in the making, but both the political left and right recognize it as an implementation of the President’s promise to the anti-gun lobby to use every administrative means possible to make up for their legislative failures. For a very insightful article (with only a few factual errors), see this Huffington Post blog. So, while the action taken by ATF isn’t a “ban of all AR15 ammo,” it does require a response. The question is: How do we respond effectively?

Two ways: 1) Send your comments to ATF, and 2) write to your Senators and Representatives asking them to sign on to Congressional letters to ATF and to support proposed legislation that would curb ATF’s abuses in this area.

When ATF published its proposed “framework”, it invited public comments for 30 days (ending March 16, 2015). As a starting point, ATF skirted the official procedure for creating regulations that implement federal laws. (See instructions for submitting comments on page 17 of the ATF memo.)

Substantive rules of this kind are supposed to have a 90-day comment period and other steps before going into effect. Here, ATF characterized their rule change as a “framework” by which they will consider requests for exemptions for ammo that otherwise would be prohibited under the “primarily intended to be used for sporting purposes” exception and published it simply as a “notice” to the industry.

Make no mistake, ATF doesn’t care how you “feel” about their latest action, and rants about how everything they do is unconstitutional and evil will be ignored and discarded as off-topic. The only comments with any potential to influence ATF are those explaining why the proposed action exceeds or violates the agency’s statutory authority, internal conflicts or inconsistencies in what is being proposed, and unintended consequences they have overlooked. Feel free to borrow liberally from my example letter. This option is worth your time, but is unlikely to be effective alone.

Your elected officials should care how you feel—after all, they want your vote to be re-elected. But, more importantly, tell them what you think and what you know about this subject (ATF’s misrepresentations in the Proposed Framework and skirting proper rule-making procedure). Then ask them to do something specific.

Congress can apply pressure in various ways to curtail rogue agencies. The topic has picked up some inertia in Washington and even been noticed by the mainstream media outlets. A group of more than 250 (so far) Members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed this letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones. A similar letter is being circulated in the Senate by Chuck Grassley. Specifically, ask your Senators and Representative to sign these letters. If the House or Senate Judiciary Committees schedule hearing on this topic, it may be enough to put the brakes on ATF’s plans.

Congress also has the power to change the law so it won’t be misinterpreted, although it’s hard to think of clearer language than “a projectile or projectile core . . . constructed entirely” from a specific list of materials. Articles about proposed bills being drafted can be found here and here. Specifically ask your Senators and Representative to support these efforts. When a bill is officially introduced, write again asking for support of the bill by name or number.

You can find contact information for your Senators here and your Representative here. Below is a template you can use if you wish. Please write!

Dear ______,

I am writing to you about concerns I have with the recently proposed ATF Framework for Determining Whether Certain Projectiles are “Primarily Intended for Sporting Purposes” Within the Meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(17). The Proposed Framework relies on several erroneous assumptions of fact and law, which render the entire underlying proposed framework untenable.

First, it is in direct conflict with the express language of the law. The ammunition known as M855 does not have a core “constructed entirely of . . . steel.” ATF is misinterpreting the law to allow only bullets “manufactured exclusively from non-restricted materials.” This turns the statute on its head and this kind of regulatory abuse cannot be allowed to continue. ATF’s “Framework” needlessly removes from commerce one of the most common types of ammunition used in the most common type of rifle in America today. There is no evidence whatsoever that M855 ammunition has posed a particular threat to the lives of law enforcement personnel in the last 20 years.

Second, it is an attempt by ATF to skirt the proper rulemaking process under the Administrative Procedures Act (5 U.S.C. 533). ATF is proposing a significant and substantive regulatory change whose flaws would be exposed when subjected to the public scrutiny of a 90-day comment period.

I ask that you sign the letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones being circulated among members of the [Senate/House] opposing the agency’s action. I understand that bills are being drafted and will be introduced soon to curtail ATF’s authority in interpreting the law banning armor piercing handgun ammunition. Please cosponsor or support such a bill when it is introduced.

Thank you,

______________

Economics and Investing:

Living In Wonderland On The Road To Massive Worldwide Wealth Destruction And Panic. – B.B.

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The Middle Class Meltdown

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Items from Mr. Econocobas:

Jobless Claims in U.S. Rise to Highest Level in Nine Months

Mark Cuban: We’re in a Tech Bubble—and It’s Worse Than 2000

The Global Problem: Monetary Policy Can’t Fix An Economy’s Structural Problems

Take Out A 7 Year Car Loan To Buy Stocks, CNBC Experts Advise – Hard to believe they are serious, but they are…

Notes for Thursday – March 05, 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 Institute is donating a non-GMO, non-hybrid vegetable seed package–enough for two families of four, seed storage materials, a CD-ROM of Geri Guidetti’s book “Build Your Ark! How to Prepare for Self Reliance in Uncertain Times”, and two bottles of Potassium Iodate– a $325 retail value,
  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, and
  9. 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.

Reaching Out to the Un-Prepped, by Mark C. – Part 2

Here’s Why

The vast majority of the population exists in cities or very near them. We’ve already seen what happens in places like New York and Watts when power was lost for just three days. There are riots, looting, and violence. Imagine a long-term or even permanent loss of power. Imagine that the gasoline supply is what is in your vehicle’s gas tank right now, and that’s it. Food in your pantry is what you have, and that’s it. Water? Fill your bathtub, sinks, or anything else you can find, but that’s it. Toilets? You better dig a hole in the back yard, because disease is not far behind, if you don’t. You could always use your precious gasoline to make a run to the store where everyone is looting, but you’ll find the stores aren’t built with huge store rooms in the back, like there were in the 1970’s. Everything is shipped just-in-time, but of course there won’t be any more trucks to resupply the stores, and there won’t be any more trains or ships. There is no way to get crops out of the fields in bulk; they start to rot in place.

Now, let’s say you did store up a significant supply of food and water, like the Mormons do. You have a whole year’s worth. Did your neighbors do this, too? Did the majority of the now-starving population do this? Do you think they will notice your family seems to be doing pretty well? Did you make the mistake of letting it slip out that you had these supplies? Now, put yourself in their position. They’re looking at their starving kids and hearing their cries at night while their neighbor runs his generator, cooks his good-smelling food, and drinks his clean water. How desperate would you be? Would you let your family perish? What about the police or National Guard? Well, if they hadn’t abandoned their posts to take care of their own families, which is very likely, they would be taking your stores and employing “redistribution” as outlined in the Executive Order, but like I said it’s not likely they would abandon their own families. There would be well-organized groups out there though; the street gangs, who will systematically rape and pillage, will eventually find their way to your house. Will you fight? With what?

Maybe your plan should have been to bug-out of the city and get as far away as you can with as much as you can. That would have been a good idea, if you had left in the first 30 minutes of the power grid loss. Those that wait find themselves stuck on the freeways, jammed up in traffic. Even if you do make it out, where would you go? What would happen when you get there?

Will you grow your own food? Do you know how? So, maybe you prepped a little and bought a bunch of seeds to plant. Were they “heirloom” seeds? All the seeds you buy in the store these days are hybrid seeds, engineered to produce sterile seeds or no seeds at all. This way you have to come back every year to buy more seeds, but there are no more because there are no stores left to sell them. Where do you get heirloom seeds? Do you know how to preserve your crops so you can eat them year-round? Canning is a simple thing to learn, but if you weren’t knowledgeable before the Internet went down you won’t have access to learn. Did you bring canning supplies?

Will you hunt? Like planting and raising crops, it’s a skill or a piece of knowledge you should have learned before the loss of power. Additionally, you need bullets and lots of them, because, again, there are no stores, and on a more ominous note it is very likely you will have to defend yourself and your family against some fairly seasoned thugs. Can you do this? Do you know how? It’s yet another skill you should have acquired before everything crashed.

Enough Already

All right, enough of the torturous questioning. You’re overwhelmed by now and maybe even depressed. I walked you into this subtly, and then I put it on pretty thick. I’m sorry, but I want you to know and to think about it. There is a reality here, and I believe a certainty that drives necessity to prepare.

Cost, Time, and Effort

There is a smart way to prep and at the same time be frugal. Most of us are limited, by budget, in any case. You may be surprised to know that smart and responsible prepping is doable for those that don’t have a lot of money. It may involve building or making your own tools, rather than buying them from a store, or it may mean slowly accumulating canned goods that you normally eat and then rotating them through your pantry. Large bags of grain or rice are very inexpensive and easy to preserve. Also, there are fairly inexpensive ways to purify water. A little bit at a time makes this affordable.

The majority of the part about accumulating knowledge and skills can be inexpensive or even free. Survivalblog.com is a wealth of information from folks that willingly convey their knowledge because they care about you and others like you. From planting and canning to medical, dental, and self-protection, if it’s not on the website, then it points you in the direction of where to find it or how to learn it. Spend a few minutes each day reading and researching. Within a few weeks or months you will be amazed at what you’ve learned. This is where I would start, and it costs you nothing. Why not?

One Last Thing

Are you a Christian? If you are, then at some point you might struggle with the idea that God will provide. He does, and He will. So, now you feel that prepping is sinful, because you should be trusting in Him, right? I know; I struggled with that too. It was mostly because well-meaning teachers/pastors have used things out of context. While it’s true the “lilies of the field do not toil”, the context of the verses are addressing worry rather than work. Read the entire message, not just a single verse or handful of verses. In Genesis, Egypt accumulated seven years’ worth of food because God told them to do it, knowing there would be a shortage. (Gen: 41) Proverbs tells us that being lazy and not preparing is actually wickedness. (Prov 6:6-15) Paul tells us in Timothy that if we do not provide for our families, then we have denied the faith and we are worse than the infidel. (1 Tim 5:8)

These are just a few, and if you go to survivalblog.com and search under “Prayer Page” http://survivalblog.com/prayer/. You will find this subject addressed much better than I can here, as are the subjects of preparing, storing, self-defense, and even charity. Of course, after you read/research things, get on your knees and pray about it yourself. Ask God to show you His will for you in this circumstance. Regardless of what I say here, He is the only authority for your life. Some won’t, because they are afraid or don’t want to know the answer. We as Christians do that from time to time.

I’m reminded of a story where a man was in the ocean and his boat sunk. Several other boats came by the man who was swimming in the water, but each time they asked if he needed help he turned them down, stating that he believed God would save him. Eventually, he drowns and finds himself in Heaven. He took the first opportunity to question God as to why He didn’t save him. God’s response was, “I sent several people to help you, but you didn’t accept their help.”

…and with that, you’re off the hook.

Okay, you read it. I hope and pray it made an impression to at least look into preparation a little deeper. My father was a young man, during the Great Depression, living in Montana. If he remembered anything in his old age, it was the details of what life was like during that time. They had a 120-acre ranch and hunted, raised beef stock, pigs, and chickens, grew hay and grains as well as had a large garden. They canned everything they could, smoked their meat, stored things in a “root cellar” and so forth. It was nearly a self-sustaining lifestyle, though from time to time they sold excess or worked jobs outside the ranch to buy things they couldn’t make themselves. In modern times, this is what we would call a redoubt—a self-sustaining retreat designed for our survival in the event of a catastrophic collapse. The interesting thing is how the Depression left lasting impressions on my father. To hear his stories of that time conveyed one overarching fact—life was hard. To consider engaging in that lifestyle to survive, after living in the world we now have, is overwhelming. Without the knowledge of how to do it, it would be impossible. Will we need to do it? I pray to God, no. However, if your plan for retirement includes social security, an IRA, or pension, you have only to look at the headlines concerning U.S. and world economic instability to realize you might want to have a backup plan.

So you see, it doesn’t hurt to acquire knowledge, some materials, and have a plan. Having a bag or pack with just 72 hours of sustaining items would put you in a better position than 98+% of the population. We call that a Bug-Out-Bag, or BOB. What do you put in it? Search survivalblog.com. It’s free to find out.

Letter Re: Requesting Advice for a Recent College Graduate

Hi HJL,

I wanted to add something to the letter from the recent college graduate. I am a current college student with no debt.

Here are some of the things I do:

  1. Community College: I started with Community College, as most universities will usually accept 60-90 transfer units from accredited community colleges. At the CC level not only is it cheaper but they also have things like fee waivers and work programs to help pay for it. My CC even offers daycare/preschool for the students who have children run by the Early Childhood Education program.
  2. Choosing a University Wisely: My Professor told me that in my field of study, unless you graduate from MIT, it really doesn’t matter where you graduate from. So I picked a university in a less populated state with tuition significantly cheaper than my home state. It has an awesome Engineering department and smaller class sizes, which is great. Hint: It is in the Redoubt.
  3. Work: I always have some kind of part-time job. I also fix computers, tutor students, and create computer programs for people. I cleaned stalls and exercised horses to pay for my freshman year of college.
  4. Scholarships and Grants: This is a huge category that people seem to ignore, for some reason. If you are willing to work hard, keep your GPA above 3.0, and write a few essays, a lot of organizations give scholarships to students in need. Also a lot of universities offer transfer scholarships for students coming in with a GPA above 3.8; I have seen some with amounts as high as $10,000.
  5. GPA: I have a 4.0 GPA. This has opened a lot of doors for me, and it has also saved me a ton of money. Work hard, get good test scores, and test out of every class you can.

Good Luck – S.

Odds ‘n Sods:

Language Warning: This guy pretty well sums it up. A Word or Two to Rioting Moronic Muslims – RBS

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Ukrainian Food Riots . – H.L.

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Person in custody in Maryland shootings; 1 damaged NSA – G.P.

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AVG’s Invisibility Glasses Will Protect You against Facial Recognition Tech. – H.L.

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SurvivalBlog reader J.M. wrote in to tell us that Gander Mountain in Charlottesville, VA had M855 in 320rnd cans for $199.

Creedmoor Sports also stated they had 600rnd cans for $360.

Notes for Wednesday – March 04, 2015

The shooting sports industry lost a dearly loved member when Marval Hornady, Co-Founder Of Hornady Ammunition Passes at 102 Years of Age.

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The supply of green tip SS109 (M855) 5.56mm ammo has dried up almost completely in the United States in the past two weeks. I’ve heard from two different friends and a consulting client that vendors at gun shows on both coasts last weekend were demanding and getting $1.50 to $1.60 per round for this scarce ammo. However, I also heard that www.WhatACountry.com has some available for just 69 cents per round. Theirs is Australian military SS109 equivalent, in 900 round cans. Stock up folks, before the market price jumps to $2 per round! (I have good reason to believe that it will, in the next few weeks.) – JWR

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SurvivalBlog readers usually already know this, but for those who have just started following us, we don’t allow open comments on articles because the threads generally degenerate into flame wars, and the effort required to keep it clean would require the addition of several editors. However, if you have something you want to say about an article, send it to the editor. If it’s post-worthy, we will post it in the “Letter Re” column. Keep it clean and friendly, as this is a family blog. – HJL

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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, and
  9. 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.

Reaching Out to the Un-Prepped, by Mark C. – Part 1

If you are reading this and you have a high interest in prepping but maybe someone you know or someone close to you does not, read on. You’ve tried to reason with them, but the result is the same. Whether it’s your passion or persistence, they get overwhelmed and simply glaze over. Or, maybe they become unsettled or scared. Either way you lose them, and that frustrates you because you feel time is running out. If they would just read Patriots or survivalblog.com! Right? Well, print this out and give it to them.

Now, if you’re reading this because you’re the one that won’t read Patriots or survivalblog.com but you promised someone that you would at least read this article, please read on. This person cares about you. They might be overzealous or overbearing, but they really believe it’s in your best interest.

Prepping Has Become Trendy

In the grand scheme of things, prepping has become increasingly more popular. It has heightened the awareness of millions of people. However, with viral popularity comes an onslaught of commercialism and exploitation. From con artists to stand-up comedians and from vendors to television shows, everybody wants to get in on it. While all of this has heightened awareness and even increased knowledge, the result (as with any booming popularity) eventually seems to drift toward negative connotation. The fashionable becomes unfashionable. In short, to some prepping has started to become more of a joke than a positive trend, and so finding legitimacy may be difficult.

If you were one of those that took interest early on but then fell away, it’s likely you did so after exposure to these negative influences. They twist reality and embed doubt. Ultimately, the popular becomes unpopular. Like disco music and bell bottom pants, no one wants to be affiliated with something they can be criticized for or be the brunt of a joke. We all danced to it, and we all owned the pants. You may be too young or too old to have been part of the disco era, but you understand the concept. Think for a few moments and you will relate to something similar; instead, do you relate to low-hanging pants?

The thing is, unlike trendy fashions or passing fads, prepping is a very serious endeavor. First, if you prep for something that never happens, you’ve wasted time and money. I get that. Who has extra of either? However, if you don’t prep and something really happens, you and your family will likely perish. Please understand my intention is not to scare you. There are a number of studies conducted as a result of isolated or regional incidences that have prompted emergency services and National Guard units to create “canned plans” in order to respond effectively. Riots, blackouts, and natural disasters, are some of the motivators. Of course, these are isolated to a particular area or region, but recently FEMA joined with Homeland Security to create facilities located across the United States that are designed to support responses to these types of events as well as those much larger in scope. Some citizens are very upset by this, as “FEMA Camps” have been equated to internment facilities similar to those used for Japanese citizens during WWII. I don’t know if these facilities are meant to go to that extreme, but I will admit concern over FEMA/Homeland’s purchase of billions of rounds of ammunition, , as well as a presidential executive order to establish “martial law” under his signature alone to include forcing citizens into uncompensated labor, redistribution of food from all sources, and quelling civil unrest. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness

We’re talking about American citizens inside the United States. What kind of natural disaster or riotous event requires control of the entire nation of citizens and for what purpose? I don’t know exactly, but the point I’d like to make here is that if the U.S. government is preparing for an event of that magnitude, what should we as individuals be doing?

Logical/Practical Prepping

So let’s start small. Those of us who live in areas that are affected by hurricanes or snow storms already prep in some fashion, usually in the form of keeping a full pantry, bottled water, extra gasoline, propane, firewood, and so forth. We know that loss of electrical power is a real possibility because we’ve already experienced it. The level of preparation in these circumstances starts with basic survival needs and extends out to being very comfortable. It depends on the individual really and can include everything from flashlights to generators and ice chests to window air conditioners. What do you consider essential? Is toilet paper essential? It’s definitely on my list!

Certainly your location and circumstances merit consideration of customizing your own preparations, but having a plan may also be required. For instance, living in a coastal city in Florida doesn’t just require preparations and supplies; it also requires an evacuation or “bug-out” plan. You only needed to watch the news during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to know it wasn’t a good idea to stay in New Orleans and weather out the storm. Consideration as to where you will go, how you will get there, what you’ll take with you, and how you contact relatives are all important. Why and when will you decide to leave are critical, too. Maybe you don’t live in a hurricane zone. Maybe you live with tornadoes or blizzards or near a potentially flooding river. The lesson is the same—don’t be caught wanting or needing, and you definitely need to have a plan.

Have you ever taken a CPR or First Responder course? This is a different category of prepping—the accumulation of knowledge. Serious preppers know this is arguably more than 50% of the entire effort, but it’s also the most neglected. Desperately needing to know something that requires a time machine is not a good place to be. A choking child or an electrical shock victim needs immediate attention from someone who already knows how to respond. Google isn’t going to cut it, and a 911 call is too slow when immediate attention is required.

So, you can see that you already prepare for life’s curve balls. Prepping is not foreign to you. Yet, you may take exception with foolish preparation or hoarding—those things that clearly demonstrate obsession or craziness. So do I. However, then you need to ask yourself, what is enough? Where do you start? What should you prep for?

You may want to look to the government for that answer; do you remember the FEMA camps or the Presidential Executive Order, dated March 16th 2012, that I mentioned before? These were created in anticipation of an event or events on a national or even global level. While we all agree the government doesn’t always spend our money well, they believe it to be serious enough to spend billions of dollars. They have conducted studies and practiced responses; they have observed microcosms, like natural disasters and riots, and have employed many government agencies or entities in these studies to include the Department of Defense, Center for Disease Control, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Reserve, as well as National Guard and police departments, just to name a few. Each of them have contributed by providing expertise, that when compiled, creates a scenario that is realistic, probable, and I believe inevitable. I can’t go into the detail here for reasons of brevity, but you can certainly find much more information at survivalblog.com. I will, however, give a brief synopsis of a scenario from the point where, regardless of root cause, all preparation should stem—that being the loss of the power grid.

Where’s the Juice?

Regardless of the cause—solar flare, Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP), terrorist attack on the nine critical substations, disease pandemic, or economic collapse—the result is the same; it’s a loss of the power grid. That’s where we are the most vulnerable, by nature of our technologically-advanced dependencies. Here are some examples:

  • Imagine no Internet—information is unavailable for any purpose. The grid is controlled/monitored through the Internet. All financial institutions use it. All retail, shipping, and sales would completely stop. Without supplies and information, all public utilities, hospitals, emergency services, police/fire, et cetera are severely handicapped and services likely suspended altogether.
  • Pandemic—like Ebola or some other deadly disease, people would stay home and away from public places where they may contract it. This means the workplace would also be vacant. Stores would be closed and/or empty, trucking/transportation would stop, and public utilities, like electricity, water, and sewer would cease.
  • Economic collapse—no buying or selling, transportation, food distribution, et cetera. Again, utilities shut down.
  • Solar flare/ EMP—power grid destroyed, all electronics inoperable, vehicles are permanently disabled.

There’s much more I could list, but the results are the same—there is no juice, and these situations have already been observed on a municipal or regional level. That’s when it gets a lot worse, and that’s what our government is planning for on a national level. This is what you should plan for too, so let’s look at why.