Letter Re: Walking Sticks for Self Defense

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Regarding walking sticks, I’d suggest folks look at two sites. One would be Cold Steel, where they can assemble a pretty stout, flexible and lethal combo from their waxwood poles, their Bushman knives, and steel sections applied to the staff near the ends. The Bushman’s sheath can be leather or parachute cord “strapped” onto the staff, and when needed be affixed to the end and voila! … staff becomes spear. Alas, they no longer have the staffs on their site, but the Bushmans are there, and the rest is a simple exercise in measurement and a half-hour of handiwork. The steel appliques made the ends of the staff even more … “functional” …. than already. As I think about it, wire wrap applied at one end would yield the same enhanced rigidity plus the ability to pull some off for snares, construction …. I think that lo-tech approach beats bought “hiking sticks” which may be lightweight and portable, but don’t fill other survival roles like a stout stick

Crawford Knives.com and the Crawford clan have made a unique survival staff for years that converts from walking stick to staff to blowgun to spear. Machined to their usual quality and tolerances, it’s pricey but the real-deal.

We have both collapsible staffs and the Cold Steel Trailhawks in our vehicles; the Trailhawk does double-duty as a hammer.
Best regards for your Good Work done, – M.P.

Letter Re: MURS Radios and Microphone Connections

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Your MURS supplier [MURS Radios] has an excellent product. Regarding inconspicuous microphones and earpieces: We’ve been using this gentleman’s products for the last 5 or 6 years and been very well pleased. About halfway down the page is the Stealth 3-Wire Surveillance Kit, which is what I use. About the only thing I’ve found that I like better is the combination earpiece mike where you talk thru your ear but it definitely has problems in high noise environment and we had trouble with them in helicopters. Every time you open your mouth, the rotor/engine/wind noise overrides your voice. Darned hard to be intelligible talking with your lips clinched. Ha! That’s why we standardized on the Custom Earpiece Stealth unit. I’ve found that the standard earpiece which is supplied is comfortable under both earmuffs and helmets.Just a nice working unit at the range, airborne, or in a crowd and they usually have adapters for most any radio.

On another note: Botach Tactical has a special on for the MB -Microtec H3 Military Traser Watches for $99.95 with free shipping. A good, non-magnetic watch with tritium and at that price it’s a throwaway Regards, – The Army Aviator

JWR Replies:
SurvivalBlog readers are forewarned that Botach Tactical has a mixed reputation for order fulfillment reliability and customer service. I have heard from three different individuals that Botach has been known to advertise items that they don’t actually have in stock, taking funds from customers, and then declaring them “back orders”–sometimes for months–while they await shipments from suppliers. If you place an order with Botach, I would recommend that you call first to confirm that the particular product(s) that you wish to order are actually physically in stock. I also recommend that you pay via credit card so that you will have some recourse in the event that your order is not completed.

Odds ‘n Sods:

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Reader Hawaiian K notes: “One of the most practical skills an outdoorsman/survivalist can practice is knot tying. There is a terrific site that shows you exactly how they’re done (they show examples of around 75 specific knots) via clearly photographed animations.

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From WorldNetDaily: Investors warned of post-election disaster. The Gold Anti-Trust Action organization’s Bill Murphy claims that the Plunge Protection Team may have plans for a weaker dollar, after the U.S. mid-term election in early November.

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Bob at Ready Made Resources mentioned that he is available for free consulting (with no purchase obligation) on photovoltaic power system sizing and design. He is a stocking dealer for both Outback and Xantrex inverters. Bob has the specialized tools needed to calculate current loads, requisite battery bank sizing, charge controller capacity, available solar hours, solar panel array solar exposure and orientation, and so forth. I can attest that Bob really knows his stuff, and unlike some solar system specialists, he has considerable experience building systems that are custom tailored for survival retreats. I recommend that any SurvivalBlog readers that are considering installing an independent home power system take advantage of the free consulting offer from Ready Made Resources.

Note from JWR:

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Today we present another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day “gray” transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Selecting Barter Goods, by Warhawke

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In a post-TEOTWAWKI world just about everyone realizes that paper money will become useless (unless you can get enough to use as insulation for your house) and there has been much discussion of gold, silver and other items for barter in these pages. I have devoted a great deal of thought to this subject and I would like to share a few of my ideas on the subject with you. I’m going to try to be fairly short on details here in order to keep the length of the article manageable. Keep in mind that what I am discussing here are trade goods and not items for personal use. You should always get the best supplies and equipment you can afford for your own use, but trade items are an investment, and like all investments you need to minimize your outlay and maximize your profit. For barter, why buy a Craftsman socket-set when you can get three Chinese made socket-sets from Harbor Freight for the same money? Places to obtain trade goods are yard and garage sales, pawnshops, resale shops, flea markets, discount stores and dollar stores. Of course, don’t buy complete junk but a mediocre tool is much better than no tool at all.


First, I would tend to keep the trading in weapons and ammo to friends and neighbors, no sense arming the opposition. That said, a good bolt-action rifle would be a serious item for trade. A friend of mine is a Mosin-Nagant nut and he bought a half-dozen “Gunsmith Specials” with cracked stocks and messed up finishes for about $20 a piece. A few weeks and around a hundred bucks in parts later (he managed to repair all but two of the stocks) he had six fully functional rifles which he has socked away with a 700+ round sealed tin of ammo (each with a can-opener). Another guy that I know has four Romanian .22 Long Rifle bolt-actions stored away. At my suggestion they both coated these in DuraCoat which is a high-tech spray-on finish that can be applied with an airbrush, requires no heat curing and can even be applied to wood and plastics. Used .22 rifles would also be a good trade item, but I prefer to avoid the ones with tube magazines, if they break [e.g. the magazine tube is dented] they are pretty well impossible to repair, and good luck finding a replacement.

The best most of us can do is probably to collect parts and tools to repair our own firearms and perhaps some of the more common weapons (Model 1911s, AR-15s, AKs, etc.) as well as cleaning kits, bore solvent, broken case extractors, and repair items for wooden stocks (Acraglas is a good one). Magazines, speed loaders and stripper clips for the more common weapons might be a good choice as well.

I do not believe in stocking ammunition which I don’t use, I have enough trouble buying and storing the ammunition I do use. Instead I recommend getting into reloading on a very serious basis and get the equipment to both cast and swage bullets. Casting is the most common method for making bullets and will work well. Swaging involves producing bullets using pressure as opposed to heat and allows you to make jacketed bullets which allows normal velocities to be obtained, while simple unjacketed cast bullets must use low-velocities to reduce leading of the barrel. Search for “Bullet Swaging” and you can find a host of sites on the subject. It is an expensive method of production, but with the equipment and large amounts of powder and primers you can supply the neighbors and yourself with far more ammunition than you could ever stockpile. A few caveats on this though;

Select your powders to provide the widest possible selection of calibers and loadings using the least amount of powder for each, you have to stretch your supplies as far as possible.

Steel casings can be reloaded but they will eat-up your dies.

Berdan primers can be removed and replaced by boxer primers, however you must ream out the primer pocket as there will be a small post in the primer pocket which must be removed or the boxer primers will fail to seat and may fire if you try. Here is a good site on decapping Berdan primers.[JWR Adds: Rather than drilling out Berdan case primer anvils--which can be tricky--I recommend stocking up on Berdan primers from a supplier such as The Old Western Scrounger.]
Books are portable knowledge and can either be lent out or simply read, your private library can be a profit making enterprise.

I would start with the general knowledge books, Late 19th and early 20th century encyclopedias, “Connections” by James Burke and the Foxfire book series are a good place to start. Then go for the more specific information like veterinary medicine, animal husbandry, beekeeping, gardening, small engine repair, carpentry, medicine (The Physician’s desk Reference (PDR), Gray’s Anatomy, “Where there is no doctor/dentist, etc.), psychology, chemistry, glass blowing, metallurgy, and blacksmithing. Frankly just about anything you can think of can be valuable to someone, and don’t skip history, philosophy, mathematics, and spelling textbooks. As a survivalist, you should be planning to give your children and grandchildren the tools they need to rebuild, not merely consigning them to the short hard life of pre-industrial farming and drudgery. Don’t forget the fiction either (fun reading is often the gateway to a lifetime habit), from the classics by Defoe and Stevenson to the more contemporary works of Heinlein, Norton, Piper, Pournelle, and Ing (yes I mean the science fiction writers, it is the writing of hope for the future and Robert Heinlein, Jerry Pournelle, and Dean Ing have wonderful books about survival which any survivalist can appreciate, even when they are set in futures and planets that never existed).

If you have access to a high-volume printer you should visit Project Gutenberg it is one of the largest collections of public domain writings in the world with over 19,000 works on just about every subject imaginable available for free downloading (P.S. I understand that Xerox copies will last much longer than most computer printer copies).

Don’t forget pencils (better than pens over the years and cheaper in bulk), paper, erasers, protractors, rulers, notebooks and other supplies for education, record keeping, drafting and planning.

Always get the best tools you can afford for yourself, but always remember that a mediocre tool is better than no tool at all.

Socket sets, pocket multi-tools, wrench sets, drill bits, chisels (wood and metal working), bit-and-brace, hand drills (manual), files, Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, driver bits (with manual drivers), cutters (side-cutters, end-cutters, snips), bunches of clamps, hammers (of all sizes), pry-bars, shovels, rakes (the heavy gardening type), hoes, sickles, scythes, handsaws (hacksaws, crosscuts, etc.), axes, and just about anything else you can think of. Don’t forget specialty tools either, eye-glass repair kits are cheap, watch making and gunsmithing tools can often be obtained on eBay and others places and even if you can’t use them others might and you can trade them for training or just future work.

Don’t forget things like oil and grease for maintaining and storing your tools. A few gallons of WD-40, light machine oil or big tubs of quality grease (I prefer graphite grease) will be incredibly valuable in a post-petroleum society.

I used to disregard knives as barter items, as I come from a family where no man was dressed without his pocketknife and just about any other knife you could wish for was in a drawer somewhere, but alas, most people today have little more than some plastic-handled Chinese kitchen knives.

Anza Knives has some of the least expensive and best custom knives you will find anywhere, I’ve owned and used them for years and I highly recommend them, both for you and for trade. From 1” skinners to big kitchen knives these fixed blades will outlast your grandkids. The one issue I have is the high-carbon blades then to rust at the slightest excuse, coat them with DuraCoat (see, guns and ammo).

For folding knives (as well as fixed blades for those with good skills) go see KnifeKits.com, I’ve gotten several of their folder kits to give out as Christmas presents and everyone has liked them. All you really need is some Torx bit drivers to put them together but if you wish [with a buffing wheel] you can pimp these puppies into some real nice keepsakes. Knife kits also sells tools and supplies for working on projects like these.

Don’t forget about making your own blades from scratch either, big lawn mower blades make great machetes and would no doubt work for plow blades, and steel blanks of D2, 1095, A2 and other excellent blade steels can be gotten at reasonable cost today but will be unobtainable in the post-collapse era. Don’t forget sharpening supplies, I get Laskey-type sharpeners as well as diamond hones (rod and flat style) from an industrial supply company near my home for less than normal retail. I would also mention that I recommend using peanut oil (not vegetable oil which will go rancid) on knives as many mineral oils will contaminate the blade and make it unsuitable for cutting anything you plan to eat.

Don’t forget razor knives, utility knives, and razor blades.

This has been one of my personal bug-a-boos since I first read Pat Frank’s classic survivalist book “Alas Babylon”. I have noticed that most survivalists tend to buy huge amounts of waterproof and strike-anywhere matches as well as fire-starters like ‘Blast-Match’, which is fine, keep them for yourself (especially as new strike-anywhere types go dead after six months). For trading I buy cheap disposable lighters and book matches as well as wicks and flints for Zippo lighters. In fact I have several cheap plastic matchboxes (pseudo-military style) filled with 150 flints, 3 wicks and 3 huge cosmetic cotton-balls (for repacking the lighters) as Zippo support kits. I have a half-dozen or so Zippos I’ve picked up at yards sales over the years, which I plan to trade as I have three new-in-box for my use, along with the one in my pocket. P.S. If you switch from fluid to gasoline (or vice-versa) in a Zippo, you must repack the cotton filling.

Don’t buy candles, most candles are made for pretty, not for light and “Survival” candles are more expensive though generally not much better. Instead, get some pure cotton string a little thicker than a tea-bag string (which I actually use for my survival kit candles), bulk paraffin wax and get some plastic cigar tubes (I’ve also used narrow plastic bottles, but be sure that all the previous contents are cleaned out). Drill a hole in the tip a little bigger than your wick and run the wick through and tie it to a pencil or stick and then tie the other end in a knot (which will mostly seal off your hole). You should spritz the inside with non-stick cooking spray (or vegetable oil and a spray bottle) to keep the wax from sticking and then pour in your melted wax. I use a coffee-can 1/3 full of water and about 1⁄2 full of wax to keep from messing up a cooking pot and to keep the wax from burning. I use a plastic measuring cup to dip out my wax. This will work with beeswax as well.

I also have bought a bunch of cheap LED flashlights (the batteries last longer than standard bulb flashlights), lamp wicks and flashlight bulbs. I looking for the price to come down on the new magnet powered flashlights too, these would be useful when the batteries go bye-bye.

Inexpensive UV protective sunglasses (especially for those blue-eyed, blonde types who tend to get cataracts), dime-store reading glasses (make sure to write the Rx number on the case), safety glasses and welding glasses will all be good items for trade. I myself have gotten several pairs of Gargoyles and Oakleys at yard sales which I paid to have factory refinished for far less than the retail price.

I buy used work uniforms from an industrial surplus house in my area, these are excellent work clothes and the material is much like military BDUs. I’ve bought pants and shirt sets for under $5, and they sell painter’s smocks (I dyed one brown and made my ghillie suit with it and a pair of the pants), jump suits, hats, gloves and winter coats and boots.

I also buy socks and underwear (irregulars can be gotten very cheap), handkerchiefs, patch material, sewing needles (get a variety of sizes, so-called ‘Doll’ needles work for leather work), boot and shoe laces, snaps and snap tools, buttons, thread, straight pins, tailors chalk, and sewing machine needles (older model electric machines with the manual knobs could be converted to foot treadles). While you are at it you might find irregular pantyhose and knee-highs, they make excellent strainers, the reduce chafing when riding on horseback (an equestrian I know told me that one) and if you are prone to leg swelling they help with that too.


Stick to the non-perishables for trade. Bandages, hot water bottles (with attachments) sterile pads, slings, splints, support bandages, tweezers, hemostats, sutures and suture needles, clamps, stethoscopes, blood-pressure cuffs, thermometers, scalpels and blades, and non-disposable syringes and needles. Iodine, aloe, mercurochrome, betadine, “Bag Balm” (an antiseptic lotion), dental floss (use baking soda instead of toothpaste) and such could be stored in quantity as well. And don’t forget the feminine hygiene products, nothing says I love you to the womenfolk like a couple cases of these puppies, plus tampons can be used to pack wounds and pads make good dressings (and nifty padding for pack straps). Once again, just because you can’t use an item doesn’t mean others won’t be able too.

Batteries (buy brand names in the big ‘Industrial’ packs and/or rechargeable ones, keep the charger yourself and trade live for dead), belt buckles, pots and pans, buckets, mops and mop heads, Pyrex measuring cups, measuring spoons, metal mixing bowls, baking sheets, roasting pans, pressure cookers (good for sterilizing as well as cooking), bread and cake pans, candy thermometers, cleaning brushes (various, with both natural and artificial bristles not to mention metal brushes), canning jars with seals and lids (lots and lots of seals and lids) as well as canning baskets and pots, mechanical watches (I wear an Invicta Model 8926 myself), baby food jars (excellent for storage), thermos bottles, can openers (a bucket load of military key ring “P-38″ can openers will only cost a few bucks), potato peelers, tooth brushes, spray bottles, et cetera.

I could go on, but I think you have a good start here. The main thing is to think about what people use everyday that they won’t have in a post-collapse world and either get some of them now, or figure out a replacement. Check the Internet, check the phonebook and the newspapers, find the outlet and surplus stores in your area, get on mailing lists, and most of all shop! Don’t just dash in and out, go in and look around and think about what can be useful. Remember your first and best resource is that thing behind your ears, use it often and well.

Note from JWR:

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Today we present another article for Round 7 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best non-fiction article will win a valuable four day “gray” transferable Front Sight course certificate. (Worth up to $1,600.) Second prize is a copy of my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, generously donated by Jake Stafford of Arbogast Publishing. If you want a chance to win Round 7, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 7 will end on November 30th. Remember that the articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Herbal Survival Medicine by KLS in Ohio

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Here in the U.S. we have grown up in an age where hospitals and family clinics are an accepted, common place necessity. Our medical professionals with their full range of antibiotics have the best triage training in the world. If you’re in a car accident in the U.S. you are most likely to survive if you make it to a hospital. They’ll fix you right up! But they aren’t well equipped in preventing disease. As in Jim’s novel “Patriots” when the character ‘Mary’ used herbs such as Comfrey to treat their wounded, we may not have access to modern medicines in a TEOTWAWKI situation. I have been studying herbal treatments for my family in my spare time for 15 or so years and have discovered I’ve only scratched the surface of an abundant resource given by Our Creator.

Modern American Pharmaceuticals only utilize a little over 500 herbs as a base to synthesize medicines, but cultures older than ours have found a vast array of restorative remedies from plants. Chinese medicine utilizes over 5,700 herbs. Traditional Ayervedic (religious) medicine of India uses about 2,000 plant species. Arabic medicine uses over 2,000 herbs. Current U.S. medical treatments are based on the idea that “the absence of symptoms is health”. Conversely, Chinese medicine has a 3,000 year history and is based on the idea that “the absence of disease is health.” Arab herbalists developed effective remedies using the practice of combining three or more complementary herbs to treat many diseases and illnesses while Europe was in the Dark Ages. Even Native American Tribal cultures developed many remedies using the indigenous plants of our continent.

How sad it would be if we were to loose the work of thousands of years of herbal medical knowledge in a SHTF moment. Granted, there have been those charlatans, weird hocus-pocus and “snake-oil” traders of the past. But have hope! Modern science has confirmed volumes of effective herbal remedies that have been used for thousands of years in many cultures around the world.

Did you know that your kitchen spice cabinet holds many powerful remedies for common ailments and very few herbal remedies have dangerous side effects when used properly? For example; Black Pepper, garlic, cloves, parsley and ginger are powerful partners for digestive tract disorders. Fresh blue spruce tips steeped in hot water for 15-20 minutes suppresses chronic coughing. Chickweed provides a dose of salt in a difficult wilderness situation. Raw pumpkin seeds crushed and followed by 12 ounces of water 30 minutes before each meal for 7 days will expel worms. Black Cumin, Garlic and All-heal Herb have natural antibiotic/ antiviral properties. And this is just the start!

There is no reason to fear remedies that look like something from the spice cabinet rather than a Colorfully labelled, hermetically sealed package. Get some books and start reading. Cross-reference between a few books for any remedy before using it and with the more dangerous stuff. PLEASE CONSULT A PROFESSIONAL/TRAINED HERBAL PRACTITIONER. There is no substitute for genuinely knowledgeable people to teach us and help us to be and do our best in this life. Don’t guess – either know it or find someone who does.

Books that I can recommend are: Natural Health Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine by Andrew Chevallier, FNIMH; Growing 101 Herbs That Heal by Tammi Hartung; Wilderness Medicine, by Paul Aurbach; Peterson Field Guides-Edible Wild Plants, by Lee Allen Peterson; What the Bible Says About Healthy Living by Rex Russell, M.D.; The Ultimate Survival Guide by John Wiseman.

For further training you could do Home Study with “East West School of Herbology.” I’m sure Mr. Rawles and the Memsahib have excellent recommendations as well. – KLS in Ohio

Odds ‘n Sods:

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I recently drove down most of the length of Idaho on Highway 95. Many of the Idaho stretches of this highway would be classified as a “secondary road” in most other states. But it is Idaho’s only north-south corridor–the equivalent of California’s Highway 5. It connects two economically distinct regions. Southern Idaho is economically tied to the humble potato, and adjoining Utah. It is on Mountain Time. Northern Idaho is economically tied to logging and to the easternmost portions of adjoining Oregon and Washington. It is on Pacific Time. Highway 95 is so pitifully under-engineered that it earned the nickname “The Goat Trail” by former governor Cecil Andrus. But I digress… I saw dozens of great looking deer and elk on my drive, including a nice 5×4 bull elk. He just stood there looking at me, a short 70 yards away. Too bad that I didn’t have an Idaho elk tag, and that our digital camera was in the vault at home. You gotta love Idaho: Where the roads are marginal, but the wildlife is spectacular.

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A reminder that the October sale just for SurvivalBlog readers at Mountain Brook Foods ends Tuesday! The following discounts are available for in-stock items only:
20% off Orders of $100 to $249
30% off Orders of $250 to $499.99
40% off Orders over $500, not to exceed $2,500.
To place your order go to www.mountainbrookfoods.com. There you will see there full line of storage foods and books. Note, however, that their web site lists only their standard pricing. To get the SurvivalBlog October special pricing, enter “SurvivalBlog” as the coupon discount code. If you have any questions about this special offer or any their products you can contact Mountain Brook at: support@mountainbrookfoods.com or call toll free: (877) 668-6826.

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Over at Gold-Eagle.com, Eric Janszen warns: Don’t let the 12,000 DJIA fool you. He describes it as a”dead cat bounce” rally in the midst of a secular bear market that began in 2000.



Letter Re: Conjecture on North Korea’s Intentions

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Mr. Rawles:
In looking at the situation that has unfolded over the past month in North Korea, I see two possible paths that North Korea could be headed towards. Path one is the atypical playground bully turned armed robber who has become accustomed to people putting up their hands when confronted, only he has had the misfortune to run into someone who has attended a Front Sight course and carries a full frame 1911… ’nuff said. The game is up, and the robber just soiled his boxers. If this is the case, we won’t be having any more trouble from this nation. They tried to play nuclear poker and realized that their opponents are stronger, better equipped, and when confronted with a nuclear strike will have no hesitation on the retaliatory strike.
Path two is more insidious. In this situation, Kim Jong Il has tested the waters of nuclear politics with his live test of a device, and has found the waters to be hostile. Because his nuclear arsenal is in the early stages of development and cannot be effectively deployed, he’s doing a political tactical withdrawal, with the intent of pushing the program under deep cover. Once he’s apologized, the sanctions lifted and several years have gone by, he will resurface with a strong and deployable arsenal, capable of reaching the US.
My money is on path two. The threat with North Korea and Iran is real, and they have developed societies that hate America and all that America represents. If they could get international acceptance by detonating a test device, they have moved up a rung on the prestige chain. If they get sacked diplomatically (as is the case), they have a clearly defined path which takes them to the same destination, which is to have the capability of executing a first strike against the continental United States.
I don’t think we’ve seen the last of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, and my suspicion is that Iran is not-so-quietly developing similar capabilities. – Mark from Florida

Letter Re: Handgun Caliber Selection–Advice on .357 SIG and .40 S&W?

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Had any experience with .40 S&W and .357 SIG? I’m trying out a .40sw conversion and a .357 SIG conversion for my KelTec P-11. Oughta be wild with a 14 ounce frame handgun.
Just wondered if you’d shot either and what your thoughts were. I know, they are both uncommon calibers. But this is just for funsies. I am still mainly .22,.45, .223, .308 & 12 gauge. I’m just doing this on a lark. Gotta do a lark once in awhile to keep the perspective. Neat thing about the KelTec. (A cheap but well built gun) is to change from 9mm to 40 S&W, just swap slide and barrel assembly, and put in a 40 S&W magazine. Easy and effective. Then, once it is in 40 S&W configuration, just swap the barrel to .357 SIG and you’re done. (Gosh, what a high pressure round.)
Hopefully it will be fun and I can always move it on since the dual package is highly sought on eBay. One just went for $430 and so far, I’ve only got $206 in this one (not counting the $85 for tritium sights).
Probably just me but I try to have tritium on everything. (I’ve just been too timid to have my Detonics changed over since if they mess up the slide, there’s no replacement available.) (Sure wish there was a good way to put tritium on the Detonics.) Say, do you know of anybody making snake shot for calibers under 9mm/45? I haven’t found any yet. Thanks and Best Regards, – The Army Aviator

JWR Replies: I’ve never shot much of either caliber. (Just a few shots with guns belonging to friends at the range.) I agree that .357 SIG is a bit of an oddball, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless A.) You were able to switch the pistol back to 9mm (retaining all of your original parts and magazine) and B.) You stock up on .357 SIG ammo in depth. The .40 S&W is less of problem since it is becoming a popular cartridge both for law enforcement and civilians. If your local police department or sheriff’s department issues .40 S&W pistols, then it may actually be a good choice. I now list it as a “common” caliber–but that might be subject to regional vagaries. Needless say, if you select any unusual caliber then stock up on ammo.

In answer to you question on .45 ACP snake loads:. I have heard that the 45 ACP snake loads produced by CCI do not function well in semi-auto pistols. The ones that were formerly made by Remington seem to feed the best. (At least they do for me.) I have found that if you have a M1911 with a well-polished feed ramp, you will only get a jam roughly every 10th round. Unfortunately the Remington brand .45 ACP snake loads are out of production. I stocked up on these back in the mid-1990s. I think that I have about 200 rounds left. Perhaps you can find some on the “secondary market” if you post a free WTB (“Want To Buy”) ad on one of the larger gun boards, such as Buddy Hinton’s Sturmgewehr Boards. As for practicality, I’ve found that .45 ACP snake loads are useful for pest shooting at very short range, such as inside a barn or a chicken coop. Our readers in Hawaii and in the Indian subcontinent might find them useful for shooting mongooses. Because they use very small shot they are impractical past about 15 feet. They might prove useful in a survival situation for shooting very small game such as squirrels or quail at very short range. And BTW, do not consider using them for self defense against two-legged predators. They are not “stoppers.” They are more likely to make bad guys very angry. (See the recent Box O’ Truth range test article for details.) Ironically, I’ve actually used very few “snake loads” on snakes, since I’ve rarely had any loaded in my pistol when I’ve come across a rattlesnake near the house at the Rawles Ranch. (I tend to blaze away with the .45 ACP ball or HydraShok hollow points that I typically have loaded, and frankly I miss snakes more than I hit them. (Sometimes six or seven shots to get a couple of solid head or spine hits.) It is not so much the fact that a snake is a relatively small target. That is no excuse, since when I shoot at paper targets I can shoot fairly tight groups at short range in rapid fire. My lack of accuracy during rapid draw-and-fire snake deactivation has more to do with adrenaline.