March 2007 Archives

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The high bid is now up to $425 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for several items (including an EMP-proof antique radio, four books, and a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course) that are being auctioned together as a lot. The auction ends on April 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

Mr. R
Nice article. I'll agree that the new ACU is terrible, and that MultiCam is pretty good. Problem is it's currently limited, hence mucho expensive

I'll second how effective ASAT [pattern camouflage] is. Years back we went backpacking up in Bandelier [National Monument], which is a mixed environment with evergreens, deciduous trees, brush and grass, amidst rocky canyons. My son walked out into a field in bright daylight and sat down with an ASAT big-bandana over his head and shoulders. Gone! Even with some light wind moving brush he stayed gone. We did this a few more times as we moved into canyons and up into woods. Gone!

They currently have sales on seconds and imperfects, and the bandanas, gloves and hats are reasonably priced. The fabric would be great for ponchos, backpack covers, and simple groundsheet shelters - MurrDoc


FYI:, I saw these relevant comments on of the new military ACU pattern from guys in the 'field': The ACU (as I have seen in both the woods of Georgia and the desert &
urban areas of Iraq) is pretty much c**p. Yes, I agree it works well if you are lying still in a gravel parking lot or next to a large moss covered live oak. Any other circumstance, though, you are truly "Ghost Recon". I work at the Recon Surveillance Course 4th RTB at [Fort] Benning, and teach camouflage here. The grey pattern sticks out like a white ghost. At nighttime it gets highly illuminated by the moon and stars. The ACU is pretty much the joke of the Army. Joke's on you. Thank God I am a Marine!
And, for those interested in the methods and study used to choose this new pattern you can find a very interesting synopsis document (in PowerPoint format). Regards, - S.H.


I just wanted to point out to you and your SurvivalBlog readers the new camo designs being created at Hyperstealth. There is plenty of reading and good information about camouflage. They also have some BDUs for sale, unfortunately the best are sold out, but perhaps they will be reissued in the future. - Tom


I trust all is well with you and yours. About this camouflage thing. After going from the old green/olivedrab to grey flight suits to Vietnam green jungle fatigues to the tiger stripe, back to green fatigues and then to nomex in grey and nomex in green and then on to the stylish BDUs and then to desert and now to Digital, which I still think is dumb and now to civie clothing, I still think the best camouflage clothing is the original Green/OliveDrab fatigues. To make them into effective camo, just lay them out on the ground, lay some local branches with leaves or needles on top of the fatigues, dust them with flat black spray paint. Flip over, do the other side. Let dry and wear.
May not be fancy or stylish, but it surely is functional..... and cheap. Used that method a lot thru the career and it works.
Functional during the day and you simply disappear at night.
Maybe somebody can explain the new army digital camo to me. IMHO, it just looks dumb. (At least Uncle Sam's Misguided Children went for dual color versions) At the range, I can look down the firing line and past a certain point, I see this line of green blobs that stand out from absolutely everything. Even in an urban environment it doesn't work well unless you have a particular penchant for being noticed. Just been a point of confusion to me. Best Regards, to all. - The Army Aviator

Mr. Rawles:
I would like to add to the article "Swords and Bows for that Dreaded Multigenerational Scenario" [that appeared in SurvivalBlog back in September of 2006, with lots of follow-up letters in the following week.] I have been a closet survivalist for some time now and thought it prudent to learn several old world skills. Metalworking was one of the skills I put a high value on and for good reason, knives, spears, swords, and arrowheads are all important if in a "multigenerational" situation. Also knife making is a fun (and maybe even profitable) hobby.
The comment on leaf springs having internal micro cracks due to repetitive stressing is technically true, but if the correct procedure of annealing and re-hardening is used, all previous stresses are eliminated. They even have what is called a "tribal" knife makers guild that only uses salvage from junkyards and scraps from cabinetmakers and hardwood floor installers. They also practice using all hand tools, no electricity! A very friendly bunch that helped me understand knife making and metallurgy are at the Knife Network and Blade Forums. Regards, - TJ

Dear Editor:
SF in Hawaii had some good ideas in his post on Imminent SHTF shopping. However, I strongly disagree with his plan to pick up chicks and rabbits at the last minute -- "Items that require maintenance that you don't want to deal with pre-SHTF (i.e. guard dog, male and female rabbits and chicks (for raising meat) and the food and housing that they will require." It requires skill and experience to successfully raise rabbits and chickens, skill and experience that don't come in a few minutes time. (It also requires skill and experience to train and handle a guard dog, not to mention that good guard dogs aren't just sitting around waiting to be snatched up in any emergency.) It also requires skill and experience to raise the food for all of these animals. I would add, in case anyone is thinking of it, that larger livestock, such as goats, sheep, cattle, and horses, require even more skill and experience. IMO, these are not last minute items to acquire. (Ditto for gardens, as has been mentioned before on SurvivalBlog.) If you think that you may want, or need, livestock of any kind in the event of TSHTF, then make the sacrifice of time now, and learn how to raise and care for them successfully , before the emergency hits! I was raised on a farm, and have been keeping poultry and dairy goats for most of the last 24 years, and I still make mistakes at times, or find myself lacking a critical piece of information. It helps to be part of a network of other people raising the same kind of livestock (although you can get a lot of MISinformation that way, too, if you aren't careful --- sometimes even from veterinarians who ought to know better).

I'll tell you about one error I made just a few days ago. I was planning to worm a doe who had just kidded (did you know that goats need to be wormed the day after they kid? See, a critical piece of information that the last-minute guy wouldn't have had any clue about!). I set the tube of Ivermectin wormer on the shelf above the milking stand while I did chores, and at some point it got knocked off the shelf. I didn't notice that it had fallen down until I saw my ten-month-old farmcollie pup chewing on it. Other than being a little upset that she'd damaged the tube of wormer, so I couldn't worm the doe, I didn't think anything of it. I completely forgot that many collie-breed dogs, including some English Shepherds (she's mostly English Shepherd), are sensitive to ivermectin. About three am I woke to the sound of claws scrabbling in Bonnie's crate at the foot of my bed. She was having 'seizures' (technically severe muscle spasms, as she was conscious and knew me). She managed to stand long enough to stagger out of her crate when I opened the door, but then collapsed and got steadily worse until I was able to get her to the vet's office as soon as they opened. (I have a large-animal vet, and she was out on a farm call, or we'd have been in there sooner.) For the last four days, my poor little pup has been nearly comatose. Yesterday when I visited her, she opened one eye (she's lying on her side and can't move) and looked at me, and raised her eyebrow. That's all she was able to do. I'm hopeful that she will recover -- internet research indicates that with support, dogs usually do recover fully from ivermectin 'intoxication', as they call it. But it is going to take several weeks for full recovery, and in the meantime, I'm without my dog. (That's not even mentioning the expense of all this!) In a SHTF situation, that could be extremely dangerous.

I could give all kinds of examples of things people need to know before they jump into keeping livestock, common mistakes (many of which will kill your animals), and some things to think about in case of SHTF that might not apply during 'normal' times. Maybe I'd better just write an article! But I hope people get the point that if they expect to rely on livestock for their food, they need to start now! Never mind the inconvenience! - Freeholder, in Oregon


I found SF's comments on putting off your shopping until apocalypse eve to be interesting and thought provoking. It also reminded me of the time I popped into the local Sam's Club [warehouse store] as Hurricane Isabella headed up the coast towards Baltimore. While this wasn't predicted to be a major storm for us, and we were expecting a glancing blow at best, I found the place to be pretty well picked over of anything immediately useful. All of the AA and D sized batteries were gone, as were all of the Maglite flashlights. I also noticed that the usual stack of small propane canisters for Coleman stoves and the like were gone as well. They did have plenty of food though, and a lot of bottled water, although the water aisle had obviously taken a good hit. I don't usually buy bottles of water, but I bought a couple of cases that day just to throw into the freezer as a hedge against a power outage.

The lesson I learned that day was that, if there's something you think you're really going to need in a time of emergency, buy it now. Wait until the last minute and it will probably be gone. People in general may not be very well prepared, but they will pick a "big box" retailer clean the moment any perceived threat appears on the horizon. I guess this is something we all know, but it is probably worth repeating.- Tim in Baltimore, Maryland

Hawaiian K. mentioned an article about a piece of "appropriate technology": Multimachine -- a truck-parts-based machine shop for Africa

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Any of you that have copies of my recent non-fiction books should update them with our new mail forwarding address. Please see page 207 of Rawles on Retreats and Relocation (Appendix B) and page 239 of SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1 (Appendix A)--they should both get penned with this new mail forwarding address:
James Wesley, Rawles
c/o Elk Creek Company
P.O. Box 303
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845 USA

I have just updated the electronic copies at Cafe Press, (the publisher), so any copies ordered henceforth will have the address corrections already made. Note that our e-mail address is still:

“[I]t doesn’t require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? Such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, inalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.” - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Friday, March 30, 2007

Because of some difficulties with lost mail addresed to me in Reno, we have severed our contract with our Reno-based mail forwarding service. We've now made arrangements to have our mail forwarded by a trusted friend. There still will be an up to two week delay before we receive your mail. But now we know that we will be getting all of your mail! The mail is forwarded to us here at the Rawles Ranch once every two weeks. Thanks for your patience. From now on, please use the following address for sending us snail mail. (Ten Cent Challenge subscriptions, books orders, sample or review merchandise, and so forth.):

James Wesley, Rawles
c/o Elk Creek Company
P.O. Box 303
Moyie Springs, Idaho 83845 USA

Today we present the last article submitted for Round 9 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. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article for Round 10, which begins on April 1st and ends May 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

I would like to offer some information about my experience with chimney construction and creosote build up. This information does not apply to the typical suburban open fireplace. What I’m talking about is a wood-burning stove designed to heat your home or shelter. There are a number of manufactured fireplaces available that are designed to regulate the amount of combustion air traveling into the firebox and consequently the control the actual burn. These are the most efficient and are the type that we would be using in a structure designed to ride out the future storm.
Construction of the chimney is extremely important. In this case the old ways are not the best. Fire brick and chimney tile will eventually burn out and will not handle many chimney fires. I heated my two-story log home in Montana for years primarily with split pine, which is very susceptible to creosote build up. Due to the construction of the chimney and fireplace I was able to regularly “burn out” the creosote safely.

I constructed the chimney using high quality triple wall stainless steel chimney pipe that was designed with separate air spaces between each layer of tubing. This allows the inner tube to dissipate heat. (Never use the double wall insulated pipe because it will contain heat and can cause extremely high temperature build up in the wall of the tube). The triple wall stainless steel (SS) chimney tubing was then encased in a framed shaft lined with fire rock all the way to the roof. The SS tube extended through the metal roof cap. This cap was removable so that the tubing could be pulled out and replaced if necessary without disassembling the chase and associated walls. Of course a spark arrester was installed on top of the chimney. I installed a vent in the bottom and top of the chase to capture the heat from the chase and reduce any heat build up. The vents incorporated at lead link controlled fire damper so that if there was a fire in the chimney chase they would automatically close. The bottom of the chimney was located directly above the fireplace and connected by a single wall SS pipe open to the room. The entire corner walls and floor where bricked and the stove set on the brick.
The fireplace was a plate steel enclosed box lined with firebrick. There were controllable air intakes on the front doors and also a combustion air vent piped from outdoors with a control damper built in near the stove. These allowed me to shut down the air supply and control the fire level. Most of the time the fire was kept and a fairly low level and consequently contributed to creosote build up in the chimney.
About once a week during the main heating season I would open the air intakes and allow the fire to build up enough to burn the creosote out of the chimney. This can be a little spooky the first time you do it because it sounds like the chimney is going to blast off into space. I chose days when there was adequate snow cover or wet weather in order to eliminate the chance of fire from sparks emitted from the chimney. These chimney burnout’s were generally very small and short-lived due to repeating them on a regular basis. During the learning curve I did have a couple of fires that emitted a large amount of flames and smoke from the chimney. I monitored the heat coming from the chase vents and it never exceeded an uncomfortable level. I also inspected the flue system and no damage was done other than a discoloring of the spark arrestor.
The weak link in a system like this is the single wall pipe between the stove and the chimney. This must be stainless steel, have adequate spacing from combustibles and be inspected regularly.
Another thing to remember is that a small hot fire is much better than a large cool fire. This is accomplished through the control of intake air and will become easy to maintain with practice. More of the gases that create creosote are burned in the hot fire. The diameter of the chimney flue is also important. If sized too large the velocity of the smoke and gases will move up the flue too slowly and will cause build up. Some of the older large chimney’s actually set up a convection current inside the flue drawing cold air from above, heating it and moving back up and out. This also opened the door for an uncontrolled chimney fire because it was self-feeding. A smaller diameter flue creates a higher velocity current fed only by the controlled combustion air thus keeping the smoke gasses a little hotter, moving them out of the chimney and reducing creosote build up.

The important element of this type of heating system is the ability to shut off the supply air. You can literally kill a fire in this manner. A back-up dry chemical fire extinguisher released into the front air damper opening should solve any out of control problem. I never found this necessary but kept one on hand, just in case.
Another point that goes along with wood heating is having a metal roof on your house. This is the simplest way to fire proof your roof and a good standing seam system, (not a screw down), is easily a 50-year roof. I had hand-split cedar shake shingles on mine and was always paranoid about the possibility of it catching fire from either a chimney spark or a forest fire. My next home will have a standing seam galvanized aluminum roof. Pricey, but worth it.

Hi Jim
I have run across some information that I thought might be of interest. I am in the food business and come in contact with a lot of people in the food industry.

One of my associates is in the frozen fruit and vegetable business. He has been telling me the effect that W's ethanol incentives are having on the agriculture industry and it is quite alarming. I have not
researched this, so don't have facts and figures to back it up, so take it for what it is worth.

This situation seems to have mysteriously stayed out of the mainstream media and the only thing that I have seen about this is that tortilla prices in Mexico have risen drastically because so much
corn is being grown to produce ethanol and the Mexican guvmint is trying to use price controls on corn.

There is a lot more to it than that. Apparently, the guvmint has made it so attractive to grow corn and soybeans for ethanol that a lot of farmers are switching out of other crops in order to grow corn
and soybeans
. There are a couple of reasons for this. You get a guaranteed price. I have never been a farmer, but I know enough to know that that is unusual for a commodity. The farmers also get more money for the corn and soybeans going to ethanol production than they would selling it for feed. Corn and soybeans are not only used to feed cattle but also pigs, chickens and turkeys. This means
that cattle ranchers, turkey farmers, pig farmers and chicken farmers are having to pay more for feed.

The other attractive thing about this for farmers is that if you are growing corn, it doesn't matter what the quality is, if it has some type of fungus or blight or has turned brown. They pay the same money
for all of it.

The effect that this is going to have on the food business is very far-reaching. A lot of farmers are now switching over to corn and soybeans. Case in point is peas. Peas for canning and freezing were very short last year and are expected to be short again this year. The reason? Fewer and fewer farmers are growing peas because they can make more money growing corn and soybeans. Remember,
farming is no longer like the painting, "American Gothic". It is agribusiness run by the likes of Cargill, ADM, etc. They go where the money is.

Here is a link to an interesting article that discusses this on a local level.

I don't know if this is true, but what my friend told me is that even if all of the arable land in the U.S. were put to corn and soybeans for ethanol, it would not make a dent in the amount of oil that we
have to import.

I also don't think that most people know just how much of our food is imported. A very large quantity of our fresh fruits and vegetables are now imported. Many of the ingredients that go into food products manufactured here in the U.S. are imported. The majority of our canned meats and seafood are imported. Much of our canned fruits and vegetables are imported. More so in #10 cans than in the retail cans that you see in stores.

A good case in point is a canned bean packer that I work with. They are located in Illinois but they were telling me that a large percentage of their dry beans are imported. They pack a large amount
of organic beans and the majority of those are imported. Since the beans are all packed in the U.S., there is no indication on the cans that the raw material is imported. Pasta sauce is the same. Much
of the tomato paste that is used to make pasta sauce is imported. Virtually all canned tuna is imported. Even the big brands like Bumble Bee and Star Kist have offshore plants where they
pack their tuna.

My assessment of this is that between what is happening with domestic farmers and the decline of the US Dollar, food prices are going up, big time. Best Regards, - Kurt

Eric S. mentioned: India Mark II extra deep hand pump by Suksha Exports

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Reader RBS sent us this bookmark: The California real estate meltdown begins: Foreclosures up 79% and "short sales" up 10 times from last year's figures.

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Speaking of foreclosures, reader JLM sent this: Foreclosure Wave Bears Down on Immigrants. It includes this frightening statistic: "Nationally, 375,000 high-interest-rate loans were made to Hispanics in 2005, and nearly 73,000 of them are likely to go into foreclosure..."

A Woman’s Ode to Survivalism, by Deborah (Moderator, JerichoCBS Forum)

I’m not into fashion
I like camouflage
I got surveillance equipment
Stashed out in my garage
I don’t wear many skirts
I kinda like my jeans
And they go so much better with
My bullets and my beans.

Now don’t be thinking that I’m crazy,
Not a sociopath, not even mean,
But if you come a knockin’
Keep your hands where they are seen…..

I got a Smith & Wesson,
AK and Mossberg too,
One Colt, two Berettas,
A Kel-Tec.. Hmm that one’s new

I don’t know when the SWHTF
But I’ll let you in on a secret,
Let you in on my plan ….
I’ve got water, and I’ve got fish
I’ve got ammo in my pockets
And a camera in my Dish.

I got flour, sugar and my salt,
And if you don’t, that’s not my fault

I’m replanting my lawn with berries and their thorns
All just to protect, all just to warn.
Maybe a few bushes, maybe a few vines,
And as far as you know, maybe a few mines…

The pantry is full of canned goods
Closets are filled up too
Everything’s been inventoried
Even all my shoes.

Kerosene is for the lamp light
And matches are a must.
No one knows what I have
For there’s no one that I trust.

Chickens I will raise, maybe some rabbits on my land,
And a nice big garden, to help me feed the clan .
Seeds I’ve got, oh, ain’t it nice,
I got all that and three kinds of rice.

I got flour, sugar and my salt,
And if you don’t, that’s not my fault

I don’t get the hurricanes
No floods or earthquakes here,
Just lots of icy blizzard snow
And Mutant Zombie Deer.

I’m ready for a nuke blast
Solar flares or acid rain
I’m ready for the Bird Flu
When the world gets quite insane.

I’ve done my preps,
Checked them double twice,
Not like in Jericho
Cause folks won’t be that nice.

My BOB is packed ..
Now what did I forget?
Oh yeah, the gennie’s full
And sitting on the deck.

When TEOTWAWKI is finally here,
I’ll be hunkered in my retreat,
family will be near,

And I got flour, sugar and my salt,
And if you don’t, that’s your own d**n fault

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Our blog site visit statistics keep growing! There were more than 31,600 unique visitors to SurvivalBlog in the last month, running a whopping 63 gigabytes of bandwidth. (Up 30% from just four months ago!) But, even so, there are still lots of folks that have never heard of SurvivalBlog. Please keep spreading the word. I hope that you will consider adding a linked SurvivalBlog banner or logo to your e-mail footer and/or to your web pages. Many thanks!

Hi James,
When considering camouflage at your retreat what are some of the things you have taken into consideration. I'm just starting to research this and the choices available are a bit overwhelming. Here are my thoughts as they currently stand.

The first choice is whether you want to go with a military pattern or a commercial pattern such as RealTree, MossyOak, or similar. Then there are the in-between patterns like MultiCam that were developed for the military but not yet adopted so they are commercially available, at a premium price. I'm leaning more towards the commercial patterns as their use before the SHTF would not draw as much attention as mil patterns. The big plus in my mind is that after the SHTF these patterns would not be confused with the patterns worn by any military units in the area. Hopefully, this could save you from being identified as a military member and prevent incoming fire from a like minded individual taking out military targets of opportunity. While I've heard good things about MultiCam, but I think I would shy away from it because of the above reason. It's currently in use in the Future Force Warrior program and could be adopted and found in widespread use in the future.

I've yet to see a scientific review of the various patterns and their effectiveness; most of the information I've been able to find has been on various survival related forums where individuals do their own impromptu tests. It seems to be universally held that the current ACU is horrible in nearly all terrain, with the possible exception of sagebrush country that you've mentioned in the past. Oddly enough, from some people's accounts, the original olive drab (more on the brown side then the green you picture today) still works pretty well, especially when in a mix of light and shadow found under the forest canopy.

When considering your camo, do you pick one pattern to work with all seasons or do you have separate patterns for every season. I live in the northeast, so I figure one pattern could cover you for fall, early winter, and spring. In the dead of winter with a lot of snow on the ground a winter camo with some amount of white would probably work. Then again, you could just add some lighter colored cloth strips by using safety pins or make a white shell as the situation warranted. Movement of the additional cloth in the wind would obviously need to be taken into consideration. In summer, you could still be able to get by with your main pattern as the increased foliage adds to your general concealment. From my understanding patterns that are heavy on the green don't do as well because the greens unnaturally stand out more often then not. Deer are brown for a reason.

What is your view on various fabric weights of camo for the different seasons? Layering makes the most sense to utilize your gear as much as possible but a water resistant (preferable breathable fabric like Gore-Tex) outer layer is important to keep you dry, especially in the winter. If it is uninsulated it will be usable throughout a larger portion of the year.

Thanks in advance for any insight you may be able to provide. - Jim in Vermont

JWR Replies: In my experience, the finer points of camouflage patterns only make a difference in recognition at distances of 25 feet or less. Beyond that, plain earth brown or good old olive drab--supplemented with gloves and either camouflage face paint (or a British camouflage net "sniper's veil")--work remarkably well. Avoiding rapid movement is ten times more important than color, pattern, or shading. I recommend just using one pattern, nearly year-round. (Except when there is snow on the ground, as discussed later.)

In addition to the basics of the effectiveness of camouflage patterns in breaking up the human silhouette, consider that post-collapse retreat security presents some unique challenges. One of these is identifying friend from foe, while maintaining a perimeter of security. You will want to be able to distinguish "the sheep from the goats" with just a glance at long distance. (By long distance, I mean distance too great for facial recognition without aid of optics.) For this reason I do not recommend that survival groups standardize with any of the most ubiquitous patterns, such as BDU Woodland or brown RealTree. It would be far too easy for one or more would-be looters to take note of the pattern that you are using, and dress in that pattern in an attempt to sneak in to your perimeter. In fact, I recommend buying all matching clothing for every family/group member in a pattern that is: 1.) uncommon, 2.) distinctive, and 3.) inexpensive to purchase in quantity. For example, I know of two different retreat groups that standardized with Swiss Alpenflage (which has a lot of red blotches in it--hence it is very distinctive), and one group that standardized with German Flecktarn. Military surplus uniforms in these patterns are available from U.S. vendors such as Cheaper Than Dirt and Major Surplus, Canadian vendors like Global Army Surplus, and British vendors like

In your particular situation--in the woods of New England--one military surplus camouflage pattern that might work particularly well is the British DPM pattern, and/or its first cousin, the very reasonably priced Dutch Army pattern (the two look virtually the same except upon close inspection.) OBTW, Dutch camo uniforms are also available in England from It is even possible to do a bit of uniform "mixing and matching"--for example buying all DPMs shirts and smocks, and all East German Raindrop pattern pants. OBTW, if you have a big budget, the commercial All-Season, All-Terrain (ASAT) pattern is remarkably effective. Use of the ASAT pattern is so uncommon that the chances of someone finding a set of ASAT clothing for an attempt at perimeter-probing subterfuge is practically nil.

You are correct that switching to snow camouflage is as simple as cutting up bed sheets. But I know of one group that made very simple snow camouflage ponchos (serape style, with no hood) out of Dupont Tyvek. (Yes, you can order it in rolls of plain white--so you won't look like a walking "Dupont Tyvek Housewrap" advertisement.) The drawback is that Tyvek is considerably noisier than cotton sheets, but its advantages are that it provides semi-durable and waterproof ponchos that cost less than $1 each!

Here are a few personal observations about the state of Maryland and Montgomery County in particular, where I live. Since I didn’t know where the statistics used for the other states analyzed on SurvivalBlog came from, for the cost of housing, car insurance, etc; I didn’t want to dig up any off the wall numbers, so none are listed. The only exception is for firearms ranking by “Boston’s Gun Bible 2005 ed.”, which I have. I only discuss the main part of the state of Maryland and not the western part which is not as developed. The western part of Maryland is mountainous, very hilly and fairly remote from the rest of the state. Throughout this article I have underlined what I feel are important points.
First are Montgomery County’s official statistics from their web site. “Montgomery County is Maryland's most populous jurisdiction and it’s most affluent. The County is located to the north and adjacent to the nation's capital, Washington, D.C., and includes 497 square miles of land area. The topography is rolling with small hills.” Population of the county in the 2000 census was 873,341. Population as of January 2005 was 942,000. [JWR Adds: Gee, just your county has almost half population of my entire state, which, BTW has more than four times the land area of Maryland!]
State Sales Tax is 5%. However Maryland ranks number 17 with the highest personal tax rate in the country. Also in Montgomery County’s case, affluent means very high property taxes. The state is now (2007) considering a proposal to raise the sales tax to 5-1/2 or 6% to increase revenue.
Agriculture- Maryland’s crops are mainly corn, wheat and soybeans. However its big cash crop is the Chesapeake Bay crab, which has been caught in lower than normal quantities in the last few years due to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. In the last ten years there has been an increase in horse farms in Montgomery County (783 farms housing 12,000 horses in 2002). Farmers take their regular farms and board the horses of the more affluent that live in condominiums and expensive houses. Maryland used to be a tobacco producer but with everybody turning against anything tobacco related, a lot of farmers are selling their multi-hundred acre farms to development companies. These development companies are building townhouses as fast as they can bulldoze the land. These townhouses are sold starting at about $200,000 and up, depending on the closeness to Washington, D.C. Choice locations are also developed into neighborhoods of large houses starting at around $500,000, again depending on location and closeness to Washington. It is almost impossible and very rare to find a house for under $250,000 in Montgomery County.
Weather- In the summer, the east coast and the “Washington area” in particular is very hot, 90-100 degrees, and very humid, 70-90%. The official Heat Index in August on some days goes over 100 degrees, usually resulting in a half a dozen deaths of the elderly and sick due to the heat and high humidity and no air conditioning. At night this drops to an average of 75-80 degrees and 70% humidity. Winter in the “Washington area” varies from year to year, but usually drops to approximately 10-20 degrees. Some winters may get colder. Snow may consist of two or three storms of 3-6 inches each, or like in 2004 one massive dump of 24-26 inches in Washington, and up to 36 inches in Maryland. These massive storms result in widespread loss of power, stores being closed and everything coming to a dead halt for a couple of days.
Illegal Aliens (Spanish speaking) are everywhere. Cities and towns in Maryland and Virginia are even building job centers for them, so they can “wait out of the elements” and off the street locations where they congregate (it looks bad). The daily routine is that large and small contractors, yard service companies, and people in general looking for day laborers (Joe home owner digging a drainage ditch, building an addition to his house, etc.) drive up, tell what they want and what they are paying, pick out how many they want, load them up and drive off. Once you find someone you like working with, just have him report to your business. The women clean the homes, watch the children, and buy the groceries for the Yuppie (Young Urban Professional) families with both parents working. This happens because the under thirty crowd (Caucasian and black) for the most part, won’t do hard physical labor, so everybody wants the Spanish because they will work and need the money. A personal observation is that all the fast food places I frequent are 90% staffed by Spanish speakers. I took my brother to the hospital last year for outpatient surgery, and while I was waiting outside the hospital at 3:00 PM, they released nine new mothers with their babies. All were young and Spanish speaking. When I told friends of this later, they called them “Anchor Babies”, automatic American citizens, allowing the mothers to stay in America and access benefits. I saw a newspaper article on a congressman who tried to bring up a bill canceling the law about granting automatic citizenship to babies born to non U.S. citizens. No one in congress would support it and it never came up [for a vote].
In the past few years the larger bank chains, starting with Bank of America, are allowing illegal immigrants to open bank accounts using those Mexican Consulate ID cards as “Legal ID” to deposit payroll checks from companies and contractors. In case no one is aware, this is now normal business practice across America. The Internal Revenue Service then assigns them a “Taxpayer Identification Number” to process their taxes on income earned in America, even though they are not legal residents and do not have a social security number. I guess that’s why there haven’t been any arrests for nonpayment of taxes on income earned. The IRS’s position is that it is a revenue collecting agency, not a citizenship enforcement agency. The U.S. government just wants the money. Maryland is also one of a handful of states that will issue a driver’s license to an illegal immigrant (does not require proof of citizenship).
Politically, Maryland is predominately a Democrat state. The governor elected in 2002-2006, was a Republican (the first Republican in almost 40 years), but it was a very close race. One of the points he ran on was gun owner rights. He was elected and then didn’t say another word about guns for his four years, not that it would have mattered with the liberal Democratic state government. The new governor elected in 2006 is a Democrat who was the mayor of the city of Baltimore (very liberal, anti-gun).
This brings us to the subject of Maryland and guns. Maryland is anti-gun, period. In Boston T. Party’s book, “Boston’s Gun Bible”, 2002 edition, Maryland ranks 43rd out of 51 (50 states plus D.C.). In other words, it ranks as one of the 10 worst states for firearms ownership in America. Maryland’s stance on guns is basically that there are too many deaths by guns (high crime and needless accidents [children]) therefore get rid of the guns and violent crime will go down, regardless of the fact that this has been proven false over and over again. Also, law abiding citizens shouldn’t have a need for a gun. The state of Maryland has a very, very restrictive “Concealed Carry Weapon” law administered by the state police (in other words, No Way). Under the Concealed Carry Weapon Law, the state police use the requirement of having a "good and substantial reason" as a justification to deny issue of a permit. Maryland law states that all private firearms sales (resident to resident) of “regulated firearms” (pistols and assault rifles), must be processed through either an FFL dealer or the Maryland State Police in person. As the buyer, you have to fill out the same paperwork as when buying a new firearm and wait 7 days for approval or disapproval by the state police before you can take possession. And before I forget, “A person may not manufacture, sell, offer for sale, purchase, receive, or transfer a detachable magazine that has a capacity of more than 20 rounds of ammunition for a firearm.” Maryland Criminal Law Code § 4-305(b)
Montgomery County, Maryland tried to pass a law in 2001 banning “Public money” to "any organization that allows the display and sale of guns" on its property, in this case to prevent the “Montgomery County Fairgrounds” from hosting a Gun Show. It went to court and was later overturned but the county promised to rewrite it and try again later. Maryland was watching and supporting the effort from the sidelines. As a result, gun shows no longer come to Montgomery County.
Yes, there are pro-gun and hunting organizations in the state and they are fighting for the cause. But from what I see, the pro-gun groups struggle to muster enough support to fight each battle when the state quietly slips a legislation “clarification” into the legislative process. They are slowly losing the war due to being outnumbered. Most of Maryland has grown into a bunch of young professional office workers and non-hunting people, who are only interested in buying an expensive house and living the good life while they can. These vastly out number the blue collar workers that are still left and are being pushed further outward from the nation’s capital because they can no longer afford to live in the “affluent” counties anymore.
Where to live in Maryland if you didn’t have to work in the District of Columbia (D.C.)? I see only two areas. 1) The north-central part of the state, around the towns of Fredrick (close to a possible nuclear target), Hagerstown (hilly) and Westminster, all of which are growing fast population wise. 2) Western Maryland around Cumberland, which like I said in the beginning is mountainous, very hilly and fairly remote from the rest of the state. You are however close to parts of Virginia, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The eastern shore (east side of the Chesapeake Bay) would be good however the ability to get in and out is severely restricted as there is only one land route and two bridges to get to that side of the state. The land route is in the far north by Delaware and the two bridges are at Annapolis in the middle and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the far south into Virginia. The bridges become jammed with bumper to bumper traffic every summer as everyone travels to and from the seashore. In a crisis situation such as the very rare occasion when a hurricane makes it this far north, the two bridges come to complete stand still as everyone tries to leave and accidents occur by panicky drivers.
My call for nuclear targets: 1) Washington, D.C. area (several bombs, over lapping the surrounding counties including Montgomery County), 2) Camp David, Maryland, presidential retreat (north of Fredrick, outside Thurmont, Maryland, near the Pennsylvania line) and 3) Baltimore (major U.S. seaport). There are also a couple of minor military bases in the state, Andrews Air Force Base (Air Force One and some cargo planes), Aberdeen Proving Grounds (large test facility), and the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis. Of course on any fallout pattern map I’ve seen, Maryland is downwind of everything else in the United States, so being a target is not really the problem here.
These are only my personal observations of the state I grew up in, left to serve in the Army for twenty four years and came back to. The state is very crowded, very expensive, and most people are of the mind set to just give the government any power it asks for and it will take care of everything. For the most part they don’t understand or even care one bit about the increasing loss of their freedoms or the Second Amendment. And yes, I am looking into moving. - Al in Maryland

JWR Adds: If I was forced by work or family circumstances to live near Washington, D.C., then I would be more inclined to live in rural Virginia than I would anywhere in Maryland. (Mainly because of Virginia's more favorable tax and gun laws.) Although it is a long commute to the DC Beltway, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia may be worth considering.

Ron L. mentioned the Steve's Pages web site, which has a wealth of free firearms and reloading information. In particular, don't miss his plethora of free reloading data, his many free firearms parts lists/exploded diagrams, his guns and reloading books archive, and his free downloadable military manuals. Thanks Steve, for putting together so many great resources! If you find Steve's site as useful as I have, then please send him a donation.

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PNG recommend this piece: Lessons From Off The Grid: Important Personal Finance Lessons My Childhood Taught Me

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They're in Deep Schumer: 53,000 recent home buyers in and near New York City at risk of losing their homes. Senator Schumer's solution: What else would a dyed-in-the-wool liberal suggest? A new Federal government agency.

"If anything can survive the probe of humour it is clearly of value, and conversely all groups who claim immunity from laughter are claiming special privileges which should not be granted." - Eric Idle (born March 29, 1943)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The high bid is now up to $425 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for several items (including an EMP-proof antique radio, four books, and a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course) that are being auctioned together as a lot:. The auction ends on April 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

I have been looking for 1-to-200 acres in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Ouch!!! I think that they think there is gold in them mountains. Right now I sit on 47 acres north of Dallas, Texas. Since land is so high I have moved my sights to other areas. Currently I have looked at land in Upper Peninsula ("U.P.") of Michigan. It is very remote, very few people, gets up to 100" of snow, has good forest, has water and just a good out of then way place. I have also been told they are firearms friendly. Land is cheap. I have both US and Canadian citizenship, a mechanic at a major airline and since 9/11 been going to school, being excepted to nursing school. I have one more year and I will be an RN, allowing me to work anywhere. Can you give me any plusses or minuses on the U.P. of Michigan? Thanks, - FJ

JWR Replies: If you can stand the severe climate, then yes, the U.P. is about as good as it gets for retreat locales east of the Dakotas. For a move to the U.P., plan to budget to build a big greenhouse (with a steep-pitched roof), and big woodshed. You are going to need both! Oh yes. Don't forget to lay in a large supply of mosquito repellent.

I wanted to comment on the retreat areas in Nevada. I'm a native rural Nevadan. I fully agree with your last reader on the [Big] Smoky Valley. I have lived and worked in that area in past years. He was dead on about Tonopah. I want to share a little about Ely and Elko.
Ely has one of four maximum security prisons. Ely also has two medium security prisons--also called "Honor Camps". Ely the town has been under the direction of the State. They are bankrupt. Also, there is a fair amount of mining going on in the area. A a few years ago, Las Vegas people came in and bought up all the houses that were for sale. It is [now] a summer retreat for Las Vegas. Since [this trend started], prices have skyrocketed. Again, you have to travel to to Elko to shop. I have seen temperatures in Ely winters travel well below zero with highs in the 15-20 degrees above.
Elko area is the best choice. Temperatures and snow are also an issue here. I have a friend that has 20 acres for sale about 60 miles west of Elko, 20 miles off Interstate 80. Prices are very high here for Nevada because of all the mining. [JWR Adds: House prices are soaring anywhere within commute distance to the Carlin Trend mines.] It is hard to find places to live. Apartments rent for around $900-$1200/month. RV Spaces go from $280-$650/mo. There are plentiful jobs. Elko has a Wal-Mart, Home Depot, all you need for shopping. The hospital here is more a first aid station. Any major problems and they'll fly you to Salt Lake City. Thank You, - Alive in Elko

JWR Replies: I had only mentioned the Big Smoky Valley because it was in relatively close striking distance to the gent from the central California coast who had made the inquiry. In general, I recommend finding places in Nevada that 1.) have plentiful water, 2.) are away from the I-80 corridor, 3.) are away from the major mining operations, 4.) are away from prisons, and 5.) that have plentiful wild game. This criteria leads you to places like Jarbidge (near the Idaho state line) and the back side of the Ruby Mountains. BTW, I have some pretty deep roots in Northern Nevada--at least on one side of my family, dating back to the 1870s.

Dear Mr. Rawles -

Hello again from Baltimore, Maryland, where I believe spring may have finally decided to stay this time, in spite of the inch of sleet and ice we received last week. Sounds like your family is dealing with your mud season as well.

The good news from Maryland is that the state's bans on assault weapons has died in committee. a 5-5 deadlock has prevented the bill from moving forward into the house, so the issue is dead once again for this year. The bad news is that the federal ban still looms on the horizon. I have known for some time that it isn't a matter of if laws like these are approved, it is a matter of when. As a result, I have made several investments in "hardware" over the last few years, and am now in the process of acquiring magazines and the like for them.

I would like to know your opinion of the "Mag Cinch" system, where two mags can be fastened together for quick and easy reloads. It looks slick, and sounds like sound concept, but I've never actually used one either. I also haven't been able to find one that works with the FAL or any other .308 battle rifle either. I see them for AKs and ARs, but nothing for HK93s, CETMEs, or FALs. Do they make a Mag Cinch for any of these rifles?

My new [expanded edition] copy of "Patriots" arrived over the weekend. I will begin devouring it tonight. Take care and God Bless. - Tim in Baltimore, MD

JWR Replies: I've always considered dual or triple magazine systems a bit "gadgety." Its something that the "Tommy Tactical"/Arm Chair Commando crowd all seem to consider a must. But IMHO, if you can't solve your immediate tactical problem with one magazine without a lightning fast reload, then you are severely outnumbered. You should have been working as part of a fire team! But, in fairness, I suppose that they might make sense for a G.O.O.D. or Escape and Evasion situation where you are on your own and you need to lay down a lot of suppressive fire, to break contact.
At this juncture I should also mention that one problem with duplexed or triplexed magazines is that you typically carry just one of these duplexing do-hickeys, and all of the remainder your ammo in standard magazine pouches. So where do you put the duplexed magazine once it is empty? (Since they don't fit in ammo pouches.) I surmise that you could put a parachute cord loop on it, and once emptied, clip it to a carabiner on your web gear. (Like some of the Blackwater boys do.) But again, aside for some specialized situations, the whole duplex/triplex magazine concept seems like more of a Mall Ninja fashion statement than something that is truly practical.

For those considering relocating, I found some interesting statistical data on various cities at Sperling's Best Places. I may be quoting them in the next edition of Rawles on Retreats and Relocation

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The dehydrated squirrel meat advertised by Best Prices Storable Foods is causing a bit of controversy. The vendor created this page as a joke, but it does raise a valid issue. I find is odd that many folks in the politically correct crowd think that eggs from a hen that has never seen the light of day are "yummy", and some even consider box-raised veal "tasty", but they are repulsed by the thought of eating something like "free-range squirrel meat. "

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Postal Service unveils ’forever’ stamp, immune from rate increases. These might be a good inflation hedge!

"Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character." - Henry Clay (1777–1852)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Are you getting 10 cents a day worth of useful information out of SurvivalBlog? If so, then please sign up for a Ten Cent Challenge subscription. These subscriptions are entirely voluntary, but they do help keep my family fed. Thanks!

Thank you for your hard work. I am not sure if this was covered here before and, in the case it has not, I wanted to supply the following information to help suppress fear regarding electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and specifically, its effects on communications equipment. I am tired of reading "seal the radio in a metal ammo can, place the ammo can in an old microwave and place the old microwave in an old refrigerator, which is then buried under 8 feet of earth," et cetera.

Here is the reference for a four-part article in Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Magazine, QST, 1986.

"Electromagnetic Pulse and the Radio Amateur"
Part 1: Aug. 1986 pp.15-20, 36
Part 2: Sep. 1986 pp. 22-26
Part 3: Oct. 1986 pp. 38-41
Part 4: Nov. 1986 pp. 30-34

The study is more than 20 years old and radio/computer gear has changed significantly, but the fundamentals have not changed. The end of Part 4 describes the simple steps that should be taken for EMP protection and they do not involve wrapping the radio with aluminum foil or burying it. Thank you for a great site! I hope that this is helpful. - The DFer

JWR Adds: The DFer is correct when he states: " gear has changed significantly" in the past 20 years. Microcircuits are far more complex and vulnerable. In 1986, typical integrated circuits ("chips") had 3 to 5 micron gate dimensions. Nowadays, they are typically "sub-micron" (smaller than a micron.) The smaller the gates, the greater the risk of EMP.

There are two types of survivalist ["Schumer Hits the Fan"] (SHTF) shopping. Pre-SHTF, and Imminent-SHTF. Let's look at both of them .

These are things you buy now while there is no immediate threat and no mobs of desperate people trying to get the same thing. People who know you think you are eccentric but mostly harmless. The readers of this site already know what kinds of items to store in advance (food, guns, ammunition, etc.) and so it will not be repeated here. Conceptually, these items should have long term storability, and in terms of food be used in a rotating manner so that they are used before they reach the end of their shelf lives. IMHO, a good way to get a resistant female significant other to get on board is to tell her to pick out a case of her favorite chocolate bars and tampons/pads for your pre-SHTF stash.

Imminent SHTF
If you haven't done your Pre-SHTF shopping, shame on you. The best you can hope for is to get there first. Put on a rucksack and while everyone else is in shock, you call your group/wife/friends and get to the COSTCO or wherever. You will be competing with others for items.
If you have already done your Pre-SHTF shopping, then items that you by during an imminent SHTF could include:

1- More of what you already have
2- Items that you don't store in large amounts because they have shorter expiration dates such as fats, oils, meats, batteries and fuel. [JWR Adds: Don't forget chemical light sticks.]
3- Items that you haven't already bought because they are expensive and need the money more than the item during normal times (i.e. more/better guns)
4- Items that you haven't bought already because in addition to their price and expiration dates, you cannot use them under normal circumstances, such as antibiotics.
5- Items that require maintenance that you don't want to deal with pre-SHTF (i.e. guard dog, male and female rabbits and chicks (for raising meat) and the food and housing that they will require.

Here is where your preparation pays off. You zig while everyone else zags. You don't want to be in a throng of hungry and frightened people scrabbling for what's left on the [supermarket] shelves. Since you already have done your Pre-SHTF shopping, you are in no immediate need of anything. Instead, think of what else you might want to get and buy it while others are ransacking the shelves of the local grocery store for canned tuna, rice, bottled water and D-cell batteries. You've got your shopping list and you call your team and assign items to purchase.

Consider the nature of the SHTF. Stay away from the crowds. If a violent riot is a mile away, don't go to the gun store to get another shotgun. Everyone else is going there. You already have your guns and ammo right? Go to the hardware store and get razor wire (or barbed wire), 2x4's, nails, fire extinguishers and smoke inhalation masks/hoods. If the banks are shutting down, don't go and wait on line there. Instead, go to the ATMs and local check cashing place. Think out of the box or get buried in one.

You want to be ahead of the learning curve of the masses. You can be by virtue of three things.

1 - You've already taken care of the necessities so you can avoid the crowds.
2 - You aren't going into shock since you already saw this coming.
3 - You don't have to think about what you're going to need. You've already thought about it, made your list, and know exactly where to get it.

Special note: Depending on the nature of the SHTF, you may need to pay with cash. If the grid is going to go down, don't expect stores to take your word for it that your checks and credit cards are good, and it's too early to pay with gold or silver unless the shop owner is present and it's a mom and pop store. As such, if you don't have a chunk of cash buried in the yard, the very first thing you (or a member of your team/family) may need to do is to go to the bank and ATMs and get some cash out while you can.

FWIW, here's my current personal Imminent SHTF Shopping List.
Rent a 20' moving truck
I want more than I can carry in my car.
Withdraw cash at banks and ATMs and empty the safe deposit box of any valuables before the banks close down.
Gas cans
Mountain bikes
Dirt bike/Motorcycle

Food and Water
Fats and Oils
Meats and proteins

Antibiotics -prescription*
Painkillers -prescription*

*You should carry prescriptions for any drugs you may want to get in your wallet at all times. Do you want to have to go home and look through your files when the balloon goes up and time is of the essence?
More ammunition - can you ever have enough?
Rifles and shotguns - see above.
Camping gear
Extra shoes
Water filters

Livestock-Pet store
Baby chicks and baby rabbits, both sexes.
Their food, water and housing needs

Have this thought out ahead of time. Have copies or your list, delegate tasks to those in your circle and move fast while everyone else is glued to the television set waiting for the government to tell them what to do. - SF in Hawaii

JWR Adds: Deciding whether or not to venture away from your home or retreat when disruption looks imminent should not be a taken lightly. Risks will likely outweigh the benefits if it means "fighting the crowds" at the stores. (Literally.) Nor do you want riffraff seeing your vehicle heaped with new purchases and then following you home. Ditto for nosey neighbors.

In my writings, I have always stressed that we should "Be part of the solution, and not part of the problem." I consider that the litmus test for determining the right course of action in any disaster. By logical extension, that mindset pushes us in the direction of dispensing charity and assisting civil authorities in restoring law and order. By stocking up well in advance you will be one less person that rushes to the supermarket just after the SHTF.

I was doing some web wandering on the topic of night vision gear, and I came across this video tutorial on How to Transform Your Webcam Into An Infrared Cam, (This has possibilities for retreat security.) Because the price of infrared LEDs has plummeted, it is now affordable to use arrays of IR LEDs as the light source. Think of the possibilities. And for those of you are aren't electronics do-it-yourselfers, battery-powered IR motion detector camera systems are available from Ready Made Resources

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A reader mentioned that because of a scheduling conflict, he had to cancel his Thunder Ranch Urban Rifle course reservation for next month, and forfeit his deposit. Perhaps another SurvivalBlog reader would be interested in filling his slot, since they are booked solid for the rest of this year. The course dates are April 25-27. Anyone interested they should call: (541) 947-4104.

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The National Association of Realtors reported that the inventory of unsold homes rose to 3.75 million units, up by 5.9 percent from the January level, but there was an odd jump in sales last month, attributed to unusually warm weather.

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Monday, March 26, 2007

I'm in need of a few more Quotes of the Day. If any of you have a favorite, please send it in. OBTW, special thanks to reader "Redmist" who sent dozens of quotes, many of which I've posted in past three months. Thanks!

I love your blog, it's the only one I read, really. I'm writing to recommend as a source of precious metals, and pre-1965 [U.S.] silver coinage. I took your advice, and the advice of others, and decided to begin a precious metals investing program, starting with pre-'65 coins, and a few 1 oz American Silver Eagles. I searched all over the net looking for a place that would take a small order from a beginner, and found few, They sold large amounts, and there was always a call from a sales rep involved to complete the order process. Enter Their prices certainly seem competitive to me, I bought Silver Eagles (their choice of years, since it's cheaper, and I'm only in it for the silver content) and got them for $14.43 each, They also sell pre-'65 coins in lots as small as $1, although it is more expensive that way, but I found a deal for $10 face value for under $98, and ordered $20 face. The order process was completely online. The price "locks in" for 10 minutes when you click the submit button, and you can pay by credit card, which seems to be rare. They do charge a 3% fee for using the credit card, and in the future, I'll be sending checks or money orders, but WOW! I received my order within a week, and I'm very pleased. I hope this helps your other readers, who may be waiting and saving because they cannot buy a whole bag of coin, or work nights like me, and aren't awake for a sales rep call. OBTW, I received my signed copy of "Patriots", and read it that same day. Excellent! I learned a lot, and enjoyed it. Thanks for writing it!
God Bless, - R.D.

I took note in Jason's recent message regarding Lee reloading tools, and I must say I agree wholeheartedly. I have a Lee challenger press, and strongly recommend it.
In fact, I recommend the Lee Anniversary Reloading Kit with "Modern Reloading" Manual (available from MidwayUSA: for $89.99 plus shipping). It comes with everything except dies, primers, powder, brass, and bullets. Oh, a set of calipers is a handy thing to have too.
The case is the most expensive part of the cartridge to make, requiring multiple steps in shaping the brass into the final cartridge case. Reloading can significantly cut costs for the casual shooter, as well as allowing the more advanced shooter to develop and refine more accurate loads.
There is, however, one point that Jason made that I disagree with: that military surplus ammo is unreliable junk. Not so! The Swiss GP11 is fantastic (great if you have a K31 rifle), Polish 7.62x54r Light Ball is excellent fodder for the Mosin-Nagant (it is corrosive, but the Mosin is a cinch to clean), South Africa made some great .308, and Greece makes excellent .30-06 M2 Ball ammo (available from the CMP). Milsurp ammo has been stored in unknown conditions for unknown lengths of time, but with few exceptions, it's perfectly suitable for a fun afternoon out at the range.
That, and there's a fair amount of boxer-primed, reloadable military surplus ammunition -- I myself have nearly two thousand pieces of .30-06 brass that I got from Korean-made military surplus (KA and PS head stamps, the former being corrosively primed, the latter being non-corrosive). Buying the ammo in the first place was cheap, and now I have a goodly supply of brass. For those concerned with the safety of military surplus ammo, a kinetic bullet puller is inexpensive, and one can remove the bullets, dump out the old powder (makes good fertilizer for plants), remove the primer if desired (be extremely careful when de-priming live primers -- it might make more sense to chamber the primer-only cartridge in a gun, then fire it [while being careful of lead emissions, of course], and then de-prime the spent primer). All one needs to do then is re-prime the cases, charge the case with a suitable amount of powder, and re-seat the bullet. No need to buy more brass and bullets. I've done this with some of the unreliable and occasionally unsafe Indian .308, and rendered it quite consistent and accurate. Cheers! - Pete

JWR Replies: I agree that the quality of military surplus ammo varies widely. There have been some with erratic pressure. There is also a lot of corrosively primed ammo still on the market, most notably WWII vintage .303 British and a considerable amount imported from the former Soviet Bloc in various calibers. But some, such as the Swiss GP11 that you mentioned is outstanding. And I wish that I had bought several hundred thousand rounds of West German .308 ball when it was on the market back in the early 1908s. That stuff very accurate.


I think I've written you about this before, but when it comes to Lee, I feel the need to caution others often. I have been a reloader for almost 20 years (limited only by how old I am), and I started using lee reloading equipment. When I was a teenager, the price point was great. However, as I've gotten older and been able to afford equipment from other manufacturers, I rarely use anything made by lee.
Lee does make some good products, their bullet molds, (the ones that use "tumble lube") and their lube sizing dies (that go with the molds) are versatile and low cost. The other product I highly recommend is the Lee factory crimp die. As for the rest of their products, I've found them to be strangely engineered (they dump the primers into the bottom of the press) and I've also found them to be of poor quality. If you are interested in reloading ammunition for yourself, I highly recommend buying tools from another manufacturer (RCBS is my favorite) as your funds allow. Having equipment is better than not, but having good equipment makes reloading much easier, safer, and produces higher quality reloads. - AVL

Hi Jim,
Regarding the MURS Radio Barter Experiment, I had a very good response from your readers. This experiment was thought up after reading many barter articles on your blog. While this experiment might not be typical of a face-to-face bartering experience, the results were interesting nonetheless. A few offers were under valued, the majority were close enough in value to be considered, and a few were "very well valued". Here is a sampling of what I was offered:
90% silver coins – all ranges of values were offered including "junk" coins and Silver Dollars
Printing material – business cards, letterhead, etc.
Woodworking services (not local to me though)
Poker chip set with aluminum case
Portable water filters and cartridges
Front Sight 2 day course certificate
Several types of ammo magazines and various firearm parts
Books by Jim Rawles: Patriots, Rawles on Retreats and Relocation, and Rawles Gets You Ready Course (multiple copies of each)
High end LED flashlights
Frontline Plus flea/tick control for pets
Ammo reloading equipment
Swiss Army watch and champion knife
Camouflage clothing
Home schooling math course
Body armor
Packages of MREs

What surprised me the most was the wide range of items offered. I chose a couple of items not based on need but because I could easily barter them to someone else. I chose the camo clothing, water filters, LED flashlights, some silver coins, and the stack of Jim Rawles' books. The clothing, books, and coins stay with me. The flashlights and water filters were successfully re-bartered locally.
Since I obtained multiple copies of the Rawles books, I shared a set between family and close friends in the hopes they would "see the light" in getting themselves prepared. (Unsolicited comment: If you
don't have these books, then I highly suggest them. They are very informative.)

I wish to thank you and your readers for your participation in this experiment. Overall it was successful and fun! I still have some $49 MURS Radios for sale for outdoor spring and summer time activities. Thank you very much! - Rob

Reader "6xddx6" e-mailed us to say that he created a simple solar charging system for his Kenwood TK2100 MURS radios that he got from $49 MURS Radios (one of our advertisers.) For this project, he used an inexpensive photovoltaic (PV) panel from Northern Tool & Equipment. (One of our Affiliate Advertisers.) At Northern Tool's web site, search on Item # 339973.

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Chester M. sent this news story: New Orleans Residents Arming Themselves Chester's comment: "Better late than never, I guess."

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Any SurvivalBlog readers that homeschool their kids--or that plan too--should visit the web site for our newest advertiser: Alpha Omega Homeschooling. You can save 11% on all products with Coupon Code TQ9E11

"If you can't repair it, maybe it shouldn't be on board." - Lynn and Larry Pardey, commenting on equipment for blue water yachtsmen

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I was up on the roof yesterday, doing the semi-annual de-gunking of the wood stove chimney spark arrestor, and the annual cleaning of the chimney itself. A messy job, but one that is crucial for fire safety. (Creosote-fueled chimney fires are commonplace, and are almost always the result of lax chimney-cleaning discipline.) Every survival retreat owner should have a set of chimney-cleaning rods and brushes, and the discipline to use them regularly!

Hello Mr. Rawles,
I have a question concerning silica gel desiccant measurements. I have found that buying the desiccant in bulk from flower shops more economical for me, but need assistance with putting together an accurate measurement for 5 or 6 gallon food buckets. On the Alan T. Hagan [Food Storage FAQ] site, he say's to use coffee filters to make the packets which is a good source and on other vendor sites it say's that 1500 to 2000 cc's is to be used for the 5 or 6 gallon bucket's, my problem is how to measure those amount's and the others for that matter (300, 500, 750, 1000 cc's seem to be the usual amounts). I have a kitchen measuring cup and some conversion tables off the net but the amount that is poured seem's over measured (measured in ml BTW, ml=cc) because it seems quite large (the homemade packets). Any clarification/ help is greatly appreciated. - Derrick

JWR Replies: You are correct that a cubic centimeter is the same volume as a milliliter (mL or ml). 1 cup volume is about 240 to 250 mls. So the 1,500 to 2,000 cc figure does seem very high. At first glance, I think that they might have been off by a factor of 10 when they made their calculations. Typically, what is used for a sealed 5 or 6 gallon bucket of storage rice or wheat is a two ounce (56 gram) packet of silica gel, or perhaps two packets if you live in a damp climate. But let me provide a thoroughly defined answer, since a gram is a unit of weight and a milliliter is a unit of volume. Dry silica gel weighs 680 grams per liter. When it is saturated, it weighs considerably more. But as the basis for our calculations, you can assume that the weight of dry silica gel is .68 of the weight of an equivalent volume of water. Hence:, for Water: 1 cc = 1 ml = 1 gram. (Well, to be absolutely scientifically precise, 1 milliliter equals 1.000028 cc and 1 cc equals 0.999972 ml., but we aren't splitting atoms here), and for Silica gel: 1 cc = 1 ml = .68 gram. So, 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of dry silica gel would occupy a volume of 68 mls, or just over 1/4 of a cup, and 400 grams of dry silica gel would measure just over one cup.

You should always dry your silica gel before using it. This can be accomplished by placing the packets in a home dehydrator (such as the Excalibur brand--highly recommended) for 10 hours, or on a cookie sheet in a kitchen oven set to 150 to 180 degrees for 12 hours. (Make sure that the paper is not close to the heating element.) When dry, (down to around 2% moisture) 1000 grams of silica gel will occupy a volume of about 680 mls or 2-1/4 cups. So the 1,500cc (ml) figure that they mentioned would equate to more than five cups of silica gel! Whoa! We had better move that decimal place over a notch! A half cup (120 ml) of dry silica gel is plenty for a five or 6 gallon bucket.

OBTW, I don't recommend adding any desiccant to buckets of dried beans. (Although you should add an 02 absorbing packet.) If beans get too dry, it actually shortens their useful shelf life. If they get too dry, then soaking them--even for many days--will not plump them up properly, and they will not be palatable. If you are faced with the "hard bean" problem, you can resort to either using a pressure cooker, or grinding the beans, to salvage them.

The bottom line to all this number crunching is the good news: With the aforementioned exception of beans, there is no such thing as "too much" silica gel in a dried food storage bucket. If you inadvertently use two or three times too much, there is no harm done. But it would be a needless expense unless you can get it in bulk at very low cost or find someone giving it away. As you mentioned, florist shops are a good source. Another source is piano shops. Most of the pianos that are imported from Japan come with a large bag of silica gel. (Usually 600 to 800 grams.) One of those bags is the perfect size to protect the contents of a typical home gun vault.(Be sure to re-dry it once a year, or once per quarter if you live in a damp climate.) If you make some phone calls, these big bags are often available free for the asking--or next to it--if you pick them up at your local piano store.

For those not inclined toward scrounging, commercially-made silica gel packets are available from a variety of Internet vendors such as Ready Made Resources and Nitro-Pak. Both of those vendors also sell oxygen absorbing packets, which are crucial to ensure that insect larvae won't survive in your food storage buckets.

Again you are "on target" with your assessment of the Blackwater / Najaf / 800 Meter video. Nice informative letter too from Griff, we appreciate that detail and background! More than just sound bites and snapshots, SurvivalBlog is about quality information.
I think what Griff stated is very informative as to the actual mission. In my mind the Blackwater guys were laying down high quality suppressive fire, but when this becomes "sniping" might largely be a matter of semantics. I guess it would be in the rate of quality hits, something we'll never know. I am sure they were very effective in their mission, but they may have been even more effective with an M1A with a [muzzle] brake on it. To me they demonstrated the value of the AR platform as a spotter weapon to a true sniping rifle. When employed by well trained people the [.223] AR type can do a lot, but you are very correct to point out that there is a reason the militaries of the world don't use 5.56 for sniping - it's not very good for that purpose. The 7.62 x 51 NATO is a far more effective round and the trend is decidedly for even more powerful rounds, namely the 338 Lapua and 50 BMG. Regards, - A. Friendly

Dear Jim,
One other point to consider with military calibers is the ammunition.
Critical wounds and kills are caused by:
1.) Hitting a major organ or central nervous system (brain, brainstem, heart, lungs, liver, kidneys). In this case, any caliber is effective, but it requires precision.
2.) Trauma. for this, the more energy transferred to the target, the better. The key word being "transferred."
3.) Loss of blood. This means penetration.
In 7.62mm NATO, US loadings are very tough ball [full metal jacket] ammo that simply drills holes. This makes it "cleaner" per the Hague conventions. At close range it punches through and much of the energy isn't transferred to the target. However, once you back out past 100 meters or so, you have a large, trauma-causing bullet that retains energy well.
In 5.56mm, military ball is designed to shatter at the cannelure. At close range, the wounds are devastating, and can be more severe than 7.62mm. Of course, that comes at the cost of retained energy at range, meaning less energy for trauma. As I've noted before, the advantage of 5.56 for military purposes is the ability to carry a lot of ammo and inflict "stopping" wounds. However, in a survival situation, one should try to avoid extended firefights for many obvious reasons. Also, 5.56mm isn't great for large game, and overkill for small game where a .22 rimfire will work.
German and Swedish 7.62mm through the 1980s, if one can find it surplus, has a similar construction to 5.56mm, but in a more powerful round. This can be devastating.

Soft or hollow point 5.56mm isn't as good at penetrating as ball, but it does cause much more effective wounding for a longer range. The obvious corollary is, so does .308 or 7.62mm soft or hollow point. Once we cross from ballistic wounding to bullet wounding, the heavier bullet causes more damage. End of story.
For myself, I certainly intend to keep AR-15 platforms on hand for several reasons, along with a good supply of ammo. Depending on the scenario, I might consider taking it as a primary rifle, but I hold military trophies for my marksmanship, practice with it regularly and have a
But for conservation of ammo, space and weight, all around utility and reliability, the first gun to have on hand is a bolt action 7.62mm [NATO], 8mm or 7.62x54R with a cheap case of milsurp and some commercial hunting ammo. Alternately, one can file or cut the points of military ammo to the core to gain a softer bullet (only an emergency measure for people who are experienced handling ammo, because of the potential danger).
After that would be a semi-auto 7.62mm which offers some additional flexibility and capacity. The AR-10 is excellent, shares common features with the AR-15 for familiarity, and is pricey. Both the HK91 and the FAL are available in the US for moderate prices as new weapons or kits. In all cases, I recommend military calibers because of the price and availability. - Michael Z. Williamson

The Green Mountain Gear "SurvivalBlog Group Buys." for brand new-in-the-wrapper military specification C-Products M16/AR-15 30 round magazines at less than $10 each ends at close-of-business tomorrow. (Monday, March 26th.). See my original post on this for details, including the special Group Buy coupon codes. Don't miss out! If the pending Federal ban is enacted, these magazines will suddenly be $30 each.

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The 2007 Idaho "Boomershoot" is now just over a month away. It is not too late to make a reservation. You just gotta love Idaho. There aren't too many places where shooting at high explosives is considered a sport. Seriously, this annual event teaches good marksmanship, which is a worthy goal. From all accounts it is also a tremendous amount of fun.

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By way of The Daily Reckoning, economist Chuck Butler, writing in The Daily Pfennig notes: “In the statement released at the conclusion of its two-day meeting, the FOMC acknowledged recent data that shows both higher inflation and a weaker economy. This is pretty much a worst-case scenario for Bernanke and his boys (and girls).”

“Global warming is a runaway train going 2 m.p.h.” - Rourke

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Radio talk show host Steve Quayle kindly mentioned SurvivalBlog in his show recently, generating more than a thousand new visitors to SurvivalBlog. This demonstrates that there are a lot of people interested in preparedness that have never heard of SurvivalBlog. Please continue to spread the word, particularly on talk radio shows. Thanks!

A brief follow-up on our recent SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar: The nice folks at Schecter Guitar not only threw in a free hard case, but they also sent it via Second Day Air (at no charge) to make sure that it arrived in time to be presented as a birthday gift. I just got the following note from the high bidder:

The guitar arrived last night and it was more than I had hoped for. My son was ecstatic. It is absolutely gorgeous, and it sounds great. My son was very happy with the versatility and design of the instrument. I also wasn't expecting the hard case that was included. I could blather on and on about it. Thank you so much for the "Warthog" and for making sure that it was delivered on his birthday. Please extend our thanks to whoever your contact is at Schecter. I suspect that this will be the first of many of their guitars at our house. God Bless, - D.C.


I am writing in regard to posting about Advice On Retreat Locales in Nevada, particularly about the Big Smoky Valley area. I am very familiar with the Big Smoky Valley and surrounding areas, I have camped, hiked, hunted, etc. there. There are numerous hot springs and ghost towns peppered throughout the valleys . The mountains are impressive and Mt. Jefferson is one of my favorite areas.

Now here's the "but": as for a retreat area: the area is very remote, everything will have to be brought in. The summers are very hot with range fires every year and the winters are extreme with heavy snow and temperatures plunging to -20 degrees (without the wind).

Water would be a critical issue, as there isn't very much of it available. There are cattle and mining operations all over the area and I believe that securing any water rights would not be easy. The land is mostly under federal control and is leased out as open range for the cattle operations.

The closest town, Tonopah, is the county seat for Nye County. Tonopah is interesting, but any outsider is treated with suspicion. Law enforcement, both local and state, like to check newcomers and people passing through. Don't even think of driving over the speed limit within 20 miles of Tonopah, you will receive roadside customer service. The last time I passed through, I was obeying all traffic laws but I was stopped by two state troopers for having mud "obscuring" the rear licenses plate on my truck.

It seems that Tonopah's last heyday was when the MX Missile system was being developed there in the 1980's. Since then, the missile project has been cancelled and the stealth fighters and the stealth facilities have moved to Utah and Arizona. There's even talk of moving the county seat to Pahrump were the majority of the county's population is located, over 165 miles away. Making any money as a start up business would be difficult, and the jobs don't pay all that much. Unless you're a government worker. Even the full service "gentlemen's clubs" (brothels) have closed up shop. One would have to have enough money put away to last for some time.

Your best bet for remote areas worth looking into in Nevada would most likely be in Elko and White Pine counties, there's water and the summers are not as hot. The town of Ely, in White Pine County, does have the state's [only] maximum security prison. Something to keep in mind.

The Big Smoky Valley and surrounding areas are a great place to visit, but life there would be challenging at best. Best Regards, - Desert T

I've been following the links to all the surplus ammo dealers..most of that ammo is corrosive, old junk. Totally unreliable. This is a great time for people to start reloading, on the cheap! Here is a great link to Lee brand cartridge reloading tools. I bought the Challenger press kit and now reload .308 and 8mm Mauser. Lee Precision has the best prices I've seen and the product is top notch..The hand press is also cool. Its easy and after the initial investment things really go down in price: bullets, powder and primers are still cheap and brass, at this stage if you don't load too hot will last many times (5-to-12 times). Great for practice at the range. [By handloading, you can make your own ammunition and] avoid all that messy corrosive junk that can foul or even ruin your firearms. - Jason

The Nanny State run amok: The California state legislature is currently considering AB 1634 -- the "California Healthy Pets Act" -- which would make it illegal to possess an unfixed dog or cat unless you obtain an "intact permit" from the state. Failure to comply with the law within 75 days would be punished by a fine of $500 per pet per 75-day period, with the only exceptions permitted being guide/service dogs and police dogs. I find it humorous that this is in California, where the populace was emasculated intellectually and politically decades ago by the PC crowd's vocal whining and control of the mass media, and later emasculated tactically by California's many gun laws. They will soon have their dogs and tomcats emasculated literally. The justification? No doubt they will say that it is for "the greater good." California's surrender to the left vaguely reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut's short stories "Harrison Bergeron" and "Welcome to the Monkey House." I am so glad to be a former Californian. My pioneer great grandfathers (who came out to California by covered wagon in 1852 and 1857) are surely rolling in their graves.

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Reader RMM mentioned that SIG Arms (USA) is teaching survival classes at it's New Hampshire school.

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For those of your that live in wet climates, I noticed that CMMG now offers AR-15 upper receiver assemblies with stainless steel barrels. Basically the same effect as the Springfield Armory "Loaded" Series M1As with stainless steel barrels--where all of the other parts are parkerized. In both cases the shiny stainless barrel can be toned down with a blast of spray paint in short order, for tactical use.

"We used to say that if you saved just ten percent of what you earned, you'd never go to the poor house. That's one of the first lessons I learned, and I've tried to do something along that line since. And I've never gone to the poor house." - Ernest Everett Rawles (1897-1985)

Friday, March 23, 2007

We see Bald Eagles nearly every day here at the Rawles Ranch. (Mainly, they glide up and down the length of The Unnamed River.) Yesterday, on the way home from a church meeting, an eagle flew across the road, right in front of our car, just three feet above the ground --so close that I had to hit the brakes to avoid hitting it. What a great view, but it was a startling near miss!

Many people are worried about the security of their food, supplies, arms, etc., at retreats where they do not live. Burglars are usually working against a clock. This helps keep some items safe. But when a burglar has watched your retreat location and sees no one coming and going...time is on his side. With enough time, any door, lock, container can be opened---and all your stuff now belongs to him.
One thing we need to do is use your imagination--really use it.
If your retreat has a basement, the door to the basement will be found by a burglar with enough time. Answer? No door. It will take some work, but is easily accomplished during a weekend at the retreat. Remove the door, and trim, cut plywood or drywall to fit hole, tape, plaster, paint. Then age the wall with scuff marks. You know where the door was, but a burglar just sees four walls. Of course, if you have basement windows, these will need to be covered, and [gravel] fill used to make it appear as if nothing is there.
If there is a basement, the joists give you a ton of storage space. Screw [thick] plywood to basement side of the rafters, and now you have a space the depth and length of those joists. Do some calculations to determine what weight can be held. But there is a remarkable amount of room in there for dry goods, clothing, arms, food, ammo, etc. Paint the basement ceiling, and now anyone who goes down there and looks up just sees a ceiling. If you fear the weight is marginal for a ceiling to hold, then before putting up plywood ceiling take chicken-wire or similar wire screens and make a 3 sided "box", open on top. Slip this into the joist area and attach with screws to side of joists. Then pack [the space] and attach plywood. Whatever you do, use a calculator before you do this work.
On a home that is not built over a basement, this will require some more in-depth carpentry work, but you can do it.
Every viable retreat will have various types of lumber stored, or it should. Find the right room [with a high ceiling] and turn board lumber on its edge. Picture 2x10s or 2x12s laying in a room, on edge, spaced 3 feet apart (or whatever you need). These will be the support for your new "floor", built on the floor of this room. Secure the boards to existing floor. Stack canned goods, arms, ammo, clothing (whatever you have to hide) between the rows of boards. Plywood over the top, screwed down---but just enough to hold. Lay cheap carpet over the top [of the plywood]. You have just secured food, etc. But now, you will be faced with a "step up" to this room. No problem. Build ramps at entries to the room that appear as if a handicapped person uses the place. In fact, in the spirit of having a little "movie set", make it realistic. You must "sell the con", and this is a con game. You versus a burglar. Find an old wheelchair and leave it on-site next to the doorway. Build a rough ramp to front door, etc. Put down old carpet in this room, put some old furniture in it. You have now hidden a ton of goods, and only those who will wreck your house will find them.
Burglars usually want to steal something quick, and without a lot of work. If they loved labor, then they would have jobs. These ramps don't have to pass an inspection. They see a ramp, wheelchair, think "handicapped". The ramps in the house are only to disguise the false floor, nothing else. Pay attention at doorways to make certain the trim is not obvious.

Use your imagination. But remember: Don't go making the place look like a mansion inside. This is a survival retreat, not a hopeful candidate for home of the year. Old ratty furniture and peeling wallpaper just helps sell the con [that there is nothing there worth stealing.] Dust and dirt and things that smell nasty can be cleaned up the first hour you are on site after SHTF. If you can make a burglar come in, look around and think "gross", then you won. Good luck, - Straightblast

JWR Adds: Even if you have a monitored burglar alarm system, and even you have a vault, there is a huge advantage in making "dead space" disappear in your house, to conceal the majority of your preparedness logistics. Not everyone can afford to construct a walk-in vault. Just the vault door can cost $2,000+. But constructing a floor cache, a wall cache, or a hidden room is largely a matter of time and "sweat equity." Think in terms "defense in depth": What is better than owning a securely bolted-down gun vault? A gun vault that is concealed behind a false wall or panel. And what is better than that? A gun vault behind a false wall that is inside a house with a motion detection web cam or a IR motion detector camera system and a monitored alarm system. Motion detection web cams are available from Battery-powered IR motion detector camera systems are available from Ready Made Resources. Monitored alarm systems are available from uControl Home Security . BTW, the latter two companies are SurvivalBlog advertisers, and would appreciate your patronage.

Hi Jim,
You may have answered this question before, but I haven't seen it addressed specifically. Over a significant period of time reading about (including the Profiles of people on your blog) and talking with people about preparing for the future, I've noticed two schools of thought regarding establishing a firearms battery for use in the event of societal breakdown. (Although the concept could be applied to most areas of preparation.) The two are:
1. Maintaining a broad range of firearm types and calibers, but in a shallow depth of supply. The idea here seems to be that of maintaining the flexibility of moving to another system/caliber if something should break or a logistics stream should dry up. It also allows different styles of tools to be available to meet the needs of differing sizes and physiques among the team members.
2. Maintaining a narrow range of firearm types and calibers, but in greater depth of supply. The idea here seems to be that of maintaining familiarity with the given system and simplifying the logistical stream.
How does one determine the correct approach and, if the second, narrow down the list of possibilities from all of the choices available (even excluding the obvious rare or unusual choices)?
I have an idea of how you will answer, but thought it might be a good discussion to which others can contribute their rationale. - Jim H.

JWR Replies: I am definitely in the "narrow but deep" logistics camp. Commonality of calibers, magazines, spare parts, and weapons familiarity all have their advantages. In general, I recommend buying duplicate modern firearms chambered in common calibers such as .308, .30-06, .223, .7.62x39, .50 BMG, 12 Gauge, .22 Long Rifle (rimfire) .45 ACP, .40 S&W, and 9mm Parabellum.

My "generic" guidance for North America is as follows, but your mileage may vary, depending on your locale and your preferences:

Main Battle Rifles: M1A, AR-10 or FAL variants (Including the L1A1.)

Secondary (Intermediate Cartridge) Carbines: AR-15, M4gery, or AK-47

Shotguns: Remington 870 or Mossberg 500 series, 12 Gauge

Long Range Counter-Sniper/Hunting Rifles: Remington Model 700 or Savage Model 10-series .308 Winchester (or possibly .30-06 in Canada--see note below on M1 Garands.)

Ultra-Long Range Counter-Sniper/Hunting Rifles: Wind Runner .50 BMG, or a Spider Firearms Ferret .50 if you are on a tight budget.

Primary Defensive Handguns: Colt, SIG, Kimber or Glock .45 ACPs or possibly .40 S&Ws (See below.)

Secondary/Concealment Defensive Handguns: Smaller Capacity Colt, SIG, Kimber or Glock, with cartridge and magazine commonality with your primary handguns. Good choices include the Colt Officer's Model, the Kimber Ultra Carry II, and Glock Model 30.

For all of the above, buy ammunition, spare magazines, spare parts, spare optics, and cleaning equipment/supplies in depth. That means a bare minimum of six spare magazines per handgun, and 8 magazines per rifle. Also, be sure to acquire a full set of load-carrying "web gear" for each long gun. And if you have the option to buy stainless steel for any particular model, then I advise that you buy the stainless! (Someday your great-grandchildren may thank you for doing so.)

Boston T. Party's excellent book "Boston's Gun Bible" is an outstanding guide the subject or firearms selection. Coming from the same generation, Boston's views are quite similar to my own. (Although he is a Glockophile, while I'm more of a M1911 Dinosaur.)

The only exception to the preceding general guidance would be for specialized firearms, that are added to a battery because of A.) regional peculiarities, B.) legal loopholes, or C.) exceptional logistical circumstances.

Regional peculiarities could include:

1.) Proximity to a national border. If you live close to Canada, for example, then it might be wise to own L1A1 rifles (which have parts and magazine commonality with the obsolete but still warehoused Canadian C1 service rifles). Other possibilities include Lee-Metford or SMLE rifles chambered in .303 British.

2.) Plentiful big game such as Elk, Moose, and Caribou, which would necessitate adding a belted magnum caliber. If this is true of your region, then make inquiries to determine which caliber is the most popular in your particular region.

3.) The presence of dangerous predators, particularly brown bears and grizzly bears. This might mean adding a handgun in a potent caliber such as .44 Magnum, .454 Casull, .45 Winchester Magnum, or .500 S&W.

4.) Caliber commonality with the local gendarmes. If the local police or sheriff's department issues an unusual caliber such as 10mm or .357 SIG, then it might behoove you to add a couple of pistols and plenty of spare magazines and ammo to match. Or, if you are dyed-in-he-wool .45 shooter, but your local PD issues .40 S&Ws, then it might be wise to add a couple of the same model to your battery, funds permitting. If nothing else, having the extra ammo and magazines on hand might earn you a few Brownie points when the balloon goes up.

5.) Especially draconian gun laws or strong local social stigma on open carry that might push you toward purchasing very compact/more concealable handguns. If this is the case, then who knows? Perhaps an AMT Backup .45 ACP or even a Kel-Tec .380 ACP might be a better handgun for you to buy.

Legal loopholes could include:

1.) Owning an oddball caliber in a state where a particular caliber is banned. For example, California banned .50 BMG rifles, but wildcat .49 caliber cartridges based on the same cartridge case are legal. (At least for now. Just give those Nanny-staters time. They'll eventually ban everything except butter knives.)

2.) Some countries such as France and Mexico restrict ownership firearms in "military" chamberings such as .223/5.56mm NATO, or .308/7.62mm NATO. So in those locales it would be illegal to own a Mini-14 chambered in .223 Remington, but it might be legal to own one in .222 Remington. And likewise you can't own an M1A chambered in 7.62mm NATO, but it might be legal to have one chambered in .243 Winchester. In Mexico, you can't own a .45 ACP, but you can own a .38 Super or a 10mm. (The details on these laws go beyond the scope of this post. Consult you local laws and a local attorney.)

3.) Pre-1899 guns in the U.S. (and pre-1898 guns in Canada) provide a special opportunity to acquire some guns without a "paper trail." Laws on antique guns vary widely between countries. See the new Wikipedia page on Antique Guns and my FAQ on pre-1899 guns for details. Antique guns are available from a number of vendors including The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our advertisers), Empire Arms, and Wholesale Guns.

4.) In Canada, nearly all centerfire semi-auto rifles have magazine restrictions, limiting them to five round magazines. But there is a specific exception made for M1 Garands, which use an 8 round en bloc clip. So Canadian preppers might consider making M1 Garands their main battle rifles, and buying bolt action counter-sniper rifles chambered in the same cartridge, for the sake of commonality.

5.) In Australia, nearly all semi-automatic rifles are restricted, but bolt actions can still be purchased. (Albeit with registration.) This makes SMLE bolt actions--including the Ishapore 7.62mm NATO variants particularly attractive.

Exceptional logistical circumstances might include:

1.) The importation of large quantities of military surplus ammunition in an unusual caliber. For example, in the past decade, milsurp 8x57 Mauser has been cheap and plentiful. And more recently, large quantities of 7.62 x 54 R (the Mosin -Nagant and Dragunov high power ammo) have been imported into the U.S., at prices far below the prevailing prices for most modern centerfire caliber ammunition. This makes it advantageous to buy a rifle in one of these calibers--particularly a pre-1899 specimen--to take advantage of cheap, plentiful ammo, for target practice. Similar opportunities might arise in the future. For example, if a boatload of 7.5 Swiss ever comes to our shores, I can assure you that I will buy a lot of it, and couple of Schmidt-Rubin straight-pull rifles to use that cheap fodder.[The Memsahib Adds: Dream on, Jim! It's not like we don't already own enough ammo.]

2.) Acute shortages of particular calibers might necessitate buying alternate arms, or in exceptional circumstances even re-barreling some of the guns in your battery. The current wars in the Middle East have created some spot shortages. Only time will tell whether or not these will turn into chronic shortages. One historical side note: During World War II, virtually all of America's gun makers transitioned to almost exclusively filing military contract orders. During the war, civilian hunters were eager to buy almost any gun in almost any caliber that they could lay their hands on. There were plenty of buyers, but precious few willing sellers, and new guns were very scarce.

"The Army Aviator" mentioned: Scott at American MilSpec has a really good phosphorescent paint for $12.50 per bottle. He says that it works best if you lay down a thin coat of white, then the Phosphorescent paint then a coat of clear. "It's so cheap, I got two bottles, painted everything and have hardly tapped the first bottle. Stuff goes a long ways. Also handy on light switches, flashlight mounts, locks, or any other place you might need a quick reference in the dark. I figured it'd be Bravo Sierra but the dang stuff works!+

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Hawaiian K sent us this piece on honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD)

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The Green Mountain Gear "SurvivalBlog Group Buys." for brand new-in-the-wrapper military contract C-Products M16/AR-15 30 round magazines at less than $10 each ends at close-of-business on Monday (March 26th.) See my original post (on Thursday) about this, for details.

“As long as liberals refuse to concede a point, it remains ‘unsettled’.” - Anne Coulter, Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism, p. 48

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Green Mountain Gear has just announced the first of a series of Green Mountain Gear "SurvivalBlog Group Buys." This one is for brand new-in-the-wrapper military contract C-Products M16/AR-15 30 round magazines at near wholesale pricing. (Most dealers charge from $14 to $17 for these , but in the Group Buy they will be less than $10.) These full military specification 30 round alloy magazines have durable gray Mil-Spec moly coating, and the latest orange anti-tilt followers. Pricing is as follows:

10 magazines: $9.99 each ($99.90) Shipping is $5

50 magazines: $9.65 each ($482.50) Shipping is $7

100 magazines: $9.30 each ($930.00) Shipping is free

For the group buy, the ordering increments are strictly 10, 50, and full cases of 100. Here is the product ordering link.
To get the special SurvivalBlog Group Buy pricing:
Add 10 magazines to your cart and enter special coupon code "sb10"
Add 50 magazines to your cart and enter special coupon code "sb50"
Add 100 magazines to your cart and enter special coupon code "sb100"
Those Survival Blog coupon codes will automatically adjust the pricing. And GMG will adjust the shipping charges manually when they process your order. Note that these coupon codes will only work for the quantities listed. (You must order in increments of 10, 50 or 100.) My advice: Order in quantity, folks! If congress re-institutes a magazine ban (H.R. 1022 is currently pending), then prices will skyrocket! The last time that there was a Federal Ban (from 1994 to 2004) the price of M16 magazines tripled, almost overnight! This Group Buy is such a good deal that I'm planning to buy a case of 100 as an investment (and for eventual barter), even though I don't even own an AR-15.

Hi Jim,
I have gotten a lot of information from SurvivalBlog and thought maybe I could contribute something in return. I recently also became a Ten Cent Challenge subscriber and urge all of your readers to do so.

I am not a big believer in doctors or drugs, except only when absolutely necessary. After all, doctors are the #3 cause of deaths in the U.S.!

There has been a lot of talk in SurvivalBlog about maintaining good health and nutrition and making sure to stock lots of vitamins and other supplements, and I heartily agree with this.

One thing that I have not seen mentioned a lot on your blog is how to maintain good intestinal flora. I am no expert in this, but have found a number of low-cost ways to do this. I am in my late 50s and over the last few years started experiencing a lot of heartburn and acid reflux and started looking for natural ways to handle this. What some people do not realize is that using antacids to handle heart-burn actually has the opposite effect in that the antacids neutralize the acids in the stomach, but also cause the stomach to produce even more acids to counteract their effect.

One thing that I have found that is very good for heart burn is garlic. There is a product called Kyolic that works very well and as garlic has many other benefits, it should be taken in some form, on a daily basis.

However, I found for the long term, the best thing to do is to take small amounts of raw fermented foods every day. I'm sure that one of your readers can tell us the physiology behind this, but I only concerned that it is workable. The following are a few suggestions:

The least expensive and easiest thing to do [to promote good intestinal flora] is to make naturally cured sauerkraut. I found a very simple recipe at this site.
This makes naturally fermented sauerkraut in about 3 days and it is excellent. My wife is German and she says it is as good as what she used to eat at home. In order to benefit from all of the beneficial enzymes and bacteria, I eat it raw.

There is another variation on sauerkraut called cabbage rejuvelac, which was developed by Dr. Gray many years ago. The recipe can be found at this site. Instead of eating the fermented cabbage, you drink the liquid that it was made in.

There are also a number of sites that have recipes for Ann Wigmore's wheat rejuvelac and I have not tried any of these yet, but I suspect they give similar benefits.

I also regularly make kefir [cheese], as this is easily made from cow or goat milk and does not require any special equipment. Kefir grains can be purchased from Marilyn the Kefir Lady. Kefir grains last pretty much forever, in fact they keep growing and I have to periodically give some away. Marilyn also has recipes on her site for making kefir cheese.

I also make fresh yogurt and buy the starter from My favorite product of theirs is the kefir culture. This sets up like yogurt, but I much prefer the flavor to the
other yogurt cultures that they sell. It also doesn't require any special equipment and can be cultured at room temperature. This differs from the kefir made with kefir grains in that the kefir
made with kefir grains is much more liquid than that made with kefir culture.

I also recently found an interesting site: where there are recipes for raw cultured vegetables. While I have not tried any of the recipes yet, I plan to quite soon.
BTW, I do not have any affiliation with any of the above web site. I'm just a satisfied customer. I hope this is of interest. Best Regards, - Kurt

Dear Jim,
I’d like to kick in my two cents worth on the Blackwater snipers in Najaf, seeing as how I was in country when it happened and know a number of the people involved.

There appears to be a great deal of Monday morning quarterbacking going on regards this incident, so I will lend some background on it.

The entire thing started when US troops tried to shut down Moqtada Al Sadr’s newspaper and arrested a number of his henchmen (I won’t call them lieutenants, because they’re not worthy of it). The response from Sadr’s followers was rather unexpected and widespread. It blew up all the way from previously quiet Shiite areas in the south to the environs around Baghdad (to include the back wall of BIAP [Baghdad International Airport] where we personally took down a number of fence jumpers on the second night of the "uprising.")

In a short period of time, the governors residence in Najaf was surrounded and cut off from the outside world with only a small PSD [Personal Security Detail] inside, a handful of Marines and a number of principles from both local government and CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority]. This was a lightly equipped bodyguard detail whose usual duties were running protection on the roads, shuttling their principles between meetings. Again, this was a very quiet area. Next thing they knew, they were surrounded by a jabbering horde of Mahdi militia. They got on the phone to Green Zone HQ in Baghdad and filed a SITREP that read something like, "Surrounded by swarms of jabbering, screaming brown ones firing wildly. Send Help, over."

Blackwater responded to this situation by sending their infamous "Little Birds" down there with the sniper team and as much ammo as they could carry. This team was drawn from the perimeter over watch detail that works the environs around the Green Zone. They use accurized .223s because they are dealing with urban ranges and fleeting targets; mostly 100-400 yards, with the speed of a follow-up shot becoming a critical factor. Very hard to hit running, crouching people who don’t want to get shot, even for seasoned snipers (which [if] you work for Blackwater in that job, you’re a Tier 1 operator). You invariably tap out a few rounds at them as they scamper between their rat holes. Far easier to do this with a heavy barreled .223 than a mule kick .308 or Winchester Magnum.

The .223, firing Black Hills Match, does very good work in that environment, I assure you. It also did decent enough work down in Najaf where the range was a bit stretched.

Would an M1A have been a better "Choice" for the Najaf engagement? Technically speaking, sure. So would a couple of MG-42s and some 81 mike-mike mortar. But when you start factoring in ammo load, the capacity of that particular helicopter and the limited blade time they were able to devote to just Najaf, you are drifting into "perhaps." There were other locations under the same sort of threat, but only two little birds, so air lift was definitely limited.

When the call came down, these guys had about 15 minutes to saddle up and roll, so they went with what they had and they did some serious killing with what they brought, holding off a large number of attackers for several days. (Who were about the same caliber as the looter bands encountered in "Patriots", I’d venture. Determined, ruthless amateurs.)

So, the lesson to be learned from all of that? Grab the good ground, hold onto it and be able to hit whomever with whatever you have at hand. Rarely in these situations do you get to set things up the way you want to, so you roll with what you have to and you make it count. That’s where training and experience come in. Pit the expert with a .223 against a gifted amateur with a .308 and the expert will invariably win.

And for those who doubt it, the .223 has killed a lot of people over the years. I know, I’ve seen the bodies. And for those who know how fast ammo gets burned up in a firefight…well…we can carry lots and lots of .223. When you’ve got 500 meters of open, flat ground between you and their "spear points gleaming" well, I’ll give you a head start for the sake of fairness, but you’re unlikely to get to the wall. That is how it played out at Najaf in the end. - Mosby


Dear Mr. Rawles,
You were quite correct to state "here we go again!" when one of your readers cited the Najaf video as proof that the 5.56 made a good precision rifle round. I happen to have come in contact with the Sniper shown in that video, through From memory (as I can't find the discussion in the archives) he mentioned that he was having to shoot the bad guys several times (7 or 8 is the number in my mind) to take them out of the fight. He also said that wished he'd had a [.308] AR-10 or SR-25 for that engagement or at least a 6.8mm SPR, if memory serves.- Griff

Further evidence that Costa Rica is not a safe place to relocate: Escazú home invaders target dwelling of U.S. embassy employee. (From the A.M. Costa Rica e-newspaper.)

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Reader PNG mentioned: Jerry Pournelle has web-published a column he wrote for Survive magazine in 1983. It's worth a read.

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For the remainder of March, Safecastle is discounting their Mountain House #10 cans by 30% and shipping them free when 8 or more cases are purchased. This deal is available to Safecastle Royal buyers club members only, until March 31. The offer applies to our pre-selected 8-case and 25-case packages, or to your own 8+ case orders from our "Build Your Own Order" page. This could save you several hundred dollars, and perhaps as much as a thousand dollar,. .If you want to become a member and take advantage of this deal (and similar ongoing discounts on all their other products), it is just a one-time $19 membership fee. Go to their buyers club homepage and purchase a membership.

“Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add "within the limits of the law" because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” - Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I am seeking recommendations from SurvivalBlog readers on real estate agents in the U.S. that are "survival minded." My goal is to be able to provide a list of licensed agents all over the U.S. that are knowledgeable about survival retreat selection. (I might even set some sort of standards for "SurvivalBlog Retreat Specialist Certified" agents.) This is mutually advantageous to all parties involved: land/house sellers, agents, and land buyers. By working with a "Retreat Specialist" that understands the unique criteria for survival retreats, there will be no wasted time showing properties that aren't suitable. Most buyers would also appreciate working with an agent that has made a pledge of confidentiality.

I'm a proud Ten Cent Challenge member, and enjoy reading SurvivalBlog daily. I would like to point out something that might not be readily apparent about that Blackwater Sniper incident [video] in Najaf that gets so much press, and it leads to a greater point about the usefulness of small caliber precision rifle fire. The art of sniping is fairly new in the field of war craft, and new and creative ways to employ sharpshooters are being developed quite rapidly. The only limiting factor in sniper efficiency is the inability of infantry commanders to understand and effectively employ snipers on the modern battlefield. I would refer you to, "Shooter: The Autobiography of the Top-Ranked Marine Sniper" by Gunnery Sgt. Jack Coughlin, USMC, Capt. Casey Kuhlman, USMCR, and Donald A. Davis. With modern optics, good communications, vehicle borne mobility and tough, aggressive operators, the ability of modern snipers to completely destroy a coordinated assault is unbelievable. Sgt. Coughlin's commanding officer certainly found it so when they employed mobile sniping during a division sized urban assault training exercise (Project Metropolis in 2001). The effect of the snipers using mobile tactics and radio communication was so lopsided that in midday the exercise planners broke the sniper elements in two and put half of them on each side simply so that they could continue the exercise. That proved even worse, with both sides being totally immobilized by precision fire, to the point that the two opposing commanders got on the radio and gave each other the coordinates of their sniper teams, who were then rolled up by strike teams so that the exercise could continue.

The relative merits of a .308 (or larger) sniper rifle are well known, but what might not be as well understood is the value of a precision .223, especially in the scenario faced by those contractors that day. An AR-based .223 can lay down fire far more rapidly, more quietly and sustainably than can a .308. The sniper can carry roughly twice the ammo that a .308 sniper can carry and the rifle should weigh about a third less, allowing the .223 sniper to shoot easily two to three times the number of precision shots that the .308 equipped sniper can fire because of the relative lack of recoil of the .223 and the reduction in fatigue and soreness. Faced with hundreds of bad guys (sound like something we worry about?) the ability to reach out consistently to 800 yards with precision fire can be unimaginably effective. With a rapid fire 800 yard precision rifle you are still 300 to 500 yards beyond the capabilities of 99.5% of all rifle armed combatants, and they won't be very effective closing that distance when they're leaking, or suffering from that famous "sucking head wound." The precision rifleman thus armed has the ability to engage very rapidly and to lay down a murderous volume of precision fire (which the Blackwater operator seems to be taking advantage of) to suppress mass movement high-speed assault. Let us not forget that while the .223 performs poorly inclose quarters battle (CQB) and intermediate distance combat because of poor stopping characteristics and poor penetration. Those aren't factors in this type of engagement. By and large, snipers don't bother engaging through cover, and stopping power at long range is a more leisurely concern as we don't really care whether a fatal wound stops a person in two seconds or 30 when they are hundreds of yards beyond their ability to engage you. Indeed, I would submit that many people would be better off with a well built .223 semi-auto precision rifle as they are easier and cheaper to build than their .308 counterparts and their ammo is substantially less expensive, which will lead to both greater practice and the ability to stock far more ammo for long term storage.

Depending on whose version of the back story you hear, those two precision riflemen on that roof (only one is prominently photographed, but look and listen carefully and you will notice a second rifleman working right along side the first one) fire some hundreds of rounds each that morning in keeping the attackers bottled up and ineffective. They likely neutralized hundreds of enemy fighters, and kept the rest pinned down at a distance where their rifles were unable to engage (notice how nonchalantly the Blackwater operators discuss the return fire). What you are seeing on that video is an eyewitness account of modern, skilled, properly equipped and specialized precision riflemen at work.

Just my two cents worth. I don't think that a precision .223 takes the place of a precision .308 (or larger), but I would suggest that for most people looking for a precision rifle it might make quite a bit of sense as a place to start. - Formerflyer

JWR Replies: Here we go again! If .223 were effective at long range (such as the "800 meters" cited in the Najaf video) then it would be widely used by military snipers. But it isn't. They almost universally use .30 caliber (and larger bore) rifles, for good reason. There are just too many drawbacks to make .223 viable at long range. First and foremost is the "wind bucking" factor. In windless or light wind conditions, small caliber bullets can indeed be accurate for point shooting past 500 yards. But in moderate winds (say, 12+ m.p.h.) at 500+ yards, .223 ceases to be a "precision" rifle. The bullets just drifts far too much under those conditions. (For example, the much-touted 62 grain SS-109 (M855) bullet has a lateral drift of 125 inches at 800 yards with just a 10 mph crosswind.) That is almost eight man-widths! (Hardly conducive to shooting with "sniper" accuracy.)

Next is the problem of residual energy at long range. Even with the "heavy" SS-109 bullet, .223 is essentially just a wounding instrument past 600 meters. That may be fine for military operations, where wounding enemy soldiers is ostensibly a desirable outcome. That was part of the McNamara doctrine during the Vietnam war, and was cited as one of the justifications for issuing M16 rifles. (The often quoted: "A wounded soldier removes three enemy soldiers from the battlefield: the wounded man himself, and the two soldiers needed to carry his stretcher.") But let me forthright and blunt: In a post-TEOTWAWKI survival situation you will want your gunfight opponents 100% dead. In the most commonly envisioned post-TEOTWAWKI world, there will be no value in a bad guy crawling away to fight another day. In fact, it could prove downright disastrous. A post-collapse world may very well resemble the city states of Italy during the Middle Ages, complete with multigenerational blood feuds. Wounding or crippling someone is a great way to create a tenacious enemy who might just dedicate the rest of his life, and even the lifetimes of his children to getting even. Not to mention that we might still be living in a society with at least vestiges of a legal system. How would you like to face a crippled man in a wheelchair on the other side of the aisle in a courtroom, with just your word against his? No thanks!

I was interested in your response to Bill H. who wrote about the Psychology of Denial. Your suggestions were excellent, and Bill's ideas were good also, but I fear those suggestions will convince very
few people.

I just turned 60 and have been a "prepper" since about age 10. I grew up in the Cold War and my folks were scared silly about a nuke attack (we lived in the Sand Francisco Bay Area). We had a rudimentary bugout 1956!
We always maintained about a month's worth of food and bottled water. While our preps were very inadequate by contemporary standards, being prepared left an indelible impression on me and I have been an avid prepper/survivalist ever since. After decades of trying to persuade folks to even just think about dire possibilities I have come to one conclusion:

Most folks cannot bring themselves to think about any change in their comfortable life style. Heck, we have trouble even getting most folks to think about improving their educations to get out of an unpleasant job. They have to be fired or laid off to get to that point (I teach at University of Phoenix in addition to my regular job so am involved in adult education). To ask them to consider such a complete transformation of their lives is beyond what they are prepared to do. It is beyond what they are able to do.

Also, history teaches them a different lesson. I have been through a couple of great waves of negative outlook plus a couple of significant financial downturns. "Everything has always turned out okay" and there is no reason to think things won't continue to do so. And they are right, everything has always sort of worked out okay. (Never mind the Vikings and the Goths and the Huns and a few other assorted miscreants, they are just interesting notes in history.)

In short, I have never achieved a complete conversion of someone fully invested in the current world deciding that preparations are useful. I do not know what personality trait it is that allows someone to consider the future in such a way as to prepare but I believe many people completely lack that trait and cannot acquire it. The folks who agree with me and do prepare always indicate that different personality in some noticeable way.

Now I can hear your response already, those keys pounding on the keyboard. "They just have to understand. We have to convince them. Can't they see?" No, I don't think thy can and don't think they ever will be able to. TEOTWAWKI is too much of a long-shot for these folks. - Bruce C.

Ben L. suggested posting a link to this Reason online article: Gun Control's Twisted Outcome--Restricting firearms has helped make England more crime-ridden than the U.S.

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Today we welcome a couple of new Affiliate advertisers to our roster: in the U.S. (they sell shooting glasses, ear protection, Nomex/Kevlar gloves, and hydration packs), and MacWarehouse in the U.K. (Just in case a Mac iBook Laptop or an iPod is a survival priority for you. <vbg>) Whenever you use one of our Affiliate links and place an order--with more than 60 companies in nine countries--we get a little piece of the action, which helps support SurvivalBlog. (Of course please patronize our paid banner advertisers first.)

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Frequent contributor Michael Z. Williamson mentioned an interesting web page on Fire Pistons. Speaking of fire making,take a look at this Wikipedia page. Who knows when primitive skills might someday save your life? Learn bushcraft skills and pass them on to your children.

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The high bid is now up to $275 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for several items (including an EMP-proof antique radio, four books, and a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course) that are being auctioned together as a lot:, with a combined retail value of around $370. The auction ends on April 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and to be able to give a true account of it" - Henry David Thoreau - (1817 – 1862) - Walden or Life in the Woods

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The high bid is now up to $250 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for several items (including an EMP-proof antique radio, four books, and a copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course) that are being auctioned together as a lot:, with a combined retail value of around $370. The auction ends on April 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!


I'm a retired Christian, a widower, living on California's central coast. I'm a ham radio enthusiast. I don't feel safe anywhere in California. California is only going to get worse as time goes on. So I am looking for a retreat location that is away from large population areas. I now have a few resources available to do this. Please let me know if you know of anything in the $40-to-50K range. I'm thinking about Nevada. Somewhere quite remote that will not be on the "shopping list" of looters, or in the path or refugees in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Blessings, - Dave

JWR Replies: Hmmm... $40K to $50K won't buy you much land, these days. If you don't mind arid climates, then under your circumstances I'd recommend that you start your search in west-central Nevada. (It is a fairly straight shot for you through Yosemite National Park on Highway 120 in summer months, but the small highway passes are closed in winter, necessitating a longer trip, via I-80 through Reno. If you take the Pacheco Pass, then Highway 99, and then Highway 120, you avoid all of the major freeways.) BTW, if you are 62, you are old enough to qualify for a Forest Service "Senior Pass" (formerly called a "Golden Age Passport), for a one-time fee of $10, so you won't have to pay to transit Yosemite National Park on each trip to Nevada.

Look first around Dyer, Nevada (the Fish Lake Valley) near Boundary Peak, just east of the California state line. There are 10 to 12 acre parcels there selling for around $50K, but it is one of those "private, gated community" type developments that has CC&Rs and allows only stick-built houses with a minimum square footage. (No manufactured homes.) And it is very likely that their CC&Rs would also frown on ham antenna arrays. (A big shiny Yagi might look like a thing of beauty to you, but probably not to the HOA busybodies.) Perhaps you could buy some land outside of the HOA development, but nearby so that you could still interact with the community for barter purposes.

Next, look farther east, around the Big Smoky Valley area, north of Tonopah, Nevada. There is some nice land on the northwestern edge of the valley--with year-round creeks and a few trees--that adjoins the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. Keep the faith, and proceed with prayer. If God wants you to be anywhere in particular, he will open doors for you.

I am contemplating purchasing the Glock 21 (.45 ACP). I am concerned that it is not a fully supported chamber, should this be a worry with the low pressure round like the .45 or is it just a factor in the higher pressure round like the .40 caliber. I have larger hands and the grip is not a problem for me. I hear that you can get a replacement barrel that fully supports the round, would you recommend this. Thanks for any help with this matter,

JWR Replies: The Glock 21 is a good choice, especially after adding tritium sights and having a grip reduction done. There are three good reasons to get an aftermarket barrel: 1.) They have traditional rifling, which is less prone to fouling than the polygonal rifling on the Austrian made originals, 2.) As you mentioned, they have a more fully supported chamber, and 3.) It leaves your original barrel available to use as a spare.

My advice: Proceed with your Glock 21 purchase, preferably from a private party at a gun show. Or you can find in-state private party sellers by searching "by state" at Once you have it in hand, have Trijicon or Meprolight tritium sights installed, and send the frame to for a grip reduction. (Or buy the Glock's new M21-SF variant, that comes from the factory with a reduced, M1911 contour grip.) Replacement barrels and critical spare parts are available from Lone Wolf Distributors or Glockmeister. As previously mentioned, the best source for extra magazines is probably Natchez Shooters Supply. Buy at least 8 or 9 spares!

Dear Jim and Family,
The movie The Day After Tomorrow was on FX (cable TV channel) tonight. The first hour is entertaining weather disasters and fun science building up, the second hour was a travesty which insulted intelligent people and scientists everywhere. But it was pretty, and it's just a movie. It's okay for it to be half cr*p as long as its entertaining.

The reality of climate change is much more interesting, and considerably slower paced. This week I found a web site with a drought map which is updated weekly. US Drought Monitor. It is pretty darned interesting.

Another little reality is the West Coast (California, Oregon, Washington) has its entire climate based on the Longshore Drift, which is powered by the North Wind from Alaska. This wind causes upwelling of nutrient rich cold water along the coastline to several hundred miles out on the continental shelf. This water provides food for plankton, fish, and birds. It also drops summer temperatures inland and reduces evaporation along the coastline. Without this cool water current, there's no food for the fish, no fish to catch, no salmon, and the weather starts to resemble that of Baja Mexico. That sounds pretty good until you realize that Baja has pretty dead water with not much in it. The ocean's equivalent of a desert: oxygen poor, toxic thanks to algae blooms, and not healthy for people either. This is happening now, and has been a problem for the last 4 years, which (perhaps) coincidentally corresponds with years of drought. The North Wind has started late each summer, usually after high numbers of birds have died. Most of the Salmon are gone, for various reasons but the oxygen problem is the main culprit. You'd think this would be limited to California, since its a state which clearly offends God, but Oregon is suffering too and there's a lot of Christians up there. Its Eugene that gives the state a bad rep.

This isn't the best part. With warmer temperatures, the waters can support unusual weather for the area: hurricanes. I say unusual because they are such in the last few thousand years, however they're Not unusual in the geologic record. As a geology student, I got to see the sedimentation of hurricanes, event (storm) by event (storm) in coastal sandstones called "Turbidite Sequences". Turns out that California (and Oregon) used to get some pretty severe weather we normally associate with Southern Mexico, Florida, and the Gulf Coast. I'm talking category 4-5 hurricanes every year. Yes that seems strange, but the winds control the currents and the currents & winds control the weather. ANd the weather controls the food supply, which controls population movements and can turn a remote retreat location into a deathtrap.

Or something really weird can happen. Like summer rains and monsoons can start flowing into California, along with those hurricanes. See, normal California and Southwestern weather is brief winter rains followed by months of spring, summer, and fall drought. In the old days, Northern California got rain from October to May, and that was perfectly normal weather. Nowadays is January to February, and the rainy season is punctuated by long drying periods so the aquifers don't fill, the streams empty, and it just resembles a desert. It sucks, but that's how it is. This is a transitional period. Perhaps things will change back next year, but perhaps they won't.

That leads to the weird thing. If we get summer monsoons, it changes the whole climate in the Southwest. It means lightning in a state that rarely sees any in the lowlands. It means tornados and hail. It means thunderstorms and flash floods. It means living pasture in currently dry regions, which is a real boon to ranching and dairy, but death to the orchards. It means heavy rain in the lower reaches of the Sierras and summer snowstorms. It also means rain reaching Nevada and the desert regions of California and Arizona (and Utah), with storms coming from the Southwest, via Hawaii, what we call the "Pineapple Express". Imagine that happening a couple times a week all summer long in places where it never used to rain, so the SW, starts to get like the SE. Humid, wet, water soaking into the aquifers, rivers running, plants changing. It also means that a lot of dry lakes fill, starting at salt marshes and swamps but eventually able to host fish, deer, elk, mountain sheep, migrating birds, antelope, willows, alders, cottonwoods. Land in Nevada would become not only habitable but valuable. With the change in direction of the weather, new banana-belts would also develop, as they're based on direction of rainfall and spots downwind from mountain ranges experience warming during storms on the far side. That's more long-term.

In the short term, you'll see a few storms, and a few hurricanes creeping north up Baja, a long way from Los Angeles, but as the ocean temps rise on the California and Oregon coastline, the further north the storms can go before breaking up. And like I said, there's evidence in the geologic record of hurricanes striking the coast North of San Francisco. It could be some time before that happens, or it could happen in a dozen years, then more quiet for another dozen. Lots of factors are involved making precise prediction foolhardy. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for summer rain in California. It could be a harbinger of a serious change in climate, perhaps for the better. Best, - InyoKern

Many of you have already seen this video clip of a Blackwater shooter plying his trade in Najaf, Iraq. (Warning: some coarse language, but no gore.) Talk about taking the wrong rifle to a gunfight! It appeared that he was dinging Bad Guys at "800 Meters" with a .223. He surely would have been much more effective with a scoped .308 Winchester. (Such as a match grade M14.) He had the wrong tool for the job, but at least the man behind the rifle appeared fairly competent. (He was not using the traditional fire discipline of a sniper, so obviously he was either very excited and wasting ammo, or he was in a truly "target rich environment." (It is hard to say which.) Regardless, it is an interesting video to watch. OBTW, note his fumbling during his later magazine changes, under stress. As the instructors at Front Sight are fond of saying: "Remember: In the stress of a gun fight you will only be half as good as your worst day at the range."

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K&S dropped us a line to mention that the classic Thermette (aka "`Benghasi Boiler") is back in production. This device was invented in 1929 by New Zealander John Ashley Hart . They are still hand made in New Zealand, from solid copper.

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French-speaking readers of SurvivalBlog should be aware that there is a new French language forum on emerging threats and survivalism, called Le Projet Olduvai.

"The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple. A good example of a simple technology with profound historical consequences is hay. Nobody knows who invented hay, the idea of cutting grass in the autumn and storing it in large enough quantities to keep horses and cows alive through the winter. All we know is that the technology of hay was unknown to the Roman Empire but was known to every village of medieval Europe. Like many other crucially important technologies, hay emerged anonymously during the so-called Dark Ages. According to the Hay Theory of History, the invention of hay was the decisive event which moved the center of gravity of urban civilization from the Mediterranean basin to Northern and Western Europe. The Roman Empire did not need hay because in a Mediterranean climate the grass grows well enough in winter for animals to graze. North of the Alps, great cities dependent on horses and oxen for motive power could not exist without hay. So it was hay that allowed populations to grow and civilizations to flourish among the forests of Northern Europe. Hay moved the greatness of Rome to Paris and London, and later to Berlin and Moscow and New York." - Freeman Dyson, Infinite in All Directions (1988)

Monday, March 19, 2007

We had a great view of a Golden Eagle on our way home from church yesterday. It was on the ground within 10 feet of the road, snacking on a road-killed deer. (Raptors aren't picky, this time of year.) I pulled our car to a stop on the shoulder just 25 feet away, and instead of taking wing, the eagle just hopped 20 feet up the hill and stared at us. (No doubt wondering why we had been so rude as to interrupt its meal.) I'm regularly amazed at the variety of wildlife that we see at the Rawles Ranch, and on our trips to town.

Jim et al,
Having seen [the movie] '300' this last weekend and the cable documentaries about the Spartans, one particular concept stood out. Debates about the culture, the movie, and such aside, I was stuck by the idea that to raise strong and capable men that it was essential that they be born of strong, independent and capable women. Elite Spartan women had a level of freedom that was nearly unprecedented in the ancient world and as young girls went through much of the same training as the boys.

This is not generally the case today. As I've been learning about preparedness and exploring the resources on the Internet, I find there are very few women who are actively involved. When they are, they seem to either being only interested in household/cooking/supplies management, or come from the occasional family that goes counter to this trend. I am a firm believer in a well-rounded skill set and I live with a husband that has little interest in preparedness. (Thus the initiative is on my shoulders). I know how to cook from scratch, the basics of food storage, how to do just about any fiber-art and can cure most common ailments with plants growing in my local environment.

What I'm looking for now is where can I learn skills that are not as typical for my gender role, without having to suffer an undue amount of harassment? What would you suggest for someone to go from having never touched a firearm in their life to being survival-proficient? What about basic mechanics, auto repair, wood working, building, and more? Has anyone really looked into the gender issues of preparedness and survival, especially long-term, and who's writing might you suggest? Sincerely, - Lily in Minnesota

JWR Replies: The firearms training at Front Sight is excellent and women students don't feel intimidated there--whether travelling alone or with their spouse. There is no macho posturing or belittling there. If you are on a budget, don't overlook the very inexpensive rifle training offered at the RWVA Appleseed Shoots. As for learning car mechanics/repair, wood working, house building, and so forth, you might make some inquiries locally about barter. In recent years, many small communities in the U.S. have introduced local currencies--essentially a tangible form of barter credits.

To answer your key question: "Are there some particular towns that are well-removed from the major population centers on the east coast --perhaps up in The Wet-- that would be well-suited as safe havens?" You would need to define what constituted a major population center.
There are five cities/regions with a population over a million [people]: Sydney (due to their close proximity to Sydney I would include the cities of Newcastle [pop 510,000] and Wollongong [pop 275,000] as part of Sydney), Melbourne (including the city of Geelong [pop 165,000]), Brisbane (including the Gold Coast/Tweed region [pop 485,000], the Sunshine Coast region [pop 215,000], and Toowoomba [120,000]), Adelaide, and Perth.
Once you put these aside we are left with the following cities with a population of greater than 100,000:
Canberra [pop 325,000]
Hobart [pop 203,000]
Townsville [pop 150,000]
Cairns [pop 125,000]
Darwin [pop 111,000]
Launceston [pop 105,000]
Albury-Wodonga [pop 100,000]
Of these Canberra and Albury-Wodonga are out as they are within 300 miles of Sydney and Melbourne as well as on the main line of likely advance for the respective Golden Hordes.
Launceston and Hobart are on the island of Tasmania.
Townsville is home to 3 Brigade (light infantry) and RAAF base Townsville (home of the Army's 5th Aviation Regiment).
Darwin is home to 1 Brigade (mechanised) and RAAF base Darwin (which is a major air base used by Australian and US aircraft - including B-52s and B-2s).
Places up in The Wet (such as Townsville, Cairns, and Darwin) are cyclone prone. Retreats in these areas need to be able to withstand the worst category 5 cyclones.
On balance if I was looking for a place on the east coast of the mainland, I would be inclined to look at the coastal hinterland of Queensland north from Rockhampton up to Cairns (600 miles {1000km} north) . It is far enough north of Brisbane's population cluster and far enough south of the Torres Strait to avoid a potential influx of people from Papua New Guinea. It has good rainfall and soil fertility. The people tend to be more independently minded, pro-gun, conservative and Christian. Think of the Bible Belt of the US with the relaxed Aussie attitude. (See map.)

The distances to get to even Rockhampton from Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne are huge (400 miles {650km}, 750 miles {1200km}, and 1250 miles {2000km} respectively). Living in in those cities (or on the coast between them) my first choice of G.O.O.D. vehicle would be sailing boat (which could also open up other retreat areas such as Tasmania or New Zealand).
Being in the Navy with access to (and having helped written a few) classified studies into mass illegal immigration scenarios I'm limited in exactly what I can say. I will say this: if I was looking at a retreat in the north or north-west of Australia I would locate my retreat at least 60 miles from the coastline. - Mike McD

I have been reading SurvivalBlog for a few months now, and I have to say that you are doing a great job! I have taken your Ten Cent Challenge, and look forward to renewing for next year. I have been following [the U.S. Congress] bill H.R. 1022 and your advice to stock up on "assault weapons" and/or high capacity magazines. If one cannot afford multiple weapons would you recommend buying a quantity of [AR-15] lower receivers in the hopes of building them up to full guns at a later date? - Kevin

JWR Replies: That is a good idea. AR-15 receivers can be used not only to build an AR-15 or M4gery, but also a variety of other guns that share the common lower such as the BRP Guns "XMG" MG-34 semi-auto and Spider Firearms Ferret .50 (a very accurate .50 BMG bolt action single shot rifle), and even the "it would be absurd if they didn't have to make it" DPMS pump-action .223 (for use in states like California and New Jersey that ban most detachable magazine semi-autos.) You can currently get Stag Arms AR-15 lower receivers for as little as $89 each if you buy two or more. For your privacy, the best way to buy would be from a fellow private party at gun show. (Assuming that this doesn't run afoul of your state and local laws.) Unfortunately, stripped receivers very rarely make it to the "secondary market." Scour all of the gun shows in you area for the next few months. You never know, you might find someone that bought a stripped lower and never completed a planned "build" project. Of course if you live in a state that has outlawed private party sales--where all transfers must be processed with FFL paperwork--then this is a moot point. Go ahead and buy several through your local FFL. You might even be able to get the dealer to waive part or all of the transfer fee if he wants to buy a few for his own inventory and you can get a lower "quantity" price from a manufacturer or distributor. One final proviso: Any new ban legislation might specify that a firearm must be completed before the law goes into effect in order to be "grandfathered."

Investment Guru Jim Rogers Sees U.S. Property Crash

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Any SurvivalBlog readers that are considering relocating to northern Idaho should contact Todd Savage of Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. He specializes in what he calls "tactical real estate." At any given time, he has several "off the beaten track" properties available with either spring water or shallow wells. Properties with contiguous U.S. Forest Service or state land are also fairly common in the region. Todd is a SurvivalBlog reader, so he understands the unique requirements of survival retreats. He won't waste your time showing you properties that aren't suitable, since he researches, previews, and evaluates specific parcels and only those that meet his stringent requirements are filtered down to potential buyers. Tell him that Jim Rawles sent you. You can contact him via e-mail: or cellular phone: 208-946-1151

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Keith mentioned that he found the Dietz #DHL2000 lantern at, selling for just $18.95--a real bargain. Keith's comment: "I've owned Dietz lanterns for a while and they work well. This DHL2000 lantern can perform dual functions of lighting and heating and burns both kerosene and lamp oil. It's worth a look."

"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Nations and peoples who forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms." - Robert A. Heinlein

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The high bid is now up to $200 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for several items that are being auctioned together as a lot: 1.) A late-1940s-vintage Airline brand all vacuum tube (highly EMP resistant) AM tabletop radio in a attractive bakelite cabinet. It works very well. and, 2.) A special five book package including: one autographed copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, one autographed copy of Rawles on Retreats and Relocation , one autographed copy of SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1, one autographed copy of my novel Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, and one copy of The Encyclopedia of Country Living by the late Carla Emery. These items have a combined retail value of around $370. The auction ends on April 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

The USDA's NAIS program is now in the "convince the angry crowds that there is no problem" stage. They are constantly spouting phrases like, "We've made it clear, and I can't stress this too often or too much that NAIS is a voluntary system." That's a voluntary system at the federal level, with a capital "V.'" However, no matter how often they say that it is voluntary, it will not prevent it from becoming mandatory at a later date. States can still make it mandatory, and if all do, it would still be "a voluntary system at the federal level". Further, there are already groups, such as the National Pork Producers Council that are having packing plants require Premises ID numbers from producers. If their plan continues, all pork producers will have to be in the "voluntary" system. How long will it be before it will be impossible to buy, sell, or even own animals without being in the system?
Despite their claims, the USDA still wants full participation in the NAIS. The original set of benchmarks included having every animal identified by January 2008, and the movements of all animals in commerce tracked by January 2009. Bruce Knight, the USDA Under-secretary, says those goals haven't been abandoned." I haven't moved away from those objectives as far as having NAIS up and operational, but I tend to refer to it as a critical mass of participation by 2009," he says. "Even under a mandatory system, you wouldn't get 100% premises registration, so we're shooting for that critical mass, and I'm still working with the professionals in the agency to really get a feel for what that would be by species. I think we can get there." The NAIS is not dead, and is in fact now even more dangerous because of the USDA's misinformation and weasel words. It has become much harder to convince the average citizen of the USDA and Agro-biz's intentions. The site and the forum are both good NAIS opposition resources. We will be posting occasional updates, but can not keep up with all of the news. Also keep an eye on the USDA's NAIS web site.
Please continue to spread the word about NAIS and write to your state and Federal representatives. Be sure to explain the problem of the "voluntary" system, and have quotes from the USDA ready. If you take the time to look though the USDA's web site and do web searches you can pick up some very interesting facts.

In the late 1990s I bought a Para Ordnance P-14 [double column magazine M1911 variant], without first test shooting one. I never could get it to shoot well, the sights sucked and the grip turned out to be too fat (this was before somebody invented the slimming grip panels.) Anyway I sold it after about 1,000 rounds. The good news was I sold it just before the California magazine ban went in[to effect in January, 2000) and I just about tripled my money on that gun and all the magazines that I had.

There is not really any group standard at my place save for S&W .357 and .44 Magnum revolvers. I have various M1911s, a SIG, and a Browning--in .22, 9mm, 10mm and .45 ACP. A lot of my friends shoot Glocks but the .45 [Model 21] and 10[mm Model 20] seem too fat, much like the Para Ord and the 9mm seems interesting but in California I can no longer legally buy 11+ round magazines. So I'm back to single stack .45 or a slightly curtailed 10 rd mag .40 mid-size (SIG 229?) I'd like to get a .40 but can't seem to bring myself to [logistically] supporting one more caliber.
I don't think I'll be moving before the '08 elections (assuming [that they will mean] the worst for gun rights) so I'm kinda stuck. - Tim. L. in California


Mr. Rawles,
I'll be brief. I think the Glock 21 is the best fighting pistol ever made. I used to feel that way about my [Model] 1911, but it is no where near as dependable. Glocks in general set the standard. Yes, they are ugly and have polymer parts, but dependability is my criteria. They wear out eventually, but not as quickly as anything else I have ever owned. Natchez Shooters Supply (great people to buy from) has Glock factory magazines for less than $16. I ordered your new expanded edition of "Patriots", and look forward to reading it again. - Clark G.


Hey Jim:
I forwarded the [Springfield Armory] XD post to a fellow instructor who has developed an affinity for the XD series. He had concerns about the parts issue and addressed the concern with Springfield. Here is the reply he got back:
"Our certified armorers with law enforcement agencies can purchase any part without delay except the frame and slide."

She referred me to their training provider, who offers a three-day class which includes the [Colt Model 1911], M1A [rifle], and XD pistols. You can choose to attend all three days or any combination you need for the weapons you work on.

She understands how civilians are frustrated about the parts issue, but it is not a concern for cops. I was impressed with her knowledge of the weapon--she is an armorer instructor. She also mentioned that they expedite law enforcement guns in for repair or replacement.”

This actually falls in line with Glock and their ordering process. In Glock armorer courses I have attended, they stressed that liability drove the limiting of the parts (non-armorers installing parts, gun fails, Glock gets sued for defective parts, etc.). However, places like Lone Wolf Distributors, Glockmeister, etc. buy in batches and are willing to sell to [non-law enforcement/non-gunsmith] folks. And good for them!

I am annoyed with the use of the word “civilian” and that cops can get parts faster than the “lowly” citizen can. Despite being a cop, I find the use of the term “civilian” to refer to my employers annoying.

Sorry, Springfield [Armory], I’ll stay with Glock for now until you improve things. - MP in Seattle

I took your advice and recently purchased some more full capacity mags for my Glock. Glockmeister has new mags for $20.00 a piece right now as well as +2 extensions for $15.50-to $18.00, Glock 33rd(!) 9mm mags for $39.00 and rebuild kits for $20.00. Another great deal is at Dillon Precision. They sell Arredondo's [Glock magazine base pad] extenders that increase the capacity of smaller calibre mags by 5-6 rds and larger calibers by 3-4 rds. These aren't cheap at $39.95 each but quality is reportedly very good and really adds firepower to your pistol. If the socialistas have there way we will again be paying much higher prices (soon) on these mags. My advice, spend what you can now (tax returns come to mind) and load up! Thanks, - Jason in North Idaho

JWR Replies: I've heard from a couple of my friends that are serious Titans of Tupperware (a.k.a. Glockophiles) that some of the best prices on new factory-made spare Glock magazines can be found at Natchez Shooter's Supply. Most of their factory Glock magazines are just $15.99 each, and the 33 rounders are $29. And, no offense to the fine folks at Dillon, but if you buy the extended base pad kits directly from Arredondo, they are bit less expensive. I'm just one of those penny-pinching bargain shoppers.

Someone over at The Claire Files mentioned a thread on one of the BlackRifles forums about how to make soap. It might be a good idea to print out a hard copy of that one. There is also a lot of useful soap making information in "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery

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Activity discovered at Yellowstone supervolcano

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Interfaith group braves snow storm in global warming march. I think that they'd better schedule their next event for August, just to be on the safe side.

"The notion that you can somehow defeat violence by submitting to it is simply a flight from fact. As I have said, it is only possible to people who have money and guns between themselves and reality." - George Orwell, 1941

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I just received another case (10 copies) of "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" by the late Carla Emery. This book is a "must" for the bookshelf of every well-prepared family. For any of you that would like to buy several copies for gifts, for the next 10 days I'm offering special discounts on quantity purchases. See my mail order catalog for details.

Today we present another article submitted for Round 9 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. This one is from a certified Glock Armorer. 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. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 9 will end on March 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Failure to go “bang” when you need it is a frustrating experience that could produce a sinking feeling in your stomach if the situation is desperate enough. For the Glock pistol, this failure is rare, but it does happen. If you keep your Glock clean, then debris won't be the problem. With a clean Glock, failure to fire is because of the failure of one (or both) of two different springs: the Trigger Spring or the Firing Pin Spring.
Original Equipment Manufactured (OEM) Glock parts seldom fail. Such failure usually has one of several antecedents: (1) someone has replaced the OEM parts with other parts of lighter “competition” tolerances, or (2) someone has disassembled the Glock and reassembled the OEM parts incorrectly, or (3) someone has reassembled the Glock minus a critical part.
Glock pistols are popular among IDPA and USPSA competitors. Many of them have internally modified their handguns to some extent. Months or years later, if the gun is sold or traded, the modified parts usually stay with it. There are, also, many home “gunsmiths” - and even a few commercial ones – who do work on Glocks. Sometimes, a mistake will be made and failures to fire will happen on down the line.
If you are the original owner of your Glock pistol and have never had it modified for competitive shooting, you probably have little to worry about. But if you are a subsequent owner and are not certain of its history, you may want to change these two springs and assure yourself that they are OEM compliant. By the end of this article, you will be able to change those two springs.
Parts Needed:
1. OEM Firing Pin Spring
2. OEM Trigger Spring
Each of these are currently selling on the Internet for as little as $2.49 each. Both springs fit all Glocks. [JWR Adds: I recommend that all Glock owners buy two or three spares of each, in addition to the generically advised "spare firing pin and extractor."]
Tools Needed:
1. One 3/32" pin punch

Necessary Terminology:
The left side of the handgun is the side which in on your left as the weapon's muzzle points toward the target.
Disassembly (General):
1. Remove the magazine and ensure that the weapon is empty.
2. Following the Owner's Manual instructions, remove the slide and barrel from the grip/frame.
3. Set the barrel and the recoil spring assembly aside. You won't be needing to deal with them.
Replacing the Trigger Spring
Disassembly of the Receiver Group:
Look at the left side of the receiver. Are there two pins above the trigger? Or is there one pin above the trigger? If there are two pins, remove the top pin first (this is the Locking Block Pin), the Locking Block Pin is the first pin out and the first pin in when you reassemble). If there is only one pin above the trigger, skip to step #2.
1. Place the receiver group in it's right side and, using your 3/32nd pin punch, drift-out the Locking Block Pin from left to right. If your weapon has never been disassembled before, this may take some strong pressure on your part, but do not use a hammer to assist your pin punch. Keep pushing it and it will eventually start to come out. Push it all the way through the right side of the receiver and set the pin aside.
2. Remove the Trigger Pin. Hold the receiver in your left hand with the muscle end toward your body. With your left thumb, jiggle the Slide Stop Lever up, down forward and back while (using the pin punch held in your right hand) you begin pushing the Trigger Pin from left-to-right through the receiver. Do not use a hammer to assist the pin punch.
If the Trigger Pin gets stuck only part of the way out of the right side, Stop! With the pin punch, gently push it back in from the right side of the receiver and begin Step #2 over. Keep doing this over until you learn your Trigger Pin's “sweet spot”.
When the Trigger Pin has been pushed through, remove it and set it aside.
3. Grasp the Slide Stop Lever with your fingers and lift it out of the receiver. Set it aside.
4. Remove the Locking Block: From the left side of the receiver, place the tip of your pin punch under the rear edge of the Locking Block and rest the shank of your pin punch on the left side of the receiver. Using the receiver as a fulcrum, lift the Locking Block out of the receiver and set it aside.
5. Remove the Trigger Mechanism Housing: Using the pin punch, push the Trigger Mechanism Housing Pin out of the rear part of the grip. Then, place the tip of the pin punch under the Ejector and rest the shank of the pin punch on the left side of the receiver and pry out the Trigger Mechanism Housing
6. Remove the Trigger Spring: Hold the Trigger Assembly with its right side facing you. Pull forward on the Trigger Bar while rotating the Trigger Bar counter-clockwise. Now, pull the Trigger Bar free of its housing. The little spring that connects the Trigger Bar to the Trigger Housing is the Trigger Spring. Remove the Trigger Spring by working the hooked end of the spring out of its hole in the Trigger Bar. Work the Trigger Spring out of the Housing Mechanism by removing the lower spring hook from the hole.

Replacing the Trigger Spring:

Place the Housing Mechanism so that you are looking at its right side. Position your new Trigger Spring in your hand so that its two hooks form an “S” as you look at it. Hook the lower end of the “S” into the hole in the Housing Mechanism. Hook the upper end of the
“ S” into the hole in the Trigger Bar.
Reassembly of the Receiver Group:
This is accomplished in reverse order of disassembly
If you have a Locking Block Pin, remember that if it was the first pin that comes out, then it's the first pin you put back in.
When you get to the re-installation of the Slide Stop Lever, remember the wiggling and jiggling you did to get it out. As you are inserting the Trigger Pin, move the Slide Stop Lever forward and backward while giving pressure to the Trigger Pin. The Trigger Pin should be inserted from right to left.
Replacing the Firing Pin Spring
Removing the Firing Pin and Firing Pin Spring:
Place the Slide, muzzle end down, of a flat surface with the Slide's underside facing you. You will see a silver protrusion toward the back end of the Slide on the side that's facing you; this is the tang of the Firing Pin. The Spacer Sleeve is just under that tang.
1. Grip the Slide in your left hand. Hold the pin punch in your right hand. With the tip of the pin punch, press downward on the Spacer Sleeve. At the same time, use your left thumb to slide the Slide Cover Plate off of the Slide. (Note: If your weapon has never been disassembled before, you may need a thin-bladed screwdriver to get the Slide Cover Plate started) As the Slide Cover Plate slides off, keep your left thumb over the vacant area ... or else springs will go flying.
2. Remove the Firing Pin by grasping the Spacer Sleeve and pulling it out of the Slide. Clean off any lubrication that someone may have squirted in there.
3. Take the Spacer Sleeve off of the Firing Pin (but, before you do, look at how one fits into the other for purposes of reassembly). Place the Firing Pin in reverse position in its hole in the Slide to that its tang is resting either to the right or left of the Firing Pin hole.
4. Pull down on the Firing Pin Spring and remove the Spring Cups. Set the Spring Cups aside.
5. Remove the Firing Pin Spring and replace it with your new one.
Note #1: there is a black plastic part inside the Firing Pin channel called the Channel Liner. If this falls out during your work, simply put it back in.
Note #2: When reassembling the Firing Pin and Firing Pin Spring, be very careful with the Spring Cups, if you make a mistake, they can go flying. You may want to do the Spring Cup reassembly part inside of a 1 gallon plastic bag. Also, be certain that the small end of the Spring Cups are inside the Firing Pin Spring.
Reassembly of the Slide Group: This is done in reverse order.

I'm somewhat reluctant to offer blanket medical advice to non-patients, but after reading SF in Hawaii's comments about Augmentin (Amoxicillin-clavulanate) bears comment.
There is no 'one best antibiotic' for all purposes. Antibiotics have to be administered based on the specific type of bacteria causing an infection. Administering the wrong antibiotic doesn't just not work, it causes bacteria that are not killed outright to become resistant to it - which can cause problems down the road. People have pathogenic bacteria in and on them all the time, when something causes them to go out of balance and cause disease. At the very basic level, antibiotics are based on the cell wall of the bacteria (which determines if it will stain pink or blue with the Gram microscopic stain process). Once that determination is made, certain bacteria are sensitive to certain drugs.
If I were to recommend a basic armamentarium of oral antibiotics, I'd have to pick at least 5 different ones. I actually carry these, plus another drug, gatifloxacin that is no longer available in the US, plus 4 or 5 intravenous/intramuscular (IV/IM) [injectable] drugs, and pick the best drug for the problem at hand:
1. Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) 500mg twice a day for infectious (bacterial) diarrhea (5 days max), anthrax prophylaxis (x60 days), uncomplicated urinary tract infection (UTI) (7 days max), gonorrhea (1-2 tabs, once)
Given the incidence of certain bacteria that are resistant to ciprofloxacin, it is also wise now to also carry azithromycin
2. Azithromycin 250mg Comes in packs of 6 for 5 days dosage, take 2 the first day, then 1 a day until gone, for bronchitis, pneumonia, or serious throat infection.
3. Ampicillin 500 mg 4 times a day for , or amoxicillin-clavulanate 875 mg twice a day (Augmentin, very expensive) for sinus infection, skin infection, or ear infection, gastro-intestinal (GI), or genitourinary (GU)
4. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole 160/800mg (double strength) twice a day, 7-10 days or doxycycline 100 mg twice a day, for 7 days for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection, UTI, otitis media, sinusitis, bronchitis
Doxycycline is also a chloroquine-resistant malaria prophylaxis, take 1 daily starting 2 days before travel until 4 weeks (28 days) after return from endemic area, effective against Rickettsials (Rocky Mountain spotted fever)
5. Metronidazole 500mg 4 times a day for 7-14 days effective against Giardia lamblia and for dental infections, trichomoniasis

Augmentin is very good for animal (especially cat) bites, but it is quite expensive. Amoxicillin is a synthetic penicillin, the clavulinic acid (clavulanate) contributes penicillinase (an enzyme some bacteria produce that inhibits penicillin effectiveness) resistance.
This list is in no way comprehensive, nor are the indications the only possible uses for the drug, or the only drug for a condition.
Take care, and keep up the good work. - Flighter, MD

Jon H. forwarded an article that indicates that the mainstream media may be catching a clue on food storage preparedness: The emergency fund you can eat

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Matt B. sent a link to this video on how to escape from handcuffs, using a bobby pin. (The chances of being handcuffed by looters or home invasion robbers is small, but you never know what might happen.)

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Feds say Family has No Rightful Claim to 1933 'Double Eagle' Gold Coins. What ever happened to our legal system's foundational presumption of innocence?

"You never know when you might need a tank." - Gerald McRaney as Johnston Green, Jericho

Friday, March 16, 2007

Congrats to David C., the high bidder in the most recent SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar. It was kindly donated by the fine folks at Schecter Guitar Research. Today, we are beginning a new auction, this auction is for several items that are being auctioned together as a lot: 1.) A late-1940s-vintage Airline brand all vacuum tube (highly EMP resistant) AM tabletop radio in a attractive bakelite cabinet. It works very well. and, 2.) A special five book package including: one autographed copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, one autographed copy of Rawles on Retreats and Relocation , one autographed copy of SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog - Volume 1, one autographed copy of my novel Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse, and one copy of The Encyclopedia of Country Living by the late Carla Emery. These items have a combined retail value of around $370. The auction ends on April 15th. The opening bid is just $40. You can e-mail me your bid.

1) I traveled around Australia for several weeks a few years ago. Australia's main problem as a survival retreat is shown by a comparison of its population with that of its neighbors to the north:
a) Australia: 20.5 million
b) Neighbors: 1,869 Million
( China: 1,321 million, Indonesia: 223 million , Vietnam: 85 million,
Malaysia: 27 million, Philippines: 85 million, Japan: 128 million )
Note that the invasion route to Australia from Asia is a chain of islands with short distances between them.
Australia would probably have been occupied by the Japanese in WWII if not for the US Navy and would probably be invaded within a decade if the US Navy ever withdrew.
The technological advantage over Asia that Australia had 150 years ago has largely disappeared -- as has the Royal Navy.

2) The second thing to realize is that many of the eastern coastal strips that receive rainfall consist of extremely rugged terrain -- networks of deep canyons with vertical sides and narrow ridges.
I would hate to be caught in one of those box canyons if a wildfire erupted in the extremely dry, eucalyptus forests. The area of useful farmland is even smaller than would appear from a country-scale map.
Other hazards include some extremely ill-tempered vipers and brushwood that has poisonous splinters. As mentioned in the article, most of the country is arid desert in which long term survival would be difficult. - Don W.

JWR Replies: You are right about the sheer weight of population numbers in Asia. But I have to wonder what circumstances would precipitate a mass illegal immigration. If there is a total collapse, how would those countless million get to Australia? By sailboat? Perhaps some Australians readers would care to chime in with their opinions.

My key question is: Are there some particular towns that are well-removed from the major population centers on the east coast --perhaps up in The Wet-- that would be well-suited as safe havens?

You asked for comments on the Taurus 24/7, so I thought I would give you my opinion. The major appeal of this gun to me was the price. I got mine for about $315 brand new with three magazines.
Aside from price, the other deciding factor was the ergonomics. With the Ribber grip, the gun is very comfortable to hold and to shoot. Since I bought the gun for my wife, who has small hands, this was a major factor. The manual safety was also important to my wife, although I don't find them necessary if you know what you are doing.
Other nice features include the tactical mount and the loaded chamber indicator.
As far as reliability goes, my wife and I have put about 600 rounds through it, without a single malfunction. I have always kept the gun clean, and well maintained, so I do not know how it performs when dirty, but as it is being used strictly for home and vehicle protection, I am disinclined to put it through any real torture tests.
Accuracy is good enough for a pistol, and I am sure it the gun is accurate beyond my own limits, but the double action only (DAO) trigger has a lot of travel to it, which is something to be overcome, especially when shooting rapid fire groups. Tests show that it can shoot 4 inch groups at 25 yards, and I have never shot it at a known distance (KD) range, but I don't doubt that it can.
All things considered, I am very happy with this gun, as is my wife. The only major drawback to it is its size. Since we got the compact, not the subcompact model, it barely fits in my wife's purse, and lately it stays at home and my wife carries a Kahr P40 instead. Also worth noting is that I have never found a quality holster that was specifically designed for it.
I would recommend the gun to anyone who needs firepower and doesn't have a lot of money to spend, but if you can spare $150 more, then you can't go wrong with a Glock [Model 21]. - Pete


Mr. Rawles:
My experience with a Glock 21 .45 Auto: I’ve owned my 1st generation (no finger grooves or rail) Glock 21 .45 ACP with factory installed Trijicon sights for about 13 years. I bought it new and it has yet to malfunction. It will reliably run with both FMJ and JHP cartridges without modifications. I've put a few thousand factory loads through mine and it has yet to malfunction even once. Before my purchase I read about Glock’s drop tests and torture tests, talked to others that owned them and was finally convinced Glock was the way to go for me. If you adopt the mentality that your finger should remain off the trigger until ready to fire, the lack of a manual safety is not a detriment (like “Hoot” in Black Hawk Down – with his crooked finger in the air – “This here is my safety”). The G21 does feel large in my hand., but not enough that I can’t use it effectively. I’ve toyed with the idea of a custom grip reduction, but it may not be necessary for me. At the time I made the purchase HK didn’t have a comparable model. The G21 has a 13 round capacity and I wanted a capacity similar to the wondernine (large capacity 9mm) handgun it was replacing (I quickly got over the “tacticool” 9mm when I studied Dr. Martin Fackler’s data). The main advantages I saw, then and now, are reliability out of the box, price (I paid $529 in the early 1990s, about the same price now), parts are readily available (and Glock seems glad to sell them), accuracy and magazine capacity. Magazine prices average $16, though it’s worth mentioning that high capacity models crested $100 each during the 1994-2004 ban, during which I paid $55 each for used hi-cap magazines and I was glad to get them at the time (I installed Wolff springs in the used mags). I’ve been seeking another 1st generation G21 locally since “two is one – one is none” is a thought for the day. Other than the Wolff magazine springs, the only accessory I’ve seen fit to add is a Surefire tactical light and mount designed specifically for the Glock models that lack an accessory rail. The light has a quick detach feature (a part of the mount stays on the pistol frame) that is very easy to use. I have a Blackhawk holster that works well with or without the light. Before I added the Surefire mount, I carried the G21 in a Bianchi UM-84 holster and was pleased with how it fit.

Glock has recently introduced a new model .45 recently dubbed G21SF with a reduced the grip size (still 13 rounds), added a Picatinny 1913-sized rail and ambidextrous magazine release. I’ve been told the new rail design won’t work with some existing G21 holsters. The new magazine release requires a different magazine with a notch in the front of the magazine body. The G21SF specification magazine will work in the old G21s, but the old mags won’t work in the G21SF. From what I’ve seen Glock is only shipping the new magazine design now at the same price as the old mags. I’ve already noticed the new magazine design on gun show tables. I haven’t held a G21SF yet, but hope to do so soon. Kind Regards, - M. Artixerxe


I am very impressed by the reliability, parts availability, and accuracy of STI pistols. They are more expensive than owning a Glock. In fact, for the price of a new STI you can own three new Glocks. For the price of a used STI you can probably own four used Glocks.
I have Glocks in 9mm and 10mm. Fantastic pistols. However, I shoot nothing better than I shoot my single stack .45s and my high-cap STIs.
STI is the big dog in competitions such as USPSA, IPSC. The guys who shoot them are hardcore and would buy anything better if it existed. After probably 50,000 rounds through my STIs they have all proven dead nuts reliable.
A high capacity .45 STI Eagle will cost about $1,600 new. Magazines that hold 15 rounds are $60. Not cheap, but excellent quality. Regards, - Straightblast


About six months ago my wife bought a [Springfield Armory] XD in 9mm. After she fired it she made me take it to the range on my next trip to give it a run thru. I was so impressed I traded one of my two stainless steel HK USP 45s for a NIB bi-tone XD also in 9mm with light and a couple of other items including 10 used USGI 30 round AR[-15/M16] magazines. I replaced the USP as my daily carry and now use the XD as my primary.
The USP 45 is a good platform, however it is extremely ammo picky. Point in case is Wolf brand ammunition. Both of my USPs and a friends USP 45 cannot reliably fire Wolf brand ammo. Time and again they cannot chamber the round and become so stuck [that] alternate means of clearing the pistol is required (mallet to hammer it closed and hope when fired the case extracts, not recommended). The same can also be said for the occasional S&B round as well. The XD eats them all. As my skills have progressed I also am not pleased with the accuracy of any of the USPs I've shot, for the price they are disappointing. Out of the box both of our XDs are extremely accurate. I still have one of the USPs in my collection and as a carry gun for so many years I don't know if I can part with it.
At the time of buying my XD I did not know about the parts issue and I found out when I went to order some extras as I was planning on using them as my 'house standard'. With close to 1,000 rounds thru both the XDs without a single failure in these past few months (including roughly 50% Wolf brand ammo) I'm glad I have it. I don't like the feel of glocks and neither does my wife, we'd never buy one. The verdict is out on a standard sidearm for my house, a pair of XDs a pair of [Beretta] 92FSs, several other 9mms... I know the .45 comment will be coming so here is something to consider- in my house I have a wife and three daughters. I'll leave it at that, the .45 versus 9mm [arguments] have been beaten to death. To each their own and unlike the military I can shoot +p hollow points. ;)
One last thought: My wife was recently shooting her new SIG P228 and was getting some failures to eject. I had no issues and I figured out pretty quickly she was 'limp wristing' the pistol. Never had that issue with the XD. I hope that helps and if Springfield ever starts selling parts for the XD I'll likely buy three more XD9s for the safe and enough parts to go around. - Prometheus

I mentioned this site about a year ago: Glock 21 Torture Test. But since then, the author has expanded his web page to describe his more recent tests, including driving over the Glock, and dropping it out of an airplane.

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Farmers Told "Don't Panic Over Iowa [Soybean] Rust Discovery"

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Michael A. sent us this link to the calendar of scheduled Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) resets, from analysts at Credit Suisse. Michael's comments: "The sub-primes are especially scary. I doubt many of them will be able to roll into a new mortgage given the tightening loan standards." Here is a related article at Winter Economic & Market Watch. Some serious FFTAGFFR, folks!

"I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress." - Ronald Wilson Reagan

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Today is the last day of bidding in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar. The high bid is now at $400. This is an awesome guitar that is decorated in a military aviation theme, from Schecter's Tempest series. It has a $729 retail value. It was kindly donated by the fine folks at Schecter Guitar Research. The auction ends at midnight tonight. (March 15th.) Just e-mail me your bid.

Today we welcome our newest advertiser, Green Mountain Gear, in Vermont. They sell a broad line of tactical field gear, MOLLE gear, trauma kits, guns, gun accessories, optics, night vision gear, knives, survival kits, and backpacking stoves. Watch for announcements in coming weeks for Green Mountain Gear's special "SurvivalBlog Group Buys." These special deep discount purchases will be made directly from manufacturers. In a Group Buy, blog readers will e-mail their commitments on the quantity of an item that they'd like to buy. Based on our combined buying power, special wholesale pricing will be arranged with a manufacturer. I've been told that here are already Groups Buys planned for a variety of full capacity magazines and MOLLE gear.

I was at Costco this week and paid particular attention to the bulk honey supplies they had . (I was buying a few 96 ounce jugs of Clover brand honey – good stuff). I had last purchased some of the same honey two months ago. It is now up nearly 80 cents from that time. In speaking to a friend who is involved in honey sales and production of bee related product, waxes, etc, they are very concerned about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and declines in the [bee] populations. They agree with points made at Survivalblog that prices will increase noticeably and that CCD and declining populations will finally make it to the big media. As he said, “Watch the sales take off and prices really rise.” Can’t stress enough getting that honey squirreled away.

On a side note, the honey I purchased has a “best when used by” date of February 2009. [JWR Adds: As explained in my recent SurvivalBlog article on honey, that date only reflects when the honey can be expected to crystallize. It is still edible and nutritious for decades.]
Best Regards, - MP in Seattle

Hi Jim,
I am grateful for your suggestion of the [Springfield Armory] XD in 45 ACP. I hadn't heard of it before and the price is appealing. Could you take a few minutes to address the "cons" listed at Wikipedia? That would be much appreciated! - Eric M.

JWR Replies: As you will see in the following paragraphs, I'm now having serious second thoughts about suggesting the XD pistols for a survival battery. The following are the XD "Cons" mentioned in Wikipedia (in orange text). My comments are in-line:

* Though some parts can be purchased through aftermarket suppliers, Springfield Armory refuses to sell some individual XD parts. Springfield Armory's position seems to be that with a lifetime warranty that includes repair work, parts sales are not necessary. This is a major stumbling block for shooters who are involved in competitive pistol activities, because they are unable to keep a small stock of parts on hand for emergencies. People who carry their pistol every day (and thus are unable to ship their gun off for a week while it's being repaired) have also complained about the policy.

That is a huge issue, and one that would prevent me from buying one of these pistols until parts do become available. I just consulted with master pistol gunsmith Teddy Jacobsen. When I asked him about obtaining spare parts for XDs, this was his reply:

"Hi Jim,
Sad to say I can not [get parts for XD pistols.] This is not the kind of gun to buy because the factory will ask you to send the gun to them for repair. That alone cost one hundred dollars FedEx over night, round trip.

They will not sell anyone critical parts.
I had a man call me who broke his trigger bar and SA would not sell him one. He was going to take it to a local welding shop and have it welded up so he could sell it.

Its a nightmare trying to replace the pressed-in extractor. I called a plater that I know very well and asked him how he gets the extractor out in order to plate the slide. He told me he can not get it out and he plates the slide with the extractor in place.

I wish I had a better solution but for a survival weapon the Glock is the way to go. I just did some work for special ops in "The Big Sandbox" and one was a Glock and the other an HK. You can buy any part for a Glock an change the extractor in 30 seconds."

* Those who have tried installing aftermarket or custom sights on XD's have reported that removing the existing sights can be an extremely difficult process, often requiring the services of a gunsmith.

I'd recommend having Trijicon do that work. To do that you mail just your slide to Tooltech Gunsight. (That is Trijicon's custom installation shop.)

* Pre-2006 versions of the XD were protected with a metal treatment called Burinal™. Some who own pistols with the Burinal™ treatment have reported significant rust problems - especially those who carry the XD against their skin. Fortunately, current versions of the XD are being manufactured the Melonite™ brand of Carbonitriding, which is the same process as the Tenifer™ coating used on Glocks.

That is no longer much of an issue. No new XD pistols will be delivered with the old finish, and 80% of these guns hitting the secondary market have the new finish. The ones that have the old finish often sell at a discount. (That, BTW, is a good bargaining strategy.) If you do buy one with the discontinued porous Burinal finish, you can send it off to Arizona Response Systems, The Robar Company, or Century Gun Works for coating in an exotic, rust-resistant finish.

However, in my opinion the spare parts issue is a "show stopper" for XD purchases. Unless or until parts become readily available, then I'd recommend not buying an XD and instead buying a HK USP or a Glock Model 21. If you get a Glock, you can have its grips re-contoured (or "reduced") by gunsmiths like Mark Graham at Arizona Response Systems.

BTW, I would appreciate first-hand comments from SurvivalBlog on the HK USP and other polymer frame high capacity .45s. There are now a lot of makers offering them, including the S&W 99, and the Taurus 24/7. Steyr also plans to produce a polymer frame .45, but it will use a single column magazine. Perhaps even the "also ran" Ruger's 8 round P97 bears mentioning.

Good morning. I don't know that I have seen any discussion on your blog on the psychology of denial--why folks aren't more prepared. I acknowledge that it may not be the most vital topic, and that you are doing your part to get the word out, but I correspond to you on this topic in sheer frustration.
Let me be more specific. I have friends and family members who make serious money in their chosen professions, many of whom are in the finance sector. Yet, when I raise the barest reference to preparation and our fragile infrastructure, it's like I just started speaking in five-thousand year old Greek. They have ample resources to buy peace of mind with supplies and equipment that's a fraction of their annual income, but they don't. The world will go on merrily. They'll never be a TEOTWAWKI. Somehow, in their mind it's good financial sense to spend thousands on all manner of insurance (life, car, health, business), but dare suggest that they put away even two weeks worth of food and water, and I'm labeled as "out there." Amazingly, this culture of denial persists even after Hurricane Katrina. They watched on their televisions as the Golden Horde preyed upon itself and just died as government failed to come charging to the rescue. During that sad event, I commented to my youngest brother on the horrible tragedy. I said: "see little brother, not months, but only a few days and you've got Planet of the Apes, baby." BTW - this not a slur on my part to the good folks of New Orleans. This quote was taken from Powers Booth playing a bomber captain in a 1990 made-for-television TEOTWAWKI movie titled "By Dawn's Early Light." (I recommend it), and he was referring to life on the ground when their plane ditched after the collapse. Perhaps seeing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina on TV made it illusory, the cold reality unfolding "live and in color" simply blended into the numbing TV mythos of movie magic. Either way, to this day, I am still trying to roll the Rock of Gibraltar uphill when it comes to convincing those I care about to cover their assets. I would be grateful for any advice on other methods to penetrate this shield of denial or even references to articles discussing the phenomenon so that I can send it to these guys.
Thank you, and stay well. - Bill H.

JWR Replies: In my experience, the best way to penetrate the shell of denial is to hand someone a useful pro-preparedness third party reference. For some reason, anything that is published in hard copy seems to carry intrinsic authority, or at least hold the cachet of "a published reference." As general survival and preparedness references, I recommend Life after Doomsday by Bruce Clayton, and Tappan on Survival by Mel Tappan. My own books Rawles on Retreats and Relocation and SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog might also be useful. On food storage and survival cookery, I highly recommend Making the Best of Basics by James Talmage Stevens (available from, and The Encyclopedia of Country Living by the late Carla Emery. My Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course is another useful reference that primarily deals with food storage. On firearms and self defense, I recommend Boston's Gun Bible by Boston T. Party and Survival Guns by Mel Tappan.

Don't overlook the usefulness of survivalist fiction.
Quite often, people won't take the time to read a non-fiction book, but they will sit down and read a novel. For this, I recommend novels like Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, Wolf and Iron by Gordon Dickson, No Blade of Grass by John Christopher, and Some Will Not Die by Algis Budrys. And again at the risk of sounding like shameless self-promotion, I also recommend my own novel, Patriots: Surviving the Coming Collapse. For those that don't have the patience to read a book, you can at least send them a link or the URL for SurvivalBlog. Be patient and persistent. Your friends and relatives that presently seem have their heads thrust firmly in the sand may come up to see some daylight if you expose them to enough pro-preparedness references.

Felix mentioned that the International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent has made their new manual "First Aid in Armed Conflicts and Other Situations of Violence" available for free download, in PDF.

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A Peak Oil pundit responds to the recent piece in The New York Times about new oilfield yield boosting technologies.

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One of our frequent content contributors runs a part-time mail order biz, called Knife Brigade. Check out his great prices on Ka-Bar, Buck, Kershaw, and CRKT knives.

"That's the issue that I've been exploring: How did the Republic turn into the Empire? That's paralleled with: How did Anakin turn into Darth Vader? How does a good person go bad, and how does a democracy become a dictatorship? It isn't that the Empire conquered the Republic, it's that the Empire is the Republic." - George Lucas

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The high bid is now up to $360 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar. This is an awesome guitar that is decorated in a military aviation theme, from Schecter's Tempest series. It has a $729 retail value. The auction ends at midnight tomorrow. (March 15th.) Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

The recent news that New Century Financial Corporation, the nation's second-biggest subprime mortgage lender is about to declare bankruptcy didn't come as a great surprise to me. I see it as a bellwether event. Lots of other sub-prime lenders are at risk. This is another piece of evidence that the grossly over-inflated real estate bubble, that up until now has been deflating gracefully, is about to absolutely implode. In coastal regions, residential real estate prices were bid up to unsustainable levels, fueled by low interest rates and legions of lenders that were willing to make loans to people that shouldn't have been eligible to buy a car, much less a house. There are now millions of real estate "investors" (the folks that I call contrapreneurs) who are locked in to adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs.) Many of these contrapreneurs bought second or even third homes on speculation. ("On spec".) The "flipping" of houses was quite profitable in the rising real estate market circa 2002 to 2006. Any idiot could make money doing it. ("A rising tide raises all ships.") Now the market has turned, and there are not enough buyers to absorb all of those spec houses. There are countless stories about houses that have languished on the market for many months, without a legitimate offer. Here is a link to one such story.

We are now witnessing a cascading effect. The first noticeable shift came when existing house sales and housing "starts" numbers began to fall, as interest rates edged upwards. The building contractors, most of them savvy individuals, knew when to get out when the getting was good. They slashed their prices to move their existing inventories, and they cut way back on new construction. Their "bargains" and incentives (one in Reno was giving away free Hummer H3s with each house sold) created a downward momentum in residential house prices. Seeing this, the "spec" buyers started dropping their prices "just to make sure" that their spec houses sold promptly. But a funny thing happened: Most of them didn't sell, even at the lower asking prices. Recently, the specs were faced with a dilemma: "Should I cut my asking price even more, and sell the house at a loss, or try to find renters and hang on until the market bounces back?" Based on the continuing fall in prices, it is clear that a lot of them decided to take the loss, and just plain bail out. It is noteworthy that what had been most over-hearted markets like Phoenix, Arizona, coastal Florida, Las Vegas, Hawaii, and San Diego are seeing the steepest price declines. According to, quoting the National Association of Realtor's Q4 2006 report, "73 metro[politan] areas have shown a price decline. Sarasota is down 18%, Fort Myers 12% and Reno 9%. Other major markets with a decline are San Diego, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Pittsburg, Phoenix, Kansas City, Sacramento, Washington DC, Boston, Dallas, Detroit, New Orleans, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Providence, Miami and Denver".

The next effects were jumps in the mortgage payment delinquency rates and later, in some regions, the mortgage default rates. Unable to make their mortgage payments, the contrapreneurs are now going into default in large numbers. But the current default figures will seem small once those millions of ARM loans get "reset" in the next year, at higher interest rates. (Estimates range from $265 billion to $1 trillion in home loans that are scheduled for "resets" in the next 12 months.) I call this the ARM-twisting effect. When the ARM rates jump two or three percentage points, it won't be pretty. There will be hundreds of thousands of people that lose their homes. The current conjecture in financial circles is that there could soon be a full scale mortgage crisis in the U.S.

The bankers, in early panic mode, are presently putting more and more post-default houses on the market, at fire sale prices. They don't want to get stuck with them. But in some markets like Phoenix and San Diego, those houses aren't selling. There simply aren't enough willing buyers. In many cities, it isn't just "buyer's market." It is a dead market. There are precious few people that want to "invest" in what they rightfully perceive as a declining market. The few buyers out there are now bargain hunting. And they are not in any great hurry to buy. The upward ratcheting of house prices sen in the previous four years has been replaced by a not perceptible downward-ratcheting. So the buyers know that time is on their side.

The next effect was felt by real estate agents and brokers. Many of them are a now looking for new careers. I recently heard an interesting statistic: South Florida had more than 3,000 gainfully employed real estate agents at the peak of the buying frenzy. But now there are now only about 300. Next, title companies will have to lay off employees, as sales slow.

Where and when will all of this end? With prices a lot lower, and probably not until a full decade from now. I woudln't be surprised to see prices (in real terms, adjusted for inflation) down 50% or more in the erstwhile "hot" market regions. As the house price down-ratcheting effect get more pronounced, many homeowners"will come to the realization that they are upside down in their mortgages. (Where the current market value of the house is less than their outstanding principal on their home loan.) What will they do? I predict that many of them will walk away. They will simply hand their banker the house keys, or just do what out British cousins charmingly call "a midnight flit." (Abandoning their houses without a proper goodbye to their banker.) This is not unprecedented. The same thing happened in Texas in the late 1970s and early 1980s, following a down-turn in the oil industry. But this time it will happen from coast to coast.

The rippling effects of the real estate bust will be felt for many years. There certainly will be huge losses for lenders. The New Century collapse will probably be the first of many. Building contractors will go out of business. (The wise ones will likely switch to remodeling.) Three-quarters of the real estate agents in the country will be out of work or chronically under-employed. The ripples of the real estate implosion will also likely touch the bond market, the insurance industry, and the derivatives market.

Once prices have dropped 30%, renters will start pestering their landlords, asking for correspondingly lower rents. By just threatening to move out, they will probably get the rent concessions that they ask for. (No landlord will want to be stuck with an un-occupied rental house. The fear of a negative cash flow is a powerful thing)

And The Good News?

Those of us that are nearing retirement, or those that are considering moving to a retreat locale may see some good come from the real estate bust. You may find some real bargains, especially as the market nears its bottom. Just be sure that you have cash in pocket to take advantage of a bargain when it comes along.

More than a year ago, I posted a recommendation in SurvivalBlog that anyone who had firm plans to sell their house within 18 months should do so, post haste, and rent them back from the new owners. (Most likely by selling to a property management company.) Now that that the market has decidedly turned nationwide, that is probably no longer an option in many regions, but it it still worth a try. I also recommended that anyone with a second home, a spec house, a rental house, or a vacation home that was not viable as a survival retreat should dump them. I hope that people took that advice. The opportunity to get out of such real estate investments is now dwindling. If you can get out now, even if it means taking a small loss, I strongly encourage that you to do so.

I have been trying to paint mental pictures of men, women, and children scouring the countryside for food and fuel, arriving/crashing through the gate to my property, intent on their own survival.
They are hungry, desperate, and in a panic state of mind. I have tried to picture myself shooting warning shots over their heads, hearing them scream and curse at me, and hopefully going away.
I have Dakota Alerts in place for early detection during the night. I had dogs, but they are shot or beaten to death early on in the nightmare scenario.
But the alarms keep going off, and I know that there is movement on my property, and they are close at hand. I pour some semi-auto [fire] out of a window into the darkness to scare them off, and they move on.
But it continues for weeks. The trucking of supplies to us from Mexico has taken much too long, as the main highway system is chaos, and the ports that remain functional have bogged down from a myriad of logistical problems. Canada is doing what it can for the Northern U.S., but law and order have vanished in my area.
Then the pounding on the doors begins, and with some shots and threats. Things have deteriorated to the point to where looters do not care if they are killed. They are miserable
and almost dead already. So now the killing begins, and they will certainly kill me if that is what it takes to get some food and supplies. The Mad Max movie has begun, but it is not theatrical.
If I am to survive, I must take drastic actions.
The psychology/mindset of survival is something I am coming to grips with. It is something so foreign to me, having lived in a wonderland of plenty for so long,
that it is shocking to the senses. It is warfare, but an x-rated dirty and disgusting picture of humanity at its most primitive. How does one imagine barbarians crashing down upon a once civilized culture, reducing the lifestyle to one of filth, starvation, horror, and blood. A ghastly life of violence and suffering and riot; catastrophic losses and degradation to the point of madness and murder. Seeing ones family members huddled together in fear and weeping. Digging pits for the bodies that were killed during the night, remembering their screams and moans, knowing that packs of wild dogs will be trying to dig them up the next night. I could go on, but won't.
I think we can arm ourselves, and have a quite content attitude about how much storage food we have. But, there is the emotional aspect of survival that I am trying to deal with. Does your book ""Patriots"] help here? - Martin P.

JWR Replies: Yes, you will find that my novel "Patriots" is quite helpful in thinking through retreat security and some of the psychological aspects of TEOTWAWKI. In it, I describe some practical and tactical methods for retreat security in a "worst case". In fact, there are some strategies and tactics presented in the novel that I've never seen presented elsewhere. In all of my writings, I have stressed the importance of relocating to a lightly-populated region that is well removed from major metropolitan regions. In the event of a full scale societal collapse, the nightmarish circumstances that you describe will be likely in the cities and in the suburbs, but they are thankfully far, far less likely out in the hinterboonies. In essence, fewer people means fewer problems.

"Si" mentioned that the US. Department of HHS has developed a Radiation Event Medical Management (REMM) web site, with some useful resources. Si says that the site features: "Lots of information on treating people exposed to radiation from sources such as nuclear weapons, dirty bombs, reactor accidents, etc."

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"R.P." spotted a real estate listing for a nice property in central Texas that might be of interest. R.P. says: "I think it has a lot of the requirements that you have stated for a good retreat."

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RBS sent us this link: No Passport For Britons Refusing Mass Surveillance.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Today we present another article submitted for Round 9 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. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 9 will end on March 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Saying that Australia is unique sounds clichéd but in so many ways it is true. It is the world's largest island and the world's smallest continent. It is one of the least densely populated countries in the world and yet one of the world's most heavily urbanised. It is the flattest, driest, least fertile inhabited continent on earth but which through modern agricultural practices is one of the world's largest food producers. The list of its unique features goes on.

Selecting a retreat location in Australia requires this uniqueness be taken into account. Failure to do so will be fatal WTSHTF. Figure 1 Map of Australia


Population density and distribution

Australia is 2 941 299 sq miles {7 617 930 sq km} (approximately the size of the lower 48 states) with a population of 20 million giving it an average population density of around 6.7 per square mile {2.6 per square kilometre}. Obviously as in the case of the US this distribution of population isn't even across the country. Figure 2 gives the distribution of Australia's population at 30 June 2004. (Australian Bureau of Statistics)

Australia is heavily urbanised with 40% of its population living in just two cities – Sydney and Melbourne. When looking at the number of Australians who live in cities of 1 million or more (there are 5 – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Perth) we see that this rises to 60% or 12.3 million out of a population of 20 million. This heavy urbanisation means that outside the capital cities population density drops dramatically.

In the state by state breakdowns, density figures are given including and excluding the capital city.

In the event of TEOTWAWKI, the south-eastern coastal region of the mainland will become a seething mass of humanity fleeing the major cities. The Pacific Highway between Sydney and Brisbane will become the Highway of Death as the Golden Horde heading north out of Sydney meet the Golden Horde fleeing south from Brisbane. Similarly the roads and regions between Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne will suffer from the effects of two or more Golden Hordes meeting.

Outside these densely populated areas the country is vast and lacking in infrastructure. It is possible to travel 1000 miles (or more) in a straight line without once crossing a sealed road. A number of rough dirt tracks cross these empty regions however travelling these in anything less that a well prepared 4WD is foolhardy in the extreme. Every year deaths occur when the unprepared attempt to cross these regions.


In the driest inhabited continent access to water is the number one consideration in selecting a retreat location. The average annual rainfall over 80% of the continent is below 24 inches {600 millimetres (mm)} per year, and below 12 inches {300mm} over 50%. The average annual rainfall is shown in Figure 3.

Australia's rainfall pattern is strongly seasonal in character, with a winter rainfall regime in parts of the south, a summer regime in the north and generally more uniform or erratic throughout the year elsewhere.

Drought is common in Australia and climate change looks set to make periods of drought longer and more severe. The effects of prolonged drought and the resulting pressures on the remaining water supplies by nearby population clusters need to be taken into account.

Artesian (bore) water is available in parts of the interior however this will be the only source of water.

In terms of population and rainfall, the tropical north of Australia and south-western Tasmania would seem good locations. There are of course a number of other considerations that need to be taken into account before deciding on a retreat location.

Most of the continent receives more than 3,000 hours of sunshine a year, or nearly 70% of the total possible. In central Australia and the mid-west coast of Western Australia, totals slightly in excess of 3,500 hours occur. Totals of less than 1,750 hours occur on the west coast and highlands of Tasmania, which is the equivalent of only 40% of the total possible per year.

In southern Australia, the duration of sunshine is greatest about December when the sun is at its highest elevation, and lowest in June when the sun is lowest. In northern Australia, sunshine is generally greatest over the period August to October prior to the wet season, and least over the period January to March during the wet season.

Natural Hazards


Australia sits in the middle of a tectonic plate and thus lacks major fault lines as is the case along the west coast of the North and South America. Intra-plate earthquakes do sometimes occur such as the 1989 Newcastle earthquake (5.6 on the Richter scale) which killed 13. Although earthquakes do not rate highly as a hazard in Australia, the earthquake history of a retreat area should be researched and sensible precautions be made.


There are no active or dormant volcanoes in Australia. The last volcanic activity occurred over 4500 years ago.

Thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes

Thunderstorms are most frequent over northern Australia with high frequencies (30 to 50 per year) also occurring over the eastern uplands of New South Wales. Some parts of southern Australia receive fewer than 10 thunderstorms per year, with eastern Tasmania receiving fewer than 5. Through most of Australia thunderstorms are more common during the warmer half of the year, but along the southern fringe they also occur in winter as a result of low-level instability in cold air masses of Southern Ocean origin.

Some thunderstorms can become severe, with flash flooding, large hail and damaging winds. These storms can be very destructive. The Sydney hailstorm of 1999, in which hailstones up to 3.5 inches {9 centimetres (cm)} in diameter were observed, was Australia's most costly natural disaster, with losses estimated at $1.7b.

While thunderstorms in general are most common in northern Australia, the most damaging thunderstorms, in terms of hail and wind gusts, occur in the eastern halves of New South Wales and southern Queensland.

Tornadoes are also associated with severe thunderstorms, although they do not occur with the same frequency or severity as can occur in the United States of America. As tornado paths are narrow it is rare, but not unknown, for them to strike major population centres, with notable examples occurring in Brighton (Melbourne) in February 1918, the southern suburbs of Brisbane in November 1973, and several Perth suburbs in May 2005.


During most years, snow covers much of the Australian Alps above 4800 feet {1,500 metres (m)} for varying periods from late autumn to early spring. Similarly, in Tasmania, the mountains are covered fairly frequently above 3200 feet {1,000m} in those seasons. The area, depth and duration of snow cover are highly variable from year to year. These areas can experience light snowfalls at any time of year. Small patches of snow can occasionally persist through summer in sheltered areas near the highest peaks, but there are no permanent snowfields.

Snowfalls at lower elevations are more irregular, although areas above 1900 feet {600m} in Victoria and Tasmania, and above 1,000 metres in the New South Wales highlands, receive snow at least once in most winters, as do the highest peaks of Western Australia's Stirling Ranges. In most cases snow cover is light and short-lived. In extreme cases, snow has fallen to sea level in Tasmania and parts of Victoria, and to 650 feet {200m} in other parts of southern Australia, but this is extremely rare. The only major Australian cities to have received a significant snow cover at any time in the last century are Canberra and Hobart, although Melbourne experienced a heavy snowfall in 1849, and there are anecdotal reports of snowflakes in Sydney in 1836.


Heavy rainfall conducive to widespread flooding can occur anywhere in Australia, but is most common in the north and in the eastern coastal areas. There are three main flood types:

* flash floods, which are generally localised and often emanate from severe thunderstorms.

* short-lived floods lasting a few days that occur in shorter coastal streams, and inundate the natural or modified flood plain. These are the most economically damaging floods, affecting the relatively densely-populated coastal river valleys of New South Wales and Queensland (e.g. the Burdekin, Brisbane, Tweed, Richmond, Clarence, Macleay, Hunter and Nepean-Hawkesbury valleys), and the major river valleys of the tropics. While these floods are chiefly caused by summer rains, they can occur in any season. Floods of similar duration also occur in Tasmania, Victoria (particularly rivers draining the north-east ranges) and the Adelaide Hills, although in these latter regions they are more common in winter and spring.

* long-lived floods of the major inland basins. These floods usually arise from heavy summer rains in inland Queensland and New South Wales, and move slowly downstream, some ultimately draining into the lower Murray-Darling system or towards Lake Eyre. Floods of this type can take several months to move from the upper catchments to the lower Darling or to Lake Eyre. They often cover an extensive area and gradually disappear through a combination of seepage into the sandy soils and evaporation; it is only occasionally that floodwaters of Queensland origin actually reach Lake Eyre. Floodwaters can also cover large areas in situ when heavy rains occur in a region of uncoordinated drainage such as much of western and central Australia.


Under adverse weather conditions, bushfires in Australian eucalyptus forests cannot be stopped and often destroy homes and settlements which border such areas. Huge amounts of flammable eucalyptus vapour, transpired from leaves, create fireballs which often engulf the forest upper storey ahead of the main fire-front. South-eastern Australia has the greatest wildfire hazard in the world. Large bushfires burn until stopped naturally by rain or lack of fuel, which may be weeks after ignition.
In the event of a breakdown in law and order, a retreat in the bushland that surrounds major population centers (such as the Blue Mountains on the western edge of Sydney) would become a death trap as every fire bug with a match would come out to play.


Post-TEOTWAWKI, the risk posed by the profusion of deadly snakes, spiders, and sea life that can be found throughout the country needs to be taken into account. The current low death rates can be attributed to the wide availability of anti-venene and modern medical treatments, both of which will be non existent post TEOTWAWKI.

In the tropical north the saltwater crocodile is a threat to both man and livestock. The ban on hunting has seen their numbers explode across the north. If your retreat is located in croc territory, arming yourself with knowledge (and sufficient firepower) will go a long way to improving your chances at survival.

One less obvious animal danger is the one posed by wounded kangaroos and emus. Normally kangaroos and emus make use of their great speed to get themselves out of danger, preferring flight to fight. But if wounded or cornered, their powerful kicks and large clawed feet can easily be fatal. I have seen a wounded kangaroo gut a pair of pit-bulls like fish, and there have been recorded fatalities when people failed to respect the danger these animals can pose.

Manmade Hazards

Gun Laws

It is possible (with some considerable hoop jumping) to own guns in Australia, however you are generally limited to bolt action rifles/shotguns, lever action/pump action riles, and single/double barrel shotguns. To the general public semi auto rifles/shotguns and pump action shotguns are prohibited. Likewise, handguns are strictly controlled with prohibitions on calibre (under 9mm), magazine capacity, barrel length, and what they can be used for (target shooting only) to name a few.

Australian gun laws will only get worse as the main political parties have stated their desire to reduce the number of guns in the community with total elimination the final goal.

Area: 668,206 square miles {1,730,648 square kilometres} (rank 2 of 7).
Population: 3,977,100 (2005).
Capital: Brisbane 1,810,900
Population Density:
Including capital city- 5.95 per square mile [2.30 per square kilometre]
Excluding capital city- 3.24 per square mile [1.25 per square kilometre] (Rank 4 of 7).
Pluses: Good climate (temperate to tropical), high rainfall in the tropical north, low population density beyond the south-east corner.
Minuses: Tropical north hazards (cyclones and crocodiles), close proximity of Cape York to Papua New Guinea (potential for a large influx of illegal immigrants), low rainfall in the south-west, high population density in south-eastern corner.

New South Wales
Area: 309,129 square miles {800,642 square kilometres} (rank 5 of 7).
Population: 6,768,900 [2005].
Capital: Sydney 4,254,900
Population Density:
Including capital city- 21.90 per square mile [8.45 per square kilometre]
Excluding capital city- 8.13 per square mile [3.14 per square kilometre] (Rank 5 of 7).
Pluses: temperate climate along the coastal regions.
Minuses: high population density along the coast, the potential for two or more Golden Hordes meeting along the north coast and south-east regions, extremely high bush fire danger (especially after the breakdown of law and order), lack of reliable water supply west of the Great Dividing Ranges.

Area: 87,874 square miles {227,594 square kilometres} (rank 6 of 7).
Population: 5,023,200 (2005).
Capital: Melbourne 3,634,200
Population Density:
Including capital city - 57.21 per square mile [22.09 per square kilometre]
Excluding capital city - 15.82 per square mile [6.11 per square kilometre] (Rank 7 of 7).
Pluses: good rainfall across much of the state, good land fertility.
Minuses: high population density (massive Golden Horde potential), extremely high bush fire danger.

Area: 26,409 square miles {68,401 square kilometres} (rank 7 of 7).
Population: 485,700 (2005).
Capital: Hobart 203,600
Population Density:
Including capital city- 18.39 per square mile [7.10 per square kilometre]
Excluding capital city- 10.68 per square mile [4.12 per square kilometre] (Rank 6 of 7).
Pluses: high rainfall across the state, good land fertility, low bushfire potential, isolation from the mainland, large percentage of wilderness.
Minuses: high population density, cold climate (by Australian standards), isolation from the mainland (isolation can be a double edged sword).

South Australia
Area: 379,724 square miles {983,482 square kilometres} (rank 4 of 7).
Population: 1,542,100 (2005).
Capital: Adelaide 1,129,300
Population Density:
Including capital city- 4.06 per square mile [1.57 per square kilometre]
Excluding capital city- 1.09 per square mile [0.42 per square kilometre] (Rank 3 of 7).
Pluses: low population density.
Minuses: lack of water across the state (South Australia is the driest state in the driest country).

West Australia
Area: 976,790 square miles {2,529,875 square kilometres} (rank 1 of 7).
Population: 2,011,000 (2005).
Capital: Perth 1,477,800
Population Density:
Including capital city- 2.06 per square mile [0.79 per square kilometre]
Excluding capital city- 0.55 per square mile [0.21 per square kilometre] (Rank 2 of 7).
Pluses: very low population density, good rainfall in south-western corner, high rainfall in the tropical north, isolation from the east coast of the country (1000 miles of desert between Perth and Adelaide provides a buffer zone few could/would try to cross WTSHTF), temperate climate in the south-west.
Minuses: lack of water across much of the state, Golden Horde potential in south-west corner, proximity of the tropical north to Indonesia, cyclones and crocs in the north.

Northern Territory
Area: 520,901 square miles {1,349,129 square kilometres} (rank 3 of 7).
Population: 203,400 (2005).
Capital: Darwin 111,800
Population Density:
Including capital city- 0.39 per square mile [0.15 per square kilometre]
Excluding capital city- 0.18 per square mile [0.07 per square kilometre] (Rank 1 of 7).
Pluses: extremely low population density, high rainfall in the north during the wet season.
Minuses: cyclones, crocs, proximity to Indonesia/East Timor, restricted travel during the wet season in the north, lack of water during the dry season in the north and year round in the south.

Michael Z. Williamson pointed out a fascinating web site: The Great Firewall of China. With it, you can test to see if any web site is banned by censors in China. Mike notes: "I tested my sites. My writing site is clear. My blade [making] site is banned." Go figure.Out of curiosity, I just tested SurvivalBlog, and oddly enough, it is not banned in China. I assumed that because I had mentioned laogai slave labor system in China that my site would have been banned. This has me depressed. Clearly, something is wrong when even a reactionary "Capitalist rotor" and overt libertarian like me passes muster by a bunch of dictatorial communists. I must not be trying hard enough. For the record: Free China! Free Tibet! Remember Tiananmen Square! Wen Jiabao sucks eggs! Harry Wu for president!

  o o o

And speaking of censorship, I heard from :"Jeff Trasel" that the the enlightened Powers That Be at the Wikipedia are putting the "WTSHTF" acronym up for a deletion vote. If any of you are established Wikipedia contributors, then Jeff would appreciate it if you were to chime in with your opinion in this vote, and post a "watch" on the WTSHTF entry. As recently as two years ago, the Wikipedia was a fun and interesting place to share knowledge. But in the past year or so, the snooty liberal nanny-staters have increasingly pushed their own agenda, using strict and even downright biased interpretation of the posting rules to consciously edge out conservative, firearms, preparedness, home schooling, and constitutional law wikipedia topics. From what Jeff has told me, what is happening there isn't just subtle "self censorship." It is blatant liberal bias, with a small leftist minority forcing its views on the entire Wikipedia community.

  o o o

And speaking of Schumer hitting the fan, want to see what happens when Mr. Schumer's belongings hit the fan? These D.C. denizens desperately need a maid service!

  o o o

Rob at $49 MURS radios wrote us to say: "In regard to the SurvivalBlog Reader Barter Experiment, I will be making my final choices from all offers received by Friday, March 16th. There is still time to be considered if you e-mail your barter offer before then. After that date I will make a list of all the items that were offered (no personal info will be included). So far I have received some very interesting barter offers!

"Wanted: Young, skinny, wirey fellows not over 18. Must be expert riders willing to risk death daily. Orphans preferred. Wages $25 per week." - Pony Express advertisement, 1860

Monday, March 12, 2007

Life in "The Mud Season" continues. Yesterday we had another power failure. We seem to get most of them in the Fall and the Spring. Things are presently very soggy with all the melting snow, so it is inevitable that some trees will fall. That is life in the hinterboonies. But as a well-prepared family, we can take these glitches in stride.

Tell me, what is your view on the Glock 21 platform? I made an election to go with this as opposed to a 1911 platform...mag capacity, accuracy, etc. The only down-side to the Glock 21 or any of those platforms, is the absence of a manual safety. It must always be holstered. For $450, they tend to outshoot their contemporaries; at 13 rds per magazine they pack a payload of punch.Your feedback? - Matt

JWR Replies: I think the Glock 21 is a fine pistol. As I have mentioned in SurvivalBlog before, if I hadn't 30+ years of "muscle memory" invested in the M1911 design, that I would probably switch to Glocks or one of the new Glock clones. Most recently, I've been very tempted by the Glock-ish Springfield Armory XD .45 ACP, which also holds 13 rounds. The XDs have a grip safety as well as a Glock-style trigger safety, plus a "drop" safety. They also have both striker status and loaded chamber indicators, which might be a bit "gadgety", but reassuring to have available. Even more importantly, they have a fully supported chamber, and a more natural grip angle than the Glock. (The grip feels a lot like a M1911 to me.) If I were to re-design the Glock, it would result in something a lot like the XD.

Regardless of your choice in handguns, use the right holster! I generally recommend designs that are molded from stiff Kydex, with a fully-adjustable tensioning system. Protecting the trigger is crucial for safety with a Glock, an XD, or other "safety in the trigger" Glock-ish designs. Here at the Rawles Ranch, we almost exclusively use Bladetech brand Kydex holsters. (We use them to carry our stainless Colt 1911 .45 ACPs. In fact, our only remaining traditional leather holsters are a couple of inside-the-waistband concealment holsters made by Milt Sparks.) When The Memsahib and I were at Front Sight last May, we I noticed that about 80% of the people on the firing line used Bladetech gear. That speaks volumes! BTW, Bladetech's "Combo" packages (holster + mag pouch + separate detachable paddle) are a very good deal. The Fobus brand (from Israel) is another good buy in a stiff, adjustable tension, molded Kydex holster.

I should also mention that with a new Federal magazine ban (H.R. 1022) pending, make sure that you line up a large supply of magazines to buy before--or coincident with--your next purchase of any high capacity rifle, pistol, or submachinegun. Budget for buying at least 8 and preferably a dozen or more spare magazines for each gun, and don't delay in doing so! If you dawdle, you may end up kicking yourself. (High capacity magazine prices are likely to at least triple if the ban passes!) I'm often asked why I'm "such a fanatic" about buying so many spare magazines. Here it is in essence: Most modern guns--especially those made of stainless steel--will last two hundred or three hundred years, with typical civilian use. It is not inconceivable that some of your great-great-great-great grandchildren will inherit functional guns from your collection in the year 2300. They may still be in commission then. But unless you buy a lot of spare magazines, odds are that they will be inheriting guns with no magazines. Let's face it. the magazine is the most fragile part of a modern firearm. Magazines get lost--especially in combat. Magazines get stepped on or otherwise dented. Magazines get broken. Magazines might also become a political target and get confiscated. So if you want a 300 year supply of magazines to match the potential 300 year useful life of a semi-auto rifle or pistol, then we are talking about a lot of magazines. Stock up!

I finally bit the bullet and bought 100 tablets of Augmentin (Co-Amoxiclav), the survivalist's antibiotic of choice (or so I'm told). It was a tidy sum and unlike the rest of my supplies, it is not something that will store indefinitely (18 month expiration date, but I'd use it at twice that date as it is being stored in a refrigerator), nor is it something that I can rotate though and use like food. On the way back from the pharmacy I showed the kids what I'd gotten. "But dad, I thought you hated antibiotics." my eldest said. "I don't hate them, I just don't like to use them unnecessarily." I replied. I then went on to tell them about how penicillin was discovered and how bacteria and scientists are in a continual war of trying to outsmart each other. I then said "I'd rather have it.." and before I could finish, my two young sons said in unison "...and not need it than need it and not have it." Does a dad proud. - SF in Hawaii

As a professional road service mechanic I see all manner of stupid human tricks on a daily basis.
I live in the north east and find it sad but comical how people react to adverse road conditions. This has been a fairly mild winter for us Yet I have been caught in the tail end of three multi-car pileups due to snow/ice.
Now my service truck is prepared in the extreme tools, fuel, maps for my area of operations (AO), food, and water. So these were just minor delays for me until I plotted an alternative route.
Now cut to a major failure of the system. Katrina, accidents, grid lock, and no fuel. I would say most people would become pedestrians in the first 24 hours, and on road travel for anything less than a D-9 caterpillar tractor would be all but impossible.
I would use my self as an example with a loaded pack and overland travel I could cover about 24 miles in a 12 hour day this is about 160 miles in a week this is best case at 2 miles per hour and I am in fair shape. I would estimate that the masses would be able to manage less than a fourth of that. Leaving dedicated looters easy pickings for quite some time near the high way system.
People rise to their level of training and frankly american masses are little more than herd animals when the chips are down.
Look how they vote, how they live, and how the act en masse in [situations like Hurricane] Katrina. It is sad but true: Self reliance is indeed a rare quality.
If the Bible shows us nothing else human nature is slothful and evil. Fate favors the prepared. Semper Paratus, - Mike H.

Frequent blog content contributor Ben L. mentioned this article that confirms that the origin of H5N1 Asian Avian Flu was in southern China. Ben's comment: "As if we didn't already know. Hello, again, 1918."

   o o o

Ben L. also recommends a site with some of the collected essays of Ed Harris (of "Ed's Red" bore cleaner fame.) Ben's comment: on Ed's essays: "[they] bustle with subsonic rifle loads, "minimalist" (my wording) firearms usage, bore-cleaning, sighting, old-time gun writers (Jack O'Connor, Townsend Whelen, etc.), and the like. Quite the relief from "Keeping up with the Jones's", re buying the most-expensive and the newest stuff on the market." OBTW, it is notable that Ed Harris mentioned the gunsmithing services of John Taylor Machine company in Spangle, Washington (near Spokane). John Taylor has done several gunsmithing projects for me over the years. And he has also done a lot of work for The Pre-1899 Specialist (one of our advertisers.) Taylor specializes in re-boring and re-lining rifles and revolvers. I am amazed by the quality of work that John Taylor does, and his low prices.

   o o o

More than a dozen readers sent links to various news stories on this: The long-standing Washington DC gun ban has been struck down by the courts. Here is a link to the full text of the decision. Hooray!

"The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you're still a rat." - Lily Tomlin

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Please mention SurvivalBlog whenever you post about survival or preparedness topics at your favorite Internet Forums and chat rooms. Thanks!

The recent letters and posts on honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) have prompted several readers to send comments and questions about storing and using honey, which are summarized below. For some of my answers, I relied heavily on the 3 Bees Honey (of Canada) FAQ page, the Golden Blossom Honey FAQ, a Mayo Clinic web page on Infant Botulin poisoning,, and the Sugars and Honey FAQ, courtesy of Vickilynn Haycraft's

Q.: What is the big deal about honey? Can't I just store cane sugar, instead? Is honey really more healthy?

A. Honey is much more healthy and nutritious than cane or beet sugar. Honey has 15 nutrients whereas refined sugar has essentially none, other than "empty carbohydrates". Honey contains healthful enzymes, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The minerals in honey include zinc and selenium, which could play a role in preventing the spread viral infection. The enzymes in honey include glucose oxidase, invertase (sucrase), diastase (amylase), catalase and acid phosphate, which help predigest our foods, lessen the work of digestive organs and relieve the stress on the digestive glands. Honey is an aid to digestion when taken in the raw state because of its enzyme content while sugar interferes with digestion. Honey enters the bloodstream slowly, at about 2 calories per minute. In contrast, sugar enters quickly at 10 calories per minute, causing blood sugars to fluctuate rapidly and wildly. Sugar causes calcium leakage from bones, contributing to osteoporosis while honey does not.

Also, consider that cooking with honey is much more sustainable in TEOTWAWKI. Beet sugar is grown domestically, but most cane sugar is imported from overseas. Growing up near California's Central Valley, I watched trainloads of sugar beets roll by. High labor costs have shut down much of Hawaii's sugar cane production in recent years. While sugar is produced in only a few states, honey is produced in every state. So it makes sense to get used to using and storing honey, since that will be the form of sugar that will be most commonly available after the balloon goes up.

Q.: Can you give me a rough idea of how much honey the typical person or family would use in a year?

That is simple. What is the weight of the honey you currently use per month? And how much sugar? Add those two numbers together and then multiply that by 12. Then multiply that product by the number of years that you want to store. I recommend that you add much more to your storage plan, to allow quantities for barter and charity. Western societies have been accustomed to large amounts of refined sugar in many packaged foods. In a sugar-starved post-collapse world, you will find that two gallon pails of honey will be high valued--almost like liquid gold.

Q.: How long does honey store, practically?

JWR Replies: If it is stored in a tightly sealed container, honey can literally last a lifetime, and probably even your children's lifetimes, too. There are even accounts of 2000+ year old honey found in tombs that is still edible.

Q: Does honey gradually lose all of its nutritive value in storage?

JWR Replies: Some but not most of the nutritive value in honey is lost with time. Honey is 85% pre-digested carbohydrate, and that is its greatest food value. That essentially doesn't change with time. There hasn't been much scholarly research on exactly how much enzyme loss occurs in honey, with time. It is know known that diastase (or more properly, amylase)--the useful enzyme that "digests" starch--does degrade with time. Researchers have found that when in storage, honey loses about 3% of its diastase per month. This makes long-term storage honey slightly less nutritious, but it is still quite useful as a sweetener and as a useful carbohydrate.

Q.:I have some old honey that solidified in storage. How do I restore it to a useful consistency?

JWR Replies: Store honey at room temperature rather than in a refrigerator. If honey becomes cloudy, it isn't cause for alarm. That is just normal crystallization, which happens over time. Place the honey jar or bucket in a bath of warm water on the stove (the classic "double boiler" arrangement) and set the stove element to low. (Not hot enough to melt a plastic bucket!) Even a two-pound bucket of honey that has fully crystallized will usually liquefy in less than an hour. BTW, an alternative method that doesn't require fuel is just to leave a honey container on the floor a car with its windows rolled up, on a sunny day. (A natural "solar oven.")

Q,: Should I buy raw or pasteurized honey?

JWR Replies: Honey does not benefit from pasteurization. It is naturally low in bacteria and other microbes.Some commercial honey is heated practically to the boiling point, which destroys some of its nutritive value. The main touted benefit of pasteurizing honey is the prevent botulin poisoning. But pasteurizing does not reliably kill botulinum, so there is no real point in pasteurizing honey.

Q.: Does heating solidified honey to melt it destroy its nutritive value?

JWR Replies: There is obviously some damage to enzyme chains, so over-heating honey is not recommended. But heating honey short of the boiling point will not destroy its basic food value. Remember, use only low heat.

Q. Can honey be used as a substitute for sugar in most recipes? Where won't it work?

JWR Replies: Yes, honey can be substituted in most cases. You might have difficulties with some confections that depend on the unique properties of sugar, such as meringues. Because honey is ounce for ounce sweeter than sugar, you need to use less of it in most recipes.

Here is a recipe sugar substitution chart for honey, from the Sugars and Honey FAQ, courtesy of Vickilynn Haycraft's
1 C. sugar = 3/4 C. honey minus 1/4 C. liquid or plus 4 Tbs. flour plus 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 C. sugar = 6 Tbs. honey minus 2 Tbs. liquid or plus 2 Tbs. flour plus 1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/3 C. sugar = 1/4 C. honey minus 1 1/2 Tbs. liquid or plus 1 1/2 Tbs. flour plus 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 C. sugar = 3 Tbs. honey minus 1 Tbs. liquid or plus 1 Tbs. flour plus 1/16 tsp. baking soda
Hint: cook cakes and other baked goods made with honey on lower temperature.
Hint: honey will soften cookie batters. If you want the crisp variety of cookies, add 4 Tbs. flour for each 3/4 cup honey used.

Q.: I've read that infants and pregnant women should not be eat honey. It that correct?

JWR Replies: It is safe for a pregnant woman to eat honey. Although it is rare, infants are at greater risk or botulin poisoning, so children under 14 months should not be allowed to eat honey.

Q.: I've heard that honey can be used to treat wounds and burns. Is that true?

JWR Replies: According to a paper presented at an international wound healing conference in Australia, "Honey... has an excellent "track record" over 4 000 years of usage as a wound dressing. In recent times it has been "rediscovered", with numerous reports of animal model and clinical studies, case reports and randomised controlled trials showing it rates favourably alongside modern dressing materials in its effectiveness in managing wounds. Honey has a potent antibacterial activity and is very effective in clearing infection in wounds and protecting wounds from becoming infected. It also has a debriding action, an anti-inflammatory action, and a stimulatory effect on granulation and epithelialisation." Honey is best used on wounds by soaking it into bandages so that it doesn't seep or run away from the wound.

Although honey has been proven to have some efficacy on burns, I generally do not recommend using honey to treat major burns that might require a trip to a hospital emergency room. Why not? Many standard hospital ER burn treatment regimens call for removal/debridement of honey or any other topical ointments that were applied at home, and that is painful! But in a WTSHTF situation where hospital treatment is not available, I'd probably be more prone to use honey on deep tissue burns.

James Wesley:
With respect to "Marc in NJ"'s comments posted on 3/6/07 - He recommends that if one is a bachelor, then getting an apartment/condo near work (in the city) to use as a forward base, then
have a truck to haul things. If you're going to do that, why not go with a motor home/RV and rent a spot at a mobile home park ? No need to pack, just be on your way.
Might not work in really big cities where such places are hard to find, or you may have to do some interesting negotiations with a parking garage near work.
A smaller RV, something like a mini-Wini, wouldn't be much less maneuverable than a pickup, would have more amenities and you could keep things organized in it better than a panic-packing of your condo into the back of a pickup.
You do have a trade off on the 2WD rather than 4WD issue. But if you're in that much of an urban area, there isn't that much unpaved out there. I do have to disagree with you a bit on the "Golden Horde"/"300 mile" rule. I think you're right about people going into a mass exodus of the cities, but I think most of them are going to be trying to go to some destination - Grandma's house, Uncle Fred's place, etc. People being what they are, that will have them following major transport arteries.
I think being off of those by several miles will lead to "out of sight, out of mind" for most of the refugees.
Consider the pictures of WWII refugees walking along the side of the roads - when there's wide fields nearby. They're all following the road, heading for presumed safety, not spreading out over the country side.
I think folks will stay on the interstate or US highway until they run low on gas, then get off at the exit and try to refuel. If they can't, they'll start walking their original course for the place they'll
think is safe, rather than spreading out at random over the countryside.
I agree that 300 miles from anywhere is safer, but I think that "a day and a nights walk for a couch potato from the interstate" is a decent buffer if you can't get the 300 miles. If you're 20-to-40 miles from the interstate, then you're outside the distance that Mr & Mrs Joe Q. Video will walk after he runs out of gas in the minivan, and the DVD stops playing, and the kids start whining.
And, sad to say, they're the most likely prey for Mabu & the Barbarian Horde... which means the Horde will mostly likely sweep 10-15 miles to
either side of the interstate to scoop up prey. Just my opinion - Take care, - Jeff

JWR Replies: It is not so much the refugees that worry me--it is the dedicated looters. (The members of what Kurt Saxon dubbed "Killer Caravans.") The looters that are both clever and resourceful will be willing to burn up lots of precious gasoline looking for isolated houses and farms that look like easy pickings. (They won't want to risk taking significant casualties.) By bursting through the doors of the "right" houses at o-dark-early, they know that they'll A.) find at most two adult defenders, who'll they hope to catch sleeping, and B.) they'll find plenty of food and fuel so that they can continue their rampage. Statistically, a looter will probably survive no more than 4 or 5 such encounters, over the course of several weeks or months. So after six months or so, there won't be many looters left in business. Picking a retreat that is 300 miles from a major metropolitan center and that is away from channelized areas or refugee lines of drift will drastically reduce your chances of ever having such uninvited visitors. In essence, it will be suburban NRA members that live closer to the cities that will be slugging it out with the looters. They will be thinning them out for you. I hate to sound Machiavellian about this, but better them than me. I want to live to a ripe old age and enjoy bouncing grandbabies on my knee.

Dr. Ralph mentioned this technology, that could forestall Peak Oil's perils: Oil Innovations Pump New Life Into Old Wells

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We are happy to welcome uControl Home Security to our roster of Affiliate Advertisers. Check them out. This isn't your daddy's burglar alarm system. The uControl method offers great redundancy and resiliency through multiple communication paths.

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Net worth of U.S. households skyrockets. The article ends ominously: "One risk facing the economy is that the housing slump will take an unexpected turn for the worse, a development that likely would cause consumers to clamp down. That could spell trouble for overall economic activity."

“Freedom is the greatest fruit of self-sufficiency” - Epicurus (341-270 B.C.)

Saturday, March 10, 2007

We had some fun here at the Rawles Ranch yesterday. Now that the snow is off, we are enjoying decent canoeing weather. (There is not a lot else to do during the early part of The Mud Season--at least not until the morels start to sprout.) We went down to The Unnamed River (TUR), which traverses the back end of our property. We ran a 120-foot length of army surplus 7/16" "green line" (rappelling rope) across the river via canoe, to use as a one-rope bridge. (BTW, 120-foot coils of brand new green line are available from Survival Logistics, one of our advertisers.) The rope is secured to trees on both banks, with just a dozen feet rope to spare. (Just barely enough slack to allow us to tension the rope using a transport tightening knot arrangement.) It has been 27 years since I learned all this when I attended the U.S. Army Northern Warfare School, in Alaska. But some things you just never forget. As a pair of Bald Eagles circled above (pre-dalliance behavior, by the look of it), I showed the kids how to tie a Swiss Seat. Then The Memsahib gave the new bridge a try. Woops! It was time for more tension on the rope. (Green line is notoriously stretchy.) Otherwise she would have been in the water, which is a chilly proposition this time of year. We greatly enjoy a vigorous outdoor life.

Mr. Rawles:
We would like to purchase a weather band radio, plus several walkie-talkies. We want radios that don't need a license, for use around our house and around town, as well as for up at our cabin in the U.P. [Upper Peninsula] of Michigan, which we are stocking for a retreat. (My husband is a part-time building contractor. Last summer, we made a fairly narrow windowless utility room in the cabin "vanish" by removing its door and molding and sheetrocking it. The only entrance to the room is now via a secret door at the end of a paneled closet in an adjoining bedroom.) We have some low power [500 Milliwatt] walkie-talkies, but they don't have the power to talk between our [Ford 4WD] Excursion and our Winnebago RV when we "convoy" on our trips to Michigan. What do you recommend? What band is best for walkie talkies? CB? MURS? Is MURS in the same band as a weather radio? Thank you for your time. - Alice in Akron

JWR Replies: Unless you want to go to the trouble of getting license, where 2 Meter band and GMRS have advantages, my advice is to get several MURS band hand-held radios. The MURS band is near the NOAA weather band, but in different allocated frequencies. NOAA weather alert radio stations all broadcast in a set-aside small band allocation from 162.400 to 162.550 MHz. Local frequencies can be found at a NOAA web page. Most police scanners, MURS radios, and 2 Meter Band radios can receive in the NOAA "WX" band. Dedicated WX band receive-only radios are available from Radio Shack for less than $30. As you might expect, broadcasting by anyone other than NOAA in this band restricted. Most MURS hand-held have four times the power of your current walkie-talkies. BTW, if you can order one or more MURS hand-held transceivers from $49 MURS Radios, they can program your local NOAA frequency (in receive-only mode) upon request. BTW, they can also program them to use a Dakota Alert "driveway alarm" intrusion detection system frequency. (These also use the MURS band.) That is exactly what they did for us, for the three MURS hand-helds that we recently bought to use here at the Rawles Ranch. BTW, I recently found a link to a useful FAQ on MURS. Among other things, the FAQ describes some of the advantages of MURS over FRS and 27 MHz CB, and spells out the FCC limitations on MURS external antennas, which are thankfully quite generous.

Shalom, Jim:
I am interested in purchasing a rifle for sniper and other long-range purposes. I was looking at a Savage Model 12 chambered in .308, with the varmint, long-range barrel. I have several questions for you if you don't mind:
1.) Can a rifle chambered in .308 also shoot 7.62 NATO rounds?

2.) What make and model of rifle do you recommend for this type of shooting?

3.) Do you currently have a weapon that you would use for sniper purposes, if necessary? Or is a long-range, sniper rifle even a necessity for a retreat scenario?

Thanx for your input! Baruch HaShem Yahweh (Blessed is the Name of Yahweh) - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: In answer to your questions:

1.) Yes, as already discussed in SurvivalBlog, it is perfectly safe to shoot 7.62mm NATO in a bolt action rifle that is chambered for .308 Winchester. (Although the reverse is not always safe, since .308 Winchester commercial loads typically have higher chamber pressure than military 7.62mm NATO FMJ loads.)

2.) The Savage is a fine choice. I prefer the models with the pillar-bedded synthetic stocks. Dollar-for-dollar, they are in my opinion the best buy in very accurate centerfire rifles. For roughly half the price of a Steyr SSG, you can buy a rifle that is just as accurate. (They consistently shoot 1/2" groups at 100 yards with Federal .308 Match ammo.)

3.) We have a Savage Model 10FP-LE2 Tactical bolt action here at the Rawles Ranch that is chambered in .308 Winchester, and we shoot it regularly. It is a bit heavy for hunting, but great for its intended purpose. It is it topped with Trijicon 3-9X Trophy Point scope. (With a tritium-lit reticle.) It is also equipped with a medium height Harris bipod and a Holland's cheek piece/zippered stock pouch. Ours is essentially a "stock" rifle, except that I had Holland's thread the muzzle with 1/2 x 28 threads. (The same threading used on AR-15s and AR-10s.) Like all of the rest of our centerfire bolt actions, it normally wears a Holland's of Oregon muzzle brake, but we also have Smith Enterprise Vortex flash hiders for them, in case of TEOTWAWKI.

Is having a counter-sniper rifle in your battery a necessity? In open country, yes, definitely. There could come a "worst case" day when muy malo hombres try sniping at retreats, to thin out the defenders before attempting a stealth blitz or a frontal assault. So you need to be prepared to defend yourself at long distance. You must be able to at least match your opponents in long range shooting capability, and preferably out-class them. (Both in terms of training/proficiency and equipment.) A long distance-capable rifle can be both a defensive and offensive asset. And speaking of training, I highly recommend that at least one member of each retreat group take a rifle course at Front Sight or at one of the other major shooting schools like Gunsite or Thunder Ranch. That individual can then come home and share that expertise.

While it is surely no substitute for writing letters to your congresscritters, there is now a "No to H.R. 1022" (semi-auto and magazine ban) petition, with the goal of one million virtual "signers."

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Michael Z. Williamson and Tim. L. both mentioned this news story: Blues Traveler Frontman John Popper Gets Popped. Mr. Popper has pretty good taste in guns and gear. In the photograph, notice the pair of Steyr Scout rifles, the stainless Mini-14 and the PVS-7 night vision goggles. Mike's comment: "Preparedness is no good if you get busted for speeding and drug possession."

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Special note to SurvivalBlog readers in Illinois the pending "Assault Weapons Ban" (SB 16) has passed out of committee, and will soon come up for a vote before the full state senate. This one is bad: It would prohibit the sale, transfer, and ownership of umpteen named "assault weapons", .50 BMG rifles, and any magazine that can hold more than 10 cartridges. Illinois residents would have just 90 days to register them or face felony charges. Call and write your legislators! Call (217) 782-2000 and ask the switchboard to connect you with your senator. Or go on the Internet to: and use the “Legislator Lookup” feature in the lower right hand corner to identify your senator and get their phone number.(A hat tip to John T. for alerting us on this legislation.)

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Meanwhile, also in the People's Republic of Illinois, folks are getting harassed for running their cars are waste vegetable oil. Gotta pay that road tax, donctha know...

"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." - Groucho Marx

Friday, March 9, 2007

The high bid is still at $330 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar. This is an awesome guitar that is decorated in a military aviation theme, from Schecter's Tempest series. It has a $729 retail value. The auction ends March 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

We opened up our hives this week. This Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has hit us. I've ever seen anything like this. We have been told that in the late 1950s and early 1960s there was "Absconding" going on. Just a rough look thusfar leads me to believe that we have 80% losses [of our hive population.]. We are still looking at hives, trying to figure next step. As of today, we are no longer "migratory" beekeepers. We're gonna need bees here [in North-Central Idaho] just to pollinate the local berry, apple and plum crops. The big orchards in Washington State seem to be in trouble too. Take Care, - The Bee Man, in North-Central Idaho.

JWR Replies: You are in our prayers, Bee Man! Those of you that have read my novel "Patriots" may remember a character in the Barter Faire chapter called The Bee Man. He was based on a real life individual, who is indeed a "real character."

The full implications of CCD have yet to sink in with both America's grocers, and America's grocery shoppers. The humble honeybee pollinates most of our fruit, berry, and nut crops. Come next Fall, there will doubtless be pitiful crop yields and consequently much higher prices at your supermarket. So stock up on nuts that store well, such as almonds. Ditto for canned fruit, fruit preserves, jams, and jellies. Also buy some two gallon buckets of honey. It stores literally for decades. I predict that the price of honey will soon more than double, as the available inventory dwindles. You might as well buy your family a 12 to 15 year supply now, while honey is still relatively cheap and plentiful. Honey was probably already on your "stocking up list." In light of the news on CCD, this purchase should be bumped up to the top of the priority list.

A note on the Zenith Trans-Oceanic [tube-type general coverage receiver]s: I've been collecting these and refurbishing them on bad weather days. I replace all the paper and electrolytic capacitors, check the tubes, clean them up, and tune up the coil tower with an old tube RF signal generator. The paper capacitors are very prone to failure. Then I construct a replacement battery pack using ten 9 V batteries and 5 "D" cells. I plan to make a 12 VDC charger for these that I can run off my PV panels. So far I've done nine of these. I am putting them along with instruction manual, schematics, battery pack into Space Bags with a desiccant pack and storing them. I figure these will be more valuable with time. Now: the special high frequency pentagrid converter tube for these, the 1L6, is getting really scarce. I'm buying all I can on eBay if the price is right. There is a US Army manual of Korean War vintage with complete instructions on repair. There is an interesting variant of these, sold for only one year, the "Meridian" that is a general coverage shortwave receiver with the same tube set. These are rare as hen's teeth. I'm refurbing my second right now. Next one I see on eBay, I'm getting it. Regards, - Doc Holladay

Dear Jericho Staff,
So I've read others comments online about the TV show Jericho. I decided to watch it via the web site and see if there was more value than my initial dismissal from the original pilot. My feelings are

On the one hand, it's nice that someone had the guts to put a survival drama TV show on the air, in prime time, and have the guts to tell the more palatable survival-apocalyptic stories set here in the USA. Points for that. Each episode talks about a couple different survival problems. Each deals with a few new harsh realities for the population,

There's more than a few minuses however, on the realism side. It took the heroes eight weeks to decide to form any defense against bandits. Eight long weeks. Nobody carries a handgun, no communications network is set up for a perimeter, and people are still wasting gasoline like nothing has changed. Is that how long a back supply of antidepressants they were working through? Their behavior is irrational and rational begins when the power goes out and the food starts to rot in the fridge, which is when the EMPs hit. So what have they been doing all this time?

Another question I have for them: the men don't have beards, which means they can shave, which means that there's hot water despite being grid down. The women wear makeup. Nobody complains about a lack of soap, or the stink of their neighbors. The blonde shows the same amount of roots at the beginning of the series as she does at the end. Wouldn't women be letting that grow back out, or dye it one color for the sake of modesty, to prevent fights with the other women, all of whom feel self conscious about not having irreplaceable cosmetics and beauty products anymore? That particular event would make a good episode, dyeing their hair from blonde and other fancy colors to their real brown. I'm not holding my breath for that. They all wear clean clothes, and despite showing some pitiful examples of hand washing, nobody doing the washing looks angry, which when you hand wash, you definitely develop, particularly if you're washing someone else's clothes. Its hard work, irritating, and it does not lend to a kinder and gentler attitude.

Naturally, the children in this show are all retarded -sorry, developmentally disabled-. I'm not sure about you folks, but when a retarded child runs into a burning building to die, my first inclination is not to follow them in and join them in the Great Beyond. Darwin is our friend, and we should respect his wisdom. A child that wants to die that badly must be allowed to follow their fate. Of course, in the real world children don't actually behave like that in a disaster. They usually have cooler heads than their parents do, and seem instinctively inclined to basic survivalism. They back away from the fire, sit down quietly somewhere safe, and wait until they're needed or directed elsewhere. Real children are terrifyingly smart when it comes down to the basics, especially children who are mentally stressed with just a tad of shock. They're like survival robots. 133,000 years of evolution did not go to waste. Adults could learn a lot from them.

The teenagers in this show are apparently retarded, too. Presumably, the authors have bad memories of high school and this is their revenge. It's not well written revenge, sad to say. Few of the townspeople seem to have IQ's over 90, nor be able to say more than "I want", something any two year old can do. Rather than blame the actors, I'm going to put blame squarely on the writer(s) and director. I know it's not possible to write characters smarter than you are, but the hero, Jake, isn't much of a mental titan himself. Any fool willing to risk his life consistently because the other townspeople are too weak and too meek... well, he should be thinking about a few sick days. There's a limit to kindness and he's well past that line. When stupid people opt for stupid actions, and your authors aren't smart enough to jump that idiocy and get into the meat of the problem, you slow down the progression of the plot and make the audience dismiss you as morons. You hurt yourselves writing this poorly. Compare this to a cheesy sci-fi remake like the new Battlestar Galactica. That has good dialogue which never falls into the "I'm explaining what I intend to do so you can be excited" cr*p Jericho keeps doing... Do I need to draw you a picture? The authors of Battlestar Galactica are from Star Trek, if you can believe it.

There are certain scenes in this story which really stick out. In episode 3, radioactive rain somehow removes the radioactivity. When the rain stops after a 12 hour storm, or less, they just walk out into the wet and there's no problems. No iodine gas, no strontium 90, no thorium or cesium decaying and giving everyone fatal radiation poisoning. Nope. Somehow rainwater just cures radioisotopes. Is it because hiding underground for 14 days just isn't sexy for their imported Hollywood stars? In episode 5, a Blackwater(equivalent) experienced combat veteran soldier sprays and prays with his only magazine of ammo out a window beyond effective range, twice. He hits one guy, and misses others he's sworn he'd kill. Does anybody here believe that as plausible? Not I. In episode 7, an entire town of militia volunteers defends a bridge armed with shotguns (with a range of 70 yards) from a backstop of unreinforced cars at 125 yards distance from their roadblock and only one of them, the Smart Guy, owns a rifle and knows how to use it. Do you believe that? Not so much. Having lived in small towns, pretty much everybody owns and operates a deer rifle and a 200 yard head shot is easy, a matter of a few seconds effort. In the real world, 30 men armed with scoped deer rifles against 12 Blackwater troops standing without cover... that's a very short fight. Seconds. Their armor won't stop an '06 or .270 bullet, and at 125 yards that's not even a challenging head shot.

Which brings me to another point: are we honestly meant to believe these small town people don't comprehend murder? Hoodlums threaten and they want to talk about it? Not any of the small towns I've known. Murder of hoodlums is the default answer. Talking is more of a courtesy than anything else. If it weren't for threat of the sheriff making arrests, most small towns resolve hoodlums very quietly: shotgun, shovel, and silence. It's in use today across the countryside. This is why I'm always on my best behavior around ranchers and farmers. Self preservation. With no sheriff, hoodlums get hung very publicly, and their carcasses stripped. The coffin maker stays busy. San Francisco, during the Gold Rush, had a well-earned reputation as a very rough town, where Vigilante justice hung all sorts of bad men, the day they're caught, if not the hour. When I observe the hoodlums allowed to run around the mythical town of Jericho, and the lack of "Preventive Killing" to deal with these hoodlums... I think the authors are a tad weak in the head. At the very least those who are bullied, like the kid who owns the grocery store, would be killing a lot of these punks openly, and daring anyone to give him crap about it. He has the food. They can't eat without him. He's not killing everyone, just a murderer and I can easily see him being offered the right to do as he pleases. Not exactly Democracy, but the way the Mayor's office works in this mythical town,

Like I said: points for making it at all, but don't they think they should ask someone who gave it a little thought? Or even talk to someone in a small town so they don't grossly mischaracterize the sort of brutal efficiency that actually exists, instead of the stupid tripe that passes for "characterization" in their TV drama? I dunno. For the sake of better ratings, maybe. Wouldn't a more realistic drama sell better commercials dollar value, and keep the show on its stated date and time? They've invested in the sets, trained the crews, established their characters, trained their actors, gotten used to hauling in extras, and setup this machine to make money. They've also managed to mostly disgust the very people they're trying to sell this tripe to: us. Fix your junk, guys. It's really not that hard.
Sincerely, - InyoKern

From The New York Times: Mortgage Crisis Spirals, and Casualties Mount. I don't hesitate to call the sub-prime lenders what they really are: contrapreneurs.

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S.F. in Hawaii sent this: N.Y. Amish Man Robbed At Gunpoint. Oddly, the goblins used a muzzleloader. That is most unusual. Hmmm... An anachronistic weapon chosen to prey on an anachronistic victim, I suppose. Good thing that they didn't try this out West, where I've met a few men who wear Amish style beards (sans mustaches), but that regularly pack pistols.

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1-800 GET LENS (one of our Affiliate Advertisers) has announced a special sale through the end of March: free shipping and $5 off, on all orders of $149 or more. Use coupon code FIRST-18GH. And don't forget that a revised Federal law extended the use of 2006 Flexible Spending Account funds through the end of March 2007.

"I know God won't give me more than I can handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much." - Mother Theresa

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Today we welcome a new international correspondent, Mr. "FerFAL", in Argentina. See his Profile, below.(I will be adding this to the SurvivalBlog Profiles archive.)

AGE: 28
SOs: Wife 30, 4 year old son
Currently living in the southern Buenos Aires suburbs in a 2 story masonry house with independent reinforced concrete structure.
The houses share walls to the left and right, all around the block, completely enclosing the back yards which are divided by walls or fences covered with libustrina plants. You lose some privacy (noises, loud parties) but you ensure a rather safe garden and back yard for the children to play in since the streets haven’t been safe for a while now, and no responsible adult lets his children play on the street these days.
BACKGROUND: My parents are both accountants, and emigrated to Spain after the 2001 crisis. Both my grandparents emigrated to Argentina from Spain, escaping civil war. Its is ironic that their children and grandchildren escape the country that once sheltered them, back to the country they ran away from but now, 50 years later, is one of the most powerful and prosperous countries in Europe.
There’s a lesson there. Countries fall and rise, always have and one has to admit the possibility of leaving it looking for greener pastures.
Due to my father’s work we moved a bit when I was a kid. First to USA (Boston), then back to Buenos Aires, then to Cordoba (an Argentina inner province) and then back to Buenos Aires again. Now, due to the consequences of the crisis, we are going to move as soon as I finish my studies, either to Spain or to the USA.

ANNUAL INCOME: About $20.000 USD, give or take. I manage some family investments and a small accountant office my parents left behind when they moved to Spain. I also teach Architecture Representation at the same University I attend to, but even though its been three years now since I started teaching, I don’t get paid for it. (ad honorem )
INVESTMENTS: None ( other than those owned by the family business that mostly consist of real estate) no money in bank accounts either. We only deposit money in our debit accounts just to take advantage of some discount, we deposit the money right before we use it, most of the time within the same week. We never leave money sitting in a bank account. After what happened, most people, including us, don’t trust banks with our money any more. It has become common for people to store cash in bank’s safety boxes, but even those are getting emptied due to some cases in which the private safes have been opened by government officials. (Against the constitutional right to privacy, and private property, of course.)
We have credit cards but we don’t use those either, we only keep them for emergencies.
We have a safe where we keep about 2,000 Pesos ($600 USD) and $1,000 USD just in case of an emergency, or someone getting kidnapped and needing ransom money fast ( express kidnapping).
PRESENT HOME: It’s a two story, mortar house. Double walls, 12 inch thick, and poured concrete flowerpots on the 2nd floor which provide nice bullet protection in the master bedroom.
3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, 2 car garage, and a nice size backyard with a small swimming pool. The house has a 1000 liter reservoir water tank, central heating, air conditioning, and both city water and an electric pump well for the swimming pool.
Metal bars and grating on windows and backyard door, add a lot to the security of the house.
There’s also a 7 foot metal fence, topped with foot long spikes, right where the front garden meets the sidewalk. Breaking into this house is not easy, no one can do such a thing if we are inside the house, since it would take a lot of time and noise to do so.
We have cable, gas, electricity, and pay for private security ( kiosks with guards on each corner). Even though we have all services most of you know about, they are a bit different form what you may experience in First World countries.
Tap water is polluted, so we basically pay for contaminated water. We have a water filter and drink filtered water exclusively. We bought a 200 USD filter, with smaller filtering cups that get replaced every 2 or 3 months. I keep a year’s worth of cups, and the filter itself is good for another 2 years.(active carbon-ceramic-silver)
Power goes down occasionally, and during summer we have “dirty power” low voltage power, lights go dim, and most appliances don’t work properly. That’s why we keep lots of flashlights handy, along with regular batteries and rechargeable ones.

VEHICLES: The streets are in awful conditions, and the constant roadblocks by “piqueteros” are rough on cars. Some kind of small 4x4 is obviously preferable to a sedan car.
Cars are very expensive, about $20.000 to $50,000 USD. A used Suzuki Swift, one with 100,000 km, goes for $11,000 USD.
I have a Daewoo Lanos, and though I wished I had something better its relatively fast and small which is also good for running around the city, and getting out of tight spots. Spare parts are expensive and hard to get.
My car is set up with GNC, meaning it runs both on gas an natural compressed gas, big yellow tank in the trunk. I can switch to either one just by pushing a button, and I run for 100km with only $2.50 USD worth of compressed gas. It also allows me to keep the gas tank full at all times, using only GNC, and having the gas tank full for emergencies.
GNC is used by almost 60% of the cars in Argentina, more than any other country in the world, so there’s enough infrastructure (GNC stations, mechanics, parts) for our society to run on it.
It’s also interesting to note the burst of GNC after the 2001, after people found out that they couldn’t afford gasoline for their cars. Maybe other countries that suffer an economical collapse or fuel shortage will end up doing likewise.
FIREARMS BATTERY: I have several firearms and my collection is constantly changing. I went into a lot of effort to get the collector license that allows me to purchase box magazine fed, semi-auto centerfire rifles. The average citizen that gets a gun permit can only acquire handguns, shotguns and manual repeating arms, with the exception of 22 LR semi autos.
The great majority of shooters in this country don’t have this license ( has to be approved by the Senate, took over a year for it to get approved), few knew about it back when you could get one, so I know I’m terrible lucky when it comes to firearms, having more firepower than most Argentines could ever procure.
My main handgun is a Glock 31 in 357 sig. Ammo is expensive and hard to get, but it’s worth it in my opinion.
I have several other handguns, as back ups and chambered for more popular rounds, such as a Norinco 1911 45 ACP, a Llama 4 inch 357 magnum revolver, A Bersa Thunder 9mm, two 9mm Hi Powers.
For long arms I have: As a main rifle I have a FM [FN clone] FAL Para carbine, and a FMK3 9mm SMG. A Mossberg 500 with a 14 inch barrel and mounted 80 lumen light.
Ammo is extremely expensive. I have about 500 rounds of 308 and 7.62[mm NATO], over 1000 rounds of 9mm, most of it +P JHP and a few hundred 12 ga shells, most of it 00 buckshot.
9mm is my “core” battery round, that would feed my 9mm handguns and SMG.
I keep a few boxes for each other caliber.
I have been in a few “complicated” spots so far, and being armed and alert has made the difference for me in more than one occasion. In those occasions the mere presence of my gun has been enough to stop the threat, without the need of ever shooting anyone.
It doesn’t make any sense to plan on shooting hundreds of rounds and not getting any fire in return, so I also have a concealed body level II body armor vest which has provided a lot of piece of mind on several occasions. Specially when going into “tough” places or meeting with people I’m not so sure about. It’s one of my most precious possessions.
GARDENS: No gardens for me, just a lemon tree that provides lots of lemons and a laurel plant to spice up pasta. I could have a small orchard in my backyard if I wanted.

PETS AND LIVESTOCK: No livestock, just a Jack Russell. Good pet but not as good as a watch dog, though I must admit that for the last couple of days he’s been more vigilant and watchful. He’s just a one year old so maybe it was a maturity problem. I’d like to have a larger dog though, but since I’m planning to move soon it could be a problem.
COMMUNICATIONS: Cable modem internet, phone, and a couple of cell phones.
FOOD STORAGE: About 5 or 6 months worth of food. Most of it flavored rice, rice with dehydrated vegetables, canned meats, canned tuna, canned vegetables, soups, dry pasta, powdered milk, non lactose powdered milk for my son, smashed potatoes flakes, tomato sauce, tea, coffee, honey, sugar, salt and 30 5 liter bottles of water.
MEDICAL: Lots of medicines, several kinds of antibiotic, meds for my son, for treating gastritis, tape, dressings, band aids, disinfectants, ibuprofen, just to name a few. I also keep a nice supply of hand soap, disinfectant soap and cleaning products to insure hygiene inside the house. 3rd world countries are full of diseases due to the general poverty, so its important to prevent as much as possible.

HOBBIES: Shooting, collecting guns, reading, working out and watching a movie every now and then. Having a good time with my wife and playing with my son.
FUEL STORAGE: 30 liters in plastic cans, enough to get to the airport or out of the city, though I’m not planning on leaving my house during civil unrest, I’d rather “hold the fort” until I can leave.
WORST CASE SCENARIO (“WHEN THE BALLOON GOES UP”): Another December 2001 would be pretty bad, meaning anarchy, serious social unrest, looting and mobs invading privately owned homes. It happened before, I saw the mob just around the corner form my place so that’s something to worry about.
I’m also worried about our government being friends with Chavez, Evo Morales and Fidel, this county will end up like those socialist/communist if it continues to go in that direction.
MY SURVIVAL PLAN: We have already made up our minds about leaving. As far as I’m concerned, this country will only go down hill in the next few years, and the censorship and lies about things being better is downright scary. I’m sure this country will one day rise above the rest of Latin America, but not now. Many years will have to go by, and a lot of blood an bullets will be wasted before that day comes. I don’t want to take part of any of it.
So we have two make sure we are safe for the next couple of years, until we leave. This means being extra cautious and vigilant , bordering the paranoid line, to keep us all safe.
CONCLUSION: Prepare as well as you possibly can without turning it into a compulsive thing. I prepare to survive and live a rich life, not the other way around. I don’t live just to worry about the sky falling. The sky has already fallen for me and we’re still here. Things are bad, pretty bad if you want to torment yourself and research further into the corruption and violence in this country. We are still alive and we have each other. Millions of people have accepted this as their reality and decided to go on with their lives and try not to worry too much, many go as far as lying to themselves, denying the reality that surrounds them. We want to go on with our lives, but we don’t want to worry our brains out, nor will we go through life as blindfolded sheep that can’t see what’s in front of them. We simply accept the fact that this country has changed, and is now too dangerous, too corrupt, insecure and too primitive for the standard of life we look forward to, and we take the necessary measures, meaning we move out of it and start a life somewhere else.

I had an interesting experience yesterday. I assisted a friend who is a Physician's Assistant (PA) in removing a Lymphoma (fatty tumor) from my wife's back. An approximately 4" long incision was required to excise the tumor. We also went almost an inch deep. Now I have seen the worst you can see as relates to the destruction of the human body in seven years as a volunteer fireman including a very nasty plane crash without feeling ill at all. I had never heard of a Vasovagal [syncope] response before but experienced it first hand during the surgery. About 15 minutes into it, I started to feel hot and cold at the same time and was sweating a cold sweat. I felt nausea and also light headed. I have felt this way before due to extreme low blood sugar if I have not eaten in a long time.

I realized that if I continued to stand there I was heading to the floor [in a faint] in the next few seconds. So I told the PA I had to sit down for a minute and I also grabbed a Pepsi (I [otherwise]never drink anything but diet soda) for the sugar boost. The PA explained the Vasovagal response and I thought this is a good thing to understand in a Schumeresque situation as it may very well rear its ugly head with little warning. Even those of us who have experienced stressful situations without this happening can have it occur. Makes taking a Combat Medicine class more of a priority for me now to better understand what I may encounter. Regards, - Ready Room

RBS sent use these three bits of economic Sturm und Drang: One Wall Street analyst predicts a 20% DJIA drop this quarter. Meanwhile, Goldman, Merrill Almost `Junk,' Their Own Traders Say and Chinese Market Gold Rush Goes On

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A Federal Reserve economist recommends "rebasing" the face value of the U.S. penny to five cents, to reflect its increased intrinsic value, As I already pointed out in SurvivalBlog, a more logical solution is to knock a zero off the dollar.

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Reader AVS mentioned this "important safety tip " video: Never smash a spray can of WD-40 lubricant. (Warning: one brief outburst of coarse language, and brief immolation.)

The following quote is often truncated in modern, politically correct school textbooks and hence cited out of context. Here is the longer version, to provide Patrick Henry's full intent, including his recognition of God's sovereignty: " An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength but irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come. It is in vain, sir, to extentuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace--but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! "- Patrick Henry

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

The high bid is now at $330 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar. This is an awesome guitar decorated in a military aviation theme, from Schecter's Tempest series. It has a $729 retail value. The auction ends March 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

Today we present another article submitted for Round 9 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. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 9 will end on March 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

One of the requirements for long term survival is high quality protein. High on the list for many survivalists would be chicken eggs and rabbit meat. Of course one problem is having something available to feed the chickens or rabbits. I have been experimenting with another source that basically raises itself and is easily obtained. I am talking about fish. Here is a summary of my results after experimenting with my small pond:
In order to provide enough fish [with a "natural' (not food supplemented) pond], count on 1 acre of pond per adult and perhaps 1/2 acre per child. Of course if you supplement this with chicken eggs or other sources, you can get by with less.
To start, it is best to begin with a clean slate. This means contacting your local fish and wildlife department and having them poison your pond with a temporary poison. This will remove all undesirable trash fish that will compete with your production. This step is optional, and I was successful without resorting to this method by overstocking my forage fish.
Next, consider the food pyramid. What you are doing is creating an ecosystem. At the bottom of your food pyramid are phytoplankton and bacteria. In order to boost their production, you can add a small amount of fertilizer to the pond. In a post-TEOTWAWKI scenario, this can include chicken manure. If your pond is murky, then this step is probably unnecessary.
The next level of the pyramid is zooplankton. After some research, I discovered the daphnia, also known as the water flea. These little critters feed on bacteria, but they are also one of the few organisms that feed on one-cell algae. The best place I discovered to buy them is from Dallas Discus. Google on "Dallas Discus Daphnia" to find their web site. They will ship daphnia to you direct. I purchased the 3 species starter culture for around $25. Daphnia also have a great feature. When the water temperature drops, they will lay eggs that will survive the winter. During warmer months they reproduce by live birth and increase at a geometric rate. I found a sheltered area of my pond that had a lot of water plants to introduce the daphnia.
Next on the list is forage fish. I used two species, the fathead minnow and the blue gill bream. The fathead minnow will get clobbered if put directly in a pond, so I put mine in the creek that feeds it. A good portion stayed in the creek, but clouds of minnows would periodically swim into the pond.
For forage, it is hard to beat the blue gill. These fish will spawn multiple times per year and will also reach eating size. Be careful and order only “native blue gill”, “non-hybrid blue gill”, or “copper nose bluegill”. Do not order “hybrid blue gill” or “hybrid bream/sunfish”. These will grow quickly, but they do not reproduce well. The copper nose bluegill is actually a sub species, and not a hybrid. They are great for the pond, however they should only be used in warmer areas. Native blue gill can be used in most of the U.S. and are even a popular fish to catch ice fishing in Minnesota. Another cold water forage fish to consider is the yellow perch. I do not have much experience with them, and can not comment on their use. One fish to avoid, however, is the crappy.
The red ear bream or shell cracker is another species of forage to consider. They will reach eating size also, and they eat different foods then the blue gill, such as snails. These should only be used in more southern areas however.
Finally there is the apex predator. These are needed to keep the bream population healthy, and they provide a lot of meat. For my pond I chose the large mouth bass, though the channel catfish is another alternative.
Stocking Rates: For a healthy population, stock 1,000 bream per 100 bass, per acre. So a typical stocking rate would be 800 native blue gill, 200 red ear bream, and 100 largemouth bass. You should also stock 10 pounds of fat head minnows. Put a few pounds in any creek or stream that feeds your pond, a few pounds in the vegetation, and the rest in the open water. The native bass will hammer the open water minnows, which will allow your new bream to find safer waters.
Harvesting: For harvesting, use the same ratio. Remove 10 bream for each bass you catch. The bream are easily caught using a cricket or worm on a hook. To prepare, cut off their heads and gut them. Remove the scales. Fry whole. Bass are best prepared by filleting them. Both species are excellent to eat with a very mild flavor.
After you stock your pond, you are finished. You really don’t have to do anything else. However, I have been able to increase my production by feeding my bream. It is best to use a 30% protein floating catfish pellet to do this, though I have had great success using Wally World kitten chow with the same protein content. Post-TEOTWAWKI, you can increase production by raising earthworms and feeding these to the fish. I have not done this yet, but I will try using grass clippings to feed the earthworms. The composted grass and worm casing mixture should make for an excellent additive to a vegetable garden.
My next experiment for this season is to try preserving the fish. I have not done this yet, but from what I have read, I will soak the fish for thirty minutes in a brine solution and then cold smoke for 12 hours. This would make for a good winter food supply, though bluegill can be caught year round, even via ice fishing. I have friends who stored smoked fish using regular canning methods and ate it all winter long.
Preparing a fish pond is an excellent option for a retreat that you can not permanently live in, since if you stock using the correct ratio, the pond will stay in balance and take care of itself. Your protein supply will be waiting for you after the Schumer hits the fan. Remember to stash a large supply of fishing gear including hooks and monofilament line. Also, a pellet gun [could potentially be useful] for removing unwanted herons. Note that this is currently illegal, so follow your local, state, and federal laws. - J.D.

JWR Adds: In my estimation it is a far more efficient use of resources (especially time) to install protective netting over your fish ponds, rather than guarding them against predators. Osprey, herons, egrets, kingfishers, and cormorants are relentless. They will wait until the days that you are away from home and then clean out your pond. Unless your pond is quite large, the expense of constructing net supports and buying netting is far outweighed by the value of the extra fish that you will harvest. Fish farming is great way to provide self-sufficiency and it can be very profitable. "The Werewolf" (SurvivalBlog's correspondent in Brazil) is a fish farmer. He raises Tilapia. I know of one gent in Idaho that started out with one 20 foot diameter tank full of trout. He eventually added more and more tanks. He sells primarily to the restaurant market, shipping out the fish packed in boxes chilled with dry ice. His operation eventually grew so large that he and his family were spending several hours a day, seven days a week, just gutting fish. So he bought a $25,000 electric fish cleaning machine from Germany. You insert a whole fish head-first into the machine and it pops out the other end completely de-gutted and washed. That machine is quite a labor saver.

I've been enjoying reading your book “Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.” Growing and saving food is important: while I appreciate the necessity of stored food, and have a lot, as an ol' West Tennessee farm boy with a lot of veggie gardening experience I've some comments on growing and saving food:

1. "Gardening When It Counts" is a must have book, great info on saving seeds!!!
2. Store all the 10-10-10 fertilizer one can.
3. Pole beans grown on tall corn is a very efficient way of getting a lot of food value for little effort. Last year I used "Bloody Butcher" heirloom dent corn as a support for my pole beans. This grows 9-10 ft high and has more prop roots than I've ever seen. I dry the shelled corn in the dehydrator, then store, and use for cornbread.
4. I've gone from canning to dehydrating. We now have three of the 9-tray Excalibur dehydrators. Last season I dehydrated about 185 lbs tomatoes. I store the dry veggies in glass canning jars, with as much of the air pumped out as I can. As compared to canning, the storage space/jar requirement is much less, the shelf life is much longer, and if the jars freeze, so what?
5. the book "Diet for a Small Planet" has great information on how to combine grains and legumes so that one gets the optimal mix of the eight essential amino acids. (I'm a retired Ph.D. biochemist)

Regards, - Doc Holladay

JWR Adds: Excalibur brand dehydrators are available from Ready Made Resources. (At their web site, search on the keyword "Excalibur".) We have one these here at the Rawles Ranch. It has been in the family since the late 1970s, and it is still going strong. I highly recommend them.

I mentioned this about a year ago, but it bears repeating: By SOP, any firearm that comes out of our vault here at the Rawles Ranch is immediately loaded. Everyone in the family assumes that any gun seen anywhere here at the ranch is loaded at all times, and it is always treated as such. Avoiding any ambiguity helps reduce the chance of accidents.

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Michael Z. Williamson noted: a piece at that includes some useful background on silver supply/demand fundamentals: Artemis Hedge Fund Seeks $300 Million for Silver Boom

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Vic at Safecastle mentioned: "Stay plugged in no matter where you are with a cell phone 'alert service' that is the standard for many military, LEOs, government agencies of all stripes, etc., around the USA. Safecastle has arranged a discount of 50% off for a year's subscription--12 months of coverage for a total of $23.94! You get comprehensive, well-placed weekly National Situation Updates (including Stratfor analysis every week) in your choice of text or audio formats to your cell phone or other device. Most importantly--in the event of an urgent development, you get instant notification. Plus you get the chance to subscribe to the full Stratfor intelligence advisory program at 50% off for a year. For more info or to sign up, see the AlertsUSA banner ad on our new Preparedness Ning site. Click on the banner, then at the bottom of their page, click on the 6-month "order now" link. On the next page, your promotional code to enter is "SAFE2007". For that, you get 12 months of coverage, rather than the six months."

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness -- these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle." - excerpted from George Washington's Farewell Address, 1796

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Thanks for all the recent book orders at my Cafe Press ordering page. I may be able to make a living at this, after all!

Hi Jim,
Thinking about the need to catch local/regional info during a crisis and thought of the old time crystal radio sets to pick up AM radio. Many years ago kids used to build them at home or in Boy Scouts with locally available parts. Crystal radio sets are small, easy to build, easy to use, easy to repair, [JWR Adds: and just about EMP proof, if using a chunk of Galena (or piece of graphite pencil) as the detector, versus a modern germanium diode,] and require no power to operate them! While it seems that there are a lot of "hand crank powered" AM/FM radios about, what happens when they break? Can you fix it? With a crystal radio kit you can, because you built it in the first place. Crystal radio sets require a good long wire antenna, a decent earth ground and a quality ear phone to work properly. Some circuit designs are surprisingly sensitive and pick up far off stations very well. Kits are available for less than $20 from The Xtal Set Society And lots of useful crystal radio info can be found on Wikipedia.~6xddx6~

I have been reading a longtime reader of your blog since it started, and wish to thank you for writing your novel "Patriots", which I have read cover to cover many times and has helped me on my way to becoming a prepper.
In response to Paul's letter for a forward location between your retreat and current home I have some ideas as well as some other good info I feel your readers could benefit from.
Now the plan of having a forward location by Paul is a somewhat good idea but like you pointed out a bit flawed.My idea may not bode well for everyone, I really think a bachelor or a family that is really into being prepared will only live this way: What you do is if you must work close to or in a city because of your job, family or other obligations I suggest you either buy a small condo/apartment or rent one. Depending on how close you are to the city/town you may find the prices can be cheap (further away) or quite expensive (closer). Not all of us can have the luxury of living at our retreat full time or having some kind of caretaker thee watching it for us.
So what you should do is simply have two locations. One location near your job, nothing fancy but a small condo/apartment like I described above should fit the bill. All you would really need are some minor supplies and your everyday use items at this location. No need to really stock it to the gills, at least have some items there in case travel is restricted, you cant leave for whatever reason, or worst case scenario you get to your retreat and its stripped. The other location of course your fully stocked retreat, in which I would go to great lengths to meet any friendly neighbors and give them your contact info (a disposable or regular cell phone) just in case something happens while your away.
The whole idea is to simply treat the city home like a in between location. Like I said this wont bode well for many people who are used to amenities, and it certainly may not work for those with non like minded people living in their immediate family. But for a single person or a family who is on board I think it could work. Perhaps in between the city location and the retreat you could have a friend and store supplies their or rent a storage unit for a year or more in advance. I know there are many storage rental places around these days as they are quite popular and you can not only rent a simple garage setup but heated units for sensitive items, closed sized units and units of all shapes and sizes. This means not only can you be sure that in the event you cant make it your retreat or you make it there and have no supplies that you have back up supplies and stuff.
You could even have a travel trailer located at either your city home or the rented storage unit so there is no real loading-just hitch it up and go. A word on proper transportation: many people do not have an SUV or at least a truck to haul this stuff with, I highly recommend you pick up in the very least an older pickup of some kind. I would recommend personally if you don't need a lot of space or have a smaller trailer an older Toyota with either the 4cyl 22R(E) engines, the newer 4cyl engines or a 3.4L V6 model. Run away from the 3.0L V6 they once offered, nothing but headaches with head gaskets and thrown rods and such.
Sure they may not haul as much and certainly don't fit the bill of an older super easy to maintain truck, but they are very reliable, easy to maintain once you know what your doing, and generally don't break down unless it was a poorly cared for vehicle. Having owned a Toyota camry and currently own a T100 truck (its like a tundra only with a V6 produced only from 1993-1998) I can say the car was very reliable compared to the american made vehicles of the time (1993) and the truck has outlasted almost everything else I have seen people have and have driven personally myself. Can you really argue 190k miles on a 1996 with very minor maintenance? Same transmission and the engine was only recently replaced because of a head gasket recall that never affected me anyway. It did have 135k though, still ran like a top. Only downside is these vehicles generally can only tow a maximum of 5,000 lbs and no more while a full size can do 7-9000 pretty easily. This is alleviated if you buy a newer Tundra with a V8.
Now, if you want a full size truck I would highly recommend people to look into an older Ford or Chevy HD model. Nothing truly fancy but a decent V8, a full size or extended cab. The reason to get the HD package as it usually has a 3/4 ton suspension and much heavier duty running gear which is essential if you load it down to the gills or plan on hauling a very large trailer. I never really had problems with my old F250 circa 1991, but it never ran or held up as well the toyotas did. I wont argue that people should really buy Domestic vs Foreign, but I would suggest a person look at their needs and wants and then decide. No reason to buy a full size truck if its just you and you're only towing a small 8 foot trailer, or nothing at all.
I would suggest that people only look for a four wheel drive vehicle. There is no reason not to own one as it will save you (along with a good set of all terrain tires) from many sticky situations, I know it has with me and I cursed driving a 2WD truck many moons ago in the winter. Again, if you can find a good deal buy it-no reason not to. One last thing, get a cap for the bed, it will easily allow you to store things hidden out of view in the bed, which is a very good idea if you don't get a trailer.
The bottom line I think is not to keep all your eggs in one basket as the old saying goes. You just never know what the future may hold and how things may go. We could easily be totally devastated in a matter of a week or less, or slip slowly into the situation depending on the event. There is no telling how, when, and where it will happen only that it most likely eventually will happen and best you be prepared at least a little. Preparing for best and expecting the worst is the way it should be, think ahead for what may happen, you just never know..
I hope my words have given some insight to your readers and perhaps steered them in the right direction. - Marc in NJ

JWR Replies: I discuss various retreat and G.O.O.D. options at length in my book Rawles on Retreats and Relocation. There was also extensive discussion of the Golden Horde effect and related issues such as retreat locale selection criteria in the first few months of Survivalblog posts. (BTW, these posts are now available in the hard copy book SurvivalBlog: The Best of the Blog, Volume 1.) Staying on in the Dirty Big City in the midst of a slow slide is a risky proposition. If you have the chance to bug out, then take it! I tried to illustrate the perils of staying a day too late in my novel "Patriots". (Namely, the experience of the characters Ken and Terry Layton, who end up taking a 1,000 mile hike to their group retreat.) Even if it means quitting your job rather than just burning up accrued vacation hours, then so be it. If you made proper plans, and if the economy staggers along (a la the Great Depression of the1930s) then you will be able to ramp up a depression-proof second income at your retreat--at least enough to put food on the table and pay your property taxes. (For some ideas, see the results of the recent SurvivalBlog reader poll on the best home-based businesses.) Of course your decision to bail out may in retrospect be seen as premature. That is certainly a substantial risk. But in my estimation it is better to be a year too early than a day too late. Being that one day too late could at the least leave you stranded away from your family, or perhaps even result in you reaching room temperature, and leaving your family left to fend for themselves.

I took some time recently to catch up on some of my backed up reading and have uncovered a couple of books that I would highly recommend to all.

The first is The Whiskey Rebellion by William Hogeland.  A historical review of a little covered event very significant in the infancy of our constitutional republic.  The book not only covers the event but provides detail into the character of many of the significant players.  A new light on one Alexander Hamilton emerges.  The book has substantial supporting notes and source cites attached.  Quite enlightening.

The second is America's Bubble Economy: Profit When It Pops by David Wiedemer, et al.  Not being an economist, I find many financially based web sites overwhelming in their information.  This book lays out for us, economically-challenged individuals, the basis of our international economic woes.  It describes the five bubbles effecting our economy: housing, stock market, foreign supported dollar, consumer debt, and the U.S. debt bubble.  It also addresses the collision of the bubbles producing a "bubblequake" which will damage not just the U.S. economy but the entire world.  Some recommendations are provided but, as expected, heavily caveated. This is a quick, easy read.

Both should be accessible at most moderately sized public libraries.  If not available in your library, you might try an inter-library transfer; most libraries are part of a larger library system.  Enjoy.
- Ken

Readers MPI and MWR both suggested listening to the Jim Puplava interview of economist Michael J. Panzner, the author of the book "Financial Armageddon.". (Free audio podcast download. Scroll down to March 3rd--second hour.)

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"Kon Tiki" mentioned this video clip: A compressed air powered car being proptotyped in France.

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P.R. and J.B. both reminded me to mention that used concertina wire is often available at military surplus auctions. There are 37 pallets of used concertina wire up for auction right now at Fort Lewis, Washington. Those auctions end at 5 p.m. PST today (March 6th).

"If the moment of truth comes tomorrow, I'll be free, or by God I'll be dead." - Audie Murphy

Monday, March 5, 2007

The high bid is still at $300 in the current SurvivalBlog benefit auction for a brand new Schecter "Warthog" Electric Guitar. This is an awesome guitar decorated in a military aviation theme, from Schecter's Tempest series. It has a $729 retail value. Please tell any of your friends that are guitarists about this auction. The auction ends March 15th. Just e-mail me your bid. Thanks!

I have always been a believer in free market economics. Whenever a government tries to "fix" things, it often makes things worse, and more often than not, the law of Unintended Consequences is engaged. Prohibition of alcohol early in the last century is often cited, but some of the worst cases of Federal government intervention have taken place since the 1960s. Here are a few examples:

Roosevelt and Nixon Administration Wage and Price Controls
History has shown that wage and price controls (also called "incomes policies") are an exercise in futility. In the United States, wage and price controls were first instituted with marginal results by the Roosevelt administration during World War II, as administered by the Office of Price Administration. Eventually, employers and consumers find ways to work their way around these laws. In his book Government by Emergency, Dr. Gary North described the wage and price controls instituted by the Nixon Administration. North showed that the law was entirely ineffective at "fighting inflation." The only sure way to stop inflation is to stop the government printing presses and do away with fractional reserve banking. But still, governments all over the world have resorted to wage and price controls, usually with no real effect. Just two weeks ago, the outrageously inept government of Zimbabwe declared that it would jail anyone that raises wages or prices. Given the country's current inflation rate of more than 1,200 percent per annum, I seriously doubt that the law will be a success. But knowing how Comrade Mugabe and his henchmen operate, the law may result in a few "disappearances" or perhaps even a few executions.

The 1986 Private Machinegun Ownership"Freeze"
In 1934, under the Roosevelt administration, machinegun ownership in the U.S. became subject to some pretty draconian restrictions: Registration of the guns by serial number, a background check and fingerprinting of prospective owners, and a $200 Federal tax each time a gun is transferred--ostensibly justified by the Commerce Clause. From 1934 to 1985 machineguns could still be produced and purchased by private citizens that were willing to jump through the paperwork flame-filled hoops and pay the $200 transfer tax. But that changed in 1986. Through some backroom political deal-making, a ban on new production of machineguns was slipped into a larger legislative package of pro-Second Amendment legislation, and passed by a simple voice vote. This law effectively "froze" the number of transferable machineguns in private hands, and it has been frozen ever since. At the time that the freeze was enacted, a newly-produced Thompson submachinegun sold for $950, a M1919 Browning belt fed was around $1,200, an M16 was around $800, a flimsy Sten gun was $190, and a registered M16 auto sear (the key conversion part for an AR-15 to make it selective fire) was just $150. But time has marched on, and the law of supply and demand proved itself inescapable. More than 20 years have now gone by. There are now millions of gun collectors now in their 30s and 40s that were just kids when the freeze was enacted, They are now chasing after the same frozen supply of registered, transferable machineguns. Ever since 1986, prices have risen steadily, turning machinegun ownership into a hobby that is now seemingly reserved for the rich. Presently, a Thompson submachinegun made in the early 1980s is now worth $14,000, a M1919 Browning belt fed is around $18,000, an M16 is around $17,000, a Sten gun sells for around $6,000, and a registered M16 auto sear is $15,000 if you can find one! Unless the freeze is repealed, or unless there is another registration amnesty to flush out the more than one million unregistered machineguns in the country, it is likely that machinegun prices will continue to escalate.

The 1994-to-2004 "Assault Weapons" and High Capacity Magazine Ban
Thankfully now dead due to a 10-year "sunset" clause, the assault weapons ban of 1994 wreaked similar economic havoc. This ban froze the production on dozens of named models of paramilitary semi-auto rifles as well as magazines with more than 10 round capacity.

The U.S. 1995 Freon Ban
In 1995, the US EPA banned new production of one-pound canisters of Freon R12 refrigerant. (This is the type used by individual car owners to re-charge their car's air conditioning system.) Only larger canisters were available to "trained professionals", during a transition period as other refrigerants deemed "non Ozone depleting" were phased in. Soon after the ban was enacted, the price of R12 cans on the secondary market spiked from less than $3 per can to as high as $60 per can! The freon ban led to widespread Freon smuggling, which is reportedly still continuing today. (R12 is still manufactured in some countries--most notably Brazil--that did not sign up to the international treaty banning Ozone Depleting Chemicals (ODCs.)

The Pending Federal "Assault Weapons" and High Capacity Magazine Ban
As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, a scary new piece of Federal legislation was recently introduced that would reinstate the 1994 "Assault Weapon" and magazine ban. This new bill, H.R. 1022, is far worse than its predecessor. It is much more loosely worded--casting a wide net for any guns that even look vaguely paramilitary--and puts the final decision on whether or not any particular model is deemed an "assault weapon" up to the politically-appointed Attorney general. Thankfully, it still leaves a lot of existing ("grandfathered") guns and full capacity magazines. If it passes, I predict that its effect will be much like the 1986 machinegun freeze. Prices went up a lot during the 1994-to-2004 Federal ban, But this new one is much worse, so prices will surely skyrocket. My advice is to stock up, especially on magazines. Buy at least a dozen for each of your semi-auto guns. Buy hundreds more as an investment, if you can afford them. Again, based on the experience of the 1994-2004 ban and the 1986 Federal machinegun "freeze", I expect magazine prices to at least triple, and possibly go much higher.

The Beloved Grandfather Clause
One of the fairly dependable parts of the American legal system is the beloved "grandfather clause." This is the "weasel wording" that is typically written into nearly every piece of ban, freeze, or otherwise restrictive legislation, allowing existing supplies of any banned items or substances to continue to be owned, used, and in most cases transferred. These grandfather clauses are politically expedient, because they A.) minimize the political backlash against new laws, B.) minimize legal challenges to the new laws, and C.) save the taxpayers countless millions of dollars, since they side-step any challenges that a new law constitutes and illegal "taking." (The owner of a warehouse full of banned widgets would scream bloody murder if his existing inventory was banned from sale and hence became worthless. But with a grandfather clause, the company owner can sell out his existing inventory, usually at a tidy profit. In the end, however, the factory owner is still deprived of part of his livelihood. )

Re-Prioritizing Purchasing Plans?
Federal "bans", "freezes", and price controls" are contrary to normal market forces, and when they are enacted, they spread economic chaos. If we lived in a perfect world, they wouldn't be an issue. But sadly we live in a world where the majority of nation states run by politicians attempt such follies. As prepared individuals, the best that we can do is stand ready to compensate for the impact of such legislation. If the politicians are planning to ban items that we see as necessary for our preparedness, then it is in our best interest to stock up, muy pronto. If ban legislation seems imminent, then it might mean re-setting our purchasing priorities in the short term. For example, you might not have had plans to buy your "lifetime supply" of main battle rifles and full capacity magazines in the next six months. But events in the near future might necessitate doing just that.

Here are a couple of books that I have stumbled across recently that I would recommend to SurvivalBlog readers.

The first book is actually a set of books written by Rita Van Amber. She wrote five volumes of books entitled, "Stories and Recipes of the Great Depression of the 1930s." The recipes are from readily available ingredients and are simple to make. However, the stories are the best part of the book. The people of this time lived with such hardship and so little food yet they lived well and family relationships were strong. There was no whining for iPods and plasma televisions like you see today. Their survival stories are amazing and I know I learned a few things that could be utilized in a TEOTWAWKI situation.

The second book I want to recommend is a survival fiction book recently out, titled, "Black Monday" by R. Scott Reiss. It entails a scenario where a virus hits our oil supply and all the machines in the world stop working. The way the government reacts and the panic and violence that hit cities in the aftermath are along the lines of your "Patriots"novel. In other words, it is written like it would really happen - no Hollywood (like [the TV series] Jericho) "everybody is happy" scenario. The author was recently on one of the morning shows and believe it or not the technology for this virus already exists and this scenario could really happen. It pays to be prepared!

Both of these books are available on Happy reading! - L.C.A. in W.N.Y.

Ben L. sent this: Shell to Offer a Biodiesel Fuel in Europe Made From Wood Chips and Straw

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A tidbit from The Daily Reckoning: "Remember, for a good part of America's history, every dollar in your pocket was a dollar backed by gold. So it's not so crazy to ask yourself... if America has 8,180 tons - or nearly 261.7 million ounces - of gold in reserve... how many dollars does that buy? The answer will shock you. When dollars became unhinged from gold, the printing presses at the Fed cranked up. By 1980, for every ounce of gold in America, the financial system carried $6,966 in cash. That's $1.8 trillion total. But get this, by the end of 2005, the total real money supply shot to over $10 trillion . That's $38,349 in circulation for every ounce of gold in reserve! "

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Yesterday afternoon, while en route to our kid's Bible study class, I nearly collided with a flock of wild turkeys that was standing in the highway. Collisions with deer are quite commonplace in this part of The Unnamed Western State. Collisions with elk and moose are more rare, but usually horrendous. These are both heavy and long-legged animals that tend to go over a vehicle's hood and oft-times through the windshield. But just smacking into a couple of 25 pound turkeys can do some damage. We thank God for his travel mercies!

"This, by the way, is a good place to pause and explain to readers who will write in wondering why the United States will tolerate an Israeli nuclear force but not an Iranian one. The answer is simple. Israel will probably not blow up New York. That's why the United States doesn't mind Israel having nukes and does mind Iran having them. Is that fair? This is power politics, not sharing time in preschool. End of digression." - George Friedman

Sunday, March 4, 2007

I recently felled some small cedar trees in the area that will soon become our expanded garden plot. The logs measured 8 to 11 inches in diameter at the butt. I cut them to 12 foot lengths. These will soon come in handy, since I will be using them almost in situ, as posts for the new deer fence. The largest of the logs should make dandy corner posts. Here in the valley, a stout eight foot tall fence is considered the standard for deterring deer. But a very determined elk, moose, or grizzly bear will go wherever they please. Most wire fences aren't much of an obstacle for these hungry four legged intruders. So we'll keep plenty of extra woven wire on hand, for repairs. Oh yes, and plenty of concertina wire in reserve for deterring any two legged hungry intruder in the event of absolute worst case Schumeresque situation.

I have been an admirer of these surplus military vehicles ever since I saw them for sale at 'Major Surplus' in Gardena California. They are certainly stout. I'm sure they would make a great off-road multi-purpose vehicle but if I was going to use it for any thing else, i.e. Highway, town use I'd be more inclined to just drive a nice American made 4x4. Why? Why bring attention to yourself? If you want to tell the world, your neighbors and total strangers that you are survival oriented and that you may be in the possession of firearms and other expensive gear, this is the way! That is one thing I believe we should all try to avoid. Do you want some "Dudley Doright" state trooper or over-zealous "County Mountie" to pull you over and go through your gear? Then drive a Unimog. I believe in 'flying low to avoid radar' and to appear like every other citizen. With a nice old Chevy, Ford or Dodge you can do just that..and spare parts (especially for the GMC/Chevy. I know, I own one) are cheap and plentiful, Upgrades to these trucks are as well numerous and priced right. I still remember seeing a [mixed] caravan of the Steyr Puch and Unimog trucks on Inerstate-5 near Oceanside, California...and I remember all the rubber-necking as well..not too low profile and not all that practical from a mechanical standpoint. Try getting a starter, rear end assembly or a crank shaft for one of these vehicles from Kragen, Napa Auto Parts, or Autozone. Nada. It ain't gonna happen! Thanks,- Jason in North Idaho

Shalom, Jim
Recently I read a quote on SurvivalBlog from the book The Coming Dark Age, written by an author named Roberto Vacca. I went to to research it and found out that it was written in 1986, and, surprisingly enough, there were no reviews on file from other readers.
1.) Do you recommend this book?
2.) If so, what do you like about it?
Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Hodu l'Yahweh ke tov (Give thanks to Yahweh for He is good), - Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: I first read Roberto Vacca's short book The Coming Dark Age in the late 1970s. An updated and expanded edition of the book, circa 2000, is available for free download. It is worth reading, but hardly a Earth-shattering revelation. The book has a decent main premise, followed by lots of vague generalities. These are mainly extrapolations based on the precedents of when the Roman Empire disintegrated. Vacca was a member of the Club of Rome, an NGO which began as a sort of a precursor to the present-day Peak Oil crowd. They collectively predicted that "some crisis" was coming, based on societal complexity/fragility/interdependency, and would result in a multi-generational TEOTWAWKI. In recent years, the Club of Rome has focused on Peak Oil as their presumed trigger for a collapse. Used copies of the original English translation of Vacca's original book can often be found via Amazon Shops for under $5. And of course there is always inter-library loan.

Hi James,
It's interesting to look at what's going on here in Ontario. The gasoline [filling] station near my office has been out of gas for two days, and others have been out for varying amounts of time. A friend of mine delivers fuel to gas stations, and was telling me what is happening:
1) There is a rail strike at CN Rail. This has prevented refineries from receiving shipments of the additives needed for diesel and gasoline.
2) There was a fire at one of the Ontario refineries, cutting production significantly. This fire occurred on February 15, and by two weeks later we are in shortages.
The Ontario Premier has asked the fuel suppliers to make sure that no towns run completely dry, and the suppliers are saying that we should be back to normal within two weeks.
Ontario has a reasonable supply of crude oil, with southern Ontario having a large number of wells. However, this situation highlights how fragile our fuel infrastructure it. One fire in one unit at one foundry, and a disturbance in the rail system has driven Ontario to a fuel crisis in a matter of two weeks. In light of this, I'm starting to realize that generators won't do us much good when TSHTF, since we'll be pretty much out of fuel not long after that. Even those people that have large reserves of safely stored fuel will run out eventually, and they'll have to defend it against those people that
consider "hoarding of fuel" to be a crime. How about kerosene for oil lamps or propane for cooking? This stuff is not going to last in a long term situation.
I guess that in a long term survival situation we'll simply revert to the natural way of doing things, getting up when it's light, and sleeping when it's not. We'll walk, or bike when we need to go somewhere, and cook over wood fires, just like the rest of the Third World.
In the Revelation [of John] one of the angels is given the command "Don't harm the wine or the oil." These will be extremely precious commodities in times to come. Be blessed! - Chris

Mr. Rawles:
I just wanted to send you a thank you note for your novel "Patriots", your "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course and for We've been having a winter weather adventure, which I've chronicled in this thread at The Claire Files. If I hadn't found some time back in late 2005, it might have been a very different story than the mainly humorous tale I was able to relate. Catching up on some of your entries that I missed over time, I found one that was particularly pertinent to our situation. On February 14, you did a post titled "State and Federal Lands - Poor Choices for short term retreat locales". The first item of concern that you stated was access, with the following specific quote: "There is also no guarantee that once you get in to public lands that you can get out. Many roads inside forest lands are not maintained in winter. Depending on the latitude and elevation, this could mean getting truly "snowed in" for the winter."
Our retreat is on private land at 8500' elevation, but is totally surrounded by National Forest. Our only access is via non-maintained forest service roads. These roads are never maintained, not just a case of no winter maintenance. And snowed in we did get. Fortunately our larder was deep.
So I just wanted to let you know that I've gratefully renewed my annual subscription to the Ten Cent Challenge. As I said, without, the story might have had a very different outcome. Thanks, - Karen, aka Coloradohermit

Michael Z. Williamson found this news story for us: A Glitch in the Financial Matrix: How Heavy Trade Volumes and a 70-Minute Time Lag Wreaked Havoc Upon the New York Stock Exchange

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Mike F. points to an opinion piece first published in 2003 that he asserts still has relevance: Dollar vs. Euro -- Weapons of mass destruction

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Hawaiian K. forwarded this article from The London Observer: Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us. The article begins: "Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters. A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world. The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents..."

"We don't raise any corn on the farm but prices for wheat and barley have risen because the corn previously used for livestock feed is being pulled off the market for ethanol. Cattle, sheep, and pigs will eat chopped barley and wheat as well as corn so wheat is now at something like a 30 year high. Ignoring for now the fact that it's not an all time high, that 30+ years ago wheat sold for more than it does today, we realize that there might be an increase in prosperity of some farmers in the near future. Some people are fantasizing about replacing nearly all our non renewable fuels with "natural" fuels made from grain. The key word in previous sentence is fantasizing. I knew Doug had done the calculations 15 or 20 years ago and realized then farms cannot begin to supply our fuel needs and I asked him to redo the calculations. He sent me this short paper (Microsoft Word .DOC, slightly edited by me). The important information is as follows: Comparing potential alcohol production to current petroleum production, we see that if we stop eating and make ALL of the world grain production into alcohol, we will produce: 1.77e16/1.447e17 [BTU] or 12% of the energy we currently get from petroleum. … …we are falling behind on world food production versus consumption in the last 10 – 15 years, so there are a few billion people that will have to stop eating if the rest of us want to stop using fossil fuels and switch to biofuels. Also on the negative side is the fact that the huge increase in agricultural production that we have seen in the last 50 years is mostly due to fertilizers that are based on natural gas. Modern agricultural production also depends on fossil fuels for farm equipment and transportation. Thus, the “renewable” biofuels are also based in part on fossil fuels." - Joe Huffman, in The View From North Central Idaho Blog

Saturday, March 3, 2007

You may have heard on the news about a southern California man that was put under 72-hour psychiatric observation when it was found that he owned 100 guns and allegedly had (by rough estimate) 1 million rounds of ammunition stored in his home. The house also featured a secret escape tunnel. My favorite quote from the dimwit television reporter: "Wow! He has ... ...about a million machinegun bullets." The headline referred to it as a "massive weapons cache." BTW, I am dubious about the pile of ammunition boxes and cans that they showed. It looked big enough to contain no more than about 100,000 rounds, unless there was a lot of .22 rimfire ammo. However, by southern California standards, even someone owning 100,000 rounds would be called "mentally unstable." Just imagine if he lived elsewhere:
In Arizona, he'd be called "an avid gun collector"
In Texas, he'd be called "a novice gun collector"
In Utah, he'd be called "moderately well prepared," but they'd probably reserve judgment until they made sure that he had a corresponding quantity of storage food.
In Montana, he'd be called "The neighborhood 'Go-To' guy."
In Idaho, he'd be called "a likely gubernatorial candidate."
And, in Wyoming he'd be called "an eligible bachelor."

I'm happy to report that the new expanded edition of my survivalist novel "Patriots" is now orderable online in the U.S. and Canada through Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, Abe Books, and Powell's Books. Of those five, Barnes and Noble seems to offer the best price. In England, "Patriots" is available from a variety of Internet vendors including Foyles, Tesco, WH Smith, Waterstones, and In Australia, it is available through Angus & Robertson Books. In New Zealand, it is available through Abe Books. (Whitcoull's should stock it, but they will only do so if enough customers pester them. Hint-hint.) In France, it is available through I also sell autographed copies through my mail order catalog, and through Amazon Shops, with most orders shipped through our fulfillment partner located up in Montana. OBTW, if you have the time, I'd appreciate posting of positive book reviews of the novel at Thanks!

In the 2/23/07 blog, you replied to Stephen D. that: "If I ever hear shooting nearby and have my choice of grabbing either an AR-15 or FAL, then I'll grab the FAL." Would you please recommend/suggest a brand name of a FAL type rifle that is currently available in the U.S.? I read your FAL FAQ, but didn't see any brand references. I've researched from the Century "cobbled togethers" to the "new" DSA's, etc. I know there is a huge price range, but I am mainly interested in reliability (and accuracy, of course). Also, will FAL's perform equally well with either 7.62 X 51 NATO or commercial .308 Winchester [soft nose] ammo?
Thanks, - Russ in Atlanta

JWR Replies: I highly recommend Dave Selvaggio's (DS Arms) FALs. In contrast, the Century Arms FALs have a bad reputation for very un-even quality control. Many of them have functioning problems--both feeding and cycling glitches. If you have a bit more money, I also recommend both Century Gun Works (CGW, run by Rich Saunders in Gardnerville, Nevada--not to be confused with Century Arms) and Arizona Response Systems for custom FAL and L1A1 builds, using post-ban receivers. And if you have an even bigger budget, you might buy a pre-ban SAR-48, Argentine FM-LSR, or an original Belgian FAL. For what it is worth, we have four L1A1s here at the ranch, all of which are pre-ban. Two were re-built by Century Gun Works, using pre-ban Australian inch receivers, and two were re-built by Arizona Response Systems on SAR-48 receivers that they converted to inch specifications. Up until recently, I also owned a "Para" FAL that had been converted to take inch magazines by Rich Saunders. But sadly, I had to sell it to pay some bills. (My blogging income is still not yet paying all my bills.)

I believe that there are several distinct advantages to having an "inch pattern" (L1A1) instead of one of the metric measurement FN-FALs. These advantages include:
1.) The ability to use inch OR metric magazines. If you have a metric FAL, you are limited to using only metric magazines. But if you have an inch receiver rifle you can use both inch and metric mags. (The latter wobble a bit when used in an L1A1, but they still feed reliably.)
2.) Inch magazines are sturdier than metric magazines, because they are heavier gauge steel. And if they ever do get dented, L1A1 magazines can be repaired with a mandrel block, but metric mags cannot. (If you lay an inch mag and a metric mag side by side, you will notice that the floor plate retaining tabs on a metric magazine are turned inward, whereas they are turned outward on an inch mag. Hence there is no way for a metric magazine to accept a dent-removing mandrel.)
3.) A larger safety selector switch that you can't miss with your thumb.
4.) A larger, ambidextrous magazine release. (Unlike the tiny mag release on the metric FAL, which is designed for the convenience of right handed shooters.)
5.) A sturdy folding charging handle is standard. If you've ever tripped and fallen while carrying a metric FAL, you'll appreciate this feature. There is nothing quite like taking a blow from metric charging handle to the solar plexus!
6.) Sturdier and less reflective stock furniture. The British Maranyl pebble grain black plastic furniture is practically bomb proof.
7.) Buttplates that come in a wide range of thicknesses, to accommodate shooters of various heights. Proper stock length usually means more accurate shooting.
8.) Better rear sights. OBTW, the inch pattern "Hythe" dual-aperture variant is a great sight with the versatility needed for long range shooting, close quarters combat, and night shooting. I have Hythe sights on all of the L1A1s at the Rawles Ranch.
9.) An integral winter trigger arrangement that is always stowed and available in the pistol grip. (One downside is that L1A1s don't have the "in the grip" miniature cleaning kit found on metric FALs.)
10.) A slightly more efficient flash hider. (I've viewed a video of a nighttime test that was filmed by a SurvivalBlog reader, using identical ammo, and the difference was apparent.)
11.) Specially-designed "Sand Cut" bolts and bolt carriers, designed to operate more reliably in grungy environments.
In summary: Yes, the parts and magazines for inch pattern L1As are slightly more expensive, but the advantages that I just related more than compensate for the greater expense.

BTW, for those of you reading this that presently own metric FALs, I suggest that you keep them and just improve them a bit: For example, I recommend retrofitting them with inch pattern magazine releases and selector switches. And unless you have one of the excellent Israeli-style forward assist charging handles, you should also consider retrofitting with an inch-style folding charging handle.
All of the aforementioned parts might be available from Gun Parts Guy.

In answer to you other question: A FAL or L1A1 will indeed function with commercial .308, but it is best to turn down the gas adjustment a bit, since commercial soft nose ammo has considerably higher pressure than the 150 grain military ball. You will also notice a slight difference in point of impact.

I recently shared "Letter Re: Propane Shortage and Rationing in the Frigid U.S. Northeast" with several friends. Surprisingly, a new friend who does not know that I am into “Prepping”, sent back the following. - Douglas in C. in Connecticut
Hi Douglas,
I work in the grocery industry. I can tell you first-hand that this industry (as most others) has expended incredible amounts of time and energy over the last 20 years into streamlining the supply chain. More than anything else, this means reduction of inventory held within the system – starting with the raw materials on the manufacturing end, all the way to the shelf in the grocery store. Back Room stock in the store (formerly called "safety stock") is especially targeted through automated ordering and demand forecasting tools. I design database systems to facilitate this type of analysis. Of course, as companies seek to squeeze maximum efficiency from their investment, the capacity to cope with unusual demand spikes is often overlooked or simply eliminated. I was out of the country during the sleet and icing that we had last week in Connecticut, but my wife tells me that as soon as it became evident that there was a potential for bad weather, the local stores were packed and being rapidly stripped of certain commodities. And this was for a very minor event. I can promise you that in a major event -- whether it's an act of terrorism, war, civil unrest, an accidental overload of the infrastructure, labor strikes or just plain old harsh weather -- you can not be assured that your local grocery store will be able to supply your needs. You can not count on the bank to have your money accessible (this also means you can't count on credit cards to work). You can not be certain that you can refuel your vehicles. You may not be able to get heating oil at times, and your light switch might not do anything for you.
Please consider the many thousands of potential points of failure (and their associated domino effect) that can seriously alter your daily life. Think about where you and your millions of neighbors will find clean drinking water if storms or floods contaminate the public supply. Consider how an ice storm or a power plant accident can force you to find ways to stay warm, to keep your food safe and to prevent the pipes in your house from bursting. What will you do if the grocery stores can't get resupplied? Or, what if there is food on the shelf but they cannot process non-cash payments. When these events happen, it is our responsibility individually to deal with them. If the stores in your area can't supply you food for the next week, will you be OK? What about the next month?


Mr. R.:
I just thought I'd weigh in on on the concept of JIT logistics. Just so it's clear where I'm coming from, I've worked in the infrastructure side of the shipping/distribution/logistics business for the last
decade. I have insight into a lot of this, but am by no means an expert. On 9/11/01, I was working in Virginia for a major food supplier, at a fresh food (FDA "fresh", i.e. refrigerated to below freezing but not hard frozen) distribution center. I was called in, and told to get the rest of the team in. The goal was to try and reroute everything on the road to New York City (NYC), anticipating bridges being closed or down, and the city being stranded for at least a few days. This was a very vertically oriented company, shipping it's product via it's own dedicated truck fleet. I didn't get my whole team in, some of my key personnel had family in the affected areas, and understandably put priority on learning their status. But we were able to reroute a lot of product right into traffic jams and closed bridges. If it wasn't in NYC right after the event, it didn't make it in for a while. I say that to say this. The average person doesn't understand how much effort it takes to keep a JIT system running on a day to day basis, under relatively optimum conditions. Throw a monkey in the wrench and things go south (or actually sit in gridlock trying to go south) really darn quick. I had a dedicated, talented team; who's base efficiency dropped like a rock under strain. Our communications to dispatch, operations, and individual trucks fell apart, and lots of goods simply 'disappeared' from our tracking for a while as drivers with no instructions and in unfamiliar territory got lost. Procedure was ignored, contingency plans forgotten, and individual effort replaced organized method. The problem is, individual effort moves a truckload, organized effort moves tonnage. I don't know what system military or civil authorities use, but one would imagine that it's at least somewhat subject to the same strains. It's the nature of the beast. And before we talk about the military's ability to do stuff under adverse conditions, let's face the fact that shipping ammo and supplies overseas from US bases with the base and surrounding infrastructure intact is one thing; trying to do the same without roads and bridges is another. The problem after [Hurricane] Katrina wasn't the latent ability to respond, it was the practical logistics of route planning and delivery of mass tonnage of personnel, support equipment and supplies that had to be done over the new and unmapped landscape of chopped up roads, downed bridges and nonfunctional port facilities. Then think about the bulk of the quantities of anything that 8 million people need, daily, post disaster. I echo the concerns of JH, but I'll take it one step further. Realistically, drop the bridges across the Hudson, NYC is pretty cut off. But New Jersey has good port facilities, so does Brooklyn, and to some extent Manhattan. While not ideal, with enough supply getting to eastern New Jersey, NYC could be resupplied. And there are lots of warehouses staging goods, and manufacturing facilities making the goods is in Jersey. But the problem with JIT is it works throughout the supply chain. Just as the final user stores and is supplied with as little as they expect to need until expected resupply, the manufacturer stores as little raw material and spare parts as possible to fulfill orders. That means that after a day or two of resupply, the primary supplying distros will be empty, and the manufacturing plants out of material.
Now, drop a couple of bridges and tunnels in Pennsylvania and Delaware, and New Jersey is practically an island. Now where do the supplies come from? Pennsylvania is a massive ship-through state for goods from the Midwest going to east coast ports. And Pennsylvania"s transportation infrastructure, since the decline of railroads (again, as JH mentioned) truly sucks. A minor ice storm storm a couple of weeks ago shut down 80 miles of one of only two major East-West highways in the state, stranding some motorist for days. You could turn it around, ship through upstate NY or the Great Lakes, or swing materials to other east coast ports like Baltimore or Norfolk, but doing that dance on the fly isn't easy, which leads to my final point.
The other part of the equation is, JIT relies heavily on communications, to intelligently track levels, forecast needs to plan materials ordering and production, and distribute goods where there's the most pressing need. If communications are disrupted, the system becomes grossly inefficient, sending goods where they're not needed while other places starve, and making production planning a craps shoot. On a good day at my current job, we have to dedicate a phone line to lost truckers; if we didn't a significant portion of our material would wander for who know how long. Now try that without the phone, GPS, Google maps, real time traffic reports, and throw in some random bridge/road closures.
Sorry for the long ramble. To sum up, JIT can, and does, work as a business solution. Quite well in fact. It saves significant cost, and can provide better, more responsive service. But it's also a tightly coupled system, therefore very sensitive to disruption, and doesn't heal well afterwards. You can put in contingencies and redundancies to make it more robust, but those that think that such a system can truly be bulletproof are kidding themselves. - Rayster

Hi Jim,
While I value your insights on location, I think you have overlooked one possibility. That is to have your final destination be some 300+ miles away from any major metropolitan areas as you so aptly describe, but then I would add for those people who feel that they need it, a forward base of operations. This would consist of a small cabin, rental unit, or lot with a trailer and a storage shed that would be used as a forward base of operations and a leaping off point to go to their final destination. It would be located 25-50 miles out of town, so a family could use it to commute to their jobs in town and school if they did not know exactly when to make their final departure. It would be for those who are indecisive about when to cut and run, and want to stick around until the last possible minute to collect their last paycheck. Ideally it would be far enough out so that any resulting traffic jams that develop would occur between their forward temporary residence and the city center so they would have relatively unimpeded driving during their exit along the back rural roads. It should also give them 30-60 minutes lead time in [the event of] any short notice, explosive evacuation. Since most of their supplies should already be at their final destination, the only supplies that should be at the forward location would be just what they would need for day to day living out of their suitcase, and extra jerry cans of gas or maybe a 55 gallon drum on/in a small trailer like an enclosed [Wells Cargo] style trailer. If properly prepared, they should be able to "bug out" within ten minutes of their decision to go. They would only need to top off their fuel tanks, throw their suitcases in the car, hitch up any trailer, and leave. This forward location would contain only minimal provisions, but one of those would be enough stored fuel to get the family to their final location plus some extra for detours and traffic jams. It would be located on a less used gravel county road that would lead the family further out, away from the city towards their final destination in relative safety and obscurity. To find these suitable, closer-in locations, you would have to study your local maps in great detail and do a lot of Sunday driving and exploring. - Paul

JWR Replies: What you suggest might have its merits for a "slow slide" scenario, where there is urban rioting, but otherwise things are fairly safe elsewhere. But your approach seems to me like a huge unnecessary expense. The same thing could be accomplished by finding a small town roughly 50 to 60 miles in the direction of your intended retreat that has both a motel and a commercial "mini storage" company. In the storage space, you could store some jerry cans of stabilized gasoline (check the local fire code first, of course) and perhaps a couple of inexpensive used off-road motorcycles, for use as back-up "get out of Dodge" vehicles. If things start looking dicey, you could leave your family at the motel and spend your nights there, for as long as you are in "wait and see" mode. (The period when presumably you determine if the situation has deteriorated to the point of necessitating totally "pulling the plug" on your paycheck and moving to your distant retreat for the long term. ) This will both save you the expense of buying or leasing a "forward location" cabin, and it will also eliminate most of the risk of burglary of the requisite supplies--which otherwise is a huge risk for an unattended cabin just 60 miles from a metropolitan area. If you have a really big budget and can afford a "vacation cabin" in addition to your fully stocked retreat that is much farther away, then by all means go for it. Just be sure to either build some secret compartments into the walls, and/or construct some underground caches. Otherwise, you might arrive at your "Forward Base" and find it stripped bare. Also, regardless of where you cache your gasoline, I recommend buying nothing larger than 20 gallon drums for any supplies that you want to consider mobile. (Anything larger is to difficult to move.) Buy winter formulated gas (which has extra butane--so its stores better), add a gas stabilizes (such as Gas Saver, PRI-G, or Sta-Bil) and be sure to rotate it (replacing it with fresh gasoline) at least one a year. OBTW, speaking of stored gasoline, a good thing to store is a few can of ether-based engine starting fluid. Often, an engine will run with old gas that has had its butane "burn off", but it is difficult to start it without first giving the carburetor a shot of starting fluid.

Chuck G. (a regular content contributor) sent us this: The Plunge Protection Team gears up for a possible derivatives crisis. I've warned you about derivatives, so don't be surprised when you see trillions of dollars get wiped out, overnight.

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SurvivalBlog reader Doc Holladay notes: "The wife of a fellow doomer buddy has a booming business as a professional seamstress doing alterations. I opine that her livelihood is pretty secure, as she is covered up in work. I've four of the treadle sewing machines I've refurbished. The old Singer treadle sewing machines use the same bobbins as today's electric ones! It was Singer who introduced the current bobbin style. Thus, the Singer treadle machines are to be preferred. I figure these will get more valuable over time. I believe a "doomer" should be well prepared with all sorts of sewing gear, fabric, thread, and notions. I plan to take your suggestion to store [green and brown] dye packets to 'tone down older clothes if needed."

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"Kon Tiki" mentioned this piece from The Army Times: The gas piston-operated HK 416: Better than the M4, but you can’t have one.

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Freeze Dry Guy has announced some special pricing, just for the month of March:
Dehydrated Butter, 6 #2 size cans, yields 174 Tbsp: $62.80 or Three cases, yields 522 Tbsp: $175
Milk, 6 #10 size cans per case (yields 306 one cup servings): $101.40, or Three cases, yields: 918 one cup servings: $284.20
Emergency Unit (1 month of food for one person--takes up just 3.5 cubic feet), $239, or Three units (3 months for one person), $672 Call for details.

"If there were no such thing in this world as becoming surety, if the free lending portrayed in the gospel were the general practice, and if only hard cash or wares on hand were exchanged in trade, then the greatest and most harmful dangers and faults and failings of trade and commerce would be well out of the way. It would then be easy to engage in all sorts of business enterprises, and the other sinful faults of trade could the more readily be prevented. If there were none of this becoming surety and this lending without risk, many a man would have to maintain his humble status and be content with a modest living who now aspires day and night to reach an exalted position, relying on borrowing and standing surety. That is why everyone now wants to be a merchant and get rich. From this stem the countless dangerous and wicked devices and dirty tricks that have today become a joke among the merchants. There are so many of them that I have given up the hope that trade can be entirely corrected; it is so overburdened with all sorts of wickedness and deception that in the long run it will not be able to sustain itself, but will have to collapse inwardly of its own weight." - Martin Luther, Sermon On Trade And Usury (1520)

Friday, March 2, 2007

We had a couple of brief snow flurries this morning, but this afternoon it cleared up and we then had a beautiful sunset, with Alpenglühen on the Unnamed Mountain east of the valley. The sight was spectacular. We thank God for the blessing of living here.

I've updated my Cafe Press ordering page. There, you can order copies of both "Rawles on Retreats and Relocation", and "The Best of the Blog" book as well as SurvivalBlog logo hats, T-Shirts, coffee mugs, et cetera. (BTW, I couldn't resist injecting a bit of humor into the product descriptions. My apologies to Linda Hamilton.) Many of these items have a SurvivalBlog logo on the front and Heinlein's famous "Specialization is for insects" quote on the back. Some of the items such as the SurvivalBlog refrigerator magnets, post cards, calendars, and bumper stickers are being sold at my actual cost, just to get the SurvivalBlog name out there. The goal, of course, is to have folks wear or carry SurvivalBlog logo items as conversation starters. Imagine if 20 people all showed up at Knob Creek or the SAR Show, wearing SurvivalBlog hats or T-shirts? ("It must be some kind of conspiracy!") Many thanks for ordering my items from Cafe Press.Your orders help support SurvivalBlog. Every little bit helps. And you never know who you might meet if you wear a SurvivalBlog T-shirt to town, to a LDS cannery, to a gun show, or on a trip to the local rifle range. You could very well meet like-minded neighbors that you can count on when the Schumer hits the fan.

I'm often amazed to hear some of my relatively wealthy consulting clients tell me that they don't own a home gun vault or safe room. I ask why not, and they make excuses like: "I've been too busy at my job to shop for one" or, "A gun vault is too heavy to move, and I seem to move every three years", or "vaults are too expensive." Yes, they are expensive but not nearly as expensive as having some of your key survival tools stolen. In essence, you can pay a little now, or pay much more, later.

A burglary can be psychologically devastating. I have good friend in California that was burglarized three years ago. By God's grace, only a couple of his guns were stolen, since most of his battery was either cached elsewhere or locked up in his gun vault. (He had a few too many guns for them all to fit in his vault.) The burglars also walked off with several thousand rounds of ammunition. Despite the fact that his loss was relatively small, my friend still talks with anger and bitterness about the event. Burglaries are especially devastating for survivalists, since most of us carefully and systematically stock up tools, communication gear, optics, guns, ammunition, and precious metals. These are all choice targets for residential burglars.

A built-in basement walk-in safe room is ideal. They can serve multiple functions: As a vault for guns and other valuables, as a storm shelter, as a fallout shelter, and even as a "panic room" for use in the event of a home invasion. In areas with high water tables where a basement is not practical, a safe room/shelter can be built on the ground floor of a newly-constructed "slab" house, or as an addition to an existing house, with a reinforced poured concrete floor, walls and ceiling. Regardless of the design that you choose, it is important to specify a vault door that opens inward, so that it won't be jammed shut by debris in the event of tornado, hurricane, or bomb blast. The folks at Safecastle (one of our most loyal advertisers) can do the engineering and source the vault door for you.

I realize that most SurvivalBlog readers cannot afford an elaborate walk-in safe room, but 95% of you can at least afford a heavy duty steel gun vault with an Sargent & Greenleaf dial lock with re-locker. Be sure to bolt your vault securely to the floor, and if possible build it into a hidden compartment or hidden room. There are a lot of vault makers in the U.S. and Canada, so it is a very competitive market. Do some Internet research and comparison shopping and you can save a lot of money on your vault purchase. Vaults are quite heavy (typically around 700 pounds) and shipping them is expensive, so it is generally best to buy one that is made within 200 miles of where you live. One exception to that guidance is for folks that move often: The brand of free-standing gun vault that I highly recommend (and that I own personally) is Zanotti Armor. Zanotti makes vaults that can be taken apart into six pieces for ease of transport. (They are held together by large steel pins, inside the vault.) They cost only about $100 more than comparable vaults that are welded together in the traditional manner. The nice thing about the Zanotti vaults it that even with their largest model, no single component weighs more than about 150 pounds. That makes them much easier to install in a confined space such as a basement. Assembly is a three man job, since extra hands are needed to get everything lined up before the pins can be noisily driven into place. Assembly only takes about a half hour, and disassembly only takes about ten minutes.

Alarm and Camera Systems

No matter what sort of vault you choose, you should definitely supplement it with a home security system. Monitored alarm systems can be expensive--especially with monthly service contracts. But these days, "web cams" are dirt cheap. Buy several of them, and mount them in locations where they are not likely to be spotted immediately. (Such as up amongst books on your bookshelves.) Unless the motion-triggered images captured are immediately uploaded to a server that is off-site, then it is essential that the computer that controls the cameras and the hard drive that stores the images be housed inside your gun vault or safe room. Otherwise the burglars will walk off with the evidence. (They love to steal home computers, too.) Don't forget that any disruption of phone service or grid power will nullify the protection of a monitored alarm. Anyone living off grid or anyone that foresees a period of extended blackouts should get a battery-powered self-contained camera system, such as those sold by Ready Made Resources. Photographic evidence is crucial for both tracking down perpetrators and for substantiating insurance claims. Don't skimp on this important piece of your preparedness!

Another must is fire and theft insurance. Given enough time, determined burglars can penetrate even the most elaborate vault. As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, many homeowner's insurance policies have specific limits on firearms, often absurdly low dollar figures unless you get a separate "rider " to your policy, at additional cost. If you aren't sure about your coverage, then pull out your policy and read through it in detail. I should also mention that the National Rifle Association (NRA) offers a modest dollar value firearms insurance policy that is free with each NRA membership.

Insurance Records
As previously mentioned in SurvivalBlog, I also recommend taking a list of serial numbers and detailed descriptions of each gun, camera, and electronic gadget that you own. I have found that using 3"x5" index cards is convenient for updates, since your inventory will change over time. Also take a few detailed photos of each item. Store the 3"x5" index cards and hard copy pictures annotated with each item's serial number in a vault belonging to a relative or a trusted friend, and offer to do likewise for them.

Mr. Rawles,
I reviewed the article from MSN Money regarding property taxes by state, mentioned by "J Eagle". I could not help to look at Alabama because that is my home state. Unfortunately, I am not there now. However, property tax is low in Alabama but they have a 5% personal income tax and sales tax is charged on everything one purchases. This includes big ticket items such as cars and tractors (at a reduced rate from normal sales tax) to basic necessities (food, clothing, guns and ammunition at the normal sales tax rate). They also charge the pharmacies a tax of $1 per prescription filled, which is ultimately passed onto the consumer. Also, each county and/or municipality can increase their property tax by a vote of the people - if the state legislature allows the citizenry to have a referendum. This means that the state is controlled by politicians in the legislature.

All this is said to say, look at the total tax structure of any state. A state, such as Texas has higher property tax, but no personal income tax. This could be much better overall.

I am an accountant and have had many years to look over many different states income tax structure. While I use to look only at the tax structure of a state, I now look at the states' attitude toward preparedness. You see, many states will not tax seed purchased, nor trees purchased. Some states will not tax food purchased nor clothing. I have tried to learn which states tax what items. Also, shopping via the internet can be a tax saving tactic, but be careful!
Some states are planning to audit credit card statements to tax items that no tax was paid when items were purchased out of state, but consumed in their state. This is called "Use Tax" in some states. It can be potentially a tax trap.

When I travel, I will set aside one to three hours to go shopping in states where I can save between 8 and 10 percent on purchases I need. Many times I am in a SUV and transporting the goods is not an issue. When I was in a Costco for the first time, I was in a tax friendly state for food purchases. Unfortunately, I was in a rental car and had to fly home the next day. I could not help to buy some items my family needed for our "'burban" retreat (which nobody knows about) but I was able to ship the items via UPS to my house - still cheaper overall that I would have paid at home.
My wife says that I have an attitude of over-analyzing. But I hope to be prepared if needed. - Happy Howie

JWR Replies: You are correct that it is the total tax burden for each state that must be considered, not just property taxes. I have some instructive tables on this in my recently released book “Rawles on Retreats and Relocation.” Every state seems to get its "pound of flesh", one way or the other. Clearly , however, the more populous/intrusive socialist Nanny States like California, Wisconsin, and Massachusetts take a bigger total bite than most other states. Folks that are in their prime income earning years are rightfully more concerned with income taxes. This makes states with no personal income tax (like Nevada and Wyoming) quite appealing. But for poor folks like me, and for retirees that are "land rich and cash poor", property taxes are much bigger factor. Also don't overlook the insidious taxes like private vehicle registration. That can make a big difference, especially if you have several cars and trucks. For example, depending on the age of the vehicle, registering in Idaho costs only $24 to $48 per year, but I've heard that just across the state line in Montana, depending on the variable "County Option" tax it typically costs $48 to $257 per year. Ouch! (But of course there is no sales tax in Montana, so there are trade-offs.)

Hi Jim,
We just had a bout with Mother Nature and lost power which appeared at first to be for some time. I am happy to report that my “list” generated from this un-expected “grid-down” weekend was very very very short. I attribute this success and wonderful feeling to what I have gleaned from your publications, SurvivalBlog, and a few very good friends! We were without power for about 40 hours and really only had two “needs”. I was actually “disappointed” when the power came back on. J Oh, and we did not use the power generation until hour 38 and were still very comfortable. The generation was only used for the following two items.
The following were my bigger decisions that I made, or pondered-
1). Knowing this was likely a short term situation, (i.e. - 2 weeks or less) I decided to maintain the freezers via generation.
2). Given the demands of livestock, we were considering a short-term need of pumped water, (rather than relocate to surface water).
The situation for livestock watering led me down a path I had not thought of. How to keep the stock tanks heated without wasting valuable fuel and without the necessary sunlight for solar solutions, (i.e.- bad storm, no sun). Given our outside temps, we were fortunate, but it could have been sub-zero.
In talking with my Father, he mentioned that a wood fired or corn cob fired submersible tank heater was how they maintained open water back in the day without power. I have searched online and so far have not found anything but a Japanese wood fired spa/ tank heater called a CHOFU. (See for the CHOFU and other items. I have no affiliation with them.) What I would really like to find is a coal fired tank heater that can last longer and be without the fumbling of wood ignition in the raw of a storm. Does anyone have some answers on this matter?
The storm broke off many hundreds of power poles leaving behind downed and dangerous power lines, (which were very hard to see). This brought another valuable lesson. A secondary exit route from our property in the event that the lines above our drive are on the ground, (something I had not thought of).
In the mix of the storm, I helped a friend wire his furnace into his generator, (taking all the appropriate safety measures and considering Lineman safety) in a matter of 15 minutes. This was truly rewarding.
In my discussions with him later, we decided that we were better off having our own private well rather than what we felt was a disadvantage of being on a “community well”. Namely for getting water without power. In the instance we discussed, the well only served about six homes and boasted a 5 HORSEPOWER well pump! I hate to think of the cost of the generator needed to power up that baby, and the likely voltage drop in running extension cords to the location of the well in this instance would not even be feasible.
There are positives to a community well; I am simply outlining the disadvantage as we saw it in our situation.
As a side note, make sure that the alternative power supply to the well pump is sufficient to not “lag” the startup of the motor. I think this is the quick death of electronics. It is easier on the well pump to keep the pump running than to stop and start it, keep that in mind for future reference. I wanted to take this opportunity to say “Thank You” for the SurvivalBlog site. I hope you find reward in another success story and hope others act on their intentions as well, so they may experience the peace I had during this very simple situation. I would feel more embarrassed than I do had I not contributed to the Ten Cent Challenge, pre-storm! I suggest the many others who value your service contribute to the cause. It only takes seconds, and it can save lives. (Does that sound like it is worth $36.50 a year???) Read it, Learn it, Buy it, Use it! - The Wanderer

A warning from veteran economic analyst Harry Shultz, by way of BULL!, (Not Bull)

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Desert T . mentioned this New York Times article on honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

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Today we welcome our newest banner advertiser, East Tennessee Sterilizer Service. This company sells state of the art reverse osmosis water purifiers, and has some very hard to find medical equipment at great prices. They even have a few ultra cold medical freezers, which are only rarely found on the surplus market. Give them a call at: (423) 295-4531.

"I knew I'd been living in Berkeley too long when I saw a sign that said 'Free Firewood' and my first thought was 'Who was Firewood, and what did he do?'" - John Berger

Thursday, March 1, 2007

I was pleased to see the new Wikipedia page on Antique Guns. It includes digests on the laws concerning antque guns for the U.S, Canada, the UK, Australia, and Norway. And one of the authors kindly included links to a couple of my FAQs, as well as a link to a long-time SurvivalBlog advertiser: The Pre-1899 Specialist. I highly recommend that every well-prepared family's firearms battery should include a few cartridge guns from the 1890s, chambered in calibers that are still factory produced. Why? If the Democrats ever control both the White House and Congress (which looks all too likely, in just two years), then we may be subjected to nationwide gun registration. In that event, you would be required to register all of the modern guns in your collection. Pre-1899 guns have been Federally exempt since 1968. Odds are that they will continue to be exempt under any new Federal gun registration scheme. (It is hard for the congresscritters to claim continued "interstate commerce" on an item that was first sold across state lines more than a hundred years ago!) So, presumably you will be able to own some unregistered antique guns. This "above ground" portion of your collection would be ideal for your day-to-day hunting, self defense, and target shooting needs. Think about it. If nothing else, pre-1899 guns are a great investment. There is only a limited supply of bona fide shootable antique cartridge guns, and their prices are steadily rising. Since the "antique" threshold was arbitraily frozen at 1898, their numbers are dwindling. So their prices will continue to rise, regardless of whether or not the U.S. gun laws get any worse.

Today we present another article submitted for Round 9 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. I will again be sending out a few complimentary copies of my novel "Patriots" as "honorable mention" awards. If you want a chance to win the contest, start writing and e-mail us your article. Round 9 will end on March 31st. Remember that the articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Many times when we think of survival skills, our minds turn to the most exotic and specialized of skills. When reading on Survivalblog about this writing assignment I fell victim to this same tendency. My initial idea was to write an article on the construction and operation of a fish wheel, commonly used here in my home state of Alaska, and a tool of great value in a survival/retreat situation. But the detail and complexity of such writing is more involved that practical for this forum. So rather than try and explain some intricate and complex device or skill, that will likely never be utilized, I remembered the old K.I.S.S. (keep it simple stupid) principle and turned my attention towards a topic that is often overlooked: bear safety.
The tendency to think of the extravagant before we think of the mundane is fairly common in the outdoors and disaster prep/survival crowds. We all either know the type of person, or have heard of this type of person. You know it’s the guy with a virtual arsenal but who only keeps a couple boxes of ammo around. Or there is my own personal favorite, the “Survivalist” who owns all the latest electronic gadgets and gizmos, including a state of the art color display GPS unit, but has no idea how to use a map and compass. Here in Alaska, and in many areas out in “Bear Country” we see a plethora outdoorsmen both locals and visitors that are completely ignorant of basic safety procedures in these habitats.
Readers may be tempted to skip over this information or dismiss this essay because they “do not live in bear country.” This may be true for many readers, but when we discuss survival in times of disaster, being it natural or man-made, many people would be leaving their homes and venturing into the backyards of our Ursine neighbors. So weather your like me, and often encounter bears when out in the woods (or in your yard), or a city slicker well away from bear country, the following K.I.S.S. Bear Country Basics may prove to be valuable to anyone, and who knows, maybe it could even save your life.
Bear Basics
Most readers likely run a greater chance of encountering a black bear than any other species. The black bear can be found in many states across a large percentage of the country. Most black bears average 5-6 feet long and weigh from 150-500 pounds at best. While many black bears are indeed black in color, particularly in the Eastern U.S., these animals can also be found in various shades of brown, cinnamon and even blondish. Despite this variance in color, most black bears are either black or a much deeper shade of brown than your average brown bear. (See box below for identifying characteristics)
Brown bears, also known as Grizzly’s, are the other species of bear that one is likely to encounter in the wild. Brown bears are much less common in the wild and outside of Alaska and Canada they are likely to be found only in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and possibly Washington. The brown bear is depicted on the California state flag however none are thought to live there currently and they are generally considered to be a threatened species south of Canada.
Browns are seen in light shades of brown, golden browns to chocolate shades and although there are variations in color as with the black bear, most browns are generally a much lighter brown than the typical black bear. Brown bears can grow to be well over 10 feet tall and weigh 1200 pounds at their biggest. The largest of these brown bears are sub-species know as Kodiak brown bears as they are found only in Kodak and surrounding islands in Alaska, although other quite large bears can be found elsewhere as well. (See link below)
Lastly, a quick note on the polar bear: If you ever see a big white bear with a black nose, and your not standing at a zoo exhibit, immediately turn and travel due South (towards the sun) as you have likely made a navigational error.

Before continuing, I would like to stress that there is no way that anyone (myself included) can predict animal behavior. However the following information is widely available and generally accepted as the best steps you can take to minimize the chances you’ll have an unwanted encounter with a bear, and if you do, some of this information may help you handle the situation. But as always, use this information, as well as that from other sources, along with your best judgment to handle any bear encounter. Also, many of these same tips and suggestions may be applicable to other predators in your area if bear do not inhabit your home or retreat location. Finally, I’d like to remind readers that this is only to be a cursory overview of bear safety information and not an exhaustive essay on the topic. For further, and more in-depth information, please see the links following the text below for more information.
On the Trail
Bear encounters while walking through the wilderness are fairly rare, but they are a serious concern to those traveling through bear country. The worst thing that a hiker can do is to sneak up on a bear or surprise them in any way. This is particularly true if the bear is with a cub(s). Groups traveling in the woods generally have less of a problem with sneaking up on a bear(s) as larger groups will tend to make enough noise to warn to bear of their location. Solo hikers or small groups run a greater risk of sneaking up (even unintentionally) and surprising a bear, thus putting them a greater risk of an unwanted encounter and possible attack.
Whether alone, in a small or large group, the best thing you can do to stay safe on the trail is to make some noise. Most any bear, and other predators will likely leave the immediate area if they know a group of people are coming their way. In this sense, the animal does not want to “encounter” you anymore than you want to “encounter” it. As a general rule, the thicker the surrounding brush and vegetation is, the more noise you want to make. High on a ridge above the tree line with great visibility, the noise becomes less important as the bear will likely smell you before they hear you anyway. But down in the forest, through the thick willows and such, making noise can prevent a dangerous situation by allowing the bear enough warning to move away from you path and avoid an encounter.
Hikers in bear country will often attach a noisemaker to their packs, such as bells, or even change in a small can to make a steady stream of sound, without requiring the hikers to continuously talk. This of course leads to the famous Alaskan joke: "How can you identify the scat from a Grizzly Bear? It’s the type with all the little bells in it." But seriously, the bells are an effective noisemaker and have served my family (especially my kids) well over the years. Also keep on the lookout for bear sign, including tracks, scat, scratched up trees/posts and dug up ground to alert you to definite bear presence in the area.
The advice of making noise on the trail may become more of an liability than an asset in certain situations. Hunters obviously would need to observe some noise discipline once they reach their hunting grounds. Also, OPSEC concerns may cause some people to need to travel through the wilderness extremely quietly, come TEOTWAWKI. Just remember that even the largest of bears can travel extremely quietly, and when one does encounter a bear along a trail, they always seem to come from nowhere with little or no warning. My last Grizzly encounter: Three of us were hiking and stopped along the trail for a water break. I looked over my shoulder and there was an 8 foot tall Griz standing on his hind legs less than 20 feet away. He made no sound, no rustling in the willow thicket, and gave no warning at all. In those situations, keep you eyes and ears open, and be ready for anything that comes your way. (More on encountering a bear, below)
Camp Safety
This one is actually very simple, and boils down to just one thing: Keep yourself and your camp as clean and sanitary as possible.
The following bulleted points will be important in reducing the risk of a bear encounter/attack while at the campsite.
- Select a good campsite in bear country. Avoid setting up your camp next to a huge patch of blueberries (or other food source) for example. Before setting up your camp, scout the area looking for any signs of bear activity. This could be anything from a large ripped up patch of earth, to a partially eaten carcass. When in doubt, look for an alternative site. Campsites next to rushing water can also be problematic as the noise from the stream can mask the noises you may make that would alert a bear to your presence.
- Avoid packing fresh perishable foods that have a strong smell (meat, fish) that would tend to attract a bear. Dehydrated or freeze dried foods are preferred. Example: Oatmeal for breakfast will attract less attention from a bear than bacon and eggs.
- Also avoid wearing strong smelling cologne or perfume; even the scents from certain soaps and shampoos can attract a bear. Note: I always store EVERYTHING but clothing, sleeping supplies and a weapon (or 2) outside the tent site. This includes things like soap, deodorant etc. which is stored along with our food supply. NOTE: Once widely held, current theory is that bears are not attracted to a menstruating female so that should not be a big concern, but other scents should be minimized.
- Food should be stored in bear-proof containers or “bear bags,” heavy rubberized bags designed for food storage and to minimize scent transmission. If trees are present, it is best to suspend all food (and waste) at least 10 feet above the ground and 5 feet from the trunk of the tree. If possible, string a rope between 2 trees and suspend the food along the line in the space between 2 trees. This location should be well away from camp, and remember that food should never be brought into the tent or campsite.
- If above the tree line, use a bear-proof container if possible and always store food well away from the campsite. In open areas I have even used large stones to somewhat burry my food supply in a bear bag. This would likely prove useless if a bear came upon my food cache, but it always feels strange to leave a food bag simply resting on the open ground outside of camp.
- Never bring food into your tent or immediate camp area. All cooking, cleaning and food storage should be done at least 100+ feet from the outer perimeter of your campsite. (Preferably downwind from campsite)
- When ever possible, wash up before entering your campsite especially after meals to remove odors that may be present. If you have spilled food on any clothing, it is best to wash the clothing immediately or store it with your food supply if that is not possible. Do not take soiled clothing into the tent with you.
- Garbage should be disposed of immediately (packed out or burned) and dirty dishes should be washed promptly. If burning food waste, ensure that it is burned to ash and that the burning is done away from the tent site. When making a campsite make two fire pits if needed. One at your cooking site, and a “clean” fire site beside your tents to use for heat and light, but no food should be in this area.
With a little time and practice, these simple measures to prevent attracting a bear to your campsite will become second nature. Insist on keeping a clean campsite with a separate food storage and preparation site located adjacent to your tent site. A bear has average hearing and vision, but extremely sensitive sense of smell, so it is imperative to keep all odors that may be alluring to a bear well outside of your tent site.
Bear Encounters:
So you’ve let your presence be known on the trail, or you’ve done all you can to have a safe and clean campsite, but you still attract or otherwise encounter a bear. Here are some simple steps to take to help you through the situation. Again, these are just general recommendations and are not always completely foolproof as animal behavior is unpredictable. However the following recommendations are generally accepted as solid advice when encountering a bear.
- STAY CALM! Assess your situation, and use your best judgment. Remember that there are no actions guaranteed to be life saving when encountering a wild animal. A bear just like a dog or any other animal can sense fear. Screaming or throwing things or otherwise acting aggressively toward the bear may provoke an attack.
- Never feed or otherwise approach a bear. Even (or especially) a cub who appears all alone may have mom very near by, and if you are closer to the cub than the mother bear is, you will likely be seen as a threat.
- Do not run away! This should be a LAST RESORT. Running away from a predator may excite it to chase after you. (Its predatory instinct). Running can essentially turn a non-aggressive bear into a real threat. Besides bear can run as fast as 30 miles and hour, so the possibility of outrunning a bear is next to zero.
- If there is space, simply continue to face the bear and slowly back away while speaking to the bear in a calm even voice. Once a safe distance from the bear, raise your noise level so the bear can be aware of your location and attempt to find an alternative route to your destination if possible. (Note: In well over 40 unexpected bear encounters I have had, this simple technique has worked in all but a couple of situations.)
- A bear standing up on its back legs does not signal aggression or an impending charge. Generally bears will rise up on the back legs and sniff the air to better pick up your scent.
If the Bear Charges or Attacks
Here everything would essentially be thrown out the window, however here are a few ideas to keep in mind if the situation occurs. You essentially have three options: play dead, run, or stand your ground and fight. Always look for a way to avoid confrontation and leave the bear an avenue of escape if possible. Although brown bears are known for their bluff charges, consider any movement toward you as aggressive behavior (most bears will simply run away the other direction). Other aggressive behaviors include making a “whoofing” sound, and pulling back their ears or stomping the ground with their front paws. BE READY TO ACT!
- As soon as you see a bear, try and determine if you are dealing with a black or a Grizzly (brown bear) as you actions may differ depending on the animal your dealing with.
Playing Dead
This is actually a viable option, although the nerve it requires in hard to fathom. I have met one person who used this technique and lived to tell about it. This guy as his rifle tied to his pack (oops!) and couldn’t get to it in time and got charged and mauled by a brownie in the mountains outside Delta, Alaska. The pack served as a shield (he spun it around to his belly) and he laid flat on his back. His partner, about 25 yards back was able shoulder his rifle and shot the bear, as it began to charge toward him. I actually saw the bag the guy was wearing and it had some big gashes in it, and the aluminum frame was bent but the guy escaped with only bumps and bruises.
- Playing dead is only an option if you are viewed as a threat to the bear. If you startle a bear or if you get to close to a cub, you are a threat and playing dead may remove the threat for the bear and end the attack.
- If a bear attacks you in a tent, or from the open, in a situation where it has a chance to escape but charges anyway, then playing dead is most likely not an option. These types of attacks are generally by juveniles and occur in the fall when they are desperate to pack on some weight before winter. In such a scenario, you would be viewed as a source of food, not a threat, so your choices would be to run or fight back at all costs.
- It is said that playing dead is generally more effective with Grizzly bears rather than black bears. I’m not sure why that is the case, but several game biologists, park rangers as well as the bear safety presentation at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center included this information. Their message was simple, if it’s a black bear FIGHT!
Running Away
To me running away really has only two chances of being successful. One is that the bear is mounting a bluff charge, or otherwise terminates the charge as you turn to escape. Remember, even the biggest bear can run twice as fast as the average person so your chances here are slim. Two, if a Grizzly charges you and there is a climbable tree in the immediate area (big enough to escape danger and not get swatted down by the bear) running may be a good option given ample time/space. Black bears are incredible climbers and if they are looking for a meal, a tree won’t stand in their way, and thus the previous advise to fight a black bear if it attacks. Brown bear are able to climb tries but only in a very limited way. If the tree is ample size and height, it should offer you a good chance at safety from a brown.
Stand Your Ground and Fight
Again, there is noting here that any man can say that can really guide you as what to do, but here are some thoughts, and this is where we, as self-reliant people who are generally very well prepared would hopefully have an advantage over your average Joe. Your first option here is a can of bear spray which is essentially a large canister of pepper spray that shoots a large stream of chemical irritant with a range of 20-30 feet. These spray cans are quite effective and they are your only real option (under normal circumstances) in national parks, as firearms are not allowed within most parks. The big drawback with the spray is that it doesn’t last long and you don’t even want to think about spraying it into a strong wind.
I’m sure most people reading this are quite familiar with firearms so I will spare you too much detail in this department. I follow the principle of shoot the biggest round that you can comfortably and accurately shoot. I favor the .44 magnum revolver for always with you bear protection, and often carry a .45 semiautomatic as well for insurance. Larger rounds are available in droves, but I’m comfortable with the .44. I’ve heard offhand accounts of black bears being killed with a 9mm, but to me that’s just pushing your luck a bit. Still when venturing into bear country, I would take ANY firearm over none at all.
Long guns, rifles or shotguns, are of course a great too here is you have the space to use one. Rifles at least .300 [Magnum] and up would be recommended, probably bigger if you know you’ll frequently be encountering and/or hunting bear, particularly Grizzlies. Shotguns are certainly effective as well. I would recommend the heaviest shot you can get your hands on. Some people here in Alaska will alternate a slug shell with heavy shot for bear protection, which I’d assume is effective when called upon. The bottom line, like any situation where a firearm may be needed is to be prepared. I myself have had bear encounters outside my cabin where you set the shotgun down for “just one second” when nature calls, or to do some work, and out of nowhere a bear comes strolling into view. That’s why you always keep your sidearm with you if there is even a chance of a bear in the area.
One final note on shooting a bears is that they have extremely thick bone structure in their foreheads that can deflect a bullet. This is particularly true of Grizzly bears, but all bear share this trait. Th eFish and Game Department here in Alaska has some Grizzly skulls with little channels bored out in the forehead from bullets striking the skull and glancing upward. If possible, I would recommend aiming for the chest rather than the head if the bear is charging at you
In Summary
Bear encounters and attacks, as well as other predator attacks are very rare, but they do happen, so prepare for them as you would prepare any other threat that you may face. I hope that this essay will prove to be of some value to you whether preparing for a family vacation or perhaps when the SHTF. Keep in mind that these same principles can be applicable to some extent with other predatory animals as well, although each individual animal is quite unpredictable, and no book, essay or lecture can ensure your safety.
Some Links:
Alaska State Parks – Bear Safety
Black Bear Facts
Brown/Grizzly Bear Facts
Amazing Pics of Massive Grizzly – along with myths and true story of the photos
Hunting in Bear Country – tips and info with attack story

Dear Jim:
Your web site is excellent. A few thoughts on Mark's e-mail on JIT delivery.(Posted on February 25th.)

(1) For 34 years my job has taken me over the interstate highway/parkway system in New Jersey and Metropolitan New York City. Any accident, no matter how minor, affects traffic flow in both directions; the actual "event" and the "rubber neckers" slowing down to watch from the opposite side. Under the best conditions, the Staten Island Expressway (I-278) slows to a crawl approaching the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.

(2) The two major north/south routes in New Jersey are the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95) and the Garden State Parkway. US Route 1 is antiquated, congested and it runs through every small town in the state. The New Jersey Turnpike handles both passenger car and truck traffic. The Garden State Parkway is restricted to cars and small trucks because the overpasses (particularly in North Jersey) are low and cannot accommodate trucks.

(3) Both of these major highways have numerous bridges and overpasses. The most critical is in Woodbridge, New Jersey where the Garden State Parkway crosses over the New Jersey Turnpike. There is also an extended elevated portion of the New Jersey Turn Pike running near New York City. If 19 terrorists could destroy the World Trade Center and damaging the Pentagon with aircraft, how difficult would it be to sufficiently damage a highway bridge or overpass, thus severing a major transportation artery.

(4) New York City and the surrounding area is even more vulnerable. The map shows 6 bridges and two tunnels west of New York and 7 bridges and 2 tunnels spanning the East River. The only access to Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island is via a bridge or tunnel.

(5) With the decline of the northeastern railroads, significant quantities of critical materials move by truck. Truck transportation requires strong, passable highways and most importantly functioning bridges and tunnels. Every major port city in America has bridges and tunnels and even inland cities have rivers, rail lines, etc. spanned by bridges.
Are these assets sufficiently protected to insure their viability? - JH

I've added a few more Affiliate Advertisers, including 1-800 GET LENS and the bookseller in Canada. These join our big list of established affiliates that includes, US Cavalry Store, Nitro-Pak, and Northern Tool & Equipment. (Those four generate more revenue for SurvivalBlog than all of the other affiliates, combined!) Of course, please give our paid (scrolling banner) advertisers your business first. But if they don't have the products you are looking for, then please next patronize our affiliate advertisers. When you place an order via the web links from our Affiliates Page, we get a little piece of the action. Thanks!

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Michael Z. Williamson sent a link to useful site: a friend of his has developed and tested a method of converting European Berdan primed brass to Boxer priming.It looks like a very labor intensive process for salvaging a 10 cent piece of brass. But in a pinch, it could be done. Be forewarned that that if you start doing this, that cartridge head stamps will no longer serve as a sure indicator for you in sorting your supply of fired brass. For any formerly "Known Berdan" head stamps, you will then have to individually inspect each fired case with a bright flashlight to determine whether or not it has been Boxer-converted. There is nothing quite like when you get when you try to de-cap a piece of brass and you feeling something odd during the de-capping/re-sizing stroke, as you realize that the piece of brass was Berdan-primed. The decapping pin usually comes out bent around almost 180 degrees like a fish hook. It is even possible to bend a de-capping rod--effectively destroying your resizing die. OBTW, I have friends in Canada that have a Berdan de-capping and re-capping rig. Berdan primers are available via mail order from The Old Western Scrounger.If you ever buy a large quantity of Berdan-primed military surplus ammo, then it might be worthwhile to get set up to re-prime with fresh Berdan primers.

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Bob G. told us about this fascinating piece by Alexander B. Korelin


"Qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum." ("Let him who desires peace prepare for war.") Usually more simply quoted as "Si vis pacem, para bellum." - Flavius Vegetius Renatus circa (375 AD), in Epitoma rei Militaris

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