Letter Re: Questions on Sambucol, EMP-Proof Vehicles, Food Storage, Real Estate, Barter Guns and Ammo, and SAR-8 Rifles

Mr. Rawles:

I have some questions for you: [JWR’s replies are in line, in bold]

1.) Regarding the Sambucol products.
–Does this product have any preventative component or do you only take it when symptoms occur?

Take it only immediately after symptoms occur.

–How many 7.8 oz. bottles do you recommend for storage for a family or families in a homestead?

We are a family of five, and I bought six bottles.  But we plan to be living in isolated self-quaratine, here in the boonies.  And BTW, half of what I bought was intended charity.  For those of you that are not self-employed or otherwise don’t anticipate being able to live in self-quarantine, you should probably buy a larger quantity.

2.) Regarding discussion on G.O.O.D. vehicles.
–I reviewed all the articles and posts and it appears that the consensus is that pre-1993 vehicles offer the best EMP protection. Do you have any new info or insights on this subject.

Pre-1993 is a fairly safe bet for diesel engines, but not for gasoline engines, which started “going electronic” in the late 1970s. Unless you are quite familiar with car engines, you really need to consult with a mechanic from a dealership for the particular manufacturer of your vehicle to be certain that any particular make/model/year has a traditional rotor/points/condenser ignition system and that it has traditional carburetion rather than electronically-controlled fuel injection.  BTW, many gas-powered engines from the 1980s and 1990s can be retrofitted with a traditional ignition system. Again, you need to ask someone with expertise to ascertain the details. Alternatively, you can buy one or more spare identical electronic ignition system CPUs from wrecking yards to store in metal cans. (Faraday protection.)

3.) Regarding storage foods
–What percentage of MRE’s and freeze-drieds do you recommend?

That depends on your circumstances.  For someone that lives at their intended retreat year-round, as much as 90% of their storage food should be in bulk containers such as five gallon pails.  But for someone that plans to “Get out of Dodge” (G.O.O.D.) at the 11th hour, perhaps as much as 25% of your food should be divided equally between freeze dried and MREs. (And of course nearly all of the bulk storage food should be pre-positioned at your retreat.)  See my Links page for recommended vendors.  If you buy your storage food from any of them, please mention where you got the recommendation. (Many of them are SurvivalBlog advertisers–or they should be.)

–Are there any other types of storage foods that you would suggest?

Don’t overlook stocking up larger quantities of the wet-packed canned foods that you use on a regular basis.   Yes, they are fairly bulky, heavy, and need to be rotated frequently, but “per dollar” they are a fairly efficient use of household funds for storage foods.

Also consider the new retort packaged foods (such as stews. These are quite convenient. There are also a surprising number of canned foods that have switched to pull top lids in the last couple of years. OBTW, mark the date of purchase with a Sharpie pen on ALL storage foods, so that you can rotate them consistently.

4.) Regarding the Housing Bubble and Real Estate
–If the bubble is to burst in 2006 wouldn’t that lead to much lower real estate prices? Therefore would it be prudent to wait for this before purchasing land for a homestead/retreat? Or should we not concern ourselves with what the market is doing?

I am of the opinion that the biggest declines in house prices will occur in urban and suburban real estate.  Productive farm land will probably only go down slightly, since it has been depressed (in terms of its real value) for decades. And houses on 5 to 40 acres in choice retreat locales might actually go up in price, as yuppies flee the cities in opening stages of the next depression.  IMHO, you can’t go wrong buying a house on a 40 acre parcel with productive soil and spring-fed water and that is situated in a lightly populated region well removed from the major population centers.  The downside risk is minimal.

5.) Regarding barter guns and ammo
–In a post TEOTWAWKI barter economy which do you think will be more in demand-shotguns or pistols? Could you please give us your reasoning on this?

Both will be in demand, but it primarily will be pistols will be sought by untrained suburban know-nothings.  (Shotguns are much more effective!)  So if you are buying for barter, buy large caliber (.40 S&W or .45 ACP) used Glocks, SIGs, or Berettas, and/or American-made (preferably Colt) stainless steel auto pistols. If you are buying with the intent of being able to arm your neighbors for mutual defense, then buy used Remington or Mossberg 12 gauge riotguns.

–You have highly recommended the .308 Winchester caliber for the MBR but what exact specifications [of ammunition] (manufacturer, grain, FMJ/JHP) do you suggest we purchase?

For self defense, I recommend that you buy 80% full metal jacket (“ball”) ammunition, 10% match, and 10% pointed soft point soft nose. For barter, buy mainly hollow point common caliber pistol ammunition and .22 Long Rifle rimfire ammunition–again, hollow points.

6.) I have been considering purchasing a Springfield SAR-8 rifle chambered in .308.
A.) What is your opinion on the SAR-8 as a MBR?

The SAR-8 (Springfield Armory’s clone of the HK91) are well made (much better than the CETME).  Their only serious shortcoming is that they lack a flash hider. Be advised that if you replace the original pseudo flash hider with a real one, that it must be a U.S.-made part, since the 1989 ban (still in effect) requires that the rifle retain 10 U.S. made parts.

If you can afford it, buy an original HK91 rather than a SAR-8.  Magazines (they both use the same type) are currently cheap and plentiful, so buy a pile of them.  (Something like 50+ of the West German alloy magazines. They can be had for as little as $2.50 each from mail order firms like Cheaper Than Dirt.)

B.) The iron sights on this weapon do not have tritium; do you suggest I have it installed? Or have a scope mounted?

I’d recommend that you get  a tritium-lit scope (preferably a Trijicon brand) on a quick-detachable claw mount. Tritium iron sights are available for the HK91/SAR-8 but they would be redundant to a tritium-lit scope. If you decide to NOT get a scope, then it is worth the money to buy tritium element sights.

3.) What type and brand of scopes do you like? 

For purely long range work, most of the Leupold or Nikon mil-dot scopes are excellent.  For the best “all around” scope, I prefer the Trijicon AGOGs.

7.) I am planning on purchasing a quantity of gold; do you recommend bullion or gold coins? – Dr Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

IMO, bullion gold (bars) are only for the super-wealthy.  Because it requires assay before resale, I don’t consider bullion gold appropriate for most survivalists. As previously stated in my SurvivalBlog writings and in my novel Patriots, gold is too compact a form of wealth for barter purposes.  Buy one $1,000 face value bag of 90% (pre-1965) silver dimes or quarters for each family member for barter before you move on to buying gold. Then buy your gold in the form of 1 ounce Krugerrands or Canadian Maple Leafs, since those have the lowest premium (dealer’s profit, per coin.) Avoid the Chinese Pandas.  There are far too many of those being counterfeited! For our readers overseas, buy whatever coins are the most recognizable locally. (e.g. Australian Koalas, British Sovereigns, Swiss Vrenellis, et cetera.)