Note from JWR:

Today we present the final entry for Round 20 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The contest prizes include:

First Prize: The writer of the best contributed article will be awarded two transferable Front Sight  “Gray” Four Day Training Course Certificates. This is an up to $4,000 value!
Second Prize: A three day course certificate from OnPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses.
Third Prize: A copy of my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing

Round 21 begins tomorrow, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical “how to” skills for survival will have an advantage in the judging.

Building a Low-Cost, Low-Profile Shortwave Dipole Antenna, by Jerry the Generator Guy

First, you decided to get your own shortwave receiver. You wanted to be able to listen to unfiltered worldwide news. Applause, and a pat on the back, for taking a positive step. However, an unexpected problem may soon surface. Any internal ferrite or wand/rod antenna, like what the radio came with, will only effectively receive strong signals. Unfortunately, it can’t do a good job on weak signals.

The obvious solution is to add an external antenna. But it may be spotted by the neighborhood or local “whiners” may complain that your obnoxious visible antenna is interfering with their television or radio reception. The fact that you are only receiving won’t stop their perception that it’s your fault. A second issue is that the “typical" outdoor antenna may not survive severe weather. It may fail in high wind/snow/ice.

Another negative is that any antenna wire in the … Continue reading

Letter Re: Advice on AR-10 Rifles (Updated)

Mr. Rawles:
I’m thinking about buying a Bushmaster AR-10 type rifle that comes with with one clip. What features should I look for, especially these days? Are the magazines an issue? Thanks, – C. in Oregon

JWR Replies: Let me start with a pet peeve. The terms clip and magazine are not synonymous. A clip holds cartridges only at one end, whereas a magazine complete surrounds a cartridge. In the context of modern detachable magazine battle rifles, a clip is what is used to fill a magazine. Please do not call a magazine a clip, especially around children. They are impressionable, and I ‘d hate to see another generation growing up to use faulty nomenclature.

In today’s frantic market the over-riding concern for AR-10 buyers is interchangeability of magazines. Some brands of AR-10s will accept inexpensive metric FN-FAL magazines, while others will accept only purpose-built … Continue reading

Four Letters Re: More Predictions for 2009, by Roger Wiegand

Mr. Rawles-
In response to “More predictions for 2009”, reader Jeff K writes, “There has never, ever been hyperinflation with deflating real estate prices.”. This is simply false, and a surprisingly common misperception. Zimbabwe is hardly a ‘red hot’ market for residential (or commercial) real estate, yet that country is an example of extreme hyperinflation. When Turkey went through its period of massive inflation it too suffered declining real estate values. South America, plagued with inflation during much of the past century was also a black hole for real estate investment. Ditto for [much of] Africa. Weimar Germany, a famous example of hyperinflation in a modern, western state was, similarly, anything but an appreciating property market.

What one may observe during a hyperinflationary event is the dramatically increasing cost of assets denominated in the hyperinflating currency. The real value of the domestic assets (such as real estate), however, is … Continue reading

Odds ‘n Sods:

In Texas, they wouldn’t call this a “weapons cache”, rather they’d describe it as a “a good start at a gun collection”: Weapons Cache Found Near Home of Former N.J. Cop (A tip of the hat to Hawaiian K. for the link.)

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Florida Guy sent us this bit of anticipated news: Zimbabwe abandons its currency. So it seems that that via hyperinflation, Comrade Mugabe and his cronies have effectively fleeced the entire life savings of virtually everyone in that once-prosperous nation. The only value the Zimbabwean dollar now has is as a novelty item for currency collectors. (A crisp new Z$100 Trillion note might fetch a few US Dollars on eBay. But on the streets of Harare, a Z$100 Trillion bill might buy a few cigarettes.) The nation has plunged into utter hopelessness.and despair.

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In case … Continue reading

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“I figured out when I was a little kid that it was better to be a pessimist than an optimist. You see, when you’re an optimist, the best that happens is that things go as you planned, and half the time you’re bitterly disappointed. But when you’re a pessimist, the worst that ever happens is that things to exactly the way you were prepared for them to go, and half the time you’re pleasantly surprised.” – Massad Ayoob , January 1, 2009

Note from JWR:

Because we phased out our old Earthlink e-mail address, we’ve had to update our PayPal account. Our new PayPal account address is:

Please use this new PayPal address for any 10 Cent Challenge voluntary subscription payments or advertising payments. (I’ve updated the relevant links.) As I’ve mentioned before, I strongly prefer AlertPay or GearPay because they don’t share PayPal’s anti-gun political agenda.
Our AlertPay address is:

Our GearPay address is:

We are also gradually transitioning to our Tonga (.to) domain for our primary e-mail address: Please update your address books. Thanks!

The New Washington, DC Paradigm Does Not Bode Well for Economic Recovery or Gun Ownership

Wednesday’s news of passage of the “supplementary” TARP II $900 billion stimulus and bailout legislative package in the House of Representatives is noteworthy. The fact that it passed with hardly a whimper is evidence that Congress cannot be trusted to show any fiscal restraint. According to the Wall Street Journal only about 12 cents of every dollar appropriated in that legislation will go for something that can be considered a growth stimulus, yet there was no lengthy or substantive debate on the bill. The floodgates of the Treasury have been opened! The Mother of All Bailouts (MOAB) is now sure to further expand, to heretofore unimagined proportions. Henceforth, each time that there is a new “crisis” or “emergency”, or a “threat” to a vital industry, Uncle Sugar will dump veritable truckloads of magically-created money on the problem. What will be deemed a “vital” industry? Car makers … Continue reading

Letter Re: A Handy Book for Boys

I’ve only recently become a SurvivalBlog reader, but I thought I’d share some info about a book I’ve had sitting on my shelf for quite some time. I’d never really put any thought into its usefulness until lately.
It’s called The American Boy’s Handybook. I first caught sight of it several years ago, way back in Elementary School, when I was just a little cuss, not the full sized cuss I’ve grown up to be.
Like the title says, the book itself is geared toward the younger generation, ages 8 – 18+. But there is a wealth of information that even the oldest of us kids can make use of.
Originally published in 1890, the book is packed, cover to cover, with projects and activities that require no electricity, no high tech spare parts, and perhaps most important, no advanced tools. Nowhere, in the entire book, will … Continue reading

Two Letters Re: More Predictions for 2009, by Roger Wiegand

Good Morning, Jim!
This is a response to “More Predictions for 2009”:
We can’t make other peoples’ choices for them, but we can be affected by them. We are our brothers’ keepers, but not their masters. Governments will always do what they always do. You need to be concerned with your “mini government” – your own household. Wherein the adults are the governing body and are also constituents (along with any dependents). I choose to focus on what I can control and not toil and spin about the stuff I can’t control.
My predictions for 2009?
– My wife and I will finally take an NRA rifle safety course (already in the works).
– Depending on how our marksmanship and safety progresses, we might hunt for food.
– We will evaluate how much wood we burned through winter and adjust accordingly.
– We … Continue reading

Odds ‘n Sods:

“The Survivalist” mentioned this article: More than a million wait in icy darkness across US

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As most SurvivalBlog readers surely deduced long ago, I am an inveterate scrounger. I scan through Craig’s List with the same regularity as the Bald Eagles that cruise up and down The Unnamed River here at the Rawles Ranch do, at this time of year. So I was delighted that while doing some web wandering today, I found a link over at Keep and Bear Arms to this inspirational article: Praxis: Scavenging as a Guerrilla Art Form.

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Eric flagged this update: Peanut butter recall expanded to two years’ worth of products. Here is an FDA web page with a searchable list of hundreds of recalled peanut butter products.

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The … Continue reading

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“One aspect of the red state versus blue state dynamic of the country which is often overlooked, is that while the Blue States have come out on top politically, the red states are much more self-sufficient in resources and infrastructure. In a time of crisis this underlying dynamic would become painfully obvious, as overpopulated and undersupplied states in the North and Midwest began demanding resources from politically disenfranchised states in the South and West where most of the agricultural and energy resources are located. When the force of the federal government is turned to massive redistribution of wealth and resources, those who are on the losing end of that redistribution are going to be very disgruntled. When a central government which you feel does not represent you comes to take the food from the mouths of your children and give it to someone else, suddenly concepts like secession and civil … Continue reading

Letter Re: Mini-14s as Battle Rifles?

Is a Ruger [Mini-14 .223] Ranch Rifle a good low cost battle rifle choice? Apparently they are not for anything past “medium range”. (Honestly I don’t know what that means.) Although the new Mini-14s [with] 580[-prefix] serial numbers are supposedly more accurate at longer ranges than previous Ranch Rifles. I am interested in going to an Appleseed event sometime later this year and was wondering if this might work for their program. Also if it is a good gun I was going to go ahead and buy the 20 round factory Ruger magazines. Thanks, – Clint C.

JWR Replies: In my opinion, even the latest production variants of the Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle are a marginal compromise choice for a .223 battle rifle. But they might be a good choice for folks in California, where many other semi-auto rifles are already banned by state law. But be advised … Continue reading

Letter Re: Handy Uses for Thermite

I followed a link from your site and ended up at the DBC Pyrotechnics site, looking at a lot of 10 Thermite “all weather fire starters”.

It seems like a very handy tool to have – cold weather fire starters like that. I wonder if any other readers of your novel might find them useful. A lot of 100 of those might be just a very useful thing to add into someone’s retreat supplies.

Now if I can just find a place that offers pre-mixed bulk thermite, I might build some nice #2 can-size thermite devices, in case I ever have a need to do some “off grid welding”, or whatever. A smaller [one quart] can [at the bottom of] a larger can filled with sand (along the sides) tends to direct more of the molten metal down through the bottom. Just the thing if you … Continue reading

Three Letters Re: The Gray Man in the Coming Storm


On Tuesday Jan. 27th, SurvivalBlog readers found 12 [follow-up] letters concerning the recent “Gray Man” letter. I believe the writer’s of the majority of those letters need to go back and re-read the original Gray Man post. That post included several suggestions for “surviving” within an area of control of a repressive government. They included putting pro-government bumper stickers on your car, checking out pro-government library books, accepting with a smile the government ID chip, gladly taking and using a government credit card and thanking the government for doing a good job. These are not “Gray Man hide in plain sight” activities. These are all actions that actively support the government. These are all activities that say to your neighbors that you support the government and that you think it’s actions are proper. Whatever your secretly held thoughts might be, your actions are what your children and … Continue reading