The Survivalist’s Odds ‘n Sods:

SurvivalBlog presents another edition of The Survivalist’s Odds ‘n Sods— a collection of news bits and pieces that are relevant to the modern survivalist and prepper, this week from JWR. Today we highlight the population density of the Great Basin region.

Survival and Austere Medicine Book Update!

A group of medical  professionals has rewritten their great Survival and Austere Medicine freeware book. The Second Edition was published in 2005 as a free PDF and has been download more than 5,000 times and it is found in many on-line prepper/survivalist collections. They have just released the Third Edition.

The new edition of the book remains free – it is a labor of love from a group of medically-orientated preppers and Survivalists – several MDs, nurses, Physician’s Assistants (PAs), a veterinarian, and a biomedical technician. Most of them live in Australia and New Zealand. The Third Edition (of December, 2017) is a complete update of the 2005 edition. There are many more chapters and nearly all of the original ones have been rewritten. It has been expanded from 250 pages to just over 600 pages! You can  download the Third Edition free of charge, here.

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Retreat Perimeter Security

“Max Velocity” recently posted this wisdom, over at his blog: Perimeter Security: Use of an Obstacle Plan. Here is a key quote: “It is essential to understand that any perimeter security measure that you use will only ever cause delay, by slowing down the ingress of an intruder. It is unlikely that you will be able to install a perimeter security feature that will permanently deny entry to a determined intruder, given sufficient time and determination. This is why in a military sense, any obstacle that is installed should be ‘covered by observation and fire.’ The obstacle is thus simply intended to delay the enemy, in order to be able to bring fire on them, the delay providing time in which to deploy forces to respond, thus regaining the initiative.”

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Population Density of the Great Basin

The term The Great Basin was coined by explorer John C. Fremont.  It has been called “America’s Empty Quarter.” This arid region stretches from southern Nevada to as far north as southern Idaho and southern Oregon. Its eastern limit is the Wasatch Front of Utah. Except in a few scattered cities, the population density of the Great Basin is incredibly low–averaging just a few people per square mile.  This low density is best seen in the lights of the United States satellite photo montages.  Anyone who has not explored the area–especially via the smaller roads–has no appreciation of just how incredibly sparse the population truly is.

I generally don’t recommend the Great Basin for retreats. But for some–especially Californians–its proximity represents one tempting possibility.  For anyone considering a rural retreat in the Great Basin, I’d suggest buying land that is far removed from cities, and that is way back on “a side road of a side road”.  That isolation, and a plentiful surface water source will be your two key considerations. Once there, build your structures and photovoltaic systems with light discipline in mind, lest your retreat be spotted from a distance. An isolated valley that is not within line of sight of any settlement would be best.  There are also a few isolated hamlets that have plentiful water. One of these is Unionville, Nevada. – JWR

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Finger Fanning Autopistols

By now, some SurvivalBlog readers might have seen the trailer for the upcoming movie release of Sicario 2: Soldado. In it, lead actor Benedito Del Toro administers a coup de gras on a prone opponent, using a two-handed technique that I tried many years ago. I called it “finger fanning”. (Although I suppose there must be a more precise or proper term for it.) This is fanning a semi-auto pistol trigger, using the second joint of the straight index finger of the opposite (“weak”) hand. This was when I was an ROTC cadet at San Jose State University. I did so at the MacQuarrie Hall basement shooting range, using a Rawles family-owned Hi-Standard H-D Military .22 LR target pistol. It had a crisp, short, single action trigger pull, with a very fast reset.

Not to brag, but I think that I was a lot faster than that actor, when I was shooting the H-D Military .22 LR. I could dump a 10-round magazine down range in less than a second. That was great fun, especially whilst shooting Uncle Sam’s ammo. (Once, hearing the commotion, I recall Master Sergeant Reyes shouting at me: “No full auto on dee range, Cadet!!!”)  By the way, I should mention that a pistol with a long double action only (DAO) trigger pull is sub-optimal for any finger fanning technique. But finger fanning a M92 Beretta loaded with blanks sure makes it look controllable. (Which by the way, it isn’t, with live ammo…) Please folks, do not consider this a practical shooting technique.  It is purely a fun exhibition technique, with considerable safety concerns. – JWR

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Asparagus, Anyone?

I just noticed Valley Food Storage (one our newest advertisers) has added chopped, freeze dried asparagus to their product line. It is a limited run, now sale priced $12.95 for a 15-serving pouch. In my experience, that is about the same cost as buying asparagus out of season at a grocery store. That is amazing, considering that you are getting a packaged product with a 10+ year shelf life. That would make a good supplement to a family food storage larder–at least for those of us who enjoy asparagus. Stock up before this limited production run sells out.

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Fascinating: Underground Britain

A fascinating 55 minute documentary is now available on YouTube: The Secrets of Underground Britain – Wartime Secrets. The portion about underground Hide-Aways for stay-behind “Auxilliaries” sabotage and resistance forces, starting at 28:05 is of particular interest.

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Please send your news tips to HJL. (Either via e-mail of via our Contact form.) These are often especially relevant, because they come from folks who watch news that is important to them. Due to their diligence and focus, we benefit from fresh “on target” news. We often “get the scoop” on news that is most likely ignored (or reported late) by mainstream American news outlets. Thanks!


  1. I have just added a prep for this week and that is to start reading and studying the 3 Edition of the Survival and Austere Medicine manual. Thank you for bringing this resource to my attention.

  2. Response to Mira, I certainly do not have JWR’s tactical background, but I’ve been off-grid 30 yr in a moderately remote location. First question to ask is survival scenario: Short disruption or long-term self-sufficiency. For short-term, defense is the priority, for long, the natural advantages (eg microclimate, water sources, fertility)of the land is. In both scenarios community is essential and problematic. IME you cannot likely find it all in one place. In a place like The Redoubt presumaly the proability is high that neighbiors to any particular piece of land may be trustworty and prepared, folks with whom you canmake common defense. Where we are, not so much. IMO building your group,as ilustrated in JWR’s “Patriots” is essential.

  3. You need to have Community…So many Preppers choose isolation and find out that it may be great for where they are at in that stage of their life but they find out further down the road when they age or have kids that it’s not great to be so far away from everything…You can’t live a full life by hiding out in the woods…Where I am at has in my opinion the best of everything and anyone is welcome to join me to add to the Community…

  4. 1) Re the underground hides of Britain’s WWII Auxiliary Units, the tour guide notes at time 34:00 that their expected survival time was only a few days.
    2) The reason for this was German search/tracking dogs, which the Auxiliary Units considered their greatest threat. One of their weapons was a silenced rifle shooting 22 LR — to take out tracking dogs. But even this was considered a forlorn hope.
    3)In early years of WWII, the Brits invented modern terrorism — but professional troops know that terrorist tactics are used by the weak.

    Espionage, on the other hand, is quite a different matter.

    4) The guys who created the Auxiliary Units went on to create the Special Operations Executive (SOE), tasked with developing similar resistance groups in France and other foreign areas.

    5) But SOE’s greatest enemy was Britain’s MI6 aka SIS. Which was greatly annoyed by SOE’s pinprick attacks stirring up the Gestapo , thereby causing SIS’s spies in the same area to be exposed by greater security measures. SIS argued it was best to FIND major targets and then let the RAF take them out. SIS’s bureaucratic warfare was sometimes more effective than the Germans.

    6) It is worth remembering that the most effective covert action of WWII was the Rosenberg and Cohen spy rings handing Joe Stalin the detailed design of the plutonium implosion bomb. They were effective in part because Los Alamos security was limited by Manhatten management after complacency set in — because there was no obvious threat/danger in New Mexico.

  5. Mira, JWR is an expert but I’ll add my 2 cents… The anser to your question is…it depends… on your health, your ability to build, install, repair cars, tractors, motors, solar, wind, generators, birth and treat your animals, kill and butcher your own animals, etc. Can you grow your animal feed and your own veges and preserve them? If youbreak your leg, arm, back, can you fix yourself or how will you get help? Do you have a satelite phone for emergencies? If you can’t do most of these things yourself then you best be close to a small town/community. Just saying…

  6. “finger fanning”, hmm, I tried that 50 yrs ago with 7 in ruger MK 1 target pistol, all I can say is ” I’m glad that I had 40 acres of pasture behind what I was shooting at. but it was fun

  7. Mira
    1) A survival consultant named Jonathan and I debated this at some length a while back — you might check out that discussion at

    2) I don’t claim my arguments were particularly expert or good but Jonathan made a very good, strong argument for the isolated group (not enough food to feed a small town and many in town unprepared) whereas I noted the contrary arguments that Mel Tappan made back in 1979 for moving to a small isolated town. I still favor the small town but Jonathan did a very good job arguing to the contrary.
    3) Our treatment may not have been exhaustive –there may be other factors that we did not consider.
    4) If you choose an isolated area, it might be worthwhile chosing one that is within 4-8 hours travel time to a river. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, esp after 6 months have passed, gasoline may not be available. In that case, water transport — raft, sailboat,etc — is the only way to travel vast distances while carrying several hundred pounds of food and supplies as well as having access to water.
    Plan B in case a looting horder approaches your retreat or a drought makes it impossible to grow crops.
    5) While the Redoubt is isolated, there are some rivers nearby that lead into the Mississippi River and from there to the Gulf of Mexico and Central America. One guy made a canoe trip all the way from Minnesota to New Orleans/Gulf of Mexico a few years ago. Note that one has to portage around various dams and canal locks, however.
    6) Much of today’s blue water sailing with small boats depends upon frequent, reliable weather forecasts which will not be available in TEOTWAWKI. Coastal cruising — with the ability to beach a boat if a storm blows up — would probably be safer than blue water sailing.

  8. Sir,

    As per the “Sicario 2: Soldado” trailer:

    The movie appears to be about the US Military engaging in open warfare with the Mexican drug cartels.

    A couple of thoughts came to mind while watching it.

    I wonder if this is a solution to the violence, and atrocities, that is apparently being committed by the Cartels.

    Secondly, in a collapse scenario of North American society, would we see many of those scenes depicted on a much larger scale, between factions of the American Military, the heavily armed Citizens of both nations, against the Drug Cartels.

    As a sidenote, I am disapointed that many of the Mexican Drug Cartel’s firearms they currently have in use, may have been the direct result of the ATF “Gun walking scandal”.

    Blessed New Years,

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