Letter Re: Fire Hose Outdoor Clothing, and FMJ vs. Hollow Points?

Dear James,
Recently I received an interesting catalog in the mail. It’s from the Duluth Trading Company, and they manufacture rugged outdoor clothing made of fire hose material. http://www.DuluthTrading.com I have not tried any of their products yet, however, I plan to in the future and just wanted to share it with you and your readers for your and their consideration.

I have a question for you too, if you don’t mind. Why is a FMJ round more desirable in combat than a Soft Point? My reasoning is that Soft Point ammo expands more, and creates a larger wound channel than a FMJ. That has been my observation on deer taken with a .30-06 150 grain Winchester Silver Tip, for example. Thank you.
Merry Christmas to you and Yours – D.O.T.

JWR Replies: In essence, I’m a believer for full metal jacket (FMJ) ammunition for rifles, and premium jacketed hollow point (JHP) ammunition for most handguns.  Hollow points are important for handguns because with their relatively low power (compared to rifles), you need all of the expansion that you can get.  FMJs are important for rifles because you never know when you will be up against an opponent that is wearing body armor (it is increasingly popular with gang members) or that is shooting at you from behind light cover.

Letter Re: .45 ACP Stopping Power and the M1911

Mr. Rawles,
First, I must say that greatly appreciate your website and the expertise that you share. I am 21, and am trying to lead getting my family and close friends prepared logistically for whatever may be coming down in the future. Your information and suggestions are a time/money saver (and likely eventually a life saver.) “Patriots” is an invaluable resource, and more can always be gleaned every time it is read. Thank you!
I wanted to comment on the 45 ACP post from Dec. 20. I generally shy away from handgun discussions because handguns are a mediocre weapon, and the discussions are predictable. In my opinion, the Army Aviators story about the stopping power of a .45 is really inconsequential. If he really did hit the enemy with all 29 rounds, then he didn’t hit him COM. The 3 rounds of 45 ACP and the previous damage from the 9mm is what dropped him. He wasn’t dropped because the .45 is a “super death ray gun”, but is likely because of 3 aimed shots to a vital area. To say the 3 aimed .45 slugs is better than 29 aimed 9mm slugs is not accurate. To say that 3 aimed .45 slugs is better that 29 not-aimed shots would be more accurate. It’s just a thought, because I don’t want to criticize, and I admire his brave service in the army.
I appreciate and understand the fondness of the ‘Warhorse’ (I won’t say ‘old’ Warhorse. I have completed several KT Ordnance “80% Complete” Model 1911s with great success. (See: http://www.ktordnance.com/kto/index.php ) Although the process is very rewarding, I learned that my taste for expensive parts (Smith&Alexander; Ed Brown beavertails, sears, hammers, triggers; Kart barrels; Caspian slides…oh it goes on) can really add up. There can be a lot said for understanding a weapons mechanism and operation, and the 80% project is a good way to understand the basics. I was continually humbled by the vastness of experience needed to successfully do this as a profession.
For someone considering a 80% [KT Ordnance] ‘build’, I would say to set a budget and not exceed it. A good 3 inch group gun can be put together for $500-$600, and that is all that is really needed. A 1911 that shoots 1 inch or less is wonderful, but reliability is second to none! I now prefer the ‘abomination’ called the Glock. With a capacity of 13+1 .45 ACPs, it puts the odds back in the wielders favor. The price is usually half that of a comparable ‘value’ 1911.
‘A 9mm might expand but a 45 won’t shrink’. True, however there are good reasons for having a 9mm in a one’s cache. First, it is so common. Ammunition is cheap. There are loads available that have more foot-pounds energy than .45 ACP hardball (but comparing premium self defense loads to UMC ball isn’t exactly a fair comparison). The 9mm trumps the .38 Special snubby, especially if you look at the Glock 26. The G26 is 10+1(compared to 5 shots in a snub nose), accepts high caps., and the 9mm is more powerful than the 38. The 9mm may be more lady friendly, although the .45 is mild enough to shoot that really anyone should be able to feel comfortable with it(the .45 is much more mild than the 40 S&W which many female police officers must shoot, once a year typically). Capacity is some what important, although familiarity with tactical and emergency reloads is equally as important. I did some 1911 work for a ex-SWAT and nationally known 3-gun guy, and he now prefers a Glock 17 (9mm) because of it’s capacity and his accomplished skill with the sidearm he shoots 20,000 rounds a year with. It really shouldn’t be the first choice if there is a .45 or 10mm available, but it was also provide valuable ‘wampum’ to a post collapse situation (like in your novel with the trade of the Browning Hi-Power for the horse!) Once again, a hearty thanks for your website and book. Sincerely, – The Legend

Letter Re: Zenith “Trans-Oceanic” EMP-Proof Shortwave Radios

I just realized something that some of the SurvivalBlog readers might find interesting: All the older Zenith Trans-Oceanic radios have replaceable (“socketed’) transistors.
The Zenith Trans-Oceanic radios model 1000 and 3000 all have Sockets. I recently replaced a PNP transistor in a 1962 Sony with a new 2N3906 and the radio worked!
So, if someone buys one of these older multi-band shortwave radios with the transistor sockets, then they should buy a bunch of cross-referenced transistors and place them
in a small metal can to protect them from EMP.  See: http://www.transoceanic.nostalgiaair.org/3000.htm
Open the PDF file and you’ll see the transistor sockets. They even tell you how to fix/align/tune this radio. I’m sure the designers wanted this radio to last forever.
President Johnson had a 3000 in the White House that he used to listen to regularly.

It’s to bad the GE Superadio does not have sockets. But the older Zenith Trans-Oceanics with transistor sockets are almost as sensitive as the Superadios and the Zenith’s are made to last! – Fred The Valmet-meister

Three Letters Re: Which Rifle and Caliber is the Best for TEOTWAWKI?

What about the M1A/M14? It would get my vote, even over the FAL. My M1A (“Irene”) has over 8,000 rounds through it, and has never so much as stove piped. And she is a real tack driver. – Gung-Ho

JWR Replies:  I was a big believer in M1As from 1981 until 2003. (I owned five of them at one time.) But in Aught Three I faced facts, took a deep breath, and I sold my M1As and replaced them with L1A1s.  Functionally L1A1s are comparable (but, granted, not quite capable of  match grade M1A accuracy), and their accessories and spare parts are much, much less expensive.  A spare all-G.I. M1A parts set would cost around $900 these days. I was able to replace my M1As with larger number of L1A1s, with a full set of parts for each (everything but the receiver, and 40 spare magazines per rifle, and I still had a lot of money left over. (I spent that on scoping most of the L1A1s.)


Mr Rawles,
In reference to rifle choices for those of us who live in the People’s “Republic” of Kalifornia… our esteemed rulers have (so far) neglected to ban the M1A and its variants (at least as sold by Springfield Armory). I do believe that the M1A is a suitable battle rifle. Thank You. -Eric L.

JWR Replies: As I recall, to get around the ban, M1As have to be retrofitted with a California-sanctioned muzzle brake instead of a flash hider.  Also, “E2” style stocks and folding stocks would also be a no-no in California.  And, of course you also had to have your lifetime supply of high capacity magazines in hand by the end of 1999. (All sales of anything over 10 round became legal on Jan. 1, 2000.) California makes me want to retch.


Mr. Rawles,
I am Active Duty USAF stationed in the UK and was strongly discouraged from bringing any firearms with me when I moved here last year. I made contact with some British gun owners through www.gunboards.com to learn about the regulations and restrictions. After joining the local Rifle and Pistol club my full membership was expedited due to my military background. The club officials were very helpful and friendly. I am using the clubs rifles until I get the paperwork and permits completed; currently my firearms are being kept by her majesty in a customs house. Most bolt action rifles, semi-auto .22s and shotguns are legal here. You can even own a revolver with slight modifications if the barrel is 12 inches.  Thanks for the hard work you put into the website. – Deros

Jim’s Quote of the Day

"Iran, Libya, North Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua — continents away, tens of thousands of miles apart, but the same goals and objectives. I submit to you that the growth in terrorism in recent years results from the increasing involvement of these states in terrorism in every region of the world. This is terrorism that is part of a pattern, the work of a confederation of terrorist states. Most of the terrorists who are kidnapping and murdering American citizens and attacking American installations are being trained, financed, and directly or indirectly controlled by a core group of radical and totalitarian governments — a new, international version of Murder, Incorporated. And all of these states are united by one simple criminal phenomenon — their fanatical hatred of the United States, our people, our way of life, our international stature." – President Ronald Reagan

The Importance of Firewood or Coal Storage

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of having a large supply of fuel for home heating on hand. Ask anyone that has ever been through an ice storm in the northeast. Big ones happen  on average once per decade. These can be really nasty, knocking down hundreds of power lines, inducing power outages that can last for weeks. Those that heat their homes with natural gas, propane, or home heating oil furnaces find themselves out of luck when the power grid goes down. Even if they can keep their heater’s main burner on, there is no electricity to run the circulating fan. That makes for a very chilly house!  Ditto for pellet stoves, which require electricity to run both their pellet-feeding mechanisms and their fans. 

There is nothing quite so “tried and true” as a large, free standing, cast iron stove to burn firewood or coal.  I recommend that you calculate how much wood or coal you burn per winter, and triple that to give you an honest three year supply. Even if you don’t anticipate economic disruption that will last more than a year, you should still get a three year supply. The extra fuel that you have on hand can be used for barter or charity.  Your less prudent neighbors will greatly appreciate it if you can help them heat their homes with some judiciously-dispensed charity. Its our duty to help out widows and orphans–and yes, even your neighbor down the street that was more interested in drinking beer and watching football games than in splitting firewood. Like it or not, it is our Christian duty.

In most cases. laying in a three year supply of fuel will necessitate adding a lot of firewood or coal storage space. Don’t skimp and put your firewood under those cheapo blue plastic tarps. That is like throwing money away.  Build a proper storage shed, and size your shed to fit an honest three year supply.  Then, never allow it to get less than 2/3rds full. OBTW, one advantage to having a big “three year shed” is that you can burn the oldest (driest) wood first, allowing your green wood two years to season.

Lastly, don’t overlook cleaning your chimney every year Learn how to do this yourself, and buy yourself a good quality brush and a set of extensions–perhaps with one extra extension so that you can loan it to your neighbors that might have taller chimneys than yours. Yes, chimney cleaning can be a mess, but it is a valuable skill, and it is essential for preventing a potentially catastrophic chimney fire. BTW, I often see charred/destroyed guns for sale at gun shows. With their melted grips and burned-off stocks, they are sometimes hard to recognize. These guns look beyond pitiful and don’t fetch much money when they are sold as a source for spare parts. They are mute testimony to the chimney-cleaning laziness of their owners. The story that I hear is almost always the same: “It was a chimney fire.”



Letter Re:  .45 ACP Stopping Power and the M1911 (SAs: Pistol Stopping Power, Survival Guns, .45 ACP, 9mm, M1911s)

Sir – just to support your advocacy of the .45 ACP: it has saved this old sarge’s butt more than once…it STOPS the enemy! Versus the 9mm [Parabellum], there is no contest — .45 [ACP] wins every time.  Semper Fi – Sarge

Letter Re: Remington M742 as a Battle Rifle?


I have some ideas regarding using a Remington 742 as a main battle rifle (MBR) that you may find of interest. The Rem. 742 is a semi-auto rifle that can be chambered in .308 or 30.06 among other calibers. The standard detachable box mag holds 4 cartridges. But I found that you can get 10-round steel mags from Cabela’s for around $21.00 each. A used Rem. 742 can be purchased for about $350.00 depending upon the quality. This would get you a semi-auto rifle chambered in .308 or 30.06 with the capacity for multiple detachable mags. If you think this idea has merit feel free to share with the Blog members. Of course I’m not too sure what an Army Captain would say about using a hunting rifle for a MBR!

OBTW I just finished reading William Bonner’s book “Empire of Debt” and thought that it was very informative and eye-opening. His main premise is that America is no longer a Constitutional Republic but has become an empire. And this sad fact has led to the financial mess that we are in. An interesting read! I am looking forward to reading his other book “Financial Reckoning Day”.  B’shem Moshiach Yahshua, – Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: Outwardly, using a semi-auto hunting rifle such as the Remington M742 as an MBR might seem like a great idea for someone who is budget conscious or for someone that lives in a restrictive state, but I do not recommend it. In a SurvivalBlog post on October 22nd, I replied to a gent who had essentially the same idea. (He had suggested a Remington Model 7400.) I stated:  

I agree that a.30 caliber centerfire a rifle is essential, both for hunting and self defense. Keep in mind, however, that civilian hunting semi-autos and pumps are not designed to withstand the sustained high rate of fire that might occur in a full scale post-TEOTWAWKI firefight. Their internal tolerances are so precisely machined that they are likely to bind up when the action gets hot. Also be aware that they are more tightly chambered than military arms.(Which have intentionally loose dimensions.) You cannot depend on something like a Remington 760 or 7600 to keep shooting reliably after 200 rounds of rapid fire. Nor can you expect them to keep shooting reliably with muddy or gritty cartridges. (As a test, with a Remington 740 or 760 series, try chambering some cartridges that have had their necks smeared with toothpaste. (DO NOT attempt to fire the rifle in this condition–this is only to demonstrate chambering limitations!) Now try the same with a FAL, HK, CETME, or M1A. Odds are that the bolt on the Remington will not go fully forward, whereas the bolt on a military arm usually will. A civilian pump action or semi-auto hunting rifle might suffice in a pinch, but not in an extended firefight! 

The fact that “small base” (reduced brass dimension) reloading dies are recommended for Remington semi-autos in order to make them chamber reliably should be a strong indication that they are not built to military specifications.  Don’t expect a civilian semi-auto hunting rifle to do the same job as a military rifle. It won’t be up to the task.

For those of you that are stuck in states like California, New York, and New Jersey that have so-called “assault weapons” bans, I recommend that you buy an early-generation military  issue semi-auto rifle such as the M1 Garand (.30-06, fed from an eight round en bloc clip), the FN-49 in .30-06 (10 round semi-detachable magazine, stripper clip fed), or perhaps if your state law will allow it, the Argentine contract FN-49 in .308 (10 or 20 round detachable magazine.) A poor second choice might be a Russian or Chinese SKS (7.62 x 39mm, stripper clip fed, with a fixed 10 round magazine.) OBTW, I do not recommend the French MAS series semi-autos of the same era, because they have demonstrated reliability issues. Nor do I recommend the U.S. M1 Carbine, because it shoots an under-powered pistol class cartridge. (.30 M1 Carbine.)

Letter from Mr. Yankee Re: The “Expired” 1994 Gun Ban Still Plagues New Yorkers, and New Years Resolutions

Two quick points of interest:
#1 – Here in New York state, the [Federal] 1994 ban did not sunset. The Federal laws that the rest of the nation enjoys freedom from after September 2004 [when the 1994 AWB‘s 10 year “sunset” clause went into effect], are duplicated by state law with no sunset provision inside New York State.

#2 – As already noted on Survivalblog, New Year’s resolutions are a wonderful opportunity to reset our priorities. My resolutions will include spending the $6 per week formerly spent on a six pack of beer on an expanded reserve of family medicines instead. Recent aches and pains after hunting in snow country has convinced me both to drop some pounds and stock up on pain relievers and other over the counter remedies! We too received a foot of snow this weekend, we had a power outage for several hours to boot. Made me glad that I had that wood pile to draw on 🙂 – Mr. Yankee.

Two Letters Re: Considerations for Longer Term Survival

Norman has it right-on in his Wednesday’s post about taking things further out than one or two years past TEOTWAWKI. How about plans for the rest of your kid’s lives? Not stockpiles, mind you, but plans. That means forethought, how-to manuals in the old ways for people to read when they have run out of modern technology (and options), or when they need to use unfamiliar technology-free appliances, and so on. For instance, I have just ordered a spinning wheel made in Holland, foot powered, that will be possible to repair with even hand carved wooden parts and simple metal pieces made from scrap. Even the whole spinning wheel could be replicated by using simple hand tools if you have enough time and a decent hardwood tree to cut.
Most of us have the year’s supply of things. What happens after that?, because TEOTWAWKI may not just be an acronym, it may be our life soon, i.e. an unknown world.
Take a look at this table of contents from a manual I am finishing up for my farm visitors to read at TEOTWAWKI plus one year. It’s for people who show up at my farm who have survived for a year or so after the disaster (everyone else who was unprepared will have died), and these people are just looking for work or a safe place to pitch a tent, park a camper or RV, though many may have arrived much earlier than one year. It’s a manual for people to read to help them decide whether they want to stay with us at the farm and attempt to make a go of a new settlement, all working together for a while with new ideas using old-fashioned methods. It discusses many of the potential problems we’ll be facing, and posits solutions to those same problems in a way not many people have thought about yet. But they now are just being forced to think about these issues because they are coming up against the brick wall of survival stocks dwindling, people really running out of patience and time for the ‘modern’ ways to return to them and save the day, and they are coming to the realization they are really on their own now, not waiting any longer for government to regroup and continue the welfare checks. TEOTWAWKI plus one year (in my opinion) will force hardened survivors into groups as the technological age will finally be dead. People will need guidance to work together in the old ways because no one can do it all. You can if you’re stockpiled, but when the stocks are gone, old-fashioned work must take the place of freeze-dried rations, and there’s still only 24 hours in a very long day.
This manual is my way doing what Norman so eloquently said about long range planning. It gives us a way to think clearly at the end of an unfamiliar road. Even though I can not now foresee every need and problem that may arise one year plus, it gives a planning base to start from, gives someone who may be in panic stage and ready to give up the ship (and who is also now ready to listen to a good argument) a reason for hope by showing a possible solution to a totally unfamiliar and deadly situation. Planning long term has really given me an opportunity to dig deep into anticipated future events and try to solve many problems that even I couldn’t prepare for, short of actually being there first hand myself. I needed a way to help others plan long term past the disaster, since most people failed to plan long term (or even short term) before it. When they read the manual they can see in writing how their lives might be improved for the better, and have a chance to join a long range plan in action to benefit them. Certainly it may fail, but foresight and forethought should help to some extent. That’s planning, and survivors must be good at that or they won’t make it past one year. Keep up the great work. – Mr. Whiskey


Mr. Rawles:
I have just read Norman’s message on SurvivalBlog about Longer Term Survival and, while I think that it would be great that everyone who wants to survive a future calamity be trained to be a do-it-all McGyver Mountainman Special Ops superninja, it just isn’t possible or attainable for most of us. Yes, I’m exaggerating some, but I want to be clear on something: most people (99%) don’t even have a clue that there is a great chance that in their lifetime there will be a life-changing event what we commonly term “TEOTWAWKI”.
But I think we need to give ourselves a bit of credit here. Sure, you can’t expect to buy a couple guns and MREs and think things are going to go your way. And maybe these are the guys that Norman is railing against. Those of us that are concerned about this risk and are willing to do something about it, to put away a little “disaster insurance”, are so far and away ahead of everyone else it’s not funny. People reading this blog are way ahead of most, if they act on some of the valuable suggestions here. People who have put away some supplies and educated themselves are buying time to make more than a few mistakes along the way while they learn how to live like their ancestors. However, let me tell you, my Mormon pioneer ancestors (who, by and large, were townfolk, not farmers), driven out of town by the mobs and the Federal government extermination order, were just as ill-prepared (or more) as I would be trekking across the mountains to Utah in a handcart, and I would have modern weapons, modern medical supplies, modern fabrics, inexpensive modern hand tools, and modern food storage technology to help me get by. Yes, I wouldn’t be able to make any more, but I will have a leg up until I can spend the downtime to learn to make lower tech equivalents. Since the majority of folks are unprepared and will probably perish in a world-changing event, I and many others will be able to live off of the detritus of society for a long, long, long time.
But we still need to weigh the risks with our ability to support our families with a sufficient income. Not everyone can immediately move out into the woods tomorrow and build a homestead. It takes means to do this. There is no free land anymore. You can’t just go out and find some land and tame it (with no tools or equipment or training or means of support), and then use it to support your wife and children. Even if you could, do you want to be a dirt poor chicken farmer? Do you want your children to be robbed of an education to support their families or healthcare to take care of medical emergencies on the possibility of disaster? Don’t you owe it to your family to prepare to find a means to make an income outside of the megaplexes?
So, we need to earn a proper income to pay for the means to get supplies, books, training, land, equipment, shelter, and systems. Some lucky ones are able to do this already in what they think would be an “ideal” location. Not all of us are so lucky. The rest of us must set goals to do what we can to get out of the multimegaplex deathtraps (reducing debt, using home equity to buy a retreat in the boonies, training or changing careers to be able to produce income in the boonies) and educate ourselves by taking advantage of the wealth of knowledge available in books and on the internet and practice on a smaller scale at home what they will need to do if things go haywire.
So, let us review:
  1. Set goals to get out of the big cities and be more self-reliant, while making an income to support your family
  2. Get out of debt
  3. Educate yourself and your family
  4. Get healthy
  5. Act on your dream
This is the best most of us can do. I am doing it today.
Just to make it personal, let me describe my own “eject button” plan:
Six years ago I realized that I must take steps to protect my family in the event of a catastrophe. Over this time, I have slowly educated myself and accumulated supplies to be able to temporarily sustain us during an “event”. The plan at that time was to escape with our supplies to my mom’s rural retreat if things got bad, or, barring that, lean on the fellowship and organization of the church (which is considerable- “strength in numbers”) that we belong to bring us through.
Four years ago we moved out of California to be closer to my mom’s place and make a few bucks on selling our home. I used some of that money to put a down payment on our existing house, purchase firearms, some selected survival and camping gear, a good 6 months of food supplies, a trailer, and set aside the rest. Just this summer, we found an ideal retreat location in the mountains on 20 acres in a subdivision of 300 units of 20 acres, with a membership in an association that owns in common the 6,000 acres surrounding the units (to pay for road maintenance, taxes, caretakers, etc), with several amenities, like a 2 week time-share in one of 10 cabins, trout ponds, horses, and, as a side benefit, the place functions as a working cattle ranch for extra income. There are some folks living there full time, but most are out of state. I used the money I set aside to buy in. I don’t have enough money to build on it yet, but will eventually.
Now, this ranch is over six hours away and in a bordering state. It’s a bit too far for effective retreat status. This triggered a search for job opportunities nearby. Consulting with my employer, I recently determined that I could keep my existing job working as an on-call consultant at a slightly diminished wage (really only on the basis that I have significant value to the company due to my expertise and experience, and the fact that due to the recent growth of VPN and VOIP technology, much of my work can be done over the internet now) as long as I have access to low-delay high speed internet and a phone line, as well as proximity to a reasonable sized town. The 20 acre ranch is just too far away, has no power, no internet or phone lines, much less cell coverage. So, we put some money down on 2 1?2 acres in a rural area just outside of a small town 45 miles away from a much larger growing larger town, only 2 1?2 hours away from the 20 acre ranch retreat. I plan on selling my
home next month and using the equity to pay off debts, balances on our 20 acre retreat and our 2 1?2 acre “town” place (which actually cost a little more than our 20 acres) , and more than half the cost of our new home, which I will build myself . My new job situation will allow me the time to build, rather than commuting every day and hoping to squeeze enough time in on the weekend and in the early morning. This will also pay for survivability features which I couldn’t have in town, like a solar power backup, septic system, a solar-pumped well and water catchment/storage system, root cellar and other underground storage, workshop and others.
This will also bring me to having no debt whatsoever in 7-to-10 years as long as I exercise discipline.
This will be my “primary” setup, and “plan B” will be using the experience (and equity) I will gain from building my house to build a cabin on the 20 acre ranch. In the mean time, it will be a nice vacation spot. Before then, should I have to G.O.O.D. to the ranch we can survive on our hauled short-term gear and pre-positioned items until we build a good enough shelter there. I plan on using The $50 and Up Underground Housing Book as my guide (http://www.undergroundhousing.com/) for that scenario. Nice thing is, the ranch owns a backhoe that I can use for a discounted price.
I have been preparing to do this for a long time, and have been slowly gathering a rather large library of tools and resources for me to use in this endeavor. Now it’s time for me apply what I’ve read about. Wish me luck. – D.

Four Letters Re: Which Rifle and Caliber is the Best for TEOTWAWKI?

Did you select the HK rifles for northern nations because of cold weather reliability? Also note that my reading of New York state law includes an unenforced ban on receivers of the semi auto rifles banned under federal law in 1994. This includes FALs and AKs but not HKs or CETMEs. Yes I know that there are thousands of AKs and FALS inside N.Y. state, but I believe that they are still banned under N.Y. State law.
[Some commentary for the upcoming Threats survey snipped for later use.] Thanx, -Mr. Yankee

JWR Replies: Yes, I partly recommended HKs for their cold weather reliability. HKs work exceptionally well in very cold weather.  Also, their short stocks, large trigger guards, and ergonomics lend themselves well to use with gloved hands and shooters wearing heavy clothing.   But the main reason I mentioned them was that HKs are popular in those countries, so that would be conducive to finding extra magazines and spare parts.


I agree with the FAL in .308 choice. With, perhaps, this caveat: If you are an adult, without children, the FAL is an excellent weapon choice. The best, in my opinion.  If, however, you are with children, some consideration needs to be given to what rifle can be picked up and used in your absence—temporary or permanent. The AR-15 system in .223 has many advantages. Almost non-existent recoil; lightweight ammo; a platform that can be changed to multiple calibers, .22LR to .458 SOCOM and dozens of others in between. And the changes are quick. For a family rifle I choose the AR-15. Built properly it has been reliable for me. Kids can be taught quickly to use it well, carry it long distances, etc. Killing power has been questioned with the .223.  I have found the caliber deadly on game from squirrels to deer, with proper shot placement and proper bullet choice.  I hope to never be without my FALs. The main rifle of our house though, is the AR-15.  – Straightblast

JWR Replies: We do have one token .223 here at the ranch– a CAR-15/”M4gery”. Everyone here just calls it “The Mouse Gun.”  It is primarily a low recoil transitional training gun for our kids. OBTW, I’d never risk hunting 180 pound deer with a .223–nor 180 pound two-legged predators for that matter. I plan to transition all of our kids to .308s (our bolt actions, L1A1s, and .308 Valmet) by the time they turn 16 or 17.


I was reading your web page and your suggestions for the best rifle/calibre for England made me frown a little. I’m in England and I currently own (and keep at home),

Marlin 1894 .44 magnum lever action
Ruger 10/22 .22 with silencer
CZ 452 .22 with silencer
Lee Enfield No4 .303
Beretta 0/U 12 gauge shotgun
Euroarms .44 cap & ball revolver
BSA air-rifle with silencer

On my shopping list for next year will be another couple of shotguns – probably a pump action and a silenced single barrel shotgun. Anyone who isn’t a felon and isn’t mentally ill can legally own and shoot firearms in the UK – it just takes a bit of time/money/effort. One nice thing about shooting here is that silencers are not considered anything special. They are the norm for hunting – you would be considered odd if you didn’t use one. They are also increasingly accepted for target shooting to reduce the noise pollution and potential hearing damage. Regards, – Adam.

JWR Replies: I’m glad to hear that you were able to negotiate all of the “flame filled hoops” to get your firearms paperwork approved.  Sadly, most of your countrymen have been effectively disarmed. And things are probably only going to get worse.  (Hence, my suggestion that you take the gap.)  Consider the fact that as a licensed centerfire cartridge firearm owner, you probably represent far less than 5% of the population in the U.K. As a small minority, your prospects for 10 to 20 years down the road are not promising. At the very least I expect that there will be demands that apart for someone that lives on more than 5 or 10 acres that firearms be kept in vaults at shooting clubs. The handwriting is on the wall.


Hi Jim,
Interesting observations concerning the never ending discussion about this – here are some points to consider from a guy that’s currently in Kalifornia:
“United States (Except California): L1A1 or FN/FAL in 7.62mm NATO California: FN-49 .308 Argentine Variant (in 7.62mm NATO with 20 round detachable magazines)–most other effective semi-autos rifles are banned “ The Argy FN-49s that I’ve seen are overpriced, and in bad shape. I primarily see them in gun shows – last one I spotted was $850, which doesn’t seem too unusual around here, and that specimen was most definitely in “used” condition. Mag prices are up there too. If they were in better condition, and mags were cheaper, they’d be something I’d consider. So as the laws stand, my choice, as a Kali resident, is the FAL in the neutered configuration. 10 rd mag, (removable only with a tool), stripper clip top cover, approved muzzle brake, and the usual number of 922r compliance parts. If I ever make it back to the free states side, the magazine modification will take a couple of minutes to remove (it’s just a modified original mag release lever) and presto, we’re back in 20 rd detachable mag territory. The usual choices between metric and inch, etc don’t really enter into the equation for us here – that’s personal preference. My recommendation for folks that are serious about this is to build your own rifle – there’s plenty of information out there, the FAL system is very simple, and by the time you’re done you’ll be able to gunsmith your own rifle easily, if anything should break in the future. There are enough non-FN domestic and imported receivers out there, parts kits are all over the place, and FAL accessories are everywhere too. Who knows? Maybe you’ll pick up another hobby!  Regards, -G.T.

Jim’s Quote of the Day

“By calling attention to ‘a well regulated militia’, the ‘security’ of the nation, and the right of each citizen ‘to keep and bear arms’, our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy. Although it is extremely unlikely that the fears of governmental tyranny which gave rise to the Second Amendment will ever be a major danger to our nation, the Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the  defense of his country. For that reason, I believe the Second Amendment will  always be important.”  – John F. Kennedy

Finding Gas Stations that Sell E85 Ethanol

I’ve been touting the advantages of E85 Ethanol-compatible “flexible fuel” vehicles for many months. I recently put my money where my mouth is, and bought a flexible fuel 2003 Ford Explorer 4WD for us here at the ranch. The Explorer replaced our not-so-gracefully aging 1989 Suburban. (It had 205,000 miles on the clock, lots of non-functional subsystems, and it was starting to lose compression on the grades.)

Assuming that you buy a Flexible Fuel Vehicle (FFV), where do you find fuel? If you live in Brazil or Sweden, no sweat. E85 is found at the majority of gas stations. But here in the States, E85 is just starting to catch on. (In 10 years it is anticipated that the majority of vehicles sold in the U.S. will be built to burn it, but for now, the ethanol distribution infrastructure is spotty.) Here are two different web sites that it will help you find E85: http://e85vehicles.com/e85-stations.htm  and   http://afdcmap.nrel.gov/locator/LocatePane.asp

Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa have the highest concentrations of gas stations with an E85 pump, but Colorado is catching up quickly. For those of you with no E85 station nearby, don’t despair. Odds are that there will be within the next few years. 

If you want to store E85 (85% ethanol) at your retreat, remember that it is best to buy your storage fuel in mid-winter, when stations will have a the winter blend variety in their tanks. (The winter blend is actually 70% ethanol and 30% gasoline (“E70”), whereas the summer blend is an 85/15 mix.) The winter blend is designed to prevent hard starting during very cold weather. (And the gasoline itself in the E85 blend will be a winter blend, with more butane–again to help with cold weather starting.)

E70 has a longer storage life than E85. Be absolutely certain that your storage tanks are well sealed to prevent the fuel drawing moisture. Ethanol has a strong affinity for moisture (“hygroscopic”), and once it has been contaminated by water, it will make engines run rough and cause excessive mechanical wear, particularly when engines are warming up.

Rourke on: Establishing a Survivalist E-Mail/Cellular/Wireless PDA Alert System

How can you best avoid being caught in the egress gridlock of sheeple? The best answer to that problem is having the critical information first, allowing you to bug out prior to everyone else. If you are ready to go, or ready to do what you need to do, a few hours or even minutes may be all the edge you need.
The information age is becoming the instant information age, but the problem becomes filtering out what you don’t want (too much information, then again you can just watch major media and let them filter out what they don’t want you to see). New advances in web search tools in conjunction with email alert systems seem to be the way of the future, and for many types of useful information, are here now. The original concept of alert systems in nothing new. Remember those several weather alert radio cubes from Radio Shack in the 1970s? Even back in the late 1980s surfers in California could pay for a service that would page their phone pagers (this is before practical cell phones even) and alert them that in their area, surf’s up!
Listed below are several things you can do with email and web access for free. You critical problem is, how many hours a day or night are you away from your emails. You don’t want to log on in the morning to see a seven hour old alert you needed. The best 24/7 solution seems to be the ever present cell phone, especially if you could use an always-on distinctive ring for selected emergency incoming text or email messages/warnings. Clearly your cell phone is going to be your email link, your PDA, your MP3, personal important data, and your personal phone number that stays with you for life. So with the means to know or shortly alert yourself of danger, the final issue seems to be that there really is not a 24/7 alert system that goes beyond the mere public information sources I list below. This I believe is an open area, so I therefore offer this concept to the readers of SurvivalBlog and the results of some polling I have done on it.

Image a Survivalist paging system that on a 24/7 basis monitors serious threats regionally (where you were), and if something of a certain level of significance (risk level) came up suddenly, people in that area are immediately alerted by their cell phone (as well as email). In a fictional work I am presently writing, I pursue this concept with a 2009 example of just such a service. This service monitors everything below, international news wires, ham radio communications, certain police and fire bands, and as any professional investigator will tell you, has some inside sources in high places as well as thousands of cooperative people ready to give tips if they hear something. Most notices are sent by e-mail, but in that urgent moment, the customer’s cell phone is paged with a text message describing the warning which overrides the no ringer function. A Confidence Factor Index (CFI) is given with it, in the form of a percentage (1 to 100) of how sure the service administrator is as to the veracity of the information, based on an established set of criteria. Note that we live in a “gray” world [with nothing 100% black or white], and thus 100% certainty is not possible until after official, after-the-fact confirmation, and even then there may be doubt. Based on some polling that I did, I set the fee at $1 per month for that service (the service does other things too). A real service would have to figure the elasticity of demand on this versus how few would want it. The survival community is small and stingy, but the one buck per month seemed to be what a lot of people could part with, for a service that could of course, save your life by giving you the edge. Obviously in the story, it does, or at least helps quite a bit. Again, aspects of this idea are already up in a running in the general news service world.

Here is an example of a progressive news service that is already set up for wireless, especially if your cell phone is also your PDA: http://www.news.com.au/alerts/?from=ninews_leftnav. Meanwhile, the NOAA also has a new weather center for cell phones. See: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/wml

Listed below are some free Internet services you can use now. Enjoy these, and please e-mail mention of any additional ones that you find to SurvivalBlog.

Alerts to your email you can set for free now:
Terrorist Alerts http://www.terroristwarning.com/
News Alerts by CNN, you can control why area of news: http://edition.cnn.com/youralerts/
News or Web alerts using your own key words: http://www.google.com/alerts   (try doing “Bird Flu”, you won’t believe how many you get each day)
Severe Weather Alerts: http://www.weather.com/services/alerts.html?from=servicesindex
Weather, Alerts for your area: http://www.weathercenter.com/personalforecast/ (or find a station in your local area, this is an example)
Earthquakes in your area: http://earthquake.usgs.gov/products/services.html#email
Conditions in Space: http://www.sec.noaa.gov/alerts/

Examples of things that you can monitor on original source web sites:
Current National Weather Information: http://www.weather.gov/
National Weather Radar: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/radar/
Earthquakes – http://earthquake.usgs.gov/
The Jet Stream: (where is fall out going) http://virga.sfsu.edu/gif/jetstream_init_00.gif
Near Earth Object Program: (Asteroid/Comet Watch) http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/
Space Weather: http://www.sec.noaa.gov/
World Tsunami, Volcano, Earth quakes: http://map.ngdc.noaa.gov/website/seg/hazards_pacific/viewer.htm

As an example of real time video cameras you can log into:
Volcano camera on Mount. St. Helens http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/
If you wish to look to the government for help (actually this is some good stuff):
Homeland Security: http://www.ready.gov/
FEMA‘s web site: http://www.fema.gov/
White House page: http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/homeland/
US Dept. of Defense: http://www.defenselink.mil/specials/homeland/
Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/ (Be sure to check for your local, county, municipal, and state sites too)

Some Nuclear sites:
Nuclear Targets from Bruce Beach: http://www.radmeters4u.com/list.htm (Newcomers to Survivalism should be aware of this classic site)
Nuclear Power Plants and current operational status in USA: http://www.animatedsoftware.com/environm/no_nukes/nukelist1.htm#MN

Having access to critical and timely information and alerts, as well as looking ahead and staying aware can give you the edge to be one of few, the proud–not one of the many, the crowd. – Rourke  (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/survivalretreat)

JWR Adds: I think that Rourke’s idea has some merit.  The crowds of grossly under-prepared refugees clogging the highways, attempting to escape Houston as Hurricane Rita approached were a prime example. Traffic was backed up for 8+ hours and many cars ran out of gas. This incident was ample evidence that a few hours extra notice could very well make a big difference in Getting Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) successfully. In a nuke scenario, the highways near a blast will probably look like a parking lot in short order–due to EMP effects and/or cars running out of gas, leaving many folks stranded on foot.

OBTW, I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I am NOT an advocate of living in a city or suburb and counting on the ability to G.O.O.D. at the 11th hour! If you must live in the Dirty Big City, then at least show the foresight to pre-position 90% of your logistics at your retreat. Odds are that you will only have one trip Outta Dodge! It would be a shame to have to leave most of your gear at home!