Letter from David Crawford Re: EMP-Proofing and Other Nuke Preparations

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Congratulations on your successful Web Log. I suspect that you will soon be counting your unique hits by the million instead of the thousand. I was very pleasantly surprised to see the mention of my novel, “Lights Out”, on your Blog today. It was fitting that you reviewed Texas, my home state, as well on this day. I must tell you that my writing was largely inspired by “Patriots“. I have two copies and the first has been read so many times that it is now held together by rubber bands. “Patriots” is the ultimate ‘How-to’ novel and an absolute must have for the serious survivalist. I look forward to the next edition with the additional chapters. I started writing “Lights Out” in August of 2002. It has been a labor of love. I am working on the last two or three chapters right now and hope to have them posted in the next few weeks. The link you provided only contains the first twenty chapters of the novel. All of the current 73 chapters are available in Frugal’s Forums in the Patriot Fiction section. However, each chapter is a separate post and it is difficult to track them all down. For a new reader, I would suggest this site: http://www.giltweasel.com/stuff/LightsOut-Current.pdf This reader is graciously hosting the story in both PDF and text formats. I appreciate comments, good and bad, from readers. At this point, feedback is the only payment I receive for the work. Please send them to dcrawford@email.com and put “Lights Out” in the subject. Once I finish the first draft, I plan to go back and clean up the story line and then look for a publisher. I realize that publishing is a long shot. Any advice you can give me would be greatly valued. Thank you. – D.C.

Letter Re: Which Guns for Barter?

Having extra food and water and other goods to barter with is a good idea, but do you think bartering with your guns and ammo is. During a TEOTWAWKI scenario, I think the last thing you need to do is to put more guns and ammo out in the streets, no matter if you know the people you bartering with or not. The same ammo and guns you barter with may be the same guns and ammo that could be turned against you and your family. There are only a handful of my friends and family that has even fired a firearm let alone train with them and really know how to handle a gun. Where do you draw the line on who you barter guns and ammo with and who you don’t. I am not a heartless person but I am going to be damn limited on who I arm with my ammo and guns. – S.D.

JWR Replies: If your planned retreat is in an area where you cannot trust your neighbors with firearms, then you might want to re-think that retreat location! Look more along the lines of Montana or Wyoming, where virtually everyone knows how to shoot. Guns in the hands of your neighbors shouldn’t be a potential looting problem–they should be the solution! I would not sleep well in a YOYO situation. Instead, give me a few trustworthy neighbors that are within line of sight–for mutually-supporting fields of fire. If they don’t already own capable battle rifles, then I’ll gladly provide them!

Letter From “Mrs. Golf” Re: South Dakota

Having just left South Dakota after 16 years there, I might add concerning the cold and short growing season: 20 below for weeks on end, pretty hefty wind on top of that, and a 90 day growing season if you are lucky. One year I had to replant beans 3 times, the last after they were snow killed in June. Another drawback for the state is lack of potable water. My well put out 5 GPM and was considered a good well and at it was 300 feet deep, to boot. The majority of the water there is very alkaline, or from natural hot water underground sources and extremely heavy on the minerals. That really plays havoc with water faucets and water heater elements. Lastly, there is no wood in the state to speak of for heating purposes either except pine, in the very western part of the state. Best, – “Mrs. Golf”

Letter From “Gung Ho” Re: Holster Recommendation


Check out the “NWS Tactical Thigh Holster” from LBT. It is the one I use for carry in the woods. It can be used in a couple different configurations, but it’s main plus is that used as shown, your handgun WILL be there when you need it. (And not laying in the rocks at the bottom of some canyon…don’t ask.) IMHO LBT makes some of the finest products around, and they are made to last and last. See: http://www.londonbridgetrading.com/main.html – “Gung Ho”

JWR Replies: I agree that London Bridge is a great gear maker. OBTW, I prefer hip holsters to thigh holsters. I find the latter fatiguing on long hikes.

State By State – Texas

Population: 20.8 million.
Population Density: 77.9 per square mile (Rank 4 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 266,800 square miles (rank 2 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $759/yr. (rank 25 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $880/yr. (rank 1 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 41 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 82%.
Per capita income: $27,752 (rank 24 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 47 of 50.
Plusses: Has a high rating in “education freedom” (ranked #6 of 50), since Texas has relaxed home schooling laws, but the public schools are far below average. Texas is just plain huge. The population density figure cited above is skewed by the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston metro areas. A lot of Texas out in the hinterboonies is very lightly populated.
Minuses: High population density (by western U.S. standards.) Major population centers. Very high crime rate. Hurricane prone (ranked #1 of the coastal states.) Coastal Texas and +/- 50 miles inland is in the hurricane zone. Extremely high home insurance rates. (Average of $880 per year–ranked #1 in the country for 2005–but probably soon to be surpassed by Louisiana.) High ratio of illegal aliens. Some rural parts of the state are recommended, with reservations.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 13 of 19.

Mutation of Asian Avian Flu (H5N1) Could Result in a Global Pandemic with the Deaths of “Tens of Millions”

I’ve mentioned the Asian Avian Flu (H5N1) several times since I launched this blog in August. The risk of mutation of the virus into a form that could be transmitted from person to person (P2P) is relatively small. However, if that were to happen, it would be catastrophic. The folks at WorldNetDaily (one of my daily “must reads”) just posted a story that quotes a WHO official that said that a species-jumping P2P mutation of H5N1 could cause a global pandemic that would likely result in “the deaths of “tens of millions”. Take the time to read this article, and plan accordingly.

EMP-Proofing and Other Nuke Preparations

Recently North Korea and Iran have both made overtures about dismantling their nuclear programs. Frankly, I’m dubious. The following may be evidence of the”free floating anxiety” that I was accused of having by one of my televised debate adversaries, but I feel convicted to mention it. I believe that the risk of a nuke going off in CONUS is now greater in the post-Soviet era than it was back during the height of the Cold War. There are at least a dozen “backpack” nukes from the former Soviet Union that are still not accounted for. And of course there are several international terrorist groups that would love to get their hands on a nuke and touch it off in downtown New York City. Whether they buy one on the black market or they build one of their own, I am convinced that the odds are 60%+ that a nuke–or at least a sub-critical dirty bomb–will go “bang” somewhere in CONUS within the next 10 years.

Assuming that the foregoing is a reasonable possibility, you should protect yourself. Unless you live in a major metropolitan city and have very bad luck, the odds of being in the blast/flash/thermal effects radius of a terrorist nuke are very small. There are greater odds of being down wind of fallout. But there is an event higher likelihood that you could end up in an EMP “footprint.” If the terrorists are really clever, the most effective way that they could use a nuke would be to detonate it at high altitude (either suspended from a balloon or in a jet aircraft flown to its absolute ceiling–something over 35,000 feet.). They could do this over New York or Los Angeles. Here are the physics in a nutshell: The higher the altitude means the broader the line of sight (LOS), and hence the larger the EMP footprint. An nuclear air burst creates an EMP surge that will couple with all metallic objects that are within LOS (phone lines, power lines, railroad tracks, and so forth) and instantly fry any unprotected computer chips–billions of chips, all at once. The economic effects would be devastating. The corresponding societal impact is almost too much to imagine. (For one man’s view of the latter, see the web novel “Lights Out“, available for free download at the Frugal Squirrel’s web page–just scroll down to bottom of the main page. BTW, there are several other pieces of survival fiction there as well. They aren’t all epic fiction, but they are thought provoking)

Specific Nuclear Threat Countermeasures Recommendations:
, study up on fallout protection. If you don’t already have a copy, get a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills–available for free download from the folks at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. If you might be downwind, build yourself a fallout shelter. Buy yourself a radiation dosimeter, rate meter, and charger.

Second, unless you have vehicles that are pre-electronic (see my previous posts on this subject for details), buy one or two spare set of ignition and fuel injection electronic components for each vehicle. Keep those stored in Faraday Cage enclosures such as milsurp ammo cans.

Third, put any radios, computers, night vision equipment or other electronics that you don’t use regularly in similar Faraday protected storage.

Fourth, buy at least one older fully “EMP Proof” radio that uses all vacuum tubes. (No, chips, transistors, or even SCRs.) That will be your designated radio to leave out for everyday use during times of international tensions. OBTW, I currently have an auction on eBay running for one of my spare radios. It is a Hallicrafters 38C (an AM/HF receiver) that was built in the early 1950s. It has all vacuum tube circuitry, so it is virtually invulnerable to EMP. Similar radios often come up for sale on eBay, or can be found at garage sales if you look around. Garage sales in predominantly retirement communities are best for that. (Old people = old radios.)

Fifth, stock up on Potassium Iodate (KI) to protect against thyroid damage in the event of a nuclear incident. Do a search through my archives for details. KI tablets are sold by Ready Made Resources (RMR) and several other vendors. Tangentially, I heard today that RMR just got in a fresh supply of Polar Pure (iodine crystal) water purifying bottles. With another hurricane currently plowing toward the Gulf Coast, I don’t think that they will keep those in stock very long.

Sixth, pray. I’m serious: Get right with God, and pray for His guidance, providence, and protection.

“Doug Carlton” on Concealed Carry

Jim asked me a while back to write a piece on carrying a concealed weapon (CCW) in hot weather and damp climates. I failed. What you have here simply has to do with CCW overall. I tried to limit it, but after a few false starts I realized there was no way to keep it confined to hot weather without covering the basics anyway. I’m no expert. I’ve carried concealed both in the USA and overseas, and have done so daily (almost without exception) for the last 20 years. In every class I take I usually learn something new, and always learn something old. I’m no expert in guns or writing. So here you go.

The first and most important thing about a concealed weapon is to understand what it does and does not do for you. Having a gun and be willing to use a gun are two different things. It has been rightly said that “A sheep with a gun is still a sheep.” Also, if you carry a concealed weapon, you may still be attacked. After all, the attacker doesn’t know you have one. So just having a gun on you does not stop crime. Think of the concealed weapon as a spare tire. It won’t prevent flats, but it can certainly help out if you have one. The first step is to develop the mental attitude required to carry a gun. Once that’s done, proceed to step two. That second step would be dependent upon your state’s laws. Obviously some places are easier to legally carry, but they all have some odd-ball codes and laws, and you need to know them. Often times a class may be required, but often times it’s not. The laws still apply, so it’s up to you to know them. Hey, it’s part of your responsibility anyway. So now you have your CWP, CHL or whatever you want to call it, or you live where you don’t need one, and it’s time to start packing. Obviously the first thing you need is a gun. Now gun choices are a personal thing. I could pontificate about one gun or another, but in the end it’s your hide, and your choice.
Choose something that you like. The reason for this is you’ll practice with something you like more than something you hate. You’re also relying on this for your life, so you might as well like it. King Arthur probably didn’t hate Excalibur, and you shouldn’t hate your carry gun either. Carry a gun you like, it makes life easier. What’s good for one person may not be suitable for another. So don’t get too wrapped around the axle about when anyone tells you that, “you need to carry X…blah, blah, blah.” Advice is great, but it’s your life that we are talking about here. Choose based on what you need, not on what someone else needs.
Carry a gun that you’re comfortable with. You want it to be as easy as grabbing your cell-phone or car keys. It needs to be easy to live with. It also needs to be good enough to put a quick end to your problems too. I’m not as dogmatic as some in choosing a particular caliber. A good hit in any decent caliber will do the job. Making a hole that’s one tenth of an inch bigger will not make up for a poor hit. I guess I’m from the Shot Placement party. I wouldn’t go smaller than a .38+P, and I wouldn’t go larger than a .45ACP for most applications. I’m not going to get into any pissing-matches on the subject either. Choose what you feel is right for you. In the sticks or in the city, you may have to also deal with animals of pretty good size. Dogs, big cats, lions, tigers and bears, whatever, just remember you might have to deal with something other than a two-legged assailant.
I’m not a big fan of specific guns for limited applications. I don’t have a “car gun”, a “nightstand gun”, a “house gun”, a “cold weather gun, nor a “hot weather gun”. I have one gun that I carry. It goes with me out the door, into the car, around the town, back in the house, and there it is. If you have guns stashed all over the place, that’s your business. That works for many just fine. I just feel that if the gun I’m carrying is good enough to trust my life to, then it’s good enough to trust it in the house, in the car, et cetera.
So now you have your gun. How will you pack it around? There are several ways to do it. One is “off-body”. This is the fanny pack, gun purse, briefcase, portfolio, etc. option. While they do indeed easily conceal a good size gun, anything that’s not strapped to your body securely increases the risk that you won’t have it right when you need it. A purse snatcher may render someone weaponless. It’s fairly common in tourist areas to “snake” a fanny pack off of someone and run off as well. Unless you maintain positive possession of that portfolio at all times, then your gun isn’t secure. There are some good reasons to use off-body, but a lot of bad ones too. I’d do some serious thinking before using one of these methods.
Another common way is to carry it in your pocket. Yeah, it works but the gun is rarely secure, so drawing it is slower since it’s not in the same place all the time. When it’s flopping around in your pocket it can become uncomfortable as well banging around in your pocket. It also wears on pockets something fierce. There are pocket holsters, and they work, but pocket pistols are usually small, light, underpowered affairs. There is always the shoulder holster. It’s not all that popular generally because it’s a hassle to put on and take off, and you have all sorts of adjustments. Women can find the shoulder holster more useful, because hip holsters are often made for men, and a lady’s hips just aren’t the same. If you have to use the toilet a lot, a shoulder rig makes the process easier though. If you sit a lot at a desk, or drive a lot, they can work as well. Then there is the ankle holster. You need to dress right for it. Obviously shorts won’t work. Neither will close fitting, boot cut jeans. The biggest drawback with them is it takes two hands to draw, and it takes time and space. The most stable way to do it is to go to one knee, pull up with one hand and draw with the other. There are variations, but it’s going to be hard to do if you’re in contact with a mugger, or have one arm fending off a knife or herding a child. As a back-up, I’d say it’s a great place. As a primary, it’d have to be a situation where I couldn’t carry on my belt. Which brings us to the waist carry. Inside the belt, outside the belt, tucked in the waist, “Mexican string”, clips, whatever. Most people carry this way, and there are a large variety of holsters available. The most important thing about carrying on the waist is the belt, not the holster. You can get away with a cheap holster if you have to, as long as you have a good, stiff belt to support it. If you have a $150 holster, it will still suck if it used with a flimsy belt. Get a good belt! This is where your money should go.
Obviously for the gun to be concealed, you need to hide it some way from common sight. Try to blend in. Wearing a police raid jacket in 110 degree weather isn’t blending in. A lot of people have gone to vests. How successful that is will depend on what people wear in your area. Darker colors will hide the profile of a gun better than light ones. Also watch how you move. Bending over, reaching up, etc may expose your sidearm. If you pick an inside the waistband system, remember to have room in your waistband. The first couple times you carry, you might feel like a gun with a person attached to it. Once you get used to it, it’s no biggie.

Practice the way you will be using the gun. If it’s cold and you’re wearing gloves, then you need to practice with them on. The same goes for drawing from under a coat. Practice with what you’ll be wearing. If it’s hot, practice when it’s hot. Sweaty hands can make things different. Inspect your gun regularly. Yeah, it sounds odd, but people forget to re-load their gun after cleaning it, or worse yet don’t clean it until they shoot it. Get in a habit in the way you do things. Stick to those habits.
Practice in situations that are real-life threats to you. Americans spend a great deal of time in and around cars. In fact, statistically, most gunfights in the USA occur in and around cars. So practice from the driver’s seat with the seat belt on. You should practice getting out, getting in, and moving around a car.
Training is the key. Get professional training. OK, I won’t harp on it, but if you don’t have training, you’re counting on luck–and that’s not what you should be counting on. – “Doug Carlton”

JWR Adds: I wholeheartedly concur with Doug’s comments. My personal choice for concealed carry is a stainless steel compact .45 ACP such as a Colt Officer’s Model or even a trusty old Detonics. But YMMV. It is important to get top notch training at a place like Front Sight. That is money well spent. If you’ve never attended professional firearms training, you’ll find that you will learn more in one weekend than you picked up casually in your entire lifetime. Train as you’ll fight, because human nature dictates that you will fight as you train. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Rather, PERFECT practice makes perfect. Don’t scrimp on training!

Letter from Dr. Sidney Zweibel Re: Which Guns for Barter?

Dear Jim:
I read your insightful article on the pending economic meltdown and in it you suggested storing up tangible assets like gold/silver, ammo, and GUNS, etc. My
question is concerning the details of purchasing used firearms for barter and trade.
1.) Do you think that used is better than new because private party sales are done with no paper trail?
2.) If so, what types and caliber(s) do you foresee as being the most pragmatic and desired TEOTWAWKI?
3.) Do you recommend equal quantities of rifles, shotguns and pistols or do you have other ideas?
4.) Are their any calibers or manufacturers you suggest we stay away from in a barter scenario?
5.) Are you storing firearms for barter/trade or are you keeping your arsenal for personal use?
P.S. I just read in your Oregon profile where the State has stopped all private [no transfer record] gun show gun sales. Fortunately out here in Arkansas there seems to be an ample supply of firearms for sale. Whatever we do, we had better “make hay while the sun is still shining!”
B’shem Yahshua Messiah, – Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies:
In answer to your questions…
1.) Definitely buy used, but be sure to buy quality. (Read Boston’s Gun Bible for detailed gun recommendations as well as some useful gun show buying strategies.) By buying used guns, you can buy privately (sans paper trail–very important), and almost as importantly you won’t be paying full retail. Guns shows are probably the best place to buy. However, some private party sales bargains might come up in you local newspaper classified section. Assuming that you paper hasn’t gone PC and banned gun ads, check the classifieds every week.
2.) IMO, in CONUS, the calibers to concentrate on are .22 Long Rifle, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, 12 gauge, and .308 Winchester. In Alaska, add .44 magnum, .30-06, and perhaps .375 H&H Magnum to the list. In Australia, Oz, or New Zealand, add .303 British to the list. In any Third World country, add 7.62x39mm Russian (AK-47) to the list.
3.) Based on expected demand, I’d recommend 40% Main Battle Rifles (.308 semi-auto), 30% semi-auto handguns, 20% pump action riot shotguns (preferably with a spare long “bird” barrel for each), and the balance in semi-auto .22 rimfires. (For example the Marlin Papoose and/or the ubiquitous Ruger 10/22.)
4.) Avoid most cheap off brands. There are a few exceptions, such as N.E.F. (New England Firearms), which makes surprisingly good guns at budget prices. Likewise, avoid oddball calibers! Think: commonality. Remember that any of your designated “barter” guns may just as well end up in the the hands of relatives or other newcomers that will be living at your retreat. So getting “extra copies” of the guns that are already in your personal battery would be ideal. That will have several key advantages, namely: commonality of training, commonality of magazines, and commonality of spare parts.
5.) I have set aside roughly 20% of my firearms battery for charity and barter.

One note in closing: When shopping for used guns for barter, forget about aesthetics. Some of the real bargains at gun shows are guns with nasty home brew camouflage paint jobs, guns with a lot of honest holster wear or hunting wear (but no pitting), and guns that have been “personalized”. (Typically these have amateurish carvings on the stocks.) Remember that a gun fight is not a beauty contest. Rather, it is playing for keeps, with no second place winner.

Letter Re: Detailed Retreat Locale Recommendations and Northern California

Sir: Can you be more detail oriented and give us your opinion on some of the factors you have mentioned previously? Which areas in the West are not potential deserts and have natural un-irrigated water supplies? Which areas are sufficient wood available? Which have the least population density? I have thought Modoc County, CA would meet this requirements. How about you? – R.Y.

JWR Replies:
Modoc County has much more harsh winters and a shorter growing season than California’s northern coastal counties. You might be better off on the western slopes of the Yolla Bollies. This region is just as remote as Modoc County (if not more so), and has a milder climate. BTW, if you are going that far north, why not go a little farther and escape the California Nanny State legal morass? (It is only going to get worse as time goes on! ) There are some nice areas in southwest Oregon, which I will be covering in detail in my blog in a couple of weeks. Be patient… My detailed retreat locale recommendations will be posted at this blog starting next week.

Letter Re: Retreat Architecture Options

Mr. Rawles,
In your 09/19/2005 blog, you asked for input on different architectural techniques related to a retreat. Following is information on a type of construction that has some interesting potential. Take a look at the video at http://archnet.org/library/files/one-file.tcl?file_id=1385 . It is a high-resolution Windows Media Player file showing construction of sandbag shelters using very low tech methods and tools. The shelter exceeds all standard earthquake specs for buildings. Very cool idea and a very well done video. The objective was to find shelter for refugees rather than sticking them in tents. Adding Portland cement to the sand makes for a very permanent structure. In a nutshell, the construction technique uses a modified type of sandbag. The defensive advantages should be readily apparent. For someone with little money to spend and little time left, this could very well be a good solution. Architectural drawings are available if needed for building permits, etc.
This photo – http://archnet.org/mediadownloader/LibraryImagesBig/image/83929/0/IAA0263.jpg – shows a home under construction.
This photo – http://www.akdn.org/agency/slideshow/photos/sandbag7.jpg – shows that just how nice a home can look using this construction technique. – “SMG”

JWR Replies: More about retreat architecture will be posted in the near future. But for now, here is a teaser — just as FFTAGFFR.

Note from JWR:

Yesterday morning, we passed the one million hit threshold! The more important metric is that we’ve had more than 43,000 unique visits. Yee haw! Not bad for a blog site that is just 45 days old. Please help to continue to spread the word. Just sending a one line e-mail to all of the folks on your e-mail list will make a big difference. Many thanks!

Today, I’m covering South Dakota, the 15th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential. Following this series of state-level articles I will begin making specific retreat locale recommendations down to the county level. OBTW, if you have first-hand experience, I’d appreciate your input on specific retreat locales anywhere on the planet. If you know of a region that will provide a nice self-sufficient hidey hole for WTSHTF, let us know, via e-mail.