Note From JWR:

I would appreciate your help spreading the word about SurvivalBlog. Doing so is in your best interest. Why? Because each neighbor that you convince to prepare will be one less person that you’ll find begging on your doorstep, come TEOTWAWKI+1.

Rifle Recommendations for Canada

I’m often asked by SurvivalBlog readers in Canada which rifles I recommend. Sadly, the C.96 semi-auto rifle/magazine ban in Canada didn’t leave Canadians with a lot of options. Since there may be more bans in the future, I’d recommend something in the Lee-Enfield bolt action family. There are so many of those rifles in circulation in commonwealth countries that they will probably be exempted from any bans on rifles with detachable magazines.  (Notably, SMLE 10  round magazines were *specifically exempted* in the Canadian C.96 “any rifle magazine over 5 round capacity” ban.)   Yes, I know what you are thinking… Just give the politicians time, they’ll get around to banning anything that will even accept a detachable magazine. In fact, they won’t quit until the have you down to archery equipment… We have the same problem here in the U.S. The only difference is that the politicians aren’t in as much of a hurry.

Depending on your ammo sources, I’d recommend either a SMLE .303 or  perhaps an Ishapore IA1 .308. (Assuming that their magazines are exempt under the Canadian 5+ round magazine law, too.)  Make sure to get a half dozen spare magazines to allow sustained fire.

If you are an optimist, you might buy a U.S. M1 Garand semi-auto rifle. Because of their 8 round expendable en bloc clip, there was a special grandfather clause included in the law. That makes it the highest capacity centerfire rifle that is legal in Canada.  (Aside for law enforcement officers and a few rifle team members, that can possess rifles such as M1As and L1A1s, and high capacity magazines.) Being a pessimist, I predict that the M1 Garand will eventually be banned in Canada, as well.

Letter Re: Recommendations on Body Armor?

I’m a newbie at preparedness. I have some nitro-packed storage food and I’m working on buying a few guns and getting training.  I think I’ll start with a course at Front Sight. But for immediate needs, I’m about ready to buy some body armor for “just in case.”  Are the mil surplus flak vests that I see advertised for +/-$80 a good deal? – T.Y.

JWR Replies: I highly recommend the training at Front Sight it is top notch! About body armor; first things first: Forget about the older-vintage military surplus “flak” vests” that you saw advertised. These are primarily designed to stop shrapnel, but not bullets. Most of the pre-1985 military issue vests would barely rate Class IIA.(Which is lower than Class II, if you aren’t  familiar with the rating system–that numbering system confuses a lot of folks.) I do not recommend them. About their only advantage is that some have a collar, which provides better neck protection than typical law enforcement (concealment) vests. IMHO, you are better off buying a law enforcement trade-in vest, Class II or higher. (Which would be: Class II, Class IIIA, or Class III.) Used Class II vests start at around $200.

My personal approach: For myself, I bought a pair of slightly used Class II vests, with one of them slightly larger than the other, plus a trauma plate. This cost less than buying a new Class III vest, and they are more versatile than a single heavy-weight vest.  I can wear either of  them alone for concealment, or I can wear *both* plus the trauma plate in between when the Schumer really hits the fan. This will provide better than Class II protection.

BTW, the Memsahib has a Class IIIA vest, contoured for ladies. It also was a trade-in vest, which she got for a bargain price at a gun show.

Two body armor dealers that I recommend are: Y2K Body Armor (which is operated by T. Allen Hoover) and Body Armor.  Of the two, Terry Hoover seems to have the best prices. He specializes in vests that come from police academy wash-outs.  These are “low hours” vests that are in great shape and very reasonably priced.

Letter Re: Recommendations for Night Vision Goggles?

Are you going to do a post on [Starlight] Night Vision Goggles, where to buy, and what type of NVGs is the best? – K.T. [of KT Ordnance]

JWR Replies: The light amplification NVG market has become crowded in recent years, primarily with junk that is prone to failure. I most strongly recommend that you you buy only good quality scopes. This generally means American or Israeli-made, not Russian.

If you can only afford one piece of starlight gear, then make it a weapon sight. You can always use a weapon sight dismounted (as a monocular), but you cannot mont a monocular or a pair of goggles to a weapon. (Yes, I know, you can use NVGs in conjunction with a laser aiming light, but that is adding another layer of logistics complexity.) I would rather have one reliable first generation (“Gen 1”) or second generation (“Gen 2′”) scope such as an AN/PVS-2 than I would three or four fragile, unreliable Russian scopes for the same amount of money.

If you have a lavish budget, go for broke: buy a redundant set of two or three Gen 3 scopes (such as AN/PVS-4s) and two or three NVGs (such as AN/PVS-7s). If you have bagoodles of money, you might even consider getting a few AN/PAQ-4 laser aiming lights and perhaps even one of the new Raytheon Gen 2 “Warrior” IR-50 thermal weapon sights that are just coming onto the civilian market. But hang on to your wallet… The IR-50s currently cost around $20,000 each!

When selecting any starlight gear, buy only equipment with guaranteed “low hours” U.S. full military specification tubes that come with authentic data sheets specifying their actual measured number of line pairs.  If you have the opportunity to do side-by-side night-time comparisons, pick a device that has minimum scintillation (a.k.a.”the sparklies”), a maximum number of line pairs, and the best possible optical clarity.  Lastly, and perhaps most importantly for someone who is looking at the potential of  a “long term worst case” situation, you should buy only equipment that is compatible with standard “off the shelf” rechargeable NiMH batteries. As David in Israel is fond of mentioning: “Remember, you are not the U.S. military with a huge budget and a long logistics tail.”  Plan and make your purchases according.

Three night vision gear vendors that I know and trust are JRH Enterprises, Ready Made Resources, and STANO Components, Inc.  All three of these firms are competent, trustworthy, and will go to the extra effort to make sure that you are completely satisfied.

Letter Re: The Demise of Winchester and Request for Suggested Brands for Bolt Action Rifles

It’s kinda sad that Winchester is going out of production. I’ve owned a couple over the years and they gave good service. My Model 70 .308 is still a favorite gun. Light, accurate, pretty, tough. What more can you really ask for?  I don’t have Boston’s Gun Bible at this location so I can’t remember where he came out on the Remington/Winchester scale (and of course
there are Browning/Savage/Ruger/Sako/Weatherby/Tikka arguments to be made – not to mention surplus guns. I wrote the homage to the Mosin-Nagant last week)… but no matter where your loyalties were seeing another finely crafted American icon bite the dust can’t be good. Turns out they are owned by a Belgian company, the same one that owns F.N. and Browning. They make guns in Belgium and Japan (A-Bolt and the Winchester 1895 clone.) But there license to use the Winchester name is timing out next year, and sales are down (only 80,000 rifles a year). And the license to manufacture the Model 1894 lever gun, the Model 70 bolt action and the Model 1300 pump guns that were made at this factory are owned by the union, so the plant closes, the guns stop production and the [Winchester] name goes back to Olin (the ammo manufacturer) So where is a Winchester guy to go now? The H.S. Precision rifles look real nice, but are three times the cost of a new Winchester. I guess that Remingtons are the obvious choice. Opinion? Comments on the passing? – K.T. [of KT Ordnance]

JWR Replies: I personally lean toward the synthetic-stocked Savage 110 for a reasonably priced precision bolt action rifle. The inherent accuracy of the 110 design is amazing. The 110 barrel nut is admittedly ugly, but quite practical.

Hurricane Katrina — A First Hand Bugout Account from August 2005

The following anonymously-posted account is re-posted with permission from Mel’s Riser’s “My Solar Village” blog ( Some of you might find this account is eerily reminiscent of my novel Patriots:

The craziest thing about the whole Katrina fiasco was that my father in law (technically he’s just my girlfriend’s dad, but we’ve been together long enough that this is what we call him.) I always make fun of him because he keeps his garage stocked with something like 100 gallons of water, a bunch of big jugs full of treated gasoline, food, etc. He also owns quite a few guns. So I picked on him a lot for being borderline nuts even though he’s fairly normal. So when Katrina rolled around I ended up evacuating with them since the woman wanted to be with her parents. It took us 35 hours of nonstop driving to drive to Dallas. It’s usually a four hour drive or so. About twelve hours or so in you had to drive around a car that had run out of fuel every fifty feet or less. They were everywhere. It was hot, too, and we saw hundreds of families standing on the side of the road sweating. A lot had infants and little kids. Even if you somehow did find a gas station that wasn’t sold out of gasoline (probably 9 out of 10 were sold out) the line was literally miles long. About 20 hours in, or a little over halfway to Dallas, we noticed the convenience stores were being looted. The people busted out the windows (we didn’t see who, but they were busted out) and we saw people coming out with any drink they could find. It was pretty much chaos. There was one cop on the scene and he wouldn’t get out of his car. He just sat across his street with his lights swirling and people ignored him. By this time there were so many cars broken down that we spent a lot of our time driving off road. We had a big tarp on the back of the truck with all the gasoline but we were forced to fuel up in front of people. We had enough fuel to fill up our two vehicles three times which turned out to be just enough to get us to Dallas. As we were fueling up crowds of not-so-nice looking folks with empty gas tanks were staring us down. We gave one guy five gallons of fuel because he had two little kids. We were approached the second time we fueled up on the side of the road by a pissed-off bunch of people asking for gas. We told them we needed it. They didn’t care obviously. One younger guy went towards the back of the truck and said something like “I’m taking one, call the f**king police if you want.” and my father in law had to use his pistol to convince the guy otherwise. We were then standing there, funnel in the truck, me trying to pour gas in, him with a pistol in his hand, my girlfriend and her mom crying, and all of the gas-thief’s buddies looking real tough. He just stood there like some sort of tough-guy a**hole. I got the cap back on the jug and we got out of there with our nerves really frazzled. I kept my pistol loaded after that. We went through a LOT of water. It was really pretty hot out there. I slept in little two or three minute bursts when traffic was stopped which it almost always was. Sit for a few minutes, move ten feet. Repeat a thousand f**king times. My leg actually cramped up from break/accelerate/breaking so many times and I had to pull over. This happened to pretty much all of us. It sounds melodramatic but driving actually f**king hurt at that point. To save on fuel I didn’t run my air conditioner so I was also sweating the whole time but we thankfully had a lot of water. At close to 30 hours people got fed up with the traffic and we started seeing cars zipping past us on the southbound side of the freeway, heading north the wrong way. There were still quite a few emergency vehicles heading south so this was a dangerous idea. It didn’t take long until hundreds of people switched to the other lane and headed northbound on it. A half mile or so up we saw the first head on collision. A family headed north had struck a police cruiser heading south at the crest of a hill. They’d never seen each other until the last second, I guess. We saw a lot of these accidents. The swarm beat the police,though, and we were out in nowhere, Texas anyway so there probably weren’t that many police to respond. Eventually the entire southbound lane was just as clogged as the northbound. More so, really, because there were the head-on accidents. The police couldn’t go south or north now so it was a kind of weird feeling of being on your own. So many people were broken down now that you had to swerve not to just hit the people who were out lingering. They had nowhere to go. Our big tarp-covered pickup drew a lot of eyes, too. We again had to fill up in front of hundreds of people. He again had to use his pistol as a friendly reminder that we didn’t wish to be robbed. He never actually pointed it at anybody, he just took it out and held it as a reminder. People just stared at us with hate. I can’t blame them, I guess. But he was watching out for his wife and daughter and I was watching out for her as well. Most people would do the same.

Letter Re: Disinfecting Water with Chlorine Bleach

Dear Mr. Rawles,
One of your readers recently mentioned using chlorine in the water tanks for household toilets as a means to preserve clean, drinkable water. I realize I need to do this. Question: how much chlorine should I use? IIRC the water tank for a typical [traditional] toilet holds approximately 5 gallons. As always, thanks for your help and for the good work you do. Yours in Jesus Christ our Lord, – S.P.

JWR Replies: The more recently-manufactured toilet tanks hold only about 2.5 gallons. The guidelines for treating water from questionable sources (via boiling, chlorine, or iodine) are concisely summarized at the Captain Tropic’s web site:

Letter Re: Joining or Forming a Faith-Based Survival Retreat Group

Many of the recommendations in your book, Patriots, and on your blog deal with survival contingency plans from a small-group/family perspective. Simply put; what is your advice to single (possibly young) people who have no dependents or family structure? In Patriots, one of the characters (who was not an original member of “The Group”) is a young, single male, who “freelances” (almost in the Medieval sense of the term) to the group. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, is it plausible to hope that one can form a mutually beneficial relationship, perhaps in exchange for goods or services? Of course, relying on that alone is a poor plan. As not everyone will be able to develop the same level of networking, or preparations for when TSHTF what do you suggest? Is a covenantal relationship something that would be desirable, especially from a Christian standpoint? Thanks, – Mountain Goat

JWR Replies: I strongly recommend that anyone that does not yet have a firm retreat locale planned and coordinated link up with an existing group long before TSHTF. If you can’t find an existing group, then form your own, preferably starting with like-minded friends from your church. The chances of finding a group that is looking to expand post facto are slim, since most rural farmstead retreats will have burgeoning populations as “cousins by the dozen” inevitably arrive.

As I previously stated (see my August, 2005 posts in the SurvivalBlog Archives) to have a good chance at pulling through when things get Schumeresque, it is important to pre-position logistics at a defendable retreat in a lightly populated, agricultural region with plentiful water that is well-removed from major population centers and the likely “lines of drift” for a torrential flood of urban refugees. This entails pre-positioning large quantities of logistics—far more than be could carried in a car or pickup. Ideally, to assure the security of your pile-‘o-logistics, you should start with an existing farm or ranch that is owned and occupied year-round by a relative or close friend.

Letter from Author Michael Z. Williamson Re: Remington Riot Shotguns

My survival shotgun is surplus from the Michigan state police, through a dealer–Remington 870, well worn, but with a glass-smooth action. $125, with plastic stock already on. Nothing against Mossbergs; I have one of those also, but the Remington is exceptionally common, which is a plus. As I’m not too concerned with keeping it looking like an innocent hunting weapon, I’ve added a tube extension, side sling mount, fluorescent orange hard plastic follower, and Cavalry Arms stock conversion that let me fit an Ergo grip and AR stock. This creates the exact same length of pull as my ARs, and adds a rail for sights/optics. At 50 yards offhand, slugs print a 2″ group, and recoil is quite manageable for fast follow ups. I, too, have looked at the Knoxx sidewinder drum conversions. The drums do not change rapidly, requiring pulling out, and inserting at an angle to start and then pressing home. The two extra rounds and 2″ shorter barrel would help somewhat, but it doesn’t seem to be a huge improvement or cost effective. I’ll post pictures of these items shortly. Meanwhile, Oleg Volk has this photo of my daughter practicing one of her skills: Morrigan is 8 years old, and was featured in Concealed Carry magazine in December, in an article about women and guns. It’s my experience that if you teach the kids gun safety early, shooting comes naturally shortly thereafter. Thanks for your comments on my novel Freehold. It was my first novel, and I hope I’ve improved since then. I just started work on a new science fiction novel. – Mike

Letter Re: Investing Gold Through and IRA or 401(k)?

Dear Jim:
With all of the prevailing concerns about the USG economy and the specter of a hyper-inflated or collapsed USG dollar, many people are seeking to invest in the precious metals like silver and gold. But, unfortunately, many of us have previously invested in dollar-denominated IRA‘s, 401(k) and other pension plans. As you know, if a person withdraws money from these plans he must pay all applicable taxes PLUS a 10% penalty which makes this a prohibitive thing to do. Therefore do you have any suggestions on what to do with existing retirement funds? Are there any precious metal-backed plans that you are aware of? BTW Everbank offers a CD called the Gold Bullion CD where the rate of return is tied to the price of gold bullion over a 5 year period and not to a fixed interest rate. But the potential downside is that it is backed by the USG’s FDIC (for whatever that is worth). What do you think of this instrument? Thank you for your prescient insights. B’shem Yahshua Ha Moshiach Sar Shalom, – Dr. Sidney Zweibel

JWR Replies: I consider the Everbank Gold Bullion CD a decent investment, but it is two steps removed from the ideal situation.  Instead, I recommend rolling over your existing IRA and 401(k) into a gold deposit IRA, through Swiss America.  I did so six years ago, and I’m glad that I did, since gold has nearly doubled since then.  The IRAs is in the form of U.S. Mint Gold Eagle bullion coins, held in vault storage by American Church Trust, in Texas. In a perfect world, we would be allowed to hold the coins in our personal possession and yet still have them qualify as an IRA–but sadly we live in world managed by bureaucrats and bean counters. The next best thing is a gold deposit IRA, through Swiss America. I suggest that you get your IRA converted during the current advantageous dip in prices. This still looks like a long term bull market for precious metals.

Odds ‘n Sods:

The Oil Depletion Analysis Centre (ODAC)  ( recently updated their site with several interesting articles related to the much-debated Hubbert’s Peak in Oil production.

  o o o

SurvivalBlog reader R.B.S. recommends this commentary posted at Gold-Eagle:

  o o o

Doc of recommended this source for “truckable” water tanks:

David in Israel on the Grid-Up Bugout Bag

Grid-up bugouts of the non-universal TEOTWAWKI type (more like Hurricane Katrina) allow you to take advantage of modern infrastructure even if you have limited means. If your escape happens during a time where resources allow a hotel may be a better choice for those who have lost their primary residence (rural or urban) and do not have a fallback location yet. In the event of a major power outage the cellular infrastructure has several days of generator power at each tower so the ease and reliability of mobile telephony may have advantages over ham radio for contacting family. In unaffected areas ragged dirty survivors and strange vehicles may be treated with suspicion a good appearance is key when interacting in normal areas. The following are some things to consider for your Bug Out Bag (BOB) — also known as a Get Out Of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) pack:
Cellular Telephone:
Think about getting a plan that includes Internet make sure that your phone supports Bluetooth or IR, a data cable which works with your computer will also work.  I suggest having a paid up prepaid SIMM chip taped in the battery cover purchased cash from a convenience store in case you need to switch phone numbers. A 1-800 type calling card for pay phones is a very useful tool.
PDA or Laptop:
Having access to web information has clear advantages, make sure you have car charger if in a vehicle. If in a pack PDA with a keyboard makes more sense wi-fi or cellular telephone connection will get you online.
Both a AA/AAA/9V battery charger and power cables for your gadgets keep you going, A crank charger is an excellent idea especially for your cellular telephone.
Immersion Boiler:
Available worldwide (both 120 and 220 VAC models) this small tool will heat water to boiling quickly or heat a bucket of water to bath/washing temperature in about ten minutes.
A flat universal sink/tub stopper and a lighter bungee type clothesline are all you need to keep your clothing presentable if you must interact with the otherwise normal world. Dish soap works very well for hand washing.
Vehicle “Camouflage“:
A standard [loose fitting] car cover often has the power to make your car somewhat invisible, in a suburban/urban neighborhood especially in sunnier areas these are more common.
Most important is that it makes the vehicle anonymous even if you need to sleep inside you are mostly protected from security or police or neighbors shining the vehicle at night.
A USB type keychain drive [commonly called  a “thumb drive” or “stick”] allows access to your files, even in a library. Reduced size hard and scan copies in a double ziplock of marriage, military, birth, home and vehicle titles, education docs, certifications, licenses, resumes, previous employer and finance info are high on the list of docs to have.
Computer files can also be stored on email or file storage sites.
If possible have duplicate ATM/debit cards as well as credit cards in your BOB. Several hundred dollars in mixed bills cash several sealed opaque pouches is a good idea too.
Eating out at restaurants may be convenient but is a terrible waste of cash unless Uncle Sam is picking up the tab. Cook using your immersion boiler or in the coffee maker provided with most rooms many recipes are available on the net, avoid the temptation to use a liquid fuel stove inside for obvious safety reasons.

[JWR Adds:] The majority of your cash should be carried in a money belt, especially if think that you might end up in a public shelter. You will probably want the majority of it in the most compact form available–large denomination bills. Here in the U.S., we are unfortunately limited to $100 bills–the largest denomination in circulation. However, in Canada C$500 bills are still in circulation, and in Europe there are EU500 bills. Both of those take a little searching to procure, but are generally available without paying a premium.] About money, if you become displaced you likely will have a very high cash burn rate as well as loss of work income all add stress especially if you have family worries included.  A single male may find shelter in a youth hostel or less secure in a low rent hotel. Both options leave you wide open to loss of your gear to theft. Keep your vehicle in mind as a shelter. A much better idea is to be in contact with your particular religious community in the place you are staying and be placed with a family. This, or a real hotel are the most viable options open to a displaced family.