Note from JWR:

Many thanks for all of the recent “10 Cent Challenge” contributions! One gent kindly sent $200. That was way above and beyond the call of duty! (All that we ask is 10 cents a day.)

Letter Re: Changing The Retreat Locale Paradigm: Cellular Phones and Two-Way Satellite Internet Systems

Survival Communications, Cellular Phones, Satellite Internet Service

Hello James,
I was faced with making decisions on how to connect to the Internet at a faster connection as the city technology has not reached me yet. I looked into DirecWay and Dynamic Broadband, and I can’t find the other company off hand. In my research, there was a hefty out of pocket to acquire the equipment, and bulkier fees per month with contracts running years. I found in looking further that claims of download speeds were just that–download only. It turns out that the upload speed,(at least to residential isolated candidates) was comparable to a conventional dial-up modem or less. In retrospect, do the research, if seeking a home based career, access speed can shape your options. -The Wanderer

Letter Re: Defensive Shotguns on a Budget

I’m not sure about one letter you posted on February 10th. While I have no direct experience with them it is my understanding that the conversion for the [Mossberg 500] Knox drum and magazines do not allow the use of the gun’s original magazine tube. Thus, the Sidesaddle and shell carrier on the butt COULD be used to “combat load” through the ejection port with the Knox drum/mag conversion [in place] but otherwise it only adds weight to the gun. The conversion (I believe) only allows feeding from the box mag/drum). Hopefully someone with hands-on experience will be able to confirm or refute my understanding of things.

I can comment on the recoil reduction from their pistol grip stock, one of our customers had one for a short time and I did try it a few times. When used as most of us have been trained, firmly pull the butt into the shoulder, it does little to reduce felt recoil. The trick is too hold it loosely against the shoulder to allow the recoil reducing device in the pistol grip to do it’s thing. I think if it requires a different grip and mount on the gun the same thing (reducing recoil) can be done without shelling out the cash for a fancy stock. I don’t know who first started pushing the new shooting style for shotgun but it works, let me try to explain:

Shoulder the gun as you would normally but don’t pull hard into the shoulder as we all have been told for all these years, only use the force needed to keep the butt in place. Use your support hand to pull forward and use it to absorb recoil. Don’t lock the support arm out, allow it to flex some at the elbow and let your support arm function as a shock absorber. You can even use this in close quarters by allowing the stock to ride over your arm/shoulder and rotate the gun a bit inboard (counterclockwise for the right handed shooter). This allows the muzzle to come back as much as 5 inches in my limited experience. The key to all this is to pull the gun forward against the force of recoil. It is especially useful on short, pistol gripped breaching guns (the only real use for a pistol gripped shotgun, as I see it) as it keeps the recoil from pounding against the web of the shooting hand. If my shoddy explanation makes sense to you, take the wife and kids out and try a box or three and you will see a difference, I have had good results with some timid and recoil sensitive shooters. – Jake at The Armory

Odds ‘n Sods:

I just finished reading the science fiction novel “Freehold” by Michael Z. Williamson.  It is a fast-paced Libertarian think piece. “Freehold” is a tale of interplanetary colonization, set some 500 years in the future. The descriptions of the bureaucratic totalitarian central Earth government are contrasted with the “Freehold” colony planet, Grainne. The main character is an Earth army logistics soldier that is unjustly accused of embezzlement. Realizing that she can never get a fair trial on Earth, she flees to Grainne. There, she finds a new world with a minimalist government and the sort of freedom that is only dreamed of. She soon acclimatizes to the new society, but things get complicated when Earth decides to invade Grainne, to “civilize” it.  The novel is marred by some unnecessary descriptions of rape, torture, and assorted kinkiness. However, there is so much good in this book that I still recommend it. But keep in mind that it is definitely not a book to let your kids read. I should mention that Michael Z. Williamson is a SurvivalBlog reader. Oh yes, I should also mention that Williamson starts each chapter with a quote. Starting today, I plan to shamelessly high grade some of those great quotes for use as “Quotes of the Day” on SurvivalBlog.  Thank you, Michael!

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H5N1 Asian Avian Flu had spread to Nigeria and Azerbaijan. See:

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The folks over at The FALFiles mentioned a very clever product:  A compact bow saw (a triangular-framed Swedish saw –commonly called a “Sven saw”) that disassembles in such a way that all of the parts can be stowed inside the handle tube. It comes with three blades: wood, meat/bone, and hacksaw. It is called the Arkan Saw Camping Backpacking Ultra Lite Saw, made by Allenall Associates. (See: With blades only about 18″ long, it appears to be limited to cutting branches or small diameter firewood, but that is the inescapable trade-off to achieve compactness. It looks ideal for backpackers or perhaps someone in the military that needs a saw that can easily be stowed in a pack that can quickly cut a lot of branches for camouflaging. I am surprised that these sell for under $10. (Hopefully, this pricing isn’t because they are manufactured in mainland China. I hope that they are American made.) If the folks at Allenall send me a sample, I’ll test it and will write a full review. (Hint, hint.)

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Those sneaky NAIS types are implementing their plan, whether folks want it or not. reports that farms and ranches are being premise enrolled in the NAIS database without their knowledge or consent.  Often, the modus operandi is a “telephone poll”, with calls to farmers and ranchers to gather pertinent data. The other method that they’ve used is surfing the Internet, looking for web pages of livestock breeders. They’ve found all the data that they need for initial enrollment, particularly at the web sites of folks who are touting their rare breeds. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky. It is no wonder that the USDA now claims that half of the farms and ranches in some states have been “premises registered.” They’ve apparently done much of it on the sly. Please call your legislators. The NAIS scheme represents the intrusive “Nanny State” at its worst.  It must be stopped!

Note from JWR:

You may have noticed that #1 Son added a nifty new web mapping tool down at the bottom of our scrolling ad bar. This plots the source of SurvivalBlog web hits on a global map. Tres cool, huh?  (Sufficient data to plot “clusters” should be available by Monday. Be sure to click your browser’s “reload” button to see the results.) We didn’t do this just for the wow factor. Our goal is to find some more international correspondents for SurvivalBlog, who will serve in the same capacity as David in Israel. (They’ll have to be be in just for the glory, and perhaps a few free books.) So if you have any friends that live overseas, let them know about SurvivalBlog. Perhaps you have a relative or a buddy that is deployed down in Bananaland, or over in the Big Sand Box. Perhaps someone living in some other exotic locale?  It need not be a place that is particularly inimical. Granted, it would be particularly interesting to read the insights of folks who are are currently surviving hyperinflation in Zimbabwe, or secessionist turmoil in Kashmir, or convoy IED attacks in Iraq, or kidnappings in Columbia. But we’ll settle for mundane…

“Unfit To Eat”, by Buckshot

There a lot of self-proclaimed “experts” on wild game out there. Years ago, I shot a deer with a bow just before dark and he ran off. At 8:00 P.M. that night we found the arrow covered in blood. The blood trail started two feet wide and my friend said: “This deer is dead. We’ll find him in an hour.” At midnight we lost the blood trail. To make it easier to get back to the truck at night, every 20 feet or so we had places a few pieces of toilet paper. This really paid off because we were able to back track right to the truck. The night cooled off to below freezing. Next morning bright and early I was back on the trail. The cool morning frost crunched under my feet. The fall colors blazed out at me. The smell of fall was in the air. My favorite time of year.

Following the toilet paper trail it was an easy walk in to where we lost the blood trail. I started circling around the the last known blood spot. I began checking under small pine trees and brush piles, looking for the buck. This is a slow and tedious process. Slowly, I expanded the circle. Sometimes a wounded deer will jump 20 feet to one side change direction and lay down watching their back trail. I will never forget what happened next. The circle had expanded to about 100 yards from the last spot and I came out to a wide, slow moving creek. I looked down the creek to my left and then to my right just as the sun broke above the tree top. I saw a log with a single branch sticking out. I thought: “That branch looks just like part of the buck that I shot.” Curiosity took the best of me and I just had to see this branch better. Walking a little closer something almost magical happened: The “bark” on the log turned into deer hide and the branch had turned into an antler. I ran up laughing and thanking God for leading me to the buck.

I dragged him out tagged and gutted him. Now the fun began; dragging the deer out by myself. Slowly I worked my way back to the truck dragging my prize. Loaded him up and drove home. Skinned and butcher him putting the wrapped meat in the freezer. Of course I rewarded myself with back straps for dinner. Wow that was some awesome eating. The next day at work I was bragging about it and one guy said that the deer I had bagged was “unfit to eat.” I replied: “You’re crazy. I already cooked up some backstrap and it was fine. He then said: “I used to work in butchering shop and any deer not found within an hour after it was shot is no good to eat.” Needless to say I ignored his ranting and the deer was eaten over the course of the following winter.

Now if I would have listened to “Mr. Expert” I would have wasted a whole deer. There was recently another “expert” saying that a snared deer is unfit to eat. A snared deer is dead in less than one minute. How that somehow make is not fit to eat is beyond me. What the heck is the difference if you shoot a deer and he runs off and dies 30 minutes later?  Is that deer unfit to eat? Of course not. People are weird when it comes to wild game. I trust wild game one heck of a lot more than I do store bought meat. Like I have said many times, I should have been been born in Missouri because I come from the “show me” state. I test everything and taste test all this unfit to eat meat. (Grin.) Not that I have ever snared deer but have eaten plenty of snared animals and never found one to be “unfit to eat.”

Even if the animal was still alive in the snare it is still good to eat. I just shake my head at these experts and wonder how the human species survives. If you are starving are you going to waste a whole deer because some expert said it was unfit to eat? I hope not. Don’t let other people sway your opinion. You hunt and trap in the fall for a reason. Why? Because the little ones have had a chance to grow up, the disease is down to almost zero. You know the funny part is these are the same people who spend hours typing up what is the best slingshot, bow, crossbow, pellet gun to buy for silent game gathering. A properly trained trapper/snaresman will out-produce any hunter alive. I guess it is just more fun to talk about silent game gathering weapons then it is to talk about traps and snares.

After eating wild game going on 35 years I should have been dead years ago from eating all these “unfit to eat” animals. But I keep finding myself waking up every morning. I wonder why? Oh I know, it is because I didn’t listen to the “experts” and I tested it myself. – Buckshot (

Letter Re: Are Model 1893 Turkish Mausers Capable of High Pressure Rechambering?

I recently bought a “no FFL” antique German (Oberndorf) Mauser Model 1893 (Turkish contract) from The Pre-1899 Specialist that had been rebarreled to .308 Winchester and turned into a nice sporter that looks just like a modern hunting rifle.  I read on another web site that they don’t recommend re-barreling Model 1893 or Model 1895 Mausers for modern high pressure cartridges like.308.  What do you think? 

JWR Replies: The re-arsenalized Turkish contract Mausers were far and away the strongest of the 1893-to-1896 series small ring Mauser bolt actions. Because of their re-heat treating (quite deep), they are stronger than even the famed Swedish Model 1896. And it is noteworthy that back in the early 1990s thousands of Swedish Model 1896s were rebuilt by Kimber with “as is” receivers as sporters in calibers that included .308 Winchester and .243 Winchester. I have seen no reports of problems with any of those. The warnings on M1893s and M1895s that P.O. Ackley, Kuhnhausen, and others have made (and that you often see repeated on the Internet) were primarily regarding Spanish arsenal-made Mausers (from the Oviedo and La Coruna arsenals), which had very poor (shallow) heat treating.

If you are REALLY concerned and ultra conservative, then have the headspacing checked before you shoot the rifle the first time, and again after you fire the first 100 rounds of factory soft nose ammo. If there is no sign of increased headspace then you have a rifle that will be good for a lifetime of shooting full house loads.

OBTW, for any of you reading this who are wondering about the legalities of re-barreling a Federally exempt pre-1899 rifle into a modern caliber, see my Pre-1899 FAQ for details. The FAQ includes scans of a BATF letter that specifically confirms that re-barreling, rechambering, or sporterizing a pre-1899 does not in any way dilute its “antique” exemption.

Odds ‘n Sods:

Have you ever wondreed how to decipher the date codes stamped on canned foods? See:

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A Portland Oregon TV station warns of the Tsunami risk on west coast of the United States:

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More on the planned non-nuclear “Global Strike” Trident missiles:

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Another record trade deficit:

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock." – Orson Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man (Screenplay by Graham Greene)

Letter From “Falsemuzzle” Re: Black Powder Guns in Survival Planning

An appropriate addition to your selection of firearms should be a black powder (BP) revolver and longarm.
Many very fine guns of these types are sold all over the U.S. and so detailing the good and bad of each is probably beyond the scope of this commentary. Many prefer their own experience in the area when choosing a good BP firearm, and so I will not try to express my own biases here. What counts is having them.
In terms of mobility, pre-cast bullets would be the best bet. In terms of a permanent site, storage of raw lead is perfectly fine (since it never goes bad!).
Quality casting equipment [for lead bullets] helps as does some experience in that area – like anything there is a learning curve which in this case allows for a quick level of expertise derived from having a good time learning. Errors in casting bullets can be re-cast allowing for very cost effective on the job training. Lead essentially becomes the ultimate recyclable material – very little wastage. Recovering bullets from a day’s shooting of your cartridge firearms simply adds to your supply of lead for either your BP or conventional cartridge firearm (assuming that you reload).
Ruger’s products are very well respected – the Old Army is perhaps the best choice in BP revolvers, Colt’s BP series is also an excellent choice (though more pricey). Kit guns can be fun to assemble, but normally require some amount of hand-work to fine-tune. Italian-made BP revolvers by Uberti, or Navy Arms are good choices too.
Personally, I would not buy a Walker-sized revolver simply because of the weight issue. Colt’s Army, or Ruger’s Old Army are well-balanced and handy.
Browning’s discontinued Mountain rifle was an excellent product and pretty collectible. One should track one of these down if you can find one for sale. But like the revolvers mentioned above, the Browning Mountain rifle is not the only great BP rifle available. Kit rifles can be excellent choices too. Aside from being an adult, Federal regulations are very liberal. It is well-worth your investigation of State and Local regulations though, to be sure of you area’s laws.
Calibers do not matter much past knowing what you need your firearm to do. BP hunting journals are excellent sources for this information, while there are typically many books published on the subject available in larger gun stores. Finding a copy of the Foxfire book that deals with making BP wouldn’t hurt, but read as much as you can.[JWR Adds: He is referring to Foxfire Volume 5: Iron making, Blacksmithing, Flintlock Rifles, Bear Hunting…]
Making BP is something I cannot comment on as I have not made it myself. You would be best advised to learn such an art VERY cautiously for two good reasons. Poor BP makes for poor performance, and mishandled BP – poor or good – can be volatile. Learning from BP enthusiasts is a good start, though most will probably tell you to opt for factory made powders.
There is no great mystery to BP grain sizes – though archaic the grains sizes used in most rifles or revolvers is FFFG – you can work with different grain sizes but the largest size is really not going to be an option.
Simply put, any well-stocked retreat should have BP arms, just like it should have a good hunting bow.
For hunting in some areas, the BP seasons are run longer and earlier. Using them conserves your precious cartridge supply. There is no need to worry about “reloading” cartridges cases that soon split, or complicating your life with re-loading equipment. – Falsemuzzle

JWR Replies: I agree that BP guns do have a place in survival planning.  However, if someone’s main goal is getting guns that are outside of Federal jurisdiction (with no purchase paperwork required in most locales), from a practical standpoint they are better off buying pre-1899 cartridge guns from the 1890s, such as the Mausers and the S&W top break revolvers that are sold by dealers such as The Pre-1899 Specialist.  If, in contrast, the intent is to have guns that will remain useful in the event of a multi-generational societal collapse, them BP guns make a lot of sense. Lead for bullet/ball casting can be stored in quantity, and even salvaged wheel weights or battery plate lead could be substituted. Black powder and percussion caps could conceivably be “home brewed”–although there are some serious safety considerations. 

BP arms have lower velocity and hence less stopping power than modern smokeless powder cartridge guns. However, they can still be fairly reliable stoppers.  I would NOT want to be a burglar confronted by a homeowner that is holding a pair of Ruger Old Army .44 percussion cap revolvers! OBTW, since black powder is inherently corrosive, I recommend buying stainless steel guns whenever possible. So make that a pair of stainless steel Ruger Old Army .44 percussion cap revolvers.

If you ever envision BP guns being pressed into service for self-defense, then get models that optimize fast follow-up shots and fast reloading. For example, consider the the Kodiak brand double rifle. Some brands of BP revolvers have cylinders that are relatively quick to change. For those, it makes sense to buy two or three spare cylinders for each gun that can be kept loaded. Of course be sure to have each gun tested with all of the cylinders to make sure that they all function and “register” correctly.

Letter Re: Defensive Shotguns on a Budget

Dear Jim:
Mr. Bravo is right on the money regarding Mossberg shotguns. They are inexpensive and reliable. At IDPA shoots ( I see problems EVERY match with auto shotguns, but far fewer problems with pump guns. The pump gun is a little slower to run, but the major problem of short stroking the pump is quickly corrected on the fly, while the autos can jam and are completely out of action.
The only mechanical thing I have had go wrong with my Mossberg 500 or 590 is the safety’s spring loosening up after 10 years, with the safety coming on with recoil. The factory fixed the 10 year old gun at no charge.

Combat Pump Shotguns:
You can now add a recoil reducing pistol grip stock to your Mossberg or other pump gun. This actually tames 12 gauge birdshot down to .223 recoil levels! 00 buckshot is a breeze to shoot.
In my opinion the Mossberg 500 home defense model with the lighter and shorter 18.5″ barrel is the way to go, vs. the 20″ barrel, 8 shot 590.  See:
Save the money on the shotgun model because you can add the “Sidewinder” 10 round DETACHABLE drum magazine for 10 + 1 firepower. The Sidewinder detachable mag is only made for Mossbergs, a critical reason to go Mossberg….
Put a SpecOps recoil reducing stock on the Mossberg 500, and add the “PowerPak” 5 round stock ammo carrier for more ammo on the gun, see
and then add the 6 round “SideSaddle” mag on the side of the receiver, see
Now you have a 10 round mag + 5 on the stock + 6 on the receiver = 21 rounds of 12 gauge on the gun! Ideal for the emergency “grab and go” situation where you don’t have time to put on all that Tommy Tactical gear. In a real emergency time is often the most critical asset. If you do have time to put on gear, you can keep the optional 6 round box mag on your belt.
You can even get cute, and load birdshot or buckshot in the mag for less penetration, and then put specialty rounds like flechettes, or slugs on the Side Saddle and PowerPak.
Rough pricing, Mossberg 500, $230 and up, all the other accessories total roughly $ 450. As always shop around – links are to manufacturers, but retailers are often cheaper, e.g., Cabela’s is $220 on the Sidewinder. Regards – OSOM – “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”

Two Letters Re: Alternate Fluids for Bore Cleaning and Gun Lubrication

Jim –
Use “Ed’s Red” for a great home made weapon cleaning solution. See: I made a couple of gallons a long time ago and I’m still working on them… Regards, – G.T.

Hi James,
Possibly the best information source on the web for “homemade cleaners” is here:
Regards, – “Moriarty”

Letter Re: Road Blocks

As with any obstacle, roadblocks will only be effective if covered by fire. Also obstacles must be tied into the terrain and the overall fighting plan. Digging an anti-tank ditch across a road [in level country] won’t stop anyone if they can just drive around it. The French Maginot Line was a great obstacle, but the Germans just went around it. So any roadblock has to tie into other natural or artificial barriers. A roadblock that denies the only bridge that crosses an otherwise impassible river is a good example of one that ties into the terrain. However, if that obstacle is not covered by fire, then it only provides a delay. An enemy will still reach it’s objective, it just might take longer. It’s pretty simple. If there is no covering fire, then the obstacle can be reduced sooner or later. A tree across a road might stop a truck, but a few sandbags on each side and a truck can get over it. If no one is there to provide “discouragement”, then the obstacle will be breeched. Adequately covering that tree with fire prevents it’s reduction, and the obstacle prevents mobility. So each enhances the other. Also, the obstacle has to be sufficient for the desired effect. The tree has to be big enough, or the wall tall enough, or the river deep enough, etc. The Alamo had one portion of it’s wall that was very weak and thrown up at the last minute. While covered by fire, it was inadequate for what was needed, and this is where the Mexican Army was able to breech the fortress by concentrating force at the weak spot. So think obstacle, not speed-bump.
In your defense planning, remember that an obstacle NOT covered by fire will not STOP anyone.

Use OCOKA (Observations and fields of fire, Cover and Concealment, Obstacles, Key terrain, Avenues of approach) when you analyze the terrain. Tie your obstacles in with your overall fighting plan. They’re just one tool in the box, and must be used with other tools to get the job done. By themselves, they do nothing but cause you to expend resources on them. Tie them in with your retreat defense plan. – “Doug Carlton”


A point that I raise with heavy equipment is not a new one, but important to know. Most manufacturers, (even to this day) have one key, (meaning all matching door knobs, ignitions, etc…) for that brand. This means in simple terms, if you own a CASE skid loader, then you can start everyone else’s too. Not much for piece of mind!
As a kid, I remember my Dad sticking the old Ford pickup keys about 1/4″ into the dozer ignition and voila! It starts. He ended up putting a push button start in a secret place and it took the key and the button to start it. I would hate to have a D4 dozer aimed at my retreat no matter the construction!
-The Wanderer

JWR Replies: I’m sorry that I did not make myself clear. It almost goes without saying that to be relatively “immobile” a vehicle needs to have its ignition system rendered useless. This is best accomplished by removing a key part. (which will vary, according to the engine and ignition type.) In regard to Doug’s comments: A great description of the futility of constructing roadblocks that are not covered by small arms fire is described in the Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s novel “Lucifer’s Hammer.”

Odds ‘n Sods:

Disarming gun owners wasn’t enough for the hoplophobic Scots. Now they want to ban knives, too. See: and Laddies, its time to call Mel Gibson. You could use another William Wallace “Sons of Scotland!” speech about now…

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Only six year too late, President Mugabe is asking Zimbabwe’s displaced farmers to return: The
Good luck Comrade. They’ll come back, but not until after you and your henchmen have been sent packing.

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Some of the Cell Phone Tracking web sites that we mentioned last week are being shut down:

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The folks at have posted a new article that warns that RFID biochips could be “hacked” or copied and used to point the finger of blame for any misdeed (real or imagined), at will. Please write your congresscritters. NAIS must be stopped!