From “Dr. Sidney Zweibel” — Review of a Front Sight Shotgun Course

Dear Jim:
Well, I’m back from my trip to Front Sight and I believe that it was very informative. Some of the things I learned I would like to share with you and your readers:.
1. There were several policemen in the class and they, along with the instructor, do NOT recommend using a sling on a shotgun for home defense.

2. One cop was using Federal Tactical buckshot and was getting the best groupings and patterns on his targets.

3. The lecture on the color-code of awareness is vital to understand.

4. They really stress being able to load your shotgun WITHOUT looking at either your shotshells or your weapon.

5. They also emphasize doing “tactical reloads” as frequently as possible. (That is, if you shoot two, reload two if you shoot one then reload one.)

6. The simulator scenario at “Shotgun Canyon” was very revealing as to learning to break the habit of “tunnel-vision” in a scenario of multiple targets and assailants. They teach to scan in all directions and to differentiate between cover and concealment.

7. One of the hardest things for me, at first, was to learn how to sling the weapon muzzle down.(Don’t ask.)

OBTW, I used one of the school’s Remington 870 pump actions. Surprisingly I did not experience any soreness in my shoulder after firing approximately 150 rounds. But I did sustain a minor cut on my left hand when I pinched it on the foreend pump. Oh well, a little blood kinda adds to the realism don’t you think? Baruch HaShem Yahweh, – Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

Letter Re: Hunting and Trapping Hazards

Mr. Rawles:
All the talk about snares and traps and hunting… You’d better inform people about the proper precautions concerning RABIES in wild game. – Tamara

JWR Replies: Yes, you are right. There are risks involved with hunting and trapping. But there are also risks involved with walking down a city street, or buying potato salad at your local delicatessen, or picking berries in bear country. As with anything else in life you need to weigh cost/benefit ratios, and learn to take appropriate precautions.

Here are some basic precautions about hunting, trapping, and handling raw meat: 

Always wash your hands very thoroughly after gutting, skinning, butchering, or otherwise handling any raw meat–store bought, home raised, or taken in the field. Never touch your hands to your mouth, eyes, or nose until after that washing.

Use great care not to cut yourself or your helper(s) while handling raw meat.

Use separate, designated, and preferably color coded cutting boards for meat versus all fruits, vegetables, and other foods.

Be careful not to pick up ticks from wild game.  I carry an aerosol can of “Off” insect repellent whenever I hunt. I spray my arms and legs before reaching down to bleed out a deer or elk.  Then right after that, I spray the entire carcass thoroughly and wait a full ten minutes before dragging it about 20 feet and then gutting it out.  (BTW, I’ve found that that same ten minutes is a good chance to sit down and thank God for His blessings.) Lyme disease is widespread. Odds are that deer ticks and brush ticks will be carrying it.

Don’t trap skunks for food unless you are absolutely desperate or starving. Rabies is endemic in both striped and spotted North American skunk populations.

Tularemia is is endemic in wild rabbits. The old sayings about inspecting rabbit livers for abnormalities is just an Old Wives’ Tale.  (It is not a reliable indicator of Tularemia infection.) However, if you do see white cyst-like spots on a rabbit liver, then the rabbit is almost certainly infected, and and should be discarded.

Cook all meat–regardless of its source–very thoroughly. And then be careful not to cut the cooked meat with the same dirty knife that you used before cooking.

Never hunt any animal that its not acting alert and lively. If  you find that an animal that you’ve shoot looks like it is in poor health, leave it lay for the scavengers.

A little common sense goes a long way. (OBTW, the encyclopedia references above are courtesy of  Wikipedia.)

Reader’s Book Recommendation: “Wilderness Medicine” by Auerbach

This book is full of ideas and know how on wilderness survival/medicine. I would like to share my find with others. It is called “Wilderness Medicine”(4th edition.) It was written by Paul S. Auerbach, M.D. and is essentially a text book about 1500 pages. Its somewhat spendy but worth it. I have provided a link if you are interested. . Thanks for your book (Patriots) and the great web site. – Josh

Letter Re: .40 S&W to 9mm Conversion Barrel for a Glock Model 23?

Well I thought I would write a quick note concerning the shooting of  9mm [Parabellum] in a Glock 23 after you’ve changed the barrel. Some say that it will work most of the time. Why would you ever do something to a firearm which only works most of the time? It is not only very stupid it is also unsafe, one of the reasons being the different ejectors between a 9mm and a 40 S&W. I for one know that the time I needed the firearm the most it would not work. Please, if you want to shoot a 9mm Glock then buy a 9mm Glock. I am a Glock armorer and yes I own several Glocks but I don’t try to do things with my guns that they we not designed to do. I have a 12 pound short handled hammer that I can use to drive a square peg into a round hole–but that doesn’t make it right. – The Mailman

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

Jed: “Pearl, What d’ya think? Think I oughta move?”
Cousin Pearl: “Jed, how can ya even ask? Look around ya. Yer eight miles from yer nearest neighbor. Yor overrun with skunks, possums, coyotes, bobcats. Ya use kerosene lamps fer light and ya cook on a wood stove summer and winter. Yer drinkin’ homemade moonshine and washin’ with homemade lye soap. And you ask, ‘Should I move?'”
Jed: “I reckon yor right. A man’d be a dang fool to leave all this!”
Buddy Ebsen and Bea Benaderet, in The Beverly Hillbillies

Note from JWR:

We’ve now surpassed more than three million page hits! Many thanks, folks. I appreciate your continued word-of-mouth publicity for SurvivalBlog.

From Gary Bourland in Iraq–Regarding Veteran’s Day

Note from JWR: The following Armistice Day piece comes to us from USMC Captain Gary Bourland, who is one of my regular contacts. He is stationed near Fallujah, Iraq. OBTW, if you don’t already send letters and cards through the’s web page contact list, I highly recommend it. Just one word of warning: It is habit forming.

Blog Readers:
Although many of you already display your strong support for the military, this year, stop for just a couple minutes and really think what Veterans day is about. Think about the families that were affected and the lives it changed. Somewhere there is a quite veteran that probably goes unrecognized most of the time but inside themselves on Veterans Day, “they” will know that the day is special.

When I was a Platoon Commander and had about 45 Marines under my command we occasionally had a few that had disciplinary problems. That year I got a little creative and instead of prosecuting them under the Uniform Code Of Military Justice (UCMJ) the military legal system, I decided to offer them another option that wouldn’t reflect on their records. I directed them along with myself to meet me at 0600 in their USMC Service Alpha uniform (Green coat & green pants like worn by Jack Nicholson in the movie “A Few Good Men”) in front of the barracks. Not going into details, they took the offer. We drove a quiet hot hour to a Veteran’s Hospital. Clenching Marine bumper stickers and posters and American flags. We had no agenda. We looked each other over and began our mission, No time limit, no schedule, about surprising someone. The nurses immediately took us to see some rough and tuff warriors and told us you must see General Richardson. As you entered his conservative room there was a tired warrior with oxygen in his nose, family picture of his grandkids on his nightstand and the Stars & Stripes on the wall, orientated correctly. The nurse said “General, the Marines are here”. He said “You guys here to get me outta here?” I said “Yep I got your shoes let’s GO!” He couldn’t move from his bed but he enjoyed the offer. Along with him and several other gentlemen the Marines sat and mainly listened as warriors from Normandy on through the wars told their story but surprisingly were so interested in the young Marine’s story and reinforced how proud they were of the young men sitting with them in their impeccable uniforms. I could barely sit there and watch as these gentlemen hooked to all kinds of contraptions had a glow in their face and tried to sit up in their beds to shake young warriors hands. I felt pretty dang humble. One gentleman in a wheel chair dressed in his Sundays best asked one of the Marines, “where does a rusty old Marine find one of those Eagle Globe and Anchor tie clasps”? (These are worn with this type of uniform by Marines). The Marine looked down at his own tie clasp and said you mean like this one, as he clasped it on the gentleman’s tie. The guy just through his arms around the Marine and gave him a big bear hug. Money can’t buy you feelings like that.
All of the Marines left the hospital a little different that day. It was a quiet ride back to the base and no one really said anything but everyone was thinking the same thing. We were all very proud to be associated with the gentlemen we just visited with and very appreciative that “they” did what they did for their country. The other 364 days of the year will probably be the same as any other day as the nurse stated “these guys don’t get many visitors”, but that Veterans Day was different for all of us.
If you don’t participate or witness any parades or anything this year for Veterans Day, take a look and the Stars & Stripes in your neighborhood and remember that blood has been shed for our flag time and time again and when the Nation calls on its service members we will answer, so help us God.  Semper Fidelis, – Capt. Gary Bourland

Letter Re: Aviation Gasoline (100LL) and JP4 as Alternative Fuels

It should be pointed out that AVGAS should NEVER be used in a car or truck engine or for that matter anything powered by similar engines. This fuel will destroy an automobile engine in short order. Will also clog the catalytic converter as your other writer stated.

I only recommend getting Jet-A [JP4–to be used in lieu of water clear kerosene] from an airport, not 100LL [100 octane leaded "avgas"]. Get yourself a battery operated pump or hand pump for this purpose and allow a stand off of at least 4 to six inches [distancing the pump drawing inlet from the bottom of the tank] if you have doubts about water or dirt. You may be able to provide your own barrels for use by the airport staff. This would allow you to simply exchange them periodically. As with anything that is obtained in this manner, "CAUTION" is paramount! Long Life, – Overhill

Letter Re: Leadership in Survivalist Circles

I’ve been looking for a U.S. Survival site to take the lead and looks like you are it. John has done a great job with and Jim Benson keeps the torch of the original ASG thinking alive with, otherwise Yahoo groups has been the best place to hang out – but now this is this site and I wish you all the best. Love what I see so far. The “Survivalist” movement is going to make a comeback in the next 4-to-6 years IMHO, and it looks like you are going to be a real leader in that. You can do a lot of good with this site. I hope it works out well for you. Tough to make a dime off survivalists 😉  – Rick in WI

JWR Replies: Thanks for the compliment, but I consider just one of many useful Internet resources on survival and preparedness. I stand humble and small in the shadow of those many excellent and much longer-lived survival sites including the following, which are mentioned (along with many others) at my Links page:

Frugal Squirrel’s Page
Captain Dave’s Page
Survival Ring (Richard Fleetwood)

Letter Re: How Vulnerable are Alternative Energy Systems to EMP?

As usual, excellent comments about [making] a clean cut from the grid. As for me, I am fully self contained in the country with a Trace Inverter/Charger in a Genverter setup. My day to day electricity is from a dual fuel generator which is powered by propane stored in six 1000 gallon surplus tanks. I also have a windmill, windmill tower and solar cells pre wired. HOWEVER, the windmill and solar cells are stored in a well grounded CONEX. ( and BTW the windmill is heavy as he*l on the alternator end and takes a heavy gin pole to mount it.) I don’t think we’ll see EMP but just in case I figure it’s worth the extra cost of fuel to assure the windmill and solar survive. Of course I have two matching windmills and spare well as a matching Trace. “Two is one, and one is none.” Best regards to you and the Memsahib. – The Army Aviator

Letter Re: E85 Ethanol Compatibility and the EMP Protection Quandary

My 1988 Ford F-250 pickup runs fine on a 50/50 mixture of E85 and regular gasoline. I can run E85, but it will not start using just E85, it just won’t fire. – CRZ

JWR Replies:  The only vehicles that seem to do very well running the E85 ethanol blend are those that have been specifically designed for it. This is because they include an electronic sensor to detect the relative flash point of  the fuel.  This adjusts the fuel/air mixture “on the fly”, even if you pump your tank full of regular unleaded gasoline, or all E85, or anything in between. (Most likely this will be dictated by what is less expensive on any given day.)   Yes, I know this is an electronic sensor, so there tradeoff is between fuel flexibility and EMP protection.  Chalk this up as more evidence that “There Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” (TANSTAAFL.) The inelegant solution to this quandary is simply to have two utility vehicles at your retreat:  One that is modern and multi-fuel capable, and another that is single fuel but that uses a bomb proof old fashioned electrical system.  (Either a traditional diesel, or a gas engine with a traditional points/condenser ignition system and no electronic fuel injection.)

I’m confident that E85 compatible rigs will become more commonplace in the next few years, as Detroit’s engineers get some common sense in Post-Katrina/Post-fuel price shock America. But for now, finding an E85-compatible vehicle can be difficult and time consuming. For survival use, the ones that look the most promising to me are:

2004 Ford Explorers with 4.0 liter engines.

2005-2006 GMC/Chevrolet Suburbans, Tahoes, Yukons, and 2500HD Pickups with 5.3 liter Vortec engines.

1998-2003 Dodge Caravans with 3.3 liter engines. (Yes, I know that they have marginal ground clearance and towing capacity, but they do make a 4WD version, and Caravans get 20 MPG, which is important these days.)

As stated in previous posts about alternate fuel vehicles, you must look closely at the vehicle specifications of a prospective purchase before you buy. (A buyer’s guide in PDF is available for download from the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.) In many cases it is just selected “fleet purchase” vehicles that can run on E85, so you have to look at specifications right down to a particular digit in the VIN number to be sure. Some vehicles have a special sticker inside the gas cap door, indicating that they are E85 compatible.

You are “Not” a Survivalist? — by “Buckshot”

A friend once told me back in the late 1990s: “I am not a survivalist.” I replied, “Oh really? Why do you get up every morning and go to work?  Because you love working here so much?” He answered: “No, I come to work to feed and shelter my family.” I then quipped; “Oh, so in order to survive you work, so you are a survivalist too.” He cracked a smile and said that I had a good point! By the same token you have house, life, car and health insurance, right? Why? Do you plan on having your car stolen, your house burning down, a tragic illness, or do you plan on dying today? Ah, no, you say, that is for just in case. That in essence is what a survivalist is: He or she thinks that a disaster might happen that stops the flow of food, gas, heating oil, etc. Can it happen? Sure, no one has to look any farther then down south [to the Gulf Coast] right now to see that America is not immune from disaster.

What can you do? Lots. 

There was a movie that came out in 1996 called The Trigger Effect. Don’t waste your money renting it–it is a typical nonsense “The Government Saves the Day” movie. But one great scene in the movie was at the gun store. The lead character is trying to buy a shotgun and trades his Rolex watch worth thousands for a $200 pump shotgun. The guy complains that his watch is worth thousands of dollars and the gun shop owner replies: “You waited for a disaster to buy the shotgun, so you pay top price.”  This was a movie, in real life what if the gun shop was robbed, closed forever, or the National Guard took all the store’s inventory. Then, the gun shop owner would reply: “You waited for the disaster, now it is too late!

Being prepared for a disaster like a hurricane, snow storm, or power outage is a good “mini test” to see where you are. But what would you do if we started into deep recession, depression, or economic collapse? My Dad use to say that a recession is when your neighbor is out of work. A depression is when you are out of work.

I decided at a young age to learn to live off the land. I started trying wilderness survival following the survival books making homemade dead fall traps. As a friend pointed out, the Native Americans soon learned to trap more beaver with real iron traps and caught a lot more animals then they ever did with dead falls. Homemade wire snares and dead falls will take some animals but with real traps and professional grade self-locking snares you will be armed with top notch equipment that will greatly increase your chances of catching something to eat. Comparing wire snares and dead falls to real traps and snares is like comparing deer hunting with a high power pellet gun to hunting with a scoped 30-06. The guy with the pellet gun might get a deer, but the guy with the .30-06 can get almost any deer he sees within range. A recent e-mail comment I received was: “I hold you and your videos on high. I learned a lot from your videos and your snares are great and greatly priced. I use to mess around with the “homemade” kind from Boy Scouts and survival books, but the real ones blow these away.”

By the same token you don’t want to be too late putting in supply of snares. I have written previously to SurvivalBlog on the subject of how many traps and snares to put away, covering feral dog control and food gathering, but what about predator control? Here is a very interesting e-mail: “I helped out on my buddies farm where foxes, coyotes, coydogs, and weasels were eating his chickens, ducks, and pigeons. They even ran off with a few of his piglets. His terrier was no match, and after a bad fight, he asked me to help. I set up the snares like in the video (survival snaring ), and I placed them at every entrance spot they were coming into. Out of the dozen snares I had, medium, I set ten and got four foxes and five coyotes in two weeks. I just keep moving the snares to fresh paths, and they worked.”

Now if TEOTWAWKI happens you are not going to be able to go down and buy replacement chickens, pigs, or calves. You are going to have to protect them yourself. Setting the snares is easy once you learn how. Snaring is not rocket science. A few tricks to learn, and you are in business. I have several farmers/ranchers that re-order snares every year from us. How many? One rancher uses three dozen a year for coyotes to protect his sheep. Another buys one-to-two dozen each year. Another buys five dozen every other year. I have talked to several farmers and ranchers on the phone about protecting chickens from foxes, raccoons, coyotes and even skunks.If you are worried about wild dogs, then 10 dozen medium snares is cheap insurance. Like any disaster, it better to have too many on hand then it is to wait until it is too late and you can’t order more. – Buckshot

JWR Replies:   I may be biased, but I think that Buckshot’s Camp is the best place to buy traps, snares and scents. His prices certainly are competitive. If you have the chance to buy  bunch of used conibear traps for bargain prices at a farm auction, great!  But most likely you won’t. Even if you do, be sure to get Buckshot’s instructional DVDs. They are an absolute “must.”

Poll Results –What are the Best Items to Store for Barter and Charity?

Here is another suggested barter/charity item list.  Keep them coming!

Mr. Rawles:
My barter "box" contains the following:
Travel size toothpaste
Travel size soap and shampoo (hotel size)
Matches and lighters
Band aids
Razors (disposable kind)
Dish soap
Sewing supplies (needles, thread, buttons)
– K. in FL

Letter Re: A Source for Storage Barrels

Mr. Rawles–just wanted to drop a quick note about storage barrels. We live down the road from a juice factory and they would probably give the barrels away if they had to. Last time I bought a couple, the steel barrels were a buck (with lids and compression rings…the steel barrels were also lined) and the plastic ones were five dollars. Don’t know how many juice factories are out there, but it sure beats paying the high prices the “survival food” companies charge for the same barrels. I’m sure there are other good sources for cheap food grade barrels, too.  Still enjoying the blog and many thanks for all your work. – Peter R.