Note from JWR:

There are now SurvivalBlog readers in more than 60 countries. (See our hit map.)  BTW, you can now click on the map to zoom in for detailed maps showing hits in various regions.



Finding a Stable Country for an Offshore Retreat

I’m often asked by SurvivalBlog readers and consulting clients about where to look for an offshore retreat. Today, I’ll discuss general selection criteria, and briefly discuss Central America.

With a few exceptions, most of my consulting clients seem to agree on the following criteria:

Political stability

Economic stability

Relatively self-sufficient agriculture

Livable climate

Allows expatriates to own land outright, or at least provided long term (60+ year) renewable leases

Free enterprise and private banking

Favorable tax situation

Minimal gun laws

Low crime rate

Free of Malaria and at minimal risk for other insect-borne diseases

Well established infrastructure (power, phone, water, sanitation, Internet,…)

High percentage of English speaking residents

Looking dispassionately at this list, we can eliminate most countries in Central America in short order: Mexico has both a high crime rate and horribly restrictive gun laws. Guatemala and El Salvador have too much poverty and insubstantial infrastructures. Nicaragua and Honduras have enough crime that I reduced them to “maybe” status, aside for a few hoi polloi gated communities. Panama, although recently quite stable, has its problems. Most notably it has recently caved in and forced its banks to open its books to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. In my estimation, this leaves just Costa Rica and Belize as the most likely prospects in Central America. Belize is particularly captivating, since it is a former British colony and therefore has a largely English-speaking populace. Both of these countries are quite stable and quite receptive to expats. I will write some details on both countries in future SurvivalBlog posts. If any readers have first-hand knowledge about offshore retreat locales, I’d appreciate you input, via e-mail. In the interim, here are a couple of resources for you to investigate:

For some first-hand information on Costa Rica, see the Retreat Owner Profile on “Mr. Coffee” at the bottom of our Profiles page.

General information about Belize:
http://www.belize.com/

For information on how to buy land in Belize and some Belize facts, see:
http://www.belizerealestate.com/belize/index.html

General information on Ambergris Caye (Off the northern coast of Belize), see:
http://www.ambergriscaye.com: (The cayes are the healthiest places to live in Belize.)

This real estate agency has a good reputation:
Belize Real Estate (The oldest real estate company in Belize)
U.S. Phone (via VOIP): (813) 322-3899 — Ask for David Doering
Belize Office 011-501-226-2090 / Fax 011-501-226-2245
P.O. Box 15
San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize
website: http://www.BelizeRealEstate.com
e-mail: bzreal@btl.net (Tell David that Jim Rawles of SurvivalBlog sent you.)

General information about Costa Rica:
http://www.infocostarica.com/



Letter Re: Investing in Tangibles Through an IRA

Dear Jim:
Per your suggestions, I have been doing a lot of research into the American Church Trust Precious-Metals IRA [offered through Swiss America]. However, I have several questions that I would like to ask.
[JWR’s replies are in-line, in bold.]

1.) I noticed in a recent post of yours on this subject that you have your IRA backed by Gold American Eagles. Could you explain why you chose gold instead of silver?

Because of the much higher “per ounce/per dollar” purchase premium on U.S. Mint Silver Eagles, I prefer U.S. Mint Gold Eagles, in this case.  (At the time those were my only two options. I’m not certain what they currently offer.)

2.) Are you concerned about the USG ability to confiscate gold as they did in 1933 since the law to do so is still on the books?

IMO, the chance of another gold confiscation is fairly slim. (And almost nil for silver.)  I can’t predict how any confiscation executive order might be worded.  However, there is the chance that it would exempt both numismatics and U.S. Mint American Eagles.

3.) And if this did happen, what would be the effect, if any, on a gold-backed IRA?

Anything that is held in a well-documented IRA or kept in a bank safe deposit box could conceivably be subject to confiscation. It is a gamble, but in my estimation the odds are a lot better than leaving you IRA or 401(k) in dollar-denominated investments, which are almost certain losers in the event of mass inflation.

4.) What precious metals do you recommend for the Church Trust IRA today?

Since the spot price of silver has recently greatly out-paced gold–leaving gold temporarily relatively under-valued–I think that gold American Eagles would currently be your best bet.

5.) Are you continuing to make contributions to your IRA presently or are you moving in a different direction?

I am no longer adding to that account.  I only created it originally because at the time I had a 401(k) from a corporate job that I needed to roll over.  All of the gold and silver that I’ve bought in the past five years ave been physical metals (primarily silver), which are held in a private vault. BTW, I recommend Swiss America for those purchases, too. Be sure to shop around. You might get a slightly better rate at your local coin shop, coin show, or gun show.

I appreciate your informed opinions. B’shem Yahshua HaMoshiach, – Dr. Sidney Zweibel



Letter Re: Defending Your Home: An Outline of Security for Troubled Times, by K.A.D.

Jim,
For those folks out there who are incorporating a door/window alarm system for their home as part of layered protection, it pays to personally check each window, door every six months to see if the connections still work. After having our home windows/doors/motion sensor-monitored alarm system for about six years built in new into our country home, we found recently that some of the window sensors didn’t work when the windows were opened. The monitoring company visited and said that as our home settled, some wires got pinched, some separated and it was not uncommon to have that happen. So it pays to check your battery-powered remote door sensors and window/door connections periodically to ensure that they are still functioning. Regards, – Redclay



Odds ‘n Sods:

The wizened Dow Theory sage Richard Russell comments on the U.S. Dollar and the Housing Bubble:

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U.S. Marines in Iraq say: “Too Much Body Armor“:

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Here is an interesting blog that I just found today: Airborne Combat Engineer

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The Associated Press reports on Enormous Pro-Illegal Immigration Rallies in the U.S. Unfortunately, I think that congress is likely to cave in to the pressure and institute some form of amnesty. To the left wing of the Democrat party, the conservatively estimated 16 million illegal aliens in the country represent a potentially huge voting bloc. To corporate power brokers, they are a pool of cheap labor. This has created an informal alliance that favors continued illegal immigration. What a sad state of affairs. I am not a racist, but I certainly don’t like seeing mass illegal immigration. If illegal farm and factory workers can sneak in with ease, then so can terrorists. We need less porous borders, and some collective backbone. Please pray that congress does the right thing, and then make a few phone calls to your congresscritters.

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Our friend Noah at the Defense Tech Blog discusses “Chameleon Weapons” that Defy Metal Detectors

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Spot silver passed the $11 per ounce mark yesterday. I won’t say anything more than “I told you so!”



Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are
numerous and indefinite." -James Madison, Federalist Papers, No. 45



Note From JWR:

Today we welcome our newest advertiser: The Alert System.com. This is an automated system that sends out e-mails to subscriber mobile devices (such as cell phones and pagers) for less than a dime a day. It was started as a project to keep the inventor’s like minded friends informed of the latest important news, and to coordinate any bug out/in. Since then, at considerable expense this project has been scaled up to handle thousands of subscribers. Check it out.

Starting in April, I will be quitting my day job, and blogging full time. To put bread on the table, I will need about twice as many advertisers.  I’d greatly appreciate your help:  If you know of a potential advertiser, please call or e-mail them, and ask them to get a banner ad at SurvivalBlog.  They cost as little as $55 per month. Many Thanks!



Letter Re: The Spanish Flu of 1918, by Tim P.

Regarding the very enjoyable letter about the Spanish Flu in1918, I can’t resist one comment. It is with incredible relentlessness that Big Pharma in their zest to sell vaccines keeps stating that we have 30,000 or 36,000 deaths per year from the flu. If you take the time to examine the actual CDC published data it is a bit different. I did a while back, and I seem to recall the 2003 and 2004 numbers being closer to 600 to 900 deaths per year from the flu. The deaths from pneumonia are close to 35,000 per year, so it appears they are adding them together to get to commonly trumpeted 36,000 deaths. Unfortunately they are not actually the same thing and you cannot combine them and call it one or the other. So, the relative difference between the percentage of the population that died from the Spanish Flu and current flu death rates is actually even more impressive than Tim described. I also am hesitant to accept the current death rates of this newest avian flu simply because it is rare enough that I suspect many of the cases that folk have had and recovered from are not being correctly documented or reported. However, perhaps doctors are universally more observant than I presume. Who knows? – B.F.



Letter Re: Argentina’s Lessons for the U.S. Debt

I read the first-hand accounts of Argentina’s decline from wealth and prosperity to near lawlessness that were linked to here a while back and they stuck with me. How could a prosperous nation with generally well-regarded policies sink so far so fast? Far more importantly, what caused it, could it happen in other places (i.e. here), and what indicators were missed? Luck would have it that I stumbled across the answers to two of those entirely serendipitously. The answer is actually rather simple: debt. The Argentinean economy was in good shape in the 1990s, it had good growth, good employment, and highly regarded economic policies. What it didn’t have was a good understanding of how much debt it was
getting itself into. For various reasons, Argentina failed to turn the money it borrowed from foreigners into solid, growing tax revenues.
This failure caused it to seek out more and more credit and this worried lenders into raising interest rates. Just like the in-debt-up-to-his-eyeballs suburbanite, Argentina was borrowing from Peter to pay Paul and financing its debt with more debt. The figures on this page ( http://www.frbsf.org/publications/economics/letter/2002/el2002-31.html ) illustrate the failure of the Argentine government to curtail its borrowing. What the world witnessed (none more so than its citizens) was bankruptcy on a global scale. Given (and to some extent assuming) the reasons outlined above, I started to think about what parallels this might have to the current US economy. There are several major differences between Argentina and
the US that make even simple comparisons difficult. The first is size. The US economy is quite simply the 800 pound gorilla in the world market, towering over Argentina’s meerkat. The second major distinction is the difference in the balance of incomes in the two countries. The US derives a far greater percentage of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product)
from exports making foreign lending less one-sided. The similarities, however, are not to be ignored. The US has hugely expanded the amount of debt it has taken on ever since World War II (Please ignore the tone of this article, I do not necessarily endorse it, it merely has a good graph: http://www.cedarcomm.com/~stevelm1/usdebt.htm ). Fortunately, these
massive increases in debt have happened alongside equally tremendous growths in GDP. The number to watch for, then, is the percentage of
debt-to-GDP.
Clearly, the US can withstand a higher debt-to-GDP ratio merely due to its huge size and world influence, but determining it for sure would likely lead to a rather severe recession. One of the difficulties here is that there are very few examples in history for what happens when national debts of large, industrialized nations gets out of control. Argentina was a learning experience for the world economy (and hugely more so for the Argentineans), and hopefully the Japanese economy will handle their 90% ratio with less drastic results. I suggest that among the other economic indicators that are bandied about on the talking-head cable news networks, you pay attention to the debt-to-GDP ratio as an indicator of the health and sanity of the U.S. Federal budget. One hopes that talk of an overvalued dollar and a hissing housing bubble will not devolve into a panic, but always remember that a panic is merely a mass of individuals making the obvious choice. – P.H.



Letter from The Army Aviator Re: A Source for Night Vision Scopes

I’ve been running night vision since I learned to fly with them back in 1978. Not to disparage the writer’s comments about how good the “Mini-14” monocular is, because it is a good unit. However, it’s been my experience that the PRC-14Delta (Government) model is even better. Yes, a papered version costs more than a civilian Mini-14 but it’s worth the money. And, as an additional note, the manual gain adjustment of the PRC-14D is invaluable. It’s there for a reason. You strap it on and adjust the gain until you have maximal effectiveness of both eyes (One aided eye and one un-aided eye). Auto gain doesn’t allow for that and limits you to only using one eye to effectively see. It’s normally too bright to utilize both eyes, especially in dark arenas.
I use automatic gain adjusting Night Vision weapon scopes, but for the head unit, automatic gain adjustment doesn’t work well.
Further, don’t confuse ABC (Automatic Brightness Control) with gain adjustment. ABC is a protective function to turn the scope off before it’s tolerance to bright light is exceeded.
Also, even though NVDs are really neat, you don’t actually need an NVD unless it’s so dark you can’t see you hand in front of your face. This was one of the original design parameters. BTW, they can be effectively and comfortably utilized with the PASGT original Kevlar helmet, as well as the new Army ACU or the Marine helmet. However, the Navy SEAL Boat Helmet (which was the original MICH (Modular Integrated Communication Helmet) is the best I’ve found. It’s available, custom built, from privatesnuffy@yahoo.com. Regards, – The Army Aviator



Odds ‘n Sods:

I just stumbled across Rogue Turtle, an interesting site with a wide range of survival and preparedness information.

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Wiggy’s (one of our first advertisers) is offering a special 15% discount on all of their sleeping bags until the end of April. These are the best sleeping bags I’ve ever used. They are extremely durable. Their two-bag FTRSS is my personal favorite. Every well-prepared family should have a full set of Wiggy’s bags. Even if you plan to “bug in” rather than “bug out”, a warm sleeping bag could be an absolute life safer in the event of a long term power failure and/or fuel shortage.

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Plan on being better armed and providing a higher volume of fire than this gent in Denver who had his home invaded.

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A brief reminder that the big sale on Mountain House canned freeze dried foods at SafeCastle ends on March 31st. The sale pricing includes free shipping anywhere in the U.S.–even Alaska and Hawaii. The sale ends on Friday, so don’t hesitate.

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Nifty laser sights and rail mount flashlights:
http://www.advancedefence.com/DacsaPortal/?pageid=34

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SurvivalBlog reader Keith mentioned that The Discovery Channel has a new series of shows called “Perfect Disaster” on Sunday evenings at 9PM EST. The first two were entitled “Super Tornado” and “Solar Storm”. Tonight “Typhoon”.

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Our recent letter on Tannerite binary reactive rifle targets prompted Doc at www.bigsecrets.cc to mention this interesting alternative for rock blasting: http://www.archerusa.com/Product_Dexpan_En1.html





Defending Your Home: An Outline of Security for Troubled Times, by K.A.D.

My mentor in the law, when asked to prove the depravity of man, produces from his pocket a common set of keys. He then asks, if men are not morally depraved, why he must lock his home when he leaves it. His belief in the common depravity of man is such that he (quietly) celebrates the fact that many of the lawyers in the office carry concealed sidearms, believing that the fact that many of us are armed makes all of us safer. Everyone who locks his door has taken the first step toward securing his home, but there are many further steps that better ensure the safety of your family and possessions. While we can talk about these steps as a good idea in times of relative peace and order, they become critical lifesaving decisions whenever the thin veneer of civilization collapses.
The signs of a gathering storm, which we daily read from the pages of our papers, call us to the preparation for a lawless future, where we face the hand of evil men who hold themselves accountable to neither the law of God nor the law man. In the day of that storm, which may come slowly or arrive with great force, you will need a mentality of preparedness centered on deterrence, detection and deadly force. In preparing deterrence, you will hope that the evil man will see the height of the prepared ramparts and choose other targets. If he approaches, preparedness for detection will allow you to know he is there and preparedness for deadly force will allow you expel him with the minimum necessary proper force.
Much of what I write here is centered toward the needs of the urban survivalist. My family and I make our life in the heart of a great city, on 1/3 of an acre. Much of what I write here will also apply well to the rural retreat, but some of it will not. The principles of deterrence, detection, and deadly force are constant; how you apply them will vary with your own terrain.
Deterrence involves creating in the enemy two beliefs. First, you want him to believe that there is nothing in your home and lands worth stealing. Second, you want him to believe that, even if the target is tantalizing, the cost is simply too high. You seek a very specific deterrence. Seek to alter his incentives and to convince him that the rewards are greater and the risks are lower someplace else. That a man wishes to perpetrate a felony is none of your affair; seek merely to compel him to do so elsewhere. Deterrence, it must be said, is fairly passive in the hour of urgency. Deterrence is all about what you did before the balloon went up. Well-planned deterrents are designed to self-execute, even in the absence of a power grid.
For the first point, that there is nothing worth stealing, it should be your constant habit to hide from view things that are of great value. Expensive automobiles are a decadent form of foolishness; they scream that portable wealth is to be had for the easy taking. Similarly, small items of personal property in plain view are an evil. Good order and discipline forbids clutter left about, and good order and discipline will compel you to hide expensive items, like cash or a pistol or electronics, from plain view from your window. Discipline yourself to put up your tools and your toys. Almost anything can be stored in a proper cabinet or drawer. Dummy electrical outlets can serve as safes for small valuables. Gun safes can be tucked away in closets (and bolted to the deck—don’t make it easy). You can hide a rifle in the wall by cutting a hole in the wall and mounting your medicine cabinet over the hole. If the repairman or the deliveryman comes to your home, reduce his access to your house to the greatest extent possible, and hide from his view those things which are valuable. And don’t leave keys to the house laying about in plain view; make the attacker believe he must cut his way in through a window and kick his way out through a door. This first point is a thorough going discipline; you have to do these things all of the time.
For the second point, that the risks of breaking and entering are too great, let the whole world see your preparations, and layer them at differing perimeters. As a first perimeter, a fence too high to be easily jumped, surrounded by cactuses, and topped with spikes, will deter the lazy. At a second perimeter, rosebushes and cactuses surrounding windows will discourage the undetermined. Between the second and third perimeter, have a very barky dog, and maybe a clothesline to deter nocturnal attackers. At a third perimeter, visible window locks and alarm sensors tell the professional thief that penetration into the building will be a slow and uncertain process. Motion lights make the thief wonder if he has, in fact, been detected. A sign from an alarm company, whether you have an alarm or not, warns the felon of the difficulty of finding enough booty before he is detected and apprehended. If you are inclined toward burglar bars, they complicate entry and exit considerably. Within a fourth and final perimeter, heavy interior doors, heavily locked with deep throws, give a place for your family to hide (behind a door and a receiver) and prepare, and they encourage the evil man to stick to that which may be easily stolen and to forgo other, more heinous, acts.
The hone st truth is that some men will not be deterred, and they must be detected. From the moment that a felon decides to enter your home, he has seized the initiative in the critical encounter that results from his actions. The element of surprise is his advantage until the moment of detection, and you must make that moment happen before he has closed within the range to do you real harm. Detection is not passive. While you may deter men with preparations before the hour of danger, detection must occur through vigilance at the hour of need. Specifically, you must be alert to the telltales of impending jeopardy, but you should expect subtle cues. It is unlikely that you will see the enemy coming through NVGs while standing post; we will all be too busy for that luxury. The only one with the vigilance and adequate night-vision is your dog.
Detection must also be layered. The combination of an indoor dog and an outdoor dog is very wise. It is also wise to give your next door neighbor’s son a puppy (with parental consent). In the outermost layer, telltales may be very subtle. I am a fan of the little solar walkway lights. If something walks in front of one of them while I am looking out the window, even at a good distance, I notice; I also investigate. These solar-lights are particularly handy in that they are even more useful in a grid-down disaster.
Closer to my home, I am installing motion lights, such that you will not be able to get within five feet of a door or window without setting off a light that gives me an idea of trouble in a particular area. If you choose bright enough lights, you can also blind an assailant. You may want to choose a supplemental power system for the lights, to prevent problems when the grid is down. A denizen of the French Quarter also implemented an excellent grid-down alert mechanism, a perimeter of thin (displaced) roofing slates. They crackle when you step on them, alerting you to the presence of heavy footfalls. Install peepholes at every door. Some people like video cameras, but cameras need power.
I will talk for a minute about alarm systems. Most of them are applied so superficially as to be useless. In candor, sensors are more valuable than monitoring, and this may encourage a do-it-yourself approach. Brinks will attempt to sell you a sensor-light monitoring-cost-heavy package. They will try to alarm some doors and not others, missing your real need in the process. First, you need spare batteries to operate the system and sensors if the grid is down. Otherwise, the entire system is useless on the morning after the balloon goes up. Second, you need open/close sensors at every window and door, coupled to glassbreak sensors at every window. This provides you with the appropriate level of perimeter security. Assuming that the perimeter is thwarted, motion detectors in core rooms of the house are very handy. Spend money on sensors before you waste money on monitoring. If the Schumer and the fan are commingled, then knowing the enemy is present is more valuable than calling for help. On that note, though, thieves frequently cut phone lines. A cellular backup for your alarm is handy.
Ultimately, though, the key is vigilance. The telltales may be subtle, and everyone has to know how to read them. Train your wife to realize that a dead phone line and a motion light suddenly on are signs that trouble may be afoot and she should get to the safe room and draw a gun. Train your children to realize that, if the alarm system or the dog is acting strangely when they arrive home, they should clear the scene with all haste. Train your dog to bark at the things to which you need to be alerted, and not to bark otherwise. It is of note that my dog is sufficiently well trained that, if he barks during the night, the M1911 finds my hand immediately. Train yourself to look through a peephole every time you open a door, not merely when you have reason to think someone is outside. The sound of broken glass is a late warning. Listen for the clues that come before the enemy is that close, and you can retake the element of surprise.
I have spoken repeatedly of dogs in this discussion. Dogs are the 4th ‘D’ of home defense, and, while you could argue that some people do not need guns, everyone needs a well-trained dog. A dog provides deterrence, both in the threat of detection and in the threat of deadly force. Dogs also work when the grid is down. By the way, when someone kills your dog, you can count on something: they just told you who is next.
Finally, we come to deadly force. When Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, he worked with a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other. It should be likewise with you. If you have to step more than once to reach a lethal weapon in any room of your house, you need more lethal weapons. The same goes for your car. A good pistol under the seat is a minimum. A good rifle behind the seat is good preparation, and a second pistol in the glove box is a courtesy to your passenger. Even as I write this, on a quiet Friday evening in my own study, I am wearing a pistol in the waistband of my gym shorts. I wear that same pistol when I turn the compost pile.
If you’re not comfortable with guns, buy tactical batons and knives. I am plenty comfortable and a little proficient with a gun, and I keep ASP batons and knives discretely and in plain sight in places where gu ns are not appropriate. You also need to think through your tactical situation. Identify the choke points in your house, where you can place yourself and your firearm, like the Spartans of Thermopylae, between the people that you love and danger. In my house, there is a nice ‘dead-man’s corner’ in the hallway to the bedrooms. Woe be unto the man that enters that hallway as an uninvited guest. Use the minimum force necessary to stop your assailant, but be sure that he is stopped. Go for solid projectiles. We saw in the Denver papers today that scattershot is generally not enough force.
Once upon a time, I came home from work, and I found the door unlocked. I took that as a warning; I don’t leave doors unlocked. Not being one to let that warning go unheeded, my sidearm and my hand promptly found each other. As I entered the house, I discovered a (now very) scared repairman, who claimed that my air conditioner was fine, and that he couldn’t find the problem. I asked his name. I then politely explained that I hadn’t called for service, and that I would consider it a great courtesy if he stood very still while I phoned the apartment manager to verify his identity. My gun had never left my backpack, but he had ascertained that the hand that he could not see was important. The apartment office vouched for him, and we got along quite well after that. I am always grateful to God that he was what he claimed to be, and I pray that the Lord will keep me the type of person who locks doors (deterrence), who notices when they are not locked and should be (detection), and who reacts forcefully when a threat is identified (deadly force).
I hope that you are also such a person, and that the words that I have written will keep the ramparts of your own home secure and quiet.



Letter Re: Ruptured Case Extractors?

Jim,
I always see broken shell extractors for sale on web sites and at gun shows. I have yet to ever see a need for one. Do you have any experience in the need for one?
Also, exactly how do they work? Would one for a .30-06 work for a .308, or a 7.62×39, or vice-versa?
I have pondered this for a while, and am hoping you or a fellow reader might be able to answer this.
Also, what causes the need for one? Would a dirty chamber cause a cartridge case to stick in the chamber, thereby ripping the bolt extractor off the bolt, or just tearing the base off the case?
Talk of spare parts is good, but how to avoid needing them might save one’s needing a part at a critical moment.
– Sid, near Niagara Falls

JWR Replies: Your surmise was correct. Broken shell extractors are are indeed used in instances when a case head (the rear half of a cartridge case) completely separates. Head separations are common when bass has been reloaded too many times, or with rifles that suffer from excess headspace. Unlike simple a extractor “rim tear through” where a cleaning rod can be used to remove a stuck piece of brass, when a head completely separates, there is nothing for a cleaning rod to “catch.” In the event of a head separation, the tool is inserted into the chamber from the breech, and tightened with a screwdriver–or perhaps the rim of a cartridge case. It expands and grabs the front half of the case. A cleaning rod can then be inserted (at the muzzle) and the brass ejected.

A .30-06 broken shell extractors can be used in a .308, but not vice versa.  I recommend getting a proper-fitting broken shell extractor for each high powered rifle in your firearms battery.



Letter Re: Varmints in the Garden

Hi James,
Spring has sprung and it is getting close to time to plan and start gardening prep. I am far from a green thumb and wondered if anyone has a solution for keeping moles and gophers from ruining the garden? Last year, 95% of my sweet corn was destroyed by these pests. Come time to count on the garden after TEOTWAWKI, I don’t want to watch my food supply vanish. I tried trapping these pests with no luck. Any info would be greatly appreciated!
-The Wanderer

JWR Replies:  Garden pests are typically just a “nuisance” in good times, but post-TEOTWAWKI they can mean the difference between eating well, and starvation. There is no single “magic bullet” that will eliminate all garden pests. Be prepared to take several approaches simultaneously:

A sturdy fence that is tall enough to protect against deer and with a fine mesh lower section that is tight enough to repel rabbits and ground squirrels.

A couple of cats that have been trained by their parents as effective mousers. Good mousers are usually also death on gophers. Or how about terrier dogs? Before the advent of modern poisons, small dogs were used to dispatch mice, moles, and gophers. BTW, the Memsahib is currently training our terrier to be a mouser.

Plenty of traps, including underground (buried) mole/gopher traps, as well as surface mouse and rat traps.

Lots of .22 rimfire ammo and patience. More than just protection from birds and squirrels, a scoped .22 can also be used to nail tunneling gophers when they come up to push out dirt. If you live inside city limits, you will also want a high-powered air rifle.

Depending on your personal beliefs, pesticides to control insects. Unfortunately, these will also kill beneficial insects. (See below.)

Natural pest killers, such as Ladybugs (for aphids), Lacewings, and Praying Mantids. These are available seasonally from Bugological Organic and Home Harvest.

To repel birds; get a couple of big plastic owls to perch on your fence posts, lots of reflective (mylar) reflector strips (cut up used mylar party balloons), and throwaway CD-ROMs (strung on monofilament fishing line, and positioned so that they will spin in the wind.) Ah-ha! You finally have a use for all of those AOL CD-ROMs that you get in the mail! Anti-bird netting is also available from the larger mail order gardening suppliers.

The Nuclear Option: As a last resort to large numbers of moles or pocket gophers, you can use probe bait strychnine dispenser (such as an RCO probe), along with a large supply of RCO Omega Bait or Gopher Getter Bait. (Typically, this is strychnine .5%) In some of the Nanny States such as California, these supplies are difficult to obtain locally unless you are commercial grower. (Consult you state, county, and local ordinances before mail ordering this bait.) Beware that this poison could lead to the untimely demise of your cats if they actually eat their prey. (Because they will also indirectly ingest the poison.) There is a trick to using these dispensers: As you insert the probe, when you feel a sudden lack of soil resistance, that means that you have penetrated a “runway” tunnel.  That is when you press the trigger to dispense the grain bait. OBTW, you will have a valuable post-TEOTWAWKI barterable skill if you have the ability (and supplies) to poison moles and gophers. You can be the local hero-the legendary slayer of the “Varmint Cong.”