Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“Licensed to kill gophers by the government of the United Nations. Man, free to kill gophers at will. To kill, you must know your enemy, and in this case my enemy is a varmint. And a varmint will never quit – ever. They’re like the Viet Cong – Varmint Cong. So you have to fall back on superior intelligence and superior firepower. And that’s all she wrote.” – Bill Murray as Carl Spackler in Caddyshack.

Note From JWR:

There are just three full days left to submit your entries for Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day “gray” transferable Front Sight course certificate. The deadline for entries for Round 3 is March 31, 2006. The first piece posted today is another fine contest entry:

The Spanish Flu of 1918 by Tim P.

With so much in the news these days about SARS, the Asian Avian flu and others it is always of interest to look back and see what has happened before. The last really big worldwide flu epidemic was the so-called Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918. It killed over 40 million people worldwide, with about 500,000 deaths in the US.
It was called the Spanish Flu because the first publicly recorded deaths from the disease were reported in newspapers in Spain. Their newspapers were not censored as many other countries were at the time due to World War I. When reporters wrote of a deadly new disease hitting that country during the late summer of 1918 most people assumed it had started there.
However, according to information I have read, the first actual cases were recorded at US Army bases. The first were reported at Camp Funston in Kansas on March 4, 1918 when scores of U.S. soldiers became ill. The U.S. troops spread the virus to Europe, but then the disease went into a slight dormancy for the summer. When it re-emerged in the fall, it became much more lethal.
Much of the problem, as with any other communicable disease, was the movement of people. In this instance it was soldiers being moved from place to place that fueled the spread. The disease spread easily in the crowded conditions of the barracks and troop ships and even more easily in the trenches where crowding was a factor and living conditions were horrible. From there it spread to civilians in Europe and came home with troops returning from the front. Travel of the disease was approximately the speed of travel of the time. It took months for it to move around the world because that was the fastest people could move back then via ship. If nothing else, any new disease will certainly spread much faster today. Due to travel via airlines, it could easily spread around the world in a few days if not a few hours.
In 1918 the disease began to take a serious toll in the US and Europe in August – when flu cases became abnormally high and continued until the following July when the number of cases dropped back to normal levels. During that time it is estimated that around 20 million Americans became sick and around 500,000 died. In October 1918, when the flu reached its peak in the US, it killed about 195,000 Americans in that month alone.
These numbers may not appear to be all that high until you remember that the population of the US was only about 100 million at the time. That means that 20% of the population became sick and 0.5% died of the disease. In a typical year – with a population of about 300 million today – the flu kills about 30,000 people or about 0.01% of the population. That means that the 1918 flu was about 50 times more deadly than a normal year! If a disease of the same virulence were to strike the US today the number of people who became sick would be around 60 million with about 1.5 million dead. Those are large numbers indeed.
Another unusual thing about the 1918 flu was the people it struck down. Normally the flu strikes the old and the young – those with weaker immune systems. However, this flu struck down those people and the young and strong. In fact, when graphed, disease tolls usually look like a U with the largest numbers of deaths at the high and low end of the age scale with only a few in the middle. The 1918-flu epidemic looked more like a W with a spike in the middle for young healthy people who normally do not die. In fact, of the 110,000 deaths our military suffered in Europe during that fall 57,000 of those died of the flu – “only” 53,000 died in battle!
Back in the US, after deaths from the disease began in earnest, people began to try to protect themselves. However, viruses were unknown at the time so the protections people attempted were ineffective. People began to wear masks in public, which do provide some level of protection against large airborne particles but airborne viruses are so small that to them the mask barely even exists. They pass with impunity. Also, many times the method of transmission can be through touch. A person touches an infected person or something that an infected person touched and then later touches themselves on a mucus membrane – the eyes, nose, mouth, etc. and the virus is transmitted.
The death rate became so scary that many local governing bodies closed down theaters, churches, and other public gatherings. For example during one day in October in New York City 851 people died of the flu! New York City hastily passed ordinances that made it illegal to spit, cough, or sneeze in public — with the threat of $500 fines. Five hundred dollars is a big fine today. Back then it was the price of the Model T Ford! Today that fine would be ten or twenty thousand dollars!! They were deadly serious about trying to control the spread of the flu . . .
Closer to home, at Syracuse University during October 1918 the campus was quarantined for two and a half weeks because of the epidemic. Twelve students died and emergency hospitals were erected in dormitories. At the time there were about 2000 students so this was very serious when people of college age would normally hardly be affected by the flu.
Now let’s move forward to today. The current death rate for people infected with the avian flu varies from between 30% and 60% depending on the exact strain and that is with the best of medical care, anti-viral drugs, etc. That is an appalling number. So far we are very lucky that the disease cannot be transmitted from human to human. All known cases so far come from contact with birds but that could change. If it does, we should all pray that the death rate becomes more along the lines of the 1918 flu or we are in for a very rough ride indeed. Imagine how our society would be affected and react if a disease suddenly appeared that killed 25% of those it infected? Even if it only infects 20% of the population, as the 1918 strain did, that would still mean 5% of the population dead – 15 million in the US alone. Imagine the disruptions that would occur with a significant number of people in our society dead in such a short period of time. Hospitals would be overwhelmed and our highly specialized society would be at serious risk of short-term collapse. That is not a very pleasant thought. How many of us are prepared spiritually, mentally and /or physically for that sort of collapse? If a nationwide quarantine had to be instituted it would likely be on the order of two to four weeks. How many of us have enough food, fuel, etc. to get through a period of that length? It is certainly something to think – and pray – about.
Finally, on a more personal note, in the summer of 2003 – during the SARS scare – I traveled on business to Taiwan. Since there were outbreaks in Asia my colleagues could not visit the US without spending a week in a US quarantine facility – not such a pleasant prospect. I was able to travel to Taiwan with no such requirement, so off I went. When I arrived I found there was an additional step to go through before one could get to the passport check and immigration control. All passengers had to pass through a health station. It didn’t really take much time at all but I found it interesting and it got me to thinking (dangerous!!). There were a number of Taiwanese health officers there and everyone had to pass through a control point single file where it was obvious that we were being visually examined. I was told later that there were infrared temperature sensors set to monitor people as they passed through. If you happened to have a body temperature outside of a pre-programmed range or – Lord help you – a fever, you would be taken aside for “further examination” and possible quarantine. Thankfully I had no such trouble. If the next flu pandemic breaks out during my lifetime, I hope that I am not traveling. I prefer to be at home during such an event, not stuck in some strange place . . .

Letter Re: Defensive Use of My IRA

I agree that nothing beats physical bullion and ammunition for real wealth, but there may be something to be said for keeping a store of digital wealth in tact for as long as possible also.

My bank has an emergency plan. They mailed me a copy. So I figured I needed to incorporate a plan to keep them out of my life during an economic meltdown.

The plan is very simple. I fully intend to eliminate my mortgage with what is left of my IRA on the day before doomsday (or thereabouts). My money will ride out the storm on metal based investments, hopefully holding value while my fixed rate mortgage devalues. The new metal and oil ETFs are going to provide a place of relative refuge for institutional investors in the near term future. I think GLD, OILB and probably the new SIL will attract a lot of capital in an inflationary emergency.

I am prepared for a quick change. My checking, savings, IRA and brokerage accounts are all linked online and available 24/7. My IRA is currently about 1/5th of my Mortgage and neither is very big IMO. I’m set up to liquidate my positions and pay off my mortgage very quickly, and I will the moment I can.

On most days I am chasing returns with on the TSX, but I am really only 30 seconds away from being in metals, Euros… whatever. I foresee a period of hyperinflation coming that will render the tax consequences of exercising such a plan to be insignificant.

Because I believe preparedness is a civic virtue, I plan is to settle all my financial entanglements digitally, just in case my bank survives doomsday. I am not wealthy and I think many middle class people who could arrange their lives in the same way. We may someday find ourselves in a Patriots-like ‘Shumeresque‘ situation, but we will almost certainly find ourselves in a hyperinflationary recession as globalism grinds to a halt and energy shortages choke our economy.

Also, IMO, this little closed end fund is a great investment for those who can trade stocks in their IRA. It trades as CEF on the American Stock exchange. See: http://www.centralfund.com The fund holds Gold and Silver Bullion and is subject to Canadian, not United States law! Check it out. Love your blog. Keep up the good work. – David A.

Letter Re: Choosing Between a Shotgun and a Rifle for Retreat Defense

After reading Declan’s question and then your answer, I felt compelled to write in. Many of the survival minded people that post on various boards swear by their main battle rifle (MBR), whether an AK, AR, M1A, FN-FAL, the list goes on. All which are tools that have certain uses just like a hammer. IMHO, I don’t believe that we will go to a full scale war zone overnight. With the concealable of a pistol, it is not as threatening as a MBR in public, mostly because of “out of sight, out of mind.” with a CCW, a person can began to carry and also have it accessible if the balloon goes up and their MBR is no where close. For someone with a limited budget, a quality handgun would be the best first gun in a survival battery. I also believe that if the person is not experienced with weapons, the simpler the better. I have shot 1911A1s for the last 30 years, also carried in the Army. I was fortunate enough that I had an office beside the armory, and the armorer let me put together a tighter weapon from parts. Officers never could figure out why my pistol held a tighter group. But, I digress. The 1911A1 is an easy weapon to work on, but I believe it is still too complicated for the novice. The locked and cocked issue to be ready is my concern.
Since 1989, I have fell in love with Glocks. Yes, I pack plastic. To me the grip is very similar to the 1911. The simplicity of the design also won over the engineer in me. Currently they can be found in the .40 and .45 caliber for around $350 dealer cost. These are trade-ins. I have purchased three this year that were trade-ins. The weapons were in great shape. Also, there are many used “law enforcement” only hi-cap mags  [made during the 1994-2004 U.S. Federal magazine ban] out there for $10. Sure beats the $100 each they were just a few short years ago. For around $500 a person should be able to arm themselves with a Glock, six magazines, and 500 rounds of ammunition. The next step is practice, practice, practice. Proficiency is not acquired on the Internet, it is available only at the range. That’s enough for now. Love your site. I’m a proud “10 Cent Challenge” donor. – The Sarge

JWR Replies:  Yes, handguns have their role in survival planning.  They are handy for concealed carry, and as a means to have a weapon close at hand when you are doing heavy work and you can’t carry a rifle. (It is hard to dig post holes when you have a rifle slung across your back.) But handguns are not a proper substitute for a rifle or riotgun when faced with deep drama. Another writer said it best when he opined [my paraphrasing]: “A handgun is just a tool that buys you time to fight your way back to your rifle.”

Letter Re: Suggestions on Spare Parts for Guns?

I heard a radio host talk about the value of having certain parts for guns on hand. Can you recommend a dealer or source for good quality parts for firearms? I am not a gunsmith. Does anyone make parts kits for the most commonly broken parts like springs,etc. It would be nice if you could buy them for say a 1911, AR, etc. I guess the AR is full of small things that get lost and cannot be replaced or made. Maybe you could elaborate with a posting on a list of what to buy etc, thanks. – Boosters

JWR Replies: The selection of spare parts will vary widely, depending on maker and model. Some models have a propensity for excessive wear, loss, or breakage on certain parts. For example, AR-15, M16s, CAR-15s, and M4s are notorious for broken ejection port dust covers, and buffer retainers, as well as galled gas tubes, gas tube keys, and cam pins. Parts for most autopistols are “drop in” replacements about 80% of the time. In contrast, revolver parts, especially hammers and triggers, usually require fitting. So unless you have experience at stoning and honing, there is no point to buying most spare revolver action parts. (BTW, this is one reason that I tend toward autopistols.)

Here are my basic spare parts vendor recommendations:

M1 Garands, M1/M2 Carbines, M1As and M14s: GunThings.com and Fulton Armory

AR-10s: Since some parts and magazines differ dimensionally between makers, buy spares directly from your rifle’s manufacturer (Such as American Spirit, Armalite, DPMS, Knight, Rock River, etc.)

AR-15s, CAR-15s, M16s, and M4s: Bushmaster, DPMS, DSArms, Vector, and Kaiserworks.
M17S Bullpups (The poor man’s AUG): BushmasterGunThings.com,

L1A1s and FALs: Gun Parts Guy, GunThings.com, Akron Armory, Kaiserworks, and DSArms

HK91s (and clones): HK4ever, Vector, HK-USA, and perhaps POF-USA.  (The latter’s parts are made in Pakistan.)

AKs: Akron Armory, GunThings.com, DSArms, Vector, and KVAR

RPDs: Vector

Steyr AUGs and SSGs: Guns South.

Galils: Vector or CDNN Sports

Uzis: Vector

Mauser Bolt Action Rifles : Tennessee Gun Parts or Hoosier Gun Works

M1919s: GunThings.com

Berettas, Brownings, Remingtons, and Winchesters: Midwest Gun Works

Rugers: Omega Man Enterprises or direct from Ruger.

M1911s: Wilson Combat, Chip McCormick, Clark Custom, or Ed Brown

Glocks: Glockmeister or Top Glock

Makarovs: Akron Armory

For more obscure or hard-to-find parts, there is always Gun Parts Corp. (They are the world’s biggest gun parts seller, although their prices tend to be high for some models.) For gunsmithing tools and supplies (such as bluing salts, fiberglass bedding kits, etc.) as well as a wide assortment of magazines and customizing parts, I also highly recommend Brownell’s. BTW, the only parts dealer that I avoid like the plague is Sarco of Stirling, New Jersey.  (“Be afraid, be very afraid!”)

If any SurvivalBlog readers with real world experience on spare parts histories would care to chime in, I will be happy to post their recommendations about which spares to keep on hand for individual makes and models.

OBTW, if you patronize any of these firms, please tells them that you saw them mentioned on SurvivalBlog. (Some of these firms are SurvivalBlog advertisers–and the rest should be!)

Odds ‘n Sods:

Survival Blog reader S.H. recommends a site with free PDF field manuals, including TC9-56 SKS Rifle, M16A2, et cetera: http://www.chqsoftware.net/catalog/freestuff.php This Canadian company also has a interesting looking CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training series…something folks should consider if they are in an urban environment.

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Missouri Teenager Survives a 1,300 Foot Tornado Ride:

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The H5N1 virus responsible for the current virulent strain of bird flu has mutated into two genetically distinct strains, US scientists have confirmed. They fear this could increase the risk to humans – and complicate the search for  an effective vaccine. See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4828078.stm

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Greenhouse Theory Smashed by Biggest Stone: http://www.physorg.com/news11710.html

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An interesting blog: “Urban Ecology, Renewing the World One Backyard at a Time”: http://www.futureofecology.blogspot.com/

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Rourke (moderator of http://groups.yahoo.com/group/survivalretreat)  recommends this site on the Asian Avian flu: http://www.birdflumap.com (Be sure to see the three week spread of the 1918 Pandemic.) See:http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/influenza/maps.

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SurvivalBlog’s global readership is growing. See: http://clustrmaps.com/counter/maps.php?url=https://survivalblog.com  You can now click on the map to zoom in for detailed maps showing hits in various regions.

#1 Son’s Quote of the Day:

“As it now stands, they all seemed to agree, USDA’s proposed program could be compared to a finely crafted blueprint for a concrete blimp. It may look great on paper, but out in the real world, no amount of hot air will ever get it off the ground. – Livestock Weekly on NAIS

David in Israel on Blasting Supplies

In a time where large machinery is unavailable because of fuel shortages, blasting becomes even more important. It is a viable means of clearing stumps, excavating, and clearing rock slides. Tannerite is available in the mail from Skylight Explosives. Tannerite a binary blasting mix which if prepared on site immediately before blasting, and requires no permit. Speak to Danny Tanner, a G-d fearing man, and friend to the small Jewish community in Eugene, Oregon. A  few years ago I took some 19 and 20 year old guests to shoot with Danny. You should have seen the look in the eyes of the six New York yeshiva boys as we set out to fire battle rifles at 100 meter distant dynamite sticks. That was priceless! These guys had never even held a firearm before what a day. Unfortunately Danny didn’t have time to grab his Class 3 guns before that shooting trip. Skylight gives blasting safety classes and this is a very worthy investment. See: http://www.tannerite.com/


Two Letters Re: Advice on Long Term Moth-Proof Clothing Storage?

I love your site. As to moth balls, I’m pretty sure they are a moth repellant and have no effect on moth larva. So, once you pack your clothes in a moth-proof container, they will do absolutely no good against moths and they’ll make your clothes stink. If a moth has already laid eggs, the little darlings will still hatch and chew up your clothes. After all, flying moths don’t eat clothing, only the larvae do.
That said, I have heard that moth balls act as a rodent repellant also. So, if you’re worried about mice, rats, squirrels, etc making a nest out of your plastic wrapped clothing, then moth balls might keep them away. Thanks for the information that you provide. – Marty



I’ve had good luck storing wool clothing items and blankets for years by using Space Bags and aromatic cedar wood – a piece of wood in each bag. So far, so good. Semper Fi – Sarge

Letter Re: Shelf Life of Batteries?

Mr. Rawles,
You had an inquiry on your site about long term storable charged batteries. Such a topic came up recently on the amateur radio reflector called hfpack. There is one such battery that is well suited for storage. It is called a silver chloride battery, and they are activated by adding salt water. One use is in torpedos – see http://www.naval-technology.com/contractors/electrical/hbl/.
Another source of information is at:
energy.sourceguides.com. These have a high energy density, but are primary cells and not rechargeable. Still, if you plan for an urgent one time need arbitrarily in the future, silver chloride batteries may be the best bet. – “Sun Dog”

Letter Re: PTR-91 Clones of HK91 Rifles


One of your readers asked about the PTR-91 clone of the HK91. I think it is a very good battle rifle. For @ $700 you get an accurate, .308 cal, magazine fed rifle designed for combat. I prefer the 308 over the .223/5.56 round for the extra power and penetration. If you do the math with bullet weight and velocity, it calculates out to around 2.5 times more energy. If you disagree with this you can delete point as I don’t wish to stir the pot. I am not an expert but I am experienced with weapons from my military and law enforcement careers and have reloaded since my teens. I am just getting back into reloading at close to 40 years of age. I have a PTR-91 and love it. Open sites at 100 yards with just a block for a rest, I was able to keep a 2″ group. I am no sharpshooter either. I can do very well with a scope, but suffice it to say that this rifle will definitely out shoot most shooters. The rifle weighs a little over 9 lbs. Magazines are very affordable [still under $3 each] and have not had a jam or failure to feed (FTF) yet. I have found only two drawbacks to the rifle and one is because I am left handed. The charging handle is definitely designed for a right handed person but a lefty can get used to it. I also wish that the bolt locked back after the magazine is empty so you know instantly that the rifle is “dry”. I had the chance to check out the rifle side by side with an HK91 and was still impressed. If you can find a better battle rifle in .308 for less, I want one. You have a great Blog.- “Nightshift” From the Gulf Coast.

Odds ‘n Sods:

A SurvivalBlog reader mentioned a source for MRE entrees, MRE crackers, full MRE meals, and T-Packs: See: http://www.longlifefood.com/

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Joining the U.S. Army and Marines, the U.S. Air Force jumps on the digital camouflage uniform bandwagon: http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,91425,00.html?ESRC=dod-b.nl

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Survival Blog reader S.H.sent us this news story: “Oregon family found after 17 days in mountains.” Always nice to see some happy news in the media these days. It seems that they were prepared. “The family lived through the ordeal on dehydrated food and other provisions.”

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The folks at The Pre-1899 Specialist  report with chagrin that their incoming e-mail was not getting through for a couple of weeks due to a mail server glitch! If you’ve sent them any e-mails recently and got not reply, please re-transmit it!