Letter Re: Tornado Damage and Retreat Construction

Hello James,
It has been a busy weather pattern for this early in the spring in our area. Two weeks ago tornadoes, yesterday, snowflakes! I have been surveying some of the damage in our area and have been surprised at the damage a F1 category tornado can cause. It is imperative to understand that while a large percentage of homes built today are constructed to withstand 120 mph sustained winds, that this does not take into consideration that flying debris (like entire oak trees, cars, etc…) with large mass [that] cause enormous damage when faced with a sudden stop. There were pictures in our local paper showing 2×4 lumber debris embedded into concrete walls. If that does not make one think, nothing will.
In the SurvivalBlog archives there were many discussions on varying Home/Retreat construction methods. I viewed a concrete wall home and was not surprised at the integrity, however, the roof became the hinge for the added pressure, (conventional wood roof). My personal opinion is that in this case, anyone inside of this home, (which did not have a basement or safe room) would have been sucked out and thrown many football fields away.
Your vendors have options out there for safe rooms, and the government has outlines for building your own. I suggest some serious consideration for anyone living in the prone areas for such weather events. – The Wanderer
P.S: I had a most pleasant experience with Freeze Dry Guy. As other readers have commented, it is nice to have your endorsement when making big purchase decisions like that. Thanks!

Letter Re: The Army and Marine Corps New “Digital” Pattern Camouflage Uniforms

I have to highly recommend AGAINST the Army’s new ACU uniform. Officially, there are only a few detergents “approved” for cleaning them, to avoid excess wear on the fabric. The running complaint from people with ACUs (a mere few months after issue) is that they wear out within a few washings. Soldiers are wearing them to look strack, but wearing their old BDUs in the field for durability. Also, ACUs are expensive.
I got to see a firing line full of troops a couple of weeks ago. At less than 100 yards, both ACUs and the new MARPAT Marine uniforms blended to a neutral gray because of how small the pattern is. While that’s better than no camo, it’s no better than the old green fatigues. Meanwhile, there were still visible color breaks on BDUs at that range. Since the main purpose of camouflage is to disrupt outlines, the BDUs are better. I’m not happy with the excessive amount of green in BDUs–most of nature is brown or tan–but they do work.
Additionally, walking around a military base is instructive. At considerable distance, the brain screams, “Look! There’s someone in the new ACUs!” The color choice doesn’t seem to blend in in any terrain, and is visible against most natural and artificial backgrounds. The Army insists that black wasn’t used because “black isn’t a color found in nature.” Bull. Black appears as shadow at a distance. Something without shadow cannot blend in. There is so little difference in the tones of color used that there is no contrast.
Frankly, as much as I love high tech, I’m convinced the digital fad in camo will die a quick death. One of the big selling points is that it’s better against [electro]optics. But how many of our current threats are using [electro]optics? And since that is the case, showing troops a video of a pattern designed to defeat digital video technology gives them a false faith in the reliability of the pattern to defeat the Mark 1, Mod 0 eyeball.
My preferred camo for the last 20 years has been [the commercial] All Season All Terrain (ASAT). (See: www.asatcamo.com.) Take a look. I think you’ll be impressed. – Michael Z. Williamson

JWR Replies: As previously mentioned, the Army gray-green pattern does blend in well in sagebrush. But I must concur that the color is not right when seen against most other foliage. And yes, it does lack sufficient contrast.

One often overlooked consideration for survivalists wishing to secure a retreat is the need to distinguish friend from foe at a glance. By standardizing with an uncommon camo pattern (such as ASAT or perhaps one the various RealTree patterns) for all of your retreat residents you will more easily be able to detect someone infiltrating your property. I know of one retreat group in Northern California that uses Swiss Alpenflage (a distinctive camo pattern with lot of red blotches in it) for just this reason. (And, not coincidentally, their retreat property is infested with poison oak, which has red leaves for half of the year.) The Woodland BDU pattern, although quite effective, is ubiquitous in North America. (It is also used around the globe–from the Philippines to Serbia!) As the new digital patterns are fielded , there will be even more Woodland BDUs hitting the U.S. surplus market. So be forewarned that if you standardize your family (or retreat group) with Woodland BDUs, then you will lose lose the advantage of instant friend from foe recognition at a distance.


Letter Re: Springfield Armory XD Series Polymer Frame Pistols are the Ars Nova

Hi Jim,
A quick comment on the Springfield XD– a friend of mine purchased one recently and has been completely unable to acquire spare parts for it! Springfield will only sell spare parts to certified XD armorers– and word is that there are none of those yet. As of now, the market is limited to (Wolff) recoil springs, spare mags, and components such as replacement sights.

So if something breaks, you have to ship your pistol to the manufacturer. Now, random parts breakage is fairly rare, but this is the death knell for these guns, in my opinion, as a serious survival sidearm. Hopefully, this will change in the future with readily-available spares.

In my personal opinion, one should, at the very least, focus on a core battery of weapons that have easily obtainable spare parts and bulk ammunition. Not in the future, but NOW, when you buy the gun. A pistol with a broken firing pin is a paperweight. A rifle with a faulty extractor has very limited use. Etc.

The reason that I recommend Glocks as survival arms is that a mentally deficient ape such as myself can maintain them with ease. Very easy to work on! Parts are readily-available and inexpensive. You can easily rebuild the entire weapon down to the smallest part, by yourself, with the basic Glock takedown tool. And the most robust and versatile of the Glocks, in my opinion, are the 9mm variants, the 17 and 19 in particular. A police trade-in, ten magazines, five sets of each spring in the weapon, and a bundle of spare extractors, firing pins, et cetera will not set you back too much.

1911s have more of a learning curve, repair-wise, but again, parts are readily available and basic parts replacement is fairly easy for handy people (hand-fitting aside). Not as easy as the Glock, but with a mentor, you can do it.

My personal favorite handgun is a Steyr M40, which I also consider superior to a Glock– academically. But from now on, I am transitioning to the Glock 9mm variants for the reasons above. Regards, – SomeGuy

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“It was on the Rütli Meadow that the Swiss Confederation was first formed on 1 August 1291. For 650 years, Swiss fighting men had earned the reputation as the most ferocious in Europe. Their determined refusal to live under the rule of foreign kings, was legendary. Most people know the story of William Tell, the hero who refused to bow before the Austrian governor Gessler. He was condemned to shoot an apple off the head of his 6-year old son at 120 paces. If he refused, both father and son would be executed. In a remarkable display of archery skill, William Tell succeeded in hitting the apple and missing his son. Congratulating Tell, Gessler asked why he had another arrow in his quiver. Tell responded that, had he injured the child, he would have sent the remaining arrow into the governor’s heart. Tell was condemned to life imprisonment for his insolence, but he escaped while being transported across Lake Lucerne.” – Peter Hammond

Note from JWR:

A reminder that the deadline for entries for Round 4 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest is May 31, 2006. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day “gray” transferable Front Sight course certificate. There haven’t been may entries yet for this round, so your chances of being judged the winner are better in this round. Please e-mail me your entries, and I will post them.

More About Those Pesky CC&Rs

I’ve been doing some research this week for a consulting client this week, trying to find her an ideal retreat property. One 10 acre parcel I found looked promising, so I made some inquiries. I was told that the land was in a Homeowner’s Association (HOA) and that there were “a few” CC&Rs. So I asked, “How many?” and “Can you FAX me the CC&Rs to review?” The agent called back an hour later, and sheepishly told me: “I can’t FAX them to you, because I found out that the CC&R document runs 207 pages.” Needless to say, my client asked me to keep looking, elsewhere.

Letter Re: Update on Asian Avian Flu, by Rourke

March 22, 2006 – why it’s not going human to human (yet)

Where is it now (map)
and http://www.birdflumap.com/
Note that there is a Yahoo group on this that John Locke hosts: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BIRDFLUWATCH/

I should also mention that a person on my group alerted me to this site on bird flu: http://www.fluwikie.com which has the most forthright presentation of what you can do and should consider as to hygiene that I have seen: http://www.fluwikie.com/index.php?n=Consequences.PersonalHygiene

Regards, – Rourke

Letter Re: Springfield Armory XD Series Polymer Frame Pistols are the Ars Nova

Dear Jim:
Well the Glock may finally have been outclassed in the self-defense pistol category! A diehard 1911 guy sings the praises of the XD for ergonomics and reliability, see this post at 1911.com. …and rates it BETTER than the Glock:

“Both have polymer frames, are square and blocky, and have the little trigger flange safety thing. The sights and trigger on the Glock are plastic; they are steel on the XD. I think the trigger and grip on the XD is better. The XD has a grip safety like the 1911; the Glock does not. The XD pistols tend to be a bit heavier than their Glock counterparts. The grip angle of the XD is similar to the 1911, and for 1911 shooters, the XD points more naturally. The rifling of XD barrels is traditional, making them a tad more friendly to reloads and lead bullets than the polygonal rifling of the Glock. The chamber in the XD is fully supported in contrast to the partially unsupported chamber design of the Glock. While both pistols are striker fired, the XD is fully cocked by the recoil of the slide, making it a single action pistol. The Glock is partially cocked by recoil, and then the cocking is finished by the trigger pull. Opinion time: I feel that the better trigger and grip, the supported chamber, traditional rifling, grip safety and steel sights make the XD an improvement over the Glock.”

And gun guru Chuck Taylor gives it a big thumbs up:

…and the XD is finally available in .45 ACP (NOT just .45 GAP)

I’ll have to borrow one from one of the IDPA shooters who sold his Glocks to replace them with Springfield XDs.

Regards, – OSOM – “Out of Sight, Out of Mind”

JWR Replies: I’ve been hearing from several sources that the Springfield Armory XD series pistols–in particular the new .45 ACP variants–are the ars nova. The only substantive complaint that I’ve heard about them is that their bluing is more prone to corrosion than the Glock’s finish. This could be an issue for those of you that live in damp climates. But of course there are always exotic gun coatings available from folks like T. Mark Graham at Arizona Response Systems.

Odds ‘n Sods:

As a follow-up to our recent item on surplus Titan missile bases, a reader spotted this fly-in dream home/bunker for New Yorkers: http://www.silohome.com. The asking price is a cool $2.3 Million. OBTW, please don’t bug Bruce James with any questions unless you are a sincere, qualified, potential buyer. And if you do you buy the place, tell Mr. James that Jim Rawles from SurvivalBlog sent you, and hopefully I’ll get a nice little “non-agent” commission.)

   o o o

Financial analyst Puru Saxena warns “Cash is Trash.”

   o o o

It is hardly a news flash for SurvivalBlog readers, but MSN Money Central’s Bill Fleckenstein reports: The Housing Bubble Has Popped

   o o o

Spot silver is recovering nicely, after the recent profit-taking. I hope that you bought on the recent dip, because I don’t think that there will be many more pull-backs that will bring silver below $12 per ounce. The silver bull will soon resume his charge.

Letter Re: Accelerating Prices for Copper and Zinc–A U.S. Penny Now Costs 1.4 Cents

Just one more note regarding the rising cost of metals, especially copper in the market – I sent an earlier message regarding recycling cartridge brass (which contains copper) instead of stockpiling copper, but now the New York Times notes in a Saturday brief:

“Price of a Penny Could Exceed a Cent
– What happens if a penny is worth more than one cent? That is an issue the U.S. Mint could soon face if the price of metals keeps rising. The cost of the metal in a penny has climbed to almost one cent. Add in the cost of transporting the pennies, and the cost to the government of producing a penny is estimated at 1.4 cents.
The real problem could come if metals prices rise so high that it would be economical to melt down pennies for the metals they contain.
Appearances aside, pennies no longer contain much copper. In the middle of 1982, after copper prices rose to record levels, the mint started making pennies that consist mostly of zinc, with just a thin copper coating. But these days, zinc is newly popular. Rising industrial demand and speculation have sent the price rocketing. Since the end of 2003, zinc prices have tripled. Gold, by contrast, is up only about 50 percent.”

Will pennies disappear soon, or will they remain as a token of our graciousness to ‘give a penny, take a penny’? Regards, – Redclay

JWR Replies: If rapid inflation re-emerges (and I suspect that it will, soon), then those ubiquitous “give a penny, take a penny” bowls will likely be superceded by “give a dollar take a dollar” jars.

Letter Re: Countdown to Collapse

I think we now have another way to compute the countdown to the collapse of our society as we know it.
Several months ago I read on one of the economic web sites, we both visit, that for every penny the price of fuel goes up $1,400,000 per day is sucked out of the consumer economy.
With oil at $74 per barrel today and the PENAC people pushing for another Middle East war, this one with Iran, we are looking at oil reaching $125 per barrel or higher as soon as this dumb war starts. This translates to $5.25 – $6.00 per gallon fuel by October / November.

The media and the economists are now saying that we will have $4.00 per gallon fuel by June 1 on current oil prices. One of my trusted friends is telling me that fuel is already $3.90 per gallon is some rural California cities.
I believe that the true unemployed figure here in the US is more than 12%. And, that the underemployed figure is 6% to 10% With our millions of unemployed, increased fuel costs will dry up the economy before winter this year. That means the crash will come before the first of the year.
Just using the preceding figure of $1.4MM per day being sucked out of the consumer economy the numbers look something like this.
1 cent per gal increase = $1,400,000 per day.
50 cent per gal increase = $70,000,000 per day.
100 cent per gal increase = $140,000,000 per day.
150 cent per gal increase = $210,000,000 per day.
30 days at 150 cent per day increase = $6,300,000,000 . That number is six billion three hundred million dollars being sucked out of the consumer economy in 30 days ending June 30, 2006.
Granted there are all kind of formulas to compute the disastrous affects of such an increase and my math is simple and rough, however, the American people cannot withstand such a hit and survive as a nation.
Now look at the global effects of a war with Iran. The US purchases no oil from Iran. Most of Iran’s oil is sold to Europe and other nations. A dumb nuclear strike or using depleted uranium ammo on Iran will contaminate that country for many lifetimes. Oil will trickle out of Iran just like oil from Iraq fluctuates. The price of oil will skyrocket as nations compete for available oil. The high price of fuel will curtail farming, food packaging, trucking, energy production, manufacturing, construction and the economy. The economies of many countries of the world will crash because the fiat dollar is the current primary global unit of International exchange. The Euro will crash a short time later because their central banks are tied to our central bank.
Yes, the crash can be put off for a little while by nationalizing the oil companies, major manufacturing, restricting travel, electrical use and subsidizing the farmers, but it will come regardless because you cannot build a nation on usury. Usury violates the 10th commandment and mocks God.
The lack of or the price of oil will soon bring our nation to a standstill, with or without another un Constitutional war. Civil unrest will surface and Americans will start taking out their frustrations on all foreign workers holding work visas, illegal border jumpers (the uncharged criminals living of America), the owners of businesses who hire foreigners, the banks that do business with them, foreign embassy consulates, the PACs, NGOs, churches, and the globalist in America. Under the guise of Homeland Security our anti American government employees will try to intervene and that will foster rebellion in various parts of the country. I am thankful I do not live in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, California or any sanctuary city. My brother and his entire extended family just moved to Idaho without any encouragement from me.
Now I am sure there are some economic professionals who visit this blog and can provide a better analysis than myself and I welcome their comments as to when we might expect the crash. I will go out on a limb and say, that absent government intervention it will probably come before the first of the year. Regardless, it is coming, and very soon.
Sincerely, – Rosy the Bull in Montana

Letter Re: A Good Source for Battle Dress Uniforms (BDUs)

Here is the best place by far that I have found when it comes to quality BDUs and good prices: www.BDU.com. I have ordered from them in the past, and the next time I order I’m going to tell them about SurvivalBlog.- Gung Ho

JWR Adds: For any SurvivalBlog readers that live in sagebrush country, I highly recommend the new U.S. Army gray-green “digital” camouflage pattern. You will blend in very well in sagebrush. The only drawback is that these uniforms have some Velcro closures which are noisy.

Kate “Short Fuse” Incontrera of The Daily Reckoning on The Next Great Depression

We asked you this week, dear reader: What will the next Great Depression bring? How will Americans survive in our day-to-day lives? The responses to this not-so-hypothetical query continue to clog up our inbox, which doesn’t surprise us. What does surprise us, however, is how united our readers are on this subject. Not one message lamented on how strong our economy is right now, and how we are fools for even bringing up the possibility of another Great Depression. Each e-mail portrayed how
real this idea is to Americans – that something this bad could be right around the corner.
“A Great Depression signals a swerve in global direction, a massive transformation of the world society and economy,” says echolist.com.
“One great system perishes. The Great Depression marked a critical stage in a transformation of the global economy that began around 1900. That’s when the Industrial Economy of the 19th century slowly and fitfully began to morph into the 20th century’s Consumer Economy. To tame the almost naked continent of 1845, the Industrial Economy required immense savings. To save and invest became the 11th Commandment. Imagine. Americans saved up to 40 percent of their income!”
Apparently, we learned nothing from the events that occurred over seventy years ago. The U.S. savings rate has fallen into the negative level for the first time since the Great Depression. Debt, consumer and national, is skyrocketing. We continue to see people dig themselves deeper and deeper into debt, with no regard for preparing for the future.
“Having parents who lived through the First Depression (during the late 1920s-1930s), and having a father-in-law who was the proverbial ‘packrat’ (among other things, 7 washing machines, 15 vacuum cleaners, etc., when we cleaned out his house) they all had the mentality that nothing was wasted;
everything had value; and that what they had was of good quality,” writes one Daily Reckoning reader.
“Today we have very little of this. We do not know how to fix anything, build anything, or save anything of quality (because what little we have is made to expire and be thrown away).
“I personally can not imagine what it will be like when our dollar is worthless, and the shelves at the stores display a few dented cans of beans that are selling for whatever the price of an ounce of silver (or gold for that matter) is worth.
“Who among us will be able to keep the lights on, the water running, and our cars tuned?! What jobs will pay the best? For that matter, what jobs will be available for any of us? And what about our children? How will we care, feed, and educate them?
“I am half-empty kinda of person, but what I see ahead for the USA scares me very much (especially since it will stretch into my elder years of
life). It is going to be a very hand-to-mouth existence, with a lot of sadness, anger, and senseless violence (over simple everyday commodities).”
Short Fuse – The Daily Reckoning.
JWR Adds:
The Daily Reckoning is one of my daily “must reads.” Subscriptions are free.