Two Letters Re: Truck, Auto, ATV, Motorcycle, and Bicycle Tire Repair

I am no tire expert, but I always have a tire repair kit on hand with self vulcanizing plugs. I have put these in my radial tires and driven thousands of miles with them. They work with any tubeless tire (even small tractors, etc) and I have never had one fail on me yet. They work for punctures such as nails, thorns, etc. For tears or rips it’s either a new tire or a larger internal patch. These plugs will work on the side wall too, but tend to fail after a while. It is better to replace that tire but they can be used in a pinch.

There are three parts to the kit.
  1. A tool to debride the “injury”
  2. a tool to insert the plug
  3. The plug itself.

All you do is find the hole by inflating and running soapy water around the tire until bubbles appear around the injury. Remove the object that caused the hole if it is still there, noting the direction of entry. Then insert the debriding tool into the injury and push it in and out to clean the wound and remove any debris. Once that is done you load the plug into the insertion tool, push it into the opening until only about 1/2 inch or so remains and then twist the tool about 1/2 turn and slowly remove the tool. Cut off any excess patch protruding, then inflate the tire and use it as normal. As I said, I have used tires repaired in this manner for thousands of miles with no trouble at all. I have not noticed any balance issues afterwards either so that does no appear to be a big issue.
(This one is a bit pricey but the only image I could find right away. I got mine at the local auto supply place for something like $10-to-$15.) Regards, – Tim P.

Good Evening James,
I have been overwhelmed as of late with all of the valuable reads you and the following have provided. It must make you smile when you sit back and track the progress since August! On Tire Repair: I have been faced with several “less than desirable” locations to have a tire come off of a Garden Tractor, Skid Loader, One Ton Truck, or ATV or even your wheel barrel. If you are wanting to polish up on, or obtain the tricks of the trade in DIY tire repair, hang around a farm coop, or off road tire repair service. I have learned a few tricks, please understand dealing with tires can be very dangerous. Give them the maintenance they deserve!   If your tire becomes flat, or comes partially off the rim, (notorious with wheel type loaders/tractors), do your best to get the weight off of the tire with your jack, or build a ramp of some sort. Getting the tire “unstressed” ASAP will aid in the down time of your repair. The memory of the mold will soon kick in and as long as you have not driven a country mile with it flat, should result in quick repair.
Once past the problem of getting the tire back on the rim, you come to the obstacle of getting the tire to seal on the bead, or rim. If at all possible, clean the inside of the rim with rags, or even your clothing. Without a clean surface to seal to, your efforts and resources will triple in getting satisfactory results.
Now you have to weigh the available resources in attacking your repair. One would hope that an air compressor is available. If not, I hope that you have a can or three of Fix-a-Flat type repair. The small compressor and cigarette adaptor recently spoke of should be a staple in your trunk.
[JWR Adds:  I prefer the slightly larger ones, that come with a two gallon tank.] The problem is that most compressors do not deliver enough CFM to expand the tire onto the rim. There are three options hat I am aware of.
1). Have a modified “air pig” with a oversize outlet tube, (i.e.- 1″ or larger with a flat oblong end). Fill the tank up to as high as safe and flip the ball valve thus expending the contents of the tank in the matter of a split second. This, carefully aimed at the edge of the rim and tire will result in a freshly sealed/beaded tire.
2). Second option is to gather ratchet strap type ratchets and surround the tire making sure that the strap is in the same spot on the tire all the way around and is not twisted. Cinch up the slack and apply several “power strokes” to the ratchet to squish the tire to the bead/rim. Once done, proceed with filling it with air. Remember that once air is trapped and bead is sealed, release the straps. Skid Loader and Tractor Tires are very very tough. I have found that twin 2″ 10,000# tie down straps work best. They are supple and very strong. It takes one at each edge of the tire directly in line with the rim. The goal is not to smash the tire, it is to squish the tire–not making the surface convex, if possible.
[An unsafe method mentioned here was deleted, for liability reasons.]
I just had a flat on my ATV. It needed a bottle of Slime to get me back in business. However, Slime is useless if you do not have the valve stem removal tool that comes with it. Get a few spares, put them in the tool box! – The Wanderer

JWR Adds:  Readers should use extreme caution when working with split-rim type wheels! Do some web research first. Ignorance is a killer around high pressure.

Letter Re: The Ten Cent Challenge

I am thankful you started the Survival Blog in August of 2005. I firmly believe we must support those who educate and advocate what is correct and true.  People purchase newspapers and magazines, donate to others asking for different organizations on the side of the road. We give. I would like to appeal to all of the other readers out there. Please be honest with yourselves. If you come to this site at least once a month, and find the material of interest, motivational, compelling, as well as a resource full of other sites to cross-reference to, if this site has enriched your present/future plan, please join us and keep this in mind: Today we stand, we watch, we pray. It takes action to make things happen. Notice all the words used in the first sentence requires action. Please join in and help with the daily 10 cent pledge. I thank you and pray that all those who read SurvivalBlog will step up to the plate and contribute so they can also stand united in principle and ethics (sincere – truth- accountable – forthright.)  – E. & L. Guerra, Warriors for the Truth

JWR Replies:  Thanks for you kind letter. We’ve now had 48 readers send 10 Cent Challenge donations.  You folks know who you are.  All that I can say is MANY THANKS!

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history, the stage of rule by brute force." – Ayn Rand

Note From JWR:

Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog. God willing, it will get people motivated. Every neighbor that is prepared logistically will be one less individual begging at your door, come TEOTWAWKI+1.

Survival Gun Selection

In my survivalist novel “Patriots”, I included lots of descriptions of firearms used in various situations in order to illustrate that there is no single “perfect survival gun.” Different situations are best handled by using different firearms. There are several requirements that must be considered in selecting guns for use on a farm, ranch, or survival retreat. First, and foremost, they must be versatile. A single gun might be pressed into service for shooting crows or starlings at 10 yards, rabbits or coyotes at 100 yards, or rattlesnakes at five feet. While there is no single gun that can handle any task, it is important to select guns with at least some degree of  versatility. Further, it is not realistic to believe that you can get by  with just one gun, or even just one rifle, one pistol, and one shotgun. Versatility has its limits. Like a carpenter’s box of tools, each type of gun has its special place and purpose.

The second major consideration for survival guns is that they be robust  and reliable enough to put up with constant carry and regular use. Good designs not prone to mechanical failures are a plus. When an infrequent   repair must be made, a small stock of spare parts that do not require special gunsmithing to install must suffice. When the nearest gunsmith is  a two hour drive away, you have to depend on your own resources. And needless to say, who knows which replacement parts will be available when things get Schumeresque? Since they are carried quite frequently and in all sorts of weather, farm/ranch/survival guns need to have durable finishes. Stainless steel is by far the best choice for most situations. Unfortunately, however, not all guns are available in stainless steel. For guns that only made with a blued finish, there are several alternative finishes available. These include Parkerizing (the military standard gray or black phosphate finish commonly seen on M16 and AR-15 rifles), and various other factory finishes  with trade names such as “Coltalloy” or “Armour Alloy.” In addition to gun factory finishes, a wide range of exotic materials such as Teflon and Zylan are now frequently used as “after-market” gun finishes. The Robar Company uses a nickel/Teflon composite. My personal favorite of the exotic finishes is called METACOL (METAl COLor), which is offered in a wide variety of colors by Arizona Response Systems
( Exotic material finishes offer rust protection that is exceeded only by stainless steel and are quite durable. For those that dislike the highly reflective surface of stainless steel, it too can be coated with one of the exotic materials such as green Teflon with a matte texture.

Because trips to town to procure ammunition might be infrequent (or impossible in a severe survival scenario), and reloading will likely be the norm for those seeking self-sufficiency, it is desirable to limit the number of different cartridges that you stock. Having ten different guns chambered in ten different cartridges would only serve to complicate logistics. Further, it is best to select only guns chambered for commonly-available cartridges. Small country stores stock ammo like .22 Long Rifle, .308 Winchester, .30-’06, or 12 gauge, but probably not .264 Winchester magnum, .300 Weatherby, or 28 gauge.

Small Game

There are several categories of firearms that belong in the gun racks of nearly every farm or ranch. The first, and most frequently used variety are small game/pest shooting guns. These guns are used to hunt small game for the pot (squirrels, rabbits, etc.), to shoot garden pests (crows, starlings, gophers, etc.), and marauding predators (coyotes, foxes, weasels, ferrets, etc.) They also end up being the guns most frequently used to slaughter livestock. Good cartridges for small game/pest shooting include .22 Long Rifle (.22 LR), and .223 Remington. The most common shotshells for this use are .410, 20 gauge, and 12 gauge. The .22 LR will suffice for everything up to the size of rabbits at conservative distances. It is inexpensive to shoot, quiet, and has hardly any felt recoil. The .223 Remington (virtually identical to and in most cases interchangeable with the 5.56mm NATO cartridge used by the military) is a good cartridge for shooting perched birds that would be out of range for a .22 rimfire, or for shooting feral dogs, feral cats, or coyotes. Experience has shown that both handguns and long guns are needed for small game/pest shooting. A long gun would of course be the ideal choice in most circumstances, due to their inherently higher velocity and longer sighting radius (and hence greater accuracy). There are times, however, when it is not practical to carry a long gun. When mending fences, feeding livestock, hauling wood, riding a tractor, or doing most gardening work, it is usually not practical to carry a long gun. On farms and ranches, long guns tend to be left behind inside buildings, or in vehicle gun racks. They are only rarely carried when doing chores or just walking down to the mailbox at the county road. This is where handguns come in.

Rimfire Handguns

A good quality .22 rimfire pistol may be one of the most useful handguns in your battery. They are used for dispatching those “uncatchable” chickens for the stew pot, for shooting small game/pests, and for inexpensively maintaining marksmanship skills for those more powerful (and more expensive to shoot) handguns. My wife and I use a stainless steel Ruger Mark II with a 5-1/2-inch bull barrel and Pachmayr grips. The Ruger is also offered in 6-7/8-inch and 10-5/8-inch barrel lengths. But we find that the 5-1/2-inch barrel is a handy length for holster carry. Another well-made stainless steel .22 autopistol is the Smith and Wesson Model 622. It is available with a 4-1/2 inch or 6-inch barrel. If you prefer a revolver, the stainless steel Smith and Wesson Model 617 is a good option. It is available in a 4-inch, 6-inch, or 8-3/8-inch barrel length.

Rifles chambered in .22 LR are often used guns on farms and ranches. They are useful for pest shooting, small game hunting, and target practice. Reliable, American-made semi-auto .22s include the Ruger Model 10/.22 (also available in stainless), the Marlin 70-P “Papoose”, the Remington Speedmaster Model 552, and the discontinued Remington Nylon 66. If a bolt action is your preference, either the Kimber Model 82 or the Ruger 77/.22 are good choices. Two good quality lever action .22s are the Marlin 39TDS and the Winchester 9422. Regardless of which brand of .22 rifle you buy, you should consider mounting it with a telescopic sight. Because of its low energy, proper placement of a .22 rimfire bullet can mean the difference between crippling and cleanly killing small game. Mounting a scope will in most instances give you the ability to not just hit an animal’s center of mass, but rather hit a precise aiming point, such as its head or neck. If you do decide to mount a scope, use a full size (1-inch diameter) scope rather than one the inexpensive 3/4-inch diameter scopes made specifically for air rifles and .22s. Inexpensive scopes generally have a poor field of view, considerable parallax distortion, and are not as ruggedly made as the full-size rifle scopes. For training youngsters, I recommend the diminutive Chipmunk .22 LR single shot bolt action, with a 16″ barrel.

Centerfire Handguns

If you are seeking a particularly versatile handgun, you might consider the Thompson/Center T/C Contender. This single shot pistol uses readily-changeable barrels in a wide range of chamberings. The Contender is available in both blued and stainless steel. It was also formerly offered in a proprietary alloy finish called “Armour Alloy II”. Some of the most useful of the 20-plus chamberings are .22 LR, .223 Remington, and the .45 Colt/.410 shotgun barrel.

The handguns in our battery that we traditionally carried the most was our pair of Smith and Wesson Model 686 .357 magnum revolvers. Both were black Teflon coated (a short-lived S&W factory variant dubbed “Midnight Black”), with 6-inch barrels and equipped with Pachmayr Signature grips, and red ramp/white outline adjustable sights. The six inch barrel length is a compromise between ease of carry and accuracy/velocity. While an 8-3/8-inch barrel would provide better accuracy and velocity, without using a shoulder holster, a gun with this barrel length is not comfortable to carry. We typically carried those revolvers in inexpensive black nylon Michaels of Oregon (“Uncle Mike’s” brand) black nylon hip holster rigs, each with pouches for four spare Safariland speed loaders. Our habit was to have two speed loaders loaded with .357 magnum 125-grain half-jacketed hollow  points, one with CCI #9 birdshot “snake” loads, and one with .38 Special tracers (for shooting in low-light conditions). These revolvers accounted for numerous snakes, rabbits, and even a couple of coyotes, not because they were the best guns for the job, but rather because they were the guns we habitually carried and thus they were available when needed. These guns also pack a punch, so they allayed our fears of dangerous predators, whether of the two-legged or four-legged variety. In addition to the Smith and Wesson, good quality stainless steel double action .357 revolvers are made by Colt (the King Cobra and Python) and Ruger (the GP-100).

We now carry Colt Stainless Steel Gold Cup (Model 1911 pattern) .45 ACPs with Pachmayr grips, extended slide releases, and Trijicon tritium-lit sights. One thing that we missed about the .357s was their ability to fire bird shot cartridges, but Remington makes a .45 shot cartridge that functions fairly well in a .45 auto. When we moved to bear country, we sold off the 686s and standardized with the .45 automatics. We wanted to be able to put a lot of rounds into a bear in a hurry, and .45 autos are far faster to reload than revolvers–at least under stress, in our experience. Granted, the chances of surviving a bear attack are slim, but we feel that we have a better chance with the Gold Cups. At least when they find all the ejected brass around our mangled corpses, they can say that we put up a good fight. 😉

Speaking of bears, for homesteaders living in brown bear or grizzly bear country, a more powerful handgun than even the .45 ACP is often recommended. A stainless steel Smith and Wesson Model 629 (6-inch) .44 magnum, or Ruger Redhawk (5-1/2-inch) .44 magnum, or perhaps the Colt Anaconda (6-inch) .44 magnum would be good choices. If you would rather carry an automatic, the LAR Grizzly (.45 Automatic magnum), Wildey (.45 Automatic magnum), Desert Eagle (.44 magnum), or the long discontinued Auto Mag (.44 Auto Mag) would also serve the same purpose, although all of these guns are relatively expensive and heavy to to carry.

A lightweight rifle chambered in .223 Remington is particularly useful for shooting both perched birds and predators. Remington, Ruger, and Sako all make good quality .223 bolt actions. Selecting one is largely a matter of personal preference. We use our .223s on coyotes, which currently abound in great numbers in the Western U.S., and are a constant source of trouble in our area. They have a penchant for devouring ducks, chickens, pet cats, and newborn lambs. We use three different guns on the uncommon occasions when we have a chance to snipe at coyotes. These guns include a Remington Model 7 bolt action chambered in .223 Remington, a Colt CAR-15M4gery“, and a scoped L1A1 semi-auto chambered in .308 Winchester (virtually identical to and in most cases interchangeable with the 7.62 mm NATO cartridge used by the military). a .308 bolt action is used when we spot a coyote at beyond 300 yards. With the Remington Model 7 available, the CAR-15 is largely superfluous. But we like its easy handling, and the fact that we can get off a quick second shot when shooting at running rabbits or coyotes.

Combination Guns
The next category of guns are combination or “garden guns.” These range from expensive imported rifle/shotguns to inexpensive combination guns made domestically. The European three barrel combination guns or “dreilings” (often anglicized to “drillings”) can easily cost $2,000 or more. Guns typical of this breed are the Colt/Sauer drillings, Krieghoff drillings, and the Valmet over/unders. They typically feature a high-power rifle barrel mounted beneath side-by-side 12 gauge shotgun barrels. Domestically produced two-barrel combination guns, while not as aesthetically pleasing. cost far less than European drillings. These guns offer the ability to fire a single shotgun shell or rifle cartridge, with the flick of a switch. They are by far the best gun to have at hand when out doing garden work. They give you the versatility to eliminate a pesky gopher or marauding birds, whether they are perching or in flight. One of the best of the inexpensive combination guns now on the market is the Savage Model 24F with a Rynite fiberglass stock. This gun is currently available in .223 Remington over 12 gauge, or .223 Remington over 20 gauge. Screw-in choke tubes for the shotgun barrels are now standard. Both models are also available with traditional wood stocks. In the past, Savage Model 24-series guns were made in a wide range of chamberings such as .22 LR over .410, .22 LR over 20 gauge, .22 Magnum over .410 gauge, and .357 magnum over 20 gauge. All of these now-discontinued guns featured wooden stocks. They can often be found used at gun shows or in gun shops at modest prices. Due to their versatility, they are well worth looking for. Because most of the Savage 24-series guns come with a blued finish, it is recommended that they be upgraded with a more durable finish such as Teflon or Parkerizing.

Long Range Rifles

Big game hunting/counter-sniping rifles are the next group of guns to be considered. The selection of a big game rifle depends on the variety of game to be hunted. In the lower 48 states, a bolt action rifle chambered in .308 Winchester or .30-’06 will normally handle most big game. Regional differences will determine exactly what you need. For example, in the plains and desert states, you might need a scoped rifled chambered in a flat-shooting cartridge such as .270 Winchester or .25-’06. No matter which chambering you select, it is important that you buy a well-made rifle with a robust action. Remington, Ruger, and Winchester among others all make guns with these qualities. After you buy the rifle itself, you will probably want to have a more durable finish applied to its metal surfaces. You might also want to mount a telescopic sight if you will be hunting in open country. If you’ll be hunting in brushy or densely-wooded terrain, you could find a scope is more of a hindrance than a help. It is important to note that scopes are more prone to failure than any other part of a rifle. Therefore, it is wise to select a rifle with good quality iron sights, whether or not you intend to mount a scope. If and when a scope should fail, you will have the recourse of removing the scope and reverting to iron sights. The need for a cartridge more powerful than .30-’06 is normally a consideration only in Alaska or parts of Canada where moose and grizzly  bear are found. Several powerful cartridges are currently popular. These include the .35 Whelen, the .338 Winchester, and the .375 H & H Magnum. For our type of big-game hunting (normally deer, but nothing bigger than elk), my wife and I selected a pair of Winchester Model 70s. One is chambered in .308 Winchester, and the other in .30-06. The .30-06 is in a  H-S Precision Kevlar-Graphite stock with integral aluminum bedding block. The .308 is in a Brown Precision green fiberglass stock, and was converted by MCS to take standard detachable M14 magazines. (Which are available in 5, 10, and 20 round capacity) This gives it interchangeability with magazines for M1As. They were both given a green Teflon finish and topped with Trijicon 4-power matte finish scopes. Because either rifle might also be used tactically, we had their muzzles threaded for flash hiders (1/2″ x 28 thread–the same as that used on the M16) by Holland’s of Oregon, and had Holland slim line muzzle brakes installed. We decided to get the muzzle brakes because they don’t draw as much attention (in these politically correct days) as a flash hider. However, if we get into some deep drama, we can quickly switch to flash hiders.

The next gun categories to consider are upland game and waterfowl shotguns. If you will have the opportunity to hunt upland game or waterfowl on your property or somewhere nearby, you will of course want to include one or more good bird-hunting shotguns in your battery. As you will likely be carrying your shotgun more often than the average city dweller, a durable finish is desirable. Remington’s “Special Purpose” versions of their Model 870, Model 11-87, and Model 1100 fit this bill nicely. They come from the factory with a non-glare stock finish and a dull gray Parkerized finish on all their surfaces. Several makers produce (or produced) Parkerized-finish pumps and autos comparable to the Remington Special Purpose series. One such is the Winchester Model 1300 Waterfowler. Like most other currently produced domestic shotguns, the Remington Special Purpose guns come with screw-in choke tubes as standard equipment. A 26-inch barrel length is best suited to upland game hunting, while a 28-inch or 30-inch barrel is normally recommended for pass shooting at ducks and geese. Because odd gauge shells might be difficult to obtain in rural areas or regardless of where you live in times of turmoil , it is best to buy either a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun. Also, given the trend towards steel shot, a 3-inch length chamber is recommended. The longer chamber allows the use of magnum loads, which are needed to give the less dense steel shot the same killing power as traditional lead shot loadings. In addition, screw-in choke tubes are advisable. As steel shot wears out chokes quickly, replaceable choke tubes can greatly increase the usable life of a gun. Because my wife is of small stature, (5′ 2″, 100 pounds) she prefers to do her bird hunting with a 20 gauge shotgun. She uses a Remington Model 1100 “Youth” model. Winchester makes a similar small-dimension variant of their Model 870. Because screw-in choke tubes were not available at the time that this gun was purchased, it was retrofitted with a Poly-choke adjustable choke. To make the gun less vulnerable to the ravages of wet weather, it will soon be shipped off to be black Teflon coated. With an extension magazine and a spare short (20″) barrel, our birdguns can double as self-defense guns.

One gun that deserves special mention is the .410 gauge “Snake Charmer II” single shot shotgun, made by Sport Arms, Mfg. This lightweight little gun just barely meets the Federal size minimums (18-inch barrel and 28-1/2 inches overall length). It is constructed of stainless steel and has a synthetic stock with a compartment that holds spare shotshells. Because it is compact and lightweight, our Snake Charmer gets taken along on walks where heavier, bulkier long guns would usually be left behind. This gun has been used to kill several rattlesnakes and a good number of quail.

Retreat Defense
Self-defense guns are the final category to be considered for farms, ranches, and survival retreats. Just as homesteaders in the 19th century had to depend on themselves for the protection of their lives and property, many modern homesteaders are finding that they must do likewise. Post-TEOTWAWKI, we all may be “on our own”–with no law enforcement to call on. (Or any way to call them, even if they are still available.) Even in the present day, rural farms and ranches are often a long driving distance from the nearest sheriff’s office. Even in relatively peaceful times, a lot can happen before help arrives, so it makes sense to be prepared. If you expect bad economic times or other sources of social unrest, you should make a concerted to stock up on defensive guns, plenty of ammunition, lots of spare magazines, and a good selection of spare parts. Again, the assumption that law enforcement officials will be able to assist you also depends on being able to contact them. Encounters with poachers, escaped convicts or other assorted riff-raff might not necessarily take place in the immediate vicinity of your home or vehicle where you would presumably have access to a telephone or CB radio. If you are walking a fence line at the far end of an 80-acre parcel and run into trouble, the only law enforcement assistance available might be the handgun on your hip. Be prepared. At our farm, we have a variety of guns whose main job is defense, but that are also used for other purposes. As previously noted, our L1A1s double as a long-range coyote eliminators. Our large frame handguns are primarily self-defense guns, but also usable for hunting and shooting pests. As I noted previously, we have begun carrying .45 automatics instead of .357s.

If you like the ballistics of the .45 ACP but prefer the action of a revolver, you might consider purchasing a Smith and Wesson Model 625 revolver. This is a stainless steel revolver built on the “N” frame–the same heavy frame used for the Smith and Wesson .44 magnums. The Model 625 uses “full moon” spring steel clips to hold six rounds of .45 ACP. Unlike most speed loaders, with the full moon clips, there is no knob to twist, or any mechanism that could potentially fail. You just drop the whole works into the cylinder. This makes them just as fast, if not faster, than any speed-loader. The Model 625 is offered in 3-inch, 4-inch, and 5-inch barrel lengths–the latter one of which is just about ideal. Because the .45 ACP has the same bore diameter as the .45 Colt cartridge, a spare cylinder and crane assembly can be fabricated for this more potent cartridge. This combination would make a particularly versatile handgun. One shop that specializes in this work is Miniature Machine Co. of Forth Worth, Texas. (See: Gunsmithing Service and Parts Providers, below)

Shotguns are also well-suited to defensive work. A spare short “riotgun” barrel for a pump or automatic shotgun can make it double as a formidable home defense weapon. For our Remington 870 12 gauge, for example, we have a 20-inch length barrel that is equipped with rifle (slug) sights, and the choke tube that we keep in it is cylinder bore (no choke). It is ideal for shooting rifled slugs or buckshot. With the short barrel and a Choate eight-round extension magazine, the Remington 870 is a particularly handy gun to use at night for shooting feral dogs and cats or other animals that are attracted to our barn full of rabbits and chickens. It is also a reassuring gun to have around for home defense. The short riotgun barrel stays on our Remington most of each year, while the long “bird” barrels are normally mounted only during the quail and pheasant seasons.

The “Battery “
Just how many guns will you need? If you are on a budget, you might get by with a good quality bolt action rifle chambered in .308 or .30-06, a 12-gauge pump shotgun with a spare riotgun barrel, a .22 LR rifle, and a .45 automatic pistol. However, in order to have the versatility required for the many shooting tasks at most farms and ranches you will likely need at least twice this many guns. For a more complete discussion of guns suitable to a self-sufficient and self-reliant lifestyle, the late Mel Tappan’s book Survival Guns (The Janus Press, Rogue River, Oregon) is generally recognized as the best general reference in print. And for a more complete discussion of guns suitable for self-defense, I highly recommend the book Boston’s Gun Bible.

A battery of guns for use at your farm or ranch should be considered a necessity, just like buying a Hi-Lift jack or a chain saw. Purchases should be made systematically and dispassionately. Like buying any other tool, you shouldn’t skimp on quality. A well-made gun can deliver years or even generations of reliable service.

One final note: You can buy the best guns in the world, but unless you practice with them often, you are not prepared. Getting training at a firearms school like Front Sight is money well spent!


Gunsmithing Service and Parts Providers:

The following is a partial listing of suppliers and services. Many gunsmiths offer Parkerizing. You might be able to locate a local shop to provide this service, and thus eliminate the expense and delay of shipping a gun via common carrier.

METACOL Finishes:
Arizona Response Systems (T. Mark Graham)
16014 West Remuda Drive
Surprise, AZ 85387
phone 623-556-8056 (by appointment only!)


Nickel/Teflon (“NP3”) Coating:
The Robar Companies Inc.
21438 7th Ave., Suite B
Phoenix, Ariz. 85027
(602) 581-2648/2962


.45 Colt cylinders for .45 ACP S&W Revolvers:
Miniature Machine Co.
606 Grace Avenue
Ft. Worth, Texas 76111


Kevlar-Graphite Stocks:
H-S Precision, Inc.
1301 Turbine Drive
Rapid City, South Dakota 57701
(605) 341-3006


Winchester and Remington Bolt action rifle detachable M14 magazine conversions:
Moe’s Competitor Supplies
34 Delmar Drive
Brookfield, Conn. 06804
(203) 775-1013

Note From JWR:

Please send your entries for Round 2 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest soon!  The writer of the best article will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!)  The deadline for entries is the last day of January.

Carter County, Montana–Talk About Elbow Room!

I was recently doing some relocation research for a consulting client, and I came across a pretty amazing 960 acre ranch in the south-east corner of Montana.  It looked quite promising, but unfortunately it is down-wind of Yellowstone (with a remote chance of becoming a super caldera) downwind of Montana’s missile fields, and just a bit up wind of South Dakota’s missile fields.  The client decided to pass on this one–given its locale, and his personal TEOTWAWKI scenario. Thus, it put me at liberty to mention it here in SurvivalBlog. If you are not concerned about a full scale tit-for-tat ground-pounding nuclear exchange with the Russians, then read on. Picture this: Carter County, Montana: 5,500 square miles and only about 1,200 residents, about 1/3 of whom live up in the county seat of Ekalaka, at the north end of the county. The main source of livelihood is beef cattle ranching, plus a few “stripper” oil wells. Great hunting. (The county is known for its elk, wild turkey, antelope, whitetail deer, and mule deer hunting.) The ranch is about 30 miles north of Devil’s Tower National Monument. Here is the description from the realtor’s web site: Very scenic ranch with pine covered hills, grassy meadows, hardwood treed draws to rolling grass covered plains. Plenty of water, many of the draws have springs and pools of water, a 130 ft. deep well with a windmill and one very big spring fed reservoir. Cows do not have to walk over 3/4 mile to water. The house is supplied water by a 22′ deep hand dug well. Bass were planted in the reservoir about 6 to 7 years ago and never fished. Very good deer and turkey hunting as the ranch hasn’t been hunted for years. House is older but very comfortable and is in a very scenic area of the ranch. Access is a county road that is graveled to within 3 miles of the road. The property is a little remote but very peaceful and pretty. Has power and phones. All in all a very easy to maintain ranch. At just 960 acres, this is considered a small ranch, for this region  (Because of the scant precipitation, the grazing only supports 35 cow-calf pairs.) It is three miles to the nearest hamlet (Ridge), and a bit further to the nearest post office (at Boyes). It is 27 miles to any decent shopping,. (In Broadus.)  The ranch presently has just a one bedroom house, but it is probably big enough to live in while you’d build a new house. The asking price for the 960 acres with house is $550,000, with a possible owner contract. I anticipate that you could carve off two or three 120 acre parcels and keep the rest for yourself, free and clear. There are shopping/tax advantages of being in close proximity to four different states.  Hmmm….  See:  Disclaimer:  I have no financial interest in this listing.  It just looked neat, so I’m passing it along.

Letter Re: Dome Homes as Survival Retreats

Mr. Rawles,
I really enjoy and appreciate the articles on your website which include information not otherwise available and which are very helpful in my efforts to develop a self sufficient rural life style that will survive the coming earth changes, and weather and financial disasters that may engulf the economy over the next few years.

I recently contracted for and occupied a 40 foot diameter geodesic dome home with an all concrete shell. My wife and I have lived in it for two years and we love it. These homes can be beautiful, strong and very functional. My home kit came on a flatbed semi trailer in the form of pre-cast concrete triangular panels with six inches of styrofoam insulation glued on each panel. The company offered a list of contractors who would erect the shell and do the interior framing with the idea that local contractors could provide the excavation, concrete basement, plumbing, electrical, carpeting, drywall and other services with numerous opportunities for do it yourself work to cut costs. We purchased conventional Kraftmaid kitchen components from Home Depot. We have a full basement with a two car garage and a family room with a wood stove, a living room, kitchen, dining room and two bedrooms on the main level, an office and master bedroom on the upper level and a cupola on the very top of the dome with sliding windows on all five sides. It could be a bedroom, office, playroom or whatever is needed.

I was looking at your January 6, 2006 comments on dome homes and later comments and am offering the following for your consideration.
You made the comment that there is a risk of low resale value of these homes. This risk may be valid on the “economy” dome homes with inadequate windows and dark interiors but this statement may not be valid on the nicer upper scale dome homes. Very few of the nicer dome homes have ever sold to establish the market value of these units. After a few more hurricanes and tornados destroy everything in the area except the concrete dome homes, perhaps more will be built and sold to better establish the market value of these units.
The comments about the difficulty of constructing the wooden roofs do not apply to the concrete shell domes of the type that I have. The most labor intensive part of the construction was the drywall work which involved cutting and fitting the drywall for the interior partitions to fit all of the angles where the walls attach to the styrofoam that is glued to the inside of the shell panels. This cost was more than offset by the no extra cost of the roof which was included in the cost of the shell. If it is sealed properly and painted, there will be never be any additional roofing expenses except for an occasional repainting of the entire exterior which will include the roof. You discussed four types of dome homes. There is another type which is the erection of pre-cast concrete panels made at the factory where the reinforced concrete is on the outside for added strength and rigidity. Steel mesh extends several inches beyond each side of the panels and after the panels are in place, concrete is placed in the voids between the panels and when this concrete hardens, the structure is as solid as a rock. Under this system, a continuous pour is not needed just like Hoover Dam. Interior wood framing supports the panels until the concrete is cured and then these supports are removed and used for the interior framing.

We were surprised and impressed by the relatively uniform temperatures between the main and upper levels. I formerly lived in a tri-level conventional home in Florida where the lower level was always several degrees colder than the upper levels to the extent that a comfortable temperature in the upper levels resulted in discomfort in the ground level under the bedrooms. This problem is nonexistent on a well insulated dome home. The wood stove in the basement could heat the whole house using the stairway as the heating duct or the door at the top of the basement stairs can be closed to keep the basement warm.

See: for some pictures of the exterior and interior of our home in Northwest Arkansas. It is in a new rural community consisting of 3 acre home sites surrounded by 300 acres of pasture and woods. This land is owned by a person interested in selling off 3 acre home sites for self sufficient living in a rural environment off of the main roads but with access to U.S. 412 which goes to Springdale and Fayetteville, the nearest large cities. The pictures also show the beauty of the area. The water from the wells is excellent. The website also includes a link to the manufacturer of the dome kits. A remote area at the rear of the site does not have electricity yet and would be ideal for anyone interested in living off the grid. A survival group could even establish their own community in that area if they so desired with or without electricity. There is only one entrance to the entire 300 acres much of which is on rolling hills with the pasture in the valley and the woods and home sites on the slopes.  – Steve Fennel (e-mail: )

Letter Re: Washington’s Retreat Potential

I may have something to add concerning Washington’s [retreat potential] ranking. I just left there last year and my experience has shown it have not only the Cali- syndrome but a lot of [liberal out-of-staters that have moved there are] are “Washingtonians In Name Only” (WINOs.) For married folks who have a relationship that is faltering, it is not good to be a man in Washington right now. The recent Brame shooting has given a wonderful opportunity for immature, greedy spouses to dump their hubbies into the prison system on trumped up domestic violence charges. Finding conventional work and being able to afford a place to live has definitely gone south with higher rent eating up most of a persons wages. Forget land in the Pugetopolis area (Olympia-Everett). I had a Veteran’s Administration (VA) [home loan qualification] certification that I couldn’t use because everything was twice again higher than what it was good for. Also land use legislation that was passed in the last year has restricted what you can build on your property now. You have to have permission to build on your own land. Further, if you want to build an alternative house such as an Earthship or other “scrap house” it will not happen on the “wet side” [of the Cascade mountain range.] Various friends I know who are in the building trade have told me that no permits will be issued for these type of houses. The developers seem to have the building authorities by the n**ds on this one. Money talks and it is a society of exclusivity there. It also appears that you are not really allowed to really develop your own way. Both in livelihood and living. WINOs again. My experience has shown they will try to force you to go for a high powered job in your existing skills, not allow you to change direction, try and persuade you to go into debt to finance a lifestyle they approve of and retaliate if you don’t bow to their wishes. Even to turning a family member against you. I love societal judgments. (Innuendos.) That describes better than anything the lack of maturity and lack of objectivity in getting to the bottom of anything. Opportunities appear to be better across the mountains though. – J.W. (A former Washington resident, now exiled to Kansas)

Letter Re: Finnish Mosin Nagant 7.62x54R Rifles

Regarding the Finnish Model 1939 Mosin Nagant 7.62x54R Rifles being sold by AIM Surplus (See: I was wondering what you thought of this rifle? Thanks, – Straightblast

JWR Replies: Those are fine rifles, and the Russian 7.62×54 Rimmed cartridges (the same rounds used for the Dragunov) are cheap, fairly plentiful (mainly corrosively primed military surplus loads, however) and it hits about as hard as .30-06. The biggest detractor is that sporterizing parts for Mosins are much more limited than for Mausers. Rechambering is also more difficult. Quite a few of the Finnish M1939s were re-arsenalized using pre-1899 actions. The M1939 is a bit heavy, but accurate. Because production spanned 1898 (some are antique while others are modern), it is difficult being able to prove that they are pre-1899 unless you spend six or seven minutes taking the rifle apart. (Typically, the last two digits of the year of manufacture are stamped on the tang, under the wood.) OBTW, I know of one gent that carries a close up picture of his pre-1899 Mosin rifle’s tang in his wallet, just in case its Federally-exempt status is ever questioned.

The Best Pre-1899 Bolt Action?

I strongly believe that every prepared family ought to have one or two Federally exempt pre-1899 guns. Why? There may come a time in the near future when legislation will dictate nationwide gun registration.  But pre-1899s will presumably be exempt. To explain: Guns made in or before 1898 aren’t classified as “firearms” under the Federal law. They haven’t been, ever since 1968.  They are outside of Federal jurisdiction. Because of their very small numbers, in the eyes of legislators they are a trivial “non-issue.”  In the envisioned era that you are forced to either bury or register the rest of the guns in your collection, your un-papered pre-1899s could still be used for hunting and taken to the range, with impunity. The long term implications are staggering. For the same reason, so is their long term investment value. I expect the value of all pre-shootable pre-1899 cartridge guns to double or triple in value in the next decade–not because of their collector’s value, but solely because of their unique legal category. Guru say: Buy them while they are still affordable! If you don’t, then in just a few years you will probably kick yourself for missing the boat.

I’ve had two different readers recently contact me, soliciting my advice about pre-1899 production bolt actions to re-build into modern hunting or counter-sniper rifles. They asked: Which one is the best action to buy for a re-build project? IMHO, the very best available is the Model 1893 Turkish contract Oberndorf (German) Mauser action. Because these rifles were re-heat treated when they were re-arsenalized into 8 x57 in the 1930s, these rifles can handle the highest pressure of any small ring Mauser action. Despite the fact that these rifles have their 1930s re-arsenalizing date stamped on the receiver ring, their pre-1899 (Federally exempt) status is firmly established. I have a letter from the ATF that specifically addresses M1893 Turkish Mausers, confirming that they are all considered pre-1899 exempt, even if they have been re-barreled, re-chambered or sporterized. A link to the PDF of that letter is included in my fairly comprehensive Pre-1899 FAQ. (See: To anticipate you next question: Yes, a large ring Mauser action would be be superior to a small ring, but unfortunately 99.9% of those were made after 1898, so the chances of finding one that is legally antique (made in or before 1898) is downright infinitesimal. BTW, in 25 years in the gun show business, I only found one such action (from a Model 1896 German Trials rifle), and it sold very quickly, for $550–for just a stripped action!

Once relatively plentiful in the U.S. market, the supply of Model 1893 Turkish Mausers has dried up. One good affordable source of these rifles is The Pre-1899 Specialist. (See; I’ve heard that he still has just a few left–a couple of which have sound stocks and decent bores (if you want to leave them “as is” in 8x57mm Mauser), and a couple of others that have stocks with small cracks–but those of course would be fine if what you are after is an action to re-build.

Any gunsmith that is competent with Mausers can build up a rifle in a modern caliber for you, using a Model 1893 Mauser action. (Bending the bolt, drilling and tapping for scope, mounting it in a sporter stock, and so forth.) The Turkish contract M1893 action is suitable for modern calibers such as .243 Winchester and .308 Winchester, or classics such as 7×57 Mauser or 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser. Despite the fact that these rifles are all at least 108 years old, with new barrels they can be built up as real tack drivers.

Take the time to visit The Pre-1899 Specialist‘s site, and think about the possibilities. Again, I recommend that you buy your pre-1899s now, while they are still affordable! 

From #1 Son: Stocking up on Home Schooling Curricula

An important item to remember to purchase in advance if you have children is extra home schooling supplies. You may remember trigonometry, but could you teach it to your children without any materials? If you self-quarantine your family because of a flu pandemic it will be nearly impossible to acquire books or other supplies. Post-TEOTWAWKI, after your generation is gone, advanced math and science will be rare and valuable skills.

Letter Re: Buying a Retreat Property and a Peak Oil Reference

I am fairly new to your blog, having been introduced by I have enjoyed reading it every now and then, and have been preparing for quite some time now. So you can imagine, I have most if not all the things you are talking about EXCEPT the place outside the cities, but that is being worked on as I write this, and HOPEFULLY we will buy some land soon. Just looking for the right place.

Switching gears, I found some interesting information on Peak Oil, and why cheap oil is over forever. See the transcript available at: – Mel in Austin