Letter from “Doug Carlton” Re: Welding and Shotguns

Hi Jim,
I enjoyed seeing “Dan Fong’s” letter, since I haven’t had contact with him in ages. It was great to see he’s still kicking. It’s good to see that
you’re getting sponsors as well. His plasma cutter topic is on target. One thing people might look at instead of a generator, or as a back-up to the one they have, is a welder with integral genset. Most portable welders are also generators, and being portable you can take it to a work site. Even an under-hood welder, like the kind that many serious 4×4 vehicles have, can be used as a generator (though not as efficient as one
designed to produce power to begin with). In many ways they are a better back-up than just a back-up generator. You gain a useful tool, rather than paying for a spare generator that will just sit and do nothing for you until you need it. They also are more likely to be maintained and in running condition through normal use when you need to press it into service as a generator. It just depends on your power plan. If you’re running a full power plant, then multiple generators are a better way to go. If you’re using a generator to just run lights and a pump, then a self-powered welder would provide both a tool and an alternate source of power.

I still own the 20 gauge 870 that originally belonged to your Memsahib. It has never failed to impress anyone who’s shot it. Everyone that shoots it asks if I’ll sell it to them. Training is the most important thing with the shotgun. While hunting in some areas will help with shotgun use, combat shotgunning is very different than hunting with one, and unlike the semi-auto rifle, most people don’t have a background with the shotty in the military. Most people that have been in the Army/USMC can handle a semi-auto rifle decently, but unless they’ve used a shotgun in their service, it’s a whole new thing. As with anything, training is far more important than which shotgun, or what you have mounted on it. If you can afford a cheap shotgun and a combat shotgun class, you’ll be far better armed than buying an expensive shotgun and no training. There isn’t a three-gun match I go to that pumpgun users will short stroke [the action], or have various other problems. The auto guys rarely have a problem. In classes, it’s the same thing. One class a buddy of mine went to had to divide the scoring between autos and pumps because all the pump
guys were scoring so low. There was a visible dividing line between the performance of the autos and pumps. This was in a class where most people had minimal training and experience with a shotgun. What I’m getting at is I don’t agree that the pumpgun is more reliable because the key reliability factor is the user. Now, I’ve seen shooters that are highly trained with a pump go against the autos just fine. To be able to do that though requires a lot of trigger time, and a lot of slugs and pellets down range. Yeah, it sounds so easy that all you need to do is rack the pumpgun, but reality is different than concept. [JWR adds: Especially when shooting prone!] Go to any tactical match that has a shotgun stage and watch the people operating under the stress of the match. Short stroking is pretty common with the pump even when the user has experience. The most important thing is to get training. The pump isn’t more reliable in the hands of a novice. Don’t get sucked into the pattern that many newbie survivalists do and buy guns and gear to make up for lack of skill.That doesn’t work. You are better off buying a used Sears shotgun from a newspaper ad and paying for a training class, than buying a fancy Bennelli and thinking that you are all set. It’s not what you use, it’s how you use it. – “Doug Carlton”

From The Army Aviator Re: Welding, Shotguns, and Radiation Meters

1.) Welding: I’m no welder by an stretch of the imagination but there’s a neat light to medium welder that runs on 24 VDC. I first saw it from SnapOn Tools for ~$500. Now it’s available from other folks for less money. What’s neat is the Trace inverters run on 24VDC and so do my vehicles. Just a thought. I did a stairway with it and repaired a cracked alternator bracket and battery support.

2.) 12 Gauge: I’ve been using those neat military shell holders. Each pouch holds 12 shells and has web gear clips in the back. Two pouches on each side, and you’ve got 48 shells handy and available.

3.) Radiac: I have a full set of CD meters and Dosimeters. I also picked up a German Dosimeter set from Steve at Major Surplus N Survival
For WTSHTF, I also got a Radiacmeter IM-179/U Military Gamma Dose Rate Meter (Issued, Certified) Code: 110449 for heavy radiation conditions. It’s about the size of two packs of cigarettes.

For daily monitoring I have used a DIGILERT 50 for about 6 years now. Runs on a nine volt battery for about 9 or 10 months. It also has the monitoring and recording software available which works great. All available from S.E. International. It reports Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation. Good high level operation. has digital readout, user adjustable alarm settings, and Total Count mode. There is also pretty sophisticated monitoring software that goes with it. It runs continuously in the background with little load on the computer. Then, of course, I also carry a NukAlert.

Letter Re: Proper Firearms Storage?

Hi Jim,
This is my first time to your blog since my bud, Rod, set me up with a copy of your book (Patriots). I have now read entirely through it in about two weeks. I have a question. When I was in the military, I was instructed by a weapons instructor to always lubricate any weapons that I was going to store before casing the item for long periods of time. My father, who was a Marine (two tours in Vietnam) also suggested this. He said I needed to clean and over-oil the weapon before long term storage. The question is this: is this information true and, if so, don’t we have a responsibility to others here to inform them accordingly. I noticed in your book that there was no mention of this practice and I’m surethat a scenario exists where some will store weapons at their retreats for use at a later time. Please advise on your site. Thanks, Fred in Georgia.

JWR’s Reply: First, rifles and pistols should not be stored in non-breathing heavy gun cases for more than a day or two. . Those are designed for transport only. Even a well-oiled gun will eventually rust if stored in a gun case, sometimes in the matter of just a few days in a damp climate. They are best stored oiled but loose in a gun vault, with an electric Golden Rod dehumidifier operating at all times. Silica gel desiccant crystals also work well to keep the humidity low in a gun vault. BTW, you can usually get large bags of silica gel free for the asking if you phone around. Call your local piano store. All of the pianos that are imported from Japan come with a large bag of silica gel, usually with hanging straps. To reactivate a used silica gel bag, just leave it in an oven set to 180 degrees, overnight.That will drive out any accumulated moisture.

For long term storage, the bore, chamber, and the face of the bolt should all be well-greased with RIG or the good old U.S. military surplus “Grease, Rifle” As we used to say: “Hey! Pass the Grease Comma Rifle!” All of the other metal parts should be lubricated with medium weight oil. (BTW, don’t use WD-40 or other lightweight aerosol lubes. They evaporate too quickly and afterwards leave no effective corrosion protection.) Lastly, be sure to label any gun that has been greased with a prominent “WARNING: GREASE IN BORE AND CHAMBER!” tag firmly attached. (Firing a gun with grease still in the bore can be dangerous.)

Letter Re: Where to Get Iodine Crystals?

The best water purifier for general carry is Iodine crystals. Carry them in a 35mm can, add water, shake and pour into the canteen.
They last, like forever. But, because of drug manufacturing freaks, I can’t find anybody still selling Iodine crystals. Any ideas?

JWR’s Reply: Unfortunately I don’t know any sources. Sadly, most of the hobbyist chemical supply houses are a thing of the past, along with true hobbyist electronics stores. Perhaps someone reading this blog knows a good source for Iodine crystals.

The iodine crystal method works well. A few large crystals will practically last a lifetime. However, be VERY careful not to accidentally ingest even a small iodine crystal as they can be fatally toxic. With large crystals, an old fashioned tea strainer (cage type ) works well, in my experience.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

" …arms…discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. …Horrid mischief would ensue were [the law-abiding] deprived the use of them."
– Thomas Paine.

Note from JWR:

I just added two more profiles for Mr. Lima, and Mr. Coffee. (The latter is a lengthy one, from an American ex-pat living in Costa Rica.) I consider them both “must ” reading.


“Dan Fong” on Survival Welding Gear (SA: Tools)

I have a comment on your recommendation concerning the “Dr. November” Profile. In addition to buying an oxyacetylene rig, I would add a plasma cutter. They are far superior to the gas rig and they run on compressed air and electricity. An air compressor and a generator will run these units. They cut faster and cleaner than a torch. The only consumables are the tip/electrode and cup which run ~$6-$8 a set but they last a long time. I would use the torch on structural steel that is thicker than 3/8″ but wouldn’t waste the gas on thinner material. An arc welder is good for most stuff assuming that you have the correct rods that have been correctly stored. This needs electricity to run but I wouldn’t recommend it for smaller applications due to you might end up burning through the work. Again, the main focus is to minimize gas usage. If you are worried about rod storage, you might consider a MIG welder which uses gas and wire.

My personal favorite are welders built by Miller. This is like the best handgun argument where everyone has an opinion and preference. My reason for liking Miller is that I have burned up power supplies with other brands due to the amount and speed at which I was welding. Some of the well known brands were using Al instead of Cu wiring and I guess I was burning them out. The welding supply store used to send me samples units to try out, but I favor the Miller brand. They have an over-temp protection feature that automatically shuts the system down before you damage the system. In addition to this there is support equipment that needs to be factored into using welding equipment that a lot of people tend to ignore. Enough on this subject. – “Dan Fong”

[JWR’s note: Some of the readers of my novel Patriots will remember the Dan Fong character. Dan Fong is the pseudonym of a real life individual that I have known since college. He is an industrial designer, gardener, inveterate gun nut, beer brewer, aviation enthusiast, and barbecuing expert. (Your basic 21st Century Renaissance Man.) And yes, he really does have a tendency to say: “Oh Maaaaan!”]

The Daily Reckoning On The Housing Bubble

The folks at The Daily Reckoning mentioned yesterday vis-a-vis the Housing Bubble: “…What a run it has been. The Center for Economic and Policy Research reports that the housing market added $5 trillion in ‘bubble wealth’ to the American economy, an amount equal to $70,000 for a family of four. That is the fraudulent money that has sustained Americans at a standard of living they cannot really afford. It is the source of the illusion that the U.S. economy is growing and healthy. It was psuedo-wealth, an asset that really didn’t exist. Too bad so many people spent it. “House Party, Finally Over?” asks the Financial Times. We don’t know the answer. Maybe it is over today. Maybe it will be over tomorrow. Our advice to readers: Don’t be the last ones to leave.”

Set aside a weekend afternoon to read Bill Bonner’s book “Financial Reckoning Day”, or if you are lousy cheapskate at least go through the archives at The Daily Reckoning web site. Their site has a wealth of information on general economics and the inevitable precious metals commentary. They have an excellent free daily e-mail newsletter.)

From The Memsahib Re: In Favor of Dairy Goats

Some of our readers have been very kind to add their input about goats. I appreciate your comments. First, The Goatlady recommends Nubian Goats to make goat butter:

“I have raised goats for many years and the cream does rise to the top just not in the quantities one gets from cow’s milk. The richer the milk the more cream hence the Nubian popularity as a diary goat. Nubians have the most butterfat in their milk for making butter. But more importantly, Nubian milk is the very best for making hard cheeses i.e. cheddar, swiss, etc. Very difficult to make hard cheese with other breeds of goat’s milk as so much is needed. I also have a friend who regularly makes goat butter and sells it locally. It can be done but, again, it depends of the breed of goat and quality of the milk.” You are absolutely correct in that goats are the perfect survival/homestead animal. They are sooo versatile and productive needing very little in the way of outside feed, if at all. The nice things about Nubians are their non-aggressive personality and the fact that they cross real well with the Boer meat goat and usually have twins at each kidding which give quick buildup of a herd and/or good trade products. The wethers (castrated males) of this cross are big chested and necked and train very well for packing (BOBs) and easily train to plow and cultivate and also are very capable of pulling carts and small wagons. Since they live for 18-20 years and the does are still producing milk all that time, it’s an excellent investment at any time. But it is a responsibility also. You need to milk twice a day just like cows although if you let the kids stay on the does you can skip one milking a day, but in a WTSHTF situation who is going anywhere, anyway!. -Goatlady

Next, ” Z” appreciates the smaller size and foraging ability of goats:

“Had a few thoughts on that myself. …You can feed them on ….plants that a cow wont eat. They’re smaller and easier to transport (and conceal). They’re smarter then a cow..and when it’s time to butcher, it’s a smaller job..and a smaller animal…so you don’t have to worry about where to put all the meat, how to store all the meat for your merry band of outlaws… just slaughter what you need, keep the rest on the hoof. …All this came to me when I was watching them eat brush along the side of the road one day. If the sheet hits the fan…. goats are my choice for a survival animal. Goats, the survivalist/militia man/guerilla fighter’s friend.” -“Z”

Letter Re: Recommendations on a 20 Gauge Shotgun?

Dear James:
I have been searching for a good quality 20 Gauge shotgun for home/retreat defense. I very much value your opinion and would like to know what make and model you would recommend. Also do you recommend a semi-auto or double barrel? What “extras” and accessories do you feel are the best? – Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR’s Reply:
In general, I much recommend a 12 gauge over a 20, unless you are very small-statured. 12 gauge shells are much easier to find (both now and post-TEOTWAWKI), and they pack more of a wallop on the receiving end. There are also a lot of exotic shoyshell loadings available (such as CS tear gas) that are only available for 12 gauge.

I prefer pump actions. I would recommend a Remington Model 870 pump action. They come with 26″ or 28″ “bird” length barrels standard from the factory. OBTW, the Memsahib has owned both the Rem. 870 and Rem. 1100, both 20 gauge. Both were the “youth” models with short stocks. (The Memsahib is 5’2″ and weighs just 95 pounds.) She prefers the semi-auto action of the 1100, but it is generally agreed that they have reliability problems. John Satterwaite (the exhibition shooter) was quoted by a mutual friend as saying that he has three Model 1100s–“One to shoot, one as a spare, and one in the shop for repairs.” The Model 870 pump action, by comparison, is bomb proof. So if you opt for an 1100, get a LOT of spare parts!

In terms of accessories, I recommend that you get:
An 18 inch or 20 inch “riot” length spare barrel, threaded for choke tubes.
A full set of “Rem choke” screw-in choke tubes (including an Extra Full Choke tube for shooting rabbits or perched birds at maximum range)
An Uncle Mikes’ brand shell holder (The type with a Velcro closure flap)
An extra long sling (I prefer the M60 padded slings)
Locking quick detachable (QD) sling swivels. (The Uncle Mikes’ brand works fine.)
Sling swivels. (TOP mount a QD stud on the stock, and side mount in the swivel in the front so that the shotgun won’t flip upside down when carrying it assault style)
Choate brand magazine extension tube. (The end of a 6 or 7 round tube will be parallel with the muzzle of your gun’s riot length barrel.)
Some voluminous pouches to carry spare shells for your basic combat load. (Shotshells are very bulky.)

Letter from The Army Aviator on Biological Warfare Defense

I’ve got this on all of my computers, and printed out (several copies). I picked up on it back in 1996. I figured it was easier to give you a URL as opposed to attaching a doc. I sent this down to Fort Sam Houston [home of the U.S. Army Medical Corps] and they said it was straight and accurate. See: http://www.uhuh.com/reports/harris/book.htm It’s from 1996 but it’s very good.- The Army Aviator

Letter from David In Israel on KI Thyroid Protection

After reading about your Chernobyl experience and fears I have two tips. First first aid kit or drinking water tabs are not safe to take as a substitute for proper thyroid blocking Potassium Iodide or Iodate. If you are stuck without the proper Iodide or Iodate there is research indicating that 8 ml of 2% iodine (iodine tincture, Betadine, etc) solution painted onto the forearm or abdomen two hours before exposure will be absorbed and give a blocking initial dose. DO NOT SWALLOW IODINE SINCE IT IS POISONOUS IF INGESTED. IT MUST ONLY BE APPLIED TO SKIN!!!

You can buy crystalline KI powder if you feel that buying iodide tablets is too expensive, but the solution must then be diluted, masked, or encapsulated as it is horribly bitter when eaten/drunk straight.

A person must have a way of measuring radiation, a proper Geiger counter is best, preferably one designed to measure high level radiation as most non civil defenseor military will only measure very low dose. The CD models are available cheap and often include a low dose counter, a high dose counter and 8 dosimeter pens with a dosimeter calibrator. I personally keep a Nukalert keychain scintillator counter (always on for 10 years) and a pocket dosimeter in my bag along with some KI. If you haven’t the funds for a Geiger counter a dosimeter can be made which will allow you to seek a lower radiation area. The page http://www.ki4u.com/free_book/s60p792.htm gives instructions based on a design in the children’s science book “Build It Yourself Science Laboratory” from 1963 by Raymond Barrett. This device is a hack job to be used by the unprepared in emergencies only, it doesn’t easily give you a real read on the radiation just that it is present but is better than no detector.

Protecting food from radionuclides is best accomplished through green housing and filtering water. Water filters are cheaply available now in the micron level, a heavy metals filter would impart more protection. Ground water will be one of your lowest concern for radionuclides though.

Greenhousing is cheap and easy if you are already used to gardening. It can make your garden output explode! UV resistant plastic sheet, mounted on heavy PVC pipe frame with several poles sunk into the ground for support make an excellent greenhouse. Lay perforated hose under the rows for growing and connect to a water source. Cover the ground with plastic to minimize weeds and water loss leaving small holes for the baby plants to grow through. As your vine type plants grow, hang rope for them to climb and help them twist around these ropes. You will massively increase your season, save water the Israeli way (we feed all of Europe from desert greenhouses) and protect your food from all kinds of contamination that drops from the air. Compost all your organic waste and save it for next year before you lay your new plastic sheet onto the ground.

JWR’s Comment: The Kearney Fallout Meter (see: Nuclear War Survival Skills–available for free download) is another “quick and dirty” design. However, keep in mind that any improvised fallout meter is a poor substitute for a proper dosimeter, rate meter, and Geiger counter commercially built to NRC specifications. Buy a set! Someday you’ll be glad that you did. Guru says: “Poor Prior Planning Produces Pitifully Poor Performance” (P7) OBTW, Nukalerts are available from ReadyMadeResources.com and several other Internet vendors.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

 “…nuclear warfare is not necessary to cause a breakdown of our society. You take a large city like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago– their water supply comes from hundreds of miles away . Any interruption of that, or food, or power for any period of time and you’re going to have riots in the streets. Our society is so fragile, so dependent on the interworking of things to provide us with goods and services, that you don’t need nuclear warfare to fragment us any more than the Romans did for their eventual downfall.” – Gene Roddenberry

Stock Up on Potassium Iodate–Pronto!

With the growing nuclear threats from China, North Korea, and assorted Muslim terrorist groups, it is important to get prepared for surviving radioactive fallout. At the minimum, I think that there is a very high likelihood that at least one sub-critical mass radioactive “dirty bomb” will be be set off within the continental U.S. sometime in the next 10 years. Near term worst case: One or more of them go off on September 11th. (Two weeks from now.) Plan accordingly. Study the prevailing wind patterns. Get a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills. (It is available for free download from the good folks at the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, so you have no excuse not to have a copy on your bookshelf!)

If you have a big budget build yourself a fully equipped blast shelter with HEPA filters. But even if you budget is austere, you should at least buy some potassium iodate (KI) tablets for thyroid protection. The thyroid gland is the most susceptible part of the human body to radiation. Thyroid damage or cancer can result even in a low level radiation event (such as what Western Europeans were exposed to when Chernobyl melted down in 1985). OBTW, I was TDY in West Germany at the time, and did not have KI available. I knew enough not to drink fresh milk, but I still felt very vulnerable.

Potassium iodate works by saturating the thyroid gland so that radioactive isotopes will not accumulate. (Thus minimizing thyroid damage.) Do not take KI until just after you have heard of a radioactive release upwind. Long term use of KI can actually cause thyroid damage! KI tablets are available from ReadyMadeResources.com and several other Internet vendors.

John & Abigail Adams on Survival Gardening

At times I hear from folks that are concerned about raising their own food during a WTSHTF situation. I have heard, it will be a tremendous amount of work, there will be no seed to put out, there will be no fertilizer to feed the plants, we’ll use up all the nutrients in the soil and will need to leave it lay fallow for a year and other concerns and worries.

If you don’t mind I’d like to address some of those issues. Abigail and I have been using our current garden since 1982. Over those 23 years we may have used a total of 200 lbs of commercial fertilizer on the garden. For instance last fall I worked in about 20 lbs of 12-12-12 before I broadcast the entire garden in wheat. Most years I do not use any commercial fertilizer at all but I thought it might help get the wheat off to a good start.

While we don’t use much commercial fertilizer we do give the garden a yearly addition of organic material. Either a couple of inches of manure or if that is not available at least 6” of leaves that we have raked from under the trees seems to do the job. This year we plowed down wheat planted in the fall to make “green manure.” All this organic material encourages and supports a nice colony of earthworms and night crawlers. These guests in turn work the organic material into the soil as they pass through, aerating the soil as they go on their merry way. As an example this year, our sweet corn is in excess of 9 feet tall, and many of the ears are 12 inches long. All this with a minimum of commercial fertilizer and never a fallow year.

Now on to the issue of finding seed. When I bought the seed wheat for our garden it came in a 50 pound bag. Half went on the garden the other half filled a sealed 5-gallon bucket. As this wheat was already covered with insecticide it should be viable for years. This fall I believe I’ll do the same but in either oats or spelt.

Another preparation that we make is to go to the different stores that sell garden seed and buy up the individual packages at 50% to 80% off. I then vacuum seal them, date and set them back for use “someday.” [JWR’s note: Store gardening seeds in your refrigerator. The germination rate will drop off with time, but old seed is better than no seed!] We live in a farming community and many of our close neighbors are grain farmers. I am sure that they would be willing to sell us either seed corn or ear corn that we could shell and plant. Now some will say that using a hybrid ear corn for seed is doomed to failure and will not produce. In my experience it may not produce as well as the original but it will indeed produce. So while we may not be able to run to the store to buy seed, there are ways to prepare or make do.

Heritage (or “Heirloom”/ open pollinated seeds) should be in everyone’s cupboard as these will produce the same plant, generation after generation, however we need to be remember that the hybrids were designed to either out produce, store better, be more insect or draught resistance or have more flavor than the original seed. My advice would be to use the hybrid seed the first generation, and then if you have open pollinated seeds plan to go 50-50 the next year. Just be certain to keep the different varieties separated so that the 2nd generation hybrids do not “pollute” the true bloods.

The point is… Go out and do it now, whatever it may be, while our failures are merely educational and our successes bring us satisfaction. Do not wait until the time has come that the difference between failure and success is a full tummy for your children and yourself.

Letter Re: Asian Avian Flu

Mr. Rawles-
Thanks for your comments on the avian flu. Just in case you missed it, there is a very interesting article in the Washington Post today about a renowned flu scientist and his thoughts on a possible pandemic. In his words, it is inevitable that one of these strains will mutate into humans and “blow up”. FYI, the current H5N1 strain has a 58% mortality rate in humans. Unfortunately registration with the Washington Post is required to view the article, but it is free.
– “Some Call Me Tim”