#1 Son’s Review–Leatherman Super Tool 200

This is one one the latest of the well-known Leatherman line of multipurpose folding tools. Think of it as a Leatherman on steroids. This model includes:

  • 2.5″ knife
  • File
  • 2.5″ serrated knife
  • 2.5″ saw
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Can opener
  • 3 sizes of standard screwdrivers
  • Awl
  • Pliers (heavy duty semi-needle nose with two types of gripping surfaces)
  • Wire cutters
  • Lanyard ring
  • 9″ standard and metric ruler

The sheath is stiff black-dyed leather with a metal snap closure. It slides onto a normal belt fairly easily and fits the knife well.

One of the best features of the Super Tool 200 is the locking blades. If any tool is rotated completely out it locks in position and will not flip back to a closed position until the lock release tab is pulled back. This makes it take a little longer to close, but it is worth keeping your fingers. The Super Tool measures 0.75″ x 1.25″ x 4.5″ and weighs a whopping 9 ounces–nearly twice as much as the original Leatherman Tool. This is one of the few detractors, but the weight is to be expected from such a sturdy and versatile tool. Now that I am used to carrying, it I can run and hike without losing my balance. 😉

Unless you do not like carrying a large or relatively heavy knife in a belt pouch, I think the Leatherman Super Tool 200 would be a good choice.This model is available from Ready Made Resources and several other vendors.

Archives of JWR Radio Interviews on Pandemic Preparedness Available

For two successive weekends, I was interviewed by Dr. Geri Guidetti of The Ark Institute on her shortwave/webcast radio show. The topic of both of these two hour interviews was family preparedness for a potential influenza pandemic. These interviews are available for free download from Republic Radio in a variety of audio streaming formats at: http://mp3.rbnlive.com/Geri05.html

Letter Re: James K.’s Survival on a Budget Letter

Hi Jim,
I enjoy the blog very much! I have your advertisers in mind when looking to purchase. I read your answer about the Remington 7400/7600 models, what is your opinion of the 7600 Police model with the heavy barrel? Thank You, – Frank

JWR Replies: A heavy barrel 7600 would be slightly better, but they still are not made to military specifications.You can expect slightly better accuracy–since the barrel has more thermal mass–but the same functioning/chambering problems will be encountered during extended strings of rapid fire. Consider that for about the same price as a new Model 7600 Police, you can buy a slightly used FAL clone or L1A1 clone which will be just about unstoppable. See the FALs and L1A1s for sale at the FAL Files (Marketplace Forum) or at GunsAmerica.com.

What’s The “Big Deal” About Pre-1899 Guns?

I often have people ask me why I place an emphasis on pre-1899 firearms. Some go so far as to ask “What’s the big deal about the privacy of pre-1899 antiques when I can still buy modern guns from newspaper ads with no paper trail?” My reply is that it is a big deal. Think this through, folks. No FFL is required to buy or sell antique guns across state lines. They are in the same legal category as a muzzle-loading replica. This is the last bastion of gun ownership and transfer privacy. Although your state and local laws may vary, any firearm with a frame or receiver that was actually made before Jan. 1, 1899 is legally “antique” and not considered a “firearm” under Federal law. That puts it entirely outside of Federal jurisdiction. Note that this refers to the actual date of manufacture of the receiver/frame, not just model year or patent date marked. (For example, only low serial number Winchester Model 1894 lever actions are actually antique.) 

Unlike “Curio and Relic” category modern guns, sporterizing, re-barreling, or re-chambering an antique gun does not change its legal status. Thus, you can buy pre-1899 Mauser sporters that have been converted to modern cartridges like .308 Winchester without having to go through the “FFL to FFL” hassle. (I have a BATF letter confirming this, that I send upon request. Just send me a SASE with “ATF Letter” written inside the flap if you’d like a free copy.) If you currently live in a state that has unregulated private party sales of used guns, then that is great. But don’t expect that situation to last forever. Likewise, don’t expect that we will never see the day when there is universal firearms registration in this country. That could happen. If and when it does occur, what will you do then? If you don’t want to register your guns you will most likely end up greasing and burying them in watertight containers like they’ve done in Canada and down in Oz. Think further ahead: What will you then have available to use on a day to day basis for target practice, hunting, or self-defense? The answer: Pre-1899 guns. They have not been considered “firearms” since passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968.(The 1898 threshold was set with that legislation.) In the eyes of legislators, they are a insignificant “non-issue.” Because they are so uncommon and because there are fewer of them with each passing year, they will presumably be exempt if we ever have to face nationwide gun registration.

Pre-1899 production guns now bring a 30% to 200% premium over identical condition guns that were made after 1898.  For example, in 2002, I sold a 1898-dated M1896 Swedish Mauser rifle  that was dated 1898 on an AuctionArms.com on-line auction for $770!  Based on market trends, I expect the pre-1899 premium to increase considerably in the next few years. (Perhaps even tripling or quadrupling in value if modern (post-1898) guns become subject to registration or additional transfer controls.) Many SurvivalBlog readers are commenting that they previously had no interest in “antique” guns, but they now want at least one because they are concerned about additional gun laws. For the time being at least, pre-1899 are completely EXEMPT from all federal laws.  Again, this would presumably mean that they would be exempt if there is ever nationwide gun registration.

I am regularly asked what I would consider a “basic battery” of pre-1899 guns for a typical shooter that wants to diversify and “hedge his bets” by buying some pre-1899s for his family. Here is what I’d recommend buying :

  • Two big bore S&W top break double action revolvers (.44-40 or .44 Russian, but get both in the same caliber.)
  • One Winchester Model 1897 in 12 gauge
  • One pre-1899 .22 Long Rifle.  (Winchester Model 1890 pump or Winchester Low Wall single shot rifles are ideal.)
  • Two Model 1893, 94, 95, or 96 Mauser bolt action rifles. (6.5 x 55, 7×57, or 8×57, but get both in the same caliber.) Buy a sporter unless you are a purist about originality or the ability to “fix bayonets!”

If you have a big budget, you should also consider investing in few additional pre-1899 Colts and Winchesters that are chambered for commonly available factory made ammunition.

And what about someone who is on a very tight budget?  I’d recommend a Spanish or Chilean Model 1893 or 1895 Mauser (7 x57), or a Turkish Model 1893 Mauser (8 x57.)  Both can be had for under $250 in original condition, or often for under $150 if sporterized. Most Iver Johnson .38 S&W top break revolvers are also still a relative bargain at $100 to $250 each.
Due to their scarcity and desirability, the rate of increase in the value of shootable cartridge pre-1899 guns is likely to accelerate.  Here are some examples: In 1997, .44-40 S&W double action top break revolvers were selling for $400 to $800.  They now sell for $900 to $2,000.   In 1997, .38 S&W double action top break revolvers were selling for $50 to $150.  They now sell for $200 to $800. In 1997, .44-40 Merwin Hulbert revolvers were selling for $300 to $1000.  They now sell for $900 to $4,000. Meanwhile, many pre-1899 Colt revolvers have been bid up to unaffordable–almost astronomical–prices. 

After  Nov. 30, 1998 the permanent Brady Law rules went into effect. On that date all sales of post-1898 guns–both long guns and handguns–came under the federal control of “national instant background checks.” Subsequently there has been a much  bigger interest in guns that are Federally exempt and that can be bought via anonymous mail order or at gun shows with no “paper trail”!

For more details on pre-1899 guns, including an extensive list of serial number “breaks” (for determining which guns are pre-1899 and which are not) read my Pre-1899 Cartridge Guns FAQ

Quality pre-1899 guns are available from a number of reputable dealers including The Pre-1899 Specialist, Empire Arms, and The Arm Chair Gun Show (Jim Supica.)

Letter Re: James K.’s Survival on a Budget Letter

While shotguns are great (my preference is a Mossberg 590 with bayonet lug), a rifle chambered for a centerfire cartridge is essential. Whether its something like a Ruger Mini-14 or 30 or a bolt action hunting rifle in .30-06 or .308. There’s good reason why a used M1A is over $1,000, but you could get a ‘Poor Man’s M1A’, a used Remington 7400 in 30-06 or 308 and a bunch of the aftermarket 10 rd mags. Remington even has a shorter model 7400 or 740 that’s marked Carbine on the receiver. – Dave F. , People’s Republic of N.Y.

JWR Replies: I agree that a.30 caliber centerfire a rifle is essential, both for hunting and self defense. Keep in mind, however, that civilian hunting semi-autos and pumps are not designed to withstand the sustained high rate of fire that might occur in a full scale post-TEOTWAWKI firefight. Their internal tolerances are so precisely machined that they are likely to bind up when the action gets hot. Also be aware that they are more tightly chambered than military arms.(Which have intentionally loose dimensions.) You cannot depend on something like a Remington 760 or 7600 to keep shooting reliably after 200 rounds of rapid fire. Nor can you expect them to keep shooting reliably with muddy or gritty cartridges. (As a test, with a Remington 740 or 760 series, try chambering some cartridges that have had their necks smeared with toothpaste. (DO NOT attempt to fire the rifle in this condition–this is only to demonstrate chambering limitations!) Now try the same with a FAL, HK, CETME, or M1A. Odds are that the bolt on the Remington will not go fully forward, whereas the bolt on a military arm usually will. A civilian pump action or semi-auto hunting rifle might suffice in a pinch, but not in an extended firefight! Plan your battery accordingly.

Two Letter Re: “Trade Dollars” a.k.a. One Ounce Silver Rounds

I just purchased ten Canadian silver dollars. The ones I bought were from 1990. They contain 1 ounce of 99.99 silver.They cost me $11 each including shipping. I bought them for making colloidal silver in bad times. They are the purest silver coins I have seen yet. – C.R.Z.

Mr. Rawles:
What do you think of silver “rounds.” That is, those ounces of silver sized like a silver dollar, but not minted as a negotiable coin of the realm. They may commemorate Christmas of a certain year or have some other decorative design. Many times these can be found significantly lower in price than a standard silver dollar with the same silver content. I much prefer an official silver dollar, but would like to hear your thoughts. – C.G., Morganton, N.C.

JWR Replies: Silver “rounds” (or “trade dollars”) that are .999 fine (99.9% pure silver) do indeed have their place in survival planning. Colloidal silver generation is definitely one of these uses. Just be sure to rub them down thoroughly with alcohol to clean them and dry them before use with a colloidal silver generator. As for barter, however, I believe that pre-1965 mint date “junk” silver will be much more recognizable and trusted by the average gent on the other side of the barter table. If you bring out silver rounds to trade, then the topics of authenticity and assay are sure to come up. The first question will be: “How do I know those are real?” In contrast, pre-’65 silver coins will probably be accepted without hesitation. The only point of disagreement about their barter value may be if the coins are heavily worn–and that is a minor hurdle compared to basic recognition of authenticity. So I recommend that all of your designated “barter” silver be pre-1965 dimes, quarters, half dollars or silver dollars.

Above and beyond your purchase of barter silver coins, if you want some “time machine” silver to maintain the value your nest egg from one side of a financial crisis to another, then it should be in the form of the least expensive silver bullion on the market. The lowest premiums (per ounce) are found on 100 ounce bullion bars. (BTW, they make great “ballast” to help keep a burglar from hauling off your gun vault.) The Engelhard, Johnson-Matthey, and Sunshine Minting brands are the most well-known makers for eventual resale. But in essence, silver bullion is silver bullion. Regardless of the maker’s name, just be sure that you buy serialized bars so that you will be less likely to pay assay fees when you re-sell. If, however, you have the option to pick from different types all at the same price, then buy the later Engelhard bars in the “flag” logo hard plastic wrappers, with no tarnish. Those seem to have the greatest resale appeal.

Due to the minting cost, one ounce rounds carry a higher premium per ounce. At times, however, you can buy them for close to the day’s spot price. Ask around at coin shows if any of the dealers have any “beater” or badly tarnished Christmas or commemorative rounds. You should be able to get those for just a few pennies over spot, especially in today’s rising market. The highest premium for silver is on the nationally minted one ounce rounds (such as the silver U.S. Eagle, the silver Canadian Maple Leaf, and the silver Aussie Kookaburra.) As of this writing, those currently sell for $9 to $15 each, which is far above the spot price of silver.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“..the simple truth — born of experience — is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people.The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.”- Federal Court of Appeals Judge Kozinski (an immigrant from Eastern Europe), as recently quoted by John Stossel

From The Memsahib: Countryside and Small Stock Journal

Another issue of my very favorite magazine just arrived and I wanted to tell you all about it. It is “The magazine of modern homesteading”: Countryside and Small Stock Journal. Unlike most magazines out there, C&SSJ has a very low ad to content ratio. It doesn’t waste page space with lots of pretty photos or other fluff like the other “country” magazines. And it is written by the subscribers. C&SSJ is 130 pages full of practical information! The Nov/Dec.2005 issue contains full length articles about purchasing and using a masonry stove, how to build a “cut back” thermostat to reduce energy use, and several other alternative energy articles. Each issue features a question of the month, this issues question was “How to start a home business on the homestead” There were thirteen thoughtful replies to the question from readers who had done just that. Not only were there a number of innovative home-based business ideas, but the writers pointed out the benefits and costs of their particular businesses as well as their successes and failures. Each issue of C&SSJ has a number of how to articles. This issue features how to build a smokehouse, make soap, make a boot scraper, how to repair a hose, and build an egg incubator from an old cooler. Each issue also features regular departments The Garden, The Country Kitchen, The Henhouse, The Livestock Barn, which always contain great ideas and timely tips from readers. This issue had articles about seed companies, turnips, recipes for pumpkins,salsas, relish, wheat berries, and sourdough starter, just to highlight a few! I think C&SSJ is a good value because there is so much content crammed into each issue. The fact that C&SSJ is reader-written is another reason why I prefer Countryside and Small Stock Journal to all other “country” magazines. The articles are written by people actually living on homesteads who tell it like it is. C&SSJ writers don’t sugar coat their experiences. They don’t edit out the parts about the obnoxious neighbors, the predators that killed half their chicken flock, or the prized dairy goat that died of bloat. You get the unvarnished truth about country life. How refreshing!
The newsstand price of C&SSJ is $3.95. $18 for a year subscription. Subscriptions: Countryside Subscriptions, P.O. Box 3190, Van Nuys, Calif. 91407
Their toll free # is: 800-551-5691 Subscription website:: http://www.countrysidemag.com

Letter Re: Buying Rural Timberland

Here is a letter that I was going to write to a guy in response to an inquiry on what timberland was running for here in northern Idaho. It might be of interest to the blog readers.

In the northwest, when looking for a retreat most of us are looking for timbered property. We imagine tall big trees with a house settled down in the hallow or located in some vantage point and defensible. I have given a lot of thought to the idea that if I had the assets what would I be looking for in timberland, best bang for my buck so to speak. A stand of mature timber comes with some advantages and many disadvantages. Large timber on property allows good thermal cover and a good screen from a distance. It can pose some fire danger and in fierce winds it does not matter if the stand is dense or not–it can be very intimidating. With merchantable timber you will pay for the timber on the property. If the prior owner logs it, he logs it to his prescribed cut (i.e. taking what he wants, not what you would like to be there.) The end results being something other than the vision you had for your retreat. Once logged, large trees further become risks as they are now susceptible to wind throw, unless, the tree has been open grown for awhile so that wind firmness applies. The advantages of buying property without merchantable timber outweighs the disadvantages in my mind. You do not pay for a cruise to determine standing volume and thus pay the owner for that capital on the stump.The best case is the property was logged a while ago, allowing time to catch up and the regenerated seedlings to grow and the slash to decompose.

The ideal: Something that was logged 15-to-20 years ago. Hopefully, it would have been burned and planted. Ideally, trees that are 3-to-4 inches in diameter at 4.5 feet [from the ground], anywhere from 16-to-30 feet tall, with good healthy crowns occupying 40% or more of the bole. These trees would be in prime growing condition, if spaced properly, and could soon be usable. (“Soon” being in another 10-15 years.) This scenario, unfortunately for the retreat hunter, would be a rare case indeed. Most stands for sale are left with the poorest specimens of the trees that existed prior to harvest. These are left as seed trees. Usually, the lowest value species are also left. So, you end up with land full of slash, often choked with trees that are of poor genetics, and often not the best species to have growing on your land. What you have then is a lot of work in clean up.

Whatever area you happen to be looking in, it is always wise to become familiar with what tree species are present, where they grow best, etc. It can tell you a lot about the site. An example: In my area of northern Idaho, lodgepole and spruce with an absence of Red Cedar means you are in a pretty cold area. You should also be aware that certain species are susceptible to pests and diseases that can soon wipe out all your cover and future firewood. In the lowlands, with sedimentary soils, grand fir, here in northern Idaho will become infected with root rot and beetle attacks fairly easily and you will soon have a stand of gray snags before you know it.

Questions to Ask: Ask the local forest professionals. My recommendation would be to ask foresters with some of the larger private forest industries. These are individuals who have to deal with many different species across many different land types. They also know the best most cost effective way to handle forest pathology. They are normally more than willing to take a little time to talk to you. They are usually delighted somebody from the public would even ask their opinion. Personally, I would not advise asking the local forest service. These are folks who have developed into experts with appeasing irate environmentalists and dealing with bureaucratic paperwork—not practical forest solutions.

As for the money: A good rule of thumb for bare timberland (treeless) value, that timber companies would be interested in, is approximately $500 an acre. However, this is often bare land that is very remote with little or no access. Value, obviously, increases the closer to a paved or county road the property lies. Timberland assessors look at distance from mills, stocking (amount of the ground that is occupied by timber), species that the ground is stocked with (i.e. red cedar versus ponderosa pine, grand fir, or douglas fir), the age of the stand, and the amount of net saw (the amount of wood that is not defective or rotten.) Available timbered property that borders good drivable roads is in high demand in many areas of northern Idaho. Prices are being driven up almost unreasonably.

To find out how much your timber is worth, the easiest thing to do is hire a timber cruising firm to perform a cruise on the land. That service could run you a bare minimum of $400 for a small parcel or 20 dollars a plot with fees for calculations and office work, ( Just a note: $20 a plot is low end, and $35 would be along the lines of a premium service) with 1 plot per acre being a fairly intensive cruise for large parcels, but reasonable for medium to small parcels, or one plot for every 3-5 acres if the land is large and has a fairly uniform timber type.[JWR Adds: If the property is more than 60 acres and the stand of timber is fairly uniform, then I recommend that you just ask for a “strip” cruise. This type of cruise only evaluates zebra stripes from the parcel, and the cruise report then extrapolates the total board footage. A strip cruise will still give you a good approximation of the value of the timber yet will cost a lot less money than a detailed cruise of the entire parcel.]

Lastly, if you are interested in managing your own forest land I would suggest a few more rules of thumb. #1) Timber always grows best when the canopy of one tree is not touching the canopy of another (i.e. closed canopy.) So, give them some space and room to grow. #2) All your Bambis, bear, and elk like open area’s for feed with places of cover to run through and hide in–that is to say diversity, make sure they’ve got a little of everything so that it’s inviting to them. And diversity does not mean to always leave the biggest trees. Biggest isn’t always best. #3) Plan your open areas so that they are areas where you have good vantage and cover for yourself, for home defense, as well as the opportune hunting. May Christ Lift You Up – Eric in Northern Idaho

Letter Re: Source for Sambucol

Hello Jim,
While I am relatively new to the path of self-reliance, I have enjoyed related hobbies all my life, and I must commend you on a stunning website. I have never found a place to have such diverse information so organized and diligently explained. A day does not go by that I do not visit to read your daily posts and often look back and re-read the archives which I glean even more data from.
I am writing because I found that Amazon.com has Sambucol for sale from third-party vendors cheaper than those very same vendors have posted on their web sites. The bottles of the large 7.8 fluid ounce of Sambucol Original from Web Vitamins priced at $13.59 on Amazon.com whilst on their website they are priced at $15.99. After picking up three bottles I have provided the direct link to the product below:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0001C0E9O/103-6709263-0263035?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance — I hope this can be of use to those stocking up on Black Elderberry essence. I know I’ll be planting some elderberry bushes in my garden come winter’s thaw! Thanks again and keep up the great work!
– “Dancing Barefoot”

Letter Re: Silver and Barter

Mr. Rawles:
Okay, say TEOTWAWKI happens. You have some silver coins and want to buy something. How does the person you buy whatever from know what it is actually worth since it is constantly changing. If you buy something for $2.00 do you hand the person 20 silver dimes? Or does the shop owner have to find out what silver is worth that day and weigh what you hand him. Also I’ve read the government is going to confiscate all gold including collectors old gold. I live in Minnesota west of the Mississippi about 50 miles on a lowly 10 acres surrounded by corn and soybeans. – Sherry in Minnesota

JWR Replies: WTSHTF, the spot price of silver will likely zoom up to $50+ per ounce before the formal markets disappear. If the Internet is up and/or newspapers are still published, the daily spot price of silver will be widely known. But even in a total collapse (grid down, and Internet down) everyone will at least know that silver is “valuable.” But that is that is when will get interesting , because fixing a real world price in barter terms will be subject to negotiation. I believe that a general consensus of “X times face value” will soon develop. There will be no scales and very little calculation required. Read the “For and Ounce of Gold” (Barter Faire description) chapter in my novel “Patriots” for some examples. As previously stated, I strongly recommend that you get your beans, bullets and band-aids squared away before investing in any silver for barter. I predict that common caliber ammunition (“ballistic wampum” in Jeff Cooper’s parlance) will be the preferred barter currency in the immediate post-collapse period. It will only be later, as order is gradually restored, that an interest in precious metals will revive.

Parenthetically, a curious phenomenon has been noted by travelers in the jungles of South America that have visited remote villages where gold is mined. There, they have negotiated buying raw gold nuggets and gold dust. Even though there was not a radio in the village, the local villagers could quote the current spot price of gold to within a few dollars per ounce. Markets are sophisticated, even in unsophisticated places. News gets around with surprising regularity, even just by word of mouth on jungle trails and rivers. As Bill Bonner of The Daily Reckoning so aptly puts it; “Mr. Market is never fooled.” The classic economists refer to this as “The Invisible Hand” effect.

As for you point about gold confiscation: Gold has been confiscated once before in this country. (During the Depression of the 1930s, by the socialistic FDR administration.) That could happen again, in turbulent times. For this reason, I recommend that if you have the space available–in the bottom of your gun vault or perhaps behind a false wall –that you invest far more in silver than in gold. (As it is less likely to be subject to a confiscation decree. Being in smaller dollar increments per coin, silver coins are also more readily divisible for barter.) After you’ve bought your “junk” silver for barter if you decide buy any gold, I recommend that you do so without a paper trail.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“I believe that liberty is the only genuinely valuable thing that men have invented, at least in the field of government, in a thousand years. I believe that it is better to be free than to be not free, even when the former is dangerous and the latter safe. I believe that the finest qualities of man can flourish only in free air – that progress made under the shadow of the policeman’s club is false progress, and of no permanent value. I believe that any man who takes the liberty of another into his keeping is bound to become a tyrant, and that any man who yields up his liberty, in however slight the measure, is bound to become a slave.” – H. L. Mencken