Note from JWR:

I’m still looking for more entries for the writing contest. The prize is a transferable four day course certificate, good for any course at Front Sight!

David in Israel on “Ant” Versus “Grasshopper” Survival Preparation Approaches

For years I have listened to survivalists of two sorts muse about the days after TEOTWAWKI. One is the “grasshopper” type, with a decked out M1A, full pack, and plans to live off of berries and venison. The “ant” on the other hand has saved up and purchased a nice cabin maybe a stock of fuel a nice 4×4 vehicle and some food storage, he likely even has a good solar or generator setup for power and light. Let’s fast forward five years… Now where are both of these people?

Grasshopper had a pack of food, a wad of cash and gold a mountain bike some camping gear, weighed himself down with a heavy rifle and lost same crossing a
river, but fortunately bugged far enough that he could find work as a migrant farm worker working for food and a place in the barn at night, he will likely not
find a better job and if wise will be happy he survived the worst. What he did avoid:
*Becoming a starving food rioter in town
*Dying in the woods when he realizes that the game is hunted out mid winter and the scurvy was kicking in
*Shot on sight for armed crossing of private or “Claimed” public lands
*Stripped of gear and turned out

What were grasshoppers plusses?
*Mobility even on plugged roads
*Mobility of mind–he is not tied [psychologically] to a location
*Can hop boxcars, cargo ships or a first class seat on a 747 and ride out to a better place

Ant lived happily off of stored food and solar electricity. Ant was a little older and stiff but the money he and wife saved by having one son who moved far away helped him afford a nice retreat. Sadly as the supplies dwindled they realized that their location while scenic was not irrigable out of their hand pump well and they had no knowledge or equipment
on how to rebuild the failed battery array to get the power back to a larger pump. Fortunately a young grasshopper fleeing agents of a new power in the adjoining country came seeking refuge after his first landlord was killed, and was able to pull a plough in exchange for a place to rest at night and a share in the crop.

What the ant did avoid:
*Raider/looters/masses of beggars
*Having the initial emergency be of the type that destroys his retreat
*Starvation after initial supplies ran out
*Stripped of home and gear, turned out

Ant’s Plusses
*Defined and recognized ownership of property
*Large stockpile of food and comforts
*No question where to go for refuge
*Coordination with neighbors and friends

Why such dark scenarios? I must point out that we are living at the pinnacle of human civilization. if we fall it is unlikely we will ever see a revival of the fine goods and selection we have now. The tents will wear out, the gadgets will get old and malfunction. You must be ready to run away possibly to the ends of the world to find a resting place. You must find a community with long reach that can help you if the move to safety is required. Realize the gear has a limited lifetime and value, be ready to dump your precious stuff for a better shot at life. (Yes this means dumping the battle rifle if it means a chance to stow away on a cargo ship to a peaceful region) Your retreat may not be the perfect place to survive,
if you must ditch it, don’t look back. Survival has much more to do with your trust in G-d and knowledge of survival than your special gear.

Consider the following improvised survival/travel kit:
*Shower liner – tent/tarp/rain gatherer/sleep-bag wrap
*Crisco and dryer hose lint – fire starter, candle/stove fuel,
*Cardboard – fuel, ground pad, wick for can stove
*Steel/aluminum cans – cookware, parts for liquid or solid fuel stoves and grilles
*New smoke detectors contain a 9VDC lithium cell which when paired with the right power LED can give months or years of short burst lighting (try using multiple LEDs in series to avoid burning them out)
*Any cheap bag or tote when put over the shoulder with a stick like a hobo is better than no pack at all
*Kitchen knives are better than no knife at all
*Disposable butane lighters are like gold
*Polar Fleece, wool, or Poly blankets can substitute for sleeping bag in a pinch.
*Water and pop bottles are valuable to keep you hydrated keep drinking water

The preceding list is to give you ideas and reassure you that while you may lose the best gear money can buy, at some point stuff is replaceable by other stuff. One location is also replaceable by another. If Arizona gets too dry go to Alaska, is Alaska too cold, sail for New Zealand, etc. Never relax and expect a retreat or pack of stuff to protect you, only G-d can do that, and there is no promise of survival to a nice 70-80 years of age anywhere in the Bible. Pack your mind with knowledge and don’t let your stuff stand in they way of your surviving.

Letter Re: Ballistic Protection of Building Materials

Mr Rawles,
I saw the letter you posted asking about the ballistic protection afforded by common building materials. I did some experimenting on this topic, testing the protection of concrete-filled blocks against a number of common calibers. You can see my findings here: and here:
Even 8 inches of concrete offers only temporary protection from rifle ammunition (though it’s quite good against pistol fire.) For info on other materials, you might direct folks to: – Ian

Letter Re: Retreat Potential for The Eastern States–Virginia

I am getting a real education on this Blog. Thank you. We all witnessed the breakdown of civilization during the aftermath of Katrina. I disagree with the possibility of Charlottesville or anywhere near Charlottesville being any sort of safe haven in a real emergency. I-64 Leads directly to Staunton, VA. We know here that we are essentially a target for millions of uncivilized terrified people. If the east coast of VA needed to evacuate, we know the Shenandoah Valley would be inundated. And Charlottesville stomped into the ground on the way. I also know that the Lord God is our first line of defense. He will take care of his own. But our responsibility is to prepare physically while in this physical body. Somehow our family has been moved to acquire the talents and education to cover most areas of life on earth. We have ended up with military, police, RN, hunter with extensive survival knowledge, engineer, legal, preacher, mechanic etc. All immediate family. Now we really do need a place of refuge. Somehow we in Staunton feel the need to establish a place. With all it’s pitfalls, we are looking into West VA. – A.J.E.

Letter Re: Asian Avian Flu

Dear Mr. Rawles:
I read A. Microbiologist’s comments today on Tamiflu becoming resistant to Avian Flu and I wanted to attach a link from disputing that contention:
Regards, – C.P.

JWR Replies: Thanks for sending that along. OBTW, I’ve had several e-mails from folks with rumored herbal remedies for influenza. Do any SurvivalBlog readers have any clinical data on any efficacious herbal remedies? I’m not looking for “I heard from a friend that…” Rather, I’m looking for concrete double blind test data

Letter Re: “Get Back Home Kit” Packing Suggestions

Hello Jim,
My work requires a fair number of road trips during the January to May time periods each year. Should the balloon go up while I am away from the homestead, I could be facing a 1,000 mile waltz to reach home and hearth. My first choice will be to use the vehicle and cut the distance as much as I can. If forced to travel on foot, I give myself every advantage, carrying the following supplies in the vehicle:

Waterproof, insulated, COMFORTABLE hunting boots
COMFORTABLE walking shoes
Extra socks
Insulated long underwear
Wool shirts
Gore-tex BDU pants, and hooded coat
Latex gloves

Winter sleeping bag and waterproof cover
Small tarps for ground cover and jiffy shelter
Parachute cord
Multi tool
Small flashlight (The Surelite Survival Lite from Cabela’s is a great choice)
Extra batteries
.22 rifle, pistol and ammo
Fire starter
Survival candles
Inflatable PFD for crossing rivers and streams
Waterproof bag
First aid kit
Mending tape
Insect repellent
Signal mirror
“Camping and Woodcraft” by Horace Kephart (Makes for good reading and full of survival tips.)
Highway maps for every state I will have to pass thru

Trav-L-Pure water purifier
Mess kit, utensils and cup
Collapsible water bottle
Dozen or so MRE main meal [entree] packages
Instant coffee
Hard candy

Most everything is packed inside zip lock bags and then placed inside the backpack. Weight is a big consideration, hence the small caliber firearms, tarps instead of tent, etc.

Given that my trips are generally to the same areas each year, I have placed a number of caches along anticipated routes home. These caches are nothing major. Just an ammo can with a couple pairs of socks, pouches of freeze dry food, coffee, matches, etc… Just items that would be morale boosters along the way. Being far from home in an emergency may be something I can’t avoid, but being out there unprepared would be inexcusable and perhaps fatal.

Keep the Faith, – Dutch in Wyoming

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.   We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology.  This is a prescription for disaster.   We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.” – Dr. Carl Sagan

Note from JWR:

I’ve had several responses to my request for comments on potential retreat locales in the eastern U.S. (See below.) Many Thanks, Folks!

Recommended Region: The Carson Valley (Douglas County, West-central Nevada)

This area occupies the most prosperous county in Nevada (this statistic is skewed by Lake Tahoe basin residents in the county), and is an agricultural valley (mostly beef ranching) generally surrounded by mountain ranges. Just south of Carson City (the state capitol, population 50,000) it offers ideal off-the-grid solar climate with ample Sierra snow melt feeding the Carson River and sustaining aquifers. The county building department is a relatively non-intrusive rubber stamp, and the public schools have significantly higher academic standards than the norm. Douglas County is among the most conservative in Nevada, with registered Republicans outnumbering Democrats two-to-one. Residents are happy with the healthy, growing economy, but are worried about the effects of growth on their way-of-life (the 2% annual growth rate is less than half that of Las Vegas.) Concentrate on small towns on or near the Carson River such as Minden, Gardnerville, and Genoa. (About one third of the county’s 42,000 residents live in these towns.) Note, however, the desirability of these towns has driven up real estate prices steeply, and acreage becomes only somewhat affordable at a significant distance from town. Adjacent counties farther from Reno and Lake Tahoe (such as the Yerington area) may offer more attractive values.
Statistics (for Minden):
Average high temperature in August: 90.9
Average low temperature in January: 16.7
Growing season: 125 days.
Average snowfall in January: 5.8”
County Median residential home price: $134,275 (and rising fast!)
County Average Annual Property tax (% of assessed value): 0.74% to 1.08%, depending on district.
Advantages: More plentiful water than elsewhere in Nevada. Sunny climate for solar heat and power. Plenty of firewood compared to most of Nevada. More agriculture than elsewhere in Nevada, especially beef ranching.
Disadvantages: Downwind from nuclear targets in California. High-priced real estate. Like Wyoming, it may be ideal only for high-income earners attracted by the lack of income tax, who can afford extra preparedness costs (and the expensive real estate.) Continental climate. Proximity to California, although the Sierra Nevada range presents a formidable, defensible boundary. (Rumor has it that 50 years ago, Nevada’s civil defense plans included defending the mountain passes against post-nuclear California refugees.)

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 5 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 7 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 7 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Flexible (Amorphous) PV Panels

I just heard that Global Solar flexible amorphous photovoltaic (PV) power panels (See: are now available through Ready Made Resources. Amorphous PV panels are superior to he monocrystaline for many applications. Their greatest advantage is that they allow “graceful degradation.” A bullet hole through a monocrystaline panel usually means that it is history. A comparable hole through an amorphous panel (depending on how its individual cells are wired) usually means just a 5% loss in power. Be advised, however, that monocrystaline panels have an almost indefinite useful life, whereas amorphous panels lose some of their efficiency over time.

Letter Re: Tritium Sights and Night Vision Devices

What are your thoughts regarding tritium nights sights giving away your position to someone using Gen III or better night vision? – Gung-Ho

JWR Replies: Thanks, Gungie, you raised an important point! Even first generation starlight (electronic light amplification) devices can detect the illumination of tritium sights. For someone looking at you through a starlight scope or NVGs, if you are holding a pistol in your hands that is equipped with fresh tritium sights, then it will give the same visual impression as if you had a penlight shining in your face. If holstered, this usually isn’t an issue, depending on the holster design. (This is one reason I like the versatile Bianchi UM-84 holster.When I carry a handgun as a backup to a long gun, I use the Bianchi with the full flap installed. This completely covers the rear sight. When out berry picking in bear country, I remove the flap and use just the “thumb break” retention strap.) For rifles, a tritium front sight post can be quickly shrouded to almost “zero out” its light signature–typically with a short length of black plastic house wiring insulation. I prefer this method because the front sight is still usable–albeit degraded–in a pinch.

Letter from Dr. Sidney Zweibel Re: Recommended Ammunition?

Dear Jim:
Congratulations on your blog’s tremendous success! I will continue to pray to Yahweh for your continued blessings. I have a few questions on the weapons topic that I would appreciate your learned response on.

1.) I certainly understand your opinion on the .223 round, but for those of us that currently possess weapons chambered in .223 what type and load of .223 would you recommend? Are you familiar with the Hornady 60 gr. Spitzer cartridge?

2.) What manufacturers and types of rounds do you recommend for the .45 ACP? Are you familiar with the Hornady FMJ flat-point?

3.) Do you recommend any soft point or hollow points for .223 or .45ACP?

4.) I am storing some rifles for barter and trade; do you suggest a silicon sock for fire prevention?

5.) What types and models of scopes do you suggest?

As always thank you for your excellent insights. B’shem Yahshua Moshiach, -Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR Replies:
1.) I do not generally recommend .223 hollow-points because most of them are designed with thin jackets for instant expansion. That makes them very well-suited to prairie dog hunting, but not for hunting two-legged varmints! Buy hollow points only if they have thick jackets. I have not tested the Hornady 60 grain Spitzer, so I cannot make an informed judgment about it. My recommended “group standard” load for 5.56mm is the NATO SS-109 62 grain FMJ load. However, keep in mind that it takes a tight rifling twist to properly stabilize bullets heavier than 55 grains. ( 1 turn in7″ or a 1-in-9″ twist.) Many of the early AR-15s and Mini-14s have long rifling twists (typically 1-in-12″) and hence they are only suitable for 55 grain projos.

2.) The CCI “Lawman” .45 ACP 200 grain hollow point is excellent and quite favorably priced. My buddy Fred The Valmet-meister refers to them as “the flying ashtrays ” because of their cavernous hollow points. They expand very reliably. The Winchester Silvertip and Golden Saber, and the Federal Hydrashok are also excellent .45 ACP loads. One key proviso: be sure to test fire several boxes of any potential new load to confirm both accuracy and reliable feeding. DO NOT buy in quantity until you find a load that functions smoothly, with ZERO failures to feed or failure to eject. I would much rather carry a pistol loaded with ammo with an inferior bullet design (even full metal jacket “ball“) that feeds 100% then I would with some “awesome expander” than only feeds 98% of the time. It is the 2% of rounds that jam that may get you killed!

The Hornady FMJ flat-point feeds just as well as round-nosed 230 grain ball in my M1911s.

3.) Again, I do NOT recommend .223 hollow-points. (See #1, above.) For .45 ACP, see #2, above.

4.) Silicon-treated “socks” or “sleeves” work well, assuming that a gun is properly cleaned and well-oiled. Storing guns in most other types of gun cases is sure way to induce rust. However, depending on the humidity of your climate, you may have to take more elaborate protective measures. Install a Golden Rod brand dehumidifier in each gun storage space. You will of course also want to also protect all of your guns from burglars. I recommend buying a large gun vault (or vaults), bolting them to the floor, and preferably hiding them behind false walls. That will deter all but a master criminal.

5.) I prefer tritium lit scopes. For 5.56mm semi-autos, I like the Trijicon TA-01-NSN. For .308s semi-auto MBRs, I prefer the Trijicon TA-11E with a .308 cam and either the “donut of death” or the chevron reticle. (Try each type before you buy.)

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"We loved a great many things–birds and trees and books and all things beautiful and horses and rifles and children and hard work and the joy of life." —Theodore Roosevelt