Letter Re: .40 S&W to 9mm Conversion Barrel for a Glock Model 23?

Mr. Rawles,
I read somewhere that there was a .40 S&W to 9mm conversion barrel for a Model 23 Glock. This would not only save me the cost of another pistol, but would give me more versatility with a pistol I am familiar and comfortable with. I assume the barrel would have to be slightly thicker in overall diameter than a standard Glock 9mm barrel to fit a 23 slide. I have been unable to find this conversion barrel. Do you know anything about it? (I realize that a 9mm magazine must also be used.) Thanks for a great web site. – C.G. in N.C.

JWR Replies: As I recall, to convert a Glock Model 23 .40 S&W to 9mm (in effect turning it into a Model 19) requires a M19 conversion barrel, a M19 slide, and even a different ejector. Magazines are not an issue. According to SurvivalBlog reader C.T., a M23 (.40 S&W) magazine will reliably feed 9mm cartridges just fine, without modification.  (Although the baseplate markings might be confusing, in the heat of battle.) Perhaps one of the SurvivalBlog readers that is a Glock aficionado can e-mail me the details on conversion barrels, and I will post them. In the interim, you might nose around a bit at my favorite Glock site: Scott Greenbaum’s Glock FAQ page:  http://www.glockfaq.com/guide.htm

Two Letters Re: More Web Resources on CONEXes

See these sites:
http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/01/shipping_contai.php (Site with some info on how containers can be used for living.)
and, http://www.containerhouse.com/ (Site with interesting pictures of container conversions, including door systems.) Regards, – B.A.

You might be interested in this site about CONEX containers: http://www.undergroundcontainer.com/  Keep up the good work! – J.F.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“At the end of the 17th century, Marshal Vauban, a French military engineer, developed modern fortification to its pinnacle, refining siege warfare without fundamentally altering it: ditches would be dug; walls would be protected by glacis; and bastions would enfilade an attacker. He was also a master of planning sieges themselves. Before Vauban, sieges had been somewhat slapdash operations. Vauban refined besieging to a science with a methodical process that, if uninterrupted, would break even the strongest fortifications. Examples of Vauban-style fortresses in North America include Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, Fort Ticonderoga in New York State, and La Citadelle in Quebec City.”  – From The Wikipedia entry on “Siege”

Note from JWR:

Because of the unenthusiastic response, I’ve decided to discontinue our experiment at running classified ads on SurvivalBlog.  🙁    But of course our very successful display (scrolling banner) ads are still available.)

Oil and Lubricant Storage in Retreat Planning

Several of the recent letters on barter and charity items mentioned motor oil and chain saw fuel mixing oil.  That reminded me about a subject that I’ve meant to address on the blog: key considerations of oil and lubricant storage.  It is important to think through all of your oil and lubricant needs–everything from motor oil and transmission fluid to firearms lube. Figure out what you use in a three year period, and stock up.  Then anticipate what you might need for barter and charity, and stock up even more. Because most families do not store any substantial quantity of oils and lubricants, they will make an ideal barter item in a long term Crunch.

Safe storage for your oil and lubricants is essential. I recommend that you build a separate, dedicated, locking steel storage shed to store all of your flammables. Think in terms of a stubby CONEX that is well-removed from your other retreat buildings. Aside for a very small supply for day-to-day use, nearly all of your flammables should be stored in the outside shed:  kerosene, fuel canisters (propane, stove fuel, et cetera), lighter fluid, gas cans, paint cans, bore cleaner, various automotive/tractor fluids, paint thinner, chemical degreasers, decontamination fluids, and oils of all descriptions. If you store any powder, primers, or blasting caps, or fuse in this same shed, it is important that you store them inside separate ammo cans with tight-fitting rubber seals. Otherwise, the lubricant vapors will deaden them.

For your long term “TEOTWAWKI” oil storage, I recommend that you store at least a few cases of non-detergent motor oil.  This is because detergent motor oils only store well for a couple of years.  In contrast, non-detergent motor oil store almost indefinitely. Look carefully at the label before you buy. (These days, even most inexpensive brands of motor oil contain detergents.)

For firearms lubrication, I generally prefer the Break Free CLP brand.  In a post-TEOTWAWKI environment, your guns will be your constant companions in all sorts of weather. So it is important to store gun cleaning and lubrication supplies in quantity

Important Side Note: If you live in a region with cold winters, then you will also want to store special low temperature dry film lubes such as Dri-Slide, BP-2000, or Moly-coat (molybdenum disulfide) for your firearms. Otherwise, you might have a gun literally freeze up on you. As American G.I.s in Korea found more than a half century ago, this can be more than just embarrassing when someone is shooting at you!  If the temperature drops below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, you should scrupulously de-lubricate your battle rifles (with a degreaser such as Chem Tool) and re-lubricate them with a dry film lubricant. Repeat this process whenever a weapon gets wet. (Keep in mind that rapid temperature differences will cause a rifle to “sweat”. You should probably plan to do things Alaska style and leave your rifles out in your chilly mud/coat room rather than bringing them into heated rooms. When standing LP/OP duty or patrolling, cycle your rifle’s action several times during the night to insure that the action still functions properly

Oil filters are more important to store than motor oil.  The myth of the obligatory 3,000 mile oil change has been perpetrated by the “30 minute oil change” industry, because they like to see their customers frequently. (Read: $$$) In fact, in the modern era of multi-weight detergent oils, oil changes are grossly over-done!  Unless a car engine is older and starting to grind metal, then your motor oil will usually have a much longer life than 3,000 miles. And just because motor oil is dark does not necessarily indicate that it needs to be changed. Many commercial fleet vehicles get no oils changes at all–just new filters installed, and the same oil put back in. Back in the 1980s the U.S.Army instituted the Army Oil Analysis Program (AOAP.)  Under AOAP, oil samples are periodically mailed to a centralized lab. Unless the lab detects a drop in viscosity, suspended metals particles, or contamination for any particular vehicle’s oil, they direct units to re-use the oil and merely change filters.  (By the way, this program has saved the U.S. taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars in the past 20 years.)

Another tangential note: Part of keeping your hand tools in proper condition is oiling them to prevent rust.  It is a good idea to keep a steel bucket with a tight-fitting metal lid, half-filled with sand that is soaked in used motor oil   (Don’t use wood shavings or anything else that is flammable!)  After tasks like splitting wood or spading the garden, be sure brush off any clinging soil, re-sharpen your tools, and then plunge them into the oily sand and swish them around to give them light coat of oil will. This will greatly extend the serviceable life of your hand tools!

Letter Re: Insider Tip On Asian Avian Flu

Mr. Rawles:
Today one of the honchos at [name deleted], a major east coast Medical Center where my wife works told her that a epidemiology research group has finished a modeling study that predicts, based on the mutation rate of the Avian Flu, that sometime within 18 months it will become transferable in human-to-human contact. (Whereas now it goes only from birds to humans.) – "Mr. Not For Attribution"

Poll Results –What are the Best Items to Store for Barter and Charity?

Here is the second increment of responses to our barter/charity items poll.  Please keep them coming, and I will post subsequent increments in the days to come.  Many thanks!

Teresa suggests:
Having recently survived in central Louisiana (the place where all the Katrina and Rita people evacuated too) I have paid attention to what items disappeared from store shelves first. This is a list from my area…
Baby formula
Baby Food
Gas Cans
Ammo and guns –the Wal-Marts in the area refused to sell any guns or ammo once the levees broke. This freaked everyone out so the hunting stores and pawn shops ran out and were out for a while)
canned food–esp chili and soups
propane camping stoves
little propane bottles
sleeping bags
OBTW, we are still experiencing shortages of ammo, large bags of rice, beans etc.


“TFA303” suggests:
Baby Formula. It stores for 2-to-3 years, and if the mother of a newborn is sick or dies in childbirth (probably much more common in TEOTWAWKI environment) could be a life saver for the baby. Soy-base formula would be best, as any baby can take soy, but not all babies can take milk-based formula. I would probably consider this a charity item rather than a barter item.

“Lone Gunman in Texas” suggests:
wristwatches – Swiss automatic or manual winding (NO quartz/battery powered) – How important will it be for having a good concept of time??? Can you/your group coordinate various functions and actions without synchronized time coordinates among the group?
Clocks – windup only – electric and quartz could be useless – Good small Swiss windup 8 day clocks are cheap(don’t waste $$ on the Asian JUNK) – how about an alarm? What physical stress will any of us be under, which may dictate limited sleep periods, and an alarm would be needed to get someone back on duty!
MREs would have value for barter and for charity
Small water filters , such as Katadyn and Berkey
Sport bottles, for individual carry in a backpack
Salt – in all forms and types – not only for seasoning, but for meat preservation–salt blocks for livestock and wild game lure, large bags of rock salt, stock salt, etc
Multi-function belt & pocket tools, such as Leatherman etc – small handy and invaluable (again, don’t WASTE $$ on cheap Asian copies!)
Eye glasses and reading glasses – even the magnifier type from the dollar stores (and can be bought online auctions in bulk & mix of magnification). Also sunglasses.
Plexiglas for window replacement etc
Heavy plastic film – cheap and in rolls
Sun block and moisturizers and makeup!
Does everyone have a “disguise kit”? a wig, a fake beard, etc – how valuable might it be to have the ability to disguise yourself for certain occasions and activities?
Tarps – all kinds and sizes
Band aids and bandaging materials and gauze
Scissors & Razors – all types/kinds/sizes & (men may neglect shaving but ladies will INSIST on an ability to do feminine shaving!)
Sewing repair kits – a variety of needles and thread
Coffee and  Liquor


“SEG” suggests:
First, I need to mention that no ammo or guns will be traded, except to known and trusted associates. Don’t want to arm a potential enemy.
Some items that I keep in addition to what others have suggested, include:
wooden clothes pins
vise-grip pliers
nails, wood screws, hasp and padlocks, etc.
soap of all kinds, especially antibiotic hand soap
Ziplock freezer bags, assorted sizes
back packs
trash bags, assorted sizes, plastic sheeting rolls
alcohol, medicinal and drinking
plastic containers – trash cans, tubs, bottles, etc.
insect repellant and bug bite soothers
poison ivy soother
plastic plates, bowls, cups, flatware
fly swatter, fly ribbon, mouse traps, bug spray
plastic wrap, alum foil, wax paper
tape – electrical, duct, strapping
zip ties
spices, especially salt, sugar, and honey
planting seeds
Note: My supply is limited, so I don’t intend to be the community store, but rather to have something useful to offer for something I might need.


“Mr. Yankee” suggests:
Not much to add to the barter poll except to reinforce what has already been said. My barter plan is to stock shelf stable goods for my own family, friends, and neighbors to use.
I stock nothing specifically for barter, but I would be more than willing to share what I have in exchange for something I need (even labor).
My rule of thumb for charity when it is clear that we will not be resupplied any time soon is to feed anyone in need a hot meal and a bit for the road. After that any adult will be required to contribute toward the homestead if they want more. Bartering what they have for my supplies that I can spare is fine, but so too is working for them. Here in the north country there will never be enough stove length firewood on hand for the next winter (no matter how much is already cut).
Regarding Firearms and Ammo:
I store multiple rifles to share with those I trust, but I would be very hesitant to trade any firearms or ammo away to anyone outside my trusted friends and neighbors.
Gasoline, toilet paper, and over the counter medicines: will be high demand. But, I doubt we’ll have more of them on hand than we are planning to use. I’m not sure I’d be willing to part with them either. I think these will be the primary items that I can barter for anything I find my home in need of.
The items most likely to share with those in need are those on hand which store and travel well.
Likely trades are:
Soap of all kinds (bar soap, hand soap, laundry soap),
Other hygiene products – dental floss, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo
Tea and coffee,
insecticides (ant traps, flea bombs, flea powders, mosquito repellant, garden spray, etc.) – if the crisis lasts more than a year these will be incredibly useful during the second summer.
Aluminum foil – a lot of people will be figuring out how to cook on campfires, fireplaces and woodstoves. [JWR adds: Aluminum foil is also great for making solar ovens.  A piece of glass scrounged from a picture frame will suffice for the oven’s top pane.]

Odds ‘n Sods:

I’ve run across some interesting news stories on the Internet in the past few days…

President Bush’s recent Asian Avian Flu speech:


H5 Asian Avian flu virus (but thankfully not the dreaded H5N1 Strain) has been found in wild birds in Canada:

Some interesting commentary by Jason Hommel on the emerging silver shortage:

On the absurd heights of the Housing Bubble. How about buying a small, run down, flat top house in a bad neighborhood for only $1.2 Million?:

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do." – Edward Everett Hale

Note from JWR:

Please continue to spread the word about SurvivalBlog.  If you find it useful, odds are that some of your friends will, too!

Poll Results –What are the Best Items to Store for Barter and Charity?

Here is the first increment of responses to our barter/charity items poll. These have been received in just the first 24 hours of the poll. BTW, please keep them coming, and I will post subsequent increments in the days to come.  Many thanks!  There are some real gems here, so read closely:

B.A. suggests:
Sealed bags / canisters of handi-wipes
Matches / lighters
Knives [think Mora skinners here]
2-cycle oil and chainsaw files and chains
Kerosene and wicks
Watch-caps / stocking caps
New socks and underwear [especially for children]
Common caliber ammo [.22LR being tops]
Small bolt-action .22LR rifles [CZ Scout is great for younger shooters], as are the many different training rifles that are mil-surp now.
Shotgun shells
Hand lotions
Toilet paper, toilet paper, toilet paper
Fresh water
Conibear traps…if society turns to a more grain holding [storing corn, wheat, soybeans] and consuming society, I look for the rat population to explode in most areas.
Hard candy
Sewing needles and sturdy thread
Fishing lines / rod-reel combos
Plastic 5 gallon buckets
Leather gloves

M.O. suggests:
Hand tools, like shovel, drill, saw

J.K. in the PRK suggests:
12 gauge ammo

C.W. suggests:
Hoes and other gardening tools
Non-hybrid seeds
Chlorine to treat water
Shoe repair
Gun repair
Medical care

Outdoor Guy suggests:

“Col. Jack D. Ripper” suggests:

Grain alcohol (“Everclear” or equivalent 190 proof ethanol)
For salt, those of us with water softeners have hundreds of pounds of salt pellets on hand at a given time. Rub two together for flavoring food, dissolve for brining, etc.

C.R.Z. suggests:

Paperback books, novels, etc for entertainment
How-To Books (especially organic gardening manuals)
Primers (sealed in a ammo can)
Suture Needles
Knife sharpening stones
Medical Supplies (gauze, antibiotics, bandaging material, and BIRTHING SUPPLIES)

DKN suggests:
After an event like Katrina, some better items for charity might be:
Clothing: Shirts, hats, socks, shoes/boots (Dollar stores are great)
Personal items: Toothbrush/toothpaste, chapstick, soap, washcloth, handi-wipes, tampons, toilet paper, etc.
Containers: small bags with straps (book bags, etc), water bottles.
Maybe even maps of the area? When I worked for the Sheriff’s department, I as working a traffic accident (Southern California) We had an intersection closed in a residential area. I was so surprised at the amount of people who only knew ONE way to get to their house!

Steven in North Idaho suggests:
Condensed or dried Milk, Sugar, Flour, Tea, Coffee. Aspirin, children’s cold medicine, Antibiotics, (a parent will give their life to save their child’s life, at least I would.) Then comes larger food items. Then comes first aid stuff, including water purification. Then fire starting materials. Then ammo. I would never give a gun to anyone I don’t know. To much chance of it coming back on me later. A heck of a note to get shot with your own gun. In the mean time, I’ll just keep my powder dry.

L.H. suggests:


GySgt J.D. suggests:
CR-123 batteries for SureFire lights

Larry in Kansas suggests:
First aid items
Liquor- 1 pint bottles
Cigarettes and cigars- sealed in vacuum sealed bags
Canning lids- different sizes
Canning jars- different sizes(this can be a bulky item for storage)
.22 cal long rifle rimfire ammo
.177 cal pellets for air rifle(s)
Comfort foods-deserts
Coloring books
Small games( auto travel type)
Cooking spices
Salt packets
Pepper packets
Salt 1 pound containers
Fishing hooks
Fishing weights
Kitchen matches
Hurricane lamps
Hurricane lamp glass , wicks and wick holder
Oil for hurricane lamps

M.S. suggests:
shoe laces
can opener (manual)
medical supplies
hygiene supplies (toothpaste, soap, detergent, toothbrushes, shampoo, toilet paper, bleach)
lighter flints
lighter fluid
clothes pins
clothes line
playing cards
canning supplies
cold medications
Note: As a rule we have decided against trading ammunition as a security precaution. Another rule is that when bartering we will not do it at our home. We will find a neutral location where we can employ as much security as possible to prevent someone from finding out where we live.

S.W. suggests:
Chunks of magnesium, to help start fires.
Small bottles of iodine, to purify filtered water.
Small packets of fish hooks, one can dig worms anywhere and with some monofilament can fish practically anywhere. Also lures can be fabricated that will use your fish hooks. Today they are cheap, perhaps one day they will be valuable.
Cheap compasses. It can be used for navigating, also it is a morale booster.

“Mr. Whiskey” suggests:
My barter items are divided into two groups: 1) Short term / Charity for the early days probably out to 6 months after a disaster for immediate needs, goodwill and helping people stay alive for another day.  Then I have group 2) Long term / Profit potential (for me) traded with the folks who were smart or lucky enough to make it during the early days, and now have settled in a place (maybe even on my place), and really need some things that no one can make.

Group 1:
Canned foodstuffs (for the pervasive hunger).
Bar soap, wash cloths, toothpaste and brushes (everyone will want to feel clean again)
Toilet paper (a rare item to be found because everyone will know its utility)
Hand and face lotion (no one will be used to the harsh conditions).
Disposable razors and shaving cream (what would a man give to be clean shaven?).
Tampons (no one is quite ready yet for the old way alternatives).
Bibles, New Testaments (many potential converts in the age of disasters).
Dental floss (when you just can’t get that bit of ‘possum gristle out of the teeth).

Group 2:
Lotions and lip balms (everyone spends more time outside working now)
Fingernail and toenail clippers (who thought about packing these in the BOB?)
Warm gloves/hats (by now, everything is starting to wear out).
Long underwear (virtually no survivor from the cities will have this item).
Bar soap, laundry soap (people have settled in, and soap of all kind will be rare).
Fragrance (what a delight if you really, really stink).
Hasps and padlocks with multiple keys (people now realize the benefit of security)
Kid’s shoes (adults can wear theirs for many years, but a growing 10 year old will be in agony in short order, and you need all those younger kids to work pretty hard. We stock 3 steel barrels with 130 pair of leather work shoes and boots from kid’s sizes 3 thru adult size 13. Bought them at Goodwill over a period of several years, but they are all in very good shape, all of very good quality – though used – and not one pair cost more than $3.95).
AA batteries (their batteries will be long gone, but they will still hold on to the lights)
Survival Guides. I have pre-printed in mass quantities outlining basic how-to for people who really have no idea about the longer term survival they are in. Some of the topics covered are outhouse building, old way feminine hygiene, bartering techniques, herbal remedies, cooking over fire, maintaining your old clothing and shoes, pulling a tooth, setting a snare and so on.

Barter Services for any time:
Sock Darning
Charging service with a hand-cranked generator for all their rechargeables they will still have with them.
Heated shower (solar or wood) with privacy screens and secluded changing area.

Dr. A.L.O. suggests:
Used centerfire rifles chambered in .270, .30-30, .30.06, .308
Used rimfire guns chambered in .22
Pre-1965 silver coins
Small hand tools (Hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, etc.)
Small flashlights
Batteries (C&D sizes)

J.K. in Florida suggests:
Pri-G think of all the stale gasoline 1 year or 4 years into a battle and this stuff will take old gas in the bottom of cars, cans, gas stations and bring it to life. I understand (according to the Pri web site) that this can take 11 year old gasoline and restore it to factory specs. I will be getting a case of this.  OBTW, I also use Pri-D (for diesel fuel.)

Michael in Oz suggests:
Funny I was thinking about this and then you actually ask for items. With all the talk of gold and silver, and then tangibles for value and barter, I was thinking of Lead as an item to have a nice stock of.

It is cheap compared to gold and silver but still expensive enough to warrant some thought.
It stores well
Rolls of lead flashing other than flashing roofs etc can be used for
Sinkers, Projectiles,

Other items that come to mind to stock/store on a retreat– i.e. if you have room like a storage shed
Star pickets
Rolls of wire
OLD Picks, shovels, axes, hoes etc now nearly worthless from garage sale etc and with a bit of oil will store fine. These items will be vital post grid down.

Larry in Casper, Wyoming suggests:
Toilet paper

R.S. suggests:
Here are the rules for ideal barter supplies (adapted from Joel Skousen’s writings):
1. High demand. If no one wants it, no one wants it.
2. Difficult to manufacture on your own
3. Durable for long-term storage
4. Can be easily divided up into smaller quantities
5. Authenticity and quality is easily recognizable.
Here’s the list of supplies I have on hand for barter
(again, this list is taken from Joel Skousen’s 10 Packs for Survival):
• Liquid detergent
• Laundry detergent
• Rubbing alcohol
• Bleach
• Toothbrushes
• Razor blades
• Toilet paper
• Aluminum foil
• Writing paper, typing paper,
• Pens, Pencils, erasers
• Shoelaces, string, cord, rope
• Fishing line
• Insect repellent
• Water repellent
• Paint, varnish
• Matches
• Watches
• Tape
• Light bulbs
• Needles, thread, zippers, buttons
• Bolts, screws, nails
• Aspirin, vitamins, other drugs
• Seeds, grain, sugar,
• Coffee, liquor, cigarettes
• Antibiotics, burn ointments
• Safety pins
• Manual can opener
• Knives
• Canning jars, lids, rings
• Shoes, boots, socks, nylon stockings
• Underwear
• Winter clothes
• Coats
• Blankets
• Hand guns, rifles,ammunition, cleaning gear
• Fuels (all types)
• Quarts of multi-viscosity motor oil
• Antifreeze
• Wire
• Glues

“RF Burns” suggests:
.22 LR
#10 cans of sugar/salt
sugar substitutes (sweet n low, etc)
can openers
toilet paper
knives (hunting, skinning, functional knives)
sewing supplies


Dr. Sidney Zweibel suggests:

first aid supplies – bandages, etc.
water purification chemicals – especially iodine crystals (last forever)
inexpensive pocket knives, and small sharpening stones. I get them as giveaways at conferences and they go into a box for future need.
plastic containers of all sorts – Glad ziplock brand as an example
sheet music books
Coleman fuel, mantles, and other spare parts to fix these devices (as long as the tanks hold pressure, they can be fixed. There are replacement tanks, too)
mechanical fasteners – nails, screws (especially drywall), nuts, bolts, etc. – in large quantities they’re incredibly cheap to buy.
Other hardware items like chain, wire rope and fasteners, etc.
cheap tools – for example, I have ‘my tools’ in my rollaway tool chest. Then we have my wifes’ tools in her rollaway (Yes, she has her own.) Then we have the tools to loan to neighbors (decent quality and we expect to get them back), and finally the tools I let our kids play with, in decreasing order of quality.
Hand tools like saws, drills and bits, files, wire brushes, etc of all types
off the shelf reading glasses, protective eyewear like goggles,
dust masks (or N95 masks)
inexpensive ‘how to’ books, pamphlets, and guides – or the ability to print them as needed
light bulbs (12 and 120 v)
inexpensive cooking and eating ware and utensils
ripstop plastic tarps (the blue ones)
synthetic blankets
soap, hand, dish and laundry types, bleach, shampoo, etc.
toothpaste and toothbrushes, dental floss (quite useful in BOB’s too)
OTC medications – keep sealed in the refrigerator
old plastic bottles that water, fruit juices or soft drinks came in – can be canteens, glasses, containers for whatever
Canned shortening (Crisco)
razor blades, razors, single-edged razor blades (for box cutters, etc)
scissors of various types and qualities
fingernail clippers
knitting yarn (synthetic), needles, basic directions and patterns
paper products, including feminine hygiene products and infant products (cloth diapers, pins, ointments and unguents, powder, bottles, etc)
batteries – AA, D, AAA, C in that order, maybe cheap flashlights to use them. The batteries last quite a long time in the freezer.
candle wax, candle wicks, candle forms, candle making instructions
inexpensive leather work gloves
old (semi-worn out) shoes and boots (clean them, wax them and wrap them in plastic bags for storage)
dried spice related items – onion flakes, garlic, etc. Small bottles of flavorings (lemon extract, etc)
hand gardening tools – shovels, rakes, axes, hatchets, bow/limb saws, pry bars – buy by the pound at garage/farm sales
board games (Monopoly, Scrabble, etc)
paperback books of whatever type
small AM/FM radios, even if battery powered – wire for antennas
FRS/GMRS or CB radios, working of course
hand compasses (orienteering type), maps of everywhere
reference books like the almanac,
coffee and tea
coffee filters
coffee percolators (the old style kind)
plastic bags (even recycled they’re handy)
cardboard boxes
small tins (we save the tins that Altoids mints come in, when we buy them)
solar powered calculators
office supplies – all sorts, but especially things like ledger paper that have been replaced by computers, and permanent markers
hand powered can openers
canning supplies – jars, rings, lids (lots of lids, they’re the only part that can’t be reused), canners and pressure cookers (fix them up first)


Dr. November suggests:
Used centerfire rifles chambered in .270, .30-30, .30.06, .308
Used rimfire guns chambered in .22
Pre-1965 silver coins
Small hand tools (Hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, etc.)
Small flashlights
Batteries (C&D sizes)

Recommended Documentary: “The Next Plague” on The History Channel

One our readers recommended the documentary: The Next Plague, about the Asian Avian Flu threat. This show is currently in the repeat cycle on The History Channel. It features interviews with WHO officials and Dr. Michael Osterholm. You are probably already familiar with many of the details contained therein, but if noting else, it serves as media substantiation that the Asian Avian Flu threat is real.(Just in case you have any friends/neighbors/relatives that won’t believe what you say until they “see it on television.”

Letter Re: Retreat Manpower/Security Requirements

Hi Jim.
Your survival blog is wonderful! Reading it every day has already helped me become more constantly focused and working on preparedness. I have recently made some overtures about forming a retreat group to a few family members who are like minded with me on preparedness. One suggested topic for your survival blog that would be helpful to me, and probably many others, is a discussion on the number of people necessary to operate a retreat in a TEOTWAWKI situation. You did speak on that in Patriots, which was very helpful. Some questions are: (1) Is there a minimum, optimum, and maximum number of people? (2) What are the considerations that go into the decision as to the number of people? (3) What are the differences in the organizational requirements for the various sizes of retreat groups? (4) Are there differences in the necessary leadership style of the leader of a small group verses a large group? Thank you very much. – Joe.

JWR Replies:

(1) Is there a minimum, optimum, and maximum number of people?

That all depends on the situation!  If you are close to an urban area during a worst-case grid down situation, then it might take 50 or more people to defend a retreat. Under less demanding circumstances and in a more remote area that is well removed from likely lines of drift, then perhaps just two or three families occupying contiguous parcels (with mutually supporting fields of fire) might suffice.  But in general (given foreseeable TEOTWAWKI exigencies), if affordability of floor space at your retreat is not a constraint, then I would recommend a group with a minimum of six adults, an optimum of 10 adults, and a maximum of 30 adults. (Anything larger is likely to lose cohesiveness, especially with weak leadership/organization.) Keep in mind that manpower planning and limits are considerably different for a group that will be occupying a cluster of buildings (analogous to a tribal village) versus a group that is all living under one roof! 

(2) What are the considerations that go into the decision as to the number of people?

IMO, you should consider:

a.) Severity of circumstances that you anticipate. (Grid up versus grid down, level of lawlessness, and so forth)

b.) Duration of crisis. (Until order and commerce are restored, or in the event of Nuclear, Biological, or Chemical (NBC) events, when it will be safe to emerge)

c.) Geographic isolation of your retreat.  (The closer that you are to population centers and lines of drift, the larger your security contingent.)

d.) Floor space/accommodations of your retreat.(Cramped quarters are both unhealthy and stressful.)

d.) Climate. (Smaller groups are dictated in more severe climate zones with short growing seasons)

e.) Group homogeneity. (For example, groups composed of all members of the same church denomination might be more cohesive and capable of larger aggregations.)

f.) Financial resources of the group. (This relates to “depth of larder”–more wealthy groups can provide more ample food storage and hence more mouths to feed.)

g.) Acreage and water available for cultivation.  In northern climes, consider the available square footage of greenhouse space.

(3) What are the differences in the organizational requirements for the various sizes of retreat groups?

Unity of leadership (having one recognized leader or a “village council”) is essential, regardless of group size. In groups of 20 or more, it may be necessary to delegate authority and to specialize responsibilities. (In small groups, most members will wear “many hats”, whereas in larger groups some members will have nearly full time responsibilities–cook, logistician, armorer, security coordinator, and so forth)

(4) Are there differences in the necessary leadership style of the leader of a small group versus a large group?

IMO, the same principles and styles of leadership apply, regardless of group size. Some people have leadership talent, and some don’t. (If you’ve ever taken ROTC or OCS courses, then you’ll know what I mean.) Not surprisingly, many of the people who do well as leaders in “peacetime” (such as corporate managers and mayors) may not be able to cope mentally or emotionally WTSHTF. That is why I recommend that military combat veterans (commissioned officers or NCOs) be put in charge of retreat security. They’ve been forged in fire, and there are very few substitutes for that sort of real world on-the-job training.

Another Letter from John in Iraq–Re: RPGs and the Recent Iraqi Elections

Hi Sir,
Sorry I haven’t been writing much. Since the elections my schedule’s been a bit out of kilter.

Speaking of the elections… My platoon was guarding a polling place the week leading up to the big day. I hear it was a success elsewhere, but here in scenic Ar Ramadi it was a bust. My polling station received three voters, one of whom was disqualified as a raving lunatic who just wandered in. AFAIK ~200 people voted here, with ~190 of ’em being the Shiite poll workers who don’t live here. This city just loves Saddam. I hope they execute him soon; maybe they’d get the idea he isn’t coming back.

Did finally see a little action. Guy took a potshot at my truck with an RPG. Went about a foot and a half high. They use a technique called “turkey peeking” where they pop out from around a corner, shoot more or less without aiming, then de-*ss the AO as fast as they can. They’re far more concerned with getting away than with hitting us. Usually. The genius who took the poke at us stuck his head back around the corner and got a burst of .50 cal through the building for his trouble. I miss the ~1500 rounds we had with the 240, but Ma Deuce has her charms. Oh, and the M240G is a medium MG, not light as you indicated when I wrote in awhile back. The M249 SAW is the LMG of the family. [Sorry, that was my mistake. When you wrote M240 I was thinking M249. I just went back and corrected that.- JWR]

Getting behind on the Bible study I’ve been doing with my wife. Discouraging. On the plus side, I met another Christian! It’s funny, I found out he’s a believer after he saw the article I’m working on to submit to your writing contest. We got to talking; turns out he’s a survivalist too!

Better sign off for now. Haven’t been able to call the little woman for too long, and a phone just opened up. Keep up the good work, and God bless. – John