Jim’s Quote of the Day

“… Mr. Clinton, sir, America didn’t trust you with our health-care system. America didn’t trust you with gays in the military. America doesn’t trust you with our 21-year-old daughters, and we sure, Lord, don’t trust you with our guns.” – Charlton Heston, in a June 6, 1998 speech at a NRA Convention

Note from JWR

I heard from a reader that he found our scrolling advertising distracting. Sorry, but when I started the blog my two alternatives were paid subscriptions or paid advertising.  I chose the latter, which has made SurvivalBlog available to an unlimited number of readers, free of charge. We now have 17 advertisers, which requires ads that scroll so that they all come into view.  If you’d like the scrolling function to pause while you are reading an article, just position your cursor arrow over any of the ads.

OBTW, when you patronize any of our advertisers, please be sure to mention where you saw their ad. And if you know of anyone that sells preparedness related products or services, please ask them to advertise on SurvivalBlog. We need more advertisers to make this level of effort worthwhile. Thanks!

Critical Capabilities for Retreat Defense: “Move, Shoot, and Communicate”

As an Army officer, I learned that in order to be effective, and army must have three key abilities: To move, shoot, and communicate. Take away any one, and you are ineffective. But if you get all three right, and you can absolutely devastate an opponent–even one that has superior numbers. The same principles apply to defending a survival retreat in a TEOTWAWKI situation. In the context of a static retreat position, movement is not as crucial, but don’t overlook the need to conduct commerce, and even the need to move between retreat buildings safely. And in an absolute worst case, consider the potential need to vacate your retreat in a hurry.  Always have a “Plan B”!

As for the other two factors:  If your correspondence has been any indicator, I’d say that most of you have the capability to shoot well in hand!  😉 But be sure to consider:

1.)  Engagement at all ranges within line of sight.

2.)  Engagement at night. See my previous posts on tritium sights, tritium-lit reticule scopes, and Starlight Night Vision gear. Also consider getting some military surplus trip flares. (Unfortunately these are scarce an expensive, but they have a very long shelf life.) There is also a nifty gizmo made for chemical light sticks that works much like a trip flare: It is a metal light stick holder that can be nailed to a tree or a fence post. It has a spring-loaded mechanism that flexes a five minute duration ultra-bright light stick.to activate it. Clever! Here is something something even more clever that was mentioned to me by a friend who was recently in the Special Forces:  Use infrared chem lights, and the bad guys won’t even know that they’ve illuminated themselves. (“I pity da fools!”)   (To explain: Infrared light sticks throw off a glow that can be seen only through starlight night vision goggles or a starlight rifle scope.)  The chemlite trip flare gizmos are available from several mail orders dealers including Nitro-Pak, Spruce Mountain Surplus, and a gent on Craig’s List (I haven’t done business with the latter two.) Just keep in mind that because of their relatively short shelf life, your stock of chemical light sticks should be kept refrigerated and rotated once every two years!

3.) Taking game without making noise. Consider snares, traps, and archery.  See the Buckshot’s Camp website (http://www.buckshotscamp.com) to learn about trapping and snaring. Buckshot has some incredibly educational DVDs.)

Now on to communications:

1.)  Plan for communications with your neighbors to coordinate security.  Obviously the phone systems will be down (both land line and cellular) When The Schumer Hits The Fan (WTSHTF) and the utility power goes out.  Most telephone company offices have large backup banks of “floating” batteries, but don’t depend on the phones to work for more than a few days after the onset of a long term power failure.

By now, you should have at least three or four military surplus hard wire field telephones (such as the venerable TA-1 or TA-312) and plenty of commo wire. Those are available from a number of vendors including Ready Made Resources (one of our advertisers) and Fair Radio Sales. Both of these companies are very reputable. Remember that if you use FRS, GMRS, CB, 2-Meter, or any other radio-based communications system that you should consider it non-secure (vulnerable to interception). Also be advised that most of these bands have line-of-sight limitations. 

The capability for really long range communications (such as HF transceivers) may be a huge morale booster in the event of TEOTWAWKI.  Odds are that you will have relatives living at the other end of the continent, or perhaps even overseas.  Being able to relay messages back and forth to them will be very reassuring. WTSHTF that sort of reassurance will be crucial to keeping everyone at your retreat sane.

SurvivalBlog Survey: What are the Top Three Threats That We Face?

I’m curious to know what you think are the three most likely threats that we face?  Pick and choose from the list below–or perhaps you recognize a threat that isn’t on the list.

Please e-mail me your top three, in order of likelihood. I plan to summarize the results of the survey in about a week. Special thanks to SurvivalBlog reader that prefers to be anonymous who provided the list below.

Natural Disasters on Earth
Short Term and Regional
-Severe Storms
-Tsunami/Tidal Waves
-Fires – Forest/Brush
-Drought (Dust Bowl)
-Animal caused famine (i.e. locusts)
-Microbe caused disease (i.e. malaria)
Long Term / Climate Change
-Global Warming
-Ice Caps Melting, Oceans rising
-Ozone Loss/UV Damage
-Gulf stream changes, climate shift
-Global Cooling/Ice Age
-Global Pole Shift
-Super storms (likes of which never seen in modern times)
Disease, Plague, Pandemics coming from nature
Asteroid or Comet Impact
Solar Flares/Coronal Ejections
Alien Invasion – non-intelligent (Andromeda Strain, virus, bacteria)
Alien Invasion – intelligent life (War of the Worlds Scenario)
Religious End of the World (Anti-Christ, Second Coming, etc.)

Man-made Accidental Disasters
-Nuclear Reactor Disaster
-Chemical Disaster
-Biological Disaster
-Global warming as shown above if cause in part or whole by mankind
-Genetic Engineering gone wrong – GMO fears
-Nanobots gone wrong – the gray goo, replicant, or the Blob scenario
Wars or acts of Terrorism
-Nuclear weapons
-Biological Weapons (smallpox, anthrax, ricin, etc.)
-Chemical Weapons (nerve gas, mustard gas etc.)
-Conventional explosives/weapons
Economic Collapse – all versions thereof, breakdowns for any reason, depression
Social or Government Collapse/Revolution
GLAZIS – World socialism or World Government take over

Letter Re: How to Find Ethanol Compatible Vehicles

I enjoy your blog and its part of my daily reading. I have a 2004 GMC Yukon XL that is a flexible fuel vehicle. We recently had a station start selling E85. This last fill up was at $1.66 per gallon versus the $2.08 of unleaded. Nice savings even with the station being a little out of the way. You can go to several of the ethanol web sites and many have complete list of vehicles that can handle E85. Keep up the good work and Merry Christmas. – "SEMO"

Letter From The Army Aviator Re: .45 ACP Stopping Power and the M1911

I’ve listened to your advice and digested what you’ve written over a number of years now. You are a confirmed Model 1911 [.45 ACP] individual. (Gee, ya think?) At any rate, I thought I’d pass along what locked me into .45 ACP 1911s and the results. I know, I should start this out with “Now this is no sh*t”, since it’s a war story from Vietnam.
I had been supporting an A team, [of the] 5th SF Group for 8 months or so. The guys took pity on the poor pilot and would occasionally take me out on a patrol with them. (What a hoot!) Anyway, we were doing a trail ambush and when it triggered, this huge NVA comes charging across the clearing straight at me and totally charged up on some fun drug. Using my favorite Swedish K [Karl Gustaf M45 9mm Parabellum SMG] , I hit this guy with 29 rounds center chest of aimed fire and he didn’t even slow down. The “old guy” Team sergeant (my Nanny) hip-butted me out of the way and dropped the NVA with three rounds from a M1911 [.45 ACP] center chest and, I swear, it stopped the guy dead in his tracks and laid him down backwards. That [Swedish K] was the last 9mm I ever carried out of CONUS. While I was in southeastern Mexico working with the group stopping the Cuban insurgency, I acquired my Detonics Mark VI .45 and have carried it ever since. Now I carry a pair [of them] and they are still my only handguns without Tritium [sights]. I just don’t trust any gunsmith not to screw up my slides. Just won’t. While in Brazil and Chile, my Detonics reliably did what the SF team sergeant’s 1911 did in RVN …. more than a few times. I like 9mm but work is work and remember, SAS does carry Uzi’s … but, little known fact, they are chambered in .45 ACP, just like the Secret Service’s. Actually, I prefer Mitch Werbell’s M10 and M-11. Regards and enjoy the snow. Want some more? I’ll send ours south. 🙂 – The Army Aviator

Jim’s Quote of the Day

“King Arthur: I am your king.
Woman: Well I didn’t vote for you.
King Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.
Woman: Well how’d you become king then?
[Angelic music plays… ]
King Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your king.
Dennis: [interrupting] Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.” – Monty Python and The Holy Grail

Note from JWR

We woke up to a foot of fresh snow this morning.  It is nice knowing that we have a well-stocked house and a couple of fully snow-capable four wheel drive rigs. Our kids had great fun sledding. But I’m not looking forward to the toboggan run down the mountain tomorrow morning.  I commute to a “real job” as a technical writer five days a week.


How to Find Ethanol Compatible Vehicles (SAs: Alternate Fuels Ethanol, Survival Vehicles, 4WDs, SUVs, E85)

I recently had a SurvivalBlog reader contact me, bemoaning the fact that he was unable to find a 4WD pickup or SUV that could run on an E85 ethanol blend at any of the car dealerships in his area. He told me: “I’ve called them all and had no luck. They say that those are really rare.”  He offered to pay me a consulting fee to help find him one. I told him that consulting wasn’t necessary. I just referred him back to the ethanol articles in the SurvivalBlog Archives, and I mentioned that he should do a search at Edmunds.com, (http://www.edmunds.com), click on the “Alternative fuel” check box in their Used Cars search window, and select a 200 miles radius for the search. The reader e-mailed me again just an hour later to thank me and to report: “Success!’. There were lots of listings, mostly in the nearby metropolitan region. He said that he planned to buy a flexible fuel 2003 Ford Explorer with a tow package. “And it’s even olive drab!”

To reiterate from some of my previous posts on the subject, here is a little background information on finding a comparable vehicle: The only vehicles that seem to do very well running the E85 ethanol blend are those that have been specifically designed for it. This is because they include an electronic sensor to detect the relative flash point of the fuel.  This adjusts the fuel/air mixture “on the fly”–even if you pump a tank full of regular unleaded gasoline, or all E85, or anything in between. (Most likely this will be dictated by what is less expensive on any given day.)

Your average car salesman is not well educated about ethanol-compatible vehicles. So if you ask about them the right question in the wrong way, you are likely to get a negative answer or dumb looks. If you ask about a “E85-compatible”, or “ethanol-compatible”, or “alternative fuel”, they might be stumped. You should ask if they have any “flexible fuel” vehicles in their inventory. (A few years back, the different American car makers use a variety of terminology, but more recently that have reached a general consensus to call them “flexible fuel vehicles” or FFVs.)

I’m confident that E85 compatible rigs will become more commonplace in the next few years, once Detroit’s engineers get some common sense in Post-Katrina/Post-fuel price shock America. For survival use, the ones that look the most promising to me are:

  • 2005-2006 GMC/Chevrolet Suburbans, Tahoes, Yukons, and 2500HD Pickups with 5.3 liter Vortec engines.
  • 2003 and 2004 Ford Explorers with 4.0 liter engines.
  • 1998-2003 Dodge Caravans with 3.3 liter engines. (Yes, I know that they have marginal ground clearance and towing capacity, but they do make a 4WD version, they are reasonably priced. More importantly, Caravans get 21+ MPG, which is important these days.)

Not all of the above mentioned models are FFV. You must look closely at the vehicle specifications of a prospective purchase before you buy. (A buyer’s guide in PDF is available for download from the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition.) In many cases it is just selected “fleet purchase” vehicles that can run on E85, so you have to look at specifications right down to a particular digit in the VIN number to be sure. As a visual indicator when you visit dealer lots: Some vehicles have a special sticker inside the gas cap door, indicating that they are E85 compatible.

Off-Grid Power Basics, by “James Dernier”

Electricity 101:
Electricity is fundamental to our first world every day life. We know electricity mostly in one of two forms in the home, from the wall, and in a battery. The electricity that comes out of the wall is high voltage (~110-120 volts [JWR adds: alternating current (AC), in North America–except Mexico, which uses a more macho 127  volts] AC), relatively low amperage, and alternating current. The electricity that is stored in batteries comes in a variety of voltages and amperages but is always direct current (DC). Size AA batteries are 1.5 volts, along with most other battery types, with the notable exceptions of 9 volt and your car’s 12 volt. Batteries can be split into two categories and many subcategories, but all will either be single use, or rechargeable, with the difference being the chemistry of the battery. Since the topic of my essay is alternate power, I am going to concentrate on rechargeable battery banks, and the generation of electricity.

Batteries 101:
Rechargeable battery banks or “house” banks are collections of batteries that can be charged and discharged as a group to lengthen battery life. Most modern battery banks are lead acid batteries, although there are various types. Deep cycle batteries are different from the lead acid battery in your car. The difference is the thickness of the lead plates in the battery. As a battery discharges, the lead plates become dissolved in the acid solution, and when it is recharged the lead plates reabsorb the lead in solution (not quite but close enough). If there the battery becomes too discharged, or is discharged too deeply too often, the lead plates become worn enough that they can’t reabsorb the lead onto the much depleted plate, and the battery needs to be replaced. This is why your car battery dies eventually, especially after a long period of disuse where it is slowly self-discharging, or after it becomes too deeply drained. Deep cycle batteries are less affected by those abuses because of their thicker plates, but they will eventually be destroyed by the same process as their chemistry is the same. Although the advantage that car batteries has is by having a greater number of thinner plates their cranking amps, or amps available all at once, is much higher. By linking many batteries together, the same amount of power drawn total is split more ways and is less per battery, which translates to a longer life for all of the batteries. Since all batteries are DC, you need a device called an inverter to change DC into AC, which is what most plug-in [household current] devices use.

Advantages of off-grid power:
Off grid power is power generated off of the electrical grid. The electrical grid is the power we get through the walls, and the power that is lost for a few days, weeks or months following a natural disaster. Off-grid power is power you generate so that if following a natural disaster or black out, or just if you are in the boonies, you still have power. There can be a mix of the two, so in case of emergency, or just for small amounts of power generation, you can have an inter-tied system in which you can have most of your power or regular use power from a utility company. Off-grid power’s primary advantage is if the grid goes down permanently or electricity becomes very expensive you can still generate your own. Charge Controllers let you put the optimal charging voltage into your battery bank. For optimal battery life, varying voltages should be used during the different phases in the recharge cycle. For all parts of the cycle you need more than 12 volts in the case of a 12 volt batter to recharge your battery, and the amount more will vary based on the type of battery you use.

PV Panels:
Photovoltaic (“PV”) panels generate power from the sun. They generate DC voltage at small amperage, but they are very low maintenance; they are mounted on racks, and these racks can be connected to [passive or clock drive] trackers. This system lets you control the wiring, and trackers let the panel’s track the sun, as the sun travels across the sky, the angle at which the panel would optimally face changes. So to let the panels track the sun, you need a rack on a tracker. This increases the amount of sun hitting the panels, and thus the amount of electricity generated. [JWR adds: Unless you live in a equatorial region, you will also want to seasonally adjust the angle of your PV panel rack, to roughly match the sun’s path above the horizon.]

Living with an Alternate Power System:
This can be a tricky thing, since we waste a lot of power every day. Phantom loads, or power used by devices that are not in use is a big contributor. TVs, VCRs and many other devices draw a substantial amount of power even when off, because they are in a state where they can be turned on right away, and draw power. Similar to when a car is idle, it might not be moving but the engine is on, and the car is using gas, just so it can move right away. Other things to avoid are incandescent lights, which draw several times what their fluorescent equivalents draw. Cooking and heating with electricity is also a big draw, microwaves, toasters, ovens, and space heaters are big electricity hogs with easy alternatives. Refrigeration is also a big draw, but there isn’t really an easy equivalent. There are other forms of preservation, but there is no substitute for refrigeration. [JWR adds:  Propane refrigerators are still made. Odds are that you can “size” your PV system much smaller if you use a propane refrigerator.] Most forms of electronic recreation can also be big draws, most notably the computer, followed by the television, and on to stereos.

Letter from “Hawgtax” Re: New Years Resolutions

Merry Christmas All,
As 2005 draws to a close, I look back and ask myself “Am I better prepared than I was at this time last year?”
Quite honestly, a lot of what I accomplished was attributable to “SurvivalBlog.com”. A fine bunch of folks who trade practical information. Anyway, here’s what I did/added during 2005:

1. Installed a wood burning stove in the house.

2. Insulated and dry walled the outbuilding which functions as reloading area, ammunition storage and shop. A separate room within a room provides climate controlled food storage area. (8 below zero this morning outdoors, but in the pantry, a balmy 45.)

3. Installed wood/coal stove to provide backup heat to the outbuilding and pantry.

4. Installed 500 gallon propane tank and 100 gallon diesel fuel tank as emergency fuel storage.

5. Added 500 rounds of 12 gauge buckshot to the ammo storage. (Got a good deal on Hornady Light Magnum.).

6. Put a semi load of logs in the field for firewood. That is a good 2 or 3 years worth, even when used as primary source of heat.

7. Added some silver to the “silver supply”.

8. Found some Merino wool pullovers on eBay at a heck of a price. Bought a dozen in mixed sizes.

9. Put two cases of canned butter in the spare freezer.

10. Added a case of WW2 surplus bore cleaner, two dozen German military magazine carriers, a dozen German military G3 cleaning kits, a case of MRE heaters and a few pints of cheap booze to my bartering area.

11. Rotated the flour by donating six 25-pound bags to senior citizen center and replacing them at COSTCO.

12. Adopted a Blue Heeler named “Baxter” who is one heck of a watchdog.

13. Bought a spare pair of Meindl cold-weather hunting boots.

Now that looks like a pretty expensive year, but I traded and bartered for a lot of it. I bought one stove from an outfit that was getting out of the stove business. The other I salvaged from a house that was being demolished. I have a brother who is a HVAC contractor and I traded him an elk hunt for the stove installations, dry walling, etc..

Now for 2006…

My biggest project for 2006 will be replacing the stove in the outbuilding with a coal burner. Reason? They just re-opened a little “Mom and Pop? coal mine 20 miles from here and they get $35 a ton. I’m studying for my “Ham” license and hope to get that done. Give my son the rest of the Buffalo meat in the freezer and order another whole Buffalo. (Cut, double-wrapped and frozen for $1.99 a pound)… average about 400 pounds of meat. Get Lasik eye surgery. Lose another 10 pounds. Donate more to the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. Write my elected “representatives” about the direction the country is headed. Buy American. Remember the words of Thomas Paine: “It is the duty of the Patriot to protect his country from its government.”  Regards, – Hawgtax

Letter Re: Precious Metals 401(k) Investments?

I have been thinking about my 401(k) money that I can’t get to till I am 59-1/2. I have done some homework on it, and here is what I have found out. Our Federal Government has confiscated the gold eight times in the past. When they do, they pay face value. Double Eagles are $20.00, that’s it. Talk about taking it in the neck! There is a way to put gold into an account, where it is stored for $100.00 per year, in the owner’s name, but it seems one cannot get [numismatic] pre-1933 gold coins (which are non-confiscatable) put away in this manner. I am wondering if any of your readers might know of any coins that can be stored this way that are not subject to confiscation?
The places I have talked to are Lear Financial, and Midas Resources. They both put the gold physically in a vault somewhere in Delaware. Supposedly the largest vault in the US.
If I pull my money out of the account before I am 59.5 years old, I end up losing almost 50% to taxes and penalties. Maybe 50% is better than potentially nothing? Then I could invest in numismatics, or silver, neither of which are subject to confiscation, for all I know. –  Sid, Near Niagara Falls

JWR Replies: There is no sure way to avoid confiscation if your gold is held by any banking institution. The politicians might even get grabby with numismatics.  I have a gold self-directed IRA vault account with . They hold a small quantity of Gold Eagles in my name.  I’m a big believer in investing in tangibles. I do have an IRA, but since 1999 it has been a self-directed gold coin IRA with American Church Trust. The folks at Swiss America can help you set one up. Under some circumstances a 401(k) can be rolled over into an IRA. You might consider that. Parenthetically, I should mention that I’m 45 years old. The pessimist in me says that there is no 100% guarantee of ever cashing out my gold IRA. So I’ll never increase the size of that account to any a substantial percentage of my net worth.  I believe in tangibles, in hand!

I recommend that you consider any IRA and/or 401(k) strictly a “maybe.” At least the dollar units that they are denominated in is a maybe, so that makes the whole proposition a maybe. The majority of your gold and silver should be kept at home, very well hidden  Do not trust safe deposit boxes. You never know when some “emergency” will be declared. If that were to happen, then the only way that you’ll ever get back into you safe deposit box is in the presence of taxing officials and their armed minions. That is the way that modern government works, all over the world: wormy little bean counters with clipboards, and big dumb oafs with guns to back them up. Call me paranoid, but I understand both human nature and the nature of government.

Letter Re: JLD PTR-91 HK91 Clone Rifles

Hi Mr. Rawles,
I saw your posts today on the HK91s. I’m not sure if you are aware but there is now a new “clone” by JLD Enterprises. The PTR-91. These are made on HK tooling but with modern CNC processes. These are very affordable, under $1000 through many dealers online. They fix some of the original problems of the HK91, though you will still want a trigger job, and a mag paddle release. One of the main differences between the PTR-91 and HK 91 is the barrel. The PTR-91 does not have a hammer forged barrel, rather a heavy target barrel. One of the leading members of JLD was formerly employed by HK. The rear site is also much improved and the rifle comes with a shoulder pad, and the no-ban guns come with a flash hider.

If your readers are interested in a PTR-91 they should make sure the serial number starts with an A denoting that JLD produced the rifle. If the serial number begins with a B it denotes that the receiver was purchased for assembly by some other company and the rifle is not made by JLD which is superior in quality.

Most importantly you get a very accurate rifle with the HK91’s utter reliability at a very reasonable price. And right now the magazines are extremely affordable. Tapco has [a quantity deal on] 50 [used  20 round alloy] magazines for $50. – Jennie Sequa

JWR Replies:  I am familiar with PTR-91s.  I’ve seen them at gun shows but I’ve never fired one. OBTW, I am dubious about them being made with original HK tooling, for two reasons: First, I have read that their receiver dimensions do not match the original HK. Second, I’ve read that the front of their magazine wells have a different geometry that the original HK, making it difficult to quickly change magazines.

Letter Re: M1911 Pistols–What Constitutes “Over the Top”

Jim –
I have to pick a small bone with you on your response regarding what ways to trick out your 1911. During a special symposium at Gunsight with 11of 12 shooters being prior service and/or law enforcement, 10-15% of all rounds in the targets hit the hand/pistol of the bad guy – seems there is a mechanical slaving of where the eye focuses and where you hit the target in some cases (the eyes and weapons system are calibrated to hit what is sighted–sort of like a chin turret on an Apache or Cobra)

Why on earth would you think that your right hand will always be happy/healthy/functional in a fight? ALL 1911s should have an ambidextrous safety in case of injury, or equipping a southpaw on your team. Combat Tupperware [Glocks with no manual safety lever] has this taken care of.

Slide releases are not to be used according to my instructors (Clint Smith, Pat Rogers, Louis Awerbuck). Rather, you reach over the top of the slide, grasp it with your four fingers against the bottom of the palm of your hand, and you “tear the slide off” if you need to cycle the action for whatever reason. The idea is to get every single iota of energy out of the spring to chamber the round which may have dirt, blood, mud, flesh bits, etc., competing for the limited space of the pistol’s chamber. Using the slide release doesn’t give as much of a run at chambering the round. Why spend Federal Reserve Notes (FRNs) on an accessory you don’t need/use?

While a 1911 (that runs right – something that can be tough to find) is a superb weapon, why spend $1200+ for one that I then have to accessorize/have slicked up when I can get a Glock 21 that runs out of the box for about 1/2 that? No flame war wanted, just pointing out that 2 for 1 price is an attractive feature (as you where driving towards with your sage advice to get a second one, or how about TRAINING to effectively use the one you have!!!). Some hate the Glock’s size/grip – to each his own – I would never feel undergunned with a 1911 and it is a mechanical/design work of art/masterpiece. You do, however, need to be taught/train on how to make it run in a bit more depth than the double action only (DAO) “safety in the trigger” Glock.  My $.02, FWIW. Keep up the great work!!! – Beach

JWR Replies: Unless someone trains with a M1911 without the use of the slide release from day one, then it is impossible to expect that they won’t revert to using the slide release lever in the heat of combat. Remember the maxim:  The first/oldest training is the deepest ingrained.  I’ve heard many stories about police officers that subconsciously fight just the way they trained. For example putting either the fired brass from revolvers or empty magazines from auto pistols in their pockets. They don’t even realize that they’ve done it until after the smoke has cleared and they’ve regained their wits.

I agree with your advice on ambidextrous safeties. If someone has the budget for it, then that modification is worth doing, even for right handers. But in general, I try to keep M1911s as “stock” as possible. Even in stainless steel, there is no reason why a combat ready M1911 has to cost more than $800. We have a couple of stainless M1911s in our family battery that I bought used and that cost no more than $650, even after the necessary mods.

Note from JWR

Today we present another entry in Round 2 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best article will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!)  The deadline for entries is the last day of January, 2006.

We are pleased to post the following article on selecting clothing for winter outdoor survival. It was written by a serving military officer and certified winter instructor that lives Somewhere in Scandinavia. I was impressed by his excellent English.  In fact, his article took less editing than many that I’ve received from native English speakers.