Letter Re: Arming Your Untrained Neighbors

Dear Jim:
Straightblast brings up an excellent point about the many pitfalls of loaning weapons to untrained neighbors, after a crisis has hit, and thus potentially arming bad guys.
He wrote:”Frankly, it scares me. I look at it this way…if the neighbor has no guns (right now), and no gun skills…and the bad guys come to visit…what are the odds that he / she will prevail against them? I think close to zero.”  It scares me too! But I beg to differ that the chances for your neighbor are “close to zero.” Remember your average gang or criminal has not had any formal training. An untrained gang with some weapon experience versus an untrained neighbor BEHIND COVER is a least in the same ballpark as a fair fight – and looters are not looking for fair fights! And if, God forbid, the gang did overcome the neighbor – well the gang already had firearms, so one more gun is probably not that big a deal.
I’m more concerned about unsafe weapon handling, negligent discharges, and/or “friendly fire” from my neighbors than [I am about] the gang getting one more weapon.
In a really bad situation I would rather have one HASTILY TRAINED neighbor for fire support, than to be badly outnumbered by a gang with no fire support. (It is kind of tough to watch four quadrants with two people!) I think that a contingency plan so you have SEMI-trained, armed neighbors is a better option. (This assumes that a suggestion to do some “Tactical Crisis Training” would get the same look as if you just grown an extra head! 😉
Here are my thoughts on a contingency plan:
1. Invite your neighbors – and/or their kids – out for a social day plinking at the range. You can at least get basic gun safety and sight alignment concepts out. They might even get interested in shooting – reactive targets like falling plates, balloons or just tin cans are a blast. If this invitation gets a disgusted reaction, maybe moving now, or bugging out later, is a better option. Who needs gun-phobic neighbors?
2. Have some inexpensive, EASY TO USE, low-recoil firearms, magazines, ammo, AND web belts with mag pouches for your new “Neighborhood Watch on Steroids.” Pistol caliber carbines and .223s would be a good low recoil choice.
3. You might consider selling or bartering them the weapon “package” instead of giving it away, as gifts are often not treated with the same care as purchases. This also weeds out those who are not sufficiently motivated. Selling at a fair PRE-crisis price would be an act of charity which might just be appreciated.
4. Have a plan for a crash training [program for] your neighbors so that they can SAFELY handle their new weapon, and at least shoot from a fixed position, behind cover, to include:
   * The four rules of gun safety
   * Loading and unloading
   * Malfunction clearance
   * Basic sight alignment and trigger control
   * Understanding cover versus concealment
   * Be sure of your target and backstop!
Any more suggestions or comments would be appreciated, especially from instructors who deal with novices. Regards, – “OSOM” – Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Letter Re: Suppressors and .22 LR Conversion Kits for Rifles and Pistols

The Colt version for the 1911, chopped to Detonics length, on an alloy frame, recoils just as much as full size and with 9mm, saving you 10c a shot. An alloy compact 9mm 1911 variant recoils just as much as a full size and weight .45 ACP. This is great for training, saving you 10 cents a shot. A .223 AR-15, “wearing” an 8″ long, 12 ounce sound suppressor is every bit as “tame” sounding as the Ciener .22 LR unit without the suppressor. [Shooting .22 LR in training] saves you nearly 20 cents a shot, and permits practice at indoor ranges, and other places where the 223 would not be a good idea.

[For those of you with AR-15 family rifles and carbines], be advised that the .22 unit is not very accurate in an AR with 1 in 7″ rifling, is okay with 1 in 9″ rifling (the most versatile) and it typically shoots nice 2″ groups at 50 yards with 1 in 12″ rifling. The point of impact (POI) with 22 LR is plenty close enough (within 3″ at 50 yards) to that of the .223 to make it a fine training tool, and usually, it’s close enough for foraging small game. There’s a way to make the POI of the two [almost exactly the same], too, since the AR has two different “legs” on its [L-shaped flip] rear sight.

If it’s SHTF time, how will you know when it’s okay to have nothing more than a bolt action, a shotgun, or a .22 LR? Suppressors are superb aids in such conditions. I’d much rather have nothing more than ONE 10 round magazine and a suppressor for the CAR-15 (and  the .22 LR unit) than all the spare mags in the world, with a noisy gun.

With a scope, trigger job, free float tube, forend mounted bipod, and 69 grain HPBT match Sierra bullets, at 2500 FPS, [a CAR-15] gets more hits than misses on a 12″x24″ torso at 400 yards. Not bad for an Uzi-size and weight combo. With the assault sling, it need never be out of reach. Our forefathers found ways to always have 15 lbs of Flintlock, powder horn, and possibles bag at hand. The CAR-15 is concealable when disassembled. It comes down in 5 seconds, and can be assembled and firing in 10 seconds. The caliber swap is 20 seconds. With the 10.5″ barrel, (5.56 chamber) I use 27.0 grains of AA2520 to get the 60 grain Nosler Partition soft point to 2600+ fps, for 900 foot-pounds.

I favor a pair of lightweight compact pistols for SHTF times. One is a Beretta M21 .22 LR with an OAL of 9″, including the 3 ounce suppressor. The M21 is 11 ounces, with a .5″ longer barrel, available from GunsNStuff. The other pistol is a pocketable 9mm, rebarreled to 356 TSW, using a special, 55 grain AP bullet, at 2200 FPS, for 590 foot-pounds of energy. The “canned” .22 goes in the leg pocket of my BDU pants The centerfire always rides in a Kydex front pants pocket rig, with Velcro to secure the rig in the pocket. The total weight of the two pistols, holster, spare mags, and ammo, is 38 ounces. Since that’s lighter than an empty .45 Government Model, and the two guns offer much more versatility, they are a much better deal.

If a critter is so close that I can’t swap out to .22 LR, I can hit it with the Beretta. The M21 has been fitted with a PT22 Taurus mag, better sights, and an extractor. The pop-up barrel is a feature [of the] gun, courtesy of a pin thru both the frame and the barrel’s underlug. Take care. – P.P.L.

JWR Replies: Thanks for your knowledgeable comments, P.P.L. SurvivalBlog readers should be advised that there is a $200 Federal transfer tax for firearms sound suppressors (often incorrectly called “silencers”–they do not completely silence any gun), selective fire (fully automatic) guns, and short barreled rifles and shotguns here in the U.S. There are also additional state-enacted restrictions on full autos and suppressors in many states, such as California and Washington. Readers are strongly advised not to purchase or construct an unregistered suppressor. The risk of doing so is the loss of you gun ownership and voting rights for life, and many year behind bars. Don’t take that risk!  Keep in mind that purchasing a registered suppressor will raise your profile, both locally (since it will be your local sheriff or chief of police that will sign off on your license) and at the Federal level.  So you need to carefully weigh the risks versus benefits of doing so. Proceed down that path only after considerable thought and prayer.

Letter Re: Success in Treating Flu with Sambucol

I thought I would let you also know that Sambucol works incredibly well. My youngest daughter started feeling bad last Wednesday night. It was the situation where she remarked that she felt a bit more tired than usual. Her physical activity is very good, and swim team practice was a bit more rigorous than usual because of an upcoming swim meet that was scheduled for Saturday. When she woke up Thursday morning she was running a fever and listless. Wednesday night I had talked to a friend who had used Sambucol and it helped his case of the flu. By about 2 PM Thursday afternoon her fever was 103.8! She took some Tylenol and I went in search of Sambucol, not expecting to find it because our town is somewhat small. I did find it a local organic market much to my surprise. I gave her the first dosage about 3 PM or so. Before I gave the dose to her I took her temperature and her fever had only dropped by a few tenths of a degree after the Tylenol. After the dose of Sambucol I took her temperature about and hour and a half later. Her temperature had dropped to about 101.6. A little later in the evening she got up and ate a little, and remained up for about two hours. By morning her temperature had dropped to about 100.8. I kept following the dosage directions and she actually sat up most of the day Friday. By Friday evening her temperature was normal. She had received only the one dose of Tylenol on Thursday. I kept giving her the Sambucol per directions throughout the day. On Saturday morning she said she felt that she could swim in a couple shorter events. I gave her the last dose of Sambucol before the swim meet as a ‘just in case’ measure. She said her energy was lower than normal, which was to be expected, but she did manage to swim in the meet. I know that scientifically this would be called anecdotal evidence. But if this is any indication of the effectiveness of Black Elderberry extract [Sambucol] on the immune system’s ability to fight off a flu virus, then it is definitely the most effective medication/nutritional supplement I have ever seen. I am definitely keeping a supply on hand, probably in lozenge form because of the expiration date is longer. As for the taste of Sambucol, if my daughter will take it willingly then no one should have a problem getting his or her kids to take it. It has a very light taste she said that reminded her of grape juice. While I took care of her I took one teaspoon on Thursday and one on Friday as a preventative for me. And I never got the feeling I was coming down with the flu from being in so close a proximity to her. Thanks for your time Mr. Rawles, – The Rabid One

Letter Re: Some Points About Pistol and Rifle Magazines and Their Springs

I’m glad that one of your readers wrote in to advise against stretching magazine springs. I can also add that when a replacement of any weakened (shortened) coil spring is not available, there is an alternative: Find a rod to use as a mandrel within the spring, and tap with a hammer to slightly flatten the coils against the rod as you work your way around. This will lengthen the spring, without creating the kind of strength-impairing deformations that stretching will cause. – Mr. Bravo

Note from JWR:

Please take the time to visit the web sites for all of our advertisers. They sell high quality products and services that are particularly suited for folks that are interested in preparedness, at competitive prices. These advertisers showed enough faith in SurvivalBlog to purchase advertisements, so please take the time to look at what they have to offer. Also, keep in mind that their product offerings do change, so be sure to re-visit their sites regularly to see what is new, and any special sale pricing. Thanks!

Letter Re: My Wife Ignores My Preparedness Goals

I can not seem to get my wife focused on what needs to be done [for preparedness] and accomplished. I think that she, at some level, believes that change is in the wind but for some reason she doesn’t see the need for a timely accomplishment of tasks. – “Indiana Jones”

The Memsahib Replies: Your wife no doubt has seem the signs of decay: the ever increasing bureaucracy taking away our freedoms, the moral debasement of the culture, and no doubt you have been pointing out to her the signs of economic chaos. Yes, she can intellectually agree with you that America is changing for the worse. But, does she want to believe that it is actually collapsing? NO! Which is why she doesn’t see the need for a timely accomplishment of preparedness goals.
But, why won’t she face reality, you wonder? She may say that it is only YOUR reality! She has lots of reasons for not internalizing YOUR reality.
First, your view goes against what her parents and community have taught her since she was a child: That America is the greatest nation on earth and that everyone can achieve the American dream of wealth, peace, and security. She was looking forward to a house with the white picket fence and a rose garden. You want her to trade it in for a bunker with steel shutters! To accept your reality is to give up on a cherished dream of a life of ease and contentment.
Secondly, her family probably thinks you are a little nutty or maybe even a real whacko depending on how much you’ve shared with them. Her family has no doubt questioned some of your choices. They may have even counseled her that she can’t depend on you to make rational decisions. To go along with your world view is to forsake the approval of her parents. (My own father once said to me, “You don’t really believe that do you? You’re just going along with it to humor Jim, right?”)
Third, maybe she is secretly afraid that if she encourages you, then you won’t know where to stop, and you will move the family to a Unabomber shack with no phone, electricity or running water. Have you gone overboard in the past with preparedness purchases when she has offered the slightest encouragement? It might help if you had a finite list of supplies you plan to buy so that your wife could see that your survival purchases are not endless. Some husbands freak their wives out when they buy supplies as if they are stocking the whole neighborhood, and not just the family. When a friend of ours mentioned to his wife that he was planning to buy some ammo, his wife pictured three or four boxes, instead he purchased twelve battle packs (1,920 rounds!) Your wife might be afraid if she gives an inch you’ll take a mile!
Be mindful of all that you are expecting of your wife when you ask her to accept your view that this is the end of the world as we know it. She is giving up on her dreams and giving up the approval of her family. And finally let her know that she can trust you not to go overboard or surprise her with your preparations.

Letter Re: The Real Shelf Life of Prescription Medications

Hi Jim,
You may already know about this, but if not, I think you and your readers will find it useful. The following link http://www.mercola.com/2001/feb/7/drug_expiration.htm tells of a study the U.S. Air Force requested 15 plus years ago to determine the shelf life of it’s inventory of medicine. The USAF was concerned about having to dump and restock millions of dollars worth of pharmaceuticals. The upshot is, the study proved most medicines are still good way beyond their printed expiration date. This was good news for one of my sons, who requires a daily prescription for his condition. I have researched his prescription in detail and discovered that his medicine is still viable for two years past the expiration date. As a result, I have stocked up on several weeks of his medicine to see him through should something happen to prevent us from replenishing his prescription. What really irks me was the FDA‘s attitude about not pushing Drug companies to extent the expatriation dates to benefit the consumer: “It’s not the job of the FDA to be concerned about a consumer’s economic interest.” It would be up to Congress to impose changes, he says. As things stand now, expiration dates get a lot of emphasis. For instance, there is a campaign, co-sponsored by some drug retailers, that urges people to discard pills when they reach the date on the label.” Talk about your planned obsolescence for making a profit!

Of course, one should be very careful about storing and using any drug past it’s expiration date–Certain antibiotics can be dangerous. Exposure to heat, moisture, etc., can degrade medications [shortening their shelf life.] Be sure to check with your physician, keep a record of what the medication is used for, and store them properly. All in all, it’s good to know that you can keep leftovers from certain prescriptions as part of your emergency preparedness gear. Keep up the great site! – R.S.

Odds ‘n Sods:

The mainstream media is finally starting to pick up on the Iran nuclear threat. I’ve often said that this decade of the “Aughts” will end up looking a lot like the 1970s. The parallels have already been evident: the rising price of oil, rising commodity prices, unstable stock and currency markets, mass inflation, rising precious metals prices, and a protracted counterinsurgency campaign overseas that is causing friction with european governments. And now, heightened tensions with Iran. (Do you remember the Iran hostage crisis in the late 1970s?) Consider this FFTAGFFR, folks!

  o  o  o

The price of silver just took a profit-taking dip to $9.00 per troy ounce on the spot market yesterday. (Tuesday, Jan.17, 2006.) Meanwhile, gold has dipped to around $552. This could be your last good chance to buy before the bull resumes his charge. According to some analysts, the weakening dollar, the ongoing trade and budget deficits, and the nascent saber-rattling tension with Iran point to a target of $10.20 silver and $607 gold for April of 2006.  Silver is definitely the better buy of the two. Yes, it is much bulkier than gold, but it is far more likely to double in price than gold. If you have been doddling, then it is high time to call Swiss America, or one of the other reputable precious metals dealers, and stock up.

   o  o  o

If any of you readers have not yet visited the KT Ordnance web site, then you should.  Richard sells gunsmithing goodies with an interesting angle: He makes 80% finished rifle and pistol receivers, as well as jigs, tools, and instructional DVDs that detail how to complete them. Under the Federal law, these are NOT considered “firearms”, and can be legally completed as semi-autos by private individuals for their personal use WITHOUT completing a Form 4473!  (Consult your state and local laws before ordering.)  OBTW, Richard is currently running a special 10% off of all orders (all 80% complete frames, not just Model 1911s–but excluding jigs), just for SurvivalBlog readers. Check it out! This sale ends on January 31st.

  o  o  o

I recently learned that Loompanics Unlimited is going out of business.  For many years, they’ve sold an eclectic panoply of books that you can’t find anywhere else. I was sorry to hear that Mike Hoy is shutting his doors. 🙁  The only good news is that Mike is blowing out his remaining inventory at 50% off. Check out his online catalog. There are some great book titles there! 

More on Zimbabwe’s Continuing Descent Into Chaos

Don’t miss the recent letters about Zimbabwe from Cathy Buckle on her Africa’s Tears site. See: http://africantears.netfirms.com/ (In the left hand bar, click on December 2005 and January 2006 Archives.) It is sad to see a once prosperous nation slide into an economic shambles due to an incompetent and utterly corrupt communist government. Key infrastructures are crumbling, crop production is steadily declining, and the currency is still suffering from hyperinflation. Mugabe and his henchmen need to be handed one-way tickets to somewhere!

The F-22A Fighter: A 24-Year Procurement Travesty

As reported in Defense Aerospace, the U.S. Air Force recently announced: “The 1st Fighter Wing held a ceremony here today to celebrate the F-22A Raptor’s initial operational capability. The IOC declaration proves the F-22A is mission ready. The base now has 19 Raptors…”
Strike up the band! The F-22 is finally operational. First, some background; I’m very familiar with the history of this procurement. Back in July of 1987, I visited Wright-Patterson AFB to interview Colonel Fain, the System Program Office manager for what was then dubbed the “Advanced Tactical Fighter.” This interview was for a feature article in Defense Electronics magazine. (See Defense Electronics, September, 1987, p. 61.) What Col. Fain was preaching sounded like real Hotel Sierra to me. This plane, he promised, was going to be a real dandy fighter, with an awesome engine that would allow “super cruise” (the ability to fly faster than the speed of sound without afterburner), and awesome avionics. But I understood that I had to be patient…

Development on the ATF actually began way back in 1981, and the concept stage started several years before that. Assembly of the first aircraft didn’t begin until 1991. First flight of a prototype was in September of 1997. (For a timeline of ATF development, see http://www.f22fighter.com/timeline.htm) And now, 24 years later, the first squadron of F-22As has finally been declared operationally ready. A 24 year development cycle? Incredible! If the War Department had had a development cycle for major weapons systems that was that long back in the 1930s, we would still be slugging it out with the Germans in North Africa. The U.S. military procurement system has become so bureaucratically convoluted and hidebound that it barely functions. For the good of the taxpayers and especially for the sake of our troops, something has to change.

Letter Re: Assessment of Coach Guns?

In reference to your January 16th post, have hunted extensively with side-by-side (double barrel or “SxS”) shotguns throughout my life. They are my first choice for upland game and waterfowl. There are many brands of SxS shotguns. Some are valued at a price higher than most reasonably priced homes with 10 acres of ground, others are priced in a race to the bottom. I like the Spanish doubles as a mid-priced SxS. Mine have proven to be as reliable as a hammer, and have good fit for the money spent. Be warned though, double guns of all types have inflated rather dramatically in price over the last decade. Since I am not writing this for a hunting site, but rather, a survival site, I will focus on a couple things I believe relevant:
1. Ease of use. A working double (with internal, NOT external hammers) is almost as easy to get acquainted with in short-time as a single shot. The brand I have chosen for around the farm, and for 95% of my hunting, is the Ugartechea. (See: http://www.doubleshotguns.com/ugartechea.htm) A simple slide up to fire safety on the tang, double triggers (a must, in my opinion), and ejectors that will toss spent casings so quickly that one-handed reloading is a cinch, these are good quality guns that are easy to get used to using, and easy to master
for muscle memory sake. I consider the external hammers to be dangerous in the woods in a “ready to fire” mode…in a stalking scenario. In cowboy action shooting though, many folks can really make them sing. I don’t like them for my purposes.
2. Reliable. They work. I have never had a misfire, and have probably shot 100,000 shells through these over the years.
3. Easy to break-down. It is basically a 3 piece gun (not counting internal working parts), that can be disassemble into those 3 pieces in what, 5-7 seconds? Push a button on the splinter forend, pull down, then push lever to open gun as if to load…and the barrels fall into your hand. This also makes the guns a cinch to clean.
4. Value. An excellent shape Spanish double of good origin will cost $750 up. Many times, it is $1,000 up. Working value is not that of an 870. But, my doubles were bought new for slightly less than that, and, I will pass them as dead-on reliable guns to my children one day…so   they have been worth it to me.

One warning though to those who believe a double can be handed off to the little old lady down the road, who, for whatever reason…has little or no training. Shotguns of normal legal length are not the perfect solution to a “kitchen sink to backdoor” encounter. At a range of 6-10 feet it will have a spread of nearer a rifle than what we think of when
we think of shotguns. It will no doubt bore a hole in one side and out the other at that range, and is wickedly deadly, but it requires aimed fire at all ranges other than point blank—no different than a pistol. Recoil is subjective…to an extent. It can range from heavy, to extreme (on the little old lady scale) depending on chosen rounds. A 12 gauge high brass round? Even tough guys won’t shoot many in a t-shirt…and I have seen the recoil almost dislodge the shotgun from some unsuspecting folks hands. Indoors = lots of blast and noise.
Bottom line: I like the double gun, and I can make it function well in all conditions I have been in, including freezing rain that has created problems with pump guns used by friends. However, I train with these.  Without training? Well, I don’t consider that an option that makes any shooting weapon good. Grandma either learns to shoot, and shoots until a competent shootist, or, she does not get one of my guns. Hard but true.
This brings me to my final (off topic point). There seems to be a bit of fantasy floating around the community that we can have extra weapons on hand to provide the neighbors who have none—after the crunch. Have we really thought this through? Doesn’t it require us to assume that an offer to train the neighbor was made during good times, and it was refused? Then, trouble comes knocking and they see the light? We may have to do this…but it would be my absolute worst case scenario.   Frankly, it scares me. I look at it this way…if the neighbor has no guns, and no gun skills…and the bad guys come to visit…what are the odds that he / she will prevail against them? I think close to zero.
So now, if that happens, they have our neighbors house, and our rifle / shotgun?
I have made a decision only for my family: I will teach any person I trust. I will provide them with training ammo, they can train on my range on the farm, I will do whatever is necessary to get them to the level they can reach…and have done so many times. BUT, if this thing snaps and we are up against it? I will not provide a shooting weapon to someone who has no idea how to use it. Quite simply, I don’t want to face any of my weapons…and I don’t want my children facing my weapons. If you have neighbors, know them. If you can trust them, train them.  If you cannot trust them, move. Best to all, – Straightblast

JWR Replies:  I agree that doubles are a good investment.  When I was in college (in the early 1980s) I had the chance to buy a nice boxlock Greener 12 gauge ejector gun with fluid steel barrels. It even already had its chambers deepened to 2-3/4 inches. The gent was asking just $350 for it. I’m still kicking myself for not buying it.  That Greener would be at least a $2,500 gun today–possibly much more. As I wrote in my novel “Patriots”: “Hindsight is 20/20.”

Note From JWR:

Wow! 5.5 million hits and nearly 200,000 unique visits in less than six months.  Thanks for making SurvivalBlog such a great success. Please continue to spread the word!

Letter Re: Availability of Additional “Where There is No…” Series Books

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I know you are a big fan of the book Where There is no Doctor. (English International Edition by D. Werner ISBN 0-333-51651-6 Published by MacMillan), and Where There is No Dentist (by M. Dickson ISBN 9-780942-364057.) Published by Hesperian, but did you know that there are three more books in the same series that I believe would be helpful if TEOTWAWKI happens? These are:

Where There is No Psychiatrist by V. Patel ISBN 1901242757 Published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists – Survivalists are unlikely to need psychological help for mental illness from the stress but a lot of the sheeple will.

Where Women Have No Doctor by A. Burns, R. Lovich, J. Maxwell & K. Shapiro. ISBN 0-333-64933-8 Published by MacMillan – this is a health guide for women and girls to help them identify common medical problems and treatments. Covers sexual and mental health, diseases, pregnancy and childbirth, nutrition, disabilities and injuries. Uses clear simple language and hundreds of drawings.

Where There is No Vet by B. Forse ISBN 0333588991 Published by MacMillan – this should be of some help in looking after the goats et cetera.

I should say I have not yet got my copy of these three books yet. I know these book are publish by different publishers but they are all publish for TALC (http://www.talcuk.org) which is a UK charity set up to help health care in developing countries particularly Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. This link is a good source for information but may not be the best place to buy from as it is in England. I hope I have been some help and I hope that no one ever needs to use these books. Yours Sincerely, – Simon.