Note from JWR:

Today, I’m covering Oklahoma, the 13th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

State By State – Oklahoma

Population: 3.4 million.
Population Density: 48.5 per square mile (Rank 6 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 70,000 square miles (rank 18 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $736/yr. (rank 26 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $612/yr. (rank 5 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 33 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 80%.
Per capita income: $23,650 (rank 42 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 23 of 50.
Plusses: Minimally regulated home schooling.
Minuses: Fairly high population density (by western U.S. standards.) Fairly high crime rate. Tornado prone (ranked #3 out of top 20 States) High home insurance rates. (Average of $612 per year. Ranked #5 in the country!) Low wages. High car insurance rates. High population density (by western U.S. standards.) Low wages. Tribal governments create an extra layer of bureaucracy within the Indian reservation boundaries.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 17 of 19.

Letter from The Army Aviator Re: EMP and Troops Shortchanged on Helmets, Etc.

It seems to me that I was reading some of Reason Kearney’s writings and he said the EMP damage to cars, etc was waaaay overrated. Of course, that was back when cars had a lot of non-solid state stuff and tube radios. I do remember he said all you had to do to protect the radio was ground the antenna to the car body. (Tube radio, I expect) and not to worry about the alternator and starter (unless you were smack dab in the middle of the flash). When he wrote that, we already had alternators in lieu of generators. Seems like the Army specifies that you should disconnect all antennas and power connectors prior to a [nuclear] detonation.It appears like your engine ought to still turn over and if your ignition system survives, your car might run.[JWR comments: True for most diesels and for any vehicle with a traditional points/rotor/condenser ignition–but not true for electronic ignitions or for electronic fuel ignition electronics.]

Just a thought, with the army switching from the Personal Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) helmet to the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH)–commonly referred to as a MICH (Modular/Integrated Communications Helmet) ,which it isn’t really. The real MICH meets the same specs as the ACH but is reserved for special function groups. The ACH, however, is designed (as I recall) to maximally deflect 12 mm upon impact from a 9mm at (forget what speed, something pretty average though.). More a police level resistance than a combat one. Oh that’s right, that’s what the military will be for. Sorry, I forgot! Why I brought this up is ……. Good opportunity! The PASGT helmet is rated a lot higher in projectile impact and they are about to become dirt cheap. I’ve never minded the weight or configuration of my PASGT and it’s stable as heck for using the PVS-14 [NVG]s. Good thing to have, keeps the sun out of your eyes and the rain off of your neck and projectiles from knocking the golley-whomper out of you. Just be sure to get the airborne nape pad. Although, something you might want to look at is a real MICH helmet. For general wear around the property after TSHTF, it’d be light and generally effective but then you could always grab the PASGT while locking and loading. A MICH and a pair of good gloves might save you some distress “When there is no doctor”.

Off on a Tangent: On the NOROTOS, Inc. mount… Waste of money in my opinion so far. Single point release, too easy to bump and bingo, no
NVD. I’ll give it some more time and let you know.

Comment: I have opined for awhile that “they” are reducing the ability and effectiveness of our troops equipment. Now we have a “lighter” helmet that “enhances vision and hearing on the battlefield”. Sounds to me like the REMF’s bitched about the weight and so they cheapened up the effectiveness. Just like they reduced the calorie count of MRE’s because the REMF’s were getting fat and now “Real” combat troops gotta eat two MREs to have an effective meal in combat. Look at the covers for M998’s and 5 tons. Sucky plastic. How about the 9mm sidearm while the operators in Afghanistan ordered in .45s and pallets of ammo when they found out the 9mm didn’t put their opponents down? And the 9mm [Beretta M9] magazine springs hung up, disabling the weapon. Modern military controls areas, grunts control the dirt….. AND the government fears the ex-military because the ex-military has seen that one man with a rifle can bring a government down. My grandfather told me that. Nuff bitching.

Like you I carry a .45. Since Mel Tappan’s time back in the seventies, I’ve had my pair of Detonics Combat Masters, and I carry every day.

Oh, I should mention that the FreezeDryGuy‘s food is good. You have to follow the instructions on rehydrating the meat but then it’s great on the BBQ grill
or the frying pan. – The Army Aviator

Letter Re: Report from New Orleans

I got back into the National Guard (I got an ‘old man’ waiver). I am with the [Deleted for OPSEC]th Military Police (M.P.) Company. I am presently deployed with the hurricane relief. Even though I have been a ‘survivalist’ (whatever that means) for years, I have learned quite a bit this last month, some of which may move me more from ‘armchair’ to active survivalism. Our M.P. Company was activated and we are helping with the hurricane relief not far from New Orleans. We have not seen much nastiness where we are, but our daily ‘police sheet’ sounds like something out of your novel ‘Patriots‘, and frankly, it scared me in an eerie sort of way. Reports of both Crips and Bloods a few miles one direction, Pagans and Hell’s Angels not far another, the state police arrested a group of 25 (that was one group!) looters in the next county. We are working with the local police here, to keep order. the last two days we kept order at the food stamp distribution center (at a church) there were a few thousand [recipients] over this period (and this is in small town dixie). We drove to the outlying areas to hand out water and MREs. What scared me most was the fact that in such a rural area things would be so much like your book (and this was not as widespread a disaster as in your novel ‘Patriots‘. Below is a letter you may find interesting (FFTAGFFR).

It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can’t blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster. If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city’s infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild. Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists–myself included–did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting. But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster. The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.
The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view. The man-made disaster is the welfare state. For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency–indeed; they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country. When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).
So what explains the chaos in New Orleans? To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story: “Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on. ” The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gun fire…”

JWR’s Comments: The liberals seem to want to have it both ways: First they were begging for Federal relief. “Why isn’t the Army here?”, they cried. Now, only a week later, we have Cindy Sheehan et al complaining about the Army’s “occupation” of New Orleans. Sheeesh!

From David in Israel Re: Replacing Bugout Bag Essentials

A huge fault I see in the survivalist planning of most people is to purchase and stock their bugout bag with the best and most carefully chosen equipment that mail order and eBay can provide years of loving care go into their Bugout Bag (BOB); I consider myself in this group. The potential “survival failure” comes if this gear is lost or taken.
Some people have have no idea how to substitute or replace their gear. You should hopefully have a good idea of the chemistry and physics of your gear and at least have the possibility of repair or replace with on site materials. For example: Sleeping Pads. The est replacement is either a stack of cardboard boxes–which makes good conductive thermal protection from cold concrete very popular with the homeless. From old non-PC Boy Scout manual, pine boughs (with branches the size of a normal pencil, nice and springy stack until you have a good thermal barrier for conductive heat loss.

JWR Comments: This illustrates several things: The first is adaptability. You should be able to think on you feet. That only comes with practice. I know of one survival group that trains specifically for adaptability. They dubbed one of their winter three day training weekends “Bucket Weekend”–in which everyone had to pack everything that they needed for the entire weekend aside from their coats into in one 5 gallon plastic bucket–including their sleeping gear and tentage. That is is the sort of exercise that really gets people thinking and encourages creativity and flexibility. BTW, one of their later summer weekend outings was called “Tennis Ball Can Weekend.” That one nearly caused an insurrection

Secondly, David’s letter illustrates the folly of putting all your eggs in one basket–namely your one and only precious G.O.O.D. Kit or “BoB”, or even your one an only retreat location. Losing that one kit could cause someone to practically go into grief and mourning. Always have a Plan B,with the corresponding logistics for Plan B stored elsewhere. (Typically in a separate offsite cache.) One group that I’ve been associated with for many years by SOP has each of their members cache a spare weapon, pack and clothing in an offsite underground cache in adjoining National Forest, in the event that their retreat is ever over-run. (Each member has one P-3 Orion octagonal plastic sonobuoy storage canister and two or three big 20mm-size ammo cans in the caches.)

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory will be sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds are against you and only a precious chance of survival. There may be even a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves." – Winston Churchill

Note from JWR:

Today, I’m covering North Dakota, the 12th of 19 western states in my rankings of states by their retreat potential.

State By State – North Dakota

North Dakota:
Population: 642,200.
Population Density: 9 per square mile (Rank 17 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 70,700 square miles (rank 17 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $601/yr. (rank 49 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $426/yr. (rank 33 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 2 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 61%.
Per capita income: $24,708 (rank 38 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 6 of 50.
Plusses: very low population density. Extremely low crime rate. Extremely low car insurance rates. With the decline in family farming, the state has actually de-populated, leaving real estate prices low. In eastern North Dakota, in-town lots can be had literally for free–to encourage re-settlement. For various economic and demographic data, see:
Minuses: Brutally cold winters. Short growing season.With the de-population, crop diversity has decreased. (Practically a monoculture.) Many small towns in North Dakota now lack key commerce such as grocery stores, hardware stores, and so forth. (People in many small towns are now forced to drive long distances to do their weekly shopping.) Some small towns in the de-populated regions are verging on desperation, hence the aforementioned “free lots”offers. (Some schools are being closed for want of pupils.) North Dakota has major nuclear targets, so I only recommend that you look west (upwind) of the missile fields. It is estimated that in a full scale nuclear exchange Russia might direct up to 1/3 of its ICBMs at the Dakotas! Unfortunately the missile fields are all WEST (mostly upwind) of Grand Forks (which is on the eastern border). Also, much of North Dakota is downwind from the missile fields in Montana and Wyoming, at least with the prevailing winds. That makes it less than inviting in a nuclear war scenario. North Dakota also has highly regulated home schooling.

JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 8 of 19.

The Precious Metals Bull Market Continues

I was gratified to see that the spot price of gold went to a 17 year high ($459 per ounce) yesterday, while silver closed at $7.21 per ounce. (See my metals price ticker.) I expect some brief profit taking for a few days (and perhaps into October–which has traditionally been a weak month for precious metals prices), but then the metals bull will probably resume his full-tilt charge in the winter. How high will the top be? Who knows… But consider that when adjusted for inflation, the $805 top that gold saw 25 years ago would equate to around $2,200 per ounce, today.

Only one thing is for certain: Like all of the other “fiat” (by decree) unbacked paper currencies of this new century, the U.S. dollar is doomed. Any investment that you buy denominated in dollars is a loser in the long run. Because of both the huge balance of trade deficit and the Federal government budget deficit, someday–probably within the next five years–there will be a full scale dollar crisis. When that happens, expect to lose 40 to 70% of the value of all of your dollar-denominated paper assets overnight. Poof. Finis. Gone!

Your solution to all of this is to buy tangibles. Buy productive farmland. Buy guns, buy ammunition, and buy storage food. Once that is done, buy some silver, and then perhaps some gold. Then you will be sitting pretty. Take the time to read through my Profiles of retreat owners. You will note that tangibles investing, including plenty of precious metals investing is a common thread. They do this for a reason: These folks are not the Generally Dumb Public (GDP). You should invest likewise.

My current prediction is that the U.S. Housing Market Bubble is likely to burst sometime in the next two or three years. There will likely be a concomitant stock market collapse and perhaps a dollar crisis. This will make the Crash of 1929 look like a summer picnic by comparison. And depending on which party that the Powers That Be (read: The Banksters) want to occupy the White House and to control congress, then these events will be orchestrated either before or after the next mid-term elections. (Pardon my cynicism.) In any event, buckle your seatbelts.

Parenthetically, I still think that silver has a better chance of doubling or tripling than gold in this bull market cycle. So if you have the room, buy more silver than gold. Besides, all of those 55 pound bags ($1,000 face value each) of pre-1965 silver coinage make great ballast in the bottom of a gun vault–making your vault that much harder for burglars to haul away. (Which is not to say that you shouldn’t also bolt your vault to the floor, too.)

In closing…
Aside from my steadfast faith in God, the reason that I sleep well at night is the knowledge that my home has a very full larder, large stores of fuel, and a full gun vault. The last thing that I see when I drift off each night is the reassuring glow of a Colt 1911’s tritium sights beside my bed.

Letter Re: AA and AAA Batteries by the “500 Pack”

I should point out that the battery offer by Botach is a high risk issue. Botach is a scum sucking bottom feeding scammer! Check the comments at and – They have a horrible reputation. I can also attest personally that they and have ripped me off (on an expensive rifle scope deal) as well as two of my associates (various rifle parts). I strongly encourage folks to slit their wrists before buying from Botach! – A.M.

JWR Replies: Don’t hold back, A.M., tell us how you really feel! (Seriously, I appreciate your advice. I’ve removed that post.)

Letter Re: Advice on West Virginia’s Retreat Potential?

Mr. Rawles – I appreciate your web site and read it daily. This is in response to “Mo” in West Virginia: I wondered if you have read Mr. Joel Skousen’s book Strategic Relocation. He tends to feel there are areas of the south east that could be viable areas during a crisis . My choice would be central Idaho, but for complex reasons, I will stay in small town western North Carolina and try to prepare an adequate blast shelter. Water is plentiful here and the weather is rarely extreme. (Mr. Skousen also wrote an excellent book on survival shelters.) Respectfully, – C.G.


Letter Re: “Interest Only” Mortgages and Montana Real Estate (SAs: Economics, Montana)

I read a discussion today at Investec Research about on Mortgages and the Federal Reserve as well as price rises on property in Montana. The Fellow said that over 40% of new mortgages are adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) and then he said that over 40% of new mortgages are set up as interest only loans. Interest only means that it’s a forever mortgage. Geez, it’s just a new form of rent where the banks are becoming 100% property owners. I wonder what that connotes, huh? Another dot seems to be connected. – The Army Aviator

Letter Re: EMP Protection

I have been thinking about EMP damage to circuitry. Am I correct that it only damages computer-chip circuits, or does it also fry transistor type? It won’t harm old type ignition (with points) systems, right? If this is the case, a generator would become just as useless as anything, unless it is stored in a metal cabinet of some kind, right? How air-tight would it have to be to be effective in EMP suppression? (would it need to be totally welded, or just tacked good enough to keep it together? I am a welder, and am thinking about making just such a cabinet for my generator, just for such an eventuality, using old 275 gallon furnace oil tanks for metal, I find they are a good source for fairly heavy gauge metal, long as you ‘burn them’ first, so they won’t cause any problems when ya cut them. So, the old tractors, Harleys, etc. will still run, but everyone else will be walking, right? Can we do anything to protect our existing ignition systems that we use day-to-day? I guess this is more than enough questions for right now. I just found your site last night, and I think you are barking up the right tree. With between 80 and 100 suitcase nukes running around, we are very likely to need this info sooner than later!! “My people perish for the lack of knowledge” is more true now than ever!!

If this is the case, extra ignition systems for these generators would be worth their weight in gold, if not more, if stored properly. Talk about a great barter item!! – S.C.

JWR Replies: To clarify: There is essentially nothing practical that you can do to protect existing vehicle electronic ignition systems or fuel injection systems that are used day-to-day. Just store spares, but they must be shielded. (See below.) The alternative is retrofitting to traditional “points, rotor, and condenser”. This is still possible on many rigs built up until the early 1990s.

Some transistorized circuits are at risk from EMP. Essentially, it all depends on the size of the gaps (gates) between components. The smaller the gaps, the greater the risk. (With advances in miniaturization–now down to 1/10 micron gates on many chips–the vulnerability of microcircuits to EMP has steadily increased. The rule of thumb: the older the circuitry, the better. OBTW, as I’m writing this, I’m looking across my desk at my Zenith Trans-Oceanic multiband (AM/Shortwave) receiver that was built in 1957. It has all vacuum tubes–no transistors. So it is essentially invulnerable to EMP. This radio was just recently acquired for me at a garage sale by my friend Fred the Valmet-Meister. It was priced at just $20 because it had some paint splatters that ruined its collector’s value. Look around and you might find some similar vacuum tube vintage radio bargains.

Your generator itself (the windings and the ignition system–assuming that it has traditional “points, rotor, and condenser” ignition) is not at risk, but its control and switching circuitry probably are at risk. Buy at least one spare set of control parts and store them in an ammo can or other similar “Farady cage.” Putting your whole generator in a metal housing will not work unless you disconnect all external connections–including the power output cables. (Any long metal conductor acts as an ‘antenna” for EMP.) So that is not practical on a day-to-day basis, but potentially viable if you get some warning about international tensions.

Finally, your comment about storing extra ignition systems is spot on! You will need both electronic ignition sets and electronic fuel injection controller sets. Try to find them cheap–perhaps from auto parts shops that go out of business. Concentrate on the most common types for pickup trucks and those ubiquitous minivans. Do some research on commonality between models/model years for each type of ignition set that you acquire, and photocopy that data. (So that they’ll be no guesswork, post facto.) Just be sure to store all of the parts in ammo cans or metal tool boxes. An absolutely tight-fitting lid is not crucial. But if you aren’t certain, wrap items in aluminum foil first, for extra protection.

Letter Re: “Square Foot” Gardening Techniques

You should certainly stock up to protect against a disaster, but meanwhile, here’s a website which will teach you how to start “square-foot” gardening now, so you can take care of yourself and yours now and post-disaster, See:
Note: this method will also provide work/food for everybody/anybody you find under your wing. And the “work” part: a feeling of being a contributor may be as important as the food. I heard the man lecture and this Saturday I will attend a workshop on constructing and completing a square-foot garden–but clearly it’s not rocket science. It is something everybody can start doing and thus feel they are participating in your preparation plans, even if they think that you are a bit of a fanatic.

BTW, I paid full price for the same book that he’ll sell you for 1/2 the price on the web site (Grrrrr!) – B.B.

Letter Re: Manufactured Homes Versus “Stick Built” Homes for Retreats + Gun Questions

Dear Jim:
I am completely impressed with the level of data and analysis on your blog site! However, there is one subject I have yet to see discussed. When looking for a homestead/retreat have you evaluated a manufactured home versus a conventional\ stick and frame house? Around these parts lots of rural properties come with manufactured/mobile homes as part of the deal. What is your opinion as to the type of housing to be used for your homestead/retreat?

I also have a few questions concerning some answers to a previous e-mail:
1.) You had mentioned a CETME weapon. What exactly is it and can you tell me something about it?
2.) What kind of AR-10 do you recommend?
3.) You recommended purchasing hollow point .22 bullets. I have noticed a lot of soft point .22 are available. Are
these similar? Any advantage of hollow vs. soft points in .22?

As always thanx for your input.
B’shem Moshiach Yahshua, – Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR: Replies:

On Manufactured Homes Versus “Stick Built” Homes: If you aren’t worried about ballistic protection, then a manufactured home (also called a mobile home) is probably a good choice. Most built these days have 2×6 stud walls and are very well insulated. If you are moving to an area where they are commonplace, then buying a manufactured home will help you to blend in. You certainly won’t be looked at as a pretentious newcomer! The only serious downside is resale value–but that is hardly an issue for most survival retreats.

Regarding your firearms questions:
1.) The CETME is the Spanish-made predecessor of the HK-91–a semi-auto magazine-fed rifle chambered in .308 Winchester. A lot of CETME parts kits landed on American shores in the past few years, and most have been built-up with semi auto-only American made receivers. The result: a fairly reliable +/-$350 semi-auto .308 rifle that can utilize dirt cheap HK-91 alloy magazines. (See previous posts on this subject.) The CETME is a good choice as a primary rifle for someone that is on a very tight budget. (For example fixed-income retirees or starving college students.)
2.) I recommend the American Spirit brand AR-10, because it uses standard FN-FAL magazines, which are cheap and plentiful. Some of the AR-10s from other makers require expensive OEM magazines. In general, I prefer FALs/L1A1s or M1As over AR-10s, since AR-10s share one major design flaw with the AR-15: a gas system that blows powder fouling back into the action.
3.) The .22 LR hollow points are only marginally better for small game hunting than standard copper-washed soft points. (They only expand slightly better.) But, I predict that they’ll be preferred for barter purposes, because most of your potential customer will be doing their shooting for the stew pot, and hollow points will be perceived as better for this purpose.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“Stand your ground.
Don’t fire unless fired upon,
But if they mean to have a war,
Let it begin here!”
– Captain John Parker, Lexington Minute Company, April 19, 1775