Letter From “Mr. Bravo” Re: Ballistic Protection of Building Materials

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Jim,
Joel Skousen writes in his book “The Secure Home” that a gravel-filled wall is better than concrete, for an exterior wall or an interior safe room. While persistent impacts will drill a hole in concrete, they will have no effect on gravel, except for slight settling and spillage, generating a gap only at the very top where protection is not needed. Gravel (1/2 to 3⁄4 inch, presumably fragmented and not rounded pea gravel) will deflect and destroy most rounds, unlike sand, which merely slows most rounds. In his book “The Secure Home”, Skousen advises using 5/8-inch or 3⁄4- inch plywood sheets screwed to both sides of steel studs to contain the gravel. (Wood being essentially 2 inch gaps that are transparent to many types of rounds.) Skousen also speculates that a hollow heavy steel door could be filled with gravel. – Mr. Bravo

JWR Replies: “Skousen Walls” do work well, and I recommend them for anyone that wants to do a “Harder Homes and Gardens” upgrade to an existing wood frame house. A couple of years ago, I got a briefing and a slide show from a friend that did some actual shooting tests with up to 12 gauge slugs on dummied-up wall sections. (He expended over 400 rounds in the tests.) He proved that 3/4-inch plywood walls filled with “Three quarter minus” road rock gravel (rough crushed rock that has been screened to be 3/4-inch or smaller) works best for a Skousen Wall. And Mr. Skousen is correct that a wall filled with just small pea gravel or sand will drain like an hourglass after a number of large caliber rounds impact inside a 6″ radius.

And as for ballistically protecting doors and windows, there is no substitute for mass. As mentioned in my novel, I recommend using five stacked thicknesses of 1/4-inch steel plates. (These thinner plates are much easier and safer to maneuver for construction than a single one inch thick plate.) Yes, we are talking about a lot of weight. (See my novel Patriots for a handy formula for determining the weight of plate steel.) Hinges must be sized accordingly, so plan on using vault door hinges. BTW, the hinge support for this kind of weight, requires either a 6 inch I-beam post with an anchor bolt footing or a fully reinforced masonry wall (with a grid work of re-bar) supplemented with a 1/4 inch plate that is at least 4 inches wide, running vertically.) If you aren’t mechanically inclined and are willing to pay a bit more, you could of course also by a commercially made vault door.

Lastly, regardless of the door design that you choose, keep in mind that a “decorative” 20 inch thick masonry wall +/-6 feet forward of your front door is cheap insurance that your front door won’t come under rifle fire from looters except up close and personal. (And then they’ll probably be reluctant to subject themselves to ricochets.) BTW make sure that the wall is at least three times the width of your door. For those of you on a budget: Buy a lot of sandbags. They are sometimes available through military surplus stores, but the best way to buy them is to bid on a lot at a DRMO surplus auction. BTW, DRMO auctions are also a great place to pick up concertina wire at near scrap metal prices.

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Letter Re: Sambucol (Black Elder) for Influenza

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Intro From JWR: I’ve received more than 10 e-mails from folks on three continents about using elderberry extract for treating influenzas. However, I was reluctant to print any of them until now. I guess I was being overly cautious, because in the just past day I got two letters that cited clinical studies rather than hearsay:

Hello Jim,

I’ve been a believer in the effectiveness of an Israeli-made extract called “Sambucol” for a number of years. My seat-of-the-pants reaction is that it definitely does ward off colds/flu. The following is from the manufacturer:

Effect of Sambucol® on several strains of Influenza virus.
Sambucol®, a standardized extract, is a preparation based on the berries of the Black Elder, used as herbal remedy for influenza virus infections. It contains a potent antiviral compound, AntiVirin® as well as a high amount of three flavonoids (Bronnum-Hansen and Hansen, 1983.) The flavonoids are naturally occurring plant antioxidants.
Laboratory tests:
Sambucol® was shown to reduce hemagglutination and inhibited replication of human influenza virus type A, type B and animal strains from swine and turkeys in cell cultures.
Clinical Study:
A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical study was conducted during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. A significant improvement of the symptoms, including fever, was seen in 93.3% of the cases in the Sambucol® treated group within 2 days. A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the Sambucol® treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group. “Inhibition of Several Strains of Influenza Virus in Vitro and Reduction of Symptoms by an Elderberry Extract (Sambucus nigra L) during an Outbreak of Influenza B Panama”, Z. Zakay-Rones et al. J. Alt Compl Med 1995;1:361-369.

Second clinical study on flu
In a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled study conducted in Norway, Sambucol® was shown to significantly reduce the duration of the flu by approximately four days. The use of rescue medication (pain relievers, etc.) was significantly less in the group receiving Sambucol® than in the placebo group. “Randomized study on the efficacy and safety of an oral elderberry extract in the treatment of influenza A and B virus infections” Thom Erling & Therje Wollan, J. Int. Med. Res., 2004;32(2):132-140.

Sambucol has been the subject of two double-blind tests, both of which confirmed its efficacy. See:
http://www.sambucol.com/article_page.asp?aId=29&catId=138

I can also attest to its ability to stop flu in its tracks from personal experience. It works if one takes it at the first sign of flu symptoms. We also make our own elderberry extract, and it works as well. – D.M.

Another reader sent this useful link from the NIH:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=9395631&dopt=Citation

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Letter Re: Sources for Pre-1965 U.S. 90% Silver Coinage?

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Mr. Rawles:
What is a good source for pre-1965 junk silver coins?

JWR Replies: I recommend that you call for prices from several coins shops in your local area. Because a $1,000 face value “junk silver” bag weighs 55 pounds, insured shipping is problematic. So it is advisable to buy locally, but definitely shop around for the best price! As previously mentioned, buying bags of pre-1965 dimes is best for barter. If you don’t have any nearby coins shop and don’t mind paying for the freight, contact the folks at Swiss America Trading. They are very reputable.

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Jim’s Quote of the Day:

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"Perhaps you’ve heard the one about the 700 firefighters from various states who volunteered to do rescue work following Hurricane Katrina? They sat in a hotel room in Atlanta for days getting sexual harassment training from Federal Emergency Management Agency officials. No joke. Note to Republicans eager to shovel new money at federal agencies: This is how government works." – Columnist Mona Charen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Letter Re: Ballistic Protection of Building Materials

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Mr Rawles,
I saw the letter you posted asking about the ballistic protection afforded by common building materials. I did some experimenting on this topic, testing the protection of concrete-filled blocks against a number of common calibers. You can see my findings here:
http://www.clairewolfe.com/wolfesblog/00001296.html and here: http://www.clairewolfe.com/wolfesblog/00001404.html
Even 8 inches of concrete offers only temporary protection from rifle ammunition (though it’s quite good against pistol fire.) For info on other materials, you might direct folks to: http://www.theboxotruth.com/ – Ian

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Letter Re: Retreat Potential for The Eastern States–Virginia

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

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Letter Re: Asian Avian Flu

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Dear Mr. Rawles:
I read A. Microbiologist’s comments today on Tamiflu becoming resistant to Avian Flu and I wanted to attach a link from Canada.com disputing that contention: http://www.canada.com/health/story.html?id=81201e24-9e91-4287-833b-9da02ff083ac
Regards, – C.P.

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

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Letter Re: “Get Back Home Kit” Packing Suggestions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep the Faith, – Dutch in Wyoming

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Jim’s Quote of the Day:

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

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