Letter from Mr. Sierra Re: AK-47 Reliability

Hey Jim,
A gent recently wrote you regarding the reliability of the AK. This is something I can attest to first hand. Kind of a long story so I’ll try to keep it short. My nephew had used one of my Polytech AK’s one weekend he was visiting, cleaned it and gave it back. Let me preface this by saying that I’ve had this particular weapon almost 20 years now and have had no less than 30,000 rounds through it. And yes, the barrel is pretty shot out at this point, accuracy is about 1/3 of what it originally was. Anyway, the next time I used the rifle was for let’s say a defensive rifle shooting competition. This involved engaging targets at varying ranges up to 200 yards under more than a little stress, movement, etc. Right from the start the action of the rifle felt “slow.” I hesitated for a second cause I knew something was wrong with the rifle. I completed that course and was 90% through the next course of fire (about 400 rounds total) when the bolt locked back on the weapon. I went through the normal malfunction drill and the bolt would not move. It was stuck about halfway. I covered the last few targets with pistol fire to complete the course. I disassembled the AK to get the tension to release on the bolt and to figure out what had happened. It seems my nephew got the receiver cover to fit in UNDER the notch on the rear sight assembly (I didn’t know that was even possible!) I mean the notch that the receiver cover is supposed to fit OVER. I found a broken piece of metal jammed next to the bolt carrier in the receiver. Upon further inspection I found HALF OF THE TRIGGER gone (it had broken off). The best I can figure is that the receiver cover forced the bolt carrier down into the receiver and somehow it sheared off part of the trigger. I put the weapon back together (now with HALF a trigger), checked the barrel and proceeded to shoot another couple hundred rounds that day. The trigger held up fine, it’s one of those two leg type triggers. The hammer springs on those weapons are also double wound and designed to function at 90% even with one of the springs broke!

FWIW, I was really stupid at 17 years old. A friend and I used to bury our AKs in mud, sand, two feet of water and pull them up and fire them. This was back when they were $265 for an original Chinese AKS. It truly is a reliable weapon, I’ve seen it first hand. – Mr. Sierra



Letter Re: Google’s Aerial Topographic Map Site

Just a little more information on Google Earth (also available for free from Google if you type “Google Earth” in Google.com) and Google Maps satellite view (also free) maps.google.com – you can use street addresses any time – usually easiest done in 100 Main Street, 42276 or some similar fashion. It’s also very easy with lat/long coordinates in the search field. There is a ton of information for free there. Also consider http://virtualearth.msn.com for older but more complete satellite maps. – L.C.



Letter Re: Redoubling Our Efforts

Hi Jim,

Our first mountain snow of the season here in Wyoming has re-vitalized our preparation efforts. We took a good, hard look at the homestead and made some substantial improvements this past week or two.

Transportation – I took my EMP-proof 1984 diesel 4X4 in for the new steering gear that has been on the back burner for some time. The new engine is now broken in, so I installed a dual filter system and switched to synthetic diesel-grade motor oil, which will only require semi-annual changes.

Backup Heating – We already had a wood burning stove in the lower level of the main house. Added a wood stove to the outbuilding that houses the pantry. To insure a long term supply of fuel, I called a local logger and ordered a logging-truck load of logs… specifying nothing larger than 10 inch diameter. A load costs about $1,000 and provides approximately 20 cords of wood. I replaced my old chainsaw and stocked up on extra chains, oil and supplies.

I ordered a 500 gallon tank of propane that will be used to fuel a backup generator that is on the planning board for next summer. In the interim, We can use it to heat the pantry with that high efficiency furnace (that my heating-contractor brother is trading me for an Elk hunt.)

(We keep between 2 and 3 years supply of food in the pantry and want to be sure it is protected from freezing should the balloon go up in mid-winter. Redundancy, Redundancy)

Bartering – Bought a few rolls of silver dimes to augment the one ounce silver rounds on hand. Added to reloading supplies. Inventoried the plexiglas, plywood, screws, nails, rolls of plastic, baling wire, barbed wire, twine, hand tools. Noted a dearth of alcoholic beverages. We’re non-smokers, but a case or so of cigarettes might be useful Wampum.

Medical – Checked expiration dates and bought extra vitamins, aspirin, topical antiseptic and prescribed prescription medications.

Clothing – Found that my Carhart insulated coveralls had somehow shrunk. Replaced them and wonder how many pairs of Sorel insulated boots We live on high plains of Wyoming) I should have. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize a world without Wal-Mart and Cabela’s.

Books – Printed and audio… Can you imagine a snowy afternoon without books?

Keep the Faith, – The Regulator



Letter Re: Food Storage Calculations

James,
I came across a website advertising a food storage calculator for $18. Here’s a free one from the LDS Church.
http://www.providentliving.org/emergencyprep/calculator/0,11242,2008-1,00.html
It invites you to identify the gender/ages of family members to produce the custom report. By reading carefully, you will note you can manually change the suggested quantities to reflect your family’s preferences. It’s pretty complete and lets you calculate quantities by quarters (3 months, 6 months, all the way out to 3 years). One thing for sure: it will make you realize that money and proper storage area are important issues to deal with. Maybe most folks would be starting with a 3-month’s supply and then adding as money and storage shelves etc. become available. OBTW, I think the water amount in a “family report” from the LDS Food Storage Calculator is only for preparing these foods. The amount of water at a gallon/day/person would quickly become impossible to store. So, a running water source is crucial, as you have regularly counseled. Better get started now. Remember the mantra: beans, then bullets. – B.B.



Letter Re: Redoubling Our Efforts

Hi Jim,

Our first mountain snow of the season here in Wyoming has re-vitalized our preparation efforts. We took a good, hard look at the homestead and made some substantial improvements this past week or two.

Transportation – I took my EMP-proof 1984 diesel 4X4 in for the new steering gear that has been on the back burner for some time. The new engine is now broken in, so I installed a dual filter system and switched to synthetic diesel-grade motor oil, which will only require semi-annual changes.

Backup Heating – We already had a wood burning stove in the lower level of the main house. Added a wood stove to the outbuilding that houses the pantry. To insure a long term supply of fuel, I called a local logger and ordered a logging-truck load of logs… specifying nothing larger than 10 inch diameter. A load costs about $1,000 and provides approximately 20 cords of wood. I replaced my old chainsaw and stocked up on extra chains, oil and supplies.

I ordered a 500 gallon tank of propane that will be used to fuel a backup generator that is on the planning board for next summer. In the interim, We can use it to heat the pantry with that high efficiency furnace (that my heating-contractor brother is trading me for an Elk hunt.)

(We keep between 2 and 3 years supply of food in the pantry and want to be sure it is protected from freezing should the balloon go up in mid-winter. Redundancy, Redundancy)

Bartering – Bought a few rolls of silver dimes to augment the one ounce silver rounds on hand. Added to reloading supplies. Inventoried the plexiglas, plywood, screws, nails, rolls of plastic, baling wire, barbed wire, twine, hand tools. Noted a dearth of alcoholic beverages. We’re non-smokers, but a case or so of cigarettes might be useful Wampum.

Medical – Checked expiration dates and bought extra vitamins, aspirin, topical antiseptic and prescribed prescription medications.

Clothing – Found that my Carhart insulated coveralls had somehow shrunk. Replaced them and wonder how many pairs of Sorel insulated boots We live on high plains of Wyoming) I should have. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize a world without Wal-Mart and Cabela’s.

Books – Printed and audio… Can you imagine a snowy afternoon without books?

Keep the Faith, – The Regulator





The Memsahib’s Quote of the Day:

“If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,

Five things observe with care:

To whom you speak,

Of whom you speak,

And how, and when, and where.”

– Caroline L. Ingalls (Mother of Laura Ingalls Wilder)



(Josephine and JacksonRecommended Region: The Rogue River Valley Counties, Southwest Oregon)

Concentrate on small towns that are off of Interstate 5, such as Gold Hill and Jacksonville.
Josephine County crops: Hay, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, apples, cherries, grapes, peaches, pears, berries, garlic, and herbs.
Statistics (for Central Point):
Average high temperature in August: 90.
Average low temperature in January: 30.8.
Growing season: 165 days (1st of May to mid-October).
Average snowfall in January: 3.2”.
Median residential home price: (Rogue River): $145,000.
Median residential home price: (Gold Hill): $135,000.
Advantages: Mild climate with a long growing season. Upwind from all potential nuclear targets in CONUS.
Disadvantages: Proximity to California’ s Golden Horde. All of Oregon suffers from the creeping Nanny State mentality that emanates from Salem.
Note: The valley of the Rogue was the late Mel Tappan’s preferred home/retreat locale.This region might be a good one to consider for someone who has strong business or family ties to Northern California.

Grid Up Retreat Potential: 3 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Grid Down Retreat Potential: 6 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 1 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)

 

Announcing The SurvivalBlog Writing Contest–The Prize: A Front Sight Four Day Course Certificate!

Front Sight, America’s premier firearms training school, is sponsoring the SurvivalBlog article writing contest. The writer of the best contributed non-fiction article in the next 60 days will be awarded a transferable Front Sight Four Day Training Course Certificate. This is an up to $1,600 value!

You can write on any topic related to preparedness or survival that you think would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers. To be eligible, an article must be a minimum of 700 words long. About 1,200 to 2,000 words would be best. (Reeeaaally long articles are allowed, but may be serialized.) All writings must be original works and the copyright will become the property of SurvivalBlog. Non-fiction articles only. (No fiction, poetry, or prose pieces will be accepted.) Articles without pictures or line drawings are preferred. (Include photos or drawings only if they are essential for illustrating the text of the article.) We reserve the right to edit articles for length, grammar, spelling, punctuation and to excise any portions that are off-topic. We reserve the right to post only those articles that we deem “blogworthy.” The only other limit to this contest is that you can only be awarded one prize per year. Articles may be written under pseudonyms, if you would prefer. So start writing, ladies and gents! The final deadline for contest entries is December 1st. You may submit articles as early as you wish.You can submit as many articles as you’d like for judging and posting. ALL articles submitted will be considered. Please submit your articles in RTF, AppleWorks, ClarisWorks, MS-Word, or plain text format, via e-mail.



Letter from Bob in England Re: England’s Lack of Retreat Potential

Dear Mr Rawles:
Greetings from the UK. Thanks for the very interesting website. I have your book which I’ve read a few times now. I must admit to a certain envy with the potential you have over there to prepare for the possible difficult times ahead. Just as an exercise and to make some of the people living in even the most restrictive states feel not quite so bad I thought I’d do a run down in your style for England the ‘state’ in which I live. As you will know the United Kingdom is made of (leaving aside the anomalies like the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and the province Northern Ireland.
England
Population: 60.8 million.
Population Density: 1211 per square mile
Area: 50,193 square miles
Average car insurance cost: £757/yr. (NB Today £1 = $1.78)
Average home insurance cost: £203/year
Crime Safety Ranking: probably worse than you think.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 0.0001%. (approx!)
Average per capita income: £34,197
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: ?.
Plusses: The countryside is still beautiful. Tradition and history still takes some beating. Still contains vestiges of our once greatness if you look really hard.
Minuses: Very dense population, (2nd only to the Netherlands in Europe) Very little in the way of personal freedoms, you know about the complete ban on private ownership of handguns. All other firearms are subject to government licensing. You can still own an air gun (just!) as long as it is less than 12 ft/lbs (rifle) or 6 ft/lbs (pistol). Illegal to carry any knife with fixed or lock blade or longer that 3” blade folding knife. England cannot be recommended for anyone with a hope to survive a TEOTWAWKI situation. Very little space to escape the teeming hoards that will flee the cities, and realistically nothing much in the way of defensive firearms to protect what you have. Of course the bad guys will always be able to get guns so the law abiding won’t stand a chance, humanly speaking. We have to remember that God is sovereign and still in control despite what we see around us and my hope is that he will guide us to prepare as best we can within the limitations.
Bob’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 51 of 19.



From David in Israel Re: EMP and EMP Protection

Just following the blog for the past few weeks it seems the biggest discussion is EMP. I have to say that the idea of an EMP far enough away from Air Force One to not blow the wings off will at worst disrupt HF radio for a few days/weeks as the ionosphere recovers from being charged up beautiful aurora would be expected. commercial aircraft would likely also be not adversely affected. The EMP myth started with the day after and grew massive, how much EMP is a car expected to survive before we consider it safe for survival purposes. When we consider risk we must consider aperture and sensitivity. A radio with a 100 meter wire antenna has both a large aperture to generate voltage as well as a very sensitive detector mechanism that can pick up micro changes in the resonant voltage on a given frequency. Your cars under hood electronics has neither long runs of wire (they are also partly shielded in a nice metal shell) nor are they sensitive, in fact they are designed somewhat hardened since they are subject to proximity to several thousand volt spark discharge nearby. As always ground everything that has an antenna, surge protect everything that connects to grid power and look for long wire runs like cable TV and telephone lines.
During the megaton Starfish Prime space blast that opened our eyes to EMP only grid power was affected because of the large aperture of running lines. Even the Intel 386 processor was EMP rated and military EMP rating is for close-in battlefield bursts. It is important to point out that most of the EMP radiation reaching the ground would be longer waves
typically below 30 MHz this means long antennas to get a good resonance. The rules for shortwave radio apply to EMP, you need a real antenna to fry electronics. .I need to get further information from my old E.E. professor (who was head engineer for aftermarket ignition parts design firm, after working designing systems for the F-111/FB-111) for further info and will get back to you with more mil-spec to civilian brand EMP resistance comparison info. For everyone reading they must know losing their car/truck to carjack, nuclear strike, mutated wombat hordes, or no fuel is not the end of the world. After your no power/gas/water tests do a no car test week. Take a bike/donkey/bus/walk to work, not every scenario starts with EMP, I place EMP in the same category as dirty bomb, it has never happened but there is so much FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) surrounding the mythical EMP demon that any discussion automatically reverts to the scary movies and books you have seen.

JWR Replies: I agree that the EMP threat is widely misunderstood and misstated in the MSM. I have studied EMP off and and on for many years. (My first article on the subject was published in 1989 in Defense Electronics magazine.) The EMP threat is real, not mythical. It is true that the greatest risk is from EMP coupling to unintentional antennas such as phone lines or power lines. Keep in mind that the "antenna effect" is cumulative. The microcircuits that operate so many of our modern conveniences are installed in devices that are connected to grid power–and that constitutes an EMP antenna that stretches for hundreds of miles. It is also true that the 386 processors if the 1980s were specifically designed to be EMP-hardened. However, most microcircuits that have been made since then are very vulnerable–with gates (gaps between transistors) that are almost 1/10th that size. (To illustrate the significance of scaling on logic transistor density: The 386 generation chips had 1.0 micron width gates, 486s had 0.8 micron gates, Pentium Pros had 0.25 micron gates. The latest Pentium 4s have only 0.13 micron gates. And now 0.08 micron and even smaller gate-size chips are going into production.) With each generation of microcircuits, the vulnerability to EMP has steadily increased. The rise time for EMP is even faster than lightning. I do agree that the risk to vehicular ignition and fuel ignition systems might be overstated. However, a full scale EMP-optimized attack on the U.S. might do considerable damage to vehicular electronics. The extent of this damage will not be fully known until after we see that bright flash high in the sky. Prudence dictates that we prepare for the worst case. IMHO, each family should have at least one EMP-proof vehicle.



Letter Re: Diesel Tractors and EMP Protection

Sir, here is a short bit of advice about EMP: The older diesel farm tractors would probably be usable after an event because they have no chips or transistors to burn out, either in engines or transmissions. They’d be slow but still usable for as long as you have fuel with either gravity flow or manual pumps for fueling. Hook one to a trailer or former motor home and welcome to the post 21st century nomads. They could also power most PTO driven generators if the generator circuitry has escaped the EMP. In our area a lot of people collect old tractors for parades and farm shows, including townsfolk. Just a thought. Thanks, – Jim.



Letter Re: Google’s Aerial Topographic Map Site and Idaho

Jim,
Another very neat -very free resource that is out there is the Google Earth program. It is available through www.downloads.com. Many of the aerial photos that are used are substandard or old. However much of Eastern Washington and a lot of Northern Idaho contain the most up to date and detailed color aerial photos. This program also allows you to drop down to above the Earth’s surface and move around like you are flying. It also uses some topo functions to view the surface in relief. This tool may be very handy and useful for many scouting out the terrain. The only negative is that you must navigate from town centers. No legal [townshup and range descriptions] or street addresses can be used. It will teach you the skills of photo interpretation fairly quickly as you try and figure out where you are. Thought I would let you know. – EHB in North Idaho



Letter Re: Rural New York

Hi,
As you say, the northeast is not so good for a variety of reasons. However, if one has to stay in that area for family, work or any number of other reasons there are areas where one can be more secure than you might expect. For example, I live in Central New York State. Our place is more then 40 miles in any direction to an interstate highway. The entire county has a population of just over 51k and a population density of about 57 per square mile. Most of this is concentrated in a few larger towns at least 18 miles away with 7k-8k of people. The town I live in has about 1000 inhabitants and a population density of about 12.7 per square mile. The area is very hilly and densely forested. The local economy is based on agriculture – mostly dairy, but some beef and a fair number of small holders with sheep, goats, chickens, etc. However, there are high tech operations as well such as aerospace, pharmaceutical, etc. within easy commuting distance. Of course there are 2 smaller cities (Syracuse and Binghamton) within 50-60 miles. NYC is about 230 miles away while Rochester is about 90 and Buffalo about 200.

In a slow slide scenario people will stay where they are and get whatever handouts they can get from government. In TEOTWAWKI scenario, in a few minutes of quality time with my chainsaw I can close off the road and make it difficult for anyone to approach my house. If my saw isn’t working I can still do it with a handsaw/axe – although it will take more time 😉 I’d imagine that this would happen everywhere so vehicular travel anywhere but on the interstates (they are a bit wide to drop a tree across!) would become difficult quite rapidly. Not even ATVs can get over a decent log snag.

Another thing that one has to remember is that in a TEOTWAWKI situation, for about four months out of the year in this area – unless you are equipped – you aren’t going anywhere. Also, if you aren’t equipped, you ARE going to die from the cold. I am amazed by the number of people in this area who have lived here all there lives who do not have appropriate winter clothing, have no backup heating system, etc.! If TSHTF in the winter most people will die off before they get out of the city because they do not have the proper gear. Even if they do, walking through anything more than a few inches of snow is more than even a fit person can handle for much distance. So, in TEOTWAWKI scenario, for about 1/3 of the year we would be isolated by mother nature. Anyhow, these are my thoughts on the matter. Hopefully not too delusional. One must make the best of one’s own situation. BTW I do enjoy SurvivalBlog and read it virtually every day. Sincerely, – T.P.



Letter from Bob in England Re: England’s Lack of Retreat Potential

Dear Mr Rawles:
Greetings from the UK. Thanks for the very interesting website. I have your book which I’ve read a few times now. I must admit to a certain envy with the potential you have over there to prepare for the possible difficult times ahead. Just as an exercise and to make some of the people living in even the most restrictive states feel not quite so bad I thought I’d do a run down in your style for England the ‘state’ in which I live. As you will know the United Kingdom is made of (leaving aside the anomalies like the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) the countries of England, Scotland, Wales and the province Northern Ireland.
England
Population: 60.8 million.
Population Density: 1211 per square mile
Area: 50,193 square miles
Average car insurance cost: £757/yr. (NB Today £1 = $1.78)
Average home insurance cost: £203/year
Crime Safety Ranking: probably worse than you think.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 0.0001%. (approx!)
Average per capita income: £34,197
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: ?.
Plusses: The countryside is still beautiful. Tradition and history still takes some beating. Still contains vestiges of our once greatness if you look really hard.
Minuses: Very dense population, (2nd only to the Netherlands in Europe) Very little in the way of personal freedoms, you know about the complete ban on private ownership of handguns. All other firearms are subject to government licensing. You can still own an air gun (just!) as long as it is less than 12 ft/lbs (rifle) or 6 ft/lbs (pistol). Illegal to carry any knife with fixed or lock blade or longer that 3” blade folding knife. England cannot be recommended for anyone with a hope to survive a TEOTWAWKI situation. Very little space to escape the teeming hoards that will flee the cities, and realistically nothing much in the way of defensive firearms to protect what you have. Of course the bad guys will always be able to get guns so the law abiding won’t stand a chance, humanly speaking. We have to remember that God is sovereign and still in control despite what we see around us and my hope is that he will guide us to prepare as best we can within the limitations.
Bob’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 51 of 19.