Letter From David in Israel Re: Hurricane Katrina

Watch the news for the next few days to pick up good stories from the citizens of New Orleans as they bug out in the face of possible 20 ft flooding in what appears to be a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina. This is as always a reminder for the wise survivor that the following will likely apply in a survival bugout situation:

1-carry a weapon if you can, but remember your weapon will not solve most survival issues.
2-If your gear is not with you at work or vehicle it is around 50% likely you will not have it if you need it.
3-Never let your fuel tank drop below half.
4-Cary cash and maybe a spare credit card sealed in plastic on your person sealing it may help you remember it is an emergency reserve.
4-Ham radio stays up when most other forms of communication go down.
5-A good 12VDC-to-120VAC (or 220VAC in some countries) inverter will allow you to charge batteries phones and run small power tools if your car is the only power source
6-Keep photocopies of important documents in sealed packages.
7-A bicycle (folding bike is ideal) is a good item to keep in your trunk.

JWR Adds: A regular reader of SurvivalBlog tells us that he will be deploying to the "ground zero" of hurricane"K" as part of a special multi-jurisdictional team. We hope to get a first hand after action report from him upon his return.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“For it’s ‘guns this’ and ‘guns that’, and ‘chuck ’em out, the brutes’,
But they’re the ‘Savior of our loved ones’ when the thugs begin to loot.”
– Rudyard Kipling , Tommy Atkins

Note from JWR:

I’d appreciate your reviews of this blog on RateItAll.com. I’ve noticed that a lot of reviewers there tend to “shoot from the lip”, so it would be nice to see some balance from people that are actually familiar with SurvivalBlog. Thanks!

Gun Laws as a Criteria for Choosing Your Retreat Locale

Disclaimer: The laws, regulations, and case citations contained within this blog do not constitute legal advice. Laws change frequently. Consult a lawyer if you have legal questions. If you choose to act upon the details cited here without doing your own research, you do so at your own risk.

Because most survivalists are gun owners, gun control laws should be considered a key factor when deciding where you plan to relocate. Do some research. Ideally, you are looking for a state that allows vehicular and “on the hip” open carry, with non-discretionary concealed carry permits, and with non-regulated private party firearms transactions. (No “paper trail.”) In a subsequent blog post I will include some data on various state gun laws that was kindly provided to me by the gent who writes under the pen name Boston T. Party. See my review of his excellent book “Boston’s Gun Bible” at my Bookshelf page.

The worst states to for a gun owner to live in are of course the “Locked up and Unloaded” States such as Neu Jersey and Kalifornia. According to the NRA-ILA, under California law, to legally have an unloaded handgun in your car outside of a locked container you must be going to or from a shooting range, to or from a gun show, or on a hunting trip. Otherwise, they must be both unloaded and locked in a case or in the vehicle’s locked trunk. (See California Penal Code sec. 12025 and 12026 for details.) I suppose that means that if you want to carry an unloaded handgun in your car and don’t want to have to spend extra time both having to take the time to get it out of a locked case AND then loading it, you should always carry a pair of earmuffs, some shooting glasses, and some targets in your car… “But officer, I was planning to go to the range after work!”

Some states require no permit for concealed carry. Currently, just Alaska, Vermont and New Hampshire are in this category. (The New Hampshire law is pending, as of this writing.) A few other relatively gun-friendly states such as Idaho allow open carry virtually anywhere and concealed carry without a permit only outside of incorporated areas.

For updates on gun laws in various states, see the Gun Owners of America (GOA) and the The National Rifle Association (NRA) web sites.

Edged Weapon Laws as a Criteria for Choosing Your Retreat Locale

Laws on owning and carrying edged weapons vary widely from state to state and even between smaller jurisdictions within states. Most of these laws will only be an issue for someone that is a serious knife aficionado. In California, (as of this writing) you can carry a single edged knife as long as it is not concealed. Double-edged knives can be owned but not carried. Carrying any concealed knife, other than a folding single edged knife is a felony. Keep in mind that most rifle bayonets are classified as double-edged knives.

Automatic (“switchblade”) knives are legal to own in a few states, but not most. (They sadly got a bad reputation due to some Hollywood movies. In actuality they are a useful tool.) Further, some states allow possession of automatic knives in a collection, but not pocket carry on the street. This is the case in (as of this writing) Montana, Texas, and Wyoming. For current details on various state laws, see:

With the recent profusion of new folding knife designs—many of which can be opened with one hand—there are practical alternatives to automatic knives, assuming that they are restricted in your state. I generally prefer liner lock and axis lock designs with half serrated tanto style blades. I buy knives in medium price ranges, from makers like Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT). Avoid any of the low-end brands and anything made in China! Also, since pocket knives often get lost in the field, you might think twice about buying a $600 custom knife. Frankly, I’d rather buy 15+ CRKTs for the same amount of money, but YMMV. I look forward to getting e-mails from some of you folks with extensive knife field use experience for your specific recommendations.

Letter Re: Food Storage and Cooking With Home Storage

Hi Jim,
First I want to thank you for all the work you have done over the years to help the shorter sighted people like myself get into the survival mindset. If and when there is a collapse you probably will have saved thousands of lives. I first read The Gray Nineties online, and have been somewhat prepared since that time, mainly with bug out bag to get home, and short term (1 month) supplies. I am now in a financial position where I can start purchasing bulk food (i.e. – wheat), and store it, however I would not know what to do with it. Is there a good place I could find on the internet for explicit instructions, or a detailed book? (I’m not a chef, so it would have to be a “For Dummies” guide.) If I’m going to store bulk goods like wheat, I want to be able to use them on a weekly basis so that they don’t go to waste, and so that I can learn the preparation needed for meal making. Thanks! – Scott

JWR’s Reply: It is very wise to use your storage food on a day to day basis. Not only will you be rotating it, but just as importantly you will learn how to use it in cooking. There are thousands of “Tommy Tacticals” out there that have no clue about how to cook with their storage food. I even know of one poor soul that had 2,400 pounds of nitrogen packed hard red winter wheat but no wheat grinder until someone kindly (and quietly) pointed out his oversight.

What to do with all that wheat, rice, corn, and beans? For the wheat and corn, I recommend that you get a Country Living grain mill (available from ReadyMadeResources.com and several other Internet vendors). Motorizing kits are available, or if you are handy with tools you can build your own for less money. If you want to mainly grind by hand, be sure to get the optional “power bar” handle extension for extra leverage.

IMO, the best books on cooking with storage food are Making the Best of Basics and Cookin’ with Home Storage. Be sure sure to get the latest edition of each. Since we have chickens, I prefer to make egg breads. I also have a weakness for corn bread, which is a partial–albeit lame–excuse for the extra 10 pounds that I pack around. Stock up on the other items that you’ll need to bake bread: vegetable oil, salt, yeast (buy it in the large jars–the little packets are way over-priced), and honey (or sugar). Wheat stores for 20+ years, and honey and sugar store indefinitely. Sadly, the yeast will have be discarded every three years. The oil will have to be rotated as well, but at least it can be burned after it has gone rancid. (See my previous blog posts on diesel fuel alternatives.)

Letter from “Doug Carlton” Re: Welding and Shotguns

Hi Jim,
I enjoyed seeing “Dan Fong’s” letter, since I haven’t had contact with him in ages. It was great to see he’s still kicking. It’s good to see that
you’re getting sponsors as well. His plasma cutter topic is on target. One thing people might look at instead of a generator, or as a back-up to the one they have, is a welder with integral genset. Most portable welders are also generators, and being portable you can take it to a work site. Even an under-hood welder, like the kind that many serious 4×4 vehicles have, can be used as a generator (though not as efficient as one
designed to produce power to begin with). In many ways they are a better back-up than just a back-up generator. You gain a useful tool, rather than paying for a spare generator that will just sit and do nothing for you until you need it. They also are more likely to be maintained and in running condition through normal use when you need to press it into service as a generator. It just depends on your power plan. If you’re running a full power plant, then multiple generators are a better way to go. If you’re using a generator to just run lights and a pump, then a self-powered welder would provide both a tool and an alternate source of power.

I still own the 20 gauge 870 that originally belonged to your Memsahib. It has never failed to impress anyone who’s shot it. Everyone that shoots it asks if I’ll sell it to them. Training is the most important thing with the shotgun. While hunting in some areas will help with shotgun use, combat shotgunning is very different than hunting with one, and unlike the semi-auto rifle, most people don’t have a background with the shotty in the military. Most people that have been in the Army/USMC can handle a semi-auto rifle decently, but unless they’ve used a shotgun in their service, it’s a whole new thing. As with anything, training is far more important than which shotgun, or what you have mounted on it. If you can afford a cheap shotgun and a combat shotgun class, you’ll be far better armed than buying an expensive shotgun and no training. There isn’t a three-gun match I go to that pumpgun users will short stroke [the action], or have various other problems. The auto guys rarely have a problem. In classes, it’s the same thing. One class a buddy of mine went to had to divide the scoring between autos and pumps because all the pump
guys were scoring so low. There was a visible dividing line between the performance of the autos and pumps. This was in a class where most people had minimal training and experience with a shotgun. What I’m getting at is I don’t agree that the pumpgun is more reliable because the key reliability factor is the user. Now, I’ve seen shooters that are highly trained with a pump go against the autos just fine. To be able to do that though requires a lot of trigger time, and a lot of slugs and pellets down range. Yeah, it sounds so easy that all you need to do is rack the pumpgun, but reality is different than concept. [JWR adds: Especially when shooting prone!] Go to any tactical match that has a shotgun stage and watch the people operating under the stress of the match. Short stroking is pretty common with the pump even when the user has experience. The most important thing is to get training. The pump isn’t more reliable in the hands of a novice. Don’t get sucked into the pattern that many newbie survivalists do and buy guns and gear to make up for lack of skill.That doesn’t work. You are better off buying a used Sears shotgun from a newspaper ad and paying for a training class, than buying a fancy Bennelli and thinking that you are all set. It’s not what you use, it’s how you use it. – “Doug Carlton”

From The Army Aviator Re: Welding, Shotguns, and Radiation Meters

1.) Welding: I’m no welder by an stretch of the imagination but there’s a neat light to medium welder that runs on 24 VDC. I first saw it from SnapOn Tools for ~$500. Now it’s available from other folks for less money. What’s neat is the Trace inverters run on 24VDC and so do my vehicles. Just a thought. I did a stairway with it and repaired a cracked alternator bracket and battery support.

2.) 12 Gauge: I’ve been using those neat military shell holders. Each pouch holds 12 shells and has web gear clips in the back. Two pouches on each side, and you’ve got 48 shells handy and available.

3.) Radiac: I have a full set of CD meters and Dosimeters. I also picked up a German Dosimeter set from Steve at Major Surplus N Survival
For WTSHTF, I also got a Radiacmeter IM-179/U Military Gamma Dose Rate Meter (Issued, Certified) Code: 110449 for heavy radiation conditions. It’s about the size of two packs of cigarettes.

For daily monitoring I have used a DIGILERT 50 for about 6 years now. Runs on a nine volt battery for about 9 or 10 months. It also has the monitoring and recording software available which works great. All available from S.E. International. It reports Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation. Good high level operation. has digital readout, user adjustable alarm settings, and Total Count mode. There is also pretty sophisticated monitoring software that goes with it. It runs continuously in the background with little load on the computer. Then, of course, I also carry a NukAlert.

Letter Re: Proper Firearms Storage?

Hi Jim,
This is my first time to your blog since my bud, Rod, set me up with a copy of your book (Patriots). I have now read entirely through it in about two weeks. I have a question. When I was in the military, I was instructed by a weapons instructor to always lubricate any weapons that I was going to store before casing the item for long periods of time. My father, who was a Marine (two tours in Vietnam) also suggested this. He said I needed to clean and over-oil the weapon before long term storage. The question is this: is this information true and, if so, don’t we have a responsibility to others here to inform them accordingly. I noticed in your book that there was no mention of this practice and I’m surethat a scenario exists where some will store weapons at their retreats for use at a later time. Please advise on your site. Thanks, Fred in Georgia.

JWR’s Reply: First, rifles and pistols should not be stored in non-breathing heavy gun cases for more than a day or two. . Those are designed for transport only. Even a well-oiled gun will eventually rust if stored in a gun case, sometimes in the matter of just a few days in a damp climate. They are best stored oiled but loose in a gun vault, with an electric Golden Rod dehumidifier operating at all times. Silica gel desiccant crystals also work well to keep the humidity low in a gun vault. BTW, you can usually get large bags of silica gel free for the asking if you phone around. Call your local piano store. All of the pianos that are imported from Japan come with a large bag of silica gel, usually with hanging straps. To reactivate a used silica gel bag, just leave it in an oven set to 180 degrees, overnight.That will drive out any accumulated moisture.

For long term storage, the bore, chamber, and the face of the bolt should all be well-greased with RIG or the good old U.S. military surplus “Grease, Rifle” As we used to say: “Hey! Pass the Grease Comma Rifle!” All of the other metal parts should be lubricated with medium weight oil. (BTW, don’t use WD-40 or other lightweight aerosol lubes. They evaporate too quickly and afterwards leave no effective corrosion protection.) Lastly, be sure to label any gun that has been greased with a prominent “WARNING: GREASE IN BORE AND CHAMBER!” tag firmly attached. (Firing a gun with grease still in the bore can be dangerous.)

Letter Re: Where to Get Iodine Crystals?

The best water purifier for general carry is Iodine crystals. Carry them in a 35mm can, add water, shake and pour into the canteen.
They last, like forever. But, because of drug manufacturing freaks, I can’t find anybody still selling Iodine crystals. Any ideas?

JWR’s Reply: Unfortunately I don’t know any sources. Sadly, most of the hobbyist chemical supply houses are a thing of the past, along with true hobbyist electronics stores. Perhaps someone reading this blog knows a good source for Iodine crystals.

The iodine crystal method works well. A few large crystals will practically last a lifetime. However, be VERY careful not to accidentally ingest even a small iodine crystal as they can be fatally toxic. With large crystals, an old fashioned tea strainer (cage type ) works well, in my experience.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

" …arms…discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. …Horrid mischief would ensue were [the law-abiding] deprived the use of them."
– Thomas Paine.

Note from JWR:

I just added two more profiles for Mr. Lima, and Mr. Coffee. (The latter is a lengthy one, from an American ex-pat living in Costa Rica.) I consider them both “must ” reading.


“Dan Fong” on Survival Welding Gear (SA: Tools)

I have a comment on your recommendation concerning the “Dr. November” Profile. In addition to buying an oxyacetylene rig, I would add a plasma cutter. They are far superior to the gas rig and they run on compressed air and electricity. An air compressor and a generator will run these units. They cut faster and cleaner than a torch. The only consumables are the tip/electrode and cup which run ~$6-$8 a set but they last a long time. I would use the torch on structural steel that is thicker than 3/8″ but wouldn’t waste the gas on thinner material. An arc welder is good for most stuff assuming that you have the correct rods that have been correctly stored. This needs electricity to run but I wouldn’t recommend it for smaller applications due to you might end up burning through the work. Again, the main focus is to minimize gas usage. If you are worried about rod storage, you might consider a MIG welder which uses gas and wire.

My personal favorite are welders built by Miller. This is like the best handgun argument where everyone has an opinion and preference. My reason for liking Miller is that I have burned up power supplies with other brands due to the amount and speed at which I was welding. Some of the well known brands were using Al instead of Cu wiring and I guess I was burning them out. The welding supply store used to send me samples units to try out, but I favor the Miller brand. They have an over-temp protection feature that automatically shuts the system down before you damage the system. In addition to this there is support equipment that needs to be factored into using welding equipment that a lot of people tend to ignore. Enough on this subject. – “Dan Fong”

[JWR’s note: Some of the readers of my novel Patriots will remember the Dan Fong character. Dan Fong is the pseudonym of a real life individual that I have known since college. He is an industrial designer, gardener, inveterate gun nut, beer brewer, aviation enthusiast, and barbecuing expert. (Your basic 21st Century Renaissance Man.) And yes, he really does have a tendency to say: “Oh Maaaaan!”]

The Daily Reckoning On The Housing Bubble

The folks at The Daily Reckoning mentioned yesterday vis-a-vis the Housing Bubble: “…What a run it has been. The Center for Economic and Policy Research reports that the housing market added $5 trillion in ‘bubble wealth’ to the American economy, an amount equal to $70,000 for a family of four. That is the fraudulent money that has sustained Americans at a standard of living they cannot really afford. It is the source of the illusion that the U.S. economy is growing and healthy. It was psuedo-wealth, an asset that really didn’t exist. Too bad so many people spent it. “House Party, Finally Over?” asks the Financial Times. We don’t know the answer. Maybe it is over today. Maybe it will be over tomorrow. Our advice to readers: Don’t be the last ones to leave.”

Set aside a weekend afternoon to read Bill Bonner’s book “Financial Reckoning Day”, or if you are lousy cheapskate at least go through the archives at The Daily Reckoning web site. Their site has a wealth of information on general economics and the inevitable precious metals commentary. They have an excellent free daily e-mail newsletter.)

From The Memsahib Re: In Favor of Dairy Goats

Some of our readers have been very kind to add their input about goats. I appreciate your comments. First, The Goatlady recommends Nubian Goats to make goat butter:

“I have raised goats for many years and the cream does rise to the top just not in the quantities one gets from cow’s milk. The richer the milk the more cream hence the Nubian popularity as a diary goat. Nubians have the most butterfat in their milk for making butter. But more importantly, Nubian milk is the very best for making hard cheeses i.e. cheddar, swiss, etc. Very difficult to make hard cheese with other breeds of goat’s milk as so much is needed. I also have a friend who regularly makes goat butter and sells it locally. It can be done but, again, it depends of the breed of goat and quality of the milk.” You are absolutely correct in that goats are the perfect survival/homestead animal. They are sooo versatile and productive needing very little in the way of outside feed, if at all. The nice things about Nubians are their non-aggressive personality and the fact that they cross real well with the Boer meat goat and usually have twins at each kidding which give quick buildup of a herd and/or good trade products. The wethers (castrated males) of this cross are big chested and necked and train very well for packing (BOBs) and easily train to plow and cultivate and also are very capable of pulling carts and small wagons. Since they live for 18-20 years and the does are still producing milk all that time, it’s an excellent investment at any time. But it is a responsibility also. You need to milk twice a day just like cows although if you let the kids stay on the does you can skip one milking a day, but in a WTSHTF situation who is going anywhere, anyway!. -Goatlady

Next, ” Z” appreciates the smaller size and foraging ability of goats:

“Had a few thoughts on that myself. …You can feed them on ….plants that a cow wont eat. They’re smaller and easier to transport (and conceal). They’re smarter then a cow..and when it’s time to butcher, it’s a smaller job..and a smaller animal…so you don’t have to worry about where to put all the meat, how to store all the meat for your merry band of outlaws… just slaughter what you need, keep the rest on the hoof. …All this came to me when I was watching them eat brush along the side of the road one day. If the sheet hits the fan…. goats are my choice for a survival animal. Goats, the survivalist/militia man/guerilla fighter’s friend.” -“Z”

Letter Re: Recommendations on a 20 Gauge Shotgun?

Dear James:
I have been searching for a good quality 20 Gauge shotgun for home/retreat defense. I very much value your opinion and would like to know what make and model you would recommend. Also do you recommend a semi-auto or double barrel? What “extras” and accessories do you feel are the best? – Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S

JWR’s Reply:
In general, I much recommend a 12 gauge over a 20, unless you are very small-statured. 12 gauge shells are much easier to find (both now and post-TEOTWAWKI), and they pack more of a wallop on the receiving end. There are also a lot of exotic shoyshell loadings available (such as CS tear gas) that are only available for 12 gauge.

I prefer pump actions. I would recommend a Remington Model 870 pump action. They come with 26″ or 28″ “bird” length barrels standard from the factory. OBTW, the Memsahib has owned both the Rem. 870 and Rem. 1100, both 20 gauge. Both were the “youth” models with short stocks. (The Memsahib is 5’2″ and weighs just 95 pounds.) She prefers the semi-auto action of the 1100, but it is generally agreed that they have reliability problems. John Satterwaite (the exhibition shooter) was quoted by a mutual friend as saying that he has three Model 1100s–“One to shoot, one as a spare, and one in the shop for repairs.” The Model 870 pump action, by comparison, is bomb proof. So if you opt for an 1100, get a LOT of spare parts!

In terms of accessories, I recommend that you get:
An 18 inch or 20 inch “riot” length spare barrel, threaded for choke tubes.
A full set of “Rem choke” screw-in choke tubes (including an Extra Full Choke tube for shooting rabbits or perched birds at maximum range)
An Uncle Mikes’ brand shell holder (The type with a Velcro closure flap)
An extra long sling (I prefer the M60 padded slings)
Locking quick detachable (QD) sling swivels. (The Uncle Mikes’ brand works fine.)
Sling swivels. (TOP mount a QD stud on the stock, and side mount in the swivel in the front so that the shotgun won’t flip upside down when carrying it assault style)
Choate brand magazine extension tube. (The end of a 6 or 7 round tube will be parallel with the muzzle of your gun’s riot length barrel.)
Some voluminous pouches to carry spare shells for your basic combat load. (Shotshells are very bulky.)