Monday, December 31, 2007

Haaaaappy New Year

Just wanted to take the time to wish everyone a happy New Year. It's still 30 minutes away for me but it's close enough. Thanks for reading and I hope that your New Year is excellent.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Loose Change

Everybody has a coin jar. It's that container that you throw your loose change into every night. The question is what do you do with all of those coins? Some people just sit on them in case of a rainy day. Other people wait until they have a good pile and then take them to the local coin star, give the machine it's 8% cut and cash them in every once in a while. Others just put them back in their pocket every morning. Your coin jar can be a pretty significant part of your preps if you educate yourself a bit about coins.

There are a lot of coins out there that are worth a lot more than their face value. Any quarter, dime or half dollar with a mint mark of 1964 or older is made up of 90% silver. A quarter is worth $3 just in the silver value alone. Dimes are worth $1 a piece. From 1942-1945 the nickels that the US minted were 40% silver. From 1965 to 1970 they lowered the silver content in half dollars from 90% to 40%. A lot of older coins that you're not likely to find in circulation anymore also have high silver content such as liberty half dollars, mercury dimes and morgan dollars. Collectors call it junk silver. These days it's very rare to find silver coins in circulation. It's still worth it to look through your coins before you cash them in. They're old coins so usually they're pretty easy to pick out.

Recently the value of non precious metal such as nickel and copper has been rising steadily as well. This has resulted in the metal value in some common coins to be worth more than the face value. Any penny minted before 1982 is 95% copper. In 1982 the mint changed the composition of pennies from 95% copper to 97.5% zinc with a copper coating. Some of the pennies that were minted in '82 were copper and some were zinc. The easiest way to tell the difference is to take a solid copper coin and a zinc coin and flip them with your thumb into the air. The copper coin will make a noticeable "tinging" noise. The melt value of solid copper pennies is around 2.5 cents each and rising right now. It might not be worth it to sort through them today but if you have a big pile of pennies then chances are good that a lot of them are copper. When they're worth 10x face or more (like the silver coins currently are) then it will certainly be worth sorting through them. The best thing to do is to never spend your pennies.

The same goes for nickels. All nickels (even the new ones that are currently being minted) are worth about 7.5 cents each. They're made up of 75% copper and 25% nickel. If you go to the bank and get a $2 roll of nickels then the metal in them is worth $3. If you get $100 worth of nickels then the metal is worth $150. Are you following me?

The Federal Reserve would love to take nickels and pennies out of circulation due to the fact that the metal costs more than they're worth but they're afraid that it would have a dramatic effect on the economy. If the time ever comes where they do that then pennies and nickels will skyrocket in value. They're so cheap, so common and yield such little return when you cash them in that there's really no reason to spend them.

Friday, December 28, 2007

So a nuclear bomb goes off in your AO...

If you're reading this site then you probably already know how big of a nuclear target your area is. You can check out this site to get a good idea if you're not sure. It's easy to believe that your chances are pretty slim if you're anywhere near a nuclear bomb when it detonates. The thing is that nuclear attacks are a lot more survivable than a lot of people seem to think. Sure you're screwed if you're at ground zero when the bomb drops but even if you're just a couple of miles away your chances are pretty good. The farther you are from the blast the better your chances are. While the blast itself would be absolutely devastating the fallout is also extremely dangerous and will end up killing a lot of people. Just surviving the initial blast is the easy part. You have to know what to do to survive for the days and weeks following the blast.

So a nuke goes off close enough to you that you can see the mushroom cloud but it's far enough away that you're not immediately vaporized. What should you do? It really depends on how far away you are from it. If it's close then get down! If you're old enough you'll remember duck and cover drills in school. The blast creates very hot, very heavy winds that will reach people within a few miles of the blast. Those winds will be pushing debris around like in a tornado or a hurricane. Besides the danger of flying debris the winds can burn you badly. Get down on the ground face first. If you're outside find a ditch or get under your car. If you're inside then try to find a room with no windows. You have to act fast. From the time that you see the flash you'll only have a few seconds before the winds reach you. Stay down for at least a few minutes from the time that you see the blast. The key here is, of course, being alert and recognizing the threat. Most people won't realize that the big flash that they just saw was a nuclear bomb going off. While they stand there dumbfounded they'll be ripped to shreds and burned alive.

If it's far off in the distance then you've still got to act fast. Most people will be dumbfounded, afraid and have no idea what to do. Have a plan of action ahead of time. If you're on the interstate then you need to get off of it ASAP. You need to know several alternate routes to get home. This is just one of the reasons why I keep extra gear in my car. I know that I could very well be walking. First of all the bomb will emit an electro magnetic pulse that will fry a lot of the electronics in the area. If it's close enough your car might not even run and it won't be fixable without the appropriate new parts. Another option is bunkering in place. In some cases where you work may just be safer than your home. If you absolutely must get home then get there as fast as you possibly can. It won't take long for the fallout to start to settle, especially if you were relatively close to the blast. You'll die in no time from the radiation if you stay outdoors after a nuclear bomb goes off nearby. You won't do your family any good if you insist on walking 20 miles to get home ASAP and you end up dead before you make it halfway there. If you can't make it home from where you're at within an hour then DON'T GO HOME.

This leads us to another question. Should you stay or should you go? Seeing a nuclear bomb go off just 20 or 30 miles away would make anyone want to turn tail and run. Guess what? That's exactly what most people will be doing. In a perfect world we'll have plenty of notice. In reality our only notice will probably be a mushroom cloud rising on the horizon. By then it's too late to go anywhere. If you're lucky enough to have plenty of notice before a nuclear attack and you have somewhere feasible to go then by all means go. If you get the news from a trusted source before anyone else hears about it (if you actually have a source like that please feel free to give me a call when he tells you that the bomb is about to drop) then you should have no trouble quickly and quietly slipping out of the city ahead of everyone else. If you're like 99.9% of the population you MIGHT be lucky enough to hear some kind of warning on the news ahead of time. If it's a serious enough warning then everyone else will be panicking to get out of dodge right along with you. In that case you'd be better off bunkering in place rather than being stuck on the highway 10 miles out of town when the bomb goes off.

So how the hell are you supposed to "bunker in place" after a nuke goes off? I can hear what you're thinking now. What kind of whackjob has a nuclear bomb shelter? As nice as a bomb shelter would be in the event of a nuclear disaster, technically you don't need one. You just need lots of stuff in between you and the outside when everything is covered with fallout. When a nuclear bomb goes off it vaporizes everything at ground zero which irradiates it and sends it up into the air. That irradiated dust falls wherever the wind blows it. This is fallout. There are a few things to keep in mind about fallout. First of all it loses it's potency over time. It loses 99% of it's lethal intensity after just a couple of days. Also, the radiation that it emits can be stopped by enough mass. Different materials block radiation more effectively. Lead is obviously more effective than air but if there's enough air between you and the radiation then you'll be safe. In other words, if you're in a spot with lots of mass between you and the fallout then you should be good. If you don't have anything between you and the fallout then you can kiss your ass goodbye.

If your house has a basement then you've already got a good start. You basically want to find a wall, set up a table and just pile stuff up around and on top of it. Even more effective would be to build a large shelf that's high enough that you and your family are comfortable underneath it. That way whatever you store on the shelf will already be there and there would be that much less work involved if you ever have to get a shelter set up quickly. If you don't have a basement then find a room in the middle of your home that's as far from any walls as possible and set up the same type of impromptu shelter. If you have things like bricks or sandbags handy before the event then it will make it that much more effective. These things can be stored inconspicuously in a shed, garage or even as landscaping. You also want to seal all of your windows. Duct tape and plastic garbage bags will work.

Once you get everything set up then you'll want to sit tight for a few days. For the first 7 hours the radiation will be at it's most dangerous levels. After a couple of days it should be safe to leave the shelter for short periods of time. For at least the first few weeks that's where you'll want to spend most of your time and you'll definitely want to sleep there. Staying in a small, enclosed room will be very taxing psychologically. You'll want to make sure that you have certain supplies in place and ready to go. You want food that you don't have to cook. You might want a small space heater. You want lots of water. You'll need a bucket to crap in. Some sawdust or lime will help kill the smell. Have some bags handy to line it with to make it easier to empty. Blankets, warm clothing and maybe a small mattress will be good to have, too. A small radio will help keep you up on the news. Small LED flashlights last a long time and would be an ideal source of light. Books and games will help keep you sane.

This type of shelter won't help you if you're really close to the blast and your home is severely damaged. If you feel like you're in a very high risk area then you can either take your chances or you can build a dedicated fallout shelter. This can be as simple as a giant steel tube buried in the ground. The cheap ones start at a few grand. These are just a 4 foot tube with a couple of entry points welded onto it and buried several feet under the ground. If you want to spend more you can get bigger ones (around 10 feet in diameter) built with things like blast valves, air filtration systems, plumbing, beds, underfloor storage and the whole nine yards. Expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $50k for a setup like that. I've seen several other designs ranging from buried concrete rooms to large tanks. What they all have in common is that they're buried at least a few feet underground (around 8 feet underground is generally accepted as 100% protection) and the more comfortable it is the more expensive it gets. If you're preparing for the absolute worst case scenario then this is what you'll want.

This is by no means a complete guide. Do a google search for things like nuclear fallout, nuclear shelters, nuclear disaster, nuclear protection and things like that and you'll find a plethora of information on the subject. I encourage you all to do your own research and to take the threat seriously. It's not a matter of if. It's a matter of when. Just look at the news and you'll see plenty of evidence for another Cold War in the making.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

AK vs AR, .45 vs 9mm, .308 vs 5.56 etc etc

This argument just gets beaten to death. It seems that every time I turn around I get sucked into a debate on the subject. The bottom line is that there are pros and cons to every one of these calibers and the weapon systems associated with them. When you think of the 5.56 round the first gun that comes to mind is the M-16/AR-15. Everyone knows what this gun is. Anyone that's been in the military in the last 30 years or so has probably had experience with it. It's also got a huge following with firearms hobbyists all over the US. The AK is probably one of the most easily recognized firearms in the world. To some it's a symbol of freedom. To others it's a symbol of terrorism and anarchy. Then there are the sensible people that recognize it for what it inexpensive, durable, reliable piece of equipment that you can always count on to work when you need it. .308 is another "serious" rifle caliber. Most hunters would recognize it as a solid intermediate hunting round. It's getting harder and harder to find a hunting rifle chambered in .308, though. The military style rifles are relatively expensive and the ammo has gone up in price drastically. While the ballistics of the round itself are great there are just too many drawbacks from the weapon systems that employ it such as the weight of the guns, the weight of the ammo, the relatively limited capacity of the magazines, etc etc. Then you've got the big handgun argument. 9mm is the deadliest caliber in the US. It kills more people in the US than any other caliber year after year. It's also the cheapest handgun caliber (besides .22 which really can't be considered as a viable defense caliber). .45 seems to be what it's compared to the most often. It's a great round but it's twice as big (and heavy), twice as expensive and the guns tend to have a much lower capacity.

Now that I've covered the basics let's get to the point. NONE OF THAT CRAP MATTERS! If you point a gun at a person, pull the trigger and manage to hit them then there is a good chance that they'll be discouraged from continuing their attack. Even if you DON'T hit them they might just go "OH SHIT" and turn tail and run once they realize that you're not as soft a target as they originally thought. You might be able to put a full magazine into a hole the size of a quarter from 100 yards from a bench with your $2000 AR but do you think that you'll have that kind of accuracy when your heart rate is 130 beats per minute, you've been walking for 10 miles and you're being shot at? What it comes down to is that the person behind the gun is much more important than the gun that you choose. You hear cute little anecdotes about how badass our troops are because of their M-4s all the time or how worthless the AK is because the terrorists that are shooting them never hit shit. Give our troops the AKs and their troops the M-16s and it wouldn't change a thing. We would still hit our targets and they would still be a bunch of untrained peasants who are pissed off at the world and think that picking up a gun and shooting Americans will make everything better.

What it comes down to is that training matters a hell of a lot more than the gun that you choose to use. That $2000 AR with 50 mags and 10k rounds of ammo sitting at the house won't do you a damn bit of good if you get shot in the face because you walked right into an ambush the first time you decided to go on a patrol. Learn how to shoot. Learn about battlefield tactics. Learn basic infantry tactics. Learn how to setup and recognize an ambush. Learn what to do if you get fired upon. Knowledge will help you a lot more than the most high speed gun and thousands of rounds of ammo. When you become some kind of badass that's confident and knows how to react in those types of situations then it won't matter what kind of gun you've got. That's not to say that you won't be more picky. You'll just know exactly why you're choosing to spend more on a different weapon system rather than taking someone's advice from the internet. Here's one of my rules to live by. Until you know WHY you need to spend more money on something then don't bother spending more money on it. Another thing to think about is that eventually you get to the point where you're spending a LOT more money for a marginal improvement in performance. When I get to that point I like to ask myself whether or not it's really worth it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Emergency Cash

One thing that you'll see pop up a lot in "survivalist" discussions is the worthlessness of cash and the practicality of material possessions. According to some people that you talk to if something really big happens then cash will be worth about as much as toilet paper while things like silver, ammunition and food will be worth their weight in gold. Every time I read things like that I roll my eyes. I do believe that things like silver, ammunition, gold and a lot of other extremely useful items that we take for granted will be highly valued. I also believe that cold, hard cash will be accepted before any of those in the early stages of any kind of societal crash. Since birth we have been conditioned to accept cash as a form of payment. In my opinion it'll take a HUGE disaster for money to become worthless. They have turned it into a commodity in and of itself due to the difficulty of counterfeiting it.

Our money is almost impossible to counterfeit. It won't take all that much for your money to become extremely hard to get to, though. One thing that you have to realize is that about 90% of the money in the world (if you go by the bank balance sheets) is virtual. In reality, considering the games that the banks are capable of playing with their balance sheets, a LOT more than 90% of our world's money supply is virtual. It's just a number on a computer screen. You can have $500,000 in the bank but that doesn't mean that you have $500,000. First of all the FDIC only insures your balance up to $100,000. I welcome anyone with $500,000 in their bank account to walk into their local branch and try to close your account and demand cash. The bank won't have enough money on hand and they'll definitely request that you give them time to get the money. Now imagine if 50 people with a combined total of $500,000 decided to go to the bank on the same day and withdraw that much cash. It's a lot easier to tell one person "sorry we don't have that much cash handy" than it is to tell 50 people the same thing.

Enter the survivalist's emergency stash. What, exactly, does this stash consist of? It consists of cash on hand. How much should you have, though? I've seen recommendations that range from whatever it takes to get you out of town to six months worth of everyday expenses. I say keep whatever you can afford. Just make sure that you're honest with yourself when you decide on what you really can afford. First of all make sure that it's cash. That credit card that you never use with a $1500 limit might be worth something now but what if the machines shut down? How are those or any of the other credit card style gift cards that you got for Christmas going to be redeemed? Even if you just keep a $2,000 emergency fund in an obscure bank account do you really feel that it's safe? There is nothing more safe than having cash in hand before the shit hits the fan.

I just got about $150 in cash for Christmas. Now I could have gone out and blown it on things that I wanted. After all the money was supposed to be the equivalent of several Christmas presents. Instead I chose to add it to my stash. That stash will be easily accessible for me. If I need to get to it then I won't need to worry about the banks freaking out when I go to withdraw "such a large sum of cash". I'll already have the large sum of cash on hand. If by some miracle someone actually makes it in and out of my house without getting shot by me or my wife or without getting mauled by my dog after by some miracle actually finding said stash then I guess that they're just as entitled to it as I am. If you intend to keep cash on hand then please take precautions.

It will take a HUGE crash to stop money from being taken as payment for anything. If things get so bad that everyone is running to the banks to empty their bank accounts then you'll be really happy that you've got a few grand sitting at home.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Water Storage

This one is pretty basic and it gets touched on a lot. It's important enough that it deserves a dedicated post, though. Being able to turn on the faucet and get thousands of gallons of fresh, clean water with no effort and for very little cost has spoiled us. What do you do it if stops flowing or your normal supply gets contaminated? If you don't have water then you'll die fast. There are several options. You can get a filter or a purification system but in that case you need access to water to filter. You can build a rain catchment system but you need it to rain on a regular basis for that to work. That leaves storage. It's the easiest system to have in place before a crisis hits. It can be done extremely inexpensively. The most important thing to keep in mind is that you need about 1 gallon per day per person. That is a very small amount and it will take a lot of discipline to go from living off of city water to living off of what you have stored in your garage.

There are several different options for water storage. The first is to think about all of the containers in your home that already store water. The tanks in your toilets have fresh, relatively clean water in them. Your hot water heater has a lot of water in it. Your pipes might even have some water in them if a disaster hits fast. If you have some forewarning you can fill up any buckets, bathtubs, sinks and other containers at the first opportunity. A very good option is a water BOB (search google for "water bob"). It's a large plastic water bladder that fits in your bathtub that you can fill instead of filling the water directly into your tub. That's a lot of standing water to keep fresh for any period of time. Bathtub floors aren't the cleanest surfaces, either. If you don't have a water bob then just make sure that you add some bleach to your bathtub after you fill it up. A drop per gallon is the typical ratio.

Now that you know what you can do if you find out that a disaster is about to hit lets talk about what you can do now while the disaster is still hypothetical. Plastic bottles make great water containers. Any time I finish a 2l bottle of soda I wash it out, fill it up with water and add it to my stock. I do the same with bottles of vegetable oil, juice, etc. Basically anything that's a clear plastic that had something in it that you either drank or ate should be safe to fill up with water. Just make sure that you add a dab of bleach to it. Glass is great, too, but you don't see that used very often anymore unless you drink a lot of hard liquor.

Another option is to use water storage containers. You can pick these up at most sporting goods stores or Wal-Mart for less than $10. They generally range from 5-7 gallons. They usually come with a spigot attachment. Some sporting goods stores sell slightly larger ones in the 15 gallon range. You can also get online and order 5 gallon water cans from several online merchants for a reasonable price. Check Sportsmansguide often.

The problem with that type of storage is that it's not efficient. 10 5 gallon jugs takes up a lot of space. If you want to get bigger I'd start by looking at 55 gallon food grade plastic drums. If you have a soda bottling plant nearby you can usually pick these up for about $15 each. You might have to clean them out and since they contained soda syrup before you got your hands on them you might be stuck with water that never quite loses that faint Dr Pepper flavor. Either install a spigot or get a siphon. I'm planning on getting a simple siphon in the near future. I'll let you all know how it works out. If you're going to store water in 55 gallon drums make sure and put a wood pallet under it. I've heard of leakage problems. It's probably got something to do with 55 gallons of water pushing down on plastic that's up against something as hard as concrete over a long period of time. I don't imagine that the plastic would hold up forever.

Now that we've got the cheap solutions out of the way let's start thinking about where you can spend some money. Unless I lived in the boonies I wouldn't consider a tank bigger than what I could fit in my garage, a shed or my basement. You'd be very surprised how much water you can fit in a relatively small container, though. The biggest problem that I see with a large water container in the city is that if you actually have to utilize it then it's probably time to get the hell out of dodge in the first place. A quick google search revealed a couple of options for 300 gallon water tanks. Bigger than that and you're getting into the "hey look at that big fucking tank in that guy's back yard. Let's go check it out" territory.

There are plenty of solutions to ensure that you have fresh, clean water through a disaster. Water storage probably won't get you very far (maybe a few weeks unless you're really hardcore) but a few weeks is usually all that you'll need. For the urban survivalist you'll want to consider more portable options in the event of a catastrophe. If something lasts for a few weeks or more then even living out of a tent in a national forest somewhere will start to look good.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Just One Gun!?!?!?!?!

One question that I see come up a lot is "If you could have just one gun what would it be?" I hate this question. I will never own just one gun. Choosing one gun is all about compromise. I'm not willing to compromise when it comes to issues like that. Different guns do different things. The thought of having to rely on one gun for everything for the rest of my life just doesn't sit well with me. If you have no other choice but to choose just one gun then there are a lot of things that you need to consider.

If life goes on as it has been for so many years and the worst that you have to worry about is getting held up by a crackhead or being in a mall when some psycho decides that he wants to make a name for himself then a handgun will be about all that you can expect to have handy if you're ever forced to protect yourself. The chances of living your life every day without incident are very good under those circumstances whether you carry a gun or not. That's obviously something that you have to consider. If things get a little worse and crime starts to get out of control but society hasn't totally collapsed then you would most definitely want to arm yourself with a small, compact, easily concealable firearm. If something dramatic happens and modern society suddenly ends then you'll need more gun than what you can easily conceal under a light jacket or fit inside of your waistband. When someone is shooting at you from 100 yards with a high-powered rifle then a handgun just aint gonna cut it.

There are plenty of different weapons that you can look at. They actually make stocks and extended barrels for several pistols out there. The Glock stock comes to mind. They're highly illegal unless you pay special taxes and fill out the proper paperwork with the ATF but if you're willing to jump through the hoops then more power to you. High capacity Glock magazines are relatively cheap and easy to find. The Glock itself is an incredibly reliable and durable weapon. If you live in a state where suppressors are legal then it's easy to get the parts you need to suppress one. If nothing bad ever happens then you'll always have an easily concealable, unbelievably reliable (just check out the torture test that some guy put his Glock through at this url firearm that's easy to keep handy whether you're in the office, at the grocery store or at home.

There are also several pistol caliber carbines that are small and compact. MP5s are a good example but it's just big enough that I wouldn't want to try and carry one around all of the time. They're also ridiculously expensive which, in my opinion, exludes them from "trunk gun" status. Let's face it. You're more likely to have your car broken into and your gun stolen than have to actually use it in a self defense situation. Don't even get me started on how complicated the action is and how many small parts it contains. Most of the pistol caliber carbines that are inexpensive enough to leave in your trunk and forget about are way too big to ever consider concealing if you were ever put in a situation where you wanted to have a gun on you.

The exception to that rule is the Keltec Sub2000. It folds down to an extremely small size. It's lightweight. Carrying it in something like a laptop carrying case, a backpack or in a special pocket in a jacket or something like that would be conceivable. They run about $300 which is inexpensive enough that they fall into the "trunk gun" category. Keltec also has a lifetime warranty with all of their firearms. I've heard great things about their customer service so if it breaks then you probably won't have to wait long for it to be fixed. Then again a warranty doesn't do you much good if the world has already ended. The biggest problem that I have with the Sub2k is that by choosing it for your "only gun" you lose one of it's most significant selling points. Different models use different magazines from some of the most popular handgun brands on the market. To me this is more of a backup to your handgun than a choice for the "one gun that you would choose".

So far I've only covered pistol calibers. What do all of these firearms have in common? THEY ALL FIRE PISTOL ROUNDS! At point blank range I would have no trouble putting faith in a 9mm firearm to drop a badguy. At 100 meters when they have an AK or an AR and I've got a 9mm (or a .40 or a .45) then I am going to feel significantly undergunned. A pistol caliber carbine is certainly better than a sharp stick but you had better be a pretty damned good shot and you had most DEFINITELY better be using high quality self defense ammunition if you expect it to drop a badguy at long ranges. Pistol ammunition and rifle ammunition do their damage differently. Pistol ammunition relies on bigger bullets and high penetration to deal more tissue damage but they lose their velocity at long ranges very quickly. If you're using hollow points then you're relying on the expansion of the bullet to do as much tissue damage as possible before it loses it's energy. Over long distances they lose their energy quickly which results in less damage the farther you are away from your target. Rifle bullets have a great deal more velocity which results in more kinetic energy when they strike their target. They travel so fast that they create a kind of ripple in the air around them that results in a great deal more tissue damage than the small bullet would suggest. Compared to pistol rounds rifles are the shit.

So if rifle caliber ammunition is so much better than pistol ammunition why would you pick a pistol over a rifle? Well first of all they make "pistols" that fire rifle calibers. There are a few factors that go into the high velocity of a rifle round. The weight of the bullet, the type/amount of powder, the length of the shell and the length of the barrel are just a few things to consider. The barrel length is one of the most important variables. Most "pistols" that are chambered in rifle calibers have barrels that are much too short to be considered viable options. I would put them into the "novelty" category before I put them into the "I would rely on them in a self defense situation" category. You can also look at the Keltec SU-16 which is an extremely lightweight rifle that folds down to a very small size, shoots the same caliber as our military and uses the same magazines. It's a very cool idea but, like the Sub2k, it's more of a supplement to your primary weapon system (if your primary weapon system is an AR-15). The biggest downside to rifle caliber pistols is that even though they're classified as pistols they're still way too big and bulky to be easily concealable. Also, the magazines are a lot bigger than pistol magazines which makes them even harder to conceal. While the SU-16 folds down to a fairly small size it's still too big to conceivably conceal normally.

So pistol caliber weapons are great as long as things stay cool. Rifle caliber "pistols" are fun to take to the range. Is there a gun that actually does it all, though? It depends on what your standards are. If you've made it this far then you know what I'm about to say. If you're the typical "12 gauge isn't a conceivable do all caliber" type then I am laughing at you right now. I suckered you into reading this far (even though you probably saw it coming from a mile away[I encourage you to comment!!]). If you're not some bigtime firearms guru then I'm going to tell you why I think that shotguns are the shit.

Besides .22lr there isn't a single round that's more readily available in the United States than 12 gauge (unless you have plans to steal from the military or something which I do not). It is an EXTREMELY modular weapon system if you get a pump action. Any idiot that can figure out how to put threads on a magazine tube can make a 3 shot 12 gauge with a 6 inch barrel and a pistol grip (just make sure that you go through the proper channels as long as the current rule of law is still in effect). It will hurt like a bitch when you pull that trigger but I can assure you that if the situation warrants putting 3 12 gauge shells into a bad guy then the adrenaline will be flowing so freely that you won't feel it till after the fact. A gun like that is pretty easy to conceal and if you do the work yourself, even after paying the tax it still won't cost much more than a typical handgun (just check your local state laws to make sure that they're legal!) If things start getting so bad that you need to carry a long gun with you everywhere you go then 8 rounds of 12 gauge out of an 18"+ barrel will be enough to discourage anyone from screwing with you. Get yourself a good length (24"+) barrel with a smooth bore and you'll be able to shoot slugs accurately at 100 yards. Get a rifled barrel and you can shoot .50 cal sabots. All that you have to do is pop off the barrel, put a different one on and grab different ammunition and you've got a very powerful firearm that's capable of a different job. Unlike some other "modular" weapon systems it doesn't require special tools. You might also have to dick around with the magazine tube if you're going for concealability or you want to add to the magazine capacity.

The 12 gauge, pump action shotgun offers a TON of options over every other weapon system. It may not be the best at everything but it earns "acceptable" marks in every category short of long range shooting. If you honestly believe that you'll be spending most of your time shooting over 100 meters then your "one gun" will probably have to be a rifle. Me being an urban survivalist I'm not so worried about being able to shoot someone from more than a block or two away. If I absolutely was not allowed to own more than one firearm and all of the other laws applied then I wouldn't hesitate to jump through all of the hoops to get a short barrel twelve gauge. I would also have a barrel/magazine tube for it that I felt was significant for home defense and I'd have a "high cap" magazine tube along with several longer barrels that allowed me to shoot sabots, rifled slugs and buckshot accurately at range with it. With the right setup, the right investment and the right choice of rounds a 12 gauge can feasibly handle everything better than anything else can handle everything. Even if you don't take every possible scenario into account it's still the best "dummy gun" by far. I would, without hesitation, suggest it to anyone that asked me for my recommendation of what they should get if they could only have "one gun".

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Worried about bird flu?

We're overdue for a pandemic. With so many people living so closely together in so many different parts of the world it's a miracle that something hasn't hit us hard recently (although it has happened within the last century). If something big breaks out then "they" will just contain it immediately won't they? Even if they don't contain it and it spreads globally then there's nothing you can do, right? Either the bug is going to kill you or it's not. What can you do to stop it? Modern medicine is so advanced that something like that couldn't possibly break out before we could cure it could it? These are all fallacies. You CAN take steps to protect yourself. Modern medicine DOESN'T cure everything. A virus that acts a certain way could easily spread globally before anyone has a chance to contain it. Let's analyze all of this shall we?

First of all our system of travel would make it incredibly easy for the right virus to spread across the globe. I can go from one side of the world to the other in half a day. There are a lot of people doing just that every single day. If the virus acts like the common cold for the first few days before it really starts to kick in then we could have a serious problem. In some countries public transportation is the mode of choice for most people. It would be relatively easy to control the travel in those countries although I'd hate to be stuck in a city that the government decides to quarantine. It would be incredibly difficult in the US, though. People rely on their own cars here. Getting out of an infected city would be pretty easy. We have an incredibly complex system of roads and it would be really hard for the government to be able to police them all.

But what about modern medicine? If something that serious hit us then the greatest minds in the world would be working overtime trying to come up with a cure. How long have they been working on a cure for AIDS? They still haven't found one. There are a lot of diseases popping up now (ever heard of staph infection?) that are incredibly resistant to conventional medicine. We can't even cure the common cold. All that we can do is suppress the symptoms until our bodies beat it. Now if there was a serious global pandemic our entire health care system would be completely overrun for weeks. They'd be too busy trying to treat the sick to be able to find a cure. Even if they did find a cure in decent time they still wouldn't be able to distribute it until it was thoroughly tested and approved by the FDA.

It all sounds pretty bleak. If I get sick I get sick. If it kills me it kills me. What can I do about it? First of all in the case of a global pandemic the flu isn't the only thing that's going to kill you. What's the first thing that will happen when people start to get sick? People will stop showing up for work. Some of the smarter medical personnel will realize that the hospital is the worst place to be which will put even more stress on the overburdened health care system. If the truckers are getting sick or are too afraid to deliver to infected big cities then who's going to resupply the grocery stores? How are people going to act when they're starting to run low on food and they can't get more? When our public service workers are getting sick or are too afraid to go to work who is going to maintain our infrastructure? What happens when starving, sick, desperate people start to realize that the cops aren't even showing up for work? Things may get pretty ugly pretty fast.

Things are looking worse and worse. What can you POSSIBLY do to survive a situation like that, especially if you live in the city? Well a situation like this certainly justifies owning a nice plot of land in the middle of nowhere. Even if you're stuck in the city, though, you can still take steps to improve your chances significantly. Even today people are catching bird flu. The people that are catching it practically live with their birds in squalor. The point is that the more you expose yourself to it the more likely you are to catch it and the more likely it is to kill you if you do get it. Doing simple things like duct taping heavy duty plastic sheeting to your windows and running air filters in your home will go a long way to keeping the bug out of your house. If you stock your shelves with supplies now then you won't have to worry about going to the store when everyone else is sick and desperate to get whatever they can in huge panic buys. If you do have to leave the house you should have some kind of protective mask that you can wear. M95 masks are great but they're one use items and you need a LOT of them if it's an extended outbreak. There are several different military gas masks that would be extremely effective protection. Just make sure you get one that's within it's service life and accepts a current 40mm NATO filter.

Like any other major disaster a global pandemic seems pretty hopeless at first glance. Most people would just assume that there's nothing they can do about it and go about their lives. You owe it to yourself to do everything within your means to improve your chances. If you have a family then you have a duty to protect them. You can never prepare for everything but the more proactive you are the more likely you are to be one of the "lucky ones" that make it through a catastrophe. Don't just assume that there's nothing you can do about it just because you don't want to think about it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Get Home Bag (GHB)

Now that you've got your BOB all figured out what are you going to do if you're not at home when disaster strikes? If you're alert and you pay attention to the news then there aren't many things that can happen that will happen so fast that you have trouble making it home. That doesn't mean that you'll always have prior warning if something bad happens, though. Earthquakes happen fast. One minute you're plugging away on your computer or patiently waiting in line at the grocery store. The next thing you know you've been thrown around like a rag doll, there's a huge 12 foot wide crevice between you and your car and even if you could make it to your car you wouldn't be able to get 50 feet because every other car on the road is upside down or on it's side. That inconspicuous mushroom cloud that suddenly appeared 10 miles away might be another thing that makes it a bit difficult to get home. Weather can also be a major deterent. I can remember several times where the weather ended up worse than was predicted.

So what does all of this crap have to do with your BOB? If you don't keep your BOB in your car all the time then you might just need another bag to make it home. Unless your work is 50+ miles away from your home or you spend a lot of time traveling then your get home bag should just be enough to last you a day or so. You don't need much in this bag. It's mostly a means to carry extra food and, more importantly, water. I carry a gallon of water which will last me at least a day comfortably. You'll also want to keep at least a couple hundred dollars that you don't allow yourself to spend. As far as food is concerned you shouldn't need more than a few energy bars or an MRE.

If things go from 0 to SHTF (shit hit the fan) so fast that I need my GHB (get home bag) to get home then the criminal element will most likely be a problem. Under the circumstances the authorities will most likely have their hands full so you can either hope for the best or you can take your personal security into your own hands. Get your concealed carry license now. Even if you don't carry a gun on you all the time at least you'll have the option. If things get to the point where you genuinely feel the need to carry then you probably won't be able to get the license anymore. It takes at least a couple of months in most states, anyway, so what are you going to do in the meantime?

That little, inconspicuous bag in your trunk won't draw unwanted attention and it won't get in the way. Having it handy doesn't hurt anything even if you never need it. In the event that you actually do need it, though, you'll be really glad that you have it.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

72 Hour Kits

Organizations like The Red Cross and FEMA call them 72 hour kits. Survivalists call them BOBs (Bug Out Bags). Whatever you want to call them everyone should have one. The idea behind them is that just in case you need to leave your home RIGHT NOW you won't be leaving empty handed. Also, if you have a kit prepacked and a plan in place you'll waste a lot less time if you need to get out of dodge in a hurry. If a disaster happens that forces you out of your home then it will likely force everyone else out of their homes as well. The farther ahead of everyone else you are the better off you'll be. Just look at the people that spent days stuck in traffic after they were driven out of NOLA by Katrina. The hotels were full and the gas stations were out of gas.

So where should you start? You never know what could happen and you may just end up having to hoof it if something happens to your vehicle. Now imagine if you were trying to get to your grandparents house 150 miles away and you only made it 100 miles before your car broke down in the middle of nowhere. You've got a long walk ahead of you and in the case of an emergency you might not be able to use your cell phone to call a tow truck. Those services may not even be available if things are serious enough. The point that I'm trying to make is that your BOB should be portable. Get yourself a nice, sturdy, comfortable backpack to put all of your stuff in. You can pick up a military style alice pack for less than $20 at most surplus stores. You can get better quality packs at most sporting goods stores or online for less than $100. You can even use a duffel bag or a backpack if you don't want to drop actual money on a BOB project right now. I would recommend getting something with at least 3000 cu in of space and a hydration bladder setup.

Now that you've picked out your pack what should you put in it? If you spend a lot of time in the outdoors then the contents will look pretty familiar to you. The most important things are food, water, fire and shelter. You want to be able to start a fire. You might be able to improvise a shelter given enough time but it's a lot easier just to have one in your pack. A few days worth of food is a must. Also, a means to purify water is important since you won't be able to carry enough for 3 days along with the rest of your gear. Some other things that you want to consider are extra clothing, an efficient way to cook, first aid and some other relatively minor but important items.

Being able to start a fire is probably the most important survival skill that you can have. It allows you to dry wet clothing and gear quickly. It keeps you warm. It allows you to cook food and purify water. A $.50 Bic lighter, available at just about any grocery or big box store, is about an efficient a fire starter as you're going to find. I have 10 year old Bics that still work flawlessly. Just don't put all of your faith in them. Have alternative means to start a fire. Get some strike anywhere matches (hard to find but Ace Hardware always seems to have them in stock) and dip them in wax to waterproof them. Blast matches, Swedish firesteel, magnesium bars and a number of other alternative means are all well and good but if you don't know how to use it before you actually need it then you're probably going to freeze. Tinder is also important. Hexamine tablets are the best firestarters that I've found. You can also use fire starting paste, fire sticks, cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly and even small bits of dry wood.

Food and water are next on the list. If you have to utilize your BOB for survival then you're trying to get somewhere. You don't have time to scavenge around for food so you want to have at least a few days worth handy. Energy bars are great. So is trail mix. You won't catch me trying to live on that stuff for any amount of time, though. I like substance. MREs are great. So are freeze dried backpacking meals. I also keep some dried potato flakes, dehydrated milk, beef jerky and instant rice in my BOB so that I can cook a decent meal. They're extremely lightweight, the calorie content for space taken is awesome and even if you can't cook the stuff properly you can still eat it. I also keep a few MRE main meal entrees and spices in there for some variety.

As for water you want to have as much to start off with as you can carry. I have a 3l platypus hydration bladder (bulletproof and no matter how long you store water in it you will absolutely not have to worry about the flavor of the water being affected by the plastic) and a full 32 oz nalgene in my BOB. You need about a gallon of water a day. Water is really heavy. For that reason I also keep a Katadyn Hiker Pro water filter handy. It's lightweight, small and capable of filtering at least several hundred (it's rated for thousands per filter) gallons of water. In case that fails I can boil or use the water purification tablets that I also have. As long as you're not in a desert you should be able to find a water source.

Shelter is another top priority. If it's 5 degrees outside then you're going to want a sleeping bag to sleep in. You can always put several layers of clothing on and curl up under a pile of pine needles but that's just never worked out so well for me. Get yourself a good, lightweight sleeping bag that can be compressed. You'll also want some kind of protection from the elements. Once again a lean to or a small stick shack might work for some people but I'd rather just be able to throw up a small tent. I carry a 12x12 tarp from Sportsmansguide. I also have a military style poncho that I can use for a floor or it can be used as wet weather gear. If you're willing to shell out the bucks you can find some extremely high quality 1-2 person all weather tents online that would fit this role nicely.

So now that you've got the basics covered what else should you add? Stoves are great I've got a small, homemade alcohol stove and a multi fuel backpacking stove. An Esbit stove could also work. I've also got a 1 quart pot that the alcohol stove, stand, wind guard and all of my spices fit inside of. Knives and multi tools are always useful. A basic first aid kit is a must. A flashlight is great to have. Make sure that you get a high quality, high output light and carry spare batteries for it. I've got a folding saw and a hatchet for wood gathering. I've got a .22 revolver with 100 rounds. Maps, waterproof notebooks, pencils and permanent markers are great to have. You'll also want a good compass. I could go on and on all day with things that you could include. As long as you have the basics covered, though, then you'll be fine. I'll put a list of exactly what I have in my BOB next time I do an inventory.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Just watched I Am Legend

I must say that this could quite possibly be the best "zombie" movie that I've ever seen. I realize that the bad guys in this movie were more like a zombie/vampire mutant hybrid but they were zombie like enough for me. Let's face it. Night of the Living Dead style zombies just aren't that scary and getting them under control would be a lot easier than the movies would have you believe. These things were more like 28 Days/Weeks Later style zombies on steroids with a little bit of intelligence thrown in. Now THAT is scary. Anyway, back to the review of the movie.

I haven't read the book but I've seen The Last Man on Earth which was the first movie based on the story I Am Legend. I'm not sure how closely The Last Man on Earth followed the book but the new movie was a hell of a lot more satisfying and believable. As usual Will Smith did a very good job. He seems to be the type of actor that you either love or you hate. I have yet to see a movie of his that I didn't enjoy. I'm not big into religion but they did a pretty tasteful job with that little twist. The first thing that I asked myself when I watched the trailer was "What the hell is he still doing in New York City after 3 freakin years?" They did an excellent job of explaining that part as well. I don't want to give too much away so I'm just going to stop now. Needless to say you need to see this movie. I would recommend it to anyone.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Why Bother Prepping?

One question that I see come up a lot is "What are you so worried about?" or "What could happen that makes you think you need all of that crap?" Obviously those people didn't pay much attention to the news after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. Thousands died. There were packs of feral dogs roaming the streets. Neighborhoods were organizing to defend against looters. People were getting shot at. Some of them even shot back. Panicked government officials were ordering the disarmament of average citizens in a time when they most needed their guns for protection the most. Just read some of the testimonies and you'll see why it's not such a bad idea to prepare for the worst.

Even now we've got a serious situation that's affecting millions of Americans. The ice storms in the midwest knocked out power to a million homes. Unprepared people have been forced into Red Cross shelters because they couldn't keep their own homes warm enough. They're expecting some of the power outages to last as long as a week to ten days. Here's the story It doesn't seem that serious at first glance but I'll bet it's pretty serious to the people who can't stay in their own homes because it's too cold. It's easy to say "Oh that's just terrible. I feel so sorry for those people" when it's affecting them and not you. What do you do when you're the one that's affected, though?

The list of what could happen is endless. Just because it's not likely to happen doesn't mean that you should pretend that it can't, though. The odds that I'll die in a car accident are pretty slim but I still wear my seat belt, drive carefully and drive a car with a five star safety rating. The odds of me being in a defensive shooting situation are slim to none but I still have a concealed carry permit and I carry a gun with me whenever I leave my house. I've never been in or even seen a house fire in real life but I still have a fire extinguisher in my home. I have car and home owner's insurance even though I've never needed to file a claim with either. It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. That's the only reason that I need for my preps.

Personal Responsibility

Over the last decade or so there seems to be a rise in random public shootings in the US. The anti-gun crowd would have you believe that these shootings keep happening because guns are too easy to get. I think that it's because over the last several decades we've been bred into a society of victims. Most people can't conceive of a situation where they may have to defend themselves. Why should you have to worry about defending yourself in the first place? That's what the police are there for. The general consensus in the civilized world is that unless you're properly trained then you're more likely to hurt yourself or someone else than you are to correctly handle a bad situation. In other words you don't know what's best for you. Why bother trying to do something if you're just going to screw it up? Unfortunately this philosophy spills over into just about every aspect of our lives. It's too easy to blame everyone else for your own shortcomings and bad situations. Personal responsibility for our own well being has all but vanished in our society. Why should we have to be responsible for ourselves when there's someone else that can do it for us?

How does this relate to preparedness? Well if things get really bad then people will still think the same way for a long time. You may not have anyone to rely on but yourself. The police may not always be there when they're needed. You might not always be able to go to the grocery store to get food. You might not always be able to get gas at the gas station. The safety net of the government may disappear and then all of the people sitting around waiting for the life saving handout that they're convinced they're entitled to will either starve or find some other way to get what they need to survive. The people that refuse to give up that way of thinking won't be among the survivors. If you change how you think now and you start getting ready for situations where you only have yourself and your preps to rely on then you'll be ten steps ahead of everyone else. Just don't wait too long to start preparing. The longer you put it off the less likely you are to actually do it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Firearms safety.

If you plan on owning firearms then you need to know how to safely handle them. Firearms safety is pretty simple stuff but a few rules need to be strictly adhered to. A lot of "accidents" happen to people that supposedly know these rules. They're easy to forget and take for granted so it's worthwhile to review them occasionally even if you already feel comfortable with them. Modern firearms are extremely safe, precision tools. They don't just go off by themselves. With that in mind most "accidental" discharges are actually due to negligence. In other words they can be avoided if you just pay attention to the rules.

1. Firearms are always loaded - Always assume that a firearm is loaded. Until you've checked it yourself then it is loaded. Period. If you treat every gun that you encounter as if it's always loaded then you're much less likely to have an "accident". It doesn't matter if the guy that's handing it to you just checked it himself. It's loaded until you have personally verified that it's not. Even if it's not you should still handle it as if it is.

2. Know your target and what is beyond - Don't shoot at something until you're sure that it's what you intend to shoot at. Make sure that you know what's behind it. If you're shooting for fun make sure that you have a sufficient backstop. If you're hunting make sure that you know what's behind your target. Keep in mind that in most cases you are responsible for all of the damage that your bullet does from the time it leaves your gun until it stops moving. If you shoot at a deer that's at the top of a hill and the bullet ends up going through someone's house just over the horizon be prepared to suffer the consequences.

3. Keep your finger off of the trigger until your on target and ready to shoot - The trigger is what causes the gun to fire. As soon as you touch that trigger then it's no longer an accident when the gun goes off. Never touch the trigger on a gun unless you've identified your target and you're ready to shoot it. If the gun requires you to pull the trigger to disassemble it or to perform a functions check make sure that you double, triple and quadruple check that it's not loaded and even then keep it pointed in a safe direction at all times.

4. Don't point the gun at anything you're not willing to destroy - Always keep firearms pointed in a safe direction. Be aware of what the muzzle is pointed towards at all times. If you don't intend to kill or destroy it then under no circumstances should you ever point your gun at it.

As you can see this is all pretty common sense stuff. Unfortunately that's something that a lot of people seem to lack these days. It's easy to get comfortable with guns and to forget about these rules. It's also easy to assume that a gun isn't loaded and to do something stupid. Follow these rules and you will never have that problem. Even a loaded gun is a safe gun IF YOU FOLLOW THE RULES. Once you start to deviate from them then you put yourself and everyone around you in danger. Make sure that everyone in your household knows these rules. If you have children make sure that you teach them the rules instead of trying to hide your guns from them. Introduce them to firearms early and make sure that they know how dangerous they are and how important it is to handle them correctly. You can't hide things like that from kids. When they do eventually find them (and they will) wouldn't you rather they know exactly how dangerous they are?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Basic Armory

Firearms are one of the most important preps that you can have ready. Nothing says "you're messing with the wrong guy" better than a gun in your hand. There are dozens of differant actions, calibers, shapes and sizes to choose from. It's easy to get overwhelmed if your knowledge is limited and it's easy to get carried away when you start collecting them. I'm going to try and go over what I consider to be the bare minimum that everyone should have. If you don't own a gun then this is a very good list to get you started. If you do own guns then maybe you can look at this list and think about what you can do to add to or simplify your own armory.

No American household should be without a 12 gauge shotgun. It's one of the most common calibers in the world. They're capable of taking just about any game in North America from small game up to large game. They're extremely effective in close quarters and, with the right ammunition, can be deadly out to 100 yards or more. They're simple to use. You don't have to be a crack shot to hit your target. They're among the least expensive firearms on the market. They'll be among the last firearms to be banned. Because they're so common finding ammunition should always be fairly easy. If you have extra ammo then finding someone that can use it will be easy making it an extremely valuable trade commodity. The recoil is a major downside. It may be too much to handle for some smaller framed shooters. The ammunition is also extremely heavy and bulky. I wouldn't consider my shotgun to be my "go to" gun but it's certainly coming with me if I have to leave in a hurry. If my main gun breaks or I run out of ammunition for it then I won't feel terribly undergunned when I switch to my shotgun.

Firearms that use the .22lr cartridge are at least as common as the 12 ga shotgun. Ammo is very lightweight and cheap. The weapons themselves tend to be small and lightweight as well. For $200 you could have a brand new, high quality .22 rifle and several thousand rounds of ammo. They're very effective training tools to introduce people to shooting and they're a cheap way for experienced shooters to maintain their skills. They're very effective small game getters. A well placed shot could even take down a deer although I consider that somewhat irresponsible unless you're either extremely desperate or extremely confident in your shooting abilities. While using the .22lr round in self defense isn't recommended it's certainly better than a sharp stick if you're left with no other options. It may be an underpowered round but it's extremely versatile and the price just can't be beat. Ammo should be relatively easy to find and finding people that need it and are willing to trade dearly for your surplus will probably be easy.

A trusty rifle should be the "center" of your armory. If the world as we know it ends and the possibility of getting into a real firefight becomes reality then you will want a high powered weapon that's capable of delivering massive amounts of firepower in the direction of your enemy. You don't think that the US could ever get to that point? There are several countries in the world where it's a reality today. Rest assured that if it happens to the US then there won't be many safe places anywhere else in the world. If we go down so does everyone else so moving to England to get away from it might not be a viable option. There are a few things to think about when picking out a rifle. You want it to shoot a common, inexpensive caliber (so that you can stock plenty of it). You want it to be relatively lightweight and easy to carry. You want it to be durable and reliable. You want it to be reasonably accurate. 5.56 (.223 Rem) should be the absolute smallest caliber that you go with. I'd recommend going with something that has some punch in .30 or larger. No matter what rifle you choose assume that the day that you really need it is the day that you'll never be able to replace it, get more ammo for it or buy things like spare parts and magazines for it.

Being able to defend yourself in a situation where the police may have more important matters to attend to (or where they're virtually nonexistant) is going to be important. Unfortunately you're not always going to be able to carry around your rifle everywhere you go. There are several situations where you might not be living in a war zone but the increase in crime due to other factors may be serious enough that you need to have a gun with you at all times. Even if it is TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and you're carrying your rifle with you everywhere you go having a sidearm will always be a good idea. A small, reliable, concealable handgun is a must have. Make sure that it's a large, centerfire caliber. Revolvers are nice because you don't need to carry spare magazines and a lot of them fire two or more calibers. They're also extremely reliable. Autoloaders usually have a much higher capacity. They also tend to be flatter which makes them easier to conceal. Some of the higher quality autoloaders are just as reliable as any revolver. .380 is the smallest defensive caliber that I'd trust my life to. 9mm is my first choice due to magazine capacity, cost of ammunition and balistics. Anything bigger will work just as well.

That's it. For a basic armory you really only need four guns to cover all of your bases. The first two are to make sure that you'll always be able to make use of the two most common and versatile calibers in the world. While not my first choice in a defensive situation 12 gauge and .22lr are certainly better than nothing and due to cost there's no reason not to own both. The rifle is to make sure that you're never undergunned. The handgun is to make sure that you're always armed. Soon enough I'll be going into detail about your choices within each category.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Food Storage Basics

Before you think about anything else you should stock up on food and water. A few weeks worth of extra food in the pantry will get you through almost anything. The average person needs around 2000 calories per day to sustain themselves. Less than that and you can count on being hungry. Even with a 2000 calorie diet you can die or be seriously affected by malnutrition if you're not getting the proper nutrients. That will take a really long time, though. If things get to that point then you'll have more important things to worry about. Just make sure that you stock food that everyone in your household will eat. It doesn't do you any good to have a case of spam in your closet if your family hates the stuff. You'll also need at the VERY MINIMUM 1 gallon of water per person per day. If you think that you can get by on that then I suggest you try it sometime. After a few days of it then you'll probably be convinced that you need at least 3-5 gallons per person per day.

Canned goods are a good place to start. They're very cheap and in a lot of cases they last for years. I stay away from things like canned stews and spaghettio type stuff. I like things like canned beans, tomatoes, vegetables, meat, mushrooms, etc. They're cheaper, almost as easy to prepare and you've got a lot more options. Vegetables go on sale for 2 for $1 all the time. Tuna is $.50 a can. Tomatoes are around $.50 a can. Having a few cans of vienna sausages, chicken and spam doesn't hurt, either. If the power goes out for an extended amount of time then you won't have fresh meat for long. Meat in a can is better than nothing.

Rice is ridiculously cheap and takes up relatively little space. It triples in size when it's cooked. It's loaded with calories. It can be added to any meal to fluff it up. The shelf life is amazing. If you store it correctly it can be good for 30+ years. You can get a 20 lb bag at Wal-Mart for around $8. Go to the wholesale stores like Costco and Sam's Club and it's even cheaper. Rice is hands down one of the best "survival foods" available. Instant rice is ok, too, but it's already been cooked so it's lost a lot of it's nutritional value and it takes up more space. Learn how to properly cook it and keep several pounds of it handy all the time. Nothing does a better job of stretching out the rest of your food supply.

Beans are another good one. Canned beans are fine but they're kind of expensive and they don't have the nearly indefinite shelf life that dried beans have. They're convenient, though, so they've got their place. I like pinto beans because they're so cheap and lentils because they're loaded with nutrients. Stored correctly dried beans can last practically forever. One thing to note about old beans is that the older they get the harder it is to soften them up. Normally you can just leave your beans in a pot of water over night and then cook them the next day. Old beans might require a pressure cooker to get them edible. You use your preps, though, so your beans won't get that old right?

Next we're going to look at staples. Flour, sugar, salt, pepper, cooking oil, etc are all very very cheap. Vegetable oil can be used in just about any recipe that calls for any type of cooking oil. A gallon of it will last you for months. Sugar is another cheap one that has a lot of uses. Keeping at least 10 or 20 lbs in the cupboard doesn't hurt. Salt doesn't go bad so why not have extra? Once again, a few extra pounds won't hurt to have around. Things like baking powder, baking soda and corn starch take up very little space and they're used in small doses in a lot of different recipes. There's no reason not to keep a box of them handy. Flour is invaluable and is used in several different recipes. Keeping at least 10 or 20 lbs handy is always a good idea. An even better idea is to get a grinder that can make flour. Then buy wheat in bulk and grind your own. Wheat is another one that stays good indefinitely. They've found wheat in Egyptian tombs that actually germinated after thousands of years of storage.

There are some other non perishables to think about as well. Ramen is cheap and easy to prepare. So is pasta. Dried potatoes are quick, cheap and simple. Powdered milk is a great milk subsititute when you're cooking with it. Instant meals in a box like Hamburger Helper and macaroni are nice to have for a quick and easy to prepare meal.

Everything that I listed is really cheap and it's all shelf stable for at least a year or two. If you spend a few extra bucks every time you go to the grocery store you'll have a hefty stash in no time. Making a special trip with a decent amount of cash to kick everything off isn't a bad idea, though. If something bad does happen would you rather be fighting the crowds at the grocery store to ensure that your family can eat or would you rather be safe and secure in your home knowing that you'll be fine for at least a month or two?

If you want a get it and forget it option then you should definitely consider getting a few boxes of freeze dried food. Full cases are easy to store in small spaces. They're lightweight and easy to move if you need to grab it and go. You can also get the "backpacker meals" that you can find in just about any store that stocks outdoor equipment. In fact, before you spend a lot of money on a big supply of #10 cans you should try as many of the backpacker meals as you can just to decide which ones you like the most. You might even decide that you or your family don't like them. I prefer Mountain House. Most of the other brands use textured vegetable protein in place of meat. The biggest drawback with any freeze dried food is that it requires a lot of water to reconstitute. You also need to be able to boil the water. If you need a supplier I encourage you to check out Nitro-Pak. They offer Free Shipping on orders over $100 and they're pretty cheap to begin with. Just expect a long backorder time.

Where to get started

People tend to complicate things. The more people there are the more complicated things usually get. This is what makes urban living such a nightmare when something really bad happens. It's also part of the appeal of living day to day in an urban environment. So how do you avoid the golden horde when you're basically a part of it? Here are a few tips.

Don't talk about your preps. One thing that I see over and over are people that tell their friends about their preps hoping that maybe they'll catch on and want to do it themselves. Most of the time the only result is them saying "Well I know where I'm going when something bad happens". Most people don't want to think about what they'd do during a disaster. By prepping they're admitting that it could really happen which would cause their safe little worlds to collapse around them. You don't want these people showing up at your doorstep in the event of a crisis.

When someone hears that something really bad is about to happen or is already happening what's the first thing that they do? They run to the store to buy last minute supplies. Doing that is a good way to get yourself stuck in the mob unable to get home. Stock up now. When you go to the store throw an extra $10 worth of canned food, beans, rice and other non perishables in the cart along with the rest of your groceries. I could walk into a grocery store today with $100 in my pocket and walk out with at least a month supply of food. Just buy extra every time that you shop. Don't worry about expensive stuff like Mountain House or MREs until your pantry is set. You want the majority of your preps to be things that you eat every day. Eat what you store and store what you eat.

Have a backup plan. You may not always be able to stay at home. Have a place to go. Have a bag packed and ready all the time. Keep your BOB (bug out bag) packed. Have a BOL (bug out location) in mind and have multiple routes to get there. Not everyone can afford a plot of land in the middle of nowhere. If you If you can't then you still might have some better options than staying at home. A tent on national forest land will work in a pinch. A motel in a small town could work, too. The best case would be to have family or very very close friends that live in the country. Just expect to earn your keep and don't insult them by showing up empty handed if you're planning on relying on someone else's charity. If you're going to talk about this kind of stuff with anyone those are the people that you want to talk to.

There are a lot of bad things that could happen that would rip our society apart at the seams. Our decadent, entitled lifestyle could go away in an instant. That doesn't mean that your life will end, though. Do what you can to get ready now but don't get so caught up in it that you stop living. Chances are that nothing will ever happen that completely devestates the US and changes our way of life drastically. Getting ready just in case can't hurt, though.

Friday, December 7, 2007


For my first post I'll just tell you all a little bit about me. I grew up in a small town. I spent a few years in the Army infantry. I skipped college and eventually landed a solid job. Ever since then I've been stuck in the burbs working in the city. I was never really worried about much and didn't give any thought to the idea that our way of life could end. Y2K didn't scare me at all. 9/11 only pissed me off. Then Katrina hit NOLA. That woke me up. Ever since then I've been in overdrive just trying to get caught up. I've spent a lot of time on several different survivalist message boards. I've kept up on several different survival blogs. I've read books. More importantly I've been actively prepping. I don't pretend to know everything but I feel like I've got enough information to start sharing it with other people outside of a message board argument.

One thing that all of the blogs and the majority of the survivalist message board members have in common is that they discourage living in the city and they encourage massive sacrifice to live a certain type of lifestyle. I like having a car with a warranty. I like having a big screen TV. I like to eat out at restaurants. What I hope to accomplish with this blog is to give people ideas that allow them to have all of that but still put themselves ahead of 99% of the masses if the ball ever does drop. I realize that if the world ever ends I'd be much better off on my homestead in the middle of nowhere than I'll be in the city. I also realize that I'm a lot more likely to starve, go crazy or constantly berate myself for giving up the lifestyle that I love because of the off chance that the powers that be couldn't hold society together if it never happens.