Sustainability & Long Term Survival.

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Sustainability. 

Sustainability/sustainable means lasting  for a long time, or, the ability to make something last for a long time.

If in our preparations for survival we are considering that we may need to live long term in a wilderness situation, then we need to make sure our equipment is sustainable. We also need to make sure that the lifestyle we have chosen is sustainable. In other words, if our equipment is not sustainable, then neither is our lifestyle.

If one has not had the experience, then at least most people can use their imagination to help them see & understand. For instance; let’s say our country is attacked & the enemy uses an EMP to knock out the electricity grid. What will this mean for those living in towns & cities? It will mean that there will be no electricity, no water, no sewage control so no toilets. We all know what else will happen don’t we, looting, supermarkets will be raided for all the food. Chemists looted, gun shops looted, Medical facilities will be hampered. Some people will want what you have, so it will not be safe for you to cook outside or in fact to go outside at all. Your house could be raided, if you manage to repulse an attack, then the attackers may well fire your house or drive a Mack truck through it. Does this make any sense to you?

Now you may say that you must bug in because you simply would not know how to survive in the bush. Well my reply to that is, learn. Get the skills you will need & go bush & get some experience before the shtf.

Now for the equipment. IF you are prepping for long term survival, there is no point relying on items that are NOT sustainable! Ferocerium rods, matches, cigarette lighters, are not sustainable, don’t kid yourself that they are just because you do not have primitive fire lighting skills. Flint, steel & tinderbox is a sustainable method of making fire, & it is an easy method to learn & use. Think about what you have in your bug out pack, do you NEED the items you have, or are they just adding weight & taking up room? Most important items are: Medical supplies, water, food & ammunition. Do NOT compromise the carrying if these items!

Firearms:

I have modern firearms & I have muzzle-loading firearms. IF I had to leave on my own & could only carry one firearm, I choose to carry my flintlock. Why? Because it is sustainable! If it breaks I can fix it. Now I could carry one of my .22 rimfires, the ammunition is relatively light, but if it should malfunction, I simply would not be able to fix it. Yes I could carry a spare firing pin & perhaps the tools needed to strip the bolt & replace the firing pin, but then I still only have a .22, which can not be relied on to drop anything but small game. Yes I know you can shoot roos & goats etc, but how many times have you shot a medium sized animal with a .22 & lost it? I need a gun that I know I can count on, a gun that will efficiently kill small & medium sized game & if possible large game too.

I realize that a flintlock muzzle-loading gun is not the best in a fire fight against others who can load faster than I can, but it only takes one shot to kill, & I plan on keeping a low profile & staying out of fire fights if I can. Now if I am travelling in a group, which in fact I would be if I had to leave my home in the forest, then as a group we would be carrying modern firearms, muzzleloaders & traditional bows. I will add a list of the advantages in carrying/using a flintlock muzzle-loader.  I can see the advantages in carrying a modern firearm, but I can also see the disadvantages, & for me, the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. Reading through this list it is pretty easy to compare these advantages with those of the modern firearm, so see what you think. Do bear in mind the weight factor of modern ammunition, the larger the calibre, the heavier it is. How much can you carry without compromising other important equipment?


Advantages of a Flintlock Muzzle-loader.

1)   Ammo is less expensive than a modern equivalent calibre firearm.

2)  The smoothbore is very versatile, being able to digest round ball, bird shot, & buckshot, or any combination of two of these (can also use minies).

3)  The fusil is lighter to carry than a modern equivalent sized gun.

4)  You can vary the load if needs be.

5)  The smoothbore will digest other projectiles besides lead.

6)  Lead can be retrieved from downed game & remoulded with a simple mould & lead ladle. This means that you can carry less lead, & more of the lighter gunpowder.

7)  You can make your own gunpowder.

8)  You can use the lock to make fire without the need for gunpowder.

9)  You can use gunpowder for gunpowder tinder fire lighting if needs be.

10)        IF the lock should malfunction (these are very robust & it is not likely) you can easily repair it if you are carrying a few spare springs & a few simple tools.

11)If you do not have any spare parts & the lock malfunctions, you can easily convert it to a tinderlock or matchlock & continue using it.

12)        You do not need a reloader, brass shells, caps, or primers. The latter have been known to break down in damp conditions or if they are stored for too long.

13)         Wadding for ball or shot is available from natural plant materials or homemade leather or rawhide.

14)       Less chance of being affected by future ammunition control legislation.

15)        Gunpowder is easily obtainable providing you have a muzzle-loader registered in your name regardless of calibre (NSW)

16)        A .32 calibre flintlock rifle is more powerful than a .22 rimfire, less expensive to feed, more accurate over a greater distance, able to take small & medium sized game, & other than not being able to use shot (unless it is smoothbore), it has all the attributes of the other flintlocks.  For larger game you can load with conical slugs, which of course you can make yourself in the field.

17)        Damage from a .62 calibre or .70 calibre pistol or long arm is in the extreme. Wounded prey is unlikely to escape.

18)         By using buck & ball you are unlikely to miss your target. This load is capable of taking out more than one target.

19)        There is less kick-back to a muzzle-loading gun.

20)       Antique Flintlock muzzle-loading guns do not require a license, registration, or a permit to purchase in NSW Australia.

The Advantages of Carrying/Using 18th Century Equipment.
·      A flintlock smoothbore gun is versatile, you can make fire with the lock without using any gunpowder, you can use various sizes of small shot & round ball, you can if necessary use other projectiles besides lead, you can retrieve lead from shot game & remould it for further use. If the lock should malfunction it is easily repaired with spare springs, if you have no spare springs the lock is easily converted to matchlock.

·      A flintlock rifle has the same advantages as the smoothbore except that it can not use small shot without leading the barrel. A .32 flintlock rifle has more power than a .22 rimfire & is less expensive to shoot.

·      You can purchase an antique flintlock pistol now with no need for licence or registration.

·      Ball moulds can be used as heavy tweezers for removing foreign objects from the body.

·      Gunpowder (Black Powder) can be used to make fire with unprepared plant tinders without wasting ammunition.

·      A trade axe/tomahawk is very versatile. The head is easily removed to be used as a hide scraper, the tomahawk can be thrown for recreation, self defence & hunting. This axe is a good defence weapon for hand to hand fighting, for constructing shelters & traps & for hammering in stakes or wooden pegs. A new helve/handle is easy to make & fit & does not require a wedge to secure the head.

·      The awl is used for making leather items & for repairing leather items. The awl is used to make & repair moccasins.

·      The butcher knife is for skinning & butchering game & can be used for self-defence.

·      The legging knife is a back-up to the butcher knife. If you should dull the edge on your butcher knife you can continue with the legging knife. You do not want to stay around sharpening blades. Your shot may have attracted unwanted attention.

·      The clasp knife is used for camp chores & for making trap triggers. You do not want to use your main blades as utility knives.

·      Flint, steel & tinderbox will enable you to make fire anywhere in all weather conditions. It will not break or wear out & the process is renewable & sustainable.

·      18th century woodsrunner’s clothing (men & women) is practicle, protective, hard wearing & renewable.

·      The housewife (sewing kit) is for making & repairing clothing & packs. The needles can be used for removing splinters & if needs be sewing up wounds. The beeswax is used to wax the linen sewing thread & can be used as makeshift tooth fillings.

·      The angling tackle can be used with a rod or set lines, it can also be used for catching ducks & large land fowl. The linen or silk lines can be replaced with hand made cordage made from plant materials. Silk lines can be used as suture thread.

·      The cooking kettle is used for boiling food, boiling water for drinks & sterilising, carrying water & for catching rainwater.

·      Cotton & linen bags can be used for cleaning dirty water before boiling for drinking or adding to your water bottle.

·      Gun tools are used for repairing the lock on your flintlock muzzle-loading gun if needs be, but these locks are very hard wearing. The tools are merely a back-up. The turn screw is used to remove the lock & barrel for cleaning.

·      The whet stone is used to sharpen your blades, as is the metal file, though both could have other uses if working with metal.

·      The half-axe is optional & is capable of heavier work than the tomahawk without adding too much weight.

·      An auger is optional & is used for making holes for constructing more permanent dwellings. These augers come in a variety of sizes & weigh very little. Small versions will fit in your pack, where longer versions can be tied to your blanket roll.

·      The sword is also optional but in a hand to hand fight can be very useful. The sword is also used for cutting reeds for shelter & mat construction.

·      The wool blanket is far more versatile than a sleeping bag, & if wet the blanket retains more body heat than a sleeping bag. The pure wool blanket can be used as a matchcoat or a Great Coat & can be used in a sitting position under an oilcloth covering on the trail.

·      The oilcloth shelter is very versatile & can be used in many ways, including use as a rain coat. Used as a lean-to shelter you can use fire for warmth at night & you have good visibility on at least three sides. The lean-to is easy & quick to construct & quickly taken down. It does not need tent poles/rods & it is easy to carry.


Anyone using this equipment is advised to learn the many primitive skills that go with this type of wilderness living. If you are living this 18th century lifestyle then your level of comfort will never drop below this level. This equipment does not wear out; anything that could break can be repaired or replaced from natural sources. You are also advised to carry a modern medical kit which should include an eye wash glass.

My Equipment List.

.62 cal/20 gauge flintlock fusil. 42 inch barrel.

.70 caliber smoothbore flintlock pistol.

Gun tools and spare lock parts.

Shot pouch and contents.

Leather drawstring pouch of .60 caliber ball (in knapsack).

Powder horn.

Ball mould and swan shot mould.

5 Gunpowder wallets

Lead ladle.

Butcher/Hunting knife.

Legging knife.

Clasp knife.

Tomahawk.

Fire bag.

Tinderbox.

Belt pouch.

Fishing tackle in brass container.

Two brass snares.

Roll of brass snare wire.

Knapsack.

Scrip.

Market Wallet.

Tin Cup.

Kettle.

Water filter bags (cotton & linen bags).

Medical pouch.

Housewife.

Piece of soap and a broken ivory comb.

Dried foods in bags.

Wooden spoon.

Compass.

Whet stone.

Small metal file.

Oilcloth.

One blanket (Monmouth cap, spare wool waistcoat and wool shirt rolled inside blanket).

Two glass saddle flasks.

Length of hemp rope.

Bottle of rum.

Basic list of what I carry. This list is made up from items that we know were carried, from items that my research has shown were available, & from items that have been found, such as the brass snare wire. I am not saying every woodsrunner carried all these items, but I am saying that some woodsrunners may have carried all these items. From experimental archaeology results in historical trekking, I think the items I have chosen are a reasonable choice for any woodsrunner that is going to live in the wilderness for a year or more.

Keith.