Survival Gear Review: Best Glide Survival Fishing Kit

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Best Glide Fishing Kit

It better be an emergency if you use this thing, because this is not your Daddy’s tackle box.  best_glide_emergency_survival-fishing-kitAll 3 versions of the Best Glide Survival Fishing Kits (Standard, Basic, Compact) are pretty sparse but that is why they are called emergency fishing kits.  If you are building your own Bug Out Bag, I think you could do better with a few hours at the local fishing store creating a small tackle box for you and your family.  But, if you are lazy or just want a cheap insurance policy to throw in your emergency kit, the Best Glide kits will cover your basics.

By Murphy

I would not stake my life on this product but for the size and the weight, it is worth having with you if you don’t have any other options.  Out of the 3 choices, I personally like the Standard version (which you can buy on Amazon for around $20).  Take a look, we tried to fish with the standard version using just a stick, no luck catching a fish but we only tried for about an hour before giving up.  In a survival situation, you might be there a while.  Watch the video below, see what you think.  Like I said, I built my own but I am old school.

Video – Best Glide Emergency Fishing Kit

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Survival Gear Review: Springfield Armory XD-S 9mm

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Best Concealed Carry Pistol

A few years back, Springfield Armory came out with a single stack 9mm to much fanfare and then as quickly as concealed carry pistol review XD-Sthe pistol launched, they promptly recalled the pistol due to a possible unsafe condition. The recall read as follows (from manufacturer): “Springfield Armory is initiating this voluntary safety recall to upgrade 3.3 XD-S 9mm and 3.3 XD-S .45ACP pistols with new components, which eliminate the possibility of a potentially dangerous condition. We want to emphasize that no injuries have been reported to date. Springfield has determined that under exceptionally rare circumstances, some 3.3 XD-S™ 9mm and .45ACP caliber pistols could experience an unintended discharge during the loading process when the slide is released, or could experience a double-fire when the trigger is pulled once. The chance of these conditions existing is exceptionally rare, but if they happen, serious injury or death could occur.”

By Mark, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Springfield Armory apparently learned the lessons of Remington and as soon as this unsafe condition was brought to their attention, they leaned into getting back every XD-S 3.3″ barrel pistol that they sold.  They then repaired the pistols and returned them to the customers.  They also changed the manufacturing process on all future pistols from the factory.  Now every XD-S 3.3″ off the line has the new improvements.

Related: The Katrina Pistol

If you are looking to buy a used XD-S 9mm 3.3″ pistol, you can tell very quickly if the pistol has been upgraded by looking at the outside grip safety without disassembling the pistol.  XD-S 9mm 3.3″ that have been upgraded have a visible roll pin on the left and right side of the grip safety.  See below.

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With the new upgrades and the bugs worked out, we loved the XD-S 9mm.  As promised, it shot great.  The stock fiber optic sights were better than average and the slim profile of the pistol is very appealing to concealed carry customers and under cover police.  The downside of the single stack is a magazine that carries 7 rounds in the flush fitting mag and 8 rounds in the extended magazine.  Like I always say, I have never heard someone say “I wish I had less rounds in a gun fight.”

Specs

Caliber: 9mm
Recoil System: Dual Spring w/ Full Length Guide Rod
Sights: Fiber Optic Front & Dovetail Rear (Steel)
Weight: (with Empty Magazine) 23 ozs.   Height: 4.4″ w/ Compact Mag, 5″ w/ Mid-Mag X-Tension™
Slide: Forged Steel, Melonite Finish
Barrel: 3.3″ Hammer Forged, Steel, Melonite® / 1:10 Twist
Length: 6.3″
Grip Width: .9″
Frame: Black Polymer
Magazines: 1 – 7 Round Flush Fitting, 1 – 8 Round With Mid-Mag X-Tension™, Stainless Steel

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Survival Gear Review: Therm-a-rest LuxuryLite Mesh Cot

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survival cot

Does you bug out plan include a truck, car or ATV?  If so, you may want to take a peek at the Therm-a-rest Survival CotLuxuryLite Mesh Cot, which is made in the USA.  What we liked about this cot vs. other cots on the market is the low profile that keeps you off the ground but will still fit into a normal camping tent.  When combined with a sleeping pad and warm sleeping bag, this cot can keep you warm and dry.  The downside of this cot is of course weight.  The ability to be off the ground is not worth the weight in your pack.

By Murphy, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

This is strictly a luxury item which is why it is called the LuxuryLite Mesh Cot.  When you have an item that weights over 3 lbs, it better be something that feeds you or has to do with water.  You would be much better off with just a normal Therm-a-rest sleeping pad for your bug out bag.  With that said, we tested it, slept on it and loved it for car camping or if your bug out plan has a car or truck involved.  It also is nice to have as back up bed for kids or visiting families if your space is limited.  It beats sleeping on the floor.

Video Review

Specs

Regular L XL
Width 24 in / 61 cm 26 in / 66 cm 30 in / 76 cm
Color Blue Blue Blue
Weight 3 lbs 9 oz / 1.62 kg 3 lbs 15 oz / 1.81 kg 4 lbs 7 oz / 2.01 kg
Length 72 in / 183 cm 77 in / 193 cm 77 in / 196 cm
Packed dimension 18 x 6 / 46 x 15 18 x 6 / 46 x 15 18 x 6 / 46 x 15
Top fabric type PVC Mesh PVC Mesh PVC Mesh

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Survival Gear Review: Epic Ultimate Travel Bottle

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epic_ultimate_featured

While everybody else is storing gold and silver, I am finding the best ways to invest in what I believe is going to be the currency ofepic_water_straw_standing the future: clean water.  I highly recommend assessing your own situation and finding ways to store and purify as much water as you can. For home situations, purifying water isn’t too difficult. Sometimes though, we are forced to move from our base of operations. In this case, you need a way of purifying dirty water while on the move. The Epic Ultimate Travel Bottle claims to provide a solution to this issue so we checked it out.

By Tinderwolf, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Thorough Filtration System

Systems for cleaning water can range from a few dollars for water purification tablets to hundreds of dollars for stand-alone systems. While the more expensive systems might be nice to have, I wanted to find a reasonably priced, mobile system. I found the Epic Ultimate Travel Bottle for $59; right in the range of how much I want to spend. The Epic Filter can produce up to one hundred gallons of drinkable water. On a per gallon basis, this is a solid investment. Moreover, the Epic Filter has been EPA certified to remove the following:

  • 99% of unpleasant taste, odors cloudiness, silt sediment and chlorine.
  • 99% of heavy metals, Aluminum, Asbestos, Cadmium, Chromium 6, Copper, Lead, Mercury, Radiological Radon 222
  • 99% Toxic chemicals, Arsenic, Trihalomethanes, Chloroform, PCB, PCE, Detergents, and Pesticides( DDT)

Seems impressive, doesn’t it? According to the product materials, the bottle kills contaminants with an ‘iodinator’.  From what I’ve gathered, the iodinator dilutes just enough iodine to kill bacteria without affecting taste.  Just remember to read the instructions and follow all steps. A water-born disease is a heavy price to pay for negligence.

Also Read: Weighing the Options For Drinking Water

There are four parts to this water bottle. The plastic bottle body, the straw, top, and the filter. The Epic Filter can be unscrewed and fitted with new, affordable filters. When the filter is new, there is a sticker on the bottom of the filter that must be removed before use. I took the filter out and tripled rinsed the bottle before getting the filter wet. The instructions say to fill the bottle up and squeeze water through the filter and out of the top. It recommends to carry out this step two times.

Testing It Out

The bottle itself is somewhat soft and easy to squeeze. Initially you have to squeeze the bottle a few times as the filter is soaking upepic_water_filter the water and traveling up the straw section. The first time that I filled up the bottle I used tap water. Some reviews I read stated that there was a terrible iodine after-taste and that the bottle leaked water from the top. I shook the bottle vigorously and squeezed while the flip top was closed. No water escaped from the bottle. I then opened the flip top and shook the bottle. Only a few drops escaped from the flip straw.

Finally, I squeezed the bottle and sucked up a mouthful of water. In order to better judge the quality, I spit the water out after swishing for ten seconds.  I detected no iodine taste. People are concerned with taste so I wanted to be sure about this taste test. I allowed the water to sit in the bottle and filter for one hour and took another drink. Again, I detected no level of iodine or any other substance.

Related: The Platypus Collapsible Water Bottle 

I next wanted to test how well the filter filtered out chlorine. I used non-scented bleach. When purifying water with bleach, use five drops of bleach per liter of water. I decided to add four drops of bleach to the bottle. After taking the screw top off, it was easy to detect the smell of bleach. I screwed the lid back on and squeezed the bottle.  I could not detect a bleach smell or taste.

Extra Features and Final Verdict

The bottle comes with a koozie wrapped around the middle of the bottle with stats on the effectiveness of the bottle. I think this is a nice touch for those unfamiliar with the product. On the neck of the bottle is an adjustable wrist strap so that you don’t lose your bottle while dipping it into water sources.

I have been using this bottle for about a week now and I am extremely happy with this system. I found it interesting that there is a noticeable taste difference between unfiltered tap water and Epic filtered water.  For the price of the bottle, gallons filtered, filter refills, and ease of use, I am happy with my Epic Ultimate Travel Bottle.

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Survival Gear Review: Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet

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Survival Axe

In addition to building some of the world’s best chainsaws, the Stihl company also makes…or at least brands some Survival Axewonderful axes and in particular a tremendous splitting hatchet. At less than 20” long but with a 2.75 pound head, the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet and it’s monstrous Ash handle with thick neck make short work of splitting tasks and pile up the campfire-sized kindling like crazy.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog 

The Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet is known as the PA20 and retails for about $55 which feels like a screaming deal given my preference for handmade Swedish axes and hatchets that cost two to four times more than the Stihl. Of course large Stihl Splitting Mauls do command three-digit prices, but that just makes the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet seem a better deal.

First Principles

The first time you get your hands on a Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet you will know this is not your grandpa’s hatchet. Best Camp HatchetI’m not sure which you will notice first. It will eight be massive head or massive neck on the handle. My guess is the neck will give it away. As a splitting hatchet, the Stihl Pro is designed for little big jobs. From the head’s bit to butt, the giant iron triangle makes short order of the cellulose bonds of wood.

Related: Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet Review

The physics of using the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet is two-fold. The first is that aggressive wedge that pushes apart any wood that comes in contact with the sharp bit. And second, the excessive weight of the head in motion (force = mass x acceleration) compared to a common hatchet makes plowing the head into the workpiece a decisive and final action. Unless working with a hardwood or trying to blast your way through a tough knot, the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet will send wood flying east and west when you have the sun to your back.

History Lesson

Stihl builds chainsaws.  It does not manufacture its own axes.  Instead it uses the services of the oldest axe forge in Survival HatchetGermany, the Ochsenkopf Corporation.  Had Ochsenkopf branded this Splitting Axe itself, it would easily have entered the rarified pricing of the handmade Swedish variety. But instead the Stihl marketing makes this a highly affordable forestry tool that anyone planning to live off fire for a while should own.

Related: Survival Axes

The Stihl Company traces its roots to the shallow side of the last century. The year 1926 marks the beginning of the Stihl chainsaw, an electric model of all things, and a mere 30 years before Andreas Stihl was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1896. Prior saw machines such as those crazy bicycle/rowing machine contraptions appeared earlier than 1900, but had few recognizable features in common with even the most primitive of chainsaws.

In 1929, a gas-powered tree felling machine appeared with the Stihl name. The 101 pound six-horsepower monster marked a turning point in wood cutting tools, and is considered Stihl’s first chainsaw. Do note however, that even though considered massive by today’s two-handed standards, the tree felling machine was a good five pounds lighter than its electricity-powered older brother.

Can You Handle It?

Hickory is the go-to wood for most high end axes and hatchets.  So why would the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet have a Survival Axegrip made of Ash? Simple.  Ash is a less-brittle choice for harder hitting axes and special purpose hatchets such as the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet.  For comparison, baseball bats often use ash over hickory due to the violence of their use. Perhaps if the baseball bat was wrapped in padding it would then make sense to use hickory. But when it comes to axes and hatchets, while hickory is king, ash is the General of the military.  Either works fine, but when splitting the hairs of a splitting axe, both will work, and ash is less expensive.  Due note that the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet has been found for $49 and change in local hardware stores so arguing the nuances between hickory and ash is purely for fun.

But while we discuss the handle of the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet, there is no arguing about how overbuilt it is. From Hunting Axethe moment your hands wrap around it (assuming they can), to your first swing into wood, you will be amazed at the brute force the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet brings to the campfire. I’ve used plenty of camp axes and hatchets, but the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet is in a class by itself. It’s like bringing a tank to a gunfight, or a machine gun to a knife fight.  The way the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet blasts through western pinewoods is so fast and so fun that your pile of kindling will grow to epic proportions as you share it around camp.

Also Read: CRKT Chogan T-Hawk Review

Some features to note besides the thick neck are the accented toe of the handle (the lower portion of the grip on the cutting edge side, and the heel (the grip part opposite of the toe). There is a definitive swell on the toe side and plenty of rise on the heel side to keep the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet in your hand even after a powerful single handed swing. Stihl brands the Pro Splitting Hatchet with characteristic Stihl orange paint on the lower portion of the handle, and on the majority of the axe head from cheek to butt. And if that weren’t enough Stihl for you, in large bold black capital letters 3/4ths of an inch tall is STIHL prominently printed on the left side of the handle.

Kindling the Amazon

There are two highly functional ways to use the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet including slamming the Stihl into the Best Camp Hatchetworkpiece, and holding the Stihl still and pounding the workpiece onto the bit similar to many modern hydraulic wood splitters that keep the wedge stationary and move the wood. So effective is the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet that I’ve let some younger users apply their trade with the hatchet even though they were both barefoot and not of the skill level I would want swinging an axe. And given the fun of reverse splitting, kids around the campfire will be fighting over who gets to baton the  firewood next.

Related: Crovel Elite Review

Compared to a full-sized forest axe or a 30” four-pound splitting maul, this Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet is a lightweight, but the same way an armored Hummer is a lightweight compared to an MRAT or Bradley. It’s all a matter of perspective and nimbleness. The biggest difference between the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet and it’s full-sized relatives is that the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet works fine in one hand or two. But running a bigger tool in one hand is dangerous at best. Way too much can go wrong when doing medium and small tasks with a large, long, unbalanced tool.

On softer woods, the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet can literally be dropped onto the work piece slicing it down the Survival Camp Axemiddle. And since there is so much mass in the equation, a little added force is all that’s needed if the bit fails to cut all the way through on a drop. For bigger or tougher jobs, a mild swing vastly amplifies the splitting force and one must be careful to avoid driving the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet into the ground after the wood goes flying apart. Most often, when a new user of the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet takes it for a test drive, they overpower it instantly splitting wood and then doing a little gardening on the side. I suggest using a horizontally grained backstop to keep the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet from dulling in the dirt.

When not in use, a fairly feeble bit cover is included that barely hangs onto the head with a touch of velcro. The blade Camp Hatchetcover works, but has no class or panache. It is a vinyl-like material with a single patch of velcro to snug it to the tool. It will stay on, but hardly provide any confidence while sitting there. On my list today is a new cover for this splitter. There are some aftermarket leather axe sheaths that will fit this Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet, but I’m stumbling over the idea of spending more on a blade cover than for the hatchet in the first place. We’ll have to see.

Many splitting hatchets and axes have a metal collar that protects the handle neck just below the head. The steel ringing the wood will take blows much better than the wood alone. It’s understandable that this Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet would not have the added cost of the collar, but if I can find an aftermarket solution I might try it out. Sure, perfect accuracy during chopping would be the perfect solution, but other than that, a metal collar is the next best thing.

Also Read: 11.5 Bug Out Bag Mistakes That Aren’t

One other small negative is that the finish work on the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet is not to the highest of standards. Plenty good for anything this hatchet is used for, but a close inspection will detect very minor imperfections on the head that indicate a few cut corners during manufacture. Additionally, the grain pattern is many degrees off ideal although the “massivity” of the handle more than makes up for any grain rotation. But again, at fifty bucks, this is a good deal from any angle.

Plus Size

The Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet is on my Bug In list since unless I can make a couple trips to my bug out location, or Best Hunting Hatchetin my case, one Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet already lives in my bug out cabin next to my emergency freeze dried food storage stock pile and another lives at my city house.  That said, the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet at the top of my grab-and-go list. It has a very limited but very important duties that will keep it handy but not absolutely essential. While it does make short order of larger rounds, and churns out the kindling like no tomorrow, it won’t fell trees efficiently, nor will it do fine work without significant muscle fatigue due to the its aggressive mass.

In the end, the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet is an amazing camp tool that certainly earns its keep due to the efficiency it reduces the size of wood rounds and quarters. And it quickly becomes the go-to tool when maintaining the fuel supply for your campfire. In its reverse configuration, the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet is a safe tool for even the youngest of the fire maintainers, and when launched at wood with the speed and control of adult arm muscles, the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet blasts its way through with the precision of a squad of Marines. In other words, when you need your rounds blown apart and kindling piled up right now, the Stihl Pro Splitting Hatchet is your best friend.

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Survival Gear Review: DMT Diamond Sharpener

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dmt_knife_sharpener_fwfc_review

A person is only as good as the tools they use and the tools they use are only good if you take care of them.  My dad Best Knife Sharpenersaid this a lot to me when I was growing, especially if he caught me not properly taking care of a tool. The circle has come around as I now find myself saying this to my kids.  In the case of knives, taking care of them means keeping them sharp and ready to do work at a moments notice.  I found the DMT Diamond Sharpener to be up to the task of keeping almost any knife ready for the fight.

By Tinderwolf, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

My Experience

Hands down, the most important tool that I have on my person at all times is a knife. I like to keep my knives as best knife sharpenersharp as possible at all times. There are two reasons why you want a sharp knife. Reason number one, a sharp knife cuts better, a no brainer I know.  Reason number two, a sharp knife lowers the chance of a person hurting themselves.  This might seem backwards but just think about it for a minute. A sharp knife cuts items easily and smoothly.  A knife that is dull takes more work for you to cut the same item which means you are pressing harder and are more likely to lose control of the blade. I have experienced this many times in my life and have the scars to prove I know what I’m talking about.

Also Read: Primal Gear Unlimited Bow

Recently I came across the DMT Diamond Sharpener.  It has a very unique design that I wasn’t sure if I was going to like.  The shape of it, is rectangular but the sharpener sits in between two pieces of plastic that act as a cover.  On one end the two pieces of plastic are secured to the sharpening stone by two rivets.  When you want to use the sharpener the plastic folds out to one end of the sharpener, just like a butterfly knife, and they become the handle. I was afraid this was going to be flimsy but so far it has proven quite sturdy. Having extra length with the handle also helps in sharpening the blade at any particular angle that you want.

Options

What is nice about this system is that you  are not stuck with just two levels of coarseness as there are four different Best way to sharpen a knifesharpeners that you can purchase giving you a total of eight different levels for sharpening.  There are four different configurations that the sharpener comes in that you can purchase for your two sharpening sides. They are, Coarse/extra coarse, extra extra fine/extra fine, fine/coarse and fine/extra fine. There are two different sides to the sharpener which allows you to have two different levels of sharpening for your blade.

Also Read: Food Storage With Food Saver

Given its compact size the DMT Sharpener tucks away nicely in my front shirt pocket just behind the notebook I always carry. The instructions on the box inform you that you can use the sharpening block either dry or wet by simply using water. I have been using it dry to sharpen my knife and I clean the block afterwards with plain water and a paper towel. The company also says that there is an initial break in period for the sharpener though they don’t say exactly what that entails other than the surface of the sharpener may seem rough until used for a period of time.

Also Read: Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener

I have been using the DMT sharpener for about one month now and I would say that the surface of the sharpener smoothed out within about five uses. The most frustrating thing about sharpening knives is how many strokes it can take to get a good edge. Thus far in my experience it takes significantly less strokes on the DMT sharpener to obtain a good edge versus any other pocket sharpener I have used.

Conclusion

Due to its convenient size, affordability, ease of use, sharpening ability and ease of clean up, I would highly recommend the DMT sharpener to anyone who is serious about maintaining the edge on their knives.  Put this on your prepper check list next to your emergency food storage and bug out bag.  The DMT sharpener can be found on amazon.com ranging in price from $26-35 depending the coarseness you choose.

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Survival Gear Review: Zero Tolerance 0770CF Knife

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Zero_Tolerance_0770CF_pivot_edc_knife

Most who consider themselves prepared would rank the humble pocket knife as a survival essential of the highest Survival Knifedegree.  In fact, the sharp blade often exceeds even fire and water in immediate importance.  So having a sharp edge ready to go no matter the situation means carrying a quality blade with you 24/7 or at least whatever part of 24 fits your lifestyle.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog 

Therefore the place to cut costs is certainly not with your EDC blade.  Everyday Carry is code for that which we have on us as much as possible. Not a tent or sheath knife, or even water bottle, EDC means right here, right now, and everything you have with you when you take off running.

A Lightweight Heavyweight

Zero Tolerance has generated a reputation on above average knives that not only vastly exceed traditional quality Best EDC Knifeand performance, but actually set the bar high for everyone else. In other words, unlike many other brands, Zero Tolerance, or ZT, starts at the high end of knives and goes up from there.  The problem, however, was pretty much the entire line of Zero Tolerance knives were huge and heavy, not to mention expensive. Now while ZT did address the huge and heavy with their 0770CF knife, they kept it expensive if you consider ~$200 for a factory folder.

Also Read: 6 Tools To Survive Anything

ZT began its journey back 2006 when, as they say, “We saw a place in the market for a Made-in-the-USA line of Best EDC Survival Knifehard-use knives that would meet the needs of professionals in the military and law enforcement, as well as other first responders, such as firefighters and emergency medical personnel.”  Considering themselves “Proudly Overbuilt,” I just had to see for myself with their lightest, smallest, thinnest offering.

Of the Zero Tolerance knife lineup, most of them overlapped what was already in my EDC stable. For a new ride to tickle my fancy, it must occupy a empty space in my knife quiver. The ZT I chose was a carbon fiber scaled assisted opening flipper with great steel and a most importantly a blade profile that I can really use for the ED part of EDC.

The USA, well Tualatin, Oregon to be specific is where ZT knives are born. American manufacturing by American workers is a significant selling point of ZT. For me, I have to wonder what is it with Oregon? Not only are there a couple dozen popular custom knife makers inside the Oregon borders, but also a company named Benchmade. Heard of them?

Although ZT traces its roots to its 2006 KAI Cutlery spinoff, many consider it a premium brand of Kershaw knives. But it’s more like the smarter better looking sister of Kershaw.  Kai USA Ltd. is the parent company and in turn the Kai Group is the grandparent. Regardless of the Japanese connection, Zero Tolerance claims all its knives are built in Tualatin, Oregon which happens to be the headquarters of Kershaw. So you can see how some confusion could arise.

Crash and Burn

The Zero Tolerance 0770CF is a super tough lightweight assisted flipper with ELMAX steel and carbon fiber scales. Zero Tolerance vs BenchmadeThe 0770CF is essentially the new and improved version of the short lived and ultimately doomed Zero Tolerance 0777 which was an amazing folder of mythical features. So much so that when the “Triple Seven”  went from computer screen to factory floor, there were just too many design obstacles and engineering overlaps to overcome. Hype turned to horror and the knife disappeared almost as fast as the Remington R51.  Or in Zero Tolerance parlance the 0777 was a “very limited-run.” And to further hide the past, ZT released the 0770CF with the added feature of being, “much more generally available.” Either way, the 0777 was a $475 unicorn, and the 0770CF is a glass of icewater in the face at less than half the price.

Phoenix This

The shape of the 3.25 inch blade on the 0770CF combines several useful design elements including a slightly full Survival Knifebelly, a gentle interpretation of a Wharncliffe tip, aggressive jimping for thumb purchase on the back spine, and an effective swedge riding the spine before expanding to full thickness just prior to tapering to the tip.

Related: Survival Knife vs. Hatchet

A Wharncliffe blade, as described in Wikipedia, is “similar in profile to a sheep’s foot but the curve of the back edge starts closer to the handle and is more gradual. Its blade is much thicker than a knife of comparable size.  Wharncliffes were used by sailors, as the shape of the tip prevented accidental penetration of the work or the user’s hand with the sudden motion of a ship.” I’ve also read that the Wharncliffe shape makes for better penetration into an opponent’s muscle behaving more like a can opener than a slicer. But the 0770CF, not quite so much. Instead the 0770CF blade profile scores high in daily slicing, but benefits from a precision tip while maintaining Wharncliffe strength.  The overall length of a deployed 0770CF is 7.5 inches, and when in the pocket, the handle alone takes up 4.3 inches of space. The thickness of the knife is a hair over 3/8ths of an inch, and the blade at its thickest is 1/8th inch thick.

Flipping Out

As with most flippers, the deployment lever of the Zero Tolerance 0770CF doubles as a finger guard which in my Zero Tolerance EDC Knifeopinion is over half the reason to carry a flipper. The SpeedSafe® assisted opening spring assist mechanism rockets out the blade with minimal effort, and the inset-liner lock snaps into place with a satisfying click. A added bonus with the 0770CF is that the assisted opening mechanism is completely isolated from the locking bar. Some assisted blade designs package the deployment and locking as one unit meaning that if the spring fails, so might the lockup. In the case of the 0770CF, complete failure of the spring assist would not render this useless as a locking knife. I do notice, however, that the longer the time between blade deployments, the more force needed on the flipper lever. Sometimes I am quite thankful for the heavy duty jimping on the lever as it digs into my index finger when trying to wake up the knife after a long sleep.

Related: Neck Knives For The Masses

The oversized and overbuilt pivot is the only obvious ornamentation on the naked carbon fiber scales. Three small  Good EDC Knife black screw heads grace each side of the scales on the in a row along the palm-side of the handle connecting the scales to a steel spacer that occupies the rear portion of the grip spine. The foremost portion of the grip spine is fully open completely free from obstructions making the removal of debris painless whether dried blood, bone fragments, or more likely pocket lint.

The deep carry pocket clip is reversible, but only in the tip-up (when folded) configuration.  Out of the box I found the pocket clip to be a little weak.  After removing it and rebending the clip to my specifications, I now find the clip worthy of the rest of the knife.  The blade is billboarded with the ZT logo on one side, and four lines of info on the other including a serial number.

Related: Fallkniven Jarl Knife Review

With a weight of three ounces soaking wet, the 0770CF fights much harder than it’s weight class. By using ELMAX Zero Tolerance Knife Thicknesssteel, Zero Tolerance provides an in-house super steel choice that claims the best of all options. In my experience, the edge retention is on par with Benchmades house iron 154CM.  The ELMAX seems not quite as durable as S30V steel but resharpens more easily.  But we are splitting hairs here.

The balance point of the 0770CF is just where it should be, right at the index finger point behind the guard.  Because the balance is where you hold the knife for precision work keeps the blade on task with little fight from gravity.  Heavier blades can drop or twist when lightening or adjusting your grip.

A Knife in the Hand

The Zero Tolerance 0770CF is decidedly angular with pool table-flat scales that turn corners just barely slower than Zero_Tolerance_0770CF_Benchmade_Volie_EDC_Knife90 degrees with one flat bevel splitting the difference between across and down. But that’s a good thing.  The platform that houses the blade leans more towards the carry side of the EDC equation.  The 0770CF disappears into your pocket barely printing even in dress pants.  Considering that nearly 100% of the knife’s service life will be awaiting orders while tucked discreetly along a pocket seam, it is easy to overlook the lack of ergonomic elements when drawing, deploying and dissecting with the blade.

Better Than Two in the Bush

Any EDC blade worth its salt is a knife you can count on for daily hard use, as well as being worthy as a survival tool. EDC is as entertainingly controversial as is the contents of one’s bug out bag.  Everyone has an opinion based on some fantasy of what will be needed when you really need something.  As card-carrying EDC aficionado, I have carried folding knives from the lightweight Fallkniven PC, to the heavyweight Benchmade Adamas 275. So for me, the Zero Tolerance 0770CF is truly a lightweight heavyweight.

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Best Finishes For Your SHTF Gun

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best cerakote paint

We recently had a reader email into the Survival Cache team with a couple suggestions for articles he’s like to seecerakote colors(those types of emails are always welcome, by the way!).   He’d mentioned one specific item he’d like to see gone over.  He wrote, Another article I’d like to see if/when you and your team get the time is something on gun coatings. Like cerakote vs blued finishes etc.”

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

It’s a great question – what firearms finish will work best to protect your gun from corrosion and wear during a long-term SHTF event, or over a long duration of time between cleanings and maintenance?  Well, as someone who was a professional firearms refinisher for many years, with lots of experience in cold bluing, hot tank bluing, nickel plating, and spray-on finishes, I’ll walk you through the differences of some of the most commonly encountered finishes, and the pros and cons of each.  Hopefully this will help some of you decide where to plunk your hard-earned bucks to help preserve your “oh shit” guns when the chips are down.

Why Refinish Your Gun?

Most people that I encountered when I was refinishing firearms brought their guns to me for restoring – they had cerakote rifle finishloved and used and/or neglected a firearm to the point of the finish completely wearing off a gun.  Sometimes they’d been in house fires (brutal on firearms, even when they are in safes), or the gun was found in grandpa’s attic and was covered in bat crap, or they’d found a good deal on a gun they’d wanted because the finish was worn.  In any of these cases, the reason to refinish was generally obvious and easily remedied.

These days, gun owners will bring their perfectly good, sometimes brand-new, firearms to a local finisher, looking to achieve a new finish for reasons other than restoring.  Sometimes they’ve seen that sexy-looking camouflaged AR-15 or Glock on their (insert your choice of social media here) feed and GOTTA HAVE that same look…or maybe Multicam and brightly-colored metallic red/blue/green controls and accessories (why do people do that?!? All I can think of when I see those is those vinyled and painted up tuner cars in the early “Fast and the Furious” movies. But I digress.).  Others, such as predator or turkey/waterfowl hunters, need their dedicated hunting gun camo’d up so as not to draw their quarry’s eye.  I know some people who live for duck hunting will bring their shotguns in to be Duracoated or Cerakoted because of the superior resistance to saltwater corrosion.

Also Read: Top SHTF Guns You Haven’t Considered

However, for the purposes of this article, we will be looking at what available finish will help preserve your gun best when you are most likely to neglect the firearm.  We are also assuming you are bringing your firearm in for a refinish (or possibly refinishing yourself); however, a variety of finish options – most of the ones listed here, as a matter of fact – are available on new guns as well.  Remember, a certain finish won’t protect from serious abuse, i.e. hard drops on concrete or banging into rocks or being run over by National Guard tracked vehicles.  What it will do is block moisture, skin oils and salts, sweat, and mud from contacting the metal and components directly.  This effectively combats corrosion and rust – which we all know will screw your gun up and render it inoperable faster than we can say, “Ahh, shit.”

Cold Bluing

I’m not going to dig too deeply into the ins and outs of cold bluing because I wrote an article about it in one of my Rifle Bluing“SHTF Armorer” DIY posts on SHTFblog.com.  You can read the article here.  However, in a nutshell, cold bluing is the easiest way for most of us to restore a blued finish on our carbon steel guns.  (Cold bluing does not work on stainless steel or aluminum.)  It’s as accessible as going to our local gun shop and grabbing a bottle off the shelf or ordering it off Amazon.  I like Brownell’s Oxpho-Blue, and I have had good results with Birchwood Casey’s Perma-Blue as well.  And when applied properly, it can look pretty good and generally protects raw metal acceptably well.  As a counterpoint to all this convenience, cold blue does not hold up well to long-term use and will quickly wear off.  But it never hurts to have a sealed bottle (it evaporates) in the armorer’s box to throw some finish on a worn gun if needed.

Cold Blue Pros:

  • Cheap and accessible – around $10 for a 3 oz. Bottle of Birchwood Casey Perma Blue, available at most gun shops, even Wal-Mart
  • Do-it-yourself compatible – refinish a gun while you watch “Hogan’s Heroes” and “Desperate Housewives” reruns
  • Looks pretty good when applied properly with attention to detail
  • Good for spot touch-ups

Cold Blue Cons:

  • Does not offer very good corrosion protection – but it’s better than nothing
  • Wears very easily under frequent use, necessitating re-applications or a more serious finish
  • Looks awful and splotchy when not done properly or if oils are present when applying

Hot Tank Bluing

Hot tank bluing comes in a couple different forms, but far and away the most commonly used is a Caustic Black finish.  This method involves immersing cleaned and degreased carbon steel parts into a bath of “bluing salts”, which are made up of sodium hydroxide, sodium nitrite, and sodium nitrate (plus other proprietary ingredients, depending on who you source the salts from.).  The salts are mixed with water at certain ratios, then boiled at between 275-315° F.  The chemicals in the boiling bath interact with the steel of the firearm, and convert the exterior surface metal of the firearm to Magnetite, which is also known as “black oxide of iron”.  Magnetite provides a deep, rich blackish-blue color to firearms, and is the most common finish used by many firearms manufacturers due to the ease of consistent finishes in large quantities.  I worked with hot tank bluing for many years, and the chemical composition is corrosive as hell and can burn your skin badly if care is not taken, and specialized equipment, burners, and boiling tanks are required to do the job correctly.

Related: SHTF Guns On A Budget

Hot tank bluing provides very good rust resistance that is made better with the application of a good penetrating gun oil.  Its wear resistance is much better than cold blue, but the finish can still wear over time with daily use – just go into any gun shop and take a gander at any well-used hunting-type rifle.  I bet it’s got use and silver bare metal wear on the high-traffic carrying areas areas.  However, since bluing salts react with the carbon in the steel, hot tank bluing cannot be used on most types of stainless steel – and it definitely cannot be used with aluminum.  Aluminum will usually either get eaten away by the salts or react adversely, possibly causing super heated gas “explosions” in the tank that can cause your boiling hot caustic bath to spray everywhere.  Care must also be taken with firearms like double-barreled shotguns that have a rib between the two barrels.  The rib must be vented with drilled holes, or else the air inside the rib can heat and expand, blowing the barrels apart.  But I digress.

Here is a picture of a rare Marlin “Marauder” in .35 Remington that I reblued probably 12 years ago – it has seen Rifle Finishingregular hunting use in the Maine woods since then.  The finish is barely worn at the carrying points, showing that hot tank bluing is very attractive durable and when taken care of.

Hot Tank Blue Pros Pros:

  • Provides a beautiful, consistent, deep black finish to steel
  • Long lasting, durable, provides good corrosion resistance – especially when combined with regular maintenance and oiling
  • Pricing to refinish by a professional is usually reasonable
  • Has been used for for decades as the go-to finish for most commercial firearms – so you know it does its job well
  • A great way to go to refinish your steel firearm or if you’re buying new

Hot Tank Blue Cons:

  • Lots of specialized equipment and experience required, large initial investment to get set up to hot tank blue
  • Wears, especially at high points/corners after use
  • Can resist corrosion for time, but if no oil is on the surface of the bluing, it can be compromised quickly by humidity, skin oils and salts, etc.
  • Easily scratched if abrasive contact is made by metal, rocks, sand.

Parkerizing

Parkerizing is a finish commonly encountered on many US military firearms from the immediate pre-World War 2 era through the late 50’s, early 1960’s, I’d guess.  If you’ve seen a WWII era 1911 Colt, Springfield 1903, M1 Carbine, or M1 Garand – even up through the M14/M1A, you’ve seen a parkerized finish.

Parkerizing comes in many forms, but usually involves immersing a steel firearm in a manganese, iron, or zinc phosphate bath.  The bath electrochemically deposits a dark gray coating on the metal that is very tough and useful.  The dark gray can sometimes fade to a green-gray color over time or with the application of certain oils or coatings like Cosmoline.  As a primary finish, parkerizing’s porous surface traps oil beautifully, keeping the firearm from rusting for longer periods of time between maintenance or wipe-downs.

Related: Best Handgun Calibers For Survival

Parkerizing is very commonly used as a base coat for other finishes such as paints or spray-on coatings like DuraCoat or Cerakote, due to its granular surface and phosphates in the finish.  According to Wikipedia, Glock also uses parkerizing over its proprietary Tenifer finish as a tough, matte colored surface coat.  Parkerizing is very durable, and its granular-feeling surface deposit finish can hold oils well, helping to preserve the finish that much more.  If your SHTF gun is parkerized, no need to look any further for a battle-ready, rugged finish – WW2, Korea, and Vietnam proved parkerizing’s ready-to-rumble attributes.

Also Read: Survival Guns – A Beginners Guide

Here is a picture of a Ruger MKI target pistol customized by Angus Arms with lots of goodies including a Clark Parkerizing Gun Coatingbarrel, Ultra Dot red dot, Marvel trigger, and a full parkerized finish.  This finish job ran about $125 or so, according to Angus Arms.

Parkerizing Pros:

  • Attractive, matte low-glare finish
  • Battle-proven durability and long life, especially when maintained and oiled
  • Already the go-to, as-bought finish for many popular SHTF-type guns
  • A fantastic base coat with enhanced “tooth” for spray-on type finishes

Parkerizing cons:

  • A bit of a lost art, fewer and fewer gunsmiths parkerize anymore
  • Can’t be used on aluminum, polymer, and other firearms materials. Steel only.

Sprayed-On Finishes

Over the past ten or so years, sprayed-on finishes  – I’m not talking spray-paint here, by the way – have started to really take the firearms market by storm.  These finishes are a superb way to get colors other than the forever-available blacks, grays, and silvers that have been the norm on guns since firearms were invented.  Though there are many spray-on type finishes to consider, we’re going to look at what are arguably the two most popular: Duracoat and Cerakote.

Duracoat

Duracoat, produced by Lauer Custom Weaponry, is a two-part finish that is comprised of a colored resin and a best diy gun finishseparate hardener.  The two parts are mixed like an epoxy and applied via a spray gun, such as an airbrush (my preferred method) or by HVLP paint guns.  When applied, Duracoat dries to the touch in about 20 minutes, and is fully cured after a few weeks.  However, after drying overnight, you can reassemble your firearms if you’re careful not to scratch the finish.

Duracoat was engineered with the DIY guy/gal at home in mind.  With an airbrush or paint gun, a compressor, some scouring pads and sandpaper, and some acetone, (a respirator, safety glasses, and ventilation is also HEAVILY recommended if you’re spraying indoors), the regular gun guy/gal can apply their own finish with excellent results that are generally easy to attain provided the metal prep work is done properly.  There are also certified Duracoat appliers across the country.

Lauer Custom Weaponry has expanded their product line to offer Duracoat in an aerosol spray-paint can, as well as high-temperature coatings (great for suppressors), camo packs (stencils and Duracoat colors required for specific camouflage patterns), spray-on bluing (I’m interested to see how that works), gun “tattoos” (pre-cut patterns for your gun), as well as many, MANY different color offerings.

Duracoat is permanent, and very tough to remove if it is properly applied.  It has a high elasticity for a finish, allowing it to flex slightly and absorb impacts reasonably well, as well as prevent scratches.  I’ve personally Duracoated many guns, including my personal AR-15, and the finish is very tough once properly cured.  Duracoat is air-cured, meaning you don’t need any special equipment to bake the cure.  This makes it superior for items like optics, or any items with electronics/heat-sensitive components.  According to information I found online, Duracoat resists 100 inch-pounds of direct impact, and has passed a 300 hour salt spray test, which exceeds military requirements for finish.

Duracoat Pros:

  • Relatively easy to apply by the average Joe
  • Very effective at resisting corrosion and mild impacts
  • Has some lubricating properties
  • No expensive special equipment required
  • Much higher on the toughness scale than a rattle-can Krylon finish
  • Huge amounts of attractive color options, plays nice with stencils
  • Can be applied over any metals, plastics, wood.
  • Over 250 colors available, colors can be mixed to make custom colors
  • Banned in NYC – Lauer Custom Weaponry has its own line of “Bloomberg” colors, just to piss off a certain billionaire who thinks he knows how you should run your life.

Duracoat Cons:

  • Susceptible to some solvents like acetone or lacquer thinner
  • Takes a long time to finish curing
  • Not as tough as coatings like Cerakote, but still tougher than most standard firearms finishes

Cerakote

Cerakote is the current king of the hill when it comes to firearms finishes.  A ceramic-polymer compound, it’s specially formulated specifically for high-use, high-abuse-destined firearms.  Several firearms manufacturers offer Cerakote as their standard finish since its wear and lubricating characteristics are excellent.  There are two basic Cerakote offerings: Cerakote “C” are a single-component, air-cure finish.  After it is fully cured, Cerakote “C” will endure temperatures of 1700°F, and and has been tested to withstand 550 hours of salt-spray.  Cerakote “H” is a two-part, thermally cured (heated) system.  The heat levels that Cerakote “H” will withstand are lower (400°) but has been tested for 2,500 hours (!) of salt spray endurance.  Needless to say, Cerakote’s resistance to corrosion is superb.  Cerakote “H” also is practically impervious to solvents like acetone and MEK, and can resist impacts of up to 160 inch-pounds.

Related: 6 Tools To Survive Anything

According to their website, Cerakote now offers over 60 different colors, and can be used with stencils and combines with other colors for camouflage patterns- though I’ve read that Duracoat is a bit easier to use with stencils.

Cerakote requires a bit more attention to surface prep than other spray-on finishes, usually requiring a surface blasting with 120-grit aluminum oxide for a proper rough-up so the finish can properly grab.  Hanging racks and a drying oven are also required for heat curing.  Degreaser soak tank, HVLP spray gun, and a good air compressor for spraying and surface blasting are all required, not to mention the proper eye protection and respirator.  An at-home guy can get set up for Cerakoting, but usually, due to the space and tools required, we leave Cerakoting to the professionals who can finish many guns in one shot.

This picture was supplied by Furlong Custom Creations, a local Maine builder/finisher, as an example of cerakoting.best firearm coating

Cerakote Pros:

  • Tough, tough, tough! Probably the most rugged finish available for your firearm.
  • Impervious to solvents, cleaners
  • Can be applied over metals, polymers, wood
  • Can be used with stencils, camo patterns
  • Over 60 colors to choose from
  • Did I mention it was tough?

Cerakote Cons:

  • Usually needs to be applied by a professional with the appropriate gear; not DIY friendly on a low-quantity basis.
  • Generally expensive to have performed, very labor intensive to do properly
  • Once it has been applied to your gun, best of luck getting it off the gun!

Other Finishes

There are other relative “newcomers” to the finish scene that were originally proprietary to specific firearms, like Sig Sauer’s Nitron finish (actually a DLC – Diamond-Like Carbon– Finish from a company called IonBond…it’s expensive, but extremely hard-wearing), or Glock’s Tenifer and Smith & Wesson’s Melonite – which are the same family of coatings that fall under “Ferritic Nitrocarburizing” or Black Nitride.  I know ATEi is offering Melonite finishes if you’d like to get your steel parts finished in this coating.  Robar’s NP3 is a form of electroless nickel plating that has excellent corrosion and wear resistance, as well as looking pretty cool if you like colors other than black for your gun.  Gun-Kote is another type of spray-on finish that meets or exceeds military and aerospace requirements.

Also Read: 5 Ideas For Fire Tinder

There are many other extremely attractive, rugged finish options out there – and third party finishers are starting to come online to provide these finishes to the general public.  I will hang my head and admit that I’m not terribly familiar with these newer types of gun finishes, so I won’t pretend that I do.  If there is a proprietary coating or finish out there you’ve seen or heard of, the best bet is to do your internet research, talk with people who have that finish on their guns, and call the company who applies the finish, and see what they have to say.  It’s your hard-earned money that you’re plunking down to protect a gun that may well protect you one day, so it’s worth the little bit of extra effort to make sure you get what you want.

Which Do You Choose?

So, there are myriad options out there – which do you choose for your SHTF gun?  Personally, if money was no object, I would gladly bring my firearm to a quality Cerakote finisher – even if you just want a black gun – and plunk down my hard-earned dead presidents, knowing that I’d be giving my gun the most love I could.  Cerakote’s hard-wearing properties and resistance to corrosion really make it a stand-out in the finish world.

However, I’ve personally Duracoated my SHTF guns and couldn’t be happier. I painstakingly prepped the surface to be sprayed, and Duracoat hasn’t let me down in two years.  I’m not a crazy high-volume shooter like many – but I’ll shoot a couple thousand rounds out of my AR, and hunt with it every year.  The only visible damage to the finish has been the end of the brass deflector, where it takes many, many high-velocity empty brass impacts.  I have a Remington 870 I’ve Duracoated as well – and it gets almost zero use, standing vigilant guard as a home defense shotgun.  The 870 receives no maintenance and no oil except for its yearly check-up, and there has been no corrosion, even in high humidity Maine summers in a damp basement.  If I was more the DIY type, I’d go Duracoat and never look back.

As far as the chemical finishes go, I’d look at parkerizing, hot tank bluing, and then cold blue – in that order.  These finishes are excellent to good, but require higher maintenance, especially in high-use and high humidity environments.  I certainly don’t turn my nose up at these finishes – I dearly love a high polish, deep hot tank blue on a classic hunting firearm – but for a SHTF gun that needs to perform in ugly environments, the spray-on finishes are the way to go these day.  That’s my opinion – how about yours?

Photo credits: Drew, Angus Norcross, Jeff Furlong

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Survival Gear Review: Barricade Fire Blocking Gel

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Firegel Saves House

Looked at the news lately?  Hot, dry and windy.  Fire season is upon us again.  It is starting to really Home fire protectiondry out up here in the high country of Rocky Mountains where wildfires are our biggest nemesis.  My paranoia level is around a 5 on a scale of 10.  Statistically the chances of your house going up in flames, due to wildfire,  is less than 1%.  Where did I get that number?  I made it up after reading a bunch of sites.  I really couldn’t find a real factual number, but if you take into account the number of homes in the danger zone and how many homes are lost, it isn’t hard to think that it is a realistic starting point.

By Pineslayer, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

So why worry?  Because it will happen to someone everyday somewhere.  There is an additional risk SHTF Survival(while more remote) of a fire caused by nuclear war.  If you really want to scare yourself, you can read this creepy theory put forward by Jerald E. Hill of the Rand Corporation called “Problems of Fire in a Nuclear War” from 1961 (click here).  But hey, even if the chances of fire by mother nature, careless campers, or nuclear war are remote, isn’t that why we prepare?  I don’t know about you, but my home is more than just a shelter.  It is filled with memories, dreams, food storage, and survival gear.  :)  Losing my bug in location is not a good option.  So obviously no one wants to lose their home to fire and fighting a wildfire is a dangerous activity, so let’s improve our chances.

Options

Many of you have read about foaming systems that can be installed to suppress fires.  I have talked to Best Firegel for home protectionlocal firefighters who have witnessed their effectiveness.  The downside is cost, thousands.  So for the average homeowner it seems a daunting project.  Enter Barricade FireGel.  If you can operate a hose or power washer, you can give home a fighting chance. Their site is packed with information, so go there and start reading.

Also Read: 6 Steps To Harden Your Home Against Wildfire

I cut trees all summer long.  It might be for forest health, new building sites, or defensible space.  Most people think that if they move the trees back away from their house they will be OK, but they are missing many key components of how a fire devours homes.  Flammable materials stacked next to the home, bad.  Wood decks, tall grasses, and shake roofs, all very bad.  The ember storm from a fire will find any chink in your armor.  Push all potential combustible items away from the structure.  The next step is Barricade Firegel.

So I was getting ready to make some mini-decks out of old cedar wood from my deck replacement project.  Take a blow torch to them and see how they fare with and without Barricade Firegel.  I spent some time on their website about an hour, and realized that would be a waste of time.  Their site has plenty of video’s and info, the stuff works.  Spraying the whole house might be your best option, but maybe a couple of sides would work too.  Consider general wind direction, slope, and where any flammable items are your property.   Fire likes to race uphill with the wind at its back.  Generally the wind is coming from the West, generally.  So consider how much gel you would need to spray that side down, any decks, vehicles, and out buildings.  If you have a wood sided home, consider buying a few gallons more.

Barricade FireGel Hard Use Video

How Much Do I Need?

This will require a little calculating on your part. Each 1 gallon container of Barricade concentrate best wildfire protectionwill coat 500-700 square feet of area. The area you cover depends on how thickly you apply the product. A ¼ inch covering is recommended. The average home will take between three and five 1 gallon containers of Barricade concentrate.  Their FAQ section is packed with info.

Related: Gransfors Axe Review

We recently had a fire up by my house in the mountains.  Within a week it was 100% contained and completely put out.  2 firefighters lost their homes and I know one young couple who lost theirs as well.  The 2 that were arrested are…habitual losers and criminals from out of state who forgot to put out their campfire.  The forest is crawling with these types, leaving their fires unattended, feces everywhere, begging in parking lots.  Sorry to get off track here, but it does go to the need of protection/security.  I see pitchforks and torches in the near future.

Have A Plan

Now back to our story.  It is hard to imagine a prep more important than one that keeps a roof over your head.  Whether it be during good times or bad, when the balloon goes up and the fire is raging, you are the first line of defense.  If you do the grunt work ahead of time, your stress level will be exponentially lower.  Wait until the last minute and be prepared to suffer.  You don’t want to be that person who looks back and wishes they had spent that few hundred bucks to save what was.  Harsh?  Yep.  Mother Nature has a take no prisoners attitude, respect her, understand her and be prepared to fight under her terms, with a little help.  Here is a quote that I love when I think about fighting a larger opponent, “Like a reed in the wind, I will bend , but will not break.”  Name that movie.

Related: Understanding Axe Types

After writing this and doing my homework, I can think of no better product to fight wildfire.  If you surround your home with bales of hay and firewood, this might not save you, if it does I bet FireGel would love to hear your story.  Clean up your property, be smart and get some Barricade FireGel.  I have a couple gallons and I’m buying more for my outbuildings, cars, (insert here what you want to save).

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Survival Gear Review: Fällkniven A1 Pro

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Best Survival Knife

Being a restless survivalist, I find the endless pursuit of the best single knife to be both a noble Fallkniven_A1-Pro_survival knife_river-work_teotwawkione and and endless one.  Or so I thought.  The Fällkniven A1 Pro may have brought an end to my quest for the perfect survival knife, and become the life-long quest of other like minds.  Could the Fallkniven A1 Pro be the best survival knife?  The knife to end all survival knives?  Let’s consider it.

By Doc Montana, of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog 

Is the Fällkniven A1 Pro the Ultimate Survival Knife?

The Fällkniven knife company has decades of experience at the unique and effective intersection Top Survival Knifebetween necessary traditions and technological innovation. Some knife brands lean so far to the innovative side that they never quite fully bake an idea while others swing the pendulum too far the other way and hold a knife design to archaic steel and features that work well, but are far from what’s possible.  Not that I’m encouraging the use of performance enhancing chemicals, but I am thrilled that Fällkniven has put its indomitable and proven A1 knife on steroids. And the results are astonishing.

Department of Redundancy Department

What makes the A1 Pro survival knife so amazing is that Fällkniven took an already amazing knifeTop Survival Knife and made it even more amazing.  And as one who considers himself an aficionado of survival knives, I don’t say this lightly.  The Fällkniven A1 Pro is related to the A1, but kind of alike a tough kid that has a Navy SEAL for a big brother.  The A1 Pro  is a complete and total upgrade of already high performance option.

Taking a step back, let’s look at how the Fällkniven A1 Pro came to be, and why the A1 Pro will not have be a serious contender for the World’s Best Survival Knife for a long time.  Fällkniven began building on the Swedish blade traditions back in the early 1980’s.  It’s F1 knife was chosen as the singular survival blade for the Swedish Air Force.  And the F1 also gained respect and notoriety as an excellent solution when a smallish survival knife is needed.  What makes the F1, and later the A1 and now the A1 Pro such definitive blades is their steel technology.  And a few other things.

Now this is a Knife

Jumping ahead, the Fällkniven A1 quickly became a survival success story by providing the Best Bushcraft Knifeessentials and much more.  By laminating two supersteels, into a configuration that makes it not only outperform most other high end blades, but its combination of blended steels in a single blade puts the Fällknivens out of reach of other knives in overall strength, raw performance and technical prowess.

Also Read: Fällkniven F1 Survival Knife Review

But what happens when a purveyor of extremely high end blades takes a step back and assesses the performance of its own best edges, then turns up the volume on one of its best sellers and highest achievers.  Well, I guess you get the A1 Pro. So it’s official. Fällkniven goes to 11!

The Fällkniven A1, the original one, was a test bed for all things survival.  It pushed the limits of laminated steel giving the serious knife user a glimpse of what’s possible when performance outweighs tradition. From that point on, the world got a taste of things to come.  Now imagine Fällkniven taking everything good about the A1 and pumping it full of steroids.  The passing similarities between the A1 and the A1 Pro are only apparent from a distance.

While the grip size is the same, the material is different and the sometimes-debated finger guard Fallkniven_A1-Pro_survival knife_diamond-stone-DC4shape is reversed. And best of all, the already thick blade is even thicker and made of a ultra-high end cobalt-laminated steel.  The sheath is beefier and stronger.  The edge is a more refined convex shape. And the knife comes in a presentation box that doubles as a waterproof container complete with Fällkniven’s professional quality diamond sharpening stone, the DC4.

Brass Tacks

The A1 Pro contains a core of cobalt steel rather than the VG10 of its father.  Cobalt steel (CoS) Top Survival Knifecontains about 2.5% Co, along with a slightly higher chromium content. This magic mix of alchemy provides a better edge that stays sharp longer while hovering around 60 on the Rockwell (HRC) Scale.

Related: ESEE 6 Knife Review

Cobalt steel is not a recent phenomenon for Fällkniven. It was experimented with in prior Fällkniven knives including the KK and the PC.  As the results came in, it was clear that cobalt steel was the next go-to steel when the best was desired.  Add to that an “Improved Convex Edge” and you are on the literal and figurative bleeding edge of cutlery technology.  Cobalt steel blades truly are playing with sharpness at the molecular level of steel, not just the crystalian level.  In other words, sharp is a cousin, and cobalt steel is your filthy rich uncle.

Thick as a Brick

Seven is the new norm.  At seven millimeters thick the blade has added strength beyond the already ridiculous strength of the regular A1.  And that strength has extended into the grip with a thicker and wider tang that, like the A1, extends the all the way through and out the other end.

Consider the Bar Raised

Fällkniven admits that to claim something “professional” requires a corresponding and honest Best Survival Kniferaising of the bar. And Fällkniven delivered to an astronomically high level.  At the time of this writing, the Fällkniven website shows the A1 Pro as “sold out.”  Think about that for a moment.   In a world hip-deep in survival knives priced from the same as a couple gallons of gas to more than a car.  Then Fällkniven comes along and makes survival knife along with its dozen other survival knives already on their resume.  And this newcomer sells out before most folks even hear about it.

What’s in the Box?

The Fällkniven A1 Pro arrives inside a black watertight plastic box complete with foam liner and Top Bushcraft Knifeembossed lid.  Inside the box is the Fällkniven A1 Pro knife, it’s sheath, and Fällkniven’s DC4 diamond sharpening stone.  The box is a nice touch and Fällkniven encourages its use for storing other things like electronics. It’s not quite a Pelican but certainly more than a Plano.

The stone is an excellent choice. In addition to high end survival knives, Fällkniven also makes top notch kitchen cutlery and the tools to keep them razor sharp. The DC4, or Diamond/Ceramic 4-inch stone has a gold diamond surface of 25 micron grit on one side and a synthetic sapphire ceramic stone on the other. In addition to being able to sharpen the hard laminate supersteels, no lubrication is needed for smooth sailing.

Also Read: Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener Review

The zytel sheath is an upgrade over the standard A1 model.  The Pro sheath is beefier with more Survival Knife Reviewpronounced strengthening fins. It also is more adaptable to MOLLE and other attachment systems with its inch-wide wings that will accept horizontal straps.  The Pro sheath uses the same riveted strap for a belt loop and friction retention.  In lieu of the thumb ramp present on the classic A1 sheath, the strap’s ear has the job now.

And the Knife

Even a cursory glance at the A1 Pro says this knife is all business.  From the grip to the guard to Best Survival Bladethe blade to the frighteningly thick spine, this knife demands respect.  At 11.2 inches overall length, the A1 Pro is not for the faint of heart or for those with low muscle tone.  The 6.3 inch blade, while not the longest tool in your bug out bag, is actually plenty for any confrontation with a human or larger critter outside those of the Grizzly variety.

Unlike the regular A1 knife that used a Kraton plastic for a grip material, the A1 Pro takes a cue from the Fällkniven F1 and runs Thermorun plastic on the handle of the A1 Pro. To quote myself in my review of the F1, Thermorun, “As an olefin thermoplastic material it is extremely durable, and has great properties for a survival knife grip. Thermorun is an electrical insulator, resistant to weathering, impervious to most chemicals that a knife would encounter, and pretty much ignores temperature changes. It feels great in the hand with just enough rubbery texture to keep the blade from sliding around, but still firm enough to avoid that tacky feeling of softer plastic grips.”

Also Read: Parry Blade Knife Review

Like the regular A1, the tang of the A1 Pro extends throughout the grip and out the top.  However, Fällkniven did upgrade the tang by making it larger, thicker and tapered.  But the real change is in the finger guard.  On the regular A1 the guard was covered in the same Kraton plastic as the grip, and leans just slightly back towards the hand.  The finger crossguard on the A1 Pro is polished, stainless steel, thicker welded to the frame, and opens out towards the blade.  Why this is important is due to some index finger strain when using the regular A1 for repetitive long-duration woodworking tasks.

Sorry About That

Fällkniven is apologetic about the price of the A1 Pro.  They defend the higher cost of the A1 Pro A1 Pro Knife Review(presumably compared to the regular A1) because of the more expensive steel, more expensive grip and guard, and more expensive containment and sharpening solutions included with the A1 Pro.  But frankly, if one compares the A1 Pro to anything custom, the A1 Pro seems mainstream in its pricing.  Either way, at the time of this writing, Fällkniven lists the A1 Pro as “sold out” so discussion about price are somewhat recreational.  Personally, I find the price of the A1 Pro completely reasonable, but like any pro-level piece of equipment, it only seems expensive if you don’t have the skills to extract the benefits from it.

Riding Into The Sunset

Like many preparing for SHTF events and the likely WROL that will follow, I’m always looking Best SHTF Knifefor the next big thing in bladeware.  Until now I was restless, always looking over my shoulder to see what else was out there.  But with the A1 Pro in hand, a calm settled over my quest for the ultimate survival knife.  Fällkniven’s Pro version of one of the world’s best survival knives, their own A1, as moved the bar so high that most general arguments are moot. With the Fällkniven A1 Pro on the scene, the quest for perfection is now simply a question of preference.

All Photos By Doc Montana

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Food Storage With Food Saver Vacuum Sealer

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Best Long Term Food Storage

One of the biggest obstacles we have to conquer as preppers is that of long term food storage and Best Long Term Food Storagepreservation.  While MREs and other long term food options that are purchased can be great, they can be expensive per serving and limiting in the options available.  A few years back I decided to research my options for Do It Yourself food storage and decided to purchase a Food Saver vacuum sealer and I have been very happy with the results and variety it has given me.

Why a Food Saver?

I decided on a Food Saver vacuum sealer because of all the good reviews and the quality of the best way to store foodproduct.  Air and water are the two main factors of why food goes bad.  Both of these can be greatly reduced when food is placed in a vacuum sealed bag.  Another reason I chose this method of food storage is because I wanted to be able to tailor my food options to what I like (DIY).  Sometimes MREs and other products like it, sit on the shelf until they go bad.  However, if you are able to create snacks and menus that you normally eat then you can use the sealed packages whenever you please.

Also Read: The Survival Food Pyramid

While shopping at the store one day I came across a deal on ribeye steaks, which are my favorite, so I bought more than I normally would.  The excess steaks I vacuumed sealed up, dated and placed in my deep freeze.  Over a year later I came back to take the last ribeye out and was amazed at how well the steak was preserved.  It looked and tasted like it had been put in the freezer just days before but it had been stored for over a year.

Not Just For Food

I have used the Food Saver to help preserve more than just Best way to store foodfood items.  I have placed entire boxes of ammunition into a bag for long term storage in order to decrease corrosion of the cartridges.  I have vacuumed sealed medical supplies.  The reason for this is that some supplies like bandages are wrapped in a paper like package that over time dry out and the packaging fails.  Once the packaging fails, the bandage is no longer sterile and can also become brittle.  Another great reason to use a vacuum sealer is that if the material that is in the bag is soft, the process of taking the air out of the bag will compress that item quite a bit.

Also Read: Survival Coffee

This can be a hug space saver.  I have taken entire bags of cotton balls and shrunk them down Best Prepper Food Storagetremendously in size.  Cotton balls have a wide variety of uses, most important to me is that they make great fire starters, which is why I choose to seal them up and have some in every pack that I own.  I have taken the cardboard centers out of toilet paper rolls and placed two rolls per bag, you don’t want to be stuck somewhere without toilet paper if you can help it!

Related: Tools For Food Storage

The Food Storage system that I use is the FoodSaver V2244 model which is a best seller on Amazon and can be picked up for around $75.  This model also has a side port which allows you to hook up a tube and vacuum seal hard containers.  I have not personally tried those containers but have heard good things about them.  I think the FoodSaver system is a great setup not only for food storage but the preservation of other materials and it can save you a ton of space when packing your bags for the trail.

Photos By:
Dan Perry
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Survival Gear Review: Glock 42

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EDC pistol

Does your carry pistol limit what you do? Do you worry about exposing your gun to the elements? Best EDC PistolIs your carry preference too much of a burden for many activities? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you should consider the Glock 42.  For me, I wanted a familiar handgun but in a small form factor that would be barely noticed when hiking, running, mountain biking, backcountry skiing, fishing, boating, and almost everything else.  Of course if you rarely do any of the above, then a .45 strapped to your leg is fine.  But for all those other activities, a Glock 42 is an excellent choice. And even more, the Glock 42 might just become your BBFF (Best Bugout Friends Forever).

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog 

Good News!

I remember clearly when I heard that the next new Glock was a .380 instead of the highly Survival Pistolanticipated single stack 9mm.  Frankly, the .380 should have been a predictable release given the global reach of Glock and the .380-sized hole in Glock’s public lineup.  I always figured that Glock could gut the 9mm market with a winning release just like Apple could dominate the tablet market if it dropped the price of an iPad Air to $199.  But not this time. That came later.

For years I had a Ruger LCP.  It’s a tiny polymer framed .380 of great reliability and limited accuracy.  Plus it’s what I like to call a singularity.  At the time it was alone in its detailed design meaning nothing else acted quite like it in both operation and takedown.  But still it was a great gun. Some were close like Kel-Tec and historical Colts, but price and performance allowed the LCP to become the meme of its tiny slice of the gun market.

Glock is Knocking

The Glock 42 is like a miniature Glock.  And when we say “Glock” we really mean the Glock 17, Survival Pistolthe 9mm that started it all.  In case you were confused by Glock’s odd naming conventions where a 17 is 9mm and so is an 18 and 19, but a 20 is a 10mm and a 21 is a .45.  But yet the Glock 40 is a 10mm, but there is no Glock 10 firearm.  The reason is actually quite simple.  Glaston Glock names each of his new patented inventions with a new ascending number.  His first invention was the 1. His first pistol was the 17. His next the 18. Next the 19, then 20 and so on.  And the next as-yet-unreleased Glock will be the 44.  But don’t expect it to be in .44 magnum. My hope, now that you asked, is a .22LR.  But I might be alone in that wish. Or not.

Also Read: Bug Out Gun Lights

Although I am quite pleased with the 42, I’ve long thought the 26 was an excellent bug out gun due to its small size and big performance.  And I still believe that.  The issue is that the 42 is just such an excellent gun at half the weight.  By following the playbook of the Glock 17, the 42 maintains all the forward thinking advantages of “Glock Perfection” but in a tiny (for Glock anyway) pistol.  The robust but simple aspects of every Glock are alive and well in the 42. Just smaller. Yes, I am well versed in the 43, Glock’s single stack 9mm.  It’s a great gun, but as one deeply involved with the G17, 19 and 26, the G43 is little more than a need for new 9mm mags. And if I’m going with new Glock mags, I am going with a new and smaller caliber.

Ballistics Mallistics

Decades or more ago, the ballistics of handgun cartridges seemed to solidify in the collective Bug Out Pistolconscious of mainstream gun-owning Americans, turning to concrete and changing at the pace of gun writer retirements and funerals.  Unfortunately, all that old info is old news rivaled only its speed of obsolescence as are books about Windows software and Apple hardware.  New gunpowder, new bullets, new primers, and new guns all have tipped the playing field in the direction of smaller cartridges.  Even the flip-flopping FBI is sniffing around the 9mm again. No longer is there a search for rifle power in a EDC handgun.  Sure in the old days where you needed a four-barrel carbed big-block 427 engine to be Boss Hog on the road, but now a Subaru STI could smoke the Chevy in every category except nostalgia.  Same with carry pistols.  Packing a big-block six-shooter, especially a single-action like the one Stallone carried behind his back in the Expendables makes no sense against real world threats, not just Mel Gibson with macho attitude but with terrorism on the rise, and active response training to mass shooter events as common as a training as how to use the new copy machine, packing real heat means more than big guns.  Staying warm means carrying any gun and the mouse guns of yesterday have grown up into the mean dogs of today.

However…

However the Glock 42 has another use for me.  And one that larger guns just cannot fill.  I love EDC Pistolthe outdoors.  All of it.  From the snowy mountains of Alaska to the stone deserts of Utah.  From mountain bike trails of Montana to the canyon rivers of Wyoming, carrying a gun must be as convenient and versatile as carrying a pocket knife.  I’ve run into hikers packing giant caliber revolvers strapped to their chests, but that’s not for me (and makes little sense in the big picture). I’m not scared of bears or mountain lions.  Instead it is the wacko drug-crazed two-legged variety that cause me concern.  When relaxing at the apex of a mountain bike ride, or scratching out a campsite near a high mountain lake, or just wandering through the woods towards a secret fishing hole, carrying a larger gun on the hip is often not an option worth considering. But slipping a Glock 42 into the side pocket of a Camelbak, or dropping a 42 next to my iPod for a mountain run makes more sense than trying to justify not carrying iron at all because of its weight, size and snag-potential.

Related: 1911 vs. Glock

You see, if you always want to be armed, then there are two avenues you can drive down.  Either Survival Pistolonly travel on those roads where you can pack the sizable bore you need to feel comfortable.  Or get a vehicle that will allow you to drive those roads less traveled.  Far too many good folks never venture out beyond where their equipment and imagination lets them.  What I’m here to tell you is that if staying armed is keeping you too close to home then get some lightweight firepower that frees you up to go fast and go light and go far. And of course go often.

Until now, I’ve opted to carry either my Glock 26 or my Ruger LCP backpacking, hiking, and just generally wandering around in the woods.  I liked the capacity and umph of the 26, but not its weight.  But the Ruger is a true mouse gun with mouse sights, mouse capacity, and a mouse feel. Popping off a round or two into a large aggressive animal will do little more than make the violent critter more identifiable to Fish and Game when they track it down after finding what’s left of my corpse.  But if push comes to pull on a fellow man, I want to tip the situation in my favor and even the LCP can help.

Although the Glock 42 has the roughly the same ballistics as the LCP, the handling and Best Bug Out Pistoldependability make it a better choice in my opinion.  The Ruger LCP is a hidden hammer-fired machine while the Glock is, well a Glock meaning it’s a striker-fired autopistol.  And don’t get me started on the sights.  Well, actually do get me to rant on them.  Not the G42 sights which happen to be pretty much the same as every other stock Glock on this planet, but instead the sights, or lack thereof, on the LCP. Most shotguns have better sights than the LCP.  In fact most sticks and stones have better sights than the LCP. Well, maybe an exaggeration, but not by much. The LCP is designed to be pointed, not aimed.  The Glock 42 is decidedly one to aim.

Not So Terrible Twos

Now that we’ve got two years of Glock 42 under our collective belt, it is time to talk frankly about the .380 cartridge, this particular Glock pistol, and the so-called “mouse guns” in general.  The rough spots about the initial Glock 42 have been discussed to death online.  But to review, the early runs of Glock 42s had specific failure to eject (FTE) and failure to feed (FTF) issues. The issues were real and almost immediately addressed (but not really admitted) by Glock.  More recent copies of the Glock 42 rolling off the assembly line have upgrades to the magazines, internal parts, and some believe the polymer frame as well.  A quick swing through the top internet hits on about “Glock 42 problems” make this particular pistol one to avoid, but pretty much every negative review is pre 2015.  Later in 0-15, there is little but flowing Glock love around the mouse gun campfire.

Related: Bug Out Long Term Pistol

Handguns are like pickup trucks; there are more opinions than actual models to have opinions EDC glock handgunsabout. Personally I am a six-cylinder Toyota Tacoma kind of guy.  My friends drive F-150s or bigger, diesel Dodge Rams (note the oxymoron), and I got only one friend who drives a Chevy Avalanche. Whatever.  But the reason I tell you this is that trucks like guns are a personal choice. We place our loyalties where we want, and base them on many factors including ones that don’t match the cold hard facts.  But perceptions don’t have to match reality when reality is a rare commodity these days.

Actual studies have shown that most encounters where a gun is pulled in self defense involves holding and/or shooting the gun with only one hand.  No perfect two-handed Weaver or isosceles stance, or aiming with any other perfect triangle of stability.  Instead, the pistol is held out, arm bent and shaking, one hand gripping what it can of the gun.  In fact, standing on one’s feet is for the lucky.  For many actually trigger pullers they are flat on their back, bruised, injured, some even near blinded by fist blows.  And in all cases your heart rate will be red lined and your breathing will be anything but slow and steady.

Where a mouse gun comes in handy is it by being handy.  It’s easier to shoot. Lighter in weight. And the low recoil keeps the pistol in the fight almost regardless of the injury, grip strength, or limited vision.  Those with dreams of sending .454 Casull bullet after Casull bullet downrange with accuracy are dreamers whose heads are filled with the stay-on-targetness of video games. Sadly but truthfully, most law abiding citizens would be better off with a .22 than a .45. Of course proper and real-world training changes almost everything.  But for those who handguns lean towards the just-in-case preparedness side like food storage and flint-and-steel fire starting, the smaller caliber mouse guns may actually be a better choice.  And certainly the Glock 42 is a viable and excellent backup or or bug out gun.

All Photos By Doc Montana

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Movie Review: Edge of Winter

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Survival Movie

One of my good friends is currently going through a nasty divorce and trying to adjust to life as a single dad with only Survival Movielimited time with his kids.  So when I saw the trailer for the movie Edge of Winter, it immediately struck a nerve with me and decided to watch it.  Joel Kinnaman plays sort of a survivalist/blue collar guy named Elliot who has fallen on hard times after his divorce.  Elliot’s ex-wife, played by Rachelle Lefevre, has moved on with her life and is going on a cruise with her new husband, Ted.  Before she leaves for the cruise, she drops off her teenage boys (Shiloh Fernandez & Tom Holland) with their Father, who decides to take them on a little surprise wilderness adventure.

By Jimmy C, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

From there Edge of Winter takes a dark survival turn when Elliot and his boys crash their truck on a snowy logging road in Survival Moviethe middle of nowhere.  To compound their problems, one of his teenage sons tells him that his ex-wife and Ted are moving to London at the end of the month and taking his only boys with them.  This throws Elliot, who in most situations would probably be rock solid on survival, into a mental breakdown at the thought of losing his kids.

Also Read: 10 Cloverfield Lane

Joel Kinnaman, who I like in House of Cards, does a great job as the unhinged father, Elliot Baker.  He runs the full spectrum of emotions in this movie, from happy go lucky to a complete melt down.  As he and the boys push farther into the unknown, Elliot becomes more erratic.   At some point, the two teenage boys have to decide if they are safer with or without their dad because “Dad” is clearly losing it.

Edge of Winter is pretty dark, in a “Shining” sort of way as main character, Elliot becomes more and more dangerous to himself and those around him.  The movie has no slow parts, it builds right from the start.  I found myself feeling sorry for Elliot and the situation he finds himself in with two teenage boys who have no survival skills and world crumbling around him.

The Trailer

 

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DIY: Five Gallon Bucket Washing Machine

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Homemade Washing machine

Awhile back my washing machine broke down over a holiday weekend.  Instead of hauling the dirty laundry to a How to make a washing machinelaundry mat, I decided that this would be a great opportunity to finally try out using a 5 gallon bucket to wash clothes.  Sometimes a little adversity is what you need to really be prepared.  Clothes washing was an item that had been missing from my preps for some time now and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to test it out before the real SHTF.  This DIY washing machine is a homemade method you can use to wash clothes if you temporarily lose power or if the grid goes down.

By Tinderwolf from Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Here’s What You Need

Here are the materials you will need:
One five gallon bucket (lid is optional, in my opinion)
One toilet plunger
Power drill or a utility knife

All of the above materials can be purchased for less than ten dollars, excluding the power drill.  If you are going to be best way to wash clothes for survivalusing a lid the first step is to drill a hole in the top.  Tip the toilet plunger upside down so that the top of the handle is touching dead center of the lid.  Trace a circle around the handle onto the lid.  If you have a power drill, find a large bit, I used a half-inch bit, and drill out the circle that you traced.  After the hole is cut out use a utility knife to clean up the edges where you cut.  If you do not have a power drill you can use a utility knife to cut out the hole, BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL AND TAKE YOUR TIME!

Also Read: DIY Water Filter

The plastic bucket is very durable so it can be difficult to cut by hand.  Next, I drilled eight holes into the rubber portion of the toilet plunger.  Ta-da! You are done!  If you want to make the deluxe model I have seen some where people have put a spigot or ball valve on the bottom of the bucket for draining the water.  I can see where being able to drain the water from a spigot could be helpful to those that might lack the strength to lift the bucket, but personally I found this feature to be unnecessary.

My Experience

Here is my experience with the bucket washer.  I found the bucket lid to be unnecessary.  The only purpose of the lid is to help contain water from splashing out.  If you are using this to clean your clothes than most likely you are completing this task either in your bathtub or outdoors, so some splashing water is not that big of an issue.  Also I am not splashing that much water as I am not going “all out” with the plunger, nice and steady is the key.

Related: DIY Family Water Purification System

The second reason I do not like using the lid is because it restricts the agitating motion of the plunger to up and down.  If the bucket is full of clothes the plunger can’t get all the way to the bottom of the bucket or get around all the clothes in order to agitate them.  I found pushing the plunger down from the side and diagonally helps to rotate all the clothes from top to bottom so that every piece gets properly washed.

Related: DIY Beer Can Stove

On some reviews I have read, it states that powder or homemade detergent works best.  I have not tried either of these but I have used liquid detergent with no observable issues.  The amount of soap I use is approximately one tablespoon. After adding the clothes and soap, it is time for the water.  Warm water seems to work best and I fill the bucket to around four inches from the top.  Now, it’s time to work out your arms.  For the wash cycle, I plunge the clothes for ten minutes, then I tip the bucket over and dump everything out into the bathtub. I wring out the excess water from the clothes and then place them back into the bucket.

The Rinse

For the rinse cycle, I fill the bucket back up with clean water and plunge for another five to ten minutes.  I dump the water and clothes out, wring the excess water from the clothes and hang them up to air dry.  I have found that smaller loads of clothes are easier to plunge and tend to get cleaner.  For best results I only fill the bucket halfway to three quarters of the way full with clothes.  I have washed about twenty loads of clothes using this process and thus far I am very happy with how clean the clothes come out.  I think this is something that everybody should have as it is very cheap to make and easily mobile.  I’m sure it would be a great item to throw in the car for those summer camping trips, because you just never know.

Photos By:
Tinderwolf
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Book Review: Zombie Apocalypse Preparation

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zombie_apocalypse_preparation_houchins_thomas_book_review_survival

Zombie Apocalypse Preparation is a book of fiction.  I think.  I mean it says so in a disclaimer on Zombie Survival Guidethe inside first page.  If and when you buy this book purely for some humorous edification, you have to keep in perspective at all times and upon the turn of every day that the work is indeed fiction.  But you’re always going to wonder.  Houchins and Thomas’ tome is a fun read, if not admittedly outright silly at times and plain old stupid in some cases.  Remember, remember, its fiction.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

If you are a serious prepper or survivalist, then some of this material you might take as a personal affront, but I doubt it was meant to have that impact.  I mean after all, there is no such thing as a zombie to start with.  But if you substitute other character references such as roving thugs, Ferguson rioters, home invaders, home grown ISIS terrorists, and other such real criminals, then the book makes perfect sense, sort of.

Bullet Point Commentaries

As I was reading this 370 page paperback, I took a lot of random notes about thoughts, criticisms, Survival Guide for Zombiessalient points, useful information and many other notations, some which could only be summed up as questions which I will never have answered by the authors.  I present these bullet point thoughts here in no particular order.

  • At times you catch yourself asking “is this for real”, then you remember it is fiction.
  • The book puts down the very popular AR-15. Do these guys know guns at all?
  • Suppressors (not silencers) do require a Federal ATF NFA $200 permit tax, not a state tax.
  • The use of a slingshot to “sail” a fishing lure over water is ludicrous.
  • True military grade sniper rifles are only available to law enforcement or the military.
  • Discusses having firearms that are fully auto as if this were a common occurrence or option. It is not.
  • Who or what is a Johnny Two-Balls?
  • “Other bladed weapons” are highly impractical and most are unheard of.
  • Use of heavy equipment to kill zombies highly unlikely option. No access, no skills.
  • Concrete filled tires? During a SHTF, where or why find tires and fill them with concrete to roll down a hill?
  • 3 wheeled ATVs are no longer made and have not been for many years.
  • Mines in the yard? Where do they propose average citizens can obtain landmines?
  • “Mow Down Hoedown”? Too much gas, too much time for the effort.
  • Who is Fisherman F. Thompson?
  • There are comments here and there that are simply unnecessary such as “humping your mom last night.” Much of the foul language is unnecessary being a poor stab at humor.
  • Out of all the places listed to hide out, they left out elevators and forest service towers.
  • Oddly enough in this manual there is useful information intended as such or not, but you have to read close to glean it.
  • The book comes into its element in Section 8 , “Coping with Life in Zombietopia.”
  • Thoughts on dealing with assholes and malcontents is spot on.
  • The paragraph on Greed, page 204 in highly insightful. It is the root of all evil.  See Hillary and Bill Clinton.
  • Page 207, “Compromising is going to be a mainstay of your existence.” True that.
  • Page 246, “paying attention to the tiny details will prove to be a lifesaving hobby.”

Again, these are just some of the thoughts and comments I had about reading this book.  As a prepper, again, I found many items of useful information that could be put into practice, despite the book being fiction.  I do wonder if the authors intended that or just hit upon item merely by accident. Further, the reader has no idea who these authors are or anything about their backgrounds.  Perhaps their previous work was a romance novel or a skill guide to picking gardening tools.  It would have been nice to see their bio or if in fact these author names are even real.

Zombie Apocalypse Preparation is a laughable read.  You will get chuckles from it, but scratch your head at times.  Pick out what is useful or thought provoking and just laugh at the rest.  After all, it is a work of fiction.  Or is it?

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Survival Gear Review: Cold Steel Pocket Bushman Knife

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Survival Knife

It seems that everyone’s favorite piece of gear to carry and discuss are knives. With the variety of survival knifestyles, shapes, sizes and the jobs they can perform, it is easy to see why they are a favorite piece of gear. When it comes to folding knives, I am very particular and will not carry an old pocket knife. I have seen a lot of guys carry those five to ten dollar knives that are piled in a box on a gas station or sporting goods counter top.  Those guys always love to show off that new, shiny, cool looking knife.

By Tinderwolf, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Of course within a week or two, the blade locking mechanism has broken, the edge of the blade is Survival Knifeas dull as a butter knife and some of the screws or rivets are falling out. Those guys might as well have thrown their money into the garbage can because that is where their cool new knife ended up anyway.  For most of my life I carried a Schrade Old Timer, Swiss Army knife, or a Gerber Paraframe.

All three of these knives held up well, never broke, kept an edge and paid for themselves time and time again.  The only down fall of folders, is that they generally don’t stand up to the activities I would use a fixed blade for.  I know that I should not expect that kind of strength and durability from a folding knife as it is a completely different from a fixed blade.  However, I always wanted that out of a folding knife, and I think I have finally found a folding knife that will perform as closely to a fixed-blade knife as possible.

Also Read: Fallkniven Jarl Knife Review

Over the years I have owned a few fixed, full-tang knives from Cold Steel and have always been Survival Folding Knifevery happy with their products and their prices. So, a few years ago I decided to purchase a folder from them and I decided on buying the Pocket Bushman. It is probably one of the plainest looking knives you can buy, but boy is this knife a BEAST! The blade measure in at 4 ½” inches long with an overall length of 10 ¼”! All the reviews said that this knife was big and it did look big in the photos, but I really didn’t appreciate how big It was until I was holding it in my hands.

It felt more like a fixed blade knife than a folding pocket knife. Unlike other pocket knives, the Cold Steel Pocket Bushman does not whiz open with a flick of your thumb. It is rather slow and you need both hands to properly open it and shut it. When closing the knife you have to be extremely careful.  The knife has a rocker lock which is tough as nails but it is a bit different to close than other folders.  In order to close the knife safely and properly you need to place one hand on the spine of the blade and the other hand needs to pull the paracord lanyard at the bottom of the handle.  The first time I tried this it was a bit awkward and I almost cut myself. After opening and shutting it a few times the motions became very natural.

The handle has a very large and deep groove for your index finger.  This helps in keeping your hand from slipping forward to the blade when working with the knife.  The handle is probably the only downfall I can find with this knife.  While I like the smooth steel finish, it makes it a bit tough to use the knife if your hands are wet.  It would have been nice to see some kind of textured finished on the handle.  However, there have only been a few times that I have tried to use this knife in wet conditions and most of the time when I am using this knife I am wearing gloves, which I highly recommend.

While this is a folder and it fits well in my pocket, I love that it can handle the big jobs as well.  I have used it for making tinder, cutting cardboard, tape, ropes, tie downs, zip ties, carpet, to baton wood, gutted fish, and even split small logs.  I still remember the first time I showed it off at work. The guys thought I had wasted my money on some big knife just to be a show off.  While they were chuckling I bent down and picked up a broken piece of wood from a pallet.  I then commenced beating the back of the blade into a very tall, thick stack of cardboard. Once I got halfway down the stack I turned to a pallet that was leaning against a nearby shelf.

Also Read: Benchmade Bushcrafter Knife Review

The Pocket Bushman easily took chunks out of the pallet and after a few minutes it came out the Bushcraft Survival Knifeother side of the board.  I turned around to the guys, showed them there was no damage to the knife and no wiggle in the blade, folded it up, placed it in my pocket and walked away.  A few years have passed and I have used this knife so much, yet there is still no movement between the blade and handle, and it still sharpens very easily.  I have added paracord to the loop hole in the lock release slide at the bottom of the handle.  This is by far, hands down, the best folder I have ever purchased and would recommend it to anyone looking for a new tool.  I believe, when I bought this knife it was forty dollars.  I checked out the knife out on Amazon the other day and it was listed for fifty nine dollars.  I have been thinking about getting another one and I would not think twice about paying that price for this knife. If anyone else has used this knife I would love to hear about your experience with it.

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Turetsky
Dan P
Matt Coz

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Survival Gear Review: GunfightersINC Ronin Concealment Holster

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Best OWB CCW Holster

There are, according to a completely-made-up-by-me-but-probably-not-too-far-off-number, Best Survival Holsterapproximately six billion custom kydex holster makers in the world.  Don’t believe me?  If you belong to Facebook, find a large Facebook group (or internet forum) for a handgun you have, join it, and then post the following query to the board: “I just got [insert make/model of handgun here] and I’m looking for the best holster for it. What do you guys use?”  Sit back and prepare for the maelstrom.  An example: I belong to a Sig Sauer P320 board on Facebook.  Someone recently asked for the board’s opinion on the best inside-the-waistband (IWB concealment holster).  In 21 responses, there were 14 different holster manufacturers named, and 16 different models.  I hadn’t even heard of most of them.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

With all these options available to a consumer, it’s really, really difficult to narrow your choice down to one offering for you to plunk your hard-earned greenbacks down on.  A company/product would truly have to stand out to be noticed.

…And notice a company called GunfightersINC I did.  Initially their “Kenai” chest-mounted holster caught my eye on a Facebook feed ad, so I contacted GunfightersINC to purchase a Kenai rig.  While I was perusing their catalog, I noticed a slick-looking outside-the-waistband holster they had dubbed the “Ronin Concealment Holster”.  The interesting little details they put into their holster, plus the overwhelming need I had to find a hip-mounted home for my then-new full-sized Sig Sauer P320 meant that I felt compelled to order a Ronin up at the same time.  To, y’know, save on shipping, I told my wife.

Who is GunfightersINC?

GunfightersINC is a small, veteran-owned holster making company that found its beginnings in Best Pistol Holsterthe year 2010 when – like many other company beginnings – the owner/founder decided to make his own holster after finding a glaring lack of gear that fit his stringent needs, for his brand of pistol (HK USP45, according to their website).  Soon, the holster-making hobby turned into a business, and GunfightersINC has since been pushing forward-thinking, practical ideas and design philosophies of simplicity, ergonomics, and durability into the world of quality kydex holsters.

GunfightersINC uses only US-made materials, and all their products are made by Americans in Leavenworth, Washington.  A perusal of their website will inform you that GunfightersINC is fiercely proud of their innovations, quality, and product lineup.  That product lineup encompasses several practical designs – some mainstays of any holster manufacturer like the Outside The Waistband (OWB) “Ronin”, Inside The Waistband (IWB) “Wraith” holster and the “Spectre” shoulder holster – but they also offer belt-mounted magazine pouches for rifles and handguns, as well as the aforementioned “Kenai” chest-mounted holster.  They also offer a gorgeous-looking leather gunbelt that is simple and unobtrusive, but designed from the ground up as a sturdy, long-lasting platform for your holster, mags, and pistol.  Their product line is not cluttered with bells and whistles and unneeded glitz; it’s simple and straightforward and worth a look or three when you need a new holster, mag carrier, and/or belt.

Enter The Ronin

The Ronin Concealment Holster is an all-kydex, outside-the-waistband belt-mounted holster.  Do Best SHTF Holsteran online search for “kydex holster” images, and you’ll see that there may be a couple variations on a theme, but most kydex OWB holsters pretty much look the same.  So the question arises: if all kydex holsters look the same, what sets them apart or makes individual designs better than others?

Related Article: Holsters 101

The answer is “attention to detail”.  Placement of belt loops/clips, rivets vs. screws, gun cant angle, materials, retention, and the way the holster’s contours fit your body and keep the firearm pulled into your body and hidden (if that is your goal.)  Pretty patterns and colors are irrelevant (though GunfightersINC offers many) if the function of the holster is not thought out and executed properly.  It takes a lot of testing, modifying, and holster evolution before a holster can be really good at its intended job – any schmuck can buy kydex and some tools in an attempt to make his own holsters, but chances are the final product is not going to be truly great at what it needs to do.

The Ronin Concealment Holster shows this attention to detail in a couple really useful ways.  The first thing you notice that is a little different from most kydex holster offering is the belt loops.  Instead of cast-off pre-made belt loops, GunfightersINC installs hand-formed, contoured loops that accomplish three holster-essential missions: they pull the holster closer to the body by hugging your body contours, the loops keep the holster secure and fixed in one spot on your belt, and they also maximize the comfort of carrying the holster and pistol.  I will tell you after several weeks of wearing this holster and accompanying magazine pouch on a frequent basis, this holster is undoubtedly the most comfortable holster to wear – leather, kydex, or otherwise – that I own.

The belt loops are solidly hard riveted onto the body of the holster, ensuring the user that the holster will not move, wiggle, loosen, or work out of place.  Many holster manufacturers offer a multitude of adjustment holes, with small philips head screws and rubber grommets so you can move the angle and placement of the belt loops to suit your needs.  If you like a bit of adjustability in your holsters, I can see the draw (pun intended) to that sort of thing.  However, for my money, I prefer a well designed holster that has gone through lots of testing to provide optimally-placed, fixed, hard-riveted belt loop attachment points.

The Ronin Concealment Holster also features a small strip of friction grip tape on the inside of each hand-formed belt loop.  I thought this was a great feature, and it’s very effective when combined with the contoured loops: once the holster is installed on your body with a high-quality gun belt (I’ve been using the Magpul Tejas El Original) the holster DOES NOT move.  This is a great thing once you have the holster on and where you like it; however, it does make getting the holster to that “just right” position a bit more of a tedious process – one must loosen the belt and pull the holster away from the body to adjust the Ronin’s position on the belt.  But once the sweet spot is attained, rest assured – your Ronin will stay put tenaciously.

Also Read: E&E Gun Belt Review

I’ll be honest: the grip tape did pull off the inside of the belt loops eventually with use.  After trying the holster with and without the grip tape, I can tell you that the holster works fine without the tape’s presence, but the grip tape definitely adds a bit of traction on your gun belt.

The holster materials are nice, high-quality slightly textured kydex.  The form and fit to the gun is tremendous, which surely helps with the GunfightersINC motto of “Retention Defined”.  The form is so detailed that you can actually see all of the accessory rail slots molded into the outline of the gun.  While I’m sure this helps with traction on the gun, it also makes a weird “brrrrrt” noise as the gun is drawn and all those pistol rail stations have to slide through all those holster slot indentations.  I’m sure this is quite gun-specific; the P320 full-sized gun has a full five accessory slots; most handguns have one or two, so your gun may not have this fun design auditory attribute.

The Ronin Concealment Holster – and all other holsters from GunfightersINC – come in a multitude of colors for the discerning buyer.  I ordered Storm Gray, with black rivets – both no-charge options.  For a slight upcharge, camo patterns or fabric coverings can be yours as well. GunfightersINC also offers custom touches as well, such as unit insignia on holsters and other cool items – contact them through their website to see what they have to offer.

Wearing The Ronin Everyday

So the Ronin OWB holster became my go-to holster when I could get away with wearing it – Best Holstersummer months came upon us quickly, making me don lighter clothing options if I didn’t want to sweat my posterior off.  In addition, the sheer size of the gun I was putting in the holster – a full-sized Sig Sauer P320 with a 17-round capacity and 4.7” barrel – meant that the holster itself was quite long, and often protruded below the shirt or jacket I was wearing for gun-concealment purposes.  But this is no fault of GunfightersINC or the Ronin design; it’s simply difficult to hide large, long-barrelled pistols – especially when worn outside the waistband.

However, when my exterior shell clothing was long enough to cover the holster adequately, the Ronin Concealment Holster was aces.  The formed belt loops really suck the holster into the body nicely, and the general curved shape of the Ronin really helped blend the outline of the holster to my natural form.  Grip printing – again, with a full-sized duty pistol – was there, but lessened compared to other OWB pancake  leather holsters I’d tried in my local gun shop.  After I obtained my P320 Compact, I gladly slipped the new, smaller pistol into the Ronin and the results were gratifying – much less grip printing under a one-size-too-large T-shirt.

But the real takeaway I have from wearing the Ronin is that the holster is, without hyperbole or blowing smoke, superbly comfortable – easily the most comfortable holster I own, as a matter of fact.  With the holster and matching mag holder, and their respective payloads sucked in tight to your body, the rig feels like part of your person – not an added-on burden that slaps or shuffles around.  Note: an essential ingredient to this recipe is a solid, sturdy 1 ½” gun belt.  A good gun belt doesn’t allow the holster to flex,  pivot, or pull away from the body, and should be considered essential to any holster use.

Related: 10 Tips For Concealed Carry

I’ve really fallen in love with this holster as an open-carry setup for when I’m out fishing, hiking, or canoeing.  The excellent holster posture is a remedy to any ailment caused by other holstered handguns.  In times past, I’ve gotten in the truck after a nice outdoorsy jaunt, only to discover foliage and other detritus finding a home between my body and the holster and/or belt.  Pistols banging on gunwales, catching shirtsleeves, and pistol grips clunking on stocks of shoulder-slung rifles are maladies I’ve encountered with previous holsters – so far, the Ronin has combated these problems with comfort and excellent firearm retention.  While this holster may be marketed and designed with concealment in mind, I feel it also comes into its own as an excellent outdoors use general purpose gun transportation apparatus.

I used this holster through many days of frequent one-handed draw drills, one-handed reloads and other manipulations, both strong- and weak-side.  Draws were quick and positive, and the 10° forward cant helped hide the gun against my body without compromising access with the off-hand too badly if needed.  The outside kydex shell was strong enough to allow me to rack the slide using the flat of the rear sight, though the edge of the holster got a little chewed up – this is to be expected with any kydex holster used similarly.

What I Didn’t Like About The Ronin

My complaints with the holster that are genuine faults of the holster are few and, to be sure, GunfightersINC Ronin Holster Reviewtrivial.  The edges of the holster are cut with wonderful precision, but then only minimally polished or sanded.  This leaves a sharp edge that can scrape skin and abrade clothing.  A simple light scuffing around the perimeter of the holster with a small scrap of 220-grit sandpaper remedied this problem nicely.

The aforementioned grip tape strips jumping ship from the inside of the belt loops was another small issue – but a little degreasing, sandpaper, and a very, VERY light application of epoxy (I used Brownell’s Acraglas because I had a bit left over after a stock bedding project) has fixed this problem so far.  Other than the two small issues above, I have no cons for these holsters.  Some may like a bit more adjustability or a steeper cant angle, but I am extremely pleased with this holster design and intend to buy another for my P320 Compact.

Related: 8 Tips For Flying With A Firearm

I did have an embarrassing and painful anecdotal experience with the Ronin Concealment Holster that I will share with you.  The body side of the Ronin sports a sweat guard, which is a tongue of holster material that rides between your body and the interior side of the pistol slide.  This sweat shield does indeed guard against sweat as its moniker suggests, and also keeps any pistol terrain like slide serrations or sights from rubbing against your clothing or body – it’s a great idea that is effective when done well.  I once went to re-holster the gun after a spirited range session, and the searing pain that immediately resulted informed me that I had pinched a tiny bit of the ol’ love handle between the outside of the holster sweat guard and the gun.  I had a hell of a sharp red mark on my torso just above the holster, and my wife definitely capitalized on my pain for her mirth.  I guess the moral of the story here is that maybe if you run a bit of a spare tire and a close-fitting holster, you may want to seriously consider getting rid of one of them – preferably the couple extra pounds.  Looking down at the holster while you re-insert the handgun is usually wise too.

Wrapping It Up

In conclusion, I was very impressed with the Ronin Concealment Holster and GunfightersINC’s product line.  The holster’s design is excellent, the comfort level is through the roof with a good belt, and it’s a solid, no-regrets choice for someone who wants a good, all-purpose OWB holster that performs above and beyond most other kydex designs.  Several weeks’ worth of EDC use with this holster indoors and outdoors, concealed and open, on and off the range, cements that opinion.  I have every confidence that this holster is worth your extended consideration and hard-earned greenbacks the next time you’re looking for a great OWB holster.  Shoot GunfightersINC a line and tell ‘em Drew from Survival Cache sent ya…and keep an eye open for the upcoming “Kenai” review…it’s a badass setup.
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Book Review: Zero Footprint

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Private Military Contractor Book

Every once in awhile you need to stop and read a good book.  A book that will make you laugh, cry, and rethink howSurvival Book lucky you are not to be in war or working in one of these hostile nations.  The book Zero Footprint is one of those type of books.  Written by Simon Chase (aka Scott Charnick) and Ralph Pezzullo, the book details the life of a PMC (Private Military Contractor) in the modern era of Blackwater type mercenaries.

By Mark Puhaly, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

The British Military

Scott Charnick spent 15 years in the British military, serving in Northern Ireland and overseas.  Before Sept 11th, he Private Military Contractorwas working in executive protection for very rich families such as those of philanthropist John Paul Getty Jr. and Prince Aga Khan IV.  He has recently been reported to guard such high profile athletes as American Swimmer, Michael Phelps.

Now after I read Zero Footprint but before I wrote this review, I checked Amazon and a few other places and apparently some people are claiming the author, Scott Charnick (Simon Chase), stretched the truth and embellished quite a few stories in his book.  I do not know if it is true that he embellished stories and frankly, from a pure entertainment perspective, I enjoyed the book immensely either way.

Related: Book Review American Sniper

I was mad for a minute when I first read that some of the stories were embellished but with Hillary Clinton claiming to be shot at by snipers in Bosnia and Brian Williams claiming that his helicopter in Iraq was hit by an RPG, I guess I am used to people stretching the truth a little bit (Never let the truth get in the way of a good story).  Also, who knows, maybe the people who are trying to discredit him are from an embarrassed government trying to cover up that the CIA was trying to ship weapons to Libya through a British holding company.  Either way, Zero Footprint is great, fast paced, and you will not find yourself wishing there was more action.

Zero Footprint begins with the author growing up in a tough neighborhood in England and eventually finding his way into a choice between the military or jail.  From there his military adventures begin but Charnick would eventually get hurt and was discharged from her majesty’s service.  From there he fell into the executive security field and eventually landed in the Private Military Contractor role after 9/11.

The CIA Lies?

What I like about Zero Footprint is that there are some lighter moments that remind me of my time in Marine Corps Secret Armieswhere someone would say something in a dire moment and everyone would start dying laughing.  One of those moments came during the early stages of the Afghanistan war post 9/11 where Scott (the author) found himself working as a contractor for the CIA.  The CIA paid him and his mates in cash, a lot of cash.  The problem was how were they going to get all of that CIA cash back to the UK without paying 60% in taxes.  Their CIA contact (Michael S.) told Scott that he and his teammates should give their money to a stranger in Kabul who will call his cousin in Dubai and the money will be waiting for them once they landed in Dubai.  When Scott tries to sell that to his mates, they look at him like he is bonkers.  One of the guys starts yelling in his face “Are you fucking on drugs mate?  Who told you that?” – Scott responds “Michael S” and his mate says “Well, Michael lies for a living.”  I found that moment in the book particularly funny considering Michael S was a CIA agent.

Related: Book Review The Mission, The Men, and Me

The book has some sad moments as well.  When the bullets start flying in these hot spots, good people inevitably die.  Many of Scott’s friends die in conflicts with terrorists around the globe and each one has a devastating effect on his mental health and plays a role in the unwinding of romantic relationships which is detailed in the book as well.  I have several friends who are in the PMC contractor world and I think this book gives a good perspective on how it is not all fast pace action with your hair on fire.  A lot of what you do is very tedious work and sometimes you are not treated very well by the people you are protecting.

Overall

Overall, I think this book is worth the read.  The author does not take the politically correct tone when it comes to the middle east, he basically says it is all one big shit hole.  Which we all pretty much know.  Whether or not the book is a 100% accurate will be for someone else to research and comment on.  Either way, I really enjoyed the read.  The book was a page turner and the action was fast paced when it came up.  There might be a movie in the works based on Zero Footprint.  I would definitely go see that.

About Mark: Former Marine Reconnaissance Team Leader, Marine Infantry Officer, Cross Fit Coach, Endurance Athlete, and Survivalist.

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Survival Gear Review: Streamlight Stylus Pro Pen Flashlight

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LED Flashlight

Everyone has their thing that they geek out about, firearms, accessories, knives, etc. I geek out when it comes to LED Pen Flashlightflashlights.  I can never have enough flashlights and find it very hard not to buy one when I come across a “new” one at the store.  Due to my job, I carry a flashlight on me every day and depend on it quite heavily.  Years ago I started out using a pen light due to its convenient size but shortly thereafter became disappointed with their lack of illumination and durability.  So, I went to carrying a midsize flashlight.  The bulky nature of even this size of a flashlight was starting to annoy me.

By Tinderwolf, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

One day a good friend of mine and I were cleaning some firearms when he pulled out the Streamlight Pro Pen Light. I was very surprised of the brightness of this little pen light and asked him if I could take a look at it. He told me his opinion of it and the cost and I decided to give it a try.  I picked my Streamlight up at a local shop for around $25 but found it at a lower price through Amazon.

Related: Compact Flashlight Comparison

This Streamlight Stylus Pro Pen is extremely lightweight and compact, I really don’t even notice it when I am carrying it and it has been in my pocket every day for the last six months.  I highly praise the quality of the pocket clip that Streamlight made. With the everyday use I put my lights and pocket knives through, the pocket clip usually does not hold up for long. For most, the pocket clip might not be a significant part of the product to be concerned with.  However, I am not always working in the upright position, I am on the ground, crawling over and under objects, scaling ladders, I am on the move for most of my day. I do not have to worry about my light falling out during the work day, it will stay exactly where I put it.  In this pen light the tension of the pocket clip has remained just as strong as the first day that I bought it.

50,000 Hours

The 50,000 hour LED is listed to have an output of 65 lumens though it appears to be much brighter when I use it. I Streamlight Penbelieve this is due to what the manufacturer calls a micro optical system that is supposed to optimize the lumen output.  The lens of the light is made up of unbreakable polycarbonate.  In my experience the lens also appears to be scratch resistant.  After the constant use, in and out motion action of taking it from my pocket and it rubbing up against my pocket knife, has not put a single visible scratch on the lens in six months of using it.  There are two modes on the pen light. Momentary on and full on.  You can press and hold the button for the duration of time that you need light or fully depress the button to keep the light on.  There is no lock out mode to keep the light off while in your pocket, which is a nice feature to save battery life.  However, the button on this light takes quite a bit of pressure to fully depress to the on mode.  Because of this, I have not had the light come on once while stowed away in my pocket.

Related: Bug Out Flashlight Wisdom

When it comes to flashlights that I own, they all have to have one thing in common.  The have to use common batteries.  Those are the type of batteries that you can pick up at any store, relatively cheap.  Primarily AA and AAA batteries.  This pen light uses two AAA batteries and has a listed run time of six hours.  In my use of it I have found that I change the batteries roughly every three weeks.  Of course, I don’t always run down the batteries completely. When I notice a significant output in lumens I will change the batteries.  Using equipment with these types of batteries makes replenishing those batteries much easier, especially if you have to scrounge for them in some type of emergency.

The last quality that this light has that I require, is that it is waterproof.  I have not worked up the courage to fully submerge the light but it has gotten doused plenty in the time that I have used it, with no negative effects.  I give this pen light five out of five starts due to its affordability, durability and light output.

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Survival Gear Review: Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Sights

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back up rifle sights

Backup Iron Sights probably got their start by doing absolutely nothing when an optic was bolted onto a rifle that back up rifle sightscame from the factory with irons. But when modern sporting rifles (or whatever silly name the AR15 is being force-rebranded as these days) irons became an deliberate option.  BUS or back up sights (whether iron or not) appeared as conventional sights left in place, as well as sighting tools such as notches and even dedicated sight-like things bolted onto scopes, red dots and anything else someone somewhere thinks might fail.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog 

Where the problem really started is with the quality, cost and effectiveness of our current crop of backup sights. The BUS concept was just too great to ignore in the highly unlikely event that a battery would die four years too soon, or amazingly strong optics in cushioned metal tubes might crack. Or that drop out of a helicopter knocks your scope out of alignment but leaves the rest of your gun safe to operate. In other words, people wanted to use the fabulous iron sights as well as their optics extracting the benefits from both.

Use Me

The odd thing about the Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sights are that they are not just for backup anymore. In fact the term “backup” has been relegated to just a single letter in the MBUS trademark, and never mentioned again. By offsetting the sights, they work fine even with a heavy optic running on the top rail. In fact, they don’t just back up the optic, they supplement it by being just as effective doing their job as a 3-9x scope.  And the offset aspect of these offset sights allows a natural platform for iron sighting with a slight twist of the gun. Forty-five degrees to be exact. So perhaps a MOSS (Magpul Offset Supplemental Sights) trademark is in order?

Using the same steel processing method as the Magpul MBUS Pro sights I reviewed earlier, the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights give you a similar high performance but at a 45 degrees east option.

The rear Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sight weighs in at about two ounces flat, and is priced at $105. It has two Back up right sightsapertures just like the other MBUS sights, one 0.07 inches in diameter and another almost three times larger at 0.19 inches. The front Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sight weighs just two tenths of an ounce more but costs twenty bucks less at $85. Both occupy about two inches of rail space when stowed

Twice the Fun

BUIS or Back Up Iron Sights are a staple to any AR user who employs electronic or magnifying optics. Until recently, the main concept behind BUIS was far more the BU than the IS. But with the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights, the Iron Sight aspect gets 24/7 attention, and not just when the optic goes down which happens…like never.

In fact, the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights offer an additional level of sighting ability given that they allow for zero to 100 meter sighting capabilities in 100% addition to whatever optic is above the receiver. In other words, you have two complete and independent rifle sighting solutions. One works close up and the other for whatever the glass on your rifle frame is best suited for.

As Magpul was busy finding bolt-on aiming solutions, they were also listening to customers. And one of the rifle sightsinteresting requests from actual users was for a smaller front sight pin allowing better accuracy….well, rather better precision if we want to split etymological hairs…which we do. For the record, accuracy is how close you are to the bullseye. Precision is group size.

Related: Magpul MBUS Pro Sights Review

The MBUS Pro Enhanced Front Sight Post, or (MBUSEFSP?) is a screw-in replacement to the regular MBUS Pro and back up front rifle sightsMBUS Pro Offset front sights. The Enhanced post is a match-grade scant 0.04 inches wide, or a full 0.02 inches narrower than the standard post. While talking in hundredths of an inch doesn’t seem like much, it makes big difference in the real world. For most, the MOE 0.06” front post is plenty small. But for those who anticipate more a 50 or 100 meter use of the backup or offset sights, then the the enhanced post is an excellent option, and well worth the paltry ten bucks Magpul asks for it. But wait, there’s more. Since the post does not rotate as you adjust the elevation like the old A2 front sights did, you can physically rotate the post 90 degrees and wa-la! You now have your thicker 0.06 post painting your target just like old times.

So my question: Why is the MBUS Pro Enhanced Front Sight Post not standard equipment on the Pro sights? Or MOE (Magpul Original Equipment) as Magpul likes to say. But I digress.

The Magpul MBUS Offset Sights have the same look and feel of the regular MBUS Pro sights including the non-locked positioning, solid detents at flat and deployed, and the same easy tool-less adjustment front and rear.  All the MBUS Pro sights are made of case-hardened steel and finished with Melonite QPQ™ which is just a big fancy way of saying that one of the final finishing steps uses a quench-polish-quench nitrocarburizing case hardening process.

Related: Magpul PMAG D-60 Ammo Drum Review

The gamut of BUIS materials runs from plastic, to polymer, to aluminum, to basic steel, to hardened steel. And I assume that titanium is not far behind, but with a price tag halfway to four figures. The material of a back up sight is not inconsequential. Nor is the build quality. Ignoring the constant usefulness of the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights for a moment, let’s consider some scenarios where you really need back up iron sights.  If running a magnifying optic, the two main reasons you need back up sights (ignoring the offset, remember), is when you optic is broken or knocked too far off zero. In both cases there is a good chance the backup sights also experienced the turmoil that killed the optic.

If a 1x electronic optic is the main player in your sighting system, the same two maladies as with the magnifying optic are still real, as well as an electronics failure or dead battery. In all cases, the backup sights need to be robust enough to take some shots without complaining. Otherwise they are little more than rail candy.

What’s The Catch?

Being offset sights, the mounting position cannot be directly under the sight since there is usually nothing under the magpul_offset_backup_sights_charging_handle_comparisonsight 45 degree off vertical. Therefore the sight works best when clamped to a rail in the 12 o’clock position. Usually never a problem on the muzzle end of the long gun, but it can present a quandary for some billet uppers (rather than forged), and non-GI issue charging handles like those with ambidextrous controls. On one of my testing carbine-length platforms, the rear Magpul MBUS Offset Sight conflicted with my Raptor charging handle.

For proper operation I would need to either swap out the Raptor for a lower profile handle, or move the rear Offset sight further forward. But it just got more stinky from there. The offset sight could not overcome my billet forward assist/case deflector, and I certainly did not want it hanging out above my ejection port. Soon I had the rear sight forward of my Aimpoint Micro T1. Now I was able to employ only half the possible sight radius, and the peep hole was anything but quick on target. I had to rethink the point of back up sights, and especially offset ones that I fully intended on using in addition to my optic but not a enhanced charging handle.

Also Read: Magpul Armorer’s Wrench Review

Another issue I encountered is that my rifle-length AR has Magpul furniture with no flat top up front.  The rear sight back up magpul sight reviewbehaved itself this time, but there was no easy solution to mount the front sight.  I almost added a inch-long Magpul rail the top of my handguard, but that would put the sight up half an inch and out of reach of the rear sight. So for now, that rifle will have to wait.

To explore the right/left handedness of the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights I mounted them correctly but held the rifle left-handed. I also mounted them backwards on the left side of the rifle for muscle-memory comparison.  Left handed shooting is a mirror of right handedness.  Shoulders are switched. Hands are reversed.  And barring backwards eye-dominance, everything else is the same.  Other than non-ambidextrous fire controls, the operation of the gun is symmetrical. 

Which means the right-hand preference of the Magpul MBUS Offset Sights requires a slightly unnatural counter-rotation of the rifle to engage the sights with the eye.  Instead of the trigger-side elbow rolling away from the body, the trigger arm must fold under the rifle leading to a counterintuitive twist where holding the rifle still is a new skill to be mastered.  I’m not sure the market for left-handed Magpul MBUS Offset Sights is deep enough for Magpul to take the financial plunge, but it would be a nice offering to our often neglected left-handed brethren.

Magpul Shoots! Magpul Scores!

The weight and cost of the Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sights are commiserate with others in this space.  So what does Magpul have to offer that the other options don’t? Three things immediately come to mind.  First, the performance of the Magpul MBUS Pro Offset Iron Sights is exceptional and does exactly what it needs to do.  Second, the low weight, low profile sights become almost invisible when you don’t want them active.  And third, being Magpul offspring, they have a proven warranty and exceptional customer service to back up their products even when your backup is a primary.

All Photos by Doc Montana

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10 Tips Everyone Should Know Before Carrying Concealed

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best ccw tips

With more and more states (fourteen, per Wikipedia – not counting Puerto Rico) giving the green light to some form Tips for CCWof “Constitutional Carry” – that is, carrying a legal concealed firearm without a state-issued permit – citizens have been heading to gun shops and training facilities in droves to enable themselves to exercise their right to defend themselves.  Compact, concealable handguns are flying off the shelves, handgun training courses are filling up as people want to refine their skills and learn laws.  People putting their freedoms to use is a wonderful thing.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

However, many of these people are complete newbies to the wide world of concealed carry – some of them have never fired a gun before.  It’s an interesting mish-mash of emotions carrying a firearm that nobody else knows you have – elation, invincibility, nobility, trepidation, sometimes outright fear.  It’s something you have to experience yourself before you can fully understand.  Some of that fear comes from the fact that this new-fangled power is manifesting itself via a whole new experience for a gun owner: What the hell is the best way to do this?

I’ve been carrying concealed handguns for 18 years.  I don’t consider myself a newbie at concealed carry anymore, but I certainly haven’t done it all and i don’t consider myself an ”expert”.   Rather, I’ve found a couple methods of carry that work for me, and I rarely stray from them.  But the purpose of this article isn’t to debate gear, technique, or methodology – I’d just like to tell people who are just starting out in concealed carry a few things that I wish I’d known when starting out.  There are probably millions of articles out there that will help you find the best carry pistol or holster or ammo; I’d just like to share what I’ve learned from my 18 years of carrying a hidden gun.  Let’s get started with the most important one to accept.

1. It’s Not Easy & It Sucks

Once you get over the rush and sheer amazement that you’re carrying a concealed handgun, reality sets in.  It’s Best Concealed Carry Tipsuncomfortable.  It’s a hassle.  You’re constantly paranoid that your gun is printing and some kid will point at you and scream, “MOMMY! HE HAS A GUN!”.  Spare ammo is never easy to carry unless it’s on a belt-mounted pouch that prints worse than the holstered gun.  That super expensive hybrid leather/kydex rig that everyone online raved about?  It doesn’t fit your body type and pinches and chafes.  So does the one you bought to replace it. Handgun grip panels rub, wear through, and catch on clothing, not to mention that custom grip stippling job you HAD to have will treat your love handle like a cheese grater.  You bend over and oops, your shirt hikes up and there’s your gun for everyone to see.

Also Read: 8 Tips For Flying with a Firearm

You sit down and the handgun goes “THUNK” against the seat and people look at you funny.  Your ankle holster slips and rotates around your leg and allows dirt and crud into your gun.  Your guns get rusty from being close to your sweaty body.  You have to dress appropriately to cover the gun – no tight fitting T-shirts!  You have to stop at the post office?  Gotta take the gun off.  You go to your favorite burger place and notice that they just posted “no guns allowed”?  Gotta walk back to the car and secure the pistol, or find a new place to eat (recommended).  Picking your kid up from school?  Oops, guns are a huge No-No there, gotta leave the gun at home.  If your holster doesn’t clip or snap on, you have to take your belt off, pull the gun off the belt, and run your belt back through the loops.  Carrying concealed is a thousand tiny hassles that conglomerate into one big pain in the ass.  Luckily, time and experience (and a lot of money) will help you work through the gear and body location issues, making you more comfortable – but it’s something that can only be worked out over an extended period of time carrying.  But have no fear: once you have everything worked out, it still sucks.  Anyone who says differently is probably lying or selling something.

2. Stop Fidgeting & Carry On

You have a gun on, and like we just discovered in the previous paragraphs, it’s uncomfortable and not in the right CCW Tipsspot.  (Even just a quarter inch difference in placement can make a huge difference in comfort.  No, really.)  You keep trying to adjust, or maybe you’re nervous about the gun printing, so you constantly screw with the gun and holster and attempt adjustments while you’re in public.  Here’s a tip from your buddy  Drew: KNOCK IT OFF.  Run-of-the-mill people aren’t geared to analyze bumps and lumps sticking out of people’s shirts.  I’ve walked around wearing full-sized pistols obviously printing under sweatshirts, but nobody stole a second glance.  If you’re worried someone will see it, dress differently.  If it’s uncomfortable, deal with it, or go into a restroom where you have privacy, and re-adjust your rig until you are comfortable.  By fiddling with your gun nobody can see, they’re seeing you act suspicious with something hidden under your shirt – and THAT will raise alarms.

3. Get a Good Holster

When looking for gear, it’s all about what you like.  This is a very personal matter; no one holster fits everyone’s body.  We don’t need to debate inside the waistband carry vs. outside the waistband, or 4 o’clock carry vs. appendix carry,  leather vs. kydex, blah blah blah.  The only requirement I personally would recommend is that the holster completely covers the triggerguard, for safety.  Go to a good, high-end local shop (avoid the big box stores – chances are excellent anyone there won’t know a good holster from a New Balance sneaker) and ask to try different holsters.  Bring your pistol with you, unloaded, in a locked carrying box.

Related: Tips to Stay Alive When the Bullets Start to Fly

Ask to try the different holsters out with your pistol.  Take your time, figure out what you like.  Then spend the money and don’t look back.  A good holster is worth its weight in gold, and you two will become best friends…so don’t go cheap.  Expect to spend $60-100 on a good rig – and don’t buy cheap “universal” holsters, dammit.  They’re awful.  So are SERPA holsters.  There, I said it.

4. Get a Good Belt

In my eyes and experience, a good belt is just as, if not maybe a bit more, important than your holster.  You need a dedicated gunbelt.  They are thicker, wider, and reinforced to hold the holster and its precious cargo close in to your body and not let it shift around.  And when you do draw, the belt ensures the holster stays fixed with your body, and not going for a joyride with the pistol.  I used to pay no mind to my belt and just used cheapo Wal-Mart belts – until one day, I was practicing drawing from concealment and the belt actually broke (more like ripped) out of the buckle, and I presented a holstered gun with a trailing broken belt to the target. Oops.

Related: Escape & Evasion Gun Belt Review

The belt is the heart and soul of your concealed carry setup, so get a damned good one.  I know I said that I wouldn’t debate gear, but the new Magpul Tejas “El Original” gun belt is unbelievably comfortable and rugged – and it’s a classic design; I wear mine every day in a business casual work environment.  If you’re looking for a place to start, you can’t get any better than the Magpul offering.  A good belt will run you another $60-100 or so.

5. The Gun You Have When You Need It Is The Gun You Have

This one probably needs to be explained, but it’s a simple concept: if you KNEW you were going to be in a gunfight Best CCW Guntoday and you couldn’t bring a long gun, what handgun would you want with you?  Exactly – the biggest, baddest lead-slinger on the block that you knew you could shoot effectively, had a large magazine capacity in an effective caliber, with excellent sights, probably a weapon-mounted light, and spare mags, right?  Right.  Well, part of the concealed carrying mindset is that you have to know that there is always a possibility you will get in a gunfight today.  To this end, I am positively baffled when people tell me they carry a small .22 derringer or a tiny single-stack .380 as their everyday carry (EDC) gun.

Now, I fully understand the limits and the inherent Catch-22 of concealed carry – the smaller the gun, the easier it is to carry.  The easier the gun is to carry, the more likely it is that you’ll have it on your person.  The gun you have on your person is the one you’ll be defending  your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness with.  Yes, full-sized guns are a pain to carry and conceal, especially in hot summer months – but newer subcompact variants of full-sized pistols are still effective, and can usually use the magazines, holsters, etc., from their bigger brothers.  Just remember that the the threat of multiple badguys who are also armed is always likely, and plan accordingly.   It’s only your life we’re talking about here, after all.

6. Carry Spare Ammunition

This is another convenience issue: it’s always a pain to carry spare ammo.  Belt-mounted mag pouches invariably Spare Ammoshow through clothing, usually worse than a smallish pistol in a good holster.  Having a spare magazine or speedloader in your pocket is annoying too, as they flop and move around and they are never in the orientation you need/want them in.  But if you’re ever, God forbid, in a situation where you need to deploy that firearm you carry, I’m guessing you could never have enough ammunition.  If your gun runs dry and your opponent(s) is/are still shooting, you’d better hope your life insurance plan is paid up and you told your wife you loved her when you left.

Related: Rothco Concealed Carry Jacket Review

To make things easier, you can carry filler items in your pocket to keep your magazine oriented properly, or try something like the Raven Concealment ModuLoader Pocket Shield, a neat rig you can mount mag pouches to and put the whole works in your pocket.  It stops magazine printing and keeps the magazine wight where you need it.  Or, you can always run a belt-mounted mag pouch and dress to conceal.  Just have spare ammo with you.

Also, know how your ammunition performs. Full metal jacket ammunition will likely over penetrate and can hit bystanders.  Carry suitable defense ammunition, and no hand-loaded ammunition.  You don’t need that round you carefully crafted for accuracy, power, and reliability to be misconstrued as a “deadly mankiller”.

7. Know When To Hold Them

Just because you have the pistol on your person, there is no rule that says you HAVE to use it.  The very best way to Concealed Carry Lawavoid being shot is to not get into gunfights.  Your brain is a much more powerful weapon than any gun you can carry; if you see or are in a situation developing with escalating threat, get the hell out and call the police.  There is zero shame in leaving when things get ugly.  As a matter of fact, in many locales – including my home state of Maine – you have a duty to deescalate and/or leave if you can, and lethal force is only given the blessing if you did everything you possibly could to disengage a threat and evacuate.  If you flipped the bird to the biker gang that cut you off and as a consequence, a fight develops to the point where you had to use a firearm to save your life, you can expect to spend a healthy chunk of that life behind bars.  Take a deep breath, walk away.  Be smart enough to keep yourself out of situations and places where you are forced to use your firearm.  It’s common sense: pride and braggadocio will get you or others killed, while having a head on your shoulders will keep you out of trouble.

8. Carry a Less Than Lethal Deterrent

Not every defense situation calls for the nuclear option.  Giving a belligerent drunk or an aggressive dog a heady blast of pepper spray in the kisser and walking away is a lot easier on your lifestyle than trying to explain to the judge why you had to empty the magazine into some family’s pet Labrador that got loose and jumped at you aggressively.  Also, if you attempt less-than-lethal deterrents and they don’t stop the threat, requiring you to then have to default to the concealed gun, a jury will definitely see that you tried other options before having to use lethal force as a last resort.  If you’re already carrying more gear on your belt than Batman, a Kubaton or OC pepper spray isn’t going to be an issue.

Related: Timbuk2 Aviator Backpack Review

As an added bonus, it is generally not illegal to carry pepper spray or similar non-lethal deterrents in areas where you can’t carry firearms.  So if you have to take the pistol off to go into a movie theater that’s posted as “no firearms”, you can still have a measure of protection on your person.

9. Nobody Should Know You have a Firearm Until It’s Time To Start Shooting

I agree with the political fundamentals and theory behind open carrying a gun; that is, having the gun exposed for Best Concealed Carry Jacketeveryone to see.  Many people open carry because they CAN, dammit, and that’s fine with me.  However, all I can think of when I see someone open carrying is, “well, there’s the first target”.  If nobody knows you have a concealed firearm, you have a definite and absolute tactical advantage you can press if needed.  In my opinion, if anyone knows you have a gun, it should only be because you have cleared leather to engage a target, and that trigger is getting pulled because you perceive your life or others’ lives to be in danger from your target.  If you’re in a heated argument or other ugly situation, and you think “brandishing” (showing off) the gun will be a deterrent to further crime, well, you just gave up every advantage you had.  You’d better re-read that “know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em” paragraph again.

10. Know The Legal System

Unless you just used a firearm in a righteous self defense shooting right in front of four honest cops, a judge, and The Pope and they all collaborate your story, you will likely be treated like a criminal at the outset.  Once first responders show up, you will be quickly and probably roughly disarmed and handcuffed.  Remember, law enforcement officers don’t know what happened here – they are responding to a person shooting another person.  You can help your cause by having the handgun holstered and unloaded (if the threat is perceived to be gone) and your hands in the air when law enforcement shows up; you don’t want responding officers to see you with a gun standing over a body.  Saying something along the lines of “I was afraid for my life and I used my firearm in self defense.

I would like my lawyer” and then saying nothing more until a lawyer shows up is probably a good idea (though I’m not a lawyer and I do not profess to be; talk to a lawyer, KNOW YOUR LAWS before you even strap on that holster. They will differ!)  You will likely be a mental and physical basketcase, and will need time to sort out in your own head and cope with what happened before you give statements (with a lawyer present).  Remember: every American is guaranteed the right of due process before a sentence is handed down – and you just were a judge, jury, and possibly an executioner in one fell swoop.  You will likely be arrested, you will likely go to jail, you most certainly will stand trial where you will have to prove your innocence and your story.  And if a judge deems your situation a righteous shooting in a criminal trial and dismisses the case, just remember that you will probably have to face a civil trial, especially if your assailant had a family.  You have an excellent chance to possibly lose that civil trial.

Yes, you just defended your life or the lives of others, but you still could be found guilty of manslaughter or murder down the road because you had to deny someone their life, limbs, happiness to save your own.  This is the way it is; and it’s definitely an unsavory reality of carrying a concealed firearm.  Not everything is black and white, cut and dried, Cowboys and Indians.  You will be alive, but you may lose everything to save your life.

There are many great articles online about what happens after you have to use a firearm in self defense.  This one is excellent, and I would definitely read this article by the US Concealed Carry Association.  I would consider these articles to be essential prerequisites to carrying concealed.

Wrapping It Up

One of the best parts about carrying concealed is that in terms of technique, gear, and mindset, you only improve Best Concealed Carry Gunwith experience.  You try things that work, ditch things that don’t.  It’s a very personal experience, and most of it can only be learned by jumping in with both feet and giving it a go.  However, the tips listed above are definitely things that I’ve learned along the way that I wish I’d known when I started carrying a concealed handgun.

So if you’ve been debating carrying a concealed firearm to defend yourself, try it out – just be sure to take training courses – not just in firearms handling and safety, but in law.  Know the consequences of using your firearm.  Research, research, research, then go wear out holsters and figure out what works best for you.  I sincerely hope that none of us ever have to use a firearm in self defense, but if you do, I hope that your preparation, knowledge, and mindset will keep you from being a victim – before and after drawing that concealed gun.  Did I miss anything?  Do you have anything to add to the list?  Sound off in the comments below!

This article is for informational purposes only.  Consult local & state laws before you do anything.

All Photos By Drew
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Survival Gear Review: Escape & Evasion Gun Belt

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Shark Tank Belt Review

Since the Bronze Age belts have been worn by all ages and all genders.  A belt round the waist is a fashion statement money belt review(1), holds utility essentials (2), and is safety equipment in all manner of work-related and recreational applications (3). And it is those very same three aspects of a special purpose belt that make it an essential component of anyone who considers himself prepared.  The Escape and Evasion Belt addresses the three components through style, function and strength.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog 

Only in death will I relinquish my belts.” – Manny Pacquiao

As well as being a stiff leather gun belt, the E&E has three inside zippered pouches that will easily hold a few simple tools and some cash. The nickel-plated brass buckle is first class and won’t raise a single eyebrow unlike tactical belts of any flavor. But the buckle’s heft will certainly make a good weapon, and make short order of car windows and most other non-bulletproof glass when at the flying end of a yard-long lever arm.

More Than Skin Deep

The main body of the belt is pure English harness leather which is one of the few best choice for a belt there is. The CIA Money Belt1.5 inch thick cowhide looks as good as it feels. To avoid the effects water and sweat, the leather crafters in the mountains of Utah used polyester thread instead of cotton. And to take the picturesque illusion of a magical belt further, the edges of the belt are burnished with 100% pure beeswax from Heaven.  Ok, maybe not Heaven, but a small farm in Colorado. Almost the same thing, right?

Also Read: Tips For Flying With A Gun

The quality continues on the inside as well.  Using YKK zippers, a long service life is expected. But still, as and Escape and Evasion Belt, you won’t be opening and closing the zippers every day.  YKK is known as the world’s largest zipper maker and arguably the best zipper on earth.  Despite their implication a 2007 price fixing case with other zipper cartels, YKK has a stellar reputation for quality and durability.

My Lowdown

In the three zippered slots in the belt, I have the following:
1. One full lenght (12”) hacksaw blade that has 18 teeth per inch.  Any more teeth and it will struggle with wood, and Best Money Beltany fewer teeth and it will be difficult to cut metal without the blade in a frame with handle.  While I could snap or cut a hacksaw blade into halves or thirds to make it more compact or flexible, the reality of needing a functional hacksaw blade for a true E&E situation necessitates having a long draw and enough length for real cutting and a real handle.

2. Another pocket holds $500 in cash in five $100 bills.  Some think smaller bills would be a better choice, but I figure that a $100 bill will work anywhere a $20 would.  And the bribe factor goes up proportional to the denomination. Imagine an auction breaking out for the last few gallons of gas.  Two zeros beats one zero every day of the week.

3. A metal handcuff key resides in another pocket.  I’ve tried to come up with scenarios where I might need the key yet still be wearing my belt.  I figure that there more possibilities that the key will be handy to help someone else in a jam rather than me needing it personally.  But you never know.  And yes, I know that a handcuff key is one of the easiest things to fabricate out of almost anything, having the right tool for the job is more than just a cute saying if one needs to shed some bracelets because I also cannot come up with a scenario where time is not a major factor.

But Wait, There’s More

Other E&E tools can include lock picks, wire, even Kevlar cord.  I don’t plan on adding any first aid equipment in myJason Hanson Belt E&E belt, and while thinking about that omission, I realized that it might be hard, make that impossible to use the E&E belt as a tourniquet.  Since the E&E belt moonlights as an excellent gun belt, it follows that it won’t make the tight turns necessary to stop blood flow.  On the other hand, it seems that this Escape and Evasion belt will provide a solid platform for towing cars so it will certainly provide enough strength to save your bacon when you need a lift…or to be lowered.

Last Chance

The main idea behind the Escape and Evasion Belt is to have some survival essentials around your waist at all times and without further thought.  While the E&E belt is not the end-all-be-all, it does serve an important purpose in many survival scenarios.  And should the need never arise, you still have an exceptionally nice gun belt that can be worn every day.  And if that is not already enough to convince you to enjoy the comfort of an E&E belt, the idea of a 100% American made product should be.

Related: SHTF Wardrobe List

Each E&E gun belt is made by hand in Cedar City, Utah by a real American worker.  Each stitch, each hole, each rivet.  I understand the allure of inexpensive Chinese products when some mass-produced overseas copy costs half of what an American made one does.  But like the old saying goes that “You are what you eat,” where you put your money is not only confirmation of your patriotism, but a testament of your conviction to America.

All Photos By Doc Montana

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A Brief History of Martial Law

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United States Martial Law

Wherever a military exists, so too can martial law.  Martial law refers to the period of time when Living Under Martial Lawthe military is in place as the top governmental authority of a population.   As former Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, a man from a country well-acquainted with martial law, so succinctly put it, “Martial law rests on the sanction of force and not on the sanction of law.”

By Derrick Grant, founder of Prepper Press

Over the course of history, martial law has been implemented throughout the world, as the breakdown of civil government, whether due to war, rebellion, or natural disaster, is not limited to any one geographic or ethnic domain. Nor is the desire for power limited to any one person, country, region, or ethnicity. Martial law is a form of acquiring power over a population, and of keeping that population in check.

Martial law takes different forms in different countries, just as traditional governing structures united states martial lawdo, but is often marked by a suspension of certain rights, the threat of military justice for civilians, and restricted travel by citizens.  Censorship and surveillance under the guise of protecting the citizenry are hallmarks of martial law.  In the twentieth century the threat of communism and terrorism were both used by governments to rationalize their use of the military to control the populace.  Labor strikes which turn violent, or which present a ruling party with the prospect of organized opposition, have also motivated the implementation of martial law.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, countries with notoriously volatile or heavily authoritarian governments have implemented martial law over the years.  Among these countries are the Philippines, China, Pakistan, Thailand, Taiwan, and Egypt.  The Western world is not immune from martial law, however, with the United States and Ireland among the ranks of countries that have declared martial law in the modern era.  Even Canada, a country as uncontroversial as you can get, has implemented martial law several times in recent centuries.

Canada and Martial Law

Since World War I, Canada has implemented martial law three times – during World War I, during World War II, and during the October Crisis of 1970.  During the October Crisis of 1970 a Canadian government official was kidnapped and murdered and a British diplomat was kidnapped in Quebec.  Canadian military forces were sent into Quebec and the police were given wide authority within the province of Quebec, resulting in the arrest of nearly 500 people.  Canada also imposed martial law, perhaps somewhat ironically, due to the freedom-seeking Continental Army’s invasion of the Quebec region during the American Revolution.

United States and Martial Law

America’s relationship with martial law is much more sweeping than Canada’s. From the Surviving Martial Lawcountry’s founding through to the twentieth century, the world’s beacon of freedom has at times put the military in a place of power over the civilian authorities and the rule of law. During the Civil War, though Congress did not declare martial law, they did approve many of the tenets which President Lincoln put before them to cancel certain rights, such as the revocation of the requirement of habeas corpus.  The Civil War is the most well-known example of an implementation of martial law tenets in the United States, but that era is far from the only time such authoritarian rule has been implemented in the United States.

Related: Surviving Nuclear Terrorism

During the American Revolution the British imposed martial law on the colonists, primarily in response to the Boston Tea Party.  Shortly after the Revolution, under the presidency of George Washington, the military was deployed to put down the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania, though there is some argument as to whether this constitutes an implementation of martial law as the civilian authorities still had power – they just could not handle the rebels who had already attacked the home of a tax collector and refused to cooperate with federal officials.

Two decades later, an American region found itself under martial law when General (and future President) Andrew Jackson imposed it in New Orleans during the War of 1812. Under Jackson’s rule, New Orleans remained under martial law even when there was no longer the threat of an invasion, a fact that did not please civilians. Following a decisive victory for American forces, Jackson was unwilling to concede the military’s power for months. He went so far as to have a judge arrested for demanding that the writ of habeas corpus be followed and a senator arrested for writing a newspaper column questioning the continued presence of martial law in New Orleans.

The seemingly placid Midwestern state of Idaho was also the site of a martial law implementation, including the trial of civilians in military court.  In 1893 striking mill workers in Coeur d’Alene not only blew up the mill at which they worked, they also shot at any worker who dared try to return to work.  After the military was called in, over 600 people were arrested, though just about two dozen were actually tried and sentenced to prison.  In later decades, both Colorado and West Virginia were in similar situations when martial law was implemented due to coal workers’ strikes that grew violent.  In 1934, a dockworkers’ strike resulted in parts of San Francisco being put under martial law.  San Francisco was also under martial law in 1906 following the Great Earthquake, albeit for a brief period.

Though the Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878, prevents the U.S. military from taking on the role of law enforcement, the United States is not immune from declarations of martial law, or declarations that skirt near and around martial law. Recently, some in the United States have likened the modern phrase ‘state of emergency’ with martial law, noting that following such natural disasters as Hurricane Katrina certain laws were suspended and the government and military were given powers such as restricting sales of certain items, implementing curfews, and restricting gun ownership.

While the United States and Canada have had their share of temporary martial law experiences, in other parts of the world, martial law has been a more permanent part of people’s lives.

Martial Law and Other Countries

For 38 years the citizens of Taiwan lived under martial law, with the threat of communism within How to survive martial lawTaiwan used as the rationale for continuing martial law even though the country was supposed to have a democratic constitution following the end of World War II. When martial law was lifted in Taiwan in 1987, it was the longest period of time any nation had been continuously under martial law.

However, Syria surpassed Taiwan for that dubious distinction, with 48 years of martial law not ending until 2011.  Syria’s martial law was implemented in 1963 following a military coup in which the Baath Party seized control of the country. For nearly 50 years Syrians were faced with restricted rights, surveillance, baseless interrogations, and government-controlled media.

Related: Civil Asset Forfeiture – Policing for Profit

Egypt comes close to Syria in terms of the continuous time its citizens were under martial law, with the country essentially under martial law from 1967 until 2013.  The government renewed the state of emergency doctrine, which put the country under martial law, every three years during that time frame with an exception of the period immediately preceding Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981.  The threat of terrorism was consistently used as reasoning for continued martial law in the country.  Under Egypt’s martial law people could be jailed for no reason or for any reason, censorship was legal, and civilians could be tried in military court.  In 2011, removing this doctrine was a tenet of the protestors’ during the uprising in Egypt, though it lasted for two more years.

Though it pales in comparison to the half-century of Egypt’s martial law, the Philippines were under martial law for the extended period of nine years from 1972-1981.  Ferdinand Marcos used the threat of communism as well as recent bombings to convince Filipinos of the need for martial law. However, the honeymoon period for the military authority ended quickly, with Filipinos becoming disillusioned by the regime’s use of torture and suspension of civil rights.  This was not the Philippines’ first experience with martial law, as the country had been under martial law for a time during World War II. However, Marcos’ abuse of power would be what civilians in the Philippines remembered and used as the basis for holding future politicians’ feet to the fire when the specter of martial law reared its head, particularly in the case of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the early 2000s.  Her efforts were thwarted, and though martial law was implemented in a region of the Philippines, the country as a whole was only put under a state of emergency.

Book Review: Patriot’s Dawn

Though it has not been under continuous martial law throughout its history, Pakistanis have plenty of experience living under military regimes at points in their lives. Following a coup in 1958, martial law has been implemented and retracted on a fairly regular basis in Pakistan, though they also have a history of military rulers such as General Pervez Musharaff who do not rule with martial law.

Like Pakistan, Thailand has seen its share of coup d’etats, and such uncertainty and power grabs Thailand Martial Lawmakes for an easy environment in which to implement martial law.  Thailand has gone through periods of martial law in 2004, 2006, and 2014. Though martial law has ostensibly been lifted in Thailand, but some, including officials at the United States State Department have argued that the security measures put in place upon the announcement that martial law was being lifted may actually be just as bad, if not worse, than martial law.  Media groups in Thailand specifically called attention to the measure’s restrictions on free speech, saying in a statement,  “Civilians are also at risk, as people who communicates and discusses topics through online social media that contain information viewed by the authorities as threat to national security, cause of public alarm, spreading of false information or public misunderstanding will be punished on the same condition.” The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner also called attention to the regime’s repeal of martial law in name only, calling the new measures “draconian.”

In addition to the countries such as Thailand where martial law has been a continuous or regularly occurring part of life, there are several other countries which have been under martial law sparingly.

Poland is one such country. It has only been under martial law once, from 1981 to 1983, as the government sought to quash its opposition. While it was only under martial law for this two year period, it was a harsh time of military rule during which hundreds of arrests were made and citizens’ daily life and basic rights were greatly restricted. As part of martial law in Poland, members of opposition groups such as Solidarity were jailed, citizens had to adhere to a curfew, and travel was heavily restricted with the airport and roads closed down. Schools were closed, phones were disconnected, and all communication was subject to censorship. While the government said they did not want any bloodshed from this period of martial law, about one hundred deaths are blamed on the implementation of martial law.

Also Read: A Case for the Revolver

In China, martial law was instituted in Beijing throughout May and June of 1989 in reaction to the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square.  During their enforcement of martial law, the troops had the authority to use any power necessary for self-defense if they encountered any impediment or delay in carrying out their mission.

Iranians were subject to martial law for a period of about three months in the fall of 1978 when the Shah appointed a military general to be in charge of Tehran.  Although the regime was short-lived, it resulted in hundreds of deaths when the military massacred protesters in Tehran.

From the United States to Iran to the Philippines, martial law is a widespread phenomenon in the modern world, with the last two centuries providing many examples of governments over-reaching and military officials overstepping the rights of citizens. Martial law can be declared by any government, at any time.  After all, the very basic notion of martial law is that it rejects the rule of law and instead uses force. It behooves people, even in a democratic country, to learn the history of martial law and to understand your rights and the ways they can be subverted – and have been throughout modern history.

About Derrick Grant.  Mr. Grant is the founder of Prepper Press, a publisher of post-apocalyptic fiction and survival nonfiction. Follow his Facebook writer page for all things apocalyptic.

Photos By:
Jonald Mahinay
Alex Jones

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Movie Review: 10 Cloverfield Lane

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Best Survival Movie

Trapped in a bunker with two people who you don’t know can get a little scary.  Especially when John Goodman Survivalist Movieyou believe that one of those people in the bunker with you is a murderer.  10 Cloverfield Lane is a survivalist thriller starring the legend John Goodman as the paranoid prepper/survivalist Howard, who has planned for almost every contingency.  I first heard about this movie when Mr. Goodman was a guest on the Howard Stern show and it immediately intrigued me.

By Jimmy C, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

In the opening scenes of the 10 Cloverfield Lane, a woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Review_10_cloverfield_lane_movie_john_goodmanWinstead), who has become emotionally upset with her significant other, packs up all of her stuff and takes off into the night.  While on the road she has a bad auto accident and is knocked unconscious.  When she wakes up, she is chained to a bed inside a bunker and being cared for by a large bearded man named Howard (John Goodman).

After the car accident Howard tells Michelle that there was some sort of mass attack that took place (nuclear or chemical, Howard is not sure), probably killing everyone and rendering the air poisonous.  Howard also managed to save his young neighbor, Emmett (played by John Gallagher Jr.).  Trapped deep inside the bunker and sealed off from the world thanks to no mobile phone reception and no natural light, these three individuals wrestle with the thought of being the last humans on earth or the other possibility that Howard is over reacting and the outside world is just fine.  From there, this show is an absolute freak show, one part “Misery” one part “War of The Worlds.”

Also Read: 10 Best Survival Movie Lessons

If you think you are going to guess how 10 Cloverfield Lane is going to end, good luck.  I ended up watching Best Survival Moviethe show twice because it was so freaky.  The movie is the debut for director Dan Trachtenberg and was written by screenwriters Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken.  The legend John Goodman plays an excellent paranoid prepper, whose only concern is the safety of the bunker.  Anyone who tries to put the bunker at risk, is a risk and those types of risks have to be eliminated.

The director, Trachtenberg, and his team went to great lengths to make the set look as realistic as possible.  With the bunker stocked with all of the emergency essentials that you can think of, food, air filtration, water, blast doors, trash compactor, generator, etc.  It feels like a real modern day prepper’s bunker.  He also went to great lengths to add many of the comforts of home, which a prepper would really do.  They play board games, puzzles, watch movies, listen to a jukebox, etc.  You might think that a movie filmed mostly inside of a bunker would be a little bit slow but this movie is anything but slow.  I think if you get a chance, watch 10 Cloverfield Lane, you won’t be disappointed.  It’s a real thriller.  Who knows, maybe you will get some new ideas for your bunker.

All Photos By Paramount Pictures

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Survival Gear Review: Talon Grips

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Best handgun grips

So I’d just like to come right out at the outset of this review and state that Talon Grips have best handgun gripsprobably provided the most satisfaction-per-dollar of any of the firearms modifications I’ve tried in recent memory. They are quite inexpensive, easy to install, non-permanent, and 100% effective at the specific improvement they offer. They’re just damn cool too. All pros, no cons. This will probably be a short review, now that I think about it.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

A Cut Above

If you read my article “12 Great Preps for Under $30” you’ll remember that I’d listed stick-on gripBest Pistol Hand Grips tape as a great buy, due to the fact that you could buy it in strips at cut it to any desired shape, to add texture and “grippyness” to any item that needed it. Specific examples are: handgun and rifle grips, cellphones and cellphone cases, knife handles, etc.

Talon Grips – hailing from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, takes that idea and go one step farther, providing laser-cut application-specific pre-made grip tape sections. With over 200 different designs available from 22 different firearms manufacturers, it’s a safe bet that there is a patented wrap-around pattern that fits your exact gun. Talon Grips also offers a bewildering array of stick-on grips for smartphones, rifle grips, shotgun fore ends, extended magazines, tasers…even a stick-on bottom coaster pad for YETI Rambler travel mugs.

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Talon Grips got their start back in 2009 when a duty Glock 21 was fitted with a set of grip panels Best Pistol Gripmade from skateboard tape. Others in the department had to have their Glocks likewise upgraded. Soon thereafter, sales on eBay started taking off, and more designs were developed – first more Glock models came around, then Springfield XD grips, all cut by hand from rolls of skateboard tape. Soon they were farming out the product to a local die cutter for mass production, and in 2011 a proprietary rubber material was developed specifically for firearm grip application, and a laser cutter was purchased to allow for much more intricate designs. In 2012, a patent was received for the one-piece wrap-around die-cut grip design Talon Grips had perfected. The sky has been the limit for Talon Grips since then, and this 100% Designed- and Made-In-USA product has been taking the firearms world by storm.  Law Enforcement, competition shooters, military operators, and the civilian market all have flocked to this easy to install, effective modification.

The design is deceptively simple in theory, yet intricate in execution.  Talon Grips are comprised of one-piece wrap-around laser-cut (you can see the scorch marks on the white peel-off grip backing when you get the grips) stick-on grip panels that utilize an adhesive that has been formulated to stick to guns (especially polymer) like crazy, yet is (relatively) easy to remove with no gluey residue remaining behind.  The panels are notched, relieved, and contoured to look like they grew on the gun; all of the sets I got had cutouts for existing logos, reliefs for thumb rests, and cut-outs for existing terrain on the gun.  So, like I said: while these are very simple, there has been a lot of time spent designing the grips to fit perfectly…and fit perfectly they absolutely do.

Get A Grip!

The grip material is offered in two configurations: granular (feels like fine 150 or 220 grit sandpaper) and textured rubber, with both makeups being very thin – less than ½ millimeter thick – for no added bulk to the gun.

The granular material is the epitome of traction for those who need 100% hold on their gun no matter what the conditions – sweat, rain, mud, blood. The aggressiveness of the grip has a trade off if you wear your gun concealed: the grain of the grip would be awful rubbing against your skin on an inside-the-waistband holster, and I imagine it would fray or even wear its way through clothing given enough time and movement. But, if you have a belt gun that rides in a holster on the outside of your body (think uniformed law enforcement officer), there’s no better way to go if positive handgun retention and grip is what is needed.

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The rubber material is textured to provide a pattern a bit like a stippled grip, but the formulation Best Handgun Gripsof the rubber is far more tactile and positive than a stippled polymer grip. The rubber grip is far and away the more user-friendly and versatile of the two materials: it won’t harm clothing or skin with contact, but still provides almost a sticky gripping surface for the user to really muckle onto. The only time the grip was anything like compromised was when I submerged the grip module of my test Sig P320 in water. The Talon Grip stayed on the gun just fine, but it had a sort of “squishy” feeling that was definitely odd. However, the valleys of the grip surface allowed water to ooze out, and while it felt weird, the gun wasn’t about to squirt out of my hands. If you’re in a really wet environment frequently, I might lean towards the granular grips. Otherwise, the rubber ones are terrific – and the rubber grips are the ones I personally chose to leave on my Sig.

Talon Grips doesn’t just do handguns – they offer a lot of other cool grips for non-traditional items. I also ordered up a Talon Grip for my Remington 870 home defense shotgun – I’d seen a grip was offered for the Magpul MOE shotgun fore end so I had to try it. I also ordered a wrap-around rubber grip for my work-issued Apple iPhone 6S cellphone.

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The Magpul grip had slots cut into it to allow the MOE fore end’s molded-in ribs to come through Best Forend Gripthe grip, and there were also cut-outs for the Magpul logo.  The only issue that I ran into with the Talon Grip for this application was minimal: I had to pull the light and rail off the fore end to get the grip on – and to re-install the rail and light on the fore end means pulling the gun apart to access the inside of the fore end.  Not the end of the world for me since I’ve had Remington 870s apart more times than I can count and have all the proper tools, but for the run-of-the-mill gun owner it might be an inconvenience.  But the pros definitely outweigh this small malfeasance, because the traction I get on the fore end for fast, aggressive cycling is unparalleled.

The iPhone grip was pretty cool.  I pulled the iPhone out of the Magpul Bump Case it had been residing in, cleaned it off with the supplied alcohol wipe, and installed the grip.  For clumsy people like me, it felt a touch alarming to have the phone out of a nice protective case, but the positive grip that I now had on the iPhone thanks to the Talon Grip allayed (most of) the anxiety. If you’re someone who doesn’t need a protective phone case but would like more traction on a phone, the Talon Grip is absolutely the ticket. All the cutouts for rocker switches, power button, charger port, and input jack were all precisely placed, and the rubber grip didn’t create any issues slipping the phone in an out of pockets.  While it was really great and I used the phone with the Talon Grip for a week or so, I eventually peeled the grip off and let the phone live in the Magpul case again since I drop phones with alarming frequency, and I have a 2-year-old running around that likes glowing devices.  That’s not a detraction of the Talon Grip; I just needed the protection over the traction – even though the added traction DID keep me from dropping the phone on numerous occasions.

Getting It On

Installation of the Talon Grips is a breeze if you have any attention to detail and patience – you Best Handgun Gripsdon’t have to be a gunsmith to get the benefits of the grips – installation is almost dummy-proof.  You’ll need the Talon Grips, a hair dryer or heat gun, and (optional) a couple Q-tips and some rubbing alcohol. A full read-through of the included instructions is definitely recommended.

First off, disassemble the gun if you can.  You’ll be moving the gun around, pivoting, turning, twisting it to get the best angle to install the grips. Remember, these are a wrap-around design, so at one point, you’ll likely have the gun pointed at yourself or other things that don’t need extra holes. Be smart, take the gun apart.

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Next, we’ll need to clean the application area.  Talon Grips provides an alcohol pad to accomplish this; however, I found that the pad didn’t really reach down into my Sig’s existing grip texture that well, so I chose to soak a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and really get down and dirty with the cleaning.  The alcohol will eradicate any gun and/or skin oils that have accumulated on the gun and provide a really positive adhesive surface for the grips. Let the alcohol evaporate fully before moving on.

For handgun grips, you start on the left-hand side of the gun, when viewed as if you were Best Handgun Gripsshooting the gun.  I did a dry run first, trying out the alignment of everything instead of peeling the backing off and just going for it. Personally, when getting started, I didn’t remove all of the paper backing from the grip at once – I really didn’t want to deal with multiple adhesive surfaces flailing about mid-way through the process, sticking to things other than what I intended them to. I started with just peeling the left-hand grip side and leaving the remainder attached to start – it was easy to pull the backing as you went around the gun.

Using the existing Sig Sauer logo that was on the gun‘s grip, I lightly aligned the Talon Grip on the frame, getting the orientation perfect. I had to pull the grip off once to start again – this didn’t seem to have a detrimental effect on the grip material or the adhesive.  But once I got the initial start of the Talon Grip on exactly right, the rest of the installation fell into place. I just rolled the grip around the gun slowly, adjusting each tab where I needed to. The instructions said not to pull or tug, but a small amount of gentle stretching was required on the right-hand side of the grip to get the opposing-side Sig Sauer logo cutout to align properly.

Also Read: Gun Rights & Common Sense

A little tip from your buddy Drew: don’t press the whole grip down on the left-hand side starter panel when starting out. Be sure to leave the frontstrap side of the grip unattached if possible. I’m telling you this because you’ll find that as you wrap the grip around the gun, you definitely have too much grip for the frontstrap.  Don’t cut this off! Peel back the left hand grip slightly, and tuck this excess material underneath the left-hand grip. Then, once you’re happy with the alignment of the whole system, press the Talon Grip grip down firmly to get the adhesive to grab.

After I was happy with the placement of the grip on the guns, I stole my wife’s hair dryer (for the love of God, don’t tell her please) and secreted away to my basement workshop. I set the hair dryer to “low warm” and directed the hot air stream onto the Talon Grip.  I took care to keep the hair dryer moving and to not let one area of the grip get too hot – Talon recommends getting the surface about the same temperature as a hot cup of coffee. You could watch the rubberized material almost shrink a little and work its way into grooves and recesses, ensuring the adhesive got a firm grip. Once I was satisfied, I let the gun cool completely and returned the thieved hair dryer to its proper location. Once everything was set up, the Talon Grip was adhered strongly to the gun – definitely in it for the long haul. In the time I’ve had the grips on, no edges have peeled and there has beed zero bubbling or relocation needed – a tribute to a sound design, quality products, and a proper cleaning.  As an aside, I might hold off from using the hair dryer on Talon Grips that are applied to electronics – I didn’t use it on the iPhone, and the grip stayed on just fine.

Related: Review Windham Weaponry AR-10 .308

When it came time to peel off the Talon Grip from my iPhone, I really had to work at it to get an Best Pistol Gripedge pulled up enough to get a grip on it.  Once I did have enough for a good purchase-and-pull, the Talon Grip really fought me to stay on the phone.  But, I eventually prevailed (how sad would it have been if I didn’t?) and removed the grip. I’m happy to say there was zero need for removing sticky, gluey residues – because there weren’t any.  Talon Grips are 100% reversible if you want to change to a different texture or want to sell/trade the gun – you can’t say that for a custom stipple job on your gun…and I daresay the Talon Grips function better than a stipple job.

Conclusions

What can I say?  Order some Talon Grips.  Right now.  If you don’t like them, you’ll be out less than $20.  But were I a betting man, I’d wager that you’ll love Talon Grips on your handgun/shotgun/taser/YETI cup that you’ll be a return customer.  They’re effective, inexpensive, easy to install all by your lonesome, an completely reversible. How can you go wrong? Give it a whirl, you’ll be glad you did.

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Survival Gear Review: Ruger Charger Takedown

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Best 22 Survival Pistol

Some serious firearms are merely taken as fun guns.  Why not allow them to play the role of Survival Pistolboth?  Lucky for me, at a recent NRA Friends banquet, a friend bought be a raffle ticket to which it produced a winning selection of a firearm.  My choice?  It was a no-brainer for me when I saw the Ruger Charger, .22 pistol sitting among the group of choices that was left.  To discover it was the takedown version with the green/brown laminate stock sealed the deal.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Factory Specs

If you have not seen one yet, the Ruger Charger is classified as a pistol, but it is more than that.  Its overall length is 19.25 inches and weighs about 50 ounces.  They come in a fixed stock version and now a neat takedown model just like its big brother the regular Ruger 10-22 rifle.  They are available in both synthetic and wood stocks.

The metal is a sort of blued, matte black.  The barrel is 10-inches thus the pistol ranking.  The grip is a standard hard plastic A-2 AR-15 style.  There are no open sights on this rig, but it comes equipped with an add-on Picatinny rail on top of the receiver to mount a red dot optic or other type scope depending on what the user wants.  Also included is a short front mounted folding bipod that attaches to the forward sling mount with the supplied adaptor.

Related: 7 Ruger 10-22 Accessories You Actually Need

The Ruger Charger uses a BX-15 ®, 15-round capacity “banana” type magazine that slips into the Ruger Charger 22 Reviewaction just like a 10-22 rifle.  In fact, the Charger’s action is really just the exact same one as the common 10-22 rifle action.  Therefore, it only shoots long rifle rimfire ammo, so don’t try to feed this one shorts or longs.

The barrel comes threaded featuring a ½-inch-28-thread pattern to accept most suppressors, or flash hiders.  These threads are capped with a factory installed thread protector.  The takedown process is easy.  A small lever under the action is pushed forward and the front barrel unit is simply rotated into its unlocked position.  Reassembly is just as simple and the barrel/forearm unit snaps positively in place.  There is a round knurled adjustment ring that is tightened upon attaching the barrel unit initially to the action. This properly spaces the barrel to the action.

The Charger comes packed in a plastic slide lock case, that frankly could be a better, more sturdy unit.  The lid on mine did not fit very well.  Once you assemble the pistol and attach the bipod, you are not going to use this case anyway.  I suggest getting a good, padded range bag to tote and store the unit.  The Charger retails for about $380, but shop around.

What Is It For?

Ruger suggests the Charger pistol is great for target shooting and small game.  Their info does not specifically use the term “hunting”, but one assumes that is what they mean by small game.  The .22 rimfire being what it is, this pistol could indeed be used for hunting and bug out pot food such as squirrels and rabbits.

Related: Ruger 10-22 Takedown Upgrades

If you were so inclined, the Charger could just as easily take down raccoon, opossum, and in western locales birds such as grouse, or even pheasant with some luck and patience.  The point is with some practice, this .22 pistol is just as capable of dispatching any game the rimfire can put down.  The attached bipod could be used to steady the pistol off the hood of a vehicle or the fender or seat of an ATV or SUV.  The bipod could also be removed to shoot the Charger off of a standing bipod or tripod or unit such as a Primos Trigger Stick.

In the Field

Some may be thinking that the Ruger Charger is not a very practical firearm.   I think if preppers Shooting Ruger Chargerlooked at one, held one, then got to shoot it, they would be inclined to think otherwise.  I mounted an AIM electronic red/green dot optic on mine.  This was something I had already and thought to put it to good use to try it out.  This optic has four switchable dot configurations that can be alternatively displayed in/on the glass optic screen.  There is the standard dot, a crosshair, a circle, and a sort of circle with a crosshair in it.  A rheostat on the side functions to change out the light intensity but also to go from red to green depending on the shooter preference.

It attached easily to the Charger’s Picatinny rail on top via a cross bolt hex screw mount.  I did find that in cycling the action of the Charger to load it that my knuckle would bump into the sharp knurled optic control dial on the side of the unit.  That was a mild distraction, so I had to play with moving the optic forward and back until I achieved the clearance I needed to leave skin on my knuckle.

Also Read: Ruger 10-22 Takedown Review

One other modification I made was to immediately swap out the factory A2 hard, slick plastic pistol grip with a nice, soft, Hogue AR-15 grip.  I have these grips on all my ARs and find them easier to grip and hold onto.  They are also not slick when wet.  The change out was quick and easy.

Anyway, first, off the bench using the bipod, this little devil can slap tin cans all over the place once I got it punching small holes in target paper from 25, then 50 yards.  It can gong a 10-inch metal plate all day long.  And I was using rather cheap rimfire ammo, if there really is such a thing these days.

I’m not one to press ranges with a rimfire, but I sure think this rig can take down small game out to 50 yards with a steady rest of some kind.  I plan to further test the pistol off a Trigger Stick once small game season opens.  The Ruger Charger could definitely be a field walk around gun, but I have got to ponder on a way to rig up a sling of some sort.   The jury is still out on the usefulness of the bipod except off a bench or flat rest.

Also Read: Project Squirrel Gun

When at my bug out camp, I have this theory about any gun being better than no gun, so even a .22 rimfire ought to scare away a poacher or trespasser with a few rounds in the vicinity.  But if not, then my AR is on the ATV and the 1911 is in my Diamond D chest rig.

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Dr. John J Woods
Rattler1961
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Survival Gear Review: Magpul PMAG D-60 Drum Magazine

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Best AR15 Ammo Drum

The wizards at Magpul have done it again.  As if their game-changing polymer 30-round PMAG Best AR15 Drumwasn’t enough, they upped the ante with a 60-round drum magazine. And sometimes the obvious benefits of something are not, well, obvious.  Such is the case with the Magpul D-60.  The D-60 drum mag was announced at the February 2015 SHOT Show, but didn’t appear regularly on dealer shelves until after Thanksgiving, or even January 2016.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog 

But the wait was worth it.  For those who see the wisdom in a drum mag, the PMAG D-60 answers the call for a higher high capacity mag without the absurd length created when just doubling or tripling the size of a 30 round box mag.

Plead Your Case

The D-60 is not without some challenges, but first one must understand the point of a drum mag, Best M4 Drumespecially when the wildly popular, reliable, and inexpensive 30 round PMAGs are common.  So why a 60 round drum instead of two 30 round magazines? Here are some reasons, but I bet you can think of more. Just keep in mind that there are many who can find problems.  That’s the easy part.  The smart folks like those at Magpul find solutions.

Under “survival conditions”…

1. If you leave your gear behind, the more onboard ammo, the better.
2. You might be handing the gun off to someone else so slamming home 60 rounds is easier than explaining the nuances of changing mags.
3. In the unlikely event that your bug out runs into unexpected turbulence, you may only have one hand free at a time, and single-handed mag swaps are a pain.
4.
The sheer firepower of sixty bangs downrange is literally twice that of a conventional mag. Double your firepower, double your fun.
5.
There is just something innately practical about a rifle with a 60 round mag. No baggage, mag pouches, or clumsily reloads necessary.
6. Ammo can be stored long term in the D-60 drums so you will be one more step toward preparedness compared to your ammo mule loaded with bulk rounds.

However, and there always seems to be a however, some challenges to the D-60 need to be addressed, or at the least owned.

1. Compared to a 30 round PMAG, the D-60 is expensive. Retailing for $130 and with street prices not much less than that, a fair comparison might be that the 30 round PMAG costs about sixty cents per round held. On the other hand, the D-60 is about $2.15 per round.
2. Compared to a 30 round PMAG, the D-60 weighs four times as much, but holds only twice as many rounds. Or a sixth of an ounce per bang with the PMAG-30, and a third of an ounce per bang with the D-60. So essentially the D-60 weighs about twice as much per round.
3. Loading the D-60 takes time and effort. Unloading the D-60 takes time and effort.
4. The D-60 is four times thicker than a standard PMAG although it is a hair shorter than a 30 round PMAG.
5. While the design is fairly basic for a drum mag, the D-60 is vastly more complex than a standard box-shaped PMAG.

Backstory

The reason we are hesitant or even skeptical about a 60-round AR15 drum magazine, or any Best M4 Drum60-rounder or more for that matter, is that the choices have been scarce, and the reliability highly questionable at best. With Magpul on board reliability becomes a non-issue and quality control is never a problem.

Building out one’s survival kit requires forward thinking. It must have occurred to Magpul that the price and weight of a 60 round drum compared to a pair of 30 round PMAGs would be a deal-killer for many. And while I understand this logic, and in fact practiced it up to this point, I am now a believer that the drum mag has it’s place in the survival kit. Even more than just a place, the D-60 has distinct advantages that should be taken seriously.

Related: Magpul Armorer’s Wrench

With the D-60’s overall length the same as a standard 30 round PMAG, it’s possible to nestle in D60 Reviewwith bipod and shooting mat getting twice the shots without adjusting position. The D-60 does not even touch the ground when the rifle is sitting on nothing but bipod feet and buttstock.

But that pesky price tag was still hard to swallow. In fact, on a good day a pair of 30-round PMAGs could cost $100 less than a D-60. Oh, and there is the pain in the butt loading of the D-60. In fact, it was that loading round after round that got me thinking about the survival aspects of the D-60. For years, my bedroom nightstand safe held a Glock 17 with laser/light and extra 33 round mag. So why wouldn’t I want 60 rounds? In what universe would 17 rounds, or 30 with the AR not be enough, yet you would only want 17 or 30 more when you could have 33 or 60?

High Speed Low Drag

The original M16 had a 20 round magazine. Most 1911 handguns contain seven or eight rounds in a flush-mount magazine. Then 30 rounds became the M16/M4 norm, and Glocks with their 15 or 17 round mags became the new cool kids. Heck, the west was won with six in the cylinder and 15 in the tube (Henry Repeater in .44-40). Even the higher powered Winchester Model 1894 30-30 rifle packed six to eight rounds.

Also Read: Magpul MBUS Pro Iron Sights

Other have attempt to capture the higher high cap mag needs of AR owners included the 100 round Beta double-drum mag, Surefire’s 100 round and 60 round box magazines, the X-Products 50 round drum, and even Magpul’s own 40 round PMAG. While the aforementioned higher high cap options might have succeeded in pushing the price north of three figures, the reliability of such mags has been a sore spot. The only exception is the 40 round Magpul PMAG, but at Hollywood proportions it is anything but low drag as it rivals the length of some SBR barrels. Literally, imagine your mag longer than your barrel. Maybe ok with your Glock 26, but not your rifle.

With five dozen rounds onboard the D-60 weighs half as much as an ultra-light AR. The three pounds of mag does affect the heft of the rifle but not much it’s swing. The dense ball of ammo sits close to the rifle’s center of mass so rotating the gun side to side, back and forth, and up and down is affected much less than a three-pound-15-inch metal banana poking out of the magwell.

Into the Wild

The Magpul PMAG D-60 is an exceptionally fine piece of hardware. Regardless of how you use it Magpul M4 Drumor what you use it for, the D-60 will perform flawlessly. And that fact alone cannot be said about any other AR15 mag over 40 rounds. Period.

Loading the D-60 is easy but a little on the slow side. There is a loading lever on the drum that relieves some spring tension. The lever rotates about 30 degrees counterclockwise  allowing about three rounds to be dropped into the tower for the first couple dozen rounds. Then the loading lever must be released and re-ratcheted. The third and fourth dozen rounds loads as twos, then ones, and as you approach the end of the fifth dozen, you will need to ratchet a couple times per round. With an adapter, stripper clips can be used, but at the same three-round loading burst at best. I recommend wearing a work glove on your mag-side hand (the D-60s design favors right-hand loading) because your thumb becomes irritated with it’s low-level lever-shoving job.

When fully loaded the D-60 will easily snap home in an AR even with the bolt closed. Plus Magpul assures us that the D-60 will be just fine when stored long term with 60 rounds circling its mainspring. I’m testing that at the moment and will get back to you in a couple years.

The small porthole in the 12 o’clock position on the back shows when the sixtieth has been inserted. Indicators on the window denote approximately every 15 rounds from 10 to 60. Personally, I hope Magpul or someone else releases a aftermarket transparent backplate so the total round count is completely obvious at a glance because the difference between 60 rounds and 58 rounds is the same as one full trip around the spring. I just wish the window was larger, or more simply, there was another similar window at the 6 o’clock position to provide twice the critical information.

The D-60 is for .223/5.56 only.  Reports of successful .300 Blackout usage do exist, but so do stories of D-60 failure and even violent breakage when loaded and fired with .30 caliber cartridges.

Like some TP with your Mag Dump?

To unload the D-60, Magpul recommends that you thumb-out each and every cartridge Best AR15 Drumindividually.  Should you feel the urge to use the loading lever to release spring tension, well don’t!  While a handful of brass will tumble out of the tower, the rest will jam up requiring a time-consuming and possibly dangerous (to you and your mag) operation to open the drum and release the rest of the ammo.

The D-60 should work fine on any rifle that uses standard NATO 5.56 box magazines including the M4, M16, SCAR, MK16/16S, HK416, MR556, M27 IAR, and the Tavor.  However, whether or not the bolt holds open after the final round is dependent on the particular firearm. On all my AR15s the bolt was yawning widely following the 60th bang like a baby bird waiting for a worm. Of course your mileage may vary. And for those long guns with bullpup tendencies, some adjustment of grip on the gun will be necessary when the drum invades your armspace.

To keep the D-60 feeding smoothly, I suspected that the included lubricant wipe of CLP is a hint Best M4 AR15 Ammo Drumthat this drum needs occasional maintenance.  And indeed the fine print that comes with the D-60 suggests that the spiral feeding track be lightly lubed about every 1000 rounds.  That’s just under 17 full mags.  When unloaded, the D-60 disassembles safely and quietly since the spring is not under tension. So care and feeding the D-60 is painless, but does take a slotted screwdriver.

Also Read: Magpul PMAG Torture Test

Magpul includes a soft plastic cover for the business end of the mag.  It is only a dust cover and provides no stress relief for the feed lips.  My assumption is that no relief is needed because the spring tension only amounts to the length of the tower and not the full 60 rounds as if it were a long banana mag instead of a drum.  There is a small attachment point on the dust cover that Magpul included so the cap could be attached to your storage and deployment solution of choice. That way when you need to do a fast reload, you can grab the drum and yank it free from the cap in one smooth move.

Four small 3×5 blocks of dot matrix panels on the back side allow for mag identification using a paint pen or gold Sharpie.  The tiny recessed surfaces will retain the ink providing an all-important asset management notation when needing to ID any particular mag from your pile of others.

Need vs. Want

One real world test I failed to employ is a total immersion in water.  Easy to do, but at the moment I’ll trust that Magpul’s drainage ports will do the job even though they are not as obvious as on other mags.

And another real world test I would love to try but don’t have the heart to do it is drop a fully loaded (almost three pounds) mag from six feet onto cement.  Although Magpul claims the D-60 is built with “next-generation impact and crush resistant polymer” my prediction is that the mag could blow apart spilling its guts rather violently.  Or maybe more likely it would just crack open a little unlike Humpty Dumpty, but nothing beyond what can be snapped back together by hand.  But as I’ve learned from past experience with Magpul polymer, I bet I would just need to apologize to the D-60 and give it a big hug.  Good as new.

WROL 2.0

The 30 round PMAG offered us a durability and reliability we could only dream of before.  And Best M4 Drumnow the Magpul PMAG D-60 Drum Magazine offers us the same desired features but at double the capacity.  If you’re building a budget AR, then your list of upgrades might have a bit of a line ahead of the D-60.  But if you drop a grand or more on your tricked out Katrina Rifle, then why would you get nervous about handing over a Benji for a high-capacity drum mag.  Cheap magazines are an illusion. I cannot imagine quibbling over the price of gas while bugging out, so I won’t be complaining about the price of the D-60. But I will be bragging about how great it is.

Photos By:
Doc Montana
Magpul

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Survival Gear Review: Sig Sauer P320

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Best Survival Handgun

So I got a Sig Sauer P320.  I saw it in a local pawn shop, sitting there in the glass case, perched on green velvet, Survival Handgunlooking all blocky and businesslike and badass.  I handled it, fondled it, wiped the drool away, and made a trade for it. It went home with me where I glared at it in consternation, half furious with myself and half in wild elation.  You see, I really wanted to not like this pistol.  I really wanted to chalk this one up to “the next flash in the plastic pistol pan” and go back to being ensconced in uninhibited true lust over my beloved P220ST.  I wanted to eschew the molded polymer grip with its slight seam lines and go back to trusty, heavy, metal pistol frames.  But the more I handled the P320 and the more I shot it, the sweet siren song of a single trigger pull to master, brutal simplicity, accuracy, and large capacity called to me, and pulled me in.  I finally gave in to the dark side, and am now firmly in its camp. Let me explain.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

You see, I grew up in a transitional period in firearms development.  In the late 1970’s and early 1980s, police Best Survival Pistoldepartments were starting to replace their time-honored .357 Magnum and .38 Special revolvers with semiautomatic handguns.  The 9mm was starting to gain traction, as high-capacity double-action handguns were starting to come unto their own with designs that were reliable enough to feed hollowpoint ammunition regularly.  Also aiding the 9mm’s acceptance was the U.S. Military’s adoption of the 9mm caliber in 1985, along with the Beretta M9/92F platform. Sig P226 pistols, S&W 59s and 459s, and several other designs were starting to be seen in Law Enforcement holsters when one of the most decisive and studied gunfights in history – the 1986 Miami FBI shootout – occurred.

In the Miami shootout, FBI agents went up against two combat-hardened military veterans who had some serious armament – a semi-auto 12-gauge shotgun, a Ruger Mini-14 with multiple 30-round magazines, and several handguns.  To counter this, eight FBI agents fielded just two 12 gauge shotguns loaded with buckshot, and mostly revolvers – though two agents had Smith 459s in 9mm with Winchester Silver tip ammo.  Although the two suspects were neutralized eventually, they wounded or killed all but one of the eight FBI agents who engaged them.  One agent named McNeill suffered one of the worst fates possible in a gunfight: he was shot in the hand by one of the suspects, and when his revolver ran dry, he could not reload due to blood and gore in the gun, and his injuries.  He was then shot in the head and neck and though he survived, he was left paralyzed for some time.

I remember my father talking about the gunfight when it occurred, and reading about it in gun magazines – notably Pistol Defensein several analyses by Massad Ayoob.  (A 25-years-later article by Mr. Ayoob is here, and is excellent.).  Firepower and semi-autos suddenly became the have-to-have for LE.  Gaston Glock’s entry into the marketplace in 1985 couldn’t have been better timed.  Officers quickly flocked to Glock’s first offering, the Glock 17.  A reliable, tough, 17-shot 9mm semi auto was a peace officer’s dream, and as we now know, Glock quickly took over the market, where it still remains the king of the pile.

Related: Sig Sauer P227 Nitron Review

I also remember hearing my father complain about the flood of  “those damn plastic pistols”, and he clung to his Smith & Wesson revolvers tightly (he only started to begrudgingly accept “tupperware” Glocks in the past couple years – and he refuses to try any other polymer framed pistols!) His grousing led to permanent impressions being left in my young brain, and to this day, I have a tough time embracing modern, polymer-framed, striker fired handguns.

Back To The Sig

To bring this around full circle: Glock’s striker-fired monopoly on the handgun market was definitely noticed by all Survival Pistolthe other handgun manufacturers, and some decided to do what they could to dig their heels in and try to push the king off the mountain.  Initial offerings weren’t enough: Smith & Wesson’s Sigma and SW99 offerings were lame ducks, but they evolved into the excellent M&P series of pistols that have been taking the market by storm since 2005.  Others have jumped into the fray, and now there are many polymer framed, high-capacity contenders out there to keep Glocks and M&Ps company: the H&K VP series of guns, Walther’s PPQ/PPM, Springfield’s XD line, and the FN FNX series (and others) have all been gaining traction.

However, one of the premier firearms manufacturers in the world were strangely silent: Sig Sauer, a German company that has a huge manufacturing facility and new headquarters in New Hampshire, USA, never said “peep” about making a “Glockfighter” handgun.  Maybe it was because they’d always made expensive, high-end DA/SA handguns; they didn’t want to undercut their niche.  However, you could see that maybe they were testing the waters on lower-cost handguns:  The SP2022 was a polymer-framed evolution of the 226/228/229 family, and the P250 was an innovative hammer-fired handgun that used a stainless steel fire control group chassis that could be interchanged into inexpensive grip modules.  All of these were well-received as being high-quality handguns worthy of the Sig brand, but they weren’t what the world wanted.  But then, in January 2014, Sig unveiled their new P320 to the world and promptly dropped the mike.  BOOM.

For the past few years, Sig had quietly been watching and researching.  They wanted to address the major shortfalls of the early striker-fired genre (we’re looking squarely at you here, Glock): terrible out-of-the-box trigger pulls, blocky grip frames, glaring lack of ambidextrous controls.  Sig had been waiting in the wings, interviewing veteran military and police officers to get their take on what makes a good handgun great, to make sure their offering was just right…and it was worth the wait.

Also Read: Smith & Wesson M&P 40C Review

Sig Sauer wasn’t content with having tacky add-ons for existing designs to address issues – the Glock Gen 4’s feeble attempt at fitting differently-sized hands with add-on backstraps being a good example.  They wanted a full-tilt modular pistol, and that’s what they rolled out.  The P320 isn’t just a great, reliable design that shoots well; it is a masterpiece, a platform of unequaled modularity.  You see, the P320’s design is centered around a central stainless steel fire control group chassis. This small chassis is serial numbered, and is considered the firearm.  As a consequence, the owner of the pistol can completely swap out the rest of the gun…the grip module can be swapped out to full sized, carry (full sized grip length with a shorter railed dust cover for a shorter slide), compact, and subcompact sized frames.  Each of these sizes of frames are also available in large, medium, and small grip frame girths to accommodate almost all sizes of shooter hands.  Likewise, the slide, barrel, and recoil spring assemblies can be swapped out as well; Sig offers multiple lengths for these as well.  Want a different caliber pistol?  No sweat!  The 9mm, .40 S&W, and .357 Sig barrels and magazines all drop into the same grip/slide assemblies.  Sig offers “X-Change” kits that let you select the configuration/length/caliber you’d like, and buy them all in one shot.

This all ensures that you can have the pistol you want, in the caliber you want, in the configuration you want, tailored to fit your hand.  This sort of modularity is a game-changer, and leaves all the other manufacturers with pin-on grip adapters and change-out backstraps way back in the dust.  It also ensures that the military is certainly considering it deeply in their new MHS (Modular Handgun System) platform competition, and it cinched the American Rifleman Golden Bullseye Award for the 2016 Pistol of the Year.

The Nitty-Gritty

Let’s take a look at what all this modularity specifically brings to the table, as well as some other great stuff the P320 offers.  There are four basic platform sizes available for the P320, each of them with three different grip sizes: small, medium, large. The platforms are:

P320 Full-sized: 8.0” overall length, 5.5” overall height.  The Full-sized configuration sports a 4.7” long barrel, and a 17-round magazine in 9mm.  Weighs 29.4 ounces with the magazine in it, unloaded.  Five slots on the dust cover accessory rail, to mount lights, lasers, etc.

P320 Carry: Same grip frame as the Full-sized with 17-round 9mm magazines, but with a shorter 7.2” overall length and 3.9” barrel and 26.0 ounce weight unloaded.  Shorter dust cover, four slots in the accessory rail.

P320 Compact: The Compact has the shorter 7.2” overall length of the P320 Carry, but utilizes a grip that is a tad shorter, at 5.3” high. 25.8 ounces unloaded.  The magazine capacity is reduced to 15 round in 9mm due to the shorter grip. Four slots in the accessory rail.

P320 Subcompact: The Subcompact model pares away everything not needed, and enjoys a small 6.7” overall length and 4.7” overall height to enhance concealability. 24.9 ounces unloaded.  The 9mm version carries only (!) 12 rounds in the magazine.  The subcompact also has sleeker lines, eliminates the accessory rails, and sports a rounded, no-snag triggerguard in place of the familiar square, hooked Sig Sauer triggerguard.

Okay, so there are four basic pistol offerings.  That’s all well and good. But a really cool thing about the P320’s design is that you can, to a reasonable degree, mix-and-match frames and barrels.  You don’t have to stick to the Sig standard factory-offered configurations.  For example: you can buy a full-sized P320 like mine.  Then, for about $45, you can purchase a P320 Compact grip and mount your full-sized slide and barrel to it. I’ve seen lots of cool builds online from P320 owners making custom configurations out of their guns, even to the point of people cutting off sections of grip frame to make offball configurations like a full-sized slide that sits on a subcompact frame.  And before you ask, yes – the full-sized mags all fit and function in the smaller grip frames.  All of the sizes are available in 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 Sig, and .45ACP. Caliber X-change kits are $399 from the Sig Sauer online store – however, I’ve seen them sold privately and locally for less than that.  I don’t believe the .45ACP components will marry with the smaller-caliber components due to case size – but I don’t have one to test, so I can only surmise.

Also Read: Rothco Concealed Carry Jacket Review

The glass-reinforced polymer grip frames all have nice grippy texture on them – likely a response to many polymer framed gun owners sending their guns out be stippled or have grip texture enhancements.  The triangular shaped Browning-style magazine release is reversible for southpaws, and the small black steel slide catch is 100% ambidextrous with catches on both sides of the gun.  Looking at the grip, you’ll notice the pistol has an odd profile at the magazine well at first glance.  However, once you realize that it’s notched to enable the user to grasp the magazine baseplate for a good hearty magazine rip-out in an emergency, you wonder why other guns don’t have similar features.  A lanyard hole in the back of the grip is standard – a slick offering for people who appreciate the retention possibilities of a good lanyard.  The only other control on the frame is the takedown lever, which is on the left side of the gun.  Mine is an earlier generation gun and as such, the takedown lever is slightly stepped and contoured.  Newer model takedown levers are flat to the frame – however, I really like the tapered design of mine, since it provides a bit of a natural thumb rest for the off-hand thumb in a modern thumbs-forward shooting hold.

Solid 9mm Pistol

The slides are matte black Nitron coated, and are beveled and contoured to keep weight down and allow the gun to be re-inserted into holsters more smoothly.  Sig is offering standard on the P320 what is an expensive custom detail on other pistols: forward slide serrations in addition to the standard serrations at the rear of the slide.  These forward serrations are a godsend when doing press-checks to see if there is a round in the chamber, and all the serrations are deep, wide, and very positive to utilize. Really a great feature of this gun.  Also of note: every P320 I’ve ever seen comes with SigLite night sights.  I’m told they come with Sig 3-dot standard contrast sights, but I have yet to see them. So chances are you’ll find one with night sights installed– and they’re right about the same price as a Glock without night sights.  Just sayin’…I was at the local Cabela’s last night, and a brand new P320 with night sights was $599.  A new Glock 17 without night sights was $549.

Related: Survival Carbine

The stainless steel Fire Control Unit (FCU) is the heart of the whole gun.  It encompasses the trigger, frame rails, ejector, and all the necessary safeties and guts that make the gun work.  The FCU sits in the top of the grip frame, and runs from just forward of the takedown lever, back to the rear of the frame.  Removing and reinstalling it is a breeze, and a tip of the hat is required to the engineers who designed it.  The FCU, as stated previously, has the serial number stamped on it, which shows through a window that is moulded into the right hand size of the frame.  It’s an ingenious setup, one that I bet will be imitated by others in the future.

As a side note: The Sig P320 and P250 platform are brothers – the P320 is striker-fired, while the P250 is double-action-only hammer fired.  As such, magazines and grip frames are interchangeable between the two guns. A nice little tidbit to know while looking for accessories such as holsters.

First Impressions

The first time you pick up a P320 Full Size, you immediately think, “Geez, that’s BIG”.  And it kind of is big, but much of it is due (in my eyes) to the deep, long, blocky dust cover that runs from the triggerguard all the way to the end of the 4.7” barrel; it makes the gun seem taller than most other handguns.  But the grip is long as well, made to house a magazine that holds 17 9mm rounds or 14 .40 S&W/.357 Sig cartridges.  The overall size is probably close to a Beretta 92/M9, though not quite as long.  The Sig feels much more svelte than the M9, though, and points better in my hand, feels more intuitive.  When making the obvious comparison to a Glock 17, the P320 is indeed bigger, but not by much…and the P320 grip feels like it was made for your hand when comparing it to the made-out-of-Legos feeling Glock grip.  The contours, the balance, the reach to the controls – all are very well thought out and executed on the P320. And then you get to the trigger.

Also Read: Magpul Armorer’s Wrench Review

Oh, the trigger! The trigger on the P320 was the deal breaker that sold me on the gun.  Sig obviously directed a LOT of time and effort into getting this aspect of the pistol right.  And if you’ve shot a box-stock Glock or M&P, you know why: the factory triggers of most striker fired pistols are just plain awful.  They have a ton of takeup and creep, and the sear letoffs are gritty and mushy.  It’s understandable, though: There are many internal levers, safeties, draw bars, strikers, and interfacing parts that need to move, slide, drop, and actuate in concert to allow the gun to fire. And while all of those parts do a wonderful job of ensuring that the guns will not fire until the triggers are fully pulled to the rear, they also ensure that the trigger pulls are less than stellar.

This can all be addressed with aftermarket parts, for sure: Ghost and others make great drop in springs and disconnectors for Glocks, and Apex’s Action Enhancement Kits are wonderful treatments for ailing M&P triggers. But the P320? Well, it has a wonderful trigger, straight from the factory.  It’s not “tuned 1911” perfect, but the trigger is definitely head and shoulders above the similarly-priced competition.  There is a slight takeup, maybe 1/4” of travel, but then the trigger breaks cleanly and crisply after about 7 pounds of pressure.  However, the pull seems lighter than the advertised 7+/- pounds due to the exceptional action and clean break.  Apex and others are starting to make aftermarket triggers and other goodies for the P320, but I simply haven’t felt the need.  The trigger is superb for a striker fired gun, straight from Sig. If it ain’t broke…

Also Read: Firearm Maintenance When The SHTF

The rest of the gun on first inspection just exudes Sig quality.  The finish is beautiful, hard-wearing and even, the sights are well-defined and highly visible, and all the controls feel solid and look good.  The only thing close to chintzy in the whole setup isn’t even the gun – the P320 comes with an almost-an-afterthought paddle-type plastic holster. It’s nice that Sig made a holster available to the owner upon purchase, and the holster works okay – it holds the gun on your hip, the triggerguard is covered, the pistol is reasonably secure.  But the moulded plastic is kind of cheap, the design is blocky and it doesn’t hug the body.  I’ll admit I used it, but only until my GunfightersINC Ronin OWB kydex holster came in the mail. After that, the stock Sig offering went into the dusty black-hole bin of forgotten holsters.  Honestly, I would have rather paid $15 less on the overall price and not had the holster come with the pistol. But that’s my call; the included holster is a nice thought for the run-of-the-mill pistol owner who goes out the range with his buddies three times a year.  But, for serious usage and hard duty, spend the money and get a good holster.

Breaking It All Down

Taking the P320 apart into its key components is a breeze.  Sig also incorporated a safety feature into the P320’s Best Survival Pistolfield-stripping method: you don’t have to pull the trigger (like a Glock) or need special tools (like an M&P) to disassemble the pistol. The magazine needs to be out of the pistol as well.  These two attributes are designed to eradicate accidental discharges that could come hand-in-hand with the other offerings of handguns of this ilk.

To disassemble, clear the gun.  Make sure it’s empty.  Then do it again.  Drop the magazine out of the pistol if you haven’t already, then lock the slide ito the rear.  Rotate the takedown lever just over 90° clockwise, until it stops.  Then, controlling the spring tension the slide is under, release the slide by pushing the slide stop down or pulling slightly back on the slide, allowing the slide stop to drop out of its engagement catch.  Let the slide ride forward and off the frame.  The recoil spring assembly and the barrel can then be removed out of the bottom of the slide, just like most other semi-auto pistols. The pistol is now essentially field-stripped for cleaning.

However, to clean the FCU or to change grip modules, you simply take the field-stripped grip frame, grasp the takedown lever, and give it a pull while rotating it slightly back and forth, removing it from the frame.  Then, hook your finger under the front of the FCU, and pull it up and out.  That’s it. The whole process is brutally simple and easy.  The FCU can then be cleaned up, or placed in a new grip module if you so desire.  Re-assemble in reverse order.  That’s it, folks.  It likely took you longer to read this paragraph than it would to disassemble a P320 down to its key components of slide, barrel, recoil assembly, takedown lever, FCU, magazine, and grip frame.  The simplicity and modularity is breathtaking, and worth every penny of the price of admission.

Shooting The P320

I’ll admit, it took me a bit longer that I would’ve liked to find my “groove” and get familiar with this pistol to the Best Survival Handgunpoint where I shooting it well.  Maybe my mind was thinking it would feel like my old familiar M&P when I shot it, or possibly I’m too used to my P220ST.  But after launching a couple hundred rounds of ammo downrange, I can positively tell you that this pistol shoots like a laser beam once you get it dialed in, and once you find ammo it likes. Let me explain.

When I first got the pistol, the pistol was hitting high.  Way high.  Like 8 inches higher than point of aim at 15 yards. I tried different bullet weights – 115s, 124s, and 147s – and they all shot similarly high.  I then jumped on my laptop, took a deep breath, and waded through the mall ninja dribble online.   A bit of internet research eventually informed me that this point of impact issue is a common problem with the P320s with the 8/8 sights.  Sig Sauer numbers their sight heights to denote levels of impact – the higher the number on the sights, the higher the point of impact.  I had these sights – #8 front, #8 rear.  I contacted Sig Sauer, explained my problem, what I’d done to make sure it wasn’t me, and sent pictures of the groups in.  Three days later, I had a new #6 SigLite front sight in my mailbox.  How’s that for customer service?

I installed the new front sight, and the point of impact came right down.  It’s still slightly high, maybe 1 ½ inches high from point of aim at 15 yards, but now it’s usable, and I’ve gotten used to it.  I now cut the target in half with my front sight, and if I do my part, the pistol rewards me with solid hits time and time again.

I really wanted to use this Full-Sized 9mm P320 as a steel plate match and IDPA gun.  To shoot lots of matches on a budget requires reloading ammunition, so I took the plunge.  I purchased 2,000 124-grain lead round nose bullets and several different powders that friends had recommended for 9mm loads.  However, I’m finding that even after trying several different handload combinations, 4”-6” groups are the norm at 15 yards.  I’m planning on trying other powders and other bullets, but I have yet to find a 124-grain lead bullet load the pistol likes.  To Sig’s merit, there are many people running P320s as match guns with several of the loads I tried, resulting in excellent accuracy.  Mine just doesn’t like the handloads I’ve tried so far.

However, factory ammunition is a different story altogether. My pistol dearly loves Winchester “white box” 115-grain full metal jacket ammuntion, and routinely shoots ragged one-hole two-inch 10-shot groups with it. It also shoots Sig Sauer’s Elite V-Crown 124-grain JHP ammunition superbly, so that is the defense load I carry in the pistol.  PMC Bronze 115 grain FMJ ammunition and Federal American Eagle 147-grain FMJ both shoot very well out of the pistol. I rested the gun on a shooting bench, and was rewarded with a 20-yard, 10-shot group with Winchester 115-grain FMJ measuring just under two inches. The Sig Elite V-Crown 124s performed similarly.  That’s excellent accuracy for an out-of-the-box pistol…I’m pretty sure that with ammunition it likes, this pistol will shoot better than I can. Functioning over probably 750 rounds so far – mostly dirty, lead-bullet handloads – has been absolutely flawless.  You can’t ask for more than that, friends.

Wrapping It Up

In conclusion, it’s definitely telling that Sig Sauer took their time and made an outstanding offering straight out of Best Survival Handgunthe gate…and they did it without breaking the bank or compromising the high-end reputation the Sig Sauer brand has come to represent over the years.  I’m a serious gun snob and admitted fanboy of the Sig Sauer “Classic” line (P220, P225, P226, P228, P229, et al), but I like this P320 so much it comes with me everywhere I go now, even if I’m not carrying it on my person.  It’s a great choice as a gun to have with you or in the vehicle as a serious defensive tool you can rely on when the chips are down.  The accuracy is excellent, the pistol is dependable, the gun is light for its size, even when stuffed full of eighteen 9mm rounds.  Keep an extra couple magazines in a mag pouch, and you have 52 rounds of warm and fuzzy ready to go when you are.

Related: SHTF Grab ‘N’ Go Pistol Bag

The P320 platform, on a whole, makes an excellent choice for the person who needs multiple roles in their pistols (full sized “belt” gun, concealed carry gun, plinker, training firearm, home defense, etc.) but can’t afford multiple pistols or doesn’t want the maintenance or liability hassles that owning many guns can bring.  If Sig Sauer would follow suit with many of their other handgun designs and offer .22LR conversion kits (you hear me out there, Sig??) you could truly have a damn-close-to-perfect-do-it-all handgun.

Do me a favor, especially if you already own a polymer-framed striker-fired handgun.  Next time you see a Sig Sauer P320 in a gun shop’s case, ask to handle the gun.  Ask to dry-fire it.  Ask to try out or be shown the disassembly feature, and how the modularity comes into play.  I bet you’ll be impressed; maybe even impressed enough to look sideways at other striker-fired guns, give in to the dark side like I did, and buy a P320.  Trust me, it was worth the wait.

Photos By:
Drew
Panteao Productions
The Miami News

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Survival Gear Review: Kershaw OSO Sweet Pocket Knife

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pocket knife review

I have never owned an assisted opening pocket knife before but have always wanted one. From the outside they Best EDC Pocket Knifeseemed like they would be flimsy and their action was all for show.  Most of the people I had met that brandished an assisted opening blade, were of the “mall ninja” type. I had no real basis for that thought process but it was a gut feeling I had from secondhand experience.  Since I love a good knife and I’m always looking for a new one to try, I decided to take the plunge to find an assisted opening blade for my EDC.  I did not want to spend a lot of money on something that I had never tried before.

By Bryan, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Under $20 Bucks

I found the Kershaw OSO Sweet Assisted Opening Pocket Knife on Amazon for under $20 and figured I couldn’t go wrong for that price for this particular brand.  The first thing I noticed when I took the knife from the box was how lightweight it felt. At 3.2 ounces you almost don’t even notice the knife in your hand, let alone your pocket.  At four and one-eighth inches long this knife fits diagonally in the palm of my hand with the blade closed.  I felt a bit like a kid in a candy store the first time I engaged the assisted opening.  The quick hard snap of the blade opening and locking up, was quite impressive.  Shutting and opening the blade one handed is very easy and requires almost no practice as long as you are familiar with pocket knives.

Related: Smith’s Pocket Pal X2 Sharpener & Survival Tool

Normally I am not a huge fan of stainless steel blades but this particular knife came razor sharp out of the box.  Yes, EDC Pocket Knife Reviewit shaved hair off of the top of my arm.  Thus far the blade has held its edge quite well through extensive use every day for months.  I have used the Kershaw OSO Sweet Assisted Opening Pocket Knife to cut everything from cardboard, carpet, rope, to shaving tinder from branches.  This knife wasn’t really meant for the use I have put it through because it is not a survival knife, nor is it a utility knife but the stainless steel blade has held up well and I like to test my blades outside of their normal use parameters.  The Smith Pocket Sharpener does an Ok job putting an edge back on the blade but I have much better results if I put in the time with some Arkansas stones at home.

Specs

SpeedSafe® assisted opening
Liner lock
Reversible (tip-up/tip-down) pocketclip
Steel: 8Cr13MoV, satin finish
Handle: Glass-filled nylon
Blade length: 3.1 in. (7.9 cm)
Closed length: 4.1 in. (10.5 cm)
Overall length: 7.25 in. (18.4 cm)
Weight: 3.2 oz. (90.7 g)

The black injection-molded glass-filled nylon handle has held up extremely well to the abuse I have put it through.  I cannot count how many times I have dropped this knife onto the concrete or how many times it has rubbed up against other tools and there is not a scratch on it.  In some customer reviews that I have read they have negative opinions of the handle, though, from an aesthetics standpoint rather than functional one.  Personally I like the “spider web” look of the scales and the feel of it in my hand.  All knives are slippery to a degree when they are wet and this knife is no different.  The few times I have used it while wet, the slippage was not great enough to be a concern.

Conclusion

Out of all the EDC knives that I have owned over the years this knife beats them all hands down.  For the price, the Model 1830 Kershaw  OSO Sweet Pocket Knife cannot be beat.  I love the balance of the knife when it is deployed, especially when transitioning from a standard forward position to a reverse hold position. It is just as fast to deploy as it is to put away which I think is an important aspect to note.  One other EDC knife that I owned had an additional safety lock on it.  I can see why they would put such a feature on a knife but it did make it difficult to close and place back in my pocket.  I think Kershaw did an outstanding job on this model as I have zero complaints and would not change a thing.

All Photos by Bryan

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Survival Gear Review: C.A. Myers Sewing Awl

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Best Awl for Sewing

This is sewing for the caveman in you, or cavewoman.  If you have a well thought out Bug Out review_ca_myers_awl_for_all_sewingBag, then repair gear is included in it.  A small sewing kit, duct tape, multi-tool, IFAK, and maybe some cable ties.  I have been putting a heavy sail needle and thick thread in my kits forever.  If your pack needs a strap reattached, needle and thread, accept no substitute.  With a standard needle and thread you need pliers most of the time to push and pull through the multiple layers, we have that covered.  Is there a better way?

By Pineslayer, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Maybe, enter the sewing awl.  I bought a C.A. Myers Sewing Awl about 10 years ago to fix various pieces of gear.  Unfortunately for me, I just picked up a different pack and failed to fix the broken one and the awl sat in my well stocked tackle box of sewing stuff, until last month.  I needed to get a sheath for a hatchet that I wanted to put in my pack.  Looked around the net and couldn’t find one at what I thought was a decent price.  Oh yea, I had an awl and some leather.

Too Easy

The C.A. Myers Sewing Awl worked too easy, I must be doing something wrong I thought.  I c-a-myers-awl-for-all-sewing-review-shtf-survivalmade a blade cover in about 10 minutes.  My mind was trying to come up with a problem when none existed.  So to test my stitching I grabbed 2 pieces of leather and put them together.  Then I tried to pull them apart, the stitching held, but the leather ripped.  Not because it was weak, because I was trying to get something to fail.  Needless to say, I was impressed.  The thread included with the awl is very capable.  I pushed through 2 layers of leather easily.  The only downside of this product is the cost of leather :)   I’ve been using some firehouse, that I pulled out of a dumpster, for some machete sheaths.  That awl makes working with this stuff a pleasure

Related: Sew What

As all of you know gear can get expensive.  When we find a piece that is affordable, made in the USA, can save us money every time we use it, and is packable, bada bing.  This will probably be my shortest post ever, because this thing speaks for itself.  At $12.97, the C.A. Myers Sewing Awl is ready to go, it’s a no brainer.  Extra needles store in the handle and each spool has 13 yds of thread, that’s a lot of repairs.  They have about a dozen colors and sell it in bulk too.  It is my belief that everyone should have one of these in their home.  I have a second one that is set up for my pack, at 3.6 oz with extra needles, one extra spool, reinforced box and ziplock,  it isn’t exactly cumbersome.  Heavier than a standard needle and thread, but it can hold its own in the tool department.

Bug Out Bag Creep

Now maybe it’s because I’m a guy, but when I have this in my Neanderthal hands it feels like you could perforate a skull with it.  Multi-use item?   OK back to the post.  Being able to repair essential gear is, for the lack of a better word, essential.  Holsters, slings, packs, duffels, anything canvas, pack animal gear, the list goes on and on of what can be repaired with this item.  If you get a chance, please visit Awl for All and if you speak to them, tell Al that Survival Cache sent you.  He is the guy who has answered my questions and he is a patriot like all of us.  Give yourself and your friends a Christmas gift that will make them more self sufficient. Jarhead would this qualify as a B.O.B. creep item?  Please say no.

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Neck Knives For The Masses

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Best Neck Knife

The definition of a neck knife pretty much begins and ends with it being a blade worn on a Best Neck Knifelanyard around one’s neck.  Rather than in a belt sheath, pocket, pack clipped anywhere else, the neck knife offers a deployment option and carry strategy that opens some doors especially during specific activities and positions.  Neck knives can be tiny and as small as an index finger, usually carried tip-up.  Or they can be near full sized and carried tip-down on a substantial neckstrap.  Those are the small size can take many additional forms depending on anticipated use from EDC to the edges of survival.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog 

The larger end of the spectrum are more for daily use and easy access during general outdoors Best Neck Knifeand bushcrafting tasks. The particular reason I wear a neck knife is two-fold; first as a sport-specific knife, and second, for survival applications when things might-could get dark (using some small-town parlance).

Four situations I wear a neck knife over a knife in my pocket (or in addition to) include skiing, mountain biking, watersports like paddleboarding, and backpacking and hunting.  A main reason I got into neck carry is because I either am not wearing any pockets, or I may need to deploy the knife in a partially immobilized or even inverted state.  And I have different neck knives for each activity.  For downhill skiing, I wear a Boker Magyar.  It’s a stout little beast with a large finger hole and a thick drop point blade. The 440-C stainless steel is a must, like the mountain biking knife, because it will be soaked in salty sweat.  I like the finger hole to keep the Boker Magyar under control when hands are cold or a drop in the snow might as well be overboard in the ocean.

Related: Tops Brothers of Bushcraft Knife Review

For mountain biking, I like the Boker Grasshopper.  It has more handle than blade and is of a Survival Neck Knifemore traditional look as if just a small belt knife missing its scales.  The Grasshopper has a titanium-coated 440-C stainless clip point blade that can drill and stab better than drop points. It can also be held comfortably in a reverse grip as needed even though it weighs less than an ounce. And it’s near weightlessness makes it almost invisible even when bouncing down the trail.

Backpacking is another matter.  I prefer a workhorse of a neck knife because I will be using it ESEE Candiru often. The previous two are more for emergencies, or for that occasional extra-strength food wrapper.  For camping trips I want a neck knife that will get some daily if not hourly use.  I prefer the ESEE Candiru with G-10 scales.  It’s a tiny little critter, both the knife and its namesake, but the tales of it swimming up your, well, private part (the critter not the knife) are overblown (pun intended).  However, as a carbon steel the Candiru will rust if left alone, but the powder coating protects all but the very edge of the edge. After a day of wear, tiny orange flowers start growing on the shiny metal.  But the quality ESEE 1095 tool steel touches up beautifully with little effort to kiss the oxidation goodbye until next time.  Of all my neck knives, the has the best grip, but also the thickest footprint.

Also Read: Fallkniven Jarl Knife Review

And for paddleboarding and sea kayaking, I like the Boker Gnome.  Why?  Well, partially I justTop Neck Knife like the Boker Gnome and am always looking for a reason to wear it.  It’s a funny little knife with an apt name.  The Gnome has a very thick blade for it’s size and two of the cutest little micarta scales you’ve ever seen.  It is the best prybar of my neck knives and it’s 440-C steel resists rust better than most, even in salt water.  The knife is held only between the thumb and index finger because that’s all there is to hold.  So you could say that this is not a high leverage knife even with a 2 ⅛” long and ¼ inch thick blade.  But where the Gnome does shine is in brute strength if you have to pound on it like a piton.

…And Eat It Too

The question as to why a tiny fixed blade instead of a robust folder is a good one.  Especially since folding knives today are better and stronger than ever.  But not at under two ounces, or even under one ounce.  Hinged blades require robust parts and dual reinforcement in the handle.  Locking mechanisms, by nature, can never be as strong as as a solid shaft of steel for the same weight.  And even given the added weight, deployment still requires gravity, muscle or a more complex spring system.  The simplicity of a tiny fixed blade cannot be argued within those parameters.

Gallows Humor

A neck knife has only three parts: a knife, a sheath, and a loop of cord that allows the sheath to Survival Gear Neck knifebe worn around the neck.  There are no size or weight restrictions.  The blade can point up or down.  And the sheath can be molded Kydex, or elegant leather or even bland plastic. In my case, I prefer the uneventful durability of nylon-like scabbards.  A durable, but breakaway neck cord should be a must, but we put many strong cords around our necks quite often, so I’m not really worried that my last breath will be a swear word directed at a loop of paracord around my trachea.  Especially when the point of a neck knife is a rapid and convenient deployment of a blade that will easily cut through paracord.

Chains of small balls like the pull-chains on floor lamps are popular neck knives lanyards.  They will break away before killing you.  At least that’s the plan, but I haven’t personally tested it in all cases.  So use your brain.  But more important that lanyard strength is blade retention. While easy extraction is important, should unintentional deployment happen you will find a sharp blade wandering around your belly region just looking for something to cut.  There is no happy ending to that story except relief when you find it before it finds you.

Related: Benchmade Adamas Knife Review

As neck knives gain popularity it becomes clear that the design is still in its crude phase of evolution.  Not that the knives are rough, but like early days of powered flight, the designs are all over the place.  From mostly handles to almost no handles.  From full-bellied blades to narrow scalpels.  From finger holes to featureless grips.  And from skeleton to scaled. All of these differences give the wearer plenty of options for job-specific carry even when the particular feature set seems oxymoronic like the Boker Gnome.

All Photos By Doc Montana

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Survival Gear Review: 3M Safety & Security Window Film

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how to secure windows

Everybody loves lots of windows in their house.  Windows provide you with a view towindow security film the world.  They provide natural light, warmth when the sun is shining, fresh air when the weather permits and the ability to cool your home on those hot summer nights.  Everyone loves lots of windows except for a survivalist or prepper.  Unfortunately windows can also be an invitation for uninvited guests during times of trouble.  Providing a weak spot for entry into your home or business.

By Mark Puhaly, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

To break into someone’s house through a window you have to be committed to the crime.  A window is loud, broken glass is dangerous, and climbing through a window is not easy.  But compared to kicking down a door or picking a lock, breaking a window is a quick way for entry.  Also, many doors now days have an alarm systems tied to when the door opens and closes.  But those same alarm systems rarely recognize when a window is broken or when a window is opened.

The Facts

– 2,000,000 home burglaries are reported each year in the US.
– About 30% of all burglaries are through an open or unlocked window or door.
– Nearly 66% of all burglaries are residential (home) break-ins.
– Renters are just as likely to be the victims of property crime as homeowners.
– The highest % of burglaries occur during the summer months.
– Homes without a security systems are up to 300% more likely to be broken into.
– 1 out of 3 residential assaults are a result of a burglary.
– 85% are from amateurs who are usually more desperate and dangerous.
– 95% of break-ins needed some amount of force to break-in.
– Thieves prefer easy access, through an unlocked doors or windows.

Bar Time

Let’s face it, we have all been to the bad side of town and seen bars on the windows.  Right when you start to notice best way to secure windowsthe bars on the windows, your situational awareness alert starts to go off and you posture begins to change.  You often see bars on the windows in bigger cities in almost all of the neighborhoods, not just bad ones.  Personally, bars on the windows do not bother me.  The more security, the better in my mind.  But bars on the windows can also give off the wrong message in a nicer neighborhood and can be a trap if you have a house fire.  I have been through nicer neighborhoods and seen bars on the windows and thought to myself, that person either is keeping something of value in their home or they are very paranoid.

Related: Home Security After TEOTWAWKI

I have never personally priced out window bars but I imagine that they are not cheap.  Also, the installation has to be somewhat invasive because you have to anchor the bars to the house with bolts or heavy screws.  In an emergency, your access to get out of that window will be limited but your piece of mind will be high because you know that getting through bars will be very difficult for an intruder.

Shutter Them Out

An alternative to window bars are security shutters.  The advantages of shutters over bars is that when they are security shuttersopened, you have full use of your window and could actually get out of that window in an emergency.  Another advantage is that the shutters actually provide extra insulation for both weather and sound.  The disadvantage of shutters is that when they are closed, you cannot see out of them.  I actually have some experience with these.  When I lived in a major city on the west coast, I actually had one of these installed on a ground floor window of a townhouse that I owned.  I came home one night and found a homeless person sleeping next to my front door under that window and I thought to myself, I need to do something about that window or someone will be breaking into my house.

The security window shutter worked great but it was expensive and looked a little bulky on the outside of the house.  Also, I had to remember to shut it all of the time at night and open it for fresh air during the day when I was home.  I know there are some models now that work on timers with RF controllers but I had the kind that you had to manually roll up and down like a window shade.  So it was a little painful to say the least.

Board’em Up

We have all seen the photos of Hurricane Katrina (and other hurricanes for that matter), where people board up Best way to secure windowswindows with plywood and boards.  Yes, this is an alternative during a major disaster but the reality is that it is not very practical for everyday living.  Not to mention that boarded up windows are against most local ordinances unless the house is vacant.  So while it might not be a bad idea to keep some sheets of plywood on hand for a major disaster, your neighbors are not going to be real happy when you board up your windows on a nice sunny day.

A 4th Option

Recently my neighbor had a bad experience.  One night while he and his wife were at home.  A person walked up to home securitytheir home and tried to open their storm door which was locked.  The perpetrator then tried to kick in the glass of the storm door which unbelievably held up to his boot.  By the 3rd kick, the perp was staring down the barrel of a 12 gauge shotgun being held by my neighbor and decided to leave the area.  After the traumatic event, my neighbor decided to upgrade his home’s security by adding motion lights, a security system, cameras, and security film to his windows.  I have known about 3m window security film for some time but never investigated it fully until my neighbor put it on his house.

Before the event at my neighbors house, we had already decided to move to a new town.  The new house we moved into has a lot of windows and a high homeless population in the area.  On top of the homeless population, our new town has a high arrest rate for both heroin and meth.  Having bars or security shutters put on my new house was a little bit out of the question for cost reasons and appearances.  I didn’t want to be the only house in my neighborhood with bars on the windows but on the flip side, I wanted to have protection against a possible break in.

Also Read: Prepper’s Home Defense

I called a local window tinting company, who was a 3m dealer, and asked them about the cost and the installation of the 3m Ultra Series Safety & Security Window Film.  Surprisingly, it was not that bad.  For about 33 windows & sliding glass doors on the main floor of my house, the cost was under $2,000 installed.  That to me was a good price for piece of mind.  Now, will the film keep someone out who really wants to get in?  No, but it will give me precious time to bring my friends Mr. Shotgun and Mr. Glock to the party.

Levels of Protection

3m offers 3 different levels of protection for window film and a bonding system the bonds the film to your window Best Window Security Filmframe for added protection.  From the company’s website here is the description of all three film layers and the bonding product.

Ultra Prestige Series: “Super cool protection. The first of its kind, the 3M™ Ultra Prestige Series films are made from clear, tear-resistant film. That strength is combined with Prestige Series sun control films to reject up to 60% of the heat coming through your windows and 97% of the sun’s infrared light. These films also reject 99.9% of harmful UV rays, reducing the effects of fading on your furnishings. Ultra Prestige Series films allow 50% to 70% of the natural light into your home. The result is films that offer all the benefits of sun control with safety features built in. With these films you’ll block heat, reduce hot spots and damaging UV rays, while also helping to hold glass together in the event of break-ins or accidents.”

Ultra Series: “Super cool protection. The first of its kind, the 3M™ Ultra Series films are made from clear, tear-resistant film. These films deliver superior performance over standard polyester films in blast and impact events; yet still maintain a high level of optical clarity. Ultra Series films are available in combination format with tinted 3M Sun Control Films to give you the best of both worlds.”

Safety Series: “A clear advantage. Our most basic protection level is available in clear or tinted sun-control versions. These single-layer 7 and 8 mil polyester films are paired with a special thicker adhesive to help hold broken glass together.”

Impact Protection Attachment System: “Highest level of protection. This unique window protection system combines the toughness of 3M™ Ultra Safety and Security Films with an adhesive or profile attachment system. Choose either 3M Impact Protection Adhesive or 3M Impact Protection Profile depending upon your frame and overall aesthetic needs. This combination system attaches the filmed window to the window frame, creating a robust shield that significantly outperforms window film-only systems. It’s extra assurance against impact energy from earthquakes and forced entry events—with enough strength to handle even bomb blasts.”

I ended up going with just the mid-level protection (Ultra Series) and did not do the impact protection system.  I window securitybelieve the impact protection system may be better suited for a commercial type property or vacation home that will be unoccupied at night, where no matter what, you want to keep someone out because the police response time may be long.  You can also get a tint to the window film but that tint might make your windows a little hazy.  I went with the totally clear window film to make my windows look as normal as possible.  Make sure you have this discussion with your 3m dealer before the install about tinting or no tinting.

The installation took about one day with two installers.  First, they meticulously cleaned the windows, then they applied the window film.  After the window film was applied, they worked to remove all bubbles to make sure the windows looked totally clear.  After the installation, they said that I might see a few bubbles in the windows but they should evaporate and disappear within 3 to 4 weeks.  If any bubbles stay longer than two months, they would come back to fix the film.  Out of 33 window/door treatments, I only noticed about 3 bubbles but after a few weeks they disappeared as promised.

The Proof

More Proof

Conclusion

My wife can no longer tell the difference between the treated and untreated windows, which is good.  So far I can window filmreport that I have not had my windows tested by someone trying to break in and probably never will.  However, I do sleep easier at night knowing that I have an upgraded level of protection on the ground floor of my house with the 3m Window Security Film.  Is the product worth the cost?  Ask me that question after someone tries to break into my house through one of my windows.

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12 Preps For Under $30 Bucks

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Low cost emergency preparedness gear

I’m willing to bet that at least 90% of the people reading this article have to function under a budget of sorts.  Bills cheap survival gearneed to be paid, houses need to be heated, cars need to be maintained, stomachs need to be fed.  It’s a fact of life and how we have to operate on a day-to-day basis.  As much as any of us would love to go out and blow five grand on preps we would really love to have, reality dictates that we just can’t do that and make ends meet.  I know I have to save up to obtain things I want – preps included.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

While operating under this self-imposed budget, I’ve used, carried, and tested a LOT of low-priced new or “previously-enjoyed” items for lower prices.  Yes, some of them were complete and utter crap, but there have been several shining stars that really enhanced my life on a daily basis; so much so that I have complete confidence that they will serve me well under more extreme, post SHTF-type scenarios.

All of the items I’ve listed here are great.  I personally own and use them all (save for one, but I will explain my rationale when I get to it.) on a semi-daily basis, and they all work.  The kicker?  They all work well for under thirty bucks. So whether you’re under a budget, or looking for stocking stuffers, or just need good gear, these will all function without breaking the bank.  Let’s check them out.

Streamlight Microstream

The Streamlight Microstream is a tiny (3 ½ inches long by 9/16 inch in diameter, 1.04 ounces with battery) C4 LED flashlight that is powered by a single AAA battery.  It has a run time of over two hours on a fresh battery, and the bulb is rated to 30,000 hours of use with a surprisingly brilliant 35 lumen output.  It has an IPX4 water resistance rating, and it is sealed with O-rings.  The light has a spring steel bi-directional clip that allows you to fasten it in your pants pocket like a folding knife, or you can clipp it onto the brim of a baseball cap for a head lamp.  The case is black hard-anodized aluminum, and shrugs off drops onto hard surfaces from waist-level with aplomb.

Also Read: DIY Alcohol Stove

Specs aside, I have been carrying Microstreams almost every day of my life since I got my first one a couple years ago.  I have one (of several) riding clipped to  my weak-hand pants pocket, opposite my folding knife, and extraction and quick deployment is a breeze.  I’ll tell you now: you’ll be amazed how much you use a small light once you have it on you all the time.  Drop something behind your desk into a maze of computer wires?  No problem, instant illumination! Need to dig out the booster pack to jump start your car?   A handly light is already with you. Walking in a dark parking garage and need to identify a threat?  It’s there for you.  The only, and I mean ONLY, problem I’ve ever had with these lights is that they are small and easily lost if you take them off.  That’s why I mentioned I have several – if I lose mine for whatever reason, I’ll run to the store and grab another – which, of course, means I instantly find the one I lost. So I now have Streamlight Microstreams in my cars, bedside stand, and a spare at work. You can never have too many of them, and I can’t recommend these lights highly enough. Drop the $20 (or less) for one and never look back.  Absolutely perfect EDC gear.

Gerber Evo Jr Folding Knife

This is the aforementioned knife I wear opposite the Microstream in my EDC carry. The EVO Jr. is a very small (3 Good Survival Knife5/8 inches by 5/8 inch) folding pocket knife with a 2 5/8” titanium-coated “Fine Edge” blade that discourages corrosion.  The handles are machined anodized aluminum, the blade high carbon stainless steel, with a fast-opening thumb stud and integral finger guard that deploys with the blade opening.  A non-reversible stainless steel pocket clip is screwed to one of the handle panels.

Gerber knives have always had a pretty good reputation where I’ve come from, so when my $80 H&K folder broke before I headed out to a hunting trip, I stopped at the local Cabela’s and saw this baby on sale, for I think $29.99.  It fit the bill dimensionally (I hate having items with too much weight and size in my pockets), the price was good, and I knew Gerber stuff was pretty okay.  I purchased the EVO Jr. and promptly forgot about the H&K folder.  I’ve used this knife to gut deer, open bottles, chisel (yes, with a hammer) door strike openings in wood jambs, cut old caulking out of windows, and shred cardboard boxes – and the EVO Jr. has come up swinging. The blade is just a touch bent, but still 100% functional.  I don’t feel bad at all about not owning a spendy Spyderco or Benchmade with this little beast clipped to my side.  I’m sure it’s not invincible, but it’s really good for the price.  They are available on Amazon for dirt money (I found this one for just over $23!) but I’m told Gerber may have discontinued this model, so grab one if you can…even if its just a backup.

ASP Key Defender OC Spray

Non-lethal threat deterrents are always valuable, whether you do or don’t carry a firearm, knife, etc.  Non-lethal pepper/OC spray is almost always legal to carry anywhere, making it a choice method of protection if you must venture into the lands of the “gun free zone”.  ASP makes the Key Defender, which is a small and slender method of deploying 2 million scoville units of OC love directly into a bad guy’s mug.  The ASP Key Defender OC Spray is about the size of a Mini-Maglite, (6” long by 5/8” diameter) has an easily-utilized and secure flick-off safety, and it’s almost impossible to spray yourself if used properly.  The release valve actuates like a flashlight with a tailcap switch, so it’s intuitive and easy to point in the correct direction.  The knurled aluminum casing is shaped and sized nicely to do double-duty as a kubaton if things get up close and personal, and the key ring means you can attach it to your key chain if that’s your thing. Refills and inert practice cartridges for the spray are readily available as well.  Shop around and you can find a Key Defender in many different colors, for right about the $30 mark on Amazon, with a two-pack of refills dinging the wallet about $15.00-$18.00.

Related: DIY Fire Starter

Funny story about my Key Defender: I was riding back home with my son from a visit with our very own Jarhead Survivor.  I  had to pull over to the side of the road answer the call of nature in the woods, and upon my return in the truck, I was greeted with a fierce, immediate stinging in my eyes.  I looked at my son, and he was coughing and his face and eyes were red.  He was holding the Key Defender, which I kept in my shifter console. “WHAT IS THIS?!?” he cried between coughs.  It seems he decided to screw around with the Key Defender, and sure enough, shot a blast of it right out my driver’s side open window. None of it actually got on either of us, but the fumes alone made us vacate the truck cab post haste, while we sat on the side of the road coughing and laughing like lunatics. I’m sure anyone driving by must have wondered what these two gagging, red-faced buffoons were doing, sitting on the side of the road and laughing.  I made a mistake of scratching my eye and rubbing my nose after touching the steering wheel.  It was ferocious, and I didn’t even get sprayed.  I can just imagine being on the bad end of one of these, and it must be a very effective deterrent indeed.

Real Avid AR-15 Micro Tool

I stumbled across this neat little rig at a local Cabela’s for $17.99, and grabbed it to bring home and try on my AR. Best AR15 Mini ToolIt’s a small, light, all-steel tool meant for taking care of most of the functions you’d need to strip your AR and clean off carbon in the field.  The Real Avid AR-15 Micro Tool has many functions and tools built-in to it: three sizes of bolt scraper, a 5mm, 1/8”, 3/16”, 1/4”, 5/16”, and 3/8” wrenches, a bottle opener, a front sight adjustment tool, a cutter, and a takedown pin punch. It comes with a short web attachment to a keyring.

Also Read: 5 Dollar Preps

While I have no delusions of this not being an absolutely terrible 3/8” wrench, the Real Avid AR15 Micro Tool is worth every penny for other functions: the pin punch, scrapers, and front sight tools all work really well.  I haven’t tried the bottle opener – mainly because I’m not exactly popping open Sam Adams bottles when I’m working on guns – but it looks like it’d do the job fine.  I fastened this tool to my AR grab bag as a lightweight scraper tool pretty much.  It’s no Leatherman MUT but it will work to get the carbon buildup off your bolt and firing pin well enough to get you back in action and to your cleaning kit.

Rechargeable Auxiliary Battery

Cell phones seem to run the world this day, and in many cases, they are better than any took you have in your LED Flashlight for survivalbug-out bag to get you out of trouble.  However, they are definitely battery-dependent, and the bigger and more beautiful your smartphone screen is, the faster your battery will drain.  When I’m out in the woods on a deer stand, I like to have my phone to send messages to any hunting partners, check the weather forecast, read articles to keep me awake, use the GPS, etc.  However, the battery is only good for about 2/3rds of the day under frequent use, generally.

I went up to my brother’s house a while ago to do some deer hunting in an area I was unfamiliar with, and I knew we were going to put on the miles, so I stopped at a Target on the way up and snagged a cheap 3,000 mAH auxiliary battery back for $24.99.  Once charged, it had enough juice to give my cellphone a complete charge, and had a small LED flashlight built in. It stows in a pocket, is rubber-armored, and recharges in an hour.  While I know it’s on the cheaper side and there are far better units out there on the market that sport much larger batteries, solar panels, and USB ports, this one serves me well.  I know that if I have to walk home, I have a full charge ready to go to be able to contact others if I have reception.  Shop around, there are lots of options under $30.

Inspiration Book

My father had this idea, and I think it’s a great one.  He went out and bought a good, sturdy, 4” x 6” notebook and filled it with information and small items to keep him going if he’s in a bad spot.  His notebook contains pictures of his grandchildren that have been laminated and glued to the pages, bible verses, and quotes from authors he likes, or passages that inspire.  Also in the book are helpful bits of information and formulas that will prove helpful in survival situations:  Angles of declination for given areas, bleach:water purification ratios, important phone numbers, photocopies of important documents, and the like.  Fill one of these out and stow it in a plastic bag for when times get rough.

Clear Safety Glasses

Imagine walking through the woods at night with little or no illumination and you’ll get the idea of why a cheap pair of safety glasses is a good thing to have in your bug-out bag.

WISR Custom Paracord Bracelet

This is the one item on this list I don’t personally own, but I do have a really awesome item from Valkyrie War paracord survival braceletCord that I reviewed: The Survival Frag. There are millions of “survival” paracord bracelet designs out there, but Chris, the owner of VWC, will let you select colors and survival items from an online list, and then he will custom build your personal WISR (Wearable Integrated Survival Rigs) with your chosen items and ship it to you. The WICR-CUSTOM starts at $10.00 and goes up from there based upon your selections. Some interesting choices are: a handcuff key ($3.00), a 1” firesteel rod ($3.00), iodine tablets ($2.00), and a buckle whistle ($3.00).

Related: 5 Dollar Preps Fishing & First Aid Gear

If you have a few extra bucks at your disposal, at $50 the Survival Frag remains a really great all-in-one emergency kit. Chris is a full-time student, EMT, and all-around really nice guy. He does top-quality paracord work, and it doesn’t stop at bracelets and Frags. His online store can be found here. Free shipping too! While I don’t have one of these – YET – I have no doubts that VWC’s products are good to go.

Liberty Gun Lube CLP

Does your current gun lube keep machine guns running for hundreds of continuous rounds under high heat Best Gun Lubeconditions?  Okay, it very well may; that’s a common property for a good gun lube. But how does it function at 84 degrees F below zero? For all you guys without calculators, that’s 116 degrees below freezing, and that means that your Liberty Gun Lube-treated gun will function on the -60 degree F surface of Mars if needed.  Liberty Gun Lube’s CLP (Cleaner, Lubricant, Preservative) boasts an ultra-low freezing temperature, and the ability to keep guns working in high heat situations too. Jeff Zimba, renowned author of “The Evolution of the Black Rifle: 20 Years of Upgrades, Options, and Accessories”, did a serious battery of tests of Liberty Lube’s CLP with full-auto rifles, as well as freezing pistols in blocks of ice, chipping the pistols out, and shooting them: Liberty Lube worked slick (pun intended.). Check out just one of the test videos with Liberty Lube here…and check out the rest of his channel while you’re at it.

Spoiler Alert: I have a review of Liberty Gun Lube’s CLP as well as their solvent coming soon, so I won’t get too deep into the product here.  But Liberty Lube’s CLP has replaced all my other gun oils, it works so well. 1-oz bottles go a long way and  take up very little room in your out-the-door gun bag.  If you need to keep your guns running in adverse conditions, this is your first step. 1-oz bottles of the CLP run $10, the non-toxic, biodegradable solvent runs $9.

WD-40

This universal “fix-it” has been around for ages, and for good reason: it does its job, and it does it well.  WD-40 is marketed as a lubricant, penetrating oil, preservative, and seemingly every household has one of the ubiquitous blue and yellow spray bottles kicking around somewhere.  WD-40 should also be on the radar of anyone with a prepper’s mindset, too. A small 3-oz bottle doesn’t take up much room in packs, and can be used to lubricate whetstones while sharpening knives, keep guns from rusting in wet environments, free rusted locks, nuts, bolts, bike chains, etc., and since it is quite flammable, can also be used as a fire accelerant to help start a life-saving fire in wet conditions. It also works as a starting fluid for tough-to-start motors. It is available anywhere for cheap. Everyone needs WD-40 in their lives.

Grip Tape

Grip tape is one of those products that solves a problem that you didn’t know you had.  I’m guessing that grip tape Grip Tape for survival gearis a natural evolution of shooters wrapping their pistol stocks in skateboard tape to improve grip in sweaty, muddy, and bloody conditions.  Many products are marketed with the same goal: to make an easily-applied surface that doesn’t permanently alter firearms, yet provides a vast improvement in gripping traction.  I bought HI-TEC GT5000 tape on a whim one day, and it turned out to be a great product.  I originally applied it to a S&W M&P, and it spiraled out of control from there:  I’ve since applied the tape to rifle magazines, knife handles, flashlight housings, cellphone cases, even my mouse at work…anything that could use more “grip” when things get sweaty or greasy. It’s very easily cut to size and shape, and it has an adhesive backing that grips most surfaces very well if they are clean – a little touch with a heat gun doesn’t hurt either. There are lots of choices out there, and I’m sure most of them do the same job well.  My sheets of GT5000 cost a whopping $6.99 through Amazon.

Mechanix Gloves

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard of or seen “the tool that fits like a glove”:  Mechanix Gloves. mechanix gloves for survivalThese gloves have made an enviable name for themselves as hard-wearing dexterous gloves that will protect your hands, yet let you pick a penny off the floor without having to take your gloves off.  There are easily 50 different designs of gloves that Mechanix puts out, from gardening to tactical protected to cold-weather gloves.  I discovered Mechanix gloves about 8 years ago while working construction and needing warm gloves that would let me pick individual screws out of a box. They’re not impervious and the fingertips will wear out, but not after they give you a long life of hard service.

I’ve run a few different styles of Mechanix gloves, but I really like the Fleece Utility gloves for when cold weather sets in, as they are very warm, and dry out quickly. I appreciate them because I can safely flick the safety off my Winchester 70 and manipulate the trigger well, without having to take my gloves off. When it gets warmer and I need added grip and hand protection but would really not appreciate warm hands, The Tactical Vent Covert setup is hard to beat. A pair of rugged gloves for a Get Out Of Dodge setup makes a lot of sense, and a pair of Mechanix gloves will generally run under $30 unless you go for the really high-end tactical gloves.

Wrapping It Up

As you go down the list, I’m sure you can think of other items that offer similar high “bang for the buck” values, or are just good, simple ideas for anyone who might find themselves in a tough situation with just their gear and knowledge to get them by. What budget ideas or products do you know of that you’d add to this list? Sound off in the comments – we all appreciate good ideas and products that don’t require a second mortgage!

Stay Safe!
-Drew

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Survival Gear Review: goTenna Off-Grid Device

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Off Grid iPhone App Device

Well, I guess Facebook is good for something.  I was having one of those mindless moments where scrolling off grid android devicethrough the feed seemed like a better thing to do than, you know, reading a book, or working out, or bettering myself in some way.  It was the same stuff over and over, but then a promotion for a product caught my eye.  It was called goTenna Off Grid Device, and it hailed as being a radio-based, off-the-grid communications tool that lets you send texts and share location data.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

I bit the lure – hook, line, and sinker.  I checked out the goTenna Facebook page, then migrated to their website. The goTenna looked like a promising new-fangled device, and soon I had a pair of them winging my way for a review.

Meet The goTenna

The goTenna, put simply, is a communications device that links to your smartphone via Blutooth-LE (Low gotenna device huntingEnergy).  Using the goTenna app (which you have to download – don’t worry, it’s free), you pair a goTenna with your Android or IOS based device, and you instantaneously have the ability to chat via text message with any other active goTenna within range.  The goTenna also allows you to send those other goTenna users your location, which is represented on a map – a map which you must download ahead of time (also for free via the goTenna app). These are the two basic functions of the device, and it accomplishes these functions completely independent of a wireless network or cell service, using long-range (151-154 MHz) radio waves to communicate with other GoTenna users.  However, the goTenna doesn’t allow voice or video calling, or data transfer.  It sticks to a simple formula for basic communication, and it works.  Let’s dig deeper.

Also Read Drew’s Review: Rothco CCW Jacket

The goTenna is a small (5.8 inches long, 1 inch wide, ½ inch thick with the antenna collapsed) plastic and aluminum device with a built-in nylon strap that sports a loop and a snap button for securing a goTenna to, well, anything that will fit inside the loop. An antenna pulls out from the top, activating the goTenna and telling it to start communicating with its paired smartphone via Bluetooth. Pushing the antenna back into the goTenna deactivates the device with a satisfying “click”. It has an indicator light on the outside of the casing, which is used via different flashing patterns to communicate if the goTenna has paired, if it’s searching, once a message has been received, etc. Underneath a small dust proof door, there’s the expected micro-USB port on the bottom of the goTenna to hook the device, via included charging cables, to a charger. A tiny red LED next to the USB port shows the charging status. The goTenna’s lithium-polymer battery is sealed, meaning that it cannot be removed or replaced, and will eventually show declining battery life like any other battery-powered device…though this will take years of constant use.

The goTenna is water-resistant and “weatherproof”, meaning it can be latched on your pack during a rainstorm. Best Off Grid iPhone Device AppHowever, if it goes swimming with you, don’t expect it to work afterwards. It is dust-tight as well. The goTenna has been engineered to be very durable – I’ve dropped mine onto my tile floor multiple times from waist height with zero ill effects. In short, it’s meant to be useful to many types of people – whether you’re a hunter or fisherman communicating with buddies in your party, mountain climbers who might take a tumble down a hill, or anyone else who might be in adverse conditions that require off-grid communications. In my experience, ice and snow have built up on the goTenna while packing it in the woods in a Maine winter and during a February ice fishing trip – it shrugged off the cold and elements with aplomb.  I have every confidence it will withstand most inclement conditions as long as it isn’t submerged.

Making The goTenna Work For You

As stated, the goTenna interfaces with your smartphone (IOS or Android) via Bluetooth LE.  I should say this now: the gotenna will not work with your old Nokia flip-phone; a caveat to the system is that it requires a relatively modern smartphone.  goTenna’s website says that the device will work with Apple iPods and iPads and other tablets; however, I’m not sure how the GPS location-finding function will work with these devices if there is no GPS built-in to the device.

Anyhow, your first step: order your goTenna. These can be purchased online via the goTenna Website. They get ordered in pairs or “family” packs of four goTennas. As of right now, the pairs go for $199.00 with free shipping, and the family pack saves you a few bucks per unit at $389 – also shipped to your door for free. They come in four different strap colors to differentiate between the individual units – purple, orange, green, and blue.

Related Article: Survival Radio – What Will Work?

Once you have the goTennas in your hot little hands, you need to download the goTenna app via The Google Play store (if you’re running an Android 4.3 or higher-based phone) or via iTunes for iOS 8.4 and up-based Apple products. The app is free and a quick download.  Once you have the app installed on your smartphone and you fire it up, your phone will initiate a simple, easy-to-follow setup that creates an account and links your phone to your selected goTenna; this is about a three-minute process.  Once you have the app set up and your goTenna paired, you have a few options to play with.

You’ll first be brought to the main message overview screen.  This shows a list of all the people you’ve sent SHTF Radiomessages to.  As an option, you can import the contacts on your phone to have their numbers and possible goTenna contacts saved in the app.  You can access the contacts via the menu, which is accessed by the icon in the upper left of the screen.  At the bottom right, you have a round blue button that allows you to write a new message to other goTenna users, via one of three processes:

-The Shout Chat: This allows you send out a “shout” message to any other active goTenna users in range.
-The Group Chat: A way to communicate with multiple known goTenna users at once, useful for hunting parties, SAR, camp buddies, etc.
-1-to-1 Chat: A standard one-on-one goTenna-to-g0Tenna message, very similar to an SMS or text message.

There is also an “Emergency” chat option, but when selected, you are directed via text in a bright red box to keep chats in this option dedicated to true emergencies.  It broadcasts an emergency message to anyone with a goTenna who is within range.

Also Read: CB Radios For SHTF

To send a message to another goTenna user, simply tap the new message icon, choose your goTenna-utilizingGotenna Feedback recipient, and start typing.  Hit the “send” icon when you’re done. The message will show a little moving icon while the goTennna sends the message.  If the message was sent to the recipient successfully, a little green check mark appears in the corner of your message. If the goTenna was unable to send the message, a small red exclamation mark appears. It will also tell you the time you sent your last message.  You can request the location of other goTenna users, so they can “ping” you or attach their location to their messages.  You can also block them if desired.

Another function of the goTenna is the map view; you tap the little map icon at the top of the screen to actuate this task.  Once you download the goTenna app, your device communicates with your phone’s GPS to show your current location to yourself; you can also “ping” other users to show your location on the map, or include location in text messages (this locaton is transferred to the map, not communicated via the message screen.). If you’re heading to an obscure area to fly fish for rainbow trout in northern Colorado, you simply download the Colorado map ahead of time.  This will allow you to utilize the map – which is saved to your phone – to show your location while off the data grid, unlike most other map apps.  The accuracy is very good; I’m not sure of the location accuracy tolerances, but whenever I used the map, the little blue dot showed me exactly where I knew I was. I would imagine the location services are effected by standard GPS impediments: cloud cover, buildings, line of sight to satellites, etc.

A nice touch: the battery life remaining on your paired goTenna is available to view easily through the app as well.  Battery life has been excellent: once I got the goTennas, I plugged them in to top off the charge, and actually I haven’t had to charge them yet. If the goTenna is constantly on, battery life is expected to be about 24 hours. If you’re constantly using it to have extensive message exchanges, it can shorten, depending on usage. If a communications schedule is maintained between users, keeping the goTenna off between scheduled message times, you can keep a goTenna with a charge for quite some time – days. I have not seen a loss of battery charge when kept turned off for days on end.

These are the basic functions of the goTenna – for now. The website promises updates in the future – and I’ll admit that there is a lot of promise for added functionality for this neat little communications gadget. As of right now, the short list of basic action items the goTenna accomplishes means that the goTenna is very, very simple to use and still pretty effective at what it does. But how effective is it?

Range to Target?

The next obvious question should be: “Okay, what is the range?” And it’s a valid question.  goTenna says that the Gotenna Rangerange varies depending on terrain – it functions on basic line-of-sight principles.  If you’re in a wooded forest or in an apartment building on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, your range will be limited.  But goTenna boasts that on the rare opportunity you may have broadcasting mountaintop to mountaintop, you might even be able to find a 50-mile range within grasp. Most of us operate somewhere in the middle of these extremes, so I decided to try the goTenna out in a variety of situations to see how it worked.  I loaded the app on my LG G4 phone and went to work.

The first opportunity I had to use the goTenna was on an ice fishing trip up in Northern Maine, on the shores of Maine’s largest body of water, Moosehead Lake. We only gave the goTenna a run a couple times, but across clear ice, we were able to send messages across a couple miles of open, clear air across a frozen lake, with a small island between us. Message exchanges were quick and easy, (even considering our advanced state of inebriation – a requirement in Maine ice fishing) so I imagine that we could have stretched the range further if we desired.

Next, I coerced a 60-year-old coworker to download the goTenna app on his Samsung Galaxy S4.  We work in a 300,000 square foot manufacturing facility, with concrete walls, steel columns, metal racks filled with aluminum extrusions, large CNC machines running, plus a huge electronic computer server room and 60 or so computers, and 80+ cellphones operating at any given time. I had him stay in his office, which was conveniently located near a corner of the building. I then walked around the entire facility, stopping to message at key points neat equipment, material, or other possible reception intrusions. The goTenna worked flawlessly throughout the entire building even though walls, which impressed me. I honestly didn’t think the goTenna would pass the big concrete building test.

Also Read: Prepper Monthly Checklist

The next major test I ran was with my teenage son.  I had him load the app on his iPhone 6S, and he plunked the antenna next to him. I then hopped in my pickup and drove around our hilly suburban village home area, pulling into different areas to message him.  I had pretty good success closer to the house, out to a Google Maps-measured 1,567 feet. Then I started to have difficulty getting messages to go through.  I turned airplane mode off (I had engaged it to make sure I wasn’t letting any data through) and texted my son – he wasn’t getting replies back to me, either. I told him to open a window and locate the goTenna outside. He did so, and we kept going.  He was able to sit on the couch in standard slumped modern teenager fashion with the TV, iPad, and his cellphone on, and have the goTenna 15 feet away outside the house, and keep communicating with me (Bluetooth range is about 20 feet).  The antenna outside of the house made a difference; I was able to send messages again.

I continued to drive around, again stopping at points that I could find on Google Earth to measure distances from. I got to 3,499 feet from the house with success – probably owing to the slight elevation increases I was driving up – before the village houses and surrounding woodlands starting taking their toll.  I’d pull over and hold the antenna up in the air, move my location slightly, and keep trying – and I eventually got a message to go through at 5,945 feet (over a mile) once – but that was about the maximum I could get through the woods.  Elevation and clear line of sight helps.

Related: Radio Scanners For SHTF

I haven’t had the chance to go long, long distance over clear, open ranges, or in large urban areas as of yet.  But Top Survival Blogbased on my tests so far, goTenna’s predictions on their website under “how it works” have been pretty close to spot-on.  I plan on using the goTenna to communicate between bird hunting parties this fall up in Northern Maine, where communications and coordinations have been spotty due to an almost complete lack of cell reception; the goTenna should be just the ticket.

The goTenna IS encrypted for privacy, utilizing a 384-bit elliptic curve point-to-point encryption process.  I’m not going to go into the tech specs of the goTenna, because I’ll admit I don’t know much about that stuff.  However, if you love geeking out over such things, I would heartily recommend going to the goTenna website and reading their “FAQ” section for tech specs as well as a LOT of other information on the goTenna that ranges from the best locations to keep your antenna, to Bluetooth range from your phone to the goTenna, firmware updates, methods of increasing battery life, what effects signal range, and more.

I tested the goTenna with a wide range of phones, including an iPhone 4S, Motorola DROID RAZR M, Samsung Galaxy S4, iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, and my LG G4.  As long as your smartphone has Bluetooth and meets minimum operating system requirements of Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) or higher, or Apple iOS 8.4 or higher, you should be good to go.  The app ran flawlessly in all the devices.  The app interface was clean, simple, intuitive, and easy to use…my 60-year-old technologically befuddled coworker was able to use the app with zero coaching…so that’s saying something. If you have a smartphone and can use it to text, you can use a goTenna.

Conclusions

The goTenna is definitely a viable off-the-grid communications device.  Range is limited, but the range is a pretty useful one, depending on your location and terrain.  Once the app is loaded, the phone does not require a data or cellular connection to function; it is completely independent.  You could lock a pair of these in a Faraday cage with a properly-sized solar panel to charge the units, along with a couple ready-to-go smartphones with the app loaded on them (perhaps the old phones you don’t use anymore after an upgrade?), and you could have basic communications even after an EMP, or complete power grid outage.  The goTenna is light, small, portable, rechargeable, weather resistant, silent, and tough – can you say the same for your battery-dependent walkie-talkies? It’s something to consider when you’re looking at a solution for off-the-grid communications – even if you have a large group of people in your crew.  You can send text and GPS location to one or multiple people at a time, even when you don’t have service.  Take a long, hard look at the goTenna to accentuate your communications plans – it actually works, and works very well within its intended envelope.

All photos by Drew

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Survival Gear Review: Fallkniven A2

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Top Survival Blog

Peter, the head of Fällkniven knives told me that a big blade can do everything a small blade can do, but a small Best Survival Knifeblade cannot do everything a big blade can do.  Or thereabouts.  In theory, I agree with him. But in practice…well, that would take field testing.  Big is not a measurement, it is a value judgment.  If you need a 22mm wrench, then you need a 22mm wrench. The tool is not too big, it is just right. However, if you have no particular job in front of you, then carrying around the wrench for no particular reason would make it seem “big.”

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Carry Enough Knife

The same is true with the Fällkniven A2 Wilderness Knife.  If you have no real need for a knife such as the A2, then you might as well carry a smaller, lighter knife. Heck, or even no knife at all.  Heresy you say?  Well that is my point. You carry a knife that matches your anticipated duties. So it follows that a Wilderness Knife such as the Fällkniven A2 is the properly sized tool for the great big outdoors found just past the “great outdoors” common in movies and national parks.

Beyond the usual depth that most folks ever venture into the woods is an entirely new, bigger, and often scarier set of woods.  It is the uninhabited, trail-less frontier where the only certainty in the equation is that your survival skills must outweigh the survival challenges.  And while tools don’t equal skills, the lack of tools can certainly subtract from your skill set.

Size Matters

The absurdity of the so-called “Rambo blade” comes more from attitude and knife design than knife size and Top Survival Knifeintended use.  Nobody pokes fun about the size or length of kitchen knives because they are the right tool for the job. Yet compared to most outdoor knives, kitchen blades are downright huge!  Especially the pro-level cutters.  The Rambo knife moniker is often reserved not for just the knife but instead a knife too big for the tasks at hand. So a true wilderness knife like the Fällkniven A2 is actually the right size for the job so therefore it is not a Rambo knife. The A2 is a properly sized tool for the bigger pieces of the big picture.  Of course, that means it’s not for everybody.

History Lesson

Over a decade ago, Fällkniven took a page from the Swedish history book and explored the strength of laminated steels. For the same reason plywood is so much stronger than a similar thickness solid board or laminated glass windshields are intensely durable compared to household window glass, the layered steel in the Fällkniven A2 is massively stronger than most any other steel of similar thickness.

Fällkniven worked with a famous Japanese steel mill to perfect a laminated metal suitable for the highest quality knife blades. Well, not just any knife blades, but really big knife blades. The Fällkniven NL1 was the first to employ the new laminated 420J2 – VG10 – 402J2 steel and it stands taller than even the A2.

High carbon tool steels such as D2 or O1 are popular for outdoor knives due to their ease of sharpening and resistance to snapping when bent.  Stainless steels have many fine points including edge durability, but can chip or break much easier. So you can do the math.  The ideal steel would have the cutting prowess and durability of stainless, but the bending strength and sharpening ease of high carbon steel.  By laminating steel types, you get the best of both worlds. Plus the additional raw strength that lamination provides on its own.

Dog Inches

The Fällkniven A2 is not the biggest Fällkniven to ship from Sweden. But it’s close.  With a overall length of 12.8 Best Survival Knifeinches and all but 4.9 inches of that being stainless steel VG10 laminated goodness, the A2 is definitely one of the big boys in the sandbox.  The 7.9 inch blade is a full 1.7 inches longer than its famous little brother, the A1. And those 1.7 inches are like dog-inches when you get out to knives like this. It might seem like the added reach looses it’s effect as the blades get longer, but it is not just length where the A2’s blade grew; its also in depth.  Like football players, their height tells only part of the story.  You really need their weight in order to appreciate their potential on the field. Some players weigh half again as much as others of the same height.  For instance on the Denver Broncos lineup, the difference in height between William Sylvester and Aqib Talib is about the same as between the A2 and the A1.  However, Sylvester weighs 108 pounds more than Talib. Which player would you want to be facing off against on the scrimmage line?

But the Fällkniven A2 is not strictly an offensive blade. Instead it is proportioned for the big tasks of Big Wilderness and Big Survival. Especially where you need to wear a big coat, big boots, big gloves and a big hat. When the temperature drops so do our fine motor skills and our grip strength. The A2 helps compensate for the losses by beefing up its contribution to the workload.

When I passed my A2 around the campfire, more than a few folks have commented that it is too big. Avoiding a Best Survival Blogverbal fight, I usually let the comments slide. But what I really want to ask is “Too big for what?”  As Fällkniven notes in their description of the A2, “When you are far from inhabited areas, you need to be able to rely on your equipment.”  I think that make it pretty clear that the A2 was not designed for public carry, or even public campground carry.  So when someone is packing an A2, they are probably no where near you.  And if you do run into an A2 in the wild, you won’t be making any snide comments about it.

The Usual Suspects

For the record, the blade length of the Fällkniven A2 is only one inch longer than the KA-BAR Marine fighting knife.  You know that famous clip-point-leather-washered-grip-soft-steel knife that has multiplied force all over the world.  Other comparables include the big Beckers, the big ESEEs, the big Rats, and the big Cold Steels.  Where most of these knives differ from the A2 besides price is in the steel. Most of them are high carbon steel, spring steel, tool steel or common stainless steel like 420.  Nothing wrong any of those unless you want something different. In order to answer the question of the best steel, one must define the landscape where the knife will live.

As a wilderness knife, the A2 needs to hold an edge as long as possible, but also provide realistic sharpening options.  As a chopper, the convex grind provides good wedging for a knife yet resists as much pinching as possible allowing for easy retraction from the wood.  As a thick-bladed fighter, the system of handle and blade must be stronger than any man who carries it.

Oddly, however, the A2 would look right at home in the kitchen.  As noted before, kitchen knives that dwarf the length of the A2 are available for sale in grocery stores.  Quality is a concern, but the size hardly raises any eyebrows.  Unfortunately the city dwellers think you have a Crocodile Dundee Complex when you pack a kitchen-sized blade on your hip.  Another friendly juxtaposition is with gardening tools.  Most every serious gardener I know rarely ventures into the backyard with a Hori Hori strapped to their pleated cotton shorts.

A Hori Hori, or soil knife, is a heavy duty, wooden handled, double-edged, half-serrated blade averaging seven inches long with an overall length exceeding a foot with some up to 15 inches long. And the Hori Hori is considered a “Leisure Knife.” The smooth blade is to be kept razor sharp and the serrated side acts like a root saw. Hori Horis are worn in sheaths just like other belt knives and when sheathed are indistinguishable from wilderness knives like the A2 at a short distance. But up close, it’s obvious why the price of a quality Hori Hori is one-tenth or less of the Fällkniven.

Can You Handle It?

The A2 has exactly the same handle as the A1, as well as sharing the same blade thickness, convex grind, and SHTF Knifeprotruding tang.  So if you love the A1 grip, you will be just as happy with the A2.  Of course the inverse is true as well. or maybe worse. The typical issues with the A1 grip are its length, thickness, texture and direction of the quillion (finger guard).  The usual complaints are the grip is too short, too narrow, and too rough.  Sure, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that opinion should be based on something. For instance, the “too short” complaint is a comparison between the A2 and something else like another knife.  I prefer to appreciate the minimalism of the A2’s grip in that my large/XL hands almost swallow the A2 handle completely, but not quite.  So the argument about grip length is really more of “how much extra” is needed since the absolute grip amount is sufficiently matched to a large hand.

In a direct comparison, the Fällkniven A2’s actual usable grip length is longer than the Gerber LMF, the Boker Orca, the Spyderco Bushcraft, and the Benchmade Bushcrafter.  And the A2 gip is exactly the same thickness as the Gerber LMF.

The diameter of the grip is also something noted as in need of adjustment.  The diameter is a function of both grip depth and thickness.  The Gerber’s depth is about a quarter-inch more than the A2, but in my hand feels more like a pistol grip due to the position of my finger joints.  I would describe my grip on the Gerber LMF as more of bending around the handle, while gripping the A2 is decidedly wrapping my hand around it. It is similar to squeezing a trigger or pulling a trigger.  And in my hand, I cannot squeeze the Gerber’s handle because it is proportioned inefficiently for the biomechanics of my hand.

I think the complaints about the size of the Fällkniven A2 grip are more of visual perception clouding the actual feel of the knife. If grips were proportioned to blade size, then a machete would have a flagpole-sized grip. And a utility knife would have a pencil-thin handle.  Instead, the grip is proportioned within a narrow range where the human hand works best. Same with hatchet handles, hammers, and other hand tools.  Cutting tools rapidly become useless when designers venture out of that range.  So an average handle on an large blade looks small and can psychologoically “feel” small.

Regarding the texture of the grip, that is a personal choice.  But I will make two comments.  The first is that if you have soft office hands you will get blisters after 10 minutes of heavy use.  But you will also get blisters from a smooth hickory hatchet handle the first time you do some heavy chopping.  Once the tool is part of your routine, your skin will adapt with calluses.  Better yet, wear gloves.

Weight For Me

The weight of the Fällkniven A2 is 13 ounces, or 2.3 ounces more than the A1.  Thirteen ounces is not a small Best Survival Knifenumber for a knife, but it is small compared to many outdoor tools.  A 13 ounce handgun would be an unloaded Glock 42, the smallest Glock made.  A 13 ounce hatchet would be a Gransfors Bruks Mini Hatchet.  A can of lite beer weighs about 13 ounces.  And 13 ounces of Big Macs is less than two of them.  Yet when a 13 ounce knife shows up on a belt, people run around in circles with their hair on fire.  Again, a good reason to only wear the Fällkniven A2 in uninhabited areas.

Match Making

An area in need of mention is that in any planned wilderness adventure the Fällkniven A2 will not be traveling alone.  Most carriers of the A2 supplement its skills with a smaller knife of both the folding and straight variety.  You will get no argument from me about the necessity of a smaller blade, but neither will I let knee-jerk comments blasting big knives go unchallenged.  Survival tools fall along a continuum from small to big, light to heavy, cheap to expensive, and feeble to durable.  And those tools can be supported through their combination and contribution to the overall capabilities of the kit.  Every tool is a trade-off that establishes boundaries of use.  Where the wilderness knife fits into the scheme of things is that the finer, more delicate points of civilization are absent in the wilderness.

The 800-Pound Gorilla

The thing that always seems to change the course of the discussion about knives is the price. In this case, the price is the similar as other blades within this same knife space of size and quality.  A common knife of this size that is often compared to the Fällkniven A2 is the Cold Steel Trail Master, but at one third the price. It is easy to question the A2 as a sensible decision with that kind of dollar discrepancy, but what you don’t often read is that Cold Steel makes a high-end Wilderness Knife called the Trail Master but with VG1 steel and a better grip.  Not surprisingly the upgraded Trail Master price is the same as the Fällkniven A2.  You see quality and performance cost real dollars regardless of how similar the knife looks to others.  If you plan on carrying a knife but never pushing it to its survival limits, then go ahead and carry anything. But when the ball drops and what you have is all you will ever have, then now is not the time to be a poser.

Pass the Baton

Using a knife and a club to beat apart a wooden branch is the popular target task for survival knife tests. The Forge Survival Supplyproblem is that a survival knife is capable of so much more, and busting up firewood is something almost anything can do…until it breaks.  However, a true wilderness knife such as the Fällkniven A2 is exactly designed to baton firewood.

The advantage of batoning over using a hatchet is that the swinging of a hatchet or axe blade is only as accurate as the skill and luck of the user.  However, if one can place the cutting blade exactly where it’s needed and then apply the force, every cut will be as precise as the desired.  For those of us who use use a mechanized hydraulics to “chop” firewood, we know that surgical precision is possible when working around knots, and making custom sized wood for a particular stove or fire application.  Batoning is similar but certainly more crude than a smooth well-greased steel wedge sliding gracefully along a track with 20 tons of force behind it.

The A2 has a convex grind meaning that its slight outward bow towards the cutting edge preventing much of the pinching and binding a flat-sided chopping knife experiences.  The curved blade surface just beyond the cutting edge splays the wood apart as the knife sinks in deep, but leaves little metal on the table for the wood to stick to.

Some worry about the sharpening intricacies of a convex grind, but if all you have are rough field sharpening tools or smooth river rocks to polish up the edge, then the convex grind is happy with a gentle roll in the grit as the stone surfs across the blade (or vise versa).  As a wilderness knife, the Fällkniven A2 expects a long time between civilized visits to the dentist.  Living outdoors is the A1’s happy place.  Again, this is the difference between a survival knife and a wilderness knife.

Under Cover

The leather sheath for the A2 is of ambidextrous operation with the single securing snap strap snapping free to the wilderness_survival_knife_review_fallkniven_a2rear when in right-hand carry.  Overall, I really like the sheath.  It is unassuming and quite functional the dangler easily fits up to three inch belts.  The presentation of the grip while in the sheath is slightly outward from the body meaning it easy to grab.  The leather snugs up to the blade holding it in place just fine without the added snap strap for all but the most aggressive gymnastics.  Note that Rambo’s blades in the movies never had extra straps to overcome when deploying his power blade.  But also note that the first major knife deployment in the movie First Blood, Rambo yanked his knife free from the sheath and threw the sheath away behind him.  Yea, I get that he was in a hurry, but still.

The balance point of the A2 falls about an inch forward of the grip while the A1 balances right at the forward end of the grip.  Not a big difference, but certainly noticeable when chopping into a thick branch.  The A2 is a deliberate chopper and behaves as such.  While hacking through branches should be on the resume for all knives, the size of the branch is limited to about two-thirds the length of the blade, and often closer to one-half.

Sweden, home to the Nobel Prizes, should seriously consider opening a category for Cutlery.  But seriously, the degree to which Fällkniven dives into significant knife spaces is impressive not just in scope, but that they pull no punches in quality and performance.  Many blade companies, produce a rich line of edges, but with varying degrees of quality (cough, cough, SOG) and performance (ah-choo, Buck, Kershaw, a-hem).  Not that the major brands are lacking, but one cannot simply extend the capabilities of mass-market knives to pro-level survival and wilderness blades.  The difference must be experienced to be believed.

All Photos By Doc Montana

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Book Review: The Mission, The Men, and Me

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Pete Blader Book

I wish I could remember where I heard about this book, The Mission, The Men, and Me.  I was reading some Delta Force Booktraining blog and they were talking about trimming weight from their packs and this book was mentioned.  So of course I bought it and read it immediately.  The book isn’t really about trimming gear, not that I thought it was, but what I got was so much more.

By Pineslayer, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Porch Snipers

In the survival community there are so many different factions it is mind blowing.  From porch snipers to those delta_force_book_review_the_mission_the_men_and_mewho produce their own energy and food, it can be a daunting task to find common ground when communicating to all of us.  What we all may have in common is a mindset that we want to live to fight and/or live another day.  What this book offers is a mindset of true elite survivalists.  Most of us are not cut out to be high speed operators who save the world, but I bet a lot of you wish you could be.  Oh if we knew then what we know now, many would be a better version of ourselves.  Part of this book is about being a better version of Americans.

So the book is titled, ‘The Mission, The Men, and Me’,  lessons from a former Delta Force Commander.  The author is Pete Blaber.  He was an Army Lt. Colonel in Delta Force operations that led long range recon missions in the early days of the Afghan War.  It was called Operation Anaconda and there are a lot of different versions of who, what, and how the operation went and was orchestrated by.  During my reading I did the search thing, looking for more background on the history of this time.  I was slightly dismayed by the spin that I found online.  No surprise really, everyone has their own version of war.  Where this book shines is in the way it puts you there, with all the situations failures and successes.

Part One and Two of the Book

So back to the mindset thing.  How does one become an elite warrior?  Determination, genetics, and blind luck.  Not what you expected?  Let me explain.  Determination is the one that stops most people.  Wanting something and the will to make it happen can be worlds apart.  Life can get in the way, family can get in the way, your own physical and mental limitations can stop you dead in your tracks. You just gotta want it and put all other things aside.  Hence the genetics thing.  Not everyone is built to be able to haul loads on little sleep and think clearly when taking fire.  Not all can focus on a task, see it through, and then move on.  Conversely, how many of you can change direction instantaneously and not wig out, and do it continually without losing sleep?  OK, the losing sleep thing might not be fair, because all of those with lives hanging on every decision they make, lose sleep over it.  It’s in the book.

Also Read: LDS Preparedness Manual

The luck thing.  Life, training, injuries, being in the wrong place at the wrong time, all can cut short your hopes and dreams.  Think of your own life and those you have shared that life with, how many bad things have happened that caused those people to change course?  Now think about those who have made it to that elite level of fitness and willingness to sacrifice it all for what they believe is right.  You are ready to read this book.

This book is about those who have made it to that level and are throttling it.  The book starts out with Pete talking about how he got to be in Delta Force.  From his early days,  to those who helped him get his priorities straight, hence the title,  you will find many pearls of wisdom and funny stories.  The one thing that I loved about the beginning chapters was these guys ability to brainstorm.  So many people are unwilling to let their imagination go and think outside the box, because of the fear of being ridiculed.  Some bad ideas lead to good ones, never forget that.  That idea that seems bad now may have validation later on.  At all times look at history to gain some perspective when deciding on which tactic might work best.  Even though tech has changed, humans have remained very much the same.  Remember that as you read the next ¾ of the book.  The attitude that ‘management’ has at times, to resolve a problem, is based on using that new widget, not on common sense.  How does that relate to preparing?  Knowledge vs. gear.  Gear is great when applied properly, but without an end game, it is just stuff.

One thing all these soldiers have in common is patience.  The patience to do their homework and the humble nature to listen to locals.  Lt. Col. Blaber talks about, ‘developing the situation’ throughout the book.  We can all improve upon our life by following his advice.  As the book progresses you will understand what this means in your day to day life.  Building trust among soldiers takes time and everyone must prove themselves.  What is a little different about this storyline is that many of these men don’t work together all the time, like you expect in many military scenarios.  They are brought together to get a mission done and have worked with each other in the past sometimes.  Which makes the story just that much more incredible.  Why do people sign up for this stuff?  The answer is simple and as old as time itself,  somebody has to make things right.

The Mission Is Set

Pete Blaber and his teammates are sent into alien territory to destroy an enemy that thinks it is invincible in its Special Forces US Army Delta Forcestronghold.  This team did not buy into that mindset.  The area is known as the Shahi Knot, an area that many foreign invaders have lost their lives trying to take. The book has some great pictures and maps that will help you understand what our men were up against.  As the book tells the story you will inevitably get pissed off.  Many chapters explain the obstacles that are these brave men face when trying to finish the job.  That job is to find and capture or kill Osama Bin Laden and his followers.  They come up with a well thought out plan, that keeps getting poked with holes from superiors who think they know better or want to use larger assets.

Flash forward to current events and look at the debate about how to defeat or dislodge IS forces.  Boots on the ground vs. cruise missiles and daisy cutters.  There is no absolute formula despite what defense contractors and their civilian puppets might tell you on T.V. everyday.  Sometimes you just need some hardened grunts with an M4 and a rucksack full of ammo, who are willing to lay it all on the line.

Also Read: American Sniper Book Review

As you progress through parts 3 & 4 of the book you will taken into a world that few people can imagine. Most of it deals with the planning, the re-planning and gathering of intel, constantly.  Coordinating with other units, SEALS, CIA, SOF,  and their corresponding chain of command.  At times you will wonder how anything works out, but it always comes down to someone just doing it and possibly getting their ass chewed later.  As long as the men come back and the mission has some success,  the rest is just footnotes on a report.

Putting The Iron Into The Fire

Crawling over rocks, through snow, for days just to get into position to attack.  Then waiting some more for the weather be just right and for last minute changes in the plan to materialize. Then the battle starts and the plan becomes fluid, that is when you see what you are made of.  Like most all battles, lives are lost and all people involved are changed forever.  I will not say more about the actual fight, you need to read it yourselves, plus I hate being a spoiler.  Just remember that this is one battle in a war that has been raging for over a decade now, with no end in site.  Just when we thought it might be winding down, it just keeps going.  The world has no shortage of bad people causing problems, so my guess is we will not see peace in our lifetime.

Related: Back To Basics Book Review

Every time you see someone in uniform say hi or shake their hand, buy them lunch.  They all have the guts to sign on the dotted line to put themselves in harm’s way so we can sleep easier at night and try to have faith that our kids future will be safer than it might be today.  Let us all help that brighter future along by staying engaged, especially with the next generation, and being prepared for whatever comes our way.  If you get a chance, I recommend that you read “The Mission, the Men, and Me: Lessons from a Former Delta Force Commander

“For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it.” -Patrick Henry

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Survival Gear Review: Magpul Armorer’s Wrench

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Best AR-15 Tool

Best AR-15 ToolOnce Upon A Time….You know, I’ll be honest here.  If you have never used an armorer’s tool to work on an AR variant rifle, I almost hate to endorse the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench as your first tool because you will never know just how bad most other armorer’s tools really are.  You won’t know what it’s like to bruise your palm with over-pressure on a thin slice of metal handle.  Or swear as your knuckles are bloodied when your castle nut wrench slips.  Or scratch the finish off your new AR part.  Or when you strip the hell out of whatever you are working on because your wrench just barely grips the nut before failing in world-class form.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Instead I’ll just say there is no reason to go through hell just because I did.  My house is not built with trees I chopped down myself.  Nor did I ever suffer from Cholera before my water was chlorinated.  Or lose a child or two in farming accidents long before CPS laws and the Humane Society.  Maybe these examples are a little extreme, but like any great tool, the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench makes the job easier, safer, faster, and certainly more fun.

Everything’s a Compromise

When NASA builds a spacecraft it must compromise on the number of instruments and their placement on the Best Rifle Toolcraft.  Not everything can be everywhere, and some instruments can get in the way of other instruments.  The same is true with Armorer’s wrenches.  It might be a stretch to compare a billion-dollar interplanetary spacecraft to a gun tool, but when creating from scratch anything new that has many functions, you need to work with both the individual components, and the relationship between the components.  That’s one reason there are so darn many Leatherman tool models.  If the leverage handle for one fastening tool happens to land on the sharp end of another tool, then using the implement just got worse.

7-11

The Magpul Armorer’s Wrench has seven tools spread out over 11 inches.  Maximum leverage is applied when the Best AR15 Toolhand is furthest from the rotational point of the tool, but that also means your hand will be applying maximum force to the tool at that point.  Lesser Armorer’s tools I’ve used literally hurt when force was applied because a pointed protuberance occupies what should be a ergonomic grip. I had to either wrap the tool with a rag or wear gloves in order to avoid injury or blood blister. Where’s the fun in that?

Magpul provides not only a rock-solid palm platform for applying muscle-level force to the wrench, but also made the wrench the proper length to bridge the limitations of human anatomy with the foot-pound necessary for a proper rifle build. Even more, the wrench is designed for the extremes of using a torque wrench or breaker bar.  Most of the other “Swiss Army do-it-all” armorer’s wrenches put another tool interface right where you need to apply force with your hand. Or they will offer a sliver of metal handle upon which you will apply massive palm pressure especially when trying to remove an excessively tight part.

Call Me A Snob

I have this neighbor who keeps every tool whether it’s any good or not.  A while ago I helped him with project.  While up on his roof and elbow deep in a skylight project, I asked for a number two phillips screwdriver.  Instead of getting a #2, I got a handful of various screwdrivers of which only one of the seven actually had a useful blade. And it was only useful because it was the best of the worst. When I tossed six screwdrivers off the room, it seemed I hurt my friend’s feelings. But I quickly offered him a deal: Throw away all the junk screwdrivers and I’ll buy one good driver for him. A Snap On to be exact. I could tell by his big eyes when I said Snap On that we had a deal.

My point here is that way too often we settle for less and then assume that a pile of less is actually more when it really is nothing more than a big pile of stinky less that’s only as good as the least worst one. Over the years I have gotten rid of every single lesser tool I ever owned.  I ditched all cheap tools, metal tools made in China or Taiwan or forged in nowhere particular out of who-knows-what , and instead focused my tool acquisition only the highest of quality tools.  Yes, the Snap On dealer knows me by name.  A great warranty is great, but if bugging in because of civil unrest or EMP attack, you only got what you got.  All warranties are null and void because society also currently null and void.

Related: Magpul AR15 Furniture Review

But you don’t need to drop obscene amounts of money for the best tools in the solar system.  You just need to buy the highest quality that meet your anticipated needs.  I say “anticipated” because there are limits to what you can afford and even need.  But the error many folks new to the AR platform make is that they fail to think beyond the immediate need.  I’ll agree that it’s a rude awakening that you have to buy a specialized tool to install a new part on your AR, especially when the tool costs as much or more than your new part.  So now the cost of a tool plus the price of the part…well now we are starting to talk real money.  So why would you pay twice or three times as much as you need to? That would be because “need” is relative.  If you are going to do something only once, then save money and a cheap wrench and some band-aids.  But if you want a tool that will not break, will not fail, will not ever let you down, then there is only one AR armorer’s tool and that is the Magpul.  Try this, ask around to see how many AR armorer’s tools your friends have, and if they upgraded along the way. And if so, how many times?

DPMS Is A Tool

I am so glad the DPMS armorer’s tool is no longer made.  I have a DPMS tool and it looks like a winner, feels like a AR15 Survival Toolwinner, but in use it’s really a whiner.  It’s heavy.  It’s thick.  It feels like a strong tool that could take on the world. Sadly, that is just an illusion.  In practice, the tool is hollow in performance, limited in strength, and wholly lacking in the way the tool grips the workpiece.  But while the DPMS is now discontinued, there are plenty more whiners where the DPMS came from.

Other armorer’s tools have limits with grab, rotation and grip.  The online pictures of the DPMS armorer’s wrench make it look like a keeper, but when gunsmithing with the thing, the tool fails because the Amazon page does not show someone applying pressure to the wrench only to have it spin sideways, skip out of the hold, and flail around the workpiece scratching the heck out of the aluminum parts.  To avoid slipping off the workpiece, or stripping the minimal hold points on the nuts, you need a tool that has been perfected for the task.

Magpul Fanboy? Doh!

OK, I admit I’m a fan of Magpul.  I think they search for solutions like drones search for ISIS.  At the bleeding edge magpul_fanboyof technology to and function, Magpul leaves everything on the field.  It’s designs are as good as can be done right now.  Upgrades follow only when we have learned from the previously generation of tool, whether buttstock, backup “iron” sight, or box magazine. When Gen2 comes out, they (and we) have learned.  So consider the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench a Gen2. Magpul has learned from all the successes and failures of every previous generation of multi-function armorer’s tool that has ever been made.  The restless folks at Magpul noticed that the AR armorer’s tool was broken.  It worked, but was still in need of serious help. So Magpul to the rescue.

Also Read: Magpul MBUS Pro Iron Sights

The Magpul Armorer’s Wrench, aka the Magpul 535, weighs a tenth over a pound, and is 11.7 inches long.  It’sBest AR15 Tool made of heat-treated all-American steel, then covered head-to-toe in a manganese phosphate coating that gives it exceptional corrosion resistance and a refined feel that provides additional grip and a low reflectance that will keep the bad guys from catching the sun reflecting off your wrench when you decide to add a new sling plate on your buffer tube while on the battlefield.

Magpul My Finger

Using only US-made forged steel, Magpul created an AR armorer’s wrench that serves the basic needs of the AR Best AR15 Tooloperator and professional armorer alike with exceptional form, function, and most of all efficient interface with the human hand operating the wrench.  As far as I can tell, Magpul designed this wrench by being honest about what an AR armorer’s wrench is used for.  The list of AR  jobs is longer than that the skill set of this wrench, but that’s the point. Other wrenches tried to do it all, but ended up doing it all poorly.  Since 95% of the need for an armorer’s wrench is found in just two or three tasks, 95% of the design of the Magpul supports these tasks.  The three most common needs for a dedicated armorer’s wrench are to remove/install a muzzle device, remove/tighten a buffer tube castle nut, and loosen/tighten a barrel nut or free float handguard ring.  The icing on the phosphate coating cake of this wrench include two hammer faces, a rifle-length tube wrench, and a bottle-cap that Magpul guarantees will open both SAE and Metric bottle caps.

Related: Magpul PMAG Torture Test

There are many advantages of this Magpul wrench over other wrenches but most of them fit into three categories. First, the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench grips it’s workpiece with more contact points than all other wrenches put together. Second, the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench has a deeper and more secure interface with the workpiece. And finally and possibly most important is that the wrench fits well into the human hand when applying maximum pressure. Other wrenches manage to put a tool interface just where your hand needs to go causing either pain or need for gloves when twisting the wrench, especially when removing stubborn nuts. Now add to this the lack of workpiece grip of substandard wrenches and you have a perfect storm of disasters just waiting for the right moment to ruin your rifle, break the wrench, and rip the skin off your knuckles.

Castle Me

So let’s take a closer look at the wrench. The castle nut wrench has two sides, each with a significant benefit. The Magpul_Armorer_Wrench_Review_SurvivalMagpul logo’d side will completely engulf a USGI castle nut ensuring that a positive grip that cannot go flying off the handle, so to speak. But it only works on traditional castle nuts with no additional mounting plate features like QD attachment points, or Magpul’s own ASAP sling mount.

So for enhanced plates, the reverse side of the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench grabs the castle nut from a distance with three beefy prongs. And that alone can be worth the price of this wrench. In both cases, this wrench requires it to be slid over the carbine buffer tube so the buttstock has to be removed, and there is risk of scratching the tube’s exterior if you slide it aggressively.

En Garde

The other end of the wrench holds a two-sided handguard interface, one side Survival Gear Review Magpulfor traditional USGI barrel nuts, and one for common free-float tube nuts.  The barrel nut wrench has two more contact palls compared to the DPMS taking the grip even further beyond the halfway point of grip.  Since a barrel nut can be the highest torque interface on the AR platform reaching upwards of 80 foot/pounds, loosening a stuck barrel nut requires significantly more force than than the 80 it was born with.

Also Read: AR15 Magazine Strategy

The free-float component of this wrench contains a seven-pin spanner that will safely and firmly provide torque to those expensive and lightweight floating handguard mounting solutions.  And that too could alone justify the cost of this Magpul tool.  The standard muzzle device uses parallel control surfaces exactly 3/4ths of an inch apart.  The Magpul Armorer’s Wrench embeds the muzzle device tool within the castle nut tool. In fact the muzzle device spacer is the same one used to accommodate the six-position adjustable stock rail running under the buffer tube housing.  The single pear-shaped opening the southern end of this wrench is actually three different tools.

Hammer It Home

Go ahead, admit it. We all use wrenches as hammers sometimes.  So why not just build a hammer or two into the wrench? Done. The dual hammer faces provide ultra-convenient small but reinforced flat surfaces that are most effective for tapping punches and giving that little bit of umpf when necessary.  But when in the shop a dedicated hammer is a wise choice.  But the real impact of the hammers are to provide additional surface area to distribute the force on your palm when anger takes over your build.

The half-inch square hole in the barrel nut side of the wrench accommodates a torque wrench and Magpul thoughtfully provided the common torque specs forged into the wrench.  Magpul recommends using the torque wrench at a 90 degrees perpendicular to the wrench for best results.  And if torque values are important to you, it is imperative to have a quality torque wrench.  The inexpensive ones are known for being way off, often 10 foot-pounds or more.  Another torque wrench issue is that many half-inch wrenches begin their range not too far from the fastener values used on guns.  I prefer a digital torque wrench with a ⅜” ratchet since the wrenches with a smaller socket connector start at a lower value.  Of course you loose some high end, but I do more lower-level torquing than high value twists these days.  The ovalized hole opposite the torque hole is used to tighten/loosen rifle-length buttstock tubes.

Iron Butterfly

One last feature of the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench is that it truly is a thing of beauty…in a Glock sort of way. You won’t mind leaving the wrench out on the bench just to enjoy it sitting there. Or hang it on the wall in a prominent place in your shop. With all the eye candy we hang off our ARs these days, you might as well find pleasure with your tools. Yea, I know how that sounded, but you know what I meant.

All Photos by Doc Montana

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Book Review: Patriot Rising: The Unbroken

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Max Velocity Patriot Rising

This is the sequel of Patriot Dawn: The Resistance Rises by Max Alexander.  The first installment is a book that is Max Velocity Tacticalon my shelf of ‘books that must go with me’ in the event I must flee my home, right next to my survival guides.  By that I mean wild edible plants, the Constitution, and other invaluable texts.  Not only is it inspirational, but it lays out basic and advanced military style guerrilla warfare for the freedom fighter in all of us.  When this next book showed up I had to stare it down for a couple of days before starting it, because I knew it would consume me and my limited spare time if it was half as good as the first one.

By Pineslayer, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

For those of you unfamiliar with the author, check out his site.  I consider it one of the best out there for those interested in learning about SUT (Small Unit Tactics) and Max and crew are training Americans year round (training info).  Max is a ‘no-holds-barred’ patriot and when you learn more about him and his personal history, it will reinforce the idea of what it means to be an American.

Let’s Get Started

Reading the first book is kinda mandatory IMO, just to understand how the people in the book got to where they Max Velocity Tacticalare now.  That being said, Max does an adequate job in setting you up to dive right in, a little background, just enough to set the stage.  The current situation is that America is in the midst of a Civil War for about a year now.  Even if you don’t accept the author’s version of who the outside players are who helped our corrupt politicians perpetrate this crime against us, you can easily insert your own boogeyman into the mix and come to the same conclusion of what the end game is.  Total subjugation of the remaining population.  One world rule, hell on Earth unless you are one of the elite and those who bow to them.

Here is the text from the back cover of Patriot Rising: The Unbroken to help set the stage.  “The flames of civil war rage across America. The totalitarian Regime remains in power, fighting against the forces of Resistance and the Southern Federation. With Russian and Chinese forces advancing, the storm of war is rising.  America is in its death throes, as the forces of tyranny stamp out liberty across the country.  Following the assault on Washington D.C. by the Southern Federation, Jack Berenger must escape the city with his Resistance forces.  Facing overwhelming odds, fighting both the Regime and invading Russian forces, they must fight for survival, and ultimately, for freedom.  The future of the Republic is bleak.  The Resistance is the light against the darkness.  They are the Unbroken.”     

I’m going to do this review differently than most other reviews.  Most people read the whole book and then write it up, fair enough, but I like to be different.  I will read a few chapters and then write my thoughts down.  By doing it this way, I hope to portray the book as it unfolds and reveal my own trepidation about this scenario.  I’m willing to bet most of you, when reading a fiction novel, not only expect things to go a certain way, but also wish it to follow your own vision of what should happen.  I enjoy being surprised or even sometimes getting pissed off at what is happening in a book, but human nature in all of us wishes to be in control.  In reality we can only control how we react to a situation that is forced upon us, it is then that we see what we are really made of.

Related: Patriot Dawn – The Resistance Rises

Chapters 1 – 4, damn.  The best analogy I can come up with is a ‘roller coaster’.  Max picks up right where he left off max_velocity_tactical_book_review_patriot_rising_the_unbrokenand throws a 800lb gorilla into the mix.  Where will the military leaders, who have been non-state side, lend their support?  As of now a corrupt government has been running amok, using standard bully tactics and disinformation to beat the masses down.  Military leaders are told what to do by civilian leaders, by design and The Constitution,  since the dawn of time.  At what point will they break free and start to think for themselves?  Will they make the right decisions given their limited knowledge of the current reality on the ground?  By the end of the 4th chapter, you will be doubting all you hold sacred as an American, except the faith you have in those you have watched your back for the last year.

Chapters 5-10, at this point you are put through the whole gamut of emotions.  As the team starts making its way back to regroup and patch up their wounded, the reader is met head on with all of our worst fears, a nuclear detonation.  Your head begins to spin as it ties to grasp who would to this. The choices are few, each with nauseating repercussions.   Regime forces not only have no remorse or morals, but they end up recruiting gang members to do their really dirty work.  True terrorism.  Sub-human scum accountable to no one.  The bright spots are just as notable, Jack Berenger and his company of patriots exact their revenge more than once.  At this point the the Resistance Forces are hit head on the idea that their families may have targeted also with additional strikes deep within Texas where their loved ones are.  Now imagine that you have to keep fighting with this knowledge hanging over your head.  The last couple of pages of chapter 10 will bring a tear to any parents eye.

Also Read: The Katrina Rifle

At this point I have to add this mental image/exercise.  It is a point of discussion in virtually all survivalist communities, that if we devolve into Civil War, with a government unwilling to stand by the Constitution and the people, and it turns on its citizens to extract its pound of flesh, who will the military stand by?  In the past decade many top military leaders have retired or maybe have been forced out, either by coercion or disgust.  It is valid concern and Max does a very thorough job in weaving all the possibilities into this story.

Chapters 11- 17, furious, that is best word I can think of to describe the story and my reading.  After a successful ambush of gangland terrorists, some involved locals make an ill advised statement by dumping some bodies for all to see.  This starts off a firefight that brings in foreign forces to ‘pacify’ the area.  One thing that really sticks out in this section of the book is the idea of ‘know your enemy’.  The details of enemy weaponry is at times text like.  You only need to keep reading to understand why it is so essential to the story.  Understanding your adversaries strengths and weaknesses is the only way to put together a game plan for victory.   The fight is full swing at this point and the detail that Max puts into giving you a visual image of how the battlefield is laid out, can only be described as total immersion.

Also Read: 10 Best Outcomes Of TEOTWAWKI

At this point I have confirmed in my mind that if Max Velocity Tactical puts as much thought into their classes as he puts into this book, the training really can’t get any better.  It is obvious that Max, and I’m sure the rest of his cadre, don’t sit back and think that they are doing just fine, ever.  They may be happy with things, things can always be done better, I’m guessing this might be their unsung motto.  I envision the author sitting in front of a large dry erase board sketching up the battlefield scenarios and then putting them to pen.  The detail of the war scenes are precise and there are enough drawings and pictures to help you visualize the terrain and how the battle develops.

Chapters 18 and on, I found myself getting distracted by my own thoughts.  That is not a bad thing.  There are so Survival Bookmany elements and different possible outcomes occurring, that your/my mind starts to wonder what would I be doing at this point.  I found myself this past week waking up thinking about this book and what it means to be ready for the future.  I like to think that I am mentally prepared for just about anything, but you never know until you are there.  After you read this book your ‘to do’ list will get revamped for the better.

Revenge Is Best Served

So, the battle ends, the enemy retreats to lick its substantial wounds, and our fighters get some much needed rest, one whole week.  Our country is still partially occupied by foreign forces so the fight is far from over.  The last chapter of Patriot Rising: The Unbroken does give you a sense that those who bet on the wrong horse are getting what they deserve and those who haven’t been caught yet are burning their credentials and hoping to blend in somewhere.

Related: SHTF Pistol Bag For Under $500

Revenge is a dish best served cold.  Great saying with a unknown original author, that debate is ongoing, but I like Khan’s rendition.  It is very cold in Siberia comrade.  I can’t wait for the next book.

All Photos By Max Velocity

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Professional Level Key Fob Lights

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surefire_sidekick_keyfob_light_review

A growing space in the world of personal lighting (flashlights) is the USB rechargable key fob light. These are not Nitecoreyour grandma’s key ring lights of yesteryear, but powerful photon blasters that in some cases outreach even your dual-celled flashlights.  Like any new tangent in lighting, there are tradeoffs. Being rechargeable, you cannot simply replace the depleted cells with new ones when the light blinks out.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

On the other hand, you can re-power the light with a computer, cell phone charger, backup battery, solar panel, or any other creative solution that provides a five volt DC stream of electrons into a micro USB cable.  Another issue at play here is the form factor.  As light manufacturers explore new designs, we need to consider the opportunities of shape and not just be resistant to change.  The flatter design of these keyfob lights is possible due to the flatter design of their batteries.  Like the traditional car lock remotes, the key fob lights easily disappear into a pocket.

The three main lights highlighted here are the Surefire Sidekick, the Nitecore Tube, and the Factor Ghost 130. One other will be mentioned but it’s not currently available to the public. But I have a feeling that within a year, quality rechargeable keyfob lights will be the new norm and offered by every reputable brand, as well as many not so reputable.

The Two Elephants in this Room

First into this space was Nitecore and it’s low cost decent-performance light named the Tube. Recently, the Best mini flash lightarguably best mainstream flashlight maker jumped into the game with its entry, the Sidekick. As expected, the Sidekick costs more than the Tube; six times as much in fact, but the Surefire blasts out six times the lumens if needed. Both lights recharge their lithium polymer batteries through a standard micro USB connection. The Ghost is in the middle and of conventional shape with the bonus of micro USB rechargeability. However, the build quality of the Ghost 130 is seriously beyond the paygrade of entry level tech. Don’t let the size fool you. The Ghost is scary good.

Kick Me

The Surefire Sidekick has three level of brightness and the Nitecore Tube has two. I’ve always found that the low Best Key Fob Lightsetting is just as an important consideration as the high beam. Surefire’s low end is five lumens, a number common to many of their other lights. Five is an excellent amount of glow for reading a map in the dark or even lighting a path over smooth terrain. However, Nitecore opted for one single lumen as its low setting. One lumen is enough to help a key into a lock or read a watch, but not much else in my opinion. Well, I guess it would appear as a lighthouse in night vision goggles even at a distance.

Related: Bug Out Bag Flashlights

The Nitecore maxes out at 45 lumens and the Surefire’s middle setting is a similar 60 lumens.  But then the Surefire does what Surefire does best.  When it shifts into high gear, a full 300 lumens pump out the business end end this tiny block.  Runtime at full speed is about 85 minutes with 45 hours on low, and about four hours on the medium 60 lumen setting.  Nitecore’s Tube offers up about one hour of full blast and claims two full days at one lumen starting with a full charge.

Light Heavyweights

Weight wise, the Nitecore Tube tips the scales at just under a third of an ounce. The Surefire Sidekick, on the other hand, is four times heavier at a massive 1.2 ounces. So both lights tug on gravity much less than a small pocket knife. Another comparison would be that the Tube is a dime and a quarter in your pocket, while the Sidekick is more like a buck and a half worth of quarters. Noticeable, yes. But since the light is not as dense as a quarter, it’s girth distributes its weight better and becomes more a question of size than weight.

System Operation

Operationally, the Surefire is classic Surefire.  The interface is responsive yet firm as it toggles through its four Best Key Fob Lightchoices of high-medium-low-off.  It is possible to reverse the sequence by connecting the light to a charger and toggling the power button three times, then back to off, then disconnect it from power.  The light will now be low-medium-high-off. I much prefer this order as I find low plenty for my immediate needs.  Be advised, however, that the light will turn off with the next click only after a couple seconds have passed. Otherwise the light will change to the next level. With low as the first, I have blinded myself trying to turn the light off quickly.

The Tube is a simple and unchangeable low-off-high-off as long as you depress the single button within a second of the previous click. Otherwise it will turn off and restart on low again.

Accessorize

All three lights have a lanyard or split ring attachment point. In the non-symmetrical body cases of Sidekick and SHTF SurvivalTube, the hole is perpendicular to the light’s major flat surface. This keeps the light in line with keys, when on a larger ring, but can also make the light wider in the pocket depending on what is attached. On my Sidekick, I attached a loop of paracord along with the incredibly small spring-loaded hook Surefire provided with the light. I use the loop more for an extraction handle when pulling it from deep in my pocket, as well as an extra grip when the light is not in its most common other use positions; wedged in my hat like a headlamp or in my mouth.

By far the best feature about lights in this space is that they recharge.  Battery management is important when you are paying for disposable batteries.  So if you are picking up the tab on your own batteries, you are likely shutting the light off as soon as possible, and using the lowest setting possible.  Knowing that you can conveniently recharge the light makes it easy to leave the light on longer and not shut it off between repeating needs such as when working on a truck, or lighting a camp or work space.  Plus, you can leave home with a full charge everyday.

Headaches

For all their goodness, two of these lights have significant but correctable drawbacks. The biggest problem with the Surefire Sidekick is that when recharging the battery, and I’m not kidding here, the light blinks while charging and then stays on when done. Seriously, WTF? I actually have to cover up the light when charging it or the incessant blinking drives me crazy. I talked to Surefire about it, and it sounds like the issue is so obviously a bad idea that future versions will hopefully not carry the “feature” forward.

Related: Bug Out Gun Lights

The main problem with the Nitecore Tube is that the it’s LED is essentially unhoused. This means that the nub of glass on the business end of the Tube spills light in all directions around as well as forward. So looking down on the light when 90 degrees forward-facing, light fills your eyeballs with brightness. I tend to slide my thumb up over the top of the LED in order to kill the spill. Electricians tape around the light would also fix the problem, but so would a design refresh. However, since the light is only slightly thicker than the LED in the first place, I can see why they didn’t bother to thicken up the light’s front end. And for ten bucks, how much can you complain?

The Tube does have a rubber USB port cover that I like. The Surefire’s electronic mouth is open wide and will collect pocket debris and lint over time. Surefire recommends a squirt of compressed air to relocate any transient fuzz. On the other side, the water resistance to the interiors of the lights might be affected by the need and/or absence of a rubber cover. A necessary extra cover might also indicate a potential weak point.

In all cases, there are no deal-killers here. Both lights are exceptional and well worth their price, especially the Tube, which, by the way, comes in almost a half-dozen color flavors including the Surefire’s only Model-T black. The Surefire Sidekick retails for $79.99, but can be easily had for ten bucks less. And with that $10, you could buy the Nitecore Tube as well.

Seen a Ghost?

A new company on the scene grew out from a need near and dear to my heart: real quality.  Spelled out frankly on Key Fob Ghost LED Lighttheir website, “where junk gear is not an option” pretty much says it like it is.  And just off their drawing board is an extraordinary little light that has the durability of a bad internet rumor, and the output of a light saber.  At 1.5 inches in length and half that in thickness this shiny silver cylinder has a blast radius well beyond it’s paygrade, and a durability factor beyond any other small USB light on earth.  In addition to the intricately machined aircraft aluminum housing, the light is sealed on both ends by O-rings.  The front head is unscrewed and removed exposing the USB port.  The glass encased flashlight head also unscrews leaving the center of the cylinder filled with a replaceable battery.  Two light output options are available, low and holy-moly that’s bright!

Also Read: Milwaukee Work Lights

The two-stage lighting is activated by screwing down the head. First low output, then high. A screw-down head also allows for toggling the light either between off and low, or low and high by adding a little more downward pressure with one’s finger rather than the threads. It also means that a little pocket pressure could activate the light (on low) if the electrical contacts are just barely out of reach when in the off position. The only downside of this light that I can tell is it’s heft. At 0.74 ounces with battery, which by any other standard is ignorable, the density of this whole light is not too far off the metal it’s made of so you might feel it in your pocket.

When recharging, once the cord is connected, a tiny internal red light indicates charging and a green light makesBest Survival Light obvious that charging is finished. Surefire could sure learn a thing or two from Factor.  In fact, the gun light industry might get a little spine shiver if Factor popped out an inexpensive tail switch onto the Ghost 130 along with a rail mount.  For thirty bucks, a new space in weapons mounted lights could emerge.  But it might be a waste if this light spends its days in a bedside biometric handgun safe.

Related: Compact Flashlight Comparison

The Ghost’s MSRP $29.95 and will likely be a hot seller with good reason.  With lithium-ion batteries having a 500-plus recharge lifecycle, that means at five bucks of replaceable batteries, this little beast of a light could save you $2500, give or take.  And that’s almost enough for a Daniel Defense DD5v1 .308 if that’s what’s on your list today.  I know it’s on mine.

And even better is that Factor Equipment is so sure you will be thrilled with their lights that they offer a 30-day-Buy-and-Try. That means you’ve got a month of personal use and abuse  “abuse within reason” in their words) before you totally commit to keeping the light. If you return the light within 30 days, you will be credited your purchase price towards something else that Factor Equipment makes.

Last Call

One more light in this USB rechargeable Keyfob space includes a yet to be released Fenix light that very much Survival Key Fob Lightmirrors the Tube. The Fenix light that is in development is an effective lighting solution addressing the exact same space as the Tube. I know because I got some hands-on time with both of the only examples in existence at SHOT Show; a blue one and a pink one presumably covering the entire gender spectrum of potential buyers. It’s flat profile and unhoused LED provides plenty of work area lumens, but less reach except for easily avoiding confrontations between your shins and furniture in a dark house. The build-quality of the Fenix seems a step up from the Tube, but the as-yet unpublished price point will be quite similar to the Tube.

Morning Light

No doubt, as this space evolves, there will be some amazing new lighting opportunities. Just as every other electronic space that ditched the round cells for built-in rechargeables opened doors, the future of mico-lighting is brighter than you can imagine.

All Photos By Doc Montana

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Survival Gear Review: ESEE-6 Knife

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Best Survival Knife

ESSE knives are the real deal.  In fact, they are so darn good and in such high demand by users on the front lines Best Survival Knifethat people have started trying to counterfeit them.  Let’s say up front, if you intend to shop for an ESEE knife on line in particular, buy it from a reputable dealer with established business credentials.  Steer clear of generic populous sales sites that individuals use to scam buyers with knock off junk.  ESEE does have authorized dealers, too.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

The Catalog Profile

Both preppers and survivalists seem to like to know “just the facts, ma’am” when it comes to presenting or reviewing a product of interest.  So, let’s cover a little history on this company.  ESEE under the direction of president Jeff Randall, has been creating gear and training for survival in some of the most hostile and remote areas on Earth.  They have been doing this for some eighteen years.

They build among other things some of the finest, heavy knives in the world that can withstand the most demanding punishment.   The company resides in Alabama, but the American-made knives are forged in Idaho Falls, Idaho.  You can check them out completely at www.eseeknives.com.

Related: 7 Things You Should Consider Before Buying A Survival Knife

There you will find all sorts of specialized survival gear, kits, ESEE knives, and much more.  They also offer a SHTF survival knifecomprehensive survival skills training school for which you can find courses and schedules on their web site.  It is all very impressive.

The ESEE-6 knife I have to review was obtained via the local authorized dealer David Graves of Brandon Sporting Arms in Brandon, Mississippi, not as a prop or select loaner direct from the company.  They have no idea I have one of their knives and I doubt they care.  They stand behind every knife with a lifetime warranty on all 1095 steel blades.  If you break it, just return it for a replacement.  The warranty is transferable and is warranted no matter how many times the knife has traded hands, no sales receipt required.  It is not guaranteed against rust, normal wear and tear, loss or theft.

The No.6 knife has an overall length of 11.75 inches with a cutting edge length of 5.75 inches.  The total blade is 6.5 inches in length.  The blade width is 1.56 inches making it hefty, strong, and authoritative.   The handle end is fixed with a rounded pommel with a lanyard hole.  The knife weighs only 12 ounces without the sheath, which by the way is a molded ploy with an optional clip plate that can be installed by the owner with provided attachment hardware.

The 1095 carbon steel with a 55-57 Rc produces a fine blade for multi-task cutting, chopping and blade work.  The Best Survival Knifegrip handles are made of Linen Micarta.  There are four models of the ESEE-6 based mainly on blade colors, blade edge type such as plain or serrated, sheath color, and handle colors.  Other options are available, too.  The ESEE-6 retails for around $150 at their network of authorized dealers, but can be found elsewhere if shopped around.
The ESEE sheaths are special as well.  The knives are shipped with a fully ambidextrous molded sheath, a clip plate, paracord with cord lock, and hardware, screws, rubber washers and barrel nuts to attach the clip to the sheath.  The sheath is made with lashing and cord storage holes, hole spacing for MOLLE locks, and a drainage port.  The knife is held in the sheath by friction retention with a thumb grip surface used to withdraw the blade from the sheath.

One additional feature to this knife is the information provided on the knife packing container.  The ESEE boxes include survival, navigation, and emergency signaling information printed on the box sleeve.  The sleeve information could be cut out, folded, and stored in a bug out bag or out the door bag.

Handling and Use

For me first impressions are lasting and my initial handling of the ESEE-6 was positive.  The Micarta handles are a Best Survival Knifegreenish-grey with a fine gripping texture though the surface is slick.  Handling with Mechanix gloves would be advisable as you work with the knife.  The full tang blade is heavy making the butt end pommel substantial.  The knife feels hand fulfilling, stocky, but not overly heavy.  The blade thickness and weight is well proportioned throughout.

In my hands it balances very well and swings with authority.  The steel is coated with a black, grainy textured finish which adds some rust and stain resistance and extra use durability to the blade. All this sweet talk is flattering, but does the ESEE cut it, pun intended?   I took the ESEE to Bug Out Camp this past weekend to wield it in person.   I cannot imagine any other knife in this size and weight category performing any better.  It chops through saplings with dedication so it would be good on camp establishment work, and such.

I walked out into the thick briar section of woods and though the ESEE-6 is not machete, it hacks right through vines and trash.  We have a particularly tough, clingy, green sticker vine in the south and the ESEE waded right through this.  Also this is with the factory edge as I did not even attempt to sharpen it further.

Again, the weight and balance of this knife is great.  I confirmed that gripping gloves are best with this knife doing tough work as the knife’s handle is smooth without an aggressive texture.  For an all round camp knife from cutting meat or foods, and such it would perform very well.  Same for rope work, and such.

The snap-in sheath is sturdy, and holds the ESEE knife with authority.  I don’t see this knife ever falling out of the sheath.  In theory it could be grabbed by woodland vines or such and pull the knife free, but that would be unlikely in my estimation.  The ESEE is good to go.   Whatever size ESEE you pick, I think you’ll be completely satisfied.

All Photos By Dr. John J. Woods

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Bug In Contingencies

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bug_out_bag_house_survival

Though Katrina hit more than a decade ago, I remember it like yesterday.  Forty-eight hours before the pundits at Best Bug Out Housethe National Weather Service finally decided on a landfall location, the local grocery stores were already picked clean like vultures working a road kill.  I only wish I had taken pictures of the mayhem.  I walked the aisles just to see what a premier national disaster does to a localized population of scared people.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

The hurricane itself would hit land some 150 miles away from our town, but the impact would be felt locally for days, months and years.  Anything fresh was gone, all the fruits and vegetables gone.  Fresh milk, cold juices, bottled water, soft drinks, and most of the beer were gone.  A lot of the meat was gone unless you wanted calves liver or some other weird cuts.  Cold cuts, cheeses, and all that were emptied out.  There was nothing on the shelves that remotely resembled bread, rolls, bagels, crackers, English muffins or anything else you could spread peanut butter or jelly on.  Oh, all that was gone, too.  Virtually everything else in the store food and drink wise had been bought out.  It was a ghost land.  If you had not been in the first wave of panic shoppers 72 hours before the storm hit, then you were flat out of luck.  The question is now and have we learned our lesson that if we plan a Bug In during a SHTF are we any more ready today, than we were ten years ago?

Societal Woes Arrive

Before I get into the meat of prepping your Bug In location for a SHTF, let me relay what also developed in the area SHTF Survivalwhere I live as a result of the evacuation of thousands of people from the Gulf Coast in advance of Katrina.  As fast as they could get north on the interstate highways, we had hundreds if not thousands of people descend upon our city.  Every motel room booked quickly.  Local restaurants were overwhelmed.  Even their food stores ran short.  A fair ground building was set up as a help center to house and feed people.  That situation ended up lasting for weeks.  I visited the site after it was finally closed and it was a virtual trash pile.  You might remember what people did to the Super Dome in New Orleans.  We had the same thing only on a smaller scale.

You Might Also Like: SHTF Firearm Choices

To abbreviate the details, for several months, many of these refugees remained in the regional area.  Crime shot up 200%.  Construction, roofing, and clean up crews flocked into the area from all over the country.  Some literally preyed upon the citizens taking money, promising services, and then disappearing.  It took law enforcement and other authorities too long to get a handle on controlling all of this activity.  It left a really sour taste in the mouths of many, even those poised to help the honestly needy.

My point is, besides preparing your own property to withstand and survive any kind of a SHTF, you also have to prepare for the aftermath.  In fact, in our case the aftermath was actually worse than how the SHTF impacted the region.  At my own house and neighborhood we were lucky.  Sure we went five days without power in August, when temperatures went over 100 degrees but we unofficially bonded together as neighbors to watch things and maintain control over our residential area.  For days, I sat on the front porch eying trucks with out-of-state, out-of-county license plates file down the streets looking for opportunities.  Perhaps it was the AR lying across my lap in the rocking chair that deterred them from stopping at my place.  I hope so.

Home Assessment

You need to conduct a firsthand, thorough evaluation of your Bug In house and property.  If you live in a housing Best Survival Bug Out Bagresidential area, then look around your house and your immediate neighbor’s houses to get a complete understanding of access points, how outsiders might get to your back door, easy access windows, garage doors, or other points of entry.  You may elect not to harden these against oppressive entry because of the expense and hassle, but at least you will know your home’s weak points.  Today, they make all kinds of secure window and door entry covers to keep out everyone but the most ardent determined thug.  If those jacks want in, about all you can do is shoot them out a porthole.

Also Read: Do You Need An AR15?

Most garage doors you can lock down in a variety of ways.  However, like I mentioned above the really talented thieves will have a gas powered disk saw that will slice through an aluminum garage door or some steel home doors in a matter of seconds.  They can also cut through the roof, around window frames, through non-brick sidewalls and other suspect points of entry.  If you do not or cannot protect all of these points, then you have to devise a planning and train to defend yourself from inside.

Hey, Nobody is Home Here!

I’d love to hear from everyone in the comments below if you think posting a sign like that outside would have an Survivalimpact on deterring any unwanted entry.  I have seen metal signs at gun shows that say things like “There is nothing in this house worth your life for breaking in” or whatever.  I am just doubtful such postings would deter anyone.  Perhaps a painted marking on the outside of the house as in post-Katrina that identifies the house as searched and secured as nobody being home?

Related: SHTF vs. TEOTWAWKI

Having said that, I think during any kind of a SHTF either natural or unnatural that you want to maintain a low profile around your Bug In residence, unless you and a survival team or neighbors actively conduct armed patrols outside in full view.  During the day, stay in the house as much as possible.  Use only one exit and entry, one that is more out of public view from the street.  At night, blacken a room you can stay in or keep all windows in the main living area securely covered permitting no light to be seen.  Go outside yourself to double check this. This approach of course is a point of debate.  Is it better to show a presence (armed) or maintain a discrete lack of visibility?  What do you think?

Bug In SHTF Supply Up

This becomes the hard and fast of the survival part.  You have to stock up enough water and food to sustain top_survival_blog_survival_survivalist_teotwawki_shtf_shtfblogyourself for the long haul, while not even knowing what that means.  I think maybe we all hope whatever kind of a SHTF occurs, that at some point, hopefully sooner than later, that calm and public resolve will be returned to normal.  If you are optimistic, then I say plan on sustaining you and your family for a minimum of a month.  If you lack faith in the “system” then you might want to think in terms of six months.  I cannot imagine the efficiency, manageability, affordability, and space to keep enough supplies to hold out at a Bug In (or Out for that matter) for that long.  Perhaps I am self-deluding here?  What say you?

Related: Breaking The Law When The SHTF

I recall when attending the University of Missouri back in the late 60s and 70s that the library in the center of campus was a storage site for supplies in the event of a NBC (nuclear, biological, or chemical) attack.  Big drums of supplies, food, and water lined the basement halls and book stacks.  As I look back today, no way would all those supplies have lasted hardly any time at all for a campus population of say 25,000 students, not counting everybody else.  See my point?

So, anyway, initially think in terms of holding out for a month.  That alone will be taxing enough.  You may decide to go with plastic tubs, cardboard cases, or canisters of commercially available survival foods, MREs or other foods.  I can see that as a good option, expensive, but not a bad plan.

You other options made easier by Bugging In at your own residence is to supply up with tons of canned goods of all kinds to weather the SHTF.  I will not detail here nutritional requirements, quantities, calories, food prep, or such.  There are much better resources out there to study for this information, but do keep these ideas in mind especially how you will “cook” food on what and such.

Just keep everything in perspective in terms of how many people you have to feed, and what their general likes and dislikes are.  If you buy ten cases of potted meat, but nobody will touch it with a ten food pole, then you made a bad choice.  Water supplies could be a real issue.  It would be nice to hope that the sink tap water will continue to flow, but what if it does not or it is not drinkable?  Storing large quantities of drinking water is problematic.  I recommend filling milk jugs or other large gallon water containers to keep in the garage or basement.  Maybe this could be done at the Nth hour before a storm of any kind hits, like they recommend filling bathtubs for extra water.  I would plan on maintaining some water supplies though.  It will always take more than what you planned on.

Also Read: Networking After TSHTF

A survivalist friend of mine maintains a stock of 50 cases of 24-bottles each of plastic bottled water.  He rotates it by purchase dates.  He only has 2-3 people at home to worry about, so I would think this much water would last a while, but who really knows how long?  At least that is a start.

Now, make a list of all the other supplies you might need besides food and water.  A starting list might include medicines, OTC items, paper products, candles, cell batteries, solar panel re-chargers, clothing, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, extra eyeglasses, medical/first aid kit(s), back up heater(s), fuels, propane, charcoal, AM-FM radio(s), CB radio, scanner, water filter, fire extinguisher(s), so on and so forth.

Bug In Defense

I hope at a future date to develop another article dedicated in more depth to this subject.  For now, just know and Survival SHTFrealize that you may not be able to simply huddle up in your Bug In home and hope to be left alone.  I suspect or fear for some preppers that are not inclined as many of us are to be aptly prepared to defend ourselves against unwanted intrusions to our domicile.  This can be a very scary situation even for those that think they are prepared.  It is just another reality of the SHTF aftermath.  Let’s be honest, few of us are really prepared to shoot or kill another human being, but it might come to that in defense of our family.  Scavengers are very likely to be about their business of robbing homes and businesses of anything of what they deem is valuable.

Remember the thugs pushing shopping carts down the streets of New Orleans in three feet of water loaded with electronics and other merchandise?  This could and likely will happen even in your quiet little neighborhood, too, depending on how out of control everything gets after the SHTF resides.  Expect it, prepare for it, and hope it never happens.  So, there is a very thin thumbnail sketch of some Bug In contingencies that you may have to deal with and prepare for.  We can sometimes see natural SHTFs like storms and severe weather coming somewhat in advance.  Societal collapses are more difficult to predict.  Some get out of hand so quickly it is hard to react, aka Ferguson, MO.  Of course, planning and preparation is the key to survival.

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Apocalypse 101
Dan Davis

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Survival Gear Review: Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet

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Best Survival Hatchet

I find interesting that knife reviews often and immediately take on cutting chores at the upper limit of a blade’s best survival hatchetpay grade.  Many of the tasks assigned to the knives are really better served by another survival tool; the Hand Hatchet.  And in particular, the Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet.  Of the rides in my growing stable of hand hatchets, the 1.3 pound/9.5 inch Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet is not just my favorite, but by far my BFF for many reasons.  While not all that much bigger than a full-sized bushcraft blade, the hand hatchet is like the stronger but dumber big brother to the survival knife.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Give me a Hand

Precision is not the hand hatchet’s main selling feature, but rather blunt force performance for bigger but still Survival Toolhand-sized woodwork. In fact a high quality and very sharp hand hatchet can easily step on the toes of the survival knife. And not just step on them, it can stomp on the knife’s toes to the point of forcing the debate from one needing both to that of being happy with either/or. However, the smaller the axe, the more skill needed to use it effectively and the more dangerous it is since the business end is closer to the user.

Also Read: Survival Choppers, Understanding Axes

Hand hatchets are smaller and/or shorter than conventional camp axes or traditional hatchets which run in the survival hatchetsub-axe length of an overall length less than elbow to fingertip. While the head of the hand hatchet might look familiar, it often ends there. Many hand hatchets are closer to knives than axes through their one-piece design with handgrip scales bolted, riveted, glued, or otherwise somehow stuck to the metal handle, and similar length cutting surfaces. The problem with many designs is that forging a properly tapered hatchet head is difficult if not impossible for many companies to do in-house. The result is that quality hand hatchets have an overall head thickness not much more than a knife blade. The result of this simplistic design is that it produces a low mass head relative to the handle, and absolutely no significant inertia wedging as the head slams into the workpiece. Instead the blade slides neatly into the wood like a screwdriver wedging its parallel sides tightly against the wood grain. And that is if you can generate enough speed to make the hatchet head cut more than just superficial wounding the branch. Otherwise a simple band aid will fix the cut in the cellulose.

Stolen Valor

A flat-sided hand hatchet, or that with no head taper beyond the very edge of traditional steel stock, easily sticks SHTF Hatchetinto softer woods requiring constant rocking to remove them. In fact, they perform much like nails where the wedge tip spreads the grain so the following mass can bury itself into the wood with maximum friction. Better chopping hand hatchets have slightly concave or convex heads that do not stick as easily in the grain, and actively throw wood chips away from the work site during the chopping. If you used one in the kitchen instead of a flat-sided slicing knife, your salad fixings would go flying all over the place rather than lazily falling over. The more convex, the more its wedge-shape splits wood. Unfortunately a hand hatchet has comparatively little energy transfer to the impact point so splitting is definitely not the hand hatchet’s forte’ so you might be better off erring on the flatter side then the convex side.

Related: Trucker’s Friend

Adding insult to the lack of injury to the wood is that many flat-sided hand hatchets are borne of lesser steel that survival hatchethas more in common with a refrigerator door or cheap hammer head than an outdoor knife. Quality axe and hatchet steels have very particular characteristics and tempering that keep it both sharp and sharpenable. The blade must hold up to harsh striking as well as gentle slicing. If lesser steel, the blade will easily chip, fold, or rapidly dull through attrition. None of which are acceptable when you have a survival job to do.

Sharp or SHARP!

As I mentioned before, the short handle and razor sharp blade requires more attention than other choppers. Being SHTF Cutting Toolso small and noticeably sharper off the production line than lesser brands, swinging such a blade can get dangerous. The short handle but full sized head can cause more than normal torque on the head causing the swing follow through to head off in an unintended direction. Therefore proper axe swing technique is more than essential. But even then I still managed to break my skin twice during my first serious voyage with the Gränsfors Bruks hand hatchet. The first cut was absolute stupidity on my part when I was chopping branches clearing a trail through downfall. The horseflies were starting to irritate me more than usual and when one sunk its proboscis into my calf, I whipped my hand around to swat it and the low-mass tiny axe nicked my flesh. The worst part was I missed the damn fly. Well, no. The worst part was the blood trickling down my leg was attracting more flies than Bill Bass’s Body Farm in Tennessee. But forgetting the hatchet was in my hand should be ample evidence that the Hand Hatchet can disappear during use.

Also Read: 10 Non-Power Tools You Need For Survival

My second screw up was when I was shaving bark and mini-stabs off a pair of hiking sticks needed for a river crossing. Getting the sticks to near perfection was easy with the Gränsfors Bruks hand hatchet. The problem was that I wanted total perfection. I choked all the way up on the hatched head and started polishing the stick’s handle are to a mirror finish. It was just so much fun work the blade across the birch. As my work area on the stick grew smaller and smaller, the axe head became correspondingly larger and larger. Since the mass of the axe stayed the same, it was inevitable that I would loose control and slice my finger which is exactly what happened. Like trying to pull a sliver out with lineman’s pliers, there is a point of diminishing return when using a hand hatchet over a knife.

Get a Grip

Hand hatchet handles vary as much as their heads. Many smaller hatchets or those marketed to the survival crowd survivalhave prominent finger grooves. While the tactical-like depressions do help maintain grip and control especially when wet, the fixed finger positions significantly limit the number of comfortable holds and can make extended use rather painful. Without gloves, the more finger grooves, the more blisters or hot spots.  Seriously, listen to the rants about the Gen4 Glocks with lightly defined finger posits in the grip. It’s not like anyone is carrying their Glock hours on end in a grip tight enough to keep it from flying free during a fast arm swing. Yet the fully mature finger guides in hand hatchets are like a gated community and unless your fingers fit and stay, you are not welcome there.

Using the Gränsfors Bruks hand hatchet for big work, regardless of the grip, is an absolute pleasure compared to a survival knife when gross movements and significant force is needed. I’m quick to grab a hand hatchet to make kindling, de-limb branches, chop small firewood, apply some heavy scraping, and sharpen sticks for tent pegs and cooking implements.

Playing the Field

The shortest of my hand hatchets is the Timberline Russ Kommer Bush Pilot Survival Hatchet. It also has the most hand_hatchet_cutting_toolpronounced and aggressive finger grooves in the handle. While the permanent finger placements feel fine upon initial inspection, after a few minutes of chopping your hands will be crying for mommy. The finger notches force a certain grip that is quite squared up with the blade. I find it unnatural and uncomfortable. But in its defense, the digit subdivisions installed on the handle will keep the hatchet more secure, especially with a weak or injured hand. But given the super-short handle length, you have bigger problems than just holding on to the chopping thing.

But What About The…

But the gorilla in the room is how the Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet compares to the Gerber Back Paxe. Gerber’s survival hatchetcontributions to this short-handled axe space includes several models. The one in my stable is Gerber’s combo axe/knife system. The small axe handle is hollow and contains an even smaller knife. Normally I wouldn’t consider the knife tangent a bonus, but since the handle was devoid of substance anyway, the knife can only be a positive.  Gerber’s plastic handled axes and hatchets have an almost cult-like following. Many purists dismissed the plastic as an unforgivable act against traditional lumberjack hardware, but again and again, the plastic proved itself worthy in trial after trial.

A few of the initial differences between the Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet and the Gerber Back Paxe include:
-The GF Hand Hatchet is a quarter inch longer in the handle.
-The Gerber head is a quarter inch thinner and has a quarter inch shorter bit face.
-The GF Hand Hatchet handle is curved Hickory while the Gerber’s is straight plastic.
-The GF’s handle is field-replaceable.
-The Gerber’s bit is a flat grind. The GF has something closer to a hollow grind.
-The warranty for the GF Hand Hatchet is 25 years. The Gerber’s is lifetime.
-The Gerber weighs 22.5 oz with knife. The GF Hand Hatchet weighs 21 oz. Both a little less than a Glock 19 without the magazine.
-The retail price of the GF Hand Hatchet is twice that of the Gerber. The street price is about three times.
-The GF Hand Hatchet embraces old world craftsmanship. The Gerber leans toward the tactical.

In a chopping comparison, the GF Hand Hatchet makes much nicer and deliberate slices into the wood and can best hatchethold a sharper edge and for longer. The chisel-shaped blade on the Gerber is more like a splitting wedge than a precision chopper. In fact, that is more what I would classify it as; a splitter. But with nine inch handles, the difference is minor in the big picture. Like a couple of Chihuahuas fighting, it might seem like a big deal at your ankles, but not from ten feet away.

Also Read: Crovel Elite

Carving, hands down, goes to the Gränsfors Bruks Hand Hatchet. The narrowgransfors_bruks_axe_review blade is much more knife-like so it smoothly and precisely scrapes and grinds the wood at angles much shallower than the Gerber’s chisel tip. But even more importantly is that the weight of axe head is mostly behind the leading edge of the handle. The Gerber, on the other hand, has more weight in front of the handle edge. What this means is that while the heads might be of similar mass, the GF Hand Hatchet rotates much more easily due to the reduced weight further from the rotational axis point compared to the gerber. Mostly this difference translates into less fatigue through less effort to keep the GF Hand Hatchet slicing though wrist and finger movements. But unlike the previous dog fight, this small difference makes a big difference.

The care and feeding of the Gerber is much simpler than the GF Hand Hatchet. Wood requires attention, and while both steels will rust, the glass-reinforced plastic handle of the Gerber will resist the elements until cold or ultraviolet light demolishes the bonds between the oil-based molecules. The Hickory handle on the GF Hand Hatchet might last a year or a century, but likely somewhere in between. Before this turns into a review of the Gerber axe (that will come later) I’ll get back on topic.

Grind Cover

Most hand hatchets have a bit (blade) cover that doubles as a belt attachment. Like a knife sheath, the bit covers survival hatchetvary widely from major coverage and heavy duty attachment to not much more than a blade bikini with a belt loop. Frankly, I am not much of a fan of wearing my hand hatchet on my waist. I reserve my belt-space for those items either essential to survival (think pistol), or too big for a pocket but used quite often (think fixed blade knife). When I want to carry my hatchet on my belt, I carry it in my belt. Forced through a gap between me and my belt, the tool stays put and handy without having to be separated from its sheath when moved from storage to action.

The Gränsfors Bruks hand hatchet is small only in handle length. The craftsman at Gränsfors Bruks took the head off their wildly successful Wildlife Hatchet and mounted it on a hickory handle four inches shorter. And given that the Wildlife Hatchet was already on the short side for handaxes, those four inches were like dog inches and translate to the loss of almost a third of the handle length.

Other small Gränsfors Bruks designs include a miniature Small Hatchet that would be at home in the kitchen well shtf hatchetas the domestic campsite. And the Outdoor Axe that combines a full-length but smaller diameter hatchet handle with a tiny head. So to recap, arguably the finest axe maker in the world forges axes with a big head on a short handle, a small head on long handle, and small head on a short handle. Since leverage, and thus cutting power, is a function of both head mass times swing speed, all of the above have merit and all of the above have significant limits. Oh, and all of the above have a price tag in the three digits. And in the interest of full disclosure, I am also enamored with the Gransfors Bruks Outdoor Axe that has a smallish head on a longish handle. Please see the review of that $175 right angle hickory handled blade.

Bite the Bullet$

The thing I find most odd about quality hand hatchets is that even a Gucci one like the Gränsfors Bruks is not Gransfors Bruks Hand Hatchetmuch over a hundred dollars, yet people drop a hundred dollars for a survival or bushcraft knife all day long in the big box sporting goods stores and then turn around and complain about the price of a high quality hatchet. Further, and this is important, the Gränsfors Bruks business strategy is not to make a fancier product, but to make the consumer more intelligent about the product. The other side of the coin has the twenty dollar hatchets dumbing down the masses and hiding the value of knowledge. Every Gränsfors Bruks hatchet comes with a heavily illustrated 36 page booklet informing the reader about the history and manufacture of quality axes. Half the book is devoted to technique, sharpening and maintenance, and even throwing the axes. Want your own copy, here it is (click here)  And for those interested in something more general and substantial, here is a wonderful tome brought to you by the U.S. Forest Service. Your tax dollars at work! (click here)

The Final Swing

Whether you spring for the Gränsfors Bruks hand hatchet or not, right-angled blades of this size generally weigh survivalsomewhere between one and one-and-a-half pounds. Or the weight equivalent of between 15 and 22 ounces of water. So for the heft-cost of a large can of beer, you can add an essential piece of equipment to your kit that will not only extend the life of your knife, but take your bushwork further and in more directions than your knife alone. And it doesn’t stop there. The hand hatchet will speed up game processing, shelter building, woodcraft, and firecraft. In fact, if you haven’t used a hand hatchet before, you likely don’t realize just how big a hole you have in your outdoor toolbox.

All Photos by Doc Montana

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Survival Gear Review: Fallkniven PC Folding Knife

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best survival pocket knife

Let’s cut to the chase. The point of an everyday carry (EDC) knife is to always have a sharp blade just a pocket awaybest pocket survival knife (sorry for the triple pun).  And with apologies to restrictive jurisdictions, the choice of an EDC knife is wide open and up the the carrier.  For me, I am an unabashed Benchmade user.  I have a dozen different Benchmade folding blades, and every morning I savor the choice of what blade will ride with me matching my edge to my calendar.  But I’ll be the first to admit that I need to get out more.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Beyond Benchmade

Not partying on the town, but enriching my carry options to better understand the the intersection of knife, Best Survival Pocket Knifelifestyle and cutting job. For starters, let me put a finer point on my Benchmade preference by saying that in particular Axis Lock drop point knives really tickle my fancy with prejudice towards those knives that contain artistic elements that prove that Benchmade loves me and wants me to be happy. Sadly, Benchmade has it limits and there are other outstanding knife makers in the world that I need to spend more time with.

“Fallkniven” Means Folding Knife

As I stared at open the Fallkniven PC folding knife in my hand, the first thing I noticed is that it required using a pinch grip or the fingernail groove to open it. Wow. I had not carried a knife that that in years. It was Spyderco that opened my world to something other than nail grooves and thumb studs. The so-called Spyderhole was revolutionary and I carried a Police model, a Delica and a Rescue for years, with a Ladybug and Assist for special occasions. I drooled over any of the pricy Spyderco designs and carried some of them more as pocket art than for their cutting talents since I considered their steel often robust but still pedestrian. But while the Spydercos still required a blade deployment not to far evolved from a thumb stud, which in turn was still in earshot of a fingernail grove, the Benchmade Axis deployment, especially their assist and partial assist won me over. And until now, I’ve never looked back.

Also Read: Fallkniven F1 Review

I quickly warmed the dual-sided nail notches, and realize that my prejudice towards that type of blade deployment was due to a childhood of chipping fingernails on Swiss Army and Buck knives. And don’t get me started on that Swiss Army knife awl!  But no pocket clip? I could see that the Fallkniven PC was going to be a challenge to my personal paradigm, but I was going to pack the PC everywhere and find out more.

Is That A Scalpel In Your Pocket?

Now that I am many months into carrying the Fallkniven PC, I realize that I may have overlooked some things. It’sbest fallkniven pocket knife a tall order to outperform 154CM or S30V alloys. Super steels are, well, super. But just as the super steels raised the bar more than just a notch or two over the 440 stainless series of irons, Fallkniven’s Cobalt superduper steel has lifted the bar yet again forcing me to reassess my evaluation methods. Imagine using your knife everyday, yet only needing to sharpen it once year or so. Sure that might be a stretch, but the simple fact of considering that possibility required me to rethink my EDC principles since I can noticeably dull a 154CM edge in a single outing.

As I type this I am packing a Benchmade 300 as well as the Fallkniven PC. For those uninitiated in the Benchmade nomenclature, the 300 is their first attempt at a flipper. It has a wide but slightly short full-bellied clip point 154CM satin blade with scales graced with three finger grooves of sandstone-colored and textured G10 including the index finger depression supplemented by the flipper trigger. To me the knife has hints of Native American style steeped in early Americana. The layered G10 is exposed like sedimentary rock stratification common to the Grand Canyon or the Morrison Formation in Utah where I love to experience the hostile desert surrounded by dinosaur bones. Yes, the 300 is thick and heavy and expensive and marginally a flipper, but like the Macbook Air I am typing this on, I love using it. So much so that I literally seek out uses to launch it into action.

Superman Is Made Of Cobalt Steel

Fallkniven literally means folding knife, and the PC is Fallkniven’s second version of its P-series folder. Anyone best pocket folding knifenew to the PC folder is understandably stunned into silence by sticker shock. Yet anyone familiar to Fallkniven would be surprised by the low cost of this ubersteel folder with it’s street price barely topping a single Benji. Like Apple Computer, Fallkniven is not interested in the mass market appeal of low prices. Fallkniven is interested in the highest quality, most technically advanced steel blade available on earth. In hindsight, the PC is quite affordable and has a street price much less than most Benchmade Blue Class knives (which are their working “blue collar” blades, not their fancy Gold or tactical Black classes).

Also Read: Parry Blade Hunter Review

Many knives come out of the box “shaving sharp’” but Fallkniven PC arrive “scary sharp.” It was more like a surgeon’s scalpel than a pocketknife. Which the more I think about it, is a good thing. A really good thing. Where the problem lies is that many other knives simply cannot hold such a sharp edge, while the rest simply don’t want to put the time or risk into taking their edge to razor sharpness. Literally, with the Fallkniven PC we are talking the molecular metal limit of sharp steel here. The theoretically maximum knife blade sharpness possible by ferrous metal alloys! To get any sharper, you need smaller molecules.

Comparables

My Benchmade Mini-Griptilian is a select version with S30V supersteel. I’ve got a lot of miles on it and it performssurvival knife wonderfully. But head-to-head with the Fallkniven PC, the S30V blade loses a few tenths of a percent of sharpness well before the PC’s cobalt steel does. But of course, sharpness is only one half of the equation; edge retention is just as important. If retaining a razor edge was easy, we wouldn’t be clogging our landfills with disposable razor blades. To kick a dead pun, razor-sharp is barely a comfort when you know it’s a short-term phenomenon.

Although the Benchmade is much faster to deploy through its Axis lock release or thumb stud flick, once both blades are ready for action, the Fallkniven PC is a noticeably more precision instrument. Not that the Griptilian is blunt by any stretch of the imagination, it’s that the PC is more like a tool of surgery and the Benchmade is a little more like a crowbar. Just kidding. The BM mini’s blade is fairly traditional for a folding knife. On the other hand, the PC looks traditional, but cuts far beyond its apparent pay grade.

Related: Sypderco Bushcraft Knife

The PC’s scales do have one flaw I’ve noticed. If you pack the parallel lines embedded within the scales with cheese, it is hard to remove. And frankly, this happened more times than I care to admit since I too was surprised at how much cheese cutting I do in the wilderness.

The Nuts and Torx

The locking mechanism of the Fallkniven PC is a traditional liner lock of spring steel. The knife would probably survival shtfhave to break for the lock to fail. The teflon-bearing blade pivot his held in place by a T10 Torx screw making the deployment tension adjustable, and easy to keep the scales snug against the blade.  The five-bolt stainless steel blade housing is skeletonized allowing for easy cleaning and drying; something very important for a knife that lives among pocket lint. And the black fiberglass reinforced Grilon scales are secured with two T5 Torx bolts in addition the pivot bolt.

As to the lack of a pocket clip, I grew used to the Fallkniven PC in my pocket. If it migrated horizontal, I would simply run my finger along the outer fabric of my pants and return the PC a vertical position snug against the right hand seam of the pocket. With narrow side down, it would generally remain there. And either way, the 2.3 ounces (66 grams) was hardly going to make a pocket dent no matter which way it rides.

At the end of the day, the Fallkniven PC is an exceptional yet simple knife. It rivals my Benchmade 470 in size and look, but the PC costs only half to two thirds as much, has arguably better steel, fewer moving parts, and a stately grace about it that just makes you want to carry it. But If I had to ask for more, it would be for handle colors other than black. Orange perhaps? Seems Fallkniven already heard my suggestion. Before this article even published Fallkniven released PCs with grips in orange, blue, red, military green, with gold highlights, oh, and black.

So before you jump on the tactical train with your EDC blades, give some thought to the grand tradition of high performance in an understated package. There’s some serious blade happiness with the Fallkniven PC.

All photos by Doc Montana

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More Tips For Your Bug Out Bag

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INCH Bag Tips

If you read my post on 7 Tips For Your Bug Out Bag, considered this part II.  Many posts on Bug Out Bags out there in the INCH Bag Tipsblogosphere talk about specific items being better than others.  I prefer comparing ideas instead of whether a Mora is better than a Bushman for low budget survival, boy would that be a fun debate :)  Survival Gear is great, it makes life in the backcountry easier, but mindset and skills keep you alive.  So we try and find a happy balance like most aspects of living.  Much of this post will be review for you experienced types, but it never hurts to be reminded.  For you newly awakened survival minded Americans, welcome to the party.  I will try and not repeat too much from the last post, there will some cross-over and expanding of ideas.

By Pineslayer, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Sweat Happens

The biggest rookie mistake when hitting the trail is being over dressed.  You will heat up quickly, don’t be afraid to INCH Bag Tipsstop and shed a layer early on.  Too much sweat can cause problems fast, drenched clothes, dehydration and generally being uncomfortable in your clothing.  Choosing the right clothing it is your first defense against Mother Nature.  The old saying ‘Cotton Kills’ is pretty good advice.  I love my cotton clothes and wear them often when working or hiking, but they have no place in your survival kit.  It takes forever and a day to dry out.  One plus for cotton is hot and dry environments where it can shine, it just depends on where you are and time of year.  Now a 50/50 blend is not so bad.  Most BDU’s are this blend and they wear great and dry out fairly fast.  I have wool blends that are very comfy and so are the polyester base layers.  Do your homework before betting your life on any clothes.  I can’t say enough good things about BDU style clothing.  Ripstop durability, pockets, and there are some good non-camo ones out there if you are looking for a more Gray Man look. The debate of natural fiber and synthetic will not be solved here today.  Both have their pro’s and con’s.  I use both and my kit has both.  We should happy that we have so many choices. Last piece of advice, think about being able to layer when choosing your survival clothing.  I prefer loose clothing over tight fitting mostly for ease of movement and airflow.  The only tight fit should be your base layer.

Keeping a Clean Camp

Are you a clean freak?  Does everything have a place in your home?  If the answer is yes, then you have a good starting point.  If the answer is no, you need to get your mind in order.  This will be hard for some people, but bear with me.  When car camping you spread out and set up your outdoor home, some backpackers are guilty of this too.  In a survival/bug out situation this can lead to big problems.  Not only is it easier to lose track of essential gear, but if you need to move quickly any hesitation to grab stuff could mean dire consequences.  Use your gear when needed then put it away.

A clean camp also means hiding waste.  Even in tense, stressful times, the effort must be made to make it harder to track you.  Although these principles are recreational based, if you think tactically they make sense too.  Expanding on the tracking thing, next time you hit the trail, try to leave no tracks.  See if you can walk on hard surfaces, rocks in or close to the trail.  Then see if you move without making any noise.  These are skills that need to be practiced before they are needed.

Too Staff or Not To Staff

A hiking stick is more than a fun toy.  Choose the right one and you have a tent pole, doggy back-off stick, rifle Bug Out Bag Staffmonopod, snake stick, fishing pole, fighting Bo, spear…the list is only limited by your imagination.  When crossing a stream or log it can really steady the balancing act, especially when you have a pack on.  Trekking poles are used by more older hikers than younger ones, for good reason.  Using your arms to help climb a hill, when your knees have a lot of miles on them, just makes sense.  Anyone who has spent anytime with a heavy pack can attest to the fact that going downhill when tired can be tricky, poles can save you from a fall.

There are many tents out there that rely on trekking poles to reduce pack weight.  If you carry a poncho for your shelter, than a pole is very useful.  The only downside I can think of is if you are carrying a rifle, then a staff would be a problem, but there are collapsible ones too.  The picture shows one that has removable tops, from a smooth ball top to notched rifle rest, think of the possibilities.  Frog gigger, torch, or just maybe some decoration that improves your spirits.

Lastly, laws notwithstanding, sword canes.  I have not looked into them much, but I can see a place for them with older folks in your group.  I have seen some very cool looking ones and who doesn’t like a long sharp piece of steel.

Carrying The Essentials

I’m talking about the stuff you use everyday, all the time.  There are many acronyms for these items, I prefer Canterbury’s 10C’s system.  It just is simple and easy to teach to others.  Anyway when bugging out, scouting a route, looking for resources, there will be times when you shed your pack to crest a hill to look for something.  The reason will be to save energy and get there quicker, maybe you are looking for a place to go to the bathroom.  If you get turned around, caught in an ambush, or just get hurt, do you want to be without everything?

Many packs have a removable lid that converts to a waist pack.  It is my opinion that your essential gear should go in there and go with you everywhere, to bed, to the bathroom, everywhere.  If your pack doesn’t have one or it just isn’t right for the job, there are many other ways to have that stuff on you.  Pockets, on your belt, chest rig, any combination of these.  Lay out the things you want on your body at all times, the rest goes in the ruck.  Find the system that works for you and is comfortable so you never leave them behind, never.

Here are a few options that I have, all are designed to work with a backpack.  I use to use a small hydration pack strapped to the top of my large pack, it worked well.  I moved away from that in an attempt to lighten the load.  It saved a pound or two, but the option is still very good.  Waist packs come in so many designs that it will make your head spin, I have settled on some vintage pieces probably because they are more rugged than current recreational offerings.  Ribz packs are a great option too.  I have one, it is light and comfortable, I wouldn’t call it rugged, but it isn’t fragile either.

There are packs that come with an attached smaller pack.  The ones in my collection are on the heavy side.  If you have ever worn a ILBE main pack with attached assault pack, you know what I mean.  That set-up weighs in at around 15 lbs, empty.  Now it is as rugged as anything on the planet, but so are the men who carry them.  There are some great travel luggage packs with zip off day packs, very gray man units.  The downside is that the suspension isn’t as robust as more purpose driven packs.  Kinda going off course here.

My carry systems leans towards pocket kits, cargo pockets that is, and waist packs that store inside the ruck, or a combination.  My main INCH bag has a Ranger RACK chest rig that is set up for survival and not battle.  It really does work great.  Find a way that works for you, wear it, use it and don’t be afraid to admit defeat and try something else.  When you are humping down a trail and can’t turn back, you are stuck with the system you have.

Running a Cold Camp and Stealth

Bottom line is if you are bugging out drawing attention to yourself is a bad idea.  At some point you will need to Survival Stovesrest, hydrate, eat.  Starting a campfire is like sending up a flare every couple of minutes.  Water is heavy, you should have a days supply on you, after that you will need to acquire more.  Get a good filter, have some purification tablets too.  For the sake of this section, we will assume you have access to water, if you don’t, change your plan or route.  Now you can boil water, how will you do that?   There are so many stoves out there to choose from that you can spend days, weeks reading about them and trying to decide.  Why a stove vs. just building a fire?  Smoke and light, both bad in this situation.  A stove limits both, a good stove can virtually eliminate them.

A stove that requires fuel other than wood will become a liability at some point, but in the short term they very useful.  Alcohol stoves are easy, no moving parts and if you spill the fuel it doesn’t stink up your clothes forever.  Trangia’s are bombproof and are just plain cool.  Downside is that they are not great at altitude and in extremely cold  temps.  A small wood burning unit is the way to go for long term.  180 Tactical, Emberlit, SoloStove, Swiss Ranger Volcano, and many others are available at affordable prices.  All put out very little smoke, if any, after a minute when they get heated up. Also, in the honorable mention category, are the stoves that take propane/butane mix canisters.  Easy to use, instant heat, no smoke, little flame, and the stove itself is small and light.  The fuel isn’t really expensive, but impossible to improvise when you run out.

The last case for having a stove in this scenario is cooking meat on the trail.  Squirrel sushi doesn’t sound good to me.  Staying warm in a cold camp is the only other problem.  Dress appropriately.  Pretty much common sense, right?  Scrutinize your clothing and have a good sleep system.  Everyone’s area and tolerance to cold is different, but don’t skimp here.  Good clothing can be had for a song at thrift stores.  Don’t expect to get everything at one time there, but stop in every time you are driving by.  If you only find one piece a week, it adds up.  I haven’t bought a shirt, coat, boots, or pair of pants at a department store in well over a decade.  I am a cheapskate, but I don’t wear cheap clothing.  Example, I was in S. Carolina this summer, drove by a Goodwill, went in, with much ribbing from the in-laws, walked out with a pair of Levi’s cargo pants, looked new, for $5 and tax.  You never know what you will find.  My coffers are filled with quality gear too, all from thrift stores.

How Did I Get On This Subject?

Pick your lay up position wisely.  Use the terrain to your advantage by letting nature obscure your camp.  You can use a little field craft too.  Some downed branches can be used around your site for camouflage.  A depression in the ground may be all you need, just make sure it isn’t in a runoff area.  Surveillance after you set up is key, try to pick a spot that you can see approaching trouble.  If you plan on being in a spot for more than a day, keep your travels to a minimum and don’t leave tracks to and from the camp.  In a grassy area, picking a different route every time can help to not leave a trail.  So as always, please leave your ideas about this stuff in the comment section.  Sharing ideas just make us better.

Photos by:
Pineslayer
David Mydlarz

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Survival Gear Review: DayOne Waterbag

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Day1 Waterbag Review

Those in survival circles tend to hang out around the smaller end of the water purification spectrum.  Tools like the Day 1 Water Bag ReviewLifestraw and Sawyer filter are must-haves in your kit whether to get home or bug out. But what is on the other end of the drinkable water rainbow?  Turns out there is a 10-liter water purification system in the form of an easy-to fill-bag with backpack straps, hanging loop, inline filter and simple instructions.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

So why have you not heard of this unique and functional water solution?  Most likely it’s because you have never Day One Waterbag Reviewbeen in a bad enough situation to need one.  The DayOne Waterbag has been deployed all over the globe following natural disasters and those humanitarian affairs caused by selfishness and greed. And especially when the bad things team up to inflict maximum distress on people in need of safe drinking water.

The DayOne Waterbag does it’s magic by attacking dirty water in three sequenced steps.  First, the premixed chlorine packet disinfects the water in the DayOne as well as generates a residual precipitate of undrinkable things to settle out into the engineered reservoir on the south end of the bag.  By using a combination of coagulation, flocculation, and sedimentation the chlorine binds to larger molecules, bacteria, viruses, and other undesirables pulling them down and out of the drinkable portion of the waterbag.

The steps of coagulation, flocculation, and sedimentation are like a solar system forming from the dust of a Day1 Waterbag Reviewsupernova explosion.  The particles must combine until reaching a minimum density before being pulled to their deaths by a giant black hole.  In our case, before the earth’s gravity can capture the microscopic debris and imprison them in conical jail at the base of the bladder, the bad stuff must combine with more tiny undesirables until the mass of the flocs is large enough to overcome the viscosity and polarity of water molecules and sink like the Titanic (except the Titanic took 160 minutes to sink while the DayOne Waterbag needs 30 minutes).

Also Read: Sawyer Mini Filter Review

The result of this dance of the molecules a stinky slimy mess falling to the bottom of the DayOne Waterbag in what can be quite a visible sludge.  And for those pesky critters that resisted the chemical obstacles in the waterbag including Giardia and Cryptosporidium and other nastys, a final and deadly filter lays directly between the bag and your mouth.

Some Settling May Occur

In order for the chemistry to work it’s magic, about five minutes of agitation is needed before the bag is to be left DayOne Waterbag Reviewalone. After the chemical packet is dumped into the full waterbag and the top is sealed, the bag needs to be shaken like a cramping hamstring. To included handles are attached to the bag just for this purpose. But be careful not to puncture the bag in something behind it if hanging on a tree. The necessary five minutes of effort goes by quickly (at least the first few times), and when compared to how long and how much sweat it would take you to squish two and a half gallons of dirty water through your hand-pump water filter, the initial 300 seconds of effort are not worth complaining about.

After five minutes of physical intimacy with the bag, it needs to be left alone but upright for 25 minutes. And then you have safe drinking water. I wondered why 25 instead of 30 minutes which is half an hour and also easier to remember. I guess the 5+25 equaling half an hour is also pretty simple.

Related: DIY Activated Charcoal Water Filter

The flow rate is about 1.5 liters per minute, or plenty fast to choke yourself, or to fill a dozen quart-sized water Day1 Waterbag Reviewbottles about one every 45 seconds. Well, not quite. I found the flow rate is based upon the water level in the bag as well as the height difference between the bag and the flow tube. One and a half liters per minute is on the generous side, and drops from there. A good solution is simply to hang the bag high and let the tube drop straight down into your container. If you really need the DayOne I doubt you will be counting seconds like I did in this review. And don’t squeeze the bladder to speed the process like I often do with my CamelBak bladders. You might disturb the dangerous sediments.

The DayOne Waterbag was not designed with the casual backpacker in mind. Instead it was created to provide safe drinking water to those who need it most and the children who are most vulnerable to waterborne diseases and toxins. Which is exactly why you should have one. Things are all rosy right now, but we have proven to ourselves time and time again that as first-world as we are, in less than a week we can become third-world like the best of them.

Bone-dry the DayOne Waterbag weighs one pound. Soaking wet a little more. Day1 Waterbag ReviewFull of water it drags you down to the sum of 23 pounds. So it’s hardly a concern when off duty especially since it rolls up or folds flat, or pretty much squishes into whatever shape makes you happy. When full, the DayOne Waterbag is like a giant CamelBak bladder with shoulder straps. I carried it around full and found it much less uncomfortable than I expected.  The shoulder straps are just that, one-inch wide straps.  However, the bladder is 100% free of hard spots, poky areas, and pressure points.  I guess it’s like a tiny waterbed strapped to your back.  But unlike other bladders, and even dry bags that have similar closures, I did not find the DayOne Waterbag to be waterproof.  Some seepage did occur out the top lighty soaking my back. For the best seal, don’t fill the bag to the max line.  Also, don’t bet your life or valuable electronics on the hose clamp preventing every drop of water from sneaking out the discharge tube.

Also Read: Expedient Family Water Filter

The DayOne works best in warmer climates, but did pass water quality standards down to 40 degrees F, or 4 Day1 Waterbag Reviewdegrees C.  I’m told the disinfectant properties of the packets increase with temperature which makes sense.  The little packet of magic powder that is added to the water contains the single active ingredient of 0.546% Calcium Hypochlorite (also known as bleach powder).  Given the warnings that “Dry product causes substantial but temporary eye injury” it would be wise to avoid getting your face anywhere near the powder and stay upwind of the pour.  There is also a detailed method for cleaning the bag and and backflushing the filter.  Here are the gory details on using and servicing the DayOne Waterbag system: (click here)

The DayOne Waterbag was designed for humanitarian battlefields where polluted water is the enemy.  Trying to suck your way to survival through a filter straw, or zap a path through the pathogens with your UV pen might sound like high-tech low-drag solutions to the number one concern when bugged in or out, but those are only short-term personal solutions.  Are you really going to play mommy bird and spit a mouthful into a crying child’s beak?  Or regurgitate a pot full of water to rehydrate your freeze dried fritters?  No matter how you slice it, you will need a more substantial water filter solution when hours turn to days turn to weeks making the price of 30 minutes for 10 liters of clean water the best deal on the the planet.

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Survival Gear Review: Rothco Concealed Carry Jacket

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Best Concealed Carry Jacket

With the onset of fall up here in northern climes, my fellow concealed firearms carriers and I perform a collective best survival jacketsigh of relief. With colder weather comes warmer, bulkier clothing that allows more comfortable methods of carry, with larger, more effective sidearms.  Gone, for a while anyway, is the season of constantly wondering if my mildly uncomfortable IWB holster and its passenger S&W M&P Compact are printing through my t-shirt; I can now carry a full-sized SIG Sauer P220 in an outside-the-waistband rig under a heavy fleece pullover or a winter jacket.  Easily-identifiable spare mags in belt rigs aren’t poking out, my underwear doesn’t get wear holes from IWB kydex holsters, everything is comfortable and life is good.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

On October 15th, Maine’s new “Constitutional Carry” (anyone who is legally able to on a handgun may carry one, with a few exceptions) law went into effect (thanks in a large part to my brothers and friends in Gun Owners of Maine! Consider joining their ranks if you live here in the Pine Tree State), and the state joins the growing roster of locales that are allowing permit-less carry.  With the new law will come, I’m sure, a large number of people who have never carried a firearm concealed – and they don’t realize what a pain in the hind end it can be.  Even just deciding on what holster to purchase is a great way to waste hours in front of your computer or smartphone, searching products and reading reviews.  There is a HUGE market for the concealed carry crowd, with many, many big-name holster and belt manufacturers, plus literally thousands of guy-next-door custom kydex holster makers that will make a holster to the configuration you wish.  However, I recently came across another option that piqued my interest: a jacket designed to carry the handgun for you, and it’s a pretty slick idea.

In my insatiable daily search for cool gun-related stuff, I ran across a feed from a company that showed a jacket built for concealed carry – and they mentioned that they sourced the jacket from Rothco, a Long Island, NY, based company that has been supplying the police, military, and civilian market with gear since the 1950’s.  I’ve owned a couple packs and other items from Rothco, and they’ve been decent, solid pieces of gear that held up well to the abuse I’ve put them through.  Knowing where the jacket came from, and knowing that Rothco offerings have held up well in the past, I soon had one winging my way to try out for myself.

The Jacket

Okay, let’s get past the one first obvious problem the jacket has when you get it:  It does indeed say “Made in Best Survival JacketChina” on the inside of the jacket.  We try to support “Made in USA” gear as much as possible here at Survival Cache, but we’ll make an exception for this jacket because it’s pretty innovative.  Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how it carries and hides guns, though, let’s look at its primary function:  how does it perform as a jacket?

The Rothco Concealed Carry Soft Shell Jacket is made up of a polyester exterior shell that is advertised as waterproof, and it has a fleece and mesh interior. The good thing about this makeup is that it has a very high wind- and water-blocking ability; the downside is that the material isn’t very breathable.  I would wear this jacket when I got up in the morning to do outside chores around the house, go to work in the early a.m., or when it just got chilly out. However, once the sun came up and it warmed up, I definitely got sweaty.  The fleece liner keeps it quite toasty, and the polyester outer shell doesn’t let ventilation through.  This is the point, though: The jacket is meant to be a cold-weather jacket, and to keep you warm and dry on the inside even when it’s snowing or raining on the outside.  Keeping in mind that this is not a year-round outerwear, it performs admirably.  It definitely did keep me warm, dry, and toasty even during local October rainstorms that can get pretty cold.  The jacket boasts a detachable concealed polyester hood that rolls up into the collar when you don’t need it deployed, which is a nice touch.  I haven’t worn the jacket out for extended periods of time in the rain or snow, and I do have a feeling that eventually it could waterlogged and soaked through – but you’d have to be in some pretty miserable circumstances for a long time for that to happen.  However, I am happy to report that the jacket has yet to wet through on me, even in some pretty nasty rain; water beads up and rolls off.

Also Read: Survival Footwear

Now, even though the Rothco jacket materials don’t breathe terribly well, that doesn’t mean that the designers didn’t recognize the problem:  There are long ventilation zippers under the armpits that can be opened up to let some airflow into the jacket, and heat out.  They work well and are appreciated; the armpit area is one of the areas of the body that builds up heat rapidly, and the underarm location means that ventilation is assured without letting rain or other precipitation into the jacket.

Compartments? Zippers? The Concealed Carry jacket definitely has those – but not to the point where you just look at the jacket and remark (with a roll of the eyes), “for real?” From top to bottom, there is first the aforementioned hood compartment zipper in the collar. There are two shoulder/bicep located outer zippered pockets – one on each sleeve – sized appropriately for a medium-sized cellphone or similar device. These shoulder pockets have headphone wire pass-throughs so you can rout your iPod earbuds though and have some tunes while keeping your device dry.  There are hook and loop patches outboard of these pockets, in case you’d like to have unit identification or morale patches for everyone to check out.  On the outside forearm of the left sleeve, there is a mission documents pocket that’s smaller than the shoulder pocket, but still big enough for firestarters, keys, small Leatherman, compass, etc.  If you’re right-handed, it’s pretty great.  If you’re left-handed, it’s maybe not going to be used as much. Still a nice feature though.

Up high on the body of the jacket, at about nipple height, there are two deep slash pockets with zippers for the Best Concealed Carry Jacketmain storage of the jacket, also with wire pass-throughs.  These pockets are, in my opinion, rather inconveniently placed for those who like to walk around with their hands in their jacket pockets; but I will admit that the location was probably dictated by the interior pistol pouch location (more on that later.).  It’s just pretty awkward to get your hands and elbows high enough to use the pockets, but not impossible.  Rounding out the external compartments is a pocket located low in the small of the back of the coat, with zipper access on either side.  This pocket is sized appropriately so you could carry documents, a box of ammo, a medical/survival kit, a water bottle, or other flat items with you. I could even see it being a small-game carrying pouch in a pinch if needed.

Also Read: Pocket Carry vs. Concealed Carry

The sleeve openings have hook-and-loop fasteners that you can snug up to tighten around gloves or mittens, or to keep airflow out in cold weather.  The hood and the bottom of the jacket both have nylon pulls with push-button keepers to help tighten the jacket around your body to keep it snug and secure it from loosely flopping about your body.  As with the other attributes, it’s been thought through.

The jacket is visually stylish and good-looking, but it doesn’t scream, “Operator” or “Mall Ninja” like a lot of other offerings that are marketed towards the firearm enthusiast.  Several people have told me, “hey, that’s a nice looking jacket”, and I really actually enjoy wearing it.  Whether I’m carrying a gun or not, it’s now my go-to jacket since the temperatures have been dropping with the seasons changing. So, as an overall jacket, it really works pretty well, and I’m a fan so far.  Going outside in brisk New England mornings with just the jacket on over a polo shirt is very comfortable, and I’m confident that with the addition of a couple well-planned layers underneath, this jacket would keep you quite toasty and dry through most conditions you’d find yourself in through winter.

The Good Stuff

I’m guessing you’re not reading this review because you’re an outerwear aficionado, so let’s get to the man behind Best Survival Jacketthe curtain here.  This jacket is designed to hide a handgun and spare magazines in comfort, and to do so without tipping the user’s hand that he/she is armed.  It’s a simple system, so let’s take a second to see how the jacket accomplishes its mission.

When one dons the jacket, the first thing you immediately notice are the four hook-and-loop fastened magazine pouches, two per side.  These pouches reside upon the wearer’s upper chest, and hold full-sized pistol magazines in a horizontal orientation.  These hold full-sized double-stack pistol magazines snugly – my 15-round S&W M&P40 magazines fill the pouches completely, and take a little bit of wrestling to pull the securing flap over the end of the magazine baseplate.  A pair of Sig Sauer P220 single-stack magazines are swallowed up by the pouch, with no problems pulling the flap shut. Here, we have the potential for some serious firepower backup: if you have a full-sized Glock 17 as a carry gun, you’re looking at 68 rounds of spare ammunition, not including what you have in the pistol itself. If you have the mags to pull it off, you could carry 56 rounds of .45 ACP in eight single stack magazines, two per pouch.

Also Read: M1951 Fishtail Parka Review

But what about the pistol?  It’s rather the reason for the jacket, right?  Well, lower on the interior of the jacket, near Best Survival Jacketyour waistline, are two pistol carrying compartments, one per side. These measure approximately 9 ½ inches deep by 7 inches wide, making them large enough to carry most full-sized handguns pretty comfortably.  A nylon flap with a small hook and loop fastener tab forms the outside of the compartment; the flap is continuously sewn to the jacket interior on the bottom and one side, while remaining open at the top and front for easier pistol access.  The hook and loop tab is meant to keep the flap closed around the pistol until the wearer needs it, and it is small enough so it tears open when drawing the pistol quickly.  The front zipper is of the two-way configuration, meaning it can open from the top or the bottom, to allow the wearer to access the pistol in the jacket or on a belt holster in a variety of methods.

A full-sized Sig Sauer P220 fills the inside of the pocket pretty well, as does a Glock 17/22. However, the jacket works a little bit better with mid-sized pistols, in my experience.  My EDC S&W M&P40C with a Streamlight TLR-3 sits in the pocket wonderfully, and the weapon mounted light keeps the pistol from rocking fore and aft too much.  Mid-sized revolvers play nicely with the jacket, too, with a 3” S&W M65 working quite well, once you figure out a place to carry spare ammunition – the Rothco jacket was definitely meant for autopistol users.  Everything has been pretty well sorted out for a wide variety of pistols so that the purchaser won’t be limited by what pistol they currently own and use.

Drawing and Reloading

Reloading from the pouches is definitely not as smooth and fast as a belt-mounted mag carrier.  A reload entails Survival Jacketdropping the empty magazine from the pistol, reaching into your jacket, ripping open the mag pouch, then trying to wrestle the magazine out of the pouch by the baseplate.  If the magazine has been sucked down inside the mag holder (say you carry a subcompact pistol like the Glock 43 or Kahr MK9), you’re in for a marathon of first finger and thumb dexterity trying to wrench the magazine out.  I combated this issue relatively effectively by making sure the magazine baseplate stayed outside the pouch; others may want to push a small block of wood or other filler in the back of the pouch to keep your magazine from being pulled inside too far.

Also Read: 8 Tips For Flying With A Gun

However, once you get used to the “jacket reload”, it’s not hard to do and works reasonably well.  I kept the magazines with the bullets pointed up, so I could index them a little easier upon reload.  Your technique and mileage may vary. Strong-side spare magazines are a bit easier to get than the weak-side, but luckily the jacket can move around and open up, so accessibility to both sides of the jacket-mounted magazines isn’t too much of an issue, generally.  Having magazines on both sides of your body also increases the likelihood that you have access to spare ammunition in you are, say, in a car or floor-bound, laying on your side.  Accessibility plus a lot of spare ammo sounds like pretty good insurance to me. Southpaws should be pretty happy with the setup, too.

Using the Jacket Everyday

So we get that this thing is innovative and a bit different than traditional methods of carrying a concealed sidearm. Best Survival JacketBut how does it work when used as designed, in real life?  Well, as I’ve stated, I like the jacket quite a bit and I wear it every day now, with or without a gun, as the Maine weather gets brisk and we head towards the snow months. So in that regard, it’s worth the price of admission, carrying a gun or not.

As I’ve been wearing the jacket and using it for the purposes of this review, nuances have started coming out.  Some are mere annoyances, and there are a couple things that really irk me.  But I still use it as a method of carrying a concealed gun, so that should tell you that these problems aren’t insurmountable – they just require a bit of careful attention.

Also Read: SHTF Wardrobe List

As far as the jacket being a jacket – a piece of outerwear meant to keep you warm, the only real issues I have are few, and trivial, really.  Behind door number one is the fact that once you unzip a pocket, you open a direct portal to the inside of the jacket, essentially.  The pocket liners are pretty thin and allow cold air through pretty quickly.  The other nuance is the fact that the armpit vent pocket zippers have backings on the inside of the jacket, that are sharp and have a rough texture. If you wear the jacket with just a T-shirt or short sleeved polo, these will abrade your flesh lightly.  I’ve cut the sharp corners off mine and just make sure to wear long sleeves if possible.

When you drop a pistol into its holding place and throw a couple magazines in the pouches, we start discovering a Top Survival Blogcouple less-than-ideal circumstances, especially if you’re used to a nice, solid, secure belt holster.  I guess my biggest concern is the fact that the gun is not held securely inside the holding pocket, nor does it have a trigger-covering/securing feature.  The gun can and does shift around as you move, so it may not be in the same orientation as when you put the pistol in the pocket, requiring you to fumble around a touch to get a proper grip on the firearm to start your draw.  This condition is obviously exacerbated by extreme movement like running, going prone, bending over, etc.  The pistol CAN fall out – trust me and the scuff on my M&P on this one – so care must be taken to keep your pistol secure at all times when wearing this jacket.  Taking the jacket on and off, and slinging it over a chair back or couch can be a little adventurous, as you are not in control of your muzzle.  The magazine pouches also need to be checked occasionally, especially with full-sized magazines in them – if you have to stretch the securing flap over the baseplate and argue with it to catch, chances are excellent that with movement, the pouches will eventually open and your mags can work their way out.

Related: SHTF Sewing

Since the trigger is not covered (most holsters sport covered triggerguards), there is always the possibility, however remote, of the trigger catching a foreign object – with obvious less-than-desireable results.  So, if you want to be as safe as you should be, you can do one of a couple things: carry the gun with an empty chamber (how I’ve been carrying with the jacket…flame all you want, it’s my personal decision after much deliberation) or look into a push-out trigger block like this one by Saf-T-Blok.  Neither is a really stellar option, but both of them beat an inadvertent bullet in the buttcheek or bystander.

Once the pistol is in the pocket, some care has to be taken that the jacket doesn’t fly open. Only the very top outermost corner of the pistol retaining flap is secured by the hook and loop tab, so the front and top are open – and your pistol can be seen under some circumstances if you’re looking for it.

One fun fact is that the jacket gets very heavy with its full payload of four loaded magazines and a loaded full-sized pistol, and as such it might lay oddly on your body. It moves differently than other jackets as well, so observers with a keen eye might notice something funky going on. But the firearm doesn’t print, so they’ll just have to wonder. It’s a winter jacket, and winter jackets are bulky. Most people won;t give it a second thought.

Conclusions

To sum everything up, I like the Rothco Concealed Carry Jacket.  And I think that it’s a good idea that could be a great idea with a couple modifications, like snap buttons on the magazine pouches instead of hook-and-loop, and a wide sewn-in elastic band to keep the gun oriented properly inside its retaining area.  Add YKK zippers instead of the current zippers and this would really be an awesome system.  For the safety conscientious, those who are willing to pay a little bit more attention to the pistol that’s in their jacket, it’s a good system and a viable alternative to a holster, especially if you’re in a situation where you’ll need to take your jacket off and can’t have a pistol on your belt, but your jacket can be hung on the back of the chair you’re sitting in.  Thought will have to be put into how you secure the pistol at all times, but once you’re aware of how the jacket works, it becomes second nature.  My worries stated above are sincere, but can be negated with a thought for safety and a little planning.

I really like the placement of the mag pouches, and the pistol – if you are used to a cross-draw holster this will be very familiar to you.  The double-acting front zipper is a stroke of genius, and once you remember that it’s available to you, the motion of zipping UP then reaching in is more intuitive than DOWN then in.  To top it all off, it’s just a good, nice looking jacket that’s warm and useful.  If you’re looking for a cold-weather alternative to wearing a holster on your belt, definitely give it a serious look.

Rothco Concealed Carry Jacket is available on Amazon (click here)

Questions? Observations? Sound off in the comments!

Stay Safe!
-Drew

All photos by Drew

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Best Handgun Calibers For Survival

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Survival Pistol

Is there really a “best” of anything?  Well, yeah, I think A-1 steak sauce is the absolute best.  I love St. Pete’s Best SHTF pistolSignature blue cheeseDiamond D Leather in Alaska makes the best across the chest crossdraw handgun holster on Earth.  I am a huge fan of Kimber 1911 pistols, Smith and Wesson heavy revolvers and ARs in 5.56 and 300 Blackout, and my Ruger SR556-6.8 SPC AR (just try to find one of those left on the shelf), which I clearly think are the best.  Well, at least those are the best for me anyway.

By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

A Commonly Posed Question

When I work the gun shows with the Glock armorer guys, I usually get many of the same questions at our show Best Survival Handguntables.  “I want to buy a first handgun for my wife.  What caliber should I buy?”  That question is often quickly followed by the No. 2 question, “Should I get a revolver or a pistol?”  Several other questions almost always follow that.  I try to offer the best council I can based on what I know about their situations, conditions, and experiences.  I’ve done this for over 40 years now.

I get nearly the same series of questions from people inquiring about the “best” caliber for survival prepping.  These questions are more difficult to comprise to offer individuals specific recommendations.  Many factors go into the decision to pick a handgun caliber for survival work and then to pick the platform to fire it.  Let’s explore some of the possibilities.

A Chart of Common Handgun Calibers’ Power Ballistics

Caliber           Bullet Weight      Muzzle Velocity      Muzzle Energy
22 LR                 40                           1150                           117
25 ACP               50                           760                            64
32 ACP               71                            905                            129
380 ACP            95                            955                            190
38 Special         158                         755                            200        
357 Magnum    158                         1235                          535
9mm Auto         124                        1100                         339
40 SW                 180                        990                           392
10mm Auto       180                        1150                          529
41 Magnum       210                        1300                         788
44 Magnum      240                        1180                          741
45 ACP                230                        835                           356
45 Long Colt      250                       860                           410

As it is with spotting a seemingly attractive woman at a distance, looks can be deceiving especially upon closer examination.  It is much the same with factory ammunition ballistics charts as well.  Unfortunately these listed factory muzzle velocities and energy ratings are about all we have to go on when it comes to comparing one caliber against another.  It does at least offer us a baseline for comparison.  Reality in the field is something entirely different.

Know, too, that this list contains only the most basic bullet and power level for each caliber.  Many, many other choices are available in bullet types, and power capacities.  Get yourself a factory ammo catalog from Remington, Winchester, or Federal to begin to understand the other options available in each caliber.

Decision Making Time

First, as you make the ultimate decision to arm yourself, your immediate family and/or your survival prep team, Survival Pistolask yourself exactly why for what purpose(s).  I will presume the No.1 reason is for self-protection, as well as defensive protection of family, home, and property.  Other reasons could be for foraging for wild game food, or offensive actions to secure goods for yourself under the most dire straits of circumstances.  For whatever reason you buy a gun(s) for a prepping assignment do not take the purchase of weapons lightly and be fully prepared to accept all the consequences.  This includes safe handling, learning to shoot properly, practicing to shoot, and maintaining your tools in top operating condition.

Related: Survival Shotgun

You may have already settled on some prejudiced decisions about what handgun caliber you want to obtain for prepping use.  They may be right on or not for you or others in the immediate circle you intend to arm.  Seek as much input as possible from people who should know what they are talking about.  Good advice on guns does not always come from behind the counters at a gun store, in particular the big box retailers where gun sales people are rarely well trained on guns or ballistics.

Try a shooting range, a shooting course, or a concealed weapons course.  Walk around a gun show and ask several vendors as you check out their wares.  That is a next step anyway once you finally (maybe) settle on the caliber(s) you want then go shopping for and the handgun models to deliver them.

Apples and Oranges

Meanwhile study these ballistics numbers and try to make some obvious judgments.  I am guessing you have Best TEOTWAWKI Pistolprobably done some preliminary reading or research on line, from contacts, at gun shops or shows, books, magazines or other resources.  If not, then you definitely need to build an elementary foundation of knowledge on these subjects enough to know on what to spend your hard earned prepper money.  If you make a mistake, you waste money.

If you need a hint, then take this one.  If your primary purpose for obtaining weapons is to protect yourself, family, friends, or others, then you obviously need a handgun shooting a caliber as capable as possible in stopping an adversary. Be honest with yourself.  While a .22 LR rimfire handgun may be ideal for taking small game for the meat pot or taking out small nasty vermin around the Bug Out camp, it is not a realistic choice for self protection.  It is better than nothing, but not for your primary defensive handgun.

Also Read: Best Survival Carbine

I will be so bold as to suggest the same for the .25, 32, and even the .380.  Once you acquire a more prominent Survival Pistolcaliber handgun for defense and become proficient with it, then you can branch out to consider acquiring other calibers and guns as your budget allows.  These three could make decent back up calibers with proper ammunition.  Now we have arrived at a “Y” in the road.  Whether or not you want a revolver or a pistol?  I won’t discuss those merits or distracters here, but may at another time review those points.

At the low end of the revolver caliber considerations is the .38 Special, but why buy a handgun only for this cartridge?  The .357 Magnum revolver will also shoot the .38 Special so you essentially get two guns in one.  The .357 Magnum will stop an opponent, but you may be limited to six shots.  This revolver caliber is formidable.  Reloading takes more skill and time.

Generally speaking the .41, .44 and .45s are not considered for personal protection though they could be.  Eventually if you are settled on revolvers, then consider stepping up to a larger caliber.  By the way, the .44 Magnum will also load and shoot the .44 Special.  Remember these calibers are more difficult to shoot well, costly, and the ammo is heavier to deal with for storage and carry.

The other pathway in the “Y” considers the semi-auto pistol calibers.  These are the 9mm, .40 Smith and Wesson or “40 cal”, the 10mm and the .45 ACP.  The 9mm is basically a .38 caliber suited to the pistol platform.  The .40 and the 10mm are similar though the 10mm is considerably more powerful, expensive and has more recoil.

The .45 ACP is the “King of the Hill” for most pistol shooters.  Obviously it was picked by the military early in the 1900s for a reason.  There are rumors now the .45 ACP may be coming back to service use, but somehow I suspect it will only be relegated to specialty team use.  The .45 ACP has more recoil, more noise, but the 45 caliber is a serious man stopper.  It takes a lot of practice to shoot well, as frankly does any handgun in any caliber for that matter.

Narrowing the Choices

An ideal method to settle on a choice on a handgun caliber is to visit a shooting range or gun shop that has a wide Self Defense Pistolvariety of gun models and calibers to actually shoot.  This way you can evaluate your comfort level in shooting different calibers and the types of guns available in those caliber choices.  It would be akin to test driving new cars.

Now, here I go out on the limb by suggesting my own recommended choices.  If you favor the revolver action because of its simplicity in use without mechanical safeties to deal with, then I would opt initially for a .357 Magnum, but not a lightweight, short-barreled gun model.  Pick a good steel gun with a six-inch barrel and adjustable sights.  If you learn to use this well, then you might consider adding another bigger caliber much later.

For pistol operators, the base choice is the 9mm.  It is very universal in all regards, and widely available both in gun models and ammunition types.  Practice with ball ammunition, but carry in Condition One with a serious self-defense round of which there are many new ones on the market now.

Personally, I am not a big fan of the .40SW.  It has more recoil, and muzzle blast.  Ammo is more expensive.  However, the .40 is an effective pistol caliber for personal protection.  I do like the 10mm but it is a significant step up in skills to shoot well.  It is a good defensive people stopper using the right ammo.

Also Read: SIG Sauer P227 Nitron Review

The .45 ACP is my No.1 personal choice.  That big .230 grain bullet packs a wallop on its opponent especially in a defensive round with expanding bullets, not the ball ammo.  The .45 takes much practice to shoot really well, but in close quarters it is a deal changer.  It is not a first caliber choice for uninitiated neophyte shooters.  If I were starting afresh to build a self-defense survival handgun arsenal, then I would have a 9mm and then a .45 ACP.  If I had multiple guns, they would all be the same brand and model for uniformity of training, and use as well as exchange of magazines, parts, cleaning supplies and carry holsters.

Is there a best handgun caliber for survival prepping?  Yes there probably is for you, but it may not be the same one for me.  What is really best is what you can shoot really well.  Obviously one or more well placed rounds are better than making a bunch of noise and missing the target.  Study hard, pick carefully, and then become extremely proficient with your choices.  That will be what is best for you.

All Photos by Dr. John J. Woods

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Survival Book Review: Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath

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Book Review Ted Kopple

Spoiler Alert! Bad things are closer than they appear.  By day three, all gasoline is gone, water is rare, and all Cyber Attack Book ReviewFEMA food has been distributed. Now the fun begins.  By day seven, the backup food supply is zeroed out, the vulnerable are dead, and the refugee migration has begun causing states to take border patrol into their own hands. It’s game on!  Or so writes Ted Koppel… and documented by mountains of data…and confirmed by a seemingly unlimited supply of informed sources in high places.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Numbers Don’t Lie

Although the formal documentation of an inevitable grid crash is like reading our premature obituary, all’s not lost. SHTF Book Review But that is only if America makes it to chapter 19.  The first 18 chapters in Lights Out put into perspective what is likely the largest and most logical threat that any and every survivalist, prepper, and ordinary person hoping to live through tomorrow should consume like a news story sent from the future.

I am an academic, first and foremost.  That is what pays the bills.  I live in a world of data driven decision making, statistics, and arguments whose value is only as good as its validity and reliability numbers.  Opinions are unacceptable unless backed up with footnotes, citations, and preferably experimental data. Which is exactly why Koppel’s book is so frightening.  He has the proof.  Sure, it’s in the form of triangulation, metadata, and small-scale testing, but when the pieces are combined into the whole picture, the image is undeniable.  And Crown Publishers of New York agreed or this vehicle of gloom would be just another self-published Amazon download.

For many, stocking up on survival gear and food and planning for darkness always carried a sense of urgency, but one that could be postponed when important life events intervened.  We can turn our deepest concerns on and off because there is no tangible evidence that TEOTWAWKI will arrive this particular afternoon except hearsay about some telegraph frying event 150 years ago.  But Koppel changed all that with a stroke of his pen. Using the same investigative prowess as he did in the past, Koppel leaves no stone unturned. We are all guilty of seeding this disaster. We are all to blame for not preparing as we should. And we are all going to act like monsters after the first week.

When the electrons dry up, so will the photons, the hydrocarbons, and the carbohydrates.  Modern society is like a flying airplane.  All is well only when we’re flying.  The moment we stop flying and start falling, all hell will break loose and any bad situation will be made considerably worse through predictable human nature.

Facts Overrule Fiction

Unlike most prepper fiction, Koppel pulls no punches; the first word in chapter one is “Darkness.”  While Amazon.com is filled with self-published visions of the aftermath, this particular Lights Out frames the situation in the form of specific names, places, machines, and methods.  So much so that if this book was fiction, the FBI would have kicked the author’s door in arresting him on whatever trumped up charges would squeeze the leaks shut with a bang.  Instead Koppel methodically and not-so-slowly rips the veneer off the lack of governmental planning and punches the public in the face with an undeniable scenario that will scare even the most battle-hardened American into considering a self-reliant off-grid existence.

With chapter titles like AK-47s and EMPs, Extra Batteries, and The Ark Builders, it is clear that Koppel speaks the language of survivalists, and leaves little room for nuanced argument from armchair preppers.  If obsession about the End of (American) Days is the only thing providing credibility to those claiming preparedness, then the ride is over. Get up and face the music. TEOTWAWKI just went mainstream and Koppel is the new king in town.  No voting necessary.

Also Read: The Hurricane Katrina Rifle

Koppel chronicles the downfall in painful detail to the point the uninformed could mistake this book for a terrorist instructional manual of some 268 pages.  But just because you didn’t know about all this doesn’t make us any safer. There were many who anticipated a plane crash into one or both World Trade Center towers.  But anticipation can also be perceived as guilt.  In the case of Lights Out, who cares who knows what. Nothing previous to yesterday matters. It’s all on the table now.  Everyone knows.  And CYA is out of the question with the clock ticking loudly.

Bug Out Love

As much as I love my Bug Out Bag, Koppel makes it clear that one survivor, or a family of survivors in my case will Cyberattack Bookjust be a few of the ten percent of lucky ones that are projected to still be walking around a month after the lights go out.  Playing out the math, the US population is 319 million.  Knock a zero off that and you got nothing left but the population of Florida spread out across 3.8 million square miles of Uncle Sam’s backyard instead of just the 66,000 of the Sunshine state.  And no matter how you slice up the land, that’s eight-and-half people per square mile, or reducing the entire US human density to just slightly more than my home planet of Montana.  While I might personally feel much more at home when traveling, most US citizens will be scared to death with the lack of folks walking around.  Now that I think about it, I will be terrified as well.  Just saying.

Stage Left

Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath is a pile of chapters in three parts.  Part one is the bad stuff and the documentation making it real.  Part two is the mountain we have to climb.  It begins on page 91 of my “Uncorrected Proof-Not For Sale” advanced copy of the book.  But climbing mountains is what the US is good at, right?  Koppel spells out exactly what you need to do to get ahead of this impending disaster before those so-called “evil-doers” get the upper hand.  Unfortunately, in order for Ted’s technology manifesto to gain traction, and that’s Ted Koppel, not Ted Kaczynski (seriously, think about it), the very real possibility of this internet fairy tale coming true must be as plausible as it is scary before the mainstream gives a hoot, whether media or consumer.  Finally, part three is “Surviving the Aftermath,” and reads much like a confirmation of what drives me, this website, and your reading of it.

Breaking Bad is an exceptional TV show, and when Koppel compared Craig Kephart to DEA agent (actor) Hank Schrader, it was further confirmation that Mr. Koppel speaks our language.  Bridging the fuzzy line between acceptable thought and tinfoil conspiracy, Koppel ignores the background noise that dirties up the traditional apocalyptic arguments and instead focuses on the demands of the situation.  With the grid vulnerable to cyberattack and the results obvious, there is exactly one immediate outcome to talk about; total darkness and the immediate results.  If there is time left over, then discussion can address what will happen after one week in the dark.  After that, Koppel makes it clear in Part three (Surviving the Aftermath) that the playing field is not level.  It is heavily tilted in favor of certain groups such as the Mormons.  Having lived deep in LDS country, I can verify that much of their group preparation mentality is real.  Unfortunately, there is a bureaucracy, patriarchy and unfortunate tendency towards obesity and prescription meds that will present a greater than average challenge to survival over time.  Google it if you care. But as usual, I digress.

The Sin Eaters

As expected, Ted Koppel draws upon his childhood experiences.  And I don’t blame him.  Fathoming the unfathomable is not something we can do on demand.  Koppel is doing what I would expect a world-class reporter to do.  I feel bad about it, but understand it.  As though my own father was trying to make sense of this wildly crazy situation that humanity got itself into within just a few percent of its overall lifespan.  I didn’t expect anything less.  With a tear on my cheek, I have to move on to the next chapter of American evolution.  You see, so many aspects of human behavior are unsurprising.  We are civil until hungry.  We care about each other until we feel frightened. We follow the 10 Commandments until our children are crying.  Then we eat sin.  Maybe not you.  Maybe not me.  But most will.  And most are the concern.

It is clear throughout this book, and reality for that matter, that the Internet is a weapon as much as anything. Winding down this tome, Koppel lays blame on those who should know better.  I agree.  But there is some light behind where Koppel notes, “It also teaches us that there is value in the act of searching for answers.” So if Lights Out is not confirmation enough in your search for answers and thus why you are visiting us here at Survival Cache, then perhaps the 90 percent that won’t survive will ignore you.  That’s my plan.

Are We There Yet?

So just how did we arrive at this particular situation where we essentially strapped a bomb of our own making Ted Koppel's New Book Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermathupon the most vital and fragile mechanized system of modern society.  And now we wonder when some enemy of America will detonate the device through a handful of ones and zeros emailed to an unsecured computer somewhere.  Maybe that’s a simplification, but given the rampant incompetence that got us here, and the continued debate of method over risk, I don’t doubt that those same people will be throwing rocks at each other around the campfire.

In a nutshell, the trifecta of deregulation, profit over security, and voluntary standards laid the ground rules for this game.  The playing fields are the artisan one-of-a-kind custom-designed transformers sprinkled throughout thousands of exposed locations across the US.  And the players are everyone with a grudge and a computer whether rogue anarchist or suicidal nation-state.  The game clock stops ticking the moment the first domino falls with the cascade-effect pulling the rest of our grid over the cliff.

The F-Word

In the back of most American minds are semi-trucks loaded with supplies, and camo-clad weekend-warriors passing out food and water to an orderly and calm line of citizens.  And, in fact, that is the plan.  FEMA and DHS pretty much dialed in the rescue effort for a small to medium scale blackout of three days or less. After that, the millions of MREs will have been given to the millions of people.  The water tanks will be empty, the rent-a-cops will have gone home along with the professional gunslingers.  Oh, and the government officials overseeing this mess (and their families) will be safely tucked away in their assigned bunkers.

Related Book: Everyday Survival Kits

Regarding who’s in charge, Ted Koppel tries desperately to report the facts without smirking, but the gross confusion, conflicting opinions, and utter misunderstanding of the magnitude of what could happen makes this collection of pages just as depressing as the state of the grid.  Even more maddening are appointed lawyers and politicians who spend billions of our taxpayer dollars on 72-hour-feel-good measures and potential photo-ops.  In reality, we must give thanks to FEMA for making it crystal clear that we will be on our own after the long weekend.  You’ve had your warning, so now prepare. How clear do you need it?

Say what you will about “Doomsday Preppers,” but the simple fact that nobody has to define the term means that the vernacular and thus society has acknowledged that the fringe has gone mainstream.  Shrugging off the right-wing militia stereotypes, so-called preppers are a booming industry where beans, bullets, and bandaids are hot sellers followed by knives, guns, and bug-out bags.  Koppel lists the ingredients of one particular $500 bug out bag as evidence of “the futility of prepackaged “instant preparedness.”” But a breath later Koppel offers that he and his bug out partner need a crank-powered radio more than a pair of walkie-talkies.  I’d take that as confirmation that Mr. Koppel has one of the finer bug out bags in the world–and knows how to use it.  Actions speak louder than words, right Ted?

Noah’s Arc

Noah and his kids spent sunny days building an ark for a scheduled outage of dry land.  He was not the first to Survival Bookprepare for armageddon and certainly not the last.  Who would have thought an entire Hollywood entertainment genre would spring up around the end of the world as we know it.  The arc of prepping is like a brilliant rainbow of different colors and scenarios beginning here, and ending somewhere in the future.  During that time, there will be a steep climb towards survival before coasting back to earth, the dust of society settling out, the pecking orders reestablished.

Koppel highlights the Mormon preps as a model to consider, but then admits in not so many words, that without the divinely established chain of command in the church hierarchy, managing the flock and it’s preps would be impossible (and still might actually be since the system has never been fully stress tested).  What I would really like to know, however, is how the several million Mormons scattered around the US will deal with the several hundred million hungry non-believers.  Although the terms “Mormon” and “Militia” appear together occasionally in history, what I can tell from Koppel’s writing is that there may or may not be a planned armed response to threats against Mormon preps.  Koppel prys but the clams at the top of the LDS food chain kept their shells shut tight.  Yet it’s impossible to believe that the particular tangent of prepping known as personal defense has escaped the prophet’s revelations.

First One To Panic Wins!

I can see a peaceful transition from light to dark as long as bellies are full and security is abundant.  Perhaps like camping in your home.  Neighbors are tossing the football in the empty street.  Barbecue grills are moved from backyard to driveway.  And kids deplete their cell phone batteries playing music.  Most of us have experienced a day or two or three of no local grid power.  And most of us rolled along just fine seeing light at the end of the tunnel through information and a grid-up not too far away.  The Mormons have it right for the first 72.  No doubt about it. But nine meals later, a whole new set of conditions will emerge that require specific near-military preps. 

At the apex of Noah’s Arc, islands of stability will emerge; “Islands” in Koppelease, include bunkers, compounds, floating forts, local FEMA camps, you name it as long is it’s small scale and caters to the individual and his clan. Relocation is part of most personal plans including mine and likely yours.  The rich have their SEAL guides, speedboats and helicopters.  The middle class have their bug out locations and buried caches. And the poor have their locked doors and duct tape.  Some rural communities might not notice much for a while, while major population centers will descend into chaos before the light bulbs cool.

Also Read: Grid Crash – Just Add Code

The advent of the Doomsday Prepper makes talk of such things acceptable if not routine.  It also plants the seeds of immediate reaction, conspiracy, and first-come-first-looted.  The plans Koppel highlights are based upon a degree of predictable human reaction. But if panic sets in immediately (prematurely?), traditional government responses will never gain the traction necessary to preserve the peace, let alone the pieces.  Who of us will stand still long enough to see how this shakes out when everyone else is racing off to the store or filling their tubs and sinks with water, or draining gas stations with hand pumps.  Before the first FEMA public service announcement is even drafted, civil and organized society will be little more than a textbook concept in yet unwritten history.

Bring It Off

If nothing else, Ted Koppel’s book Lights Out is a loss of innocence.  Giving a friendly nod the survivalists and A Review of Ted Koppel's New Book Lights Outpreppers as informed hobbyists, while tossing every accountable government official on the hot seat like a celebrity roast, Koppel fry’s us all with the pudding full of proof that 1) Something will happen, 2) Government agencies are woefully unprepared and even in denial, and 3) Much of the population has also chosen the path of the government meaning limited or no preparation and idealistic visions of FEMA assistance.

Koppel leans towards “Surviving the Aftermath” over preventing the disaster.  Given Ted’s street cred, I find that to be the most upsetting aspect of this book.  Koppel could have sugar-coated the situation leaving us a yellow brick road like so many other non-fiction authors of catastrophe have chosen.  But alas, Alea iacta est (The die is cast). The transformers are in place and vulnerable.  The enemies have been made.  And the internet has connected the two.  It’s only a matter of time.

Final Act

Lights Out draws upon what we believe we are as Americans. Otherwise it never would have been written. We are better than this.  We are vulnerable only if we act like it.  And since you are reading this review, Lights Out has not yet happened–especially since Koppel makes it clear with the last line of the book that “the Internet, among its many, many virtues, is also a weapon of mass destruction.”  While preppers will relish in “I told you so,” they should also be at the front lines of applying pressure on the government to change it’s ways, and upon society at large to prepare as individuals and in small groups so as not to add to the same problem we are already disgusted about creating.

Enemies believe America is only as good as its grid.  We believe that America is only as good as it’s people.  Ted Koppel’s Lights Out is the call to pick a side.

Photos By:
Robert Terrel
Leon Reed
Mariana Nik

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Survival Gear Review: CRKT Redemption Knife

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Best Survival Knife

The CRKT Redemption knife designed by Ken Onion is one, big, knife!  The Redemption is not for carving little Best Survival Knifewooden characters out of balsa wood, or cutting up hot dogs for the kiddie table at the neighborhood barbeque.  It has one clear mission, to clear trees from the Redwood and Sequoia National Forrest and to use that wood to build the ultimate shelter! And it can do both before having to be sharpened.  If you are squeamish about large blades in any fashion you may want to avoid this article.

By Bryan, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Part of EDC is a pocket knife and a multi-tool.  So, I always have two fairly small blades on me at all times.  I figure that between these two blades I can get by with all the small tasks I might encounter, i.e. game processing, food preparation, etc.  Since those tasks are covered, I want to start my quest of finding a large blade to have in my pack ready to go for the heavy duty work.  I decided to check out what kind of large knives CRKT had to offer as I have always been happy with their smaller tools.  I won’t lie, when I first saw the photo of the Redemption Knife I thought that it looked bad ass and really wanted to try it out just for that feature. I figure if I can find a knife that can handle the heavy work and look wicked, well that is a win, win situation.

Also Read: Ontario Falcon Knife Review

Let’s start from the outside.  I love the sheath that comes with this knife.  The external part of the sheath is high Survival Knife Reviewstrength nylon with a formed thermal insert that the knife slides into.  There is a fairly large Velcro pocket on the lower half of the sheath.  I like the size of this pocket.  I have found that most sheaths that have a similar pocket, are quite small and only large enough for a small sharpening stone.  I was able to fit a sharpening stone and a fire rod into the pocket with some room to spare. Of course, you can customize the items you want to carry in the pocket, a fishing kit, cordage, whatever you want.  Sometimes I have found with newer sheaths, especially ones with formed inserts, inserting and removing the blade from the sheath isn’t always smooth.  The blade can rub tightly against or even get caught up on the form of the insert and when trying to pull the knife out all you are doing is lifting the sheath up with it.  I have even had some sheaths rub the finish off of a blade.  The Redemption sits snugly in the sheath and is removed with ease.

Also Read: Parry Blade Survival Knife Review

On the top of the sheath are two belt loops for attaching to your person.  I really like that there are two loops instead of just one. With one loop I have had knives flop about when I was walking or running.  One leg loop also doesn’t’ provide enough anchor support for removing a large knife from the sheath smoothly.  The two loops coupled with the nylon leg strapping and clip on the bottom of the sheath, makes the knife feel very secure when I am carrying it.  There is also a length of paracord that threads around the outer portion of the sheath and hangs off the bottom.  I like having the extra paracord handy but I might end up braiding it a bit more. The loop that the paracord makes seems a bit too large and I don’t want it to get hung up on anything when walking about. I could just cut it off but I don’t want to lose the extra cordage to have on hand and I do like the appearance it gives the sheath.

The first thing I always test on a knife is its sharpness right out of the box.  I do not recommend my method of testing this to anyone else.  I picked this method up from some “old timers” and now it has become a habit for me. I see if the knife can shave the hair off the top of my hand or arm (it is a good thing that I don’t test out new knives every day!)  The Redemption knife was razor sharp and easily shaved hair from my hand. I have encountered new knives that are not uniformly sharp which is very annoying to run into on a new blade, and some have even had chips of metal missing from the edge. To me this is unacceptable of any new knife, especially an expensive one. This knife was sharp from top to bottom and on close inspection the edge was perfectly finished. Here are the specifications of the knife taken from CRKT’s webpage.

Dimensions
Open Overall Length: 15 inches
Weight: 20.8 ounces
Blade
Length: 9.5 inches
Thickness: 0.26 inches
Material: 01 Tool Steel
Blade: HRC: 56-58
Finish: Black Powder Coat
Grind: Flat
Style: Modified Drop Point
Edge: Plain
Handle
Material: Black G10
Carry
Carry System: High-Strength Nylon Sheath with Formed Thermal Plastic Insert
Weight: 10.7 ounces

There are some reviews out there on the Redemption, where people don’t like the balance of the blade.  Personally, Survival Knifeit suits me well.  Like most large knives, the balance of the blade is obviously going to favor the blade portion of the knife; simply because there is more material past the handle.  When holding the knife, I was able to let the blade to “fall” onto a piece of wood and it sliced very nice tinder curls.

I like the feel of the G10 handle, however, due to the design there is really only one way to hold it. Most knives with “straight” handles give you the option of multiple holds. The CRKT Redemption has more of a formed handle.  This is one downfall of the knife as it will not give universal hand placement.  The other issue I had was the top curve of the handle.  When I was using the baton method to split wood, the handle would buck upwards, driving that top curve of the handle into my palm.  That was very uncomfortable so I had to move my hand placement around a bit until I found a hold that would work for me. Even though I had to fiddle with my hand placement I was still able to find a comfortable and safe hold when splitting wood.  I was afraid that with the handle lacking texture, it would be prone to slipping when wet.  While splitting some wood I doused the handle several times with water and found that my hold on the knife was never compromised.  The contoured handle proves to aid a solid hold.

Related: Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife Review

After I found a good hold, using the baton method was very easy with this knife.  Because of its size and sharpness it went right through a log after about five good hits.  The tips of some knives that I have tested have become very dull or even broke when I have used them for a baton test.  This knife had no issue with this particular test. Also, during this test I found out something else that was quite interesting.  About halfway down the blade on the top, the form goes from straight flat metal to a beveled edge.

When I noticed this I looked at the piece of wood I was using to hit the top of the blade and found that there were Best Full Tang Survival Knifesignificant cuts made into the wood.  I decided to flip the knife over and tried using this part of the knife to cut into some wood.  It did very skinning the bark and small pieces off a log. If I was desperate I could make deeper cuts with this section of the knife.  I like that the Redemption has this capability because you could use this part of the knife for certain duties while saving the edge of the blade for more important work.  When my short term testing was complete I was a little dismayed.  The spine of the blade that I was hitting to split wood, was beginning to lose some of the finish off the metal.  I wouldn’t have expected this after only splitting four or five pieces of wood, then again maybe I was hitting it too hard?  This definitely is not a deal breaker as the entirety of the finish was not worn down.  I think I will ask around and see if anyone else who owns this knife has had a similar issue.

Also Read: Benchmade Bushcrafter Knife Review

Anyone interested in this knife is going to have to dig into their pockets a bit.  The lowest price I have found is $150 through Amazon.com. CRKT lists the knife at $300 on their webpage.  Over all I give The Redemption Knife three out of five stars.  I would have liked to seen the handle have a bit of texture on it since this is a big knife and is meant to be swung a lot.  The hybrid design between a Bowie and kukri is very pleasing to me but makes sharpening the blade a little tricky.  For the price of this knife, I would have liked to seen a sharpening rod added to the sheath. The Redemption looks cool, wicked and feels great in my hand.  However, for the asking price I would like to see those few small changes made before investing that kind of money.  I would like to note that it is my opinion that every knife that is sold should come with a sharpening device of some sort, especially ones that have sheaths.

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Survival Book Review: Oathkeeper

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Prepper Press Book Review

Oathkeeper is not a prepper or post-apocalyptic survival story.  There are no EMPs, no asteroid strikes, no plagues, Prepper Press Book Reviewno collapsing governments, and no societal disorder.  No, it’s a story of the long-reaching arm of the federal Department of Justice, or maybe you could say “over-reaching” arm of the federal government.  Oathkeeper is the story of Calumet County Sheriff Bear Ellison, a man nearing retirement who finds himself struggling between upholding his oath of office and succumbing to external pressure.  It’s the story of Monte Turcot, a reserved veteran soldier who finds himself in a series of unfortunate circumstances.  It’s the story of Kevin Sniggs, a tough DEA agent looking for arrests and career advancement.

 

By Mark Puhaly, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Likes

Oathkeeper is well-written. It’s not a full-length novel, but it’s not a short story either.  Troy’s writing style makes it an engaging, hard-to-put-down read.  I found myself feeling the sheriff’s internal struggle in the face of the external factors he faced.  This book could be classified as a crime novel, which exposed me to the type of story I don’t typically read but I am glad that I did.  As the story progressed, I found myself wondering what would happen next, and what each party did.   I’m likely to find my way to Troy’s other book, Indivisible: With Justice of Some.

Dislikes

I didn’t like the fact that Oathkeeper not a full-length novel, though that’s another indication I liked it.  I also didn’t like the fact it doesn’t seem to be part of a series.  Once I start relating to the characters in the book, I want to continue reading about them.  There could be follow on stories related to this book.

Conclusion

I think Oathkeeper will be a hit with libertarian readers, states’ rights advocates, and most anyone who enjoys a good crime and political drama story.  “Survival” fiction readers might find something different with this book.  I think if you give this book a chance you will have a hard time putting it down.

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Survival Gear Review: Milwaukee Work Lights

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LED Work Light Review

As if LED flashlights weren’t powerful enough, there is another level of mobile lighting that should have it’s place Survival Flashlightsin your SHTF kit. Battery-powered tools, whether 12, 14, 18. or 28 volts are indispensable these days, and the top makers have now set their sights on innovative LED lighting.  Milwaukee Tools has several unique high powered lights that run off the same batteries as their tools. No surprise there. But what is astounding is the massive number of photons the light throw off, their features, and the significant advantage of large-scale rechargeable batteries compared to the grocery store batteries.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Turning 18

Two notable lights for a temporary grid-down are the