Let’s get real here. Is there really an ideal or “best bet” survival knife? Well, no for the purposes of a general description, but then, yes, for the individual that selects a knife that does all of the tasks they need done. For them, that knife or likely knives is ideal. So, what makes an “ideal” survival knife?
By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache
Ironically, years ago when the series of Rambo movies were in vogue, the huge radical saw-back bladed knife used by the character John Rambo sort of became the iconic poster boy of survival knives. Later on, copies of the blade had the huge cutting edge, the saw tooth cutting back blade spine and a compass in the handle cap.
Defining the Survival Knife
Screw off the cap and there was storage space in the cylinder styled handle for matches, cord, fishing hooks, a sewing kit and other emergency goodies. Why that knife became the “face” of survival knives is a mystery to me. It was more of a combat-tactical knife, but really it was just a movie knife.
However, after that movie series, the knife catalogs were replete with dozens of choices of Rambo-like knives. In fact, you can still find a modern day copy of the Rambo-ish survival knife at Harbor Freight Supply listed as a survival-hunting knife for the huge price of $8.99. I’ll let you decide on the relative quality of such a knife for real survival work. Tons of these types of knives can be seen at every gun show. I guess knife collectors or blade enthusiasts want these blades, but certainly the cheap end versions are not really serious survival knives.
Despite that off the reservation discussion of a more familiar than real survival knife, there are many other types of survival knives intended for serious survival tasking. They can take all kinds of shapes, sizes, blade types, configurations and price ranges.
Likewise these blades come in a variety of design names which can also be somewhat confusing. These tradenames include Bowie, bush craft, hunters, camp knives, frontiersman, woods knives, woods craft, or just plain survival knives. Remember these are often just proprietary brand names and may or may not actually fit the blade type for actual survival work.
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Also a survival knife does not have to be a fixed blade version though that is often the case. If so, pick one with a comfortable handle, a weight you can handle easily and hang on to, has a good sheath, and a blade shape designed for craft work. Keep in mind though, that a lot of good folding knives can be useful for survival work, too. Ideally, I think most survivalists are going to have one or more of both styles. Even pocketknives can perform a lot of survival tasks.
Tasks of a Survival Knife
So, realistically what are our task and work expectations that a knife labeled “survival knife” ought to perform? Again, everyone is different, with differing survival circumstances and needs or wants. If you Bug In, then you may need a different knife or knives than if you are huddled out in the wilderness in a tent camp for a Bug Out. Generally though, our survival knife orientation is more toward the Bug Out camping issues than working around the home or kitchen. It is sort of like having a big gun to take care of everything for lessor needs as well. So, let’s consider the maximum end uses, assuming we can then use a bigger blade to slice tomatoes or cut up wild onions for a salad.
For Bug Out tasking we would want a knife to take on any kind of bush craft work, making up camp, clearing paths, making shelters, trimming out kindling wood, and everything else a larger, stronger knife can handle. This knife is not for cutting down big trees, but it might be for limbing out a log or branches to make a lean-to. A survival knife is not an ax or a saw in the traditional sense. A heavy survival knife would be ideal for cutting evergreen boughs for creating shelter layers.
The survival knife could be used for food preparation such as field dressing game or fish, but I highly suspect from experience there are better, smaller knives for this processing type work. Certainly a survival knife could be tasked with a lot of cooking work including chopping, slicing, mincing, and such food preparation work.
The SHTF camp survival knife could also be used for cutting vines and bark strips for various woods craft projects such as fabricating ropes, lashing, and tying straps. These knives would be good for cutting down wild cane poles for building structures, camp furniture, hanging poles, and such.
Naturally there are untold more uses for a classic survival type knife. If you have one, then I suspect it will be used for most anything around the Bug Out camp or around a residential home. You certainly don’t need a “do” list for trying to decide if a particular knife can get a job done. You simply grab the knife and go to work. If it falls short, or is too much knife, then you trade it for another useful blade or another tool and go back to work.
In terms of self-defense, certainly a survival knife could be deployed as such. This takes special training to be effective, but that is beyond our purpose here. Perhaps a knife fighting expert will join in here later if the SHTFBlog audience is interested.
Where to Find Survival Knives
As written here before there are all kinds of knives available in the marketplace. There are many good knives that are “cheap” that being a relative term, but there are few really cheap knives worth having. I guess the term “inexpensive” would be a fairer descriptor. Like I tell preppers about riflescopes, “Do you really think that $35 scope is worth having?” Not! Likewise, if you buy one of those $3 knives in the big plastic jug at the checkout cash register, then don’t expect much from it for very long. At the same time, you can spend $1000 or more for a super duper, custom made knife with a noted blade grinder’s name on it. Only you can decide what value (or money) you want to put into a knife for survival work.
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There are many knife brand names to look into and many knife sources for shopping them. Knives with good reputations include Browning, Remington, Ka-Bar, Kershaw, Boker, Case, Buck, Cold Steel, Benchmade, Gerber, CRKT, Al Mar, Spyderco, and Schrade to mention just a small list among many, many more.
Where to shop for survival knives? Well, yeah, anywhere knives are sold of course. I find many at gun shows, hardware stores, outdoor stores, hunting supply shops, and gun stores. Big knife shops and on-line sources include the Smoky Mountain Knife Works, A. G. Russell Knives, Bass Pro Shops, Academy, Dicks, and related type supply sites. There are hordes of small shop custom knife makers, too. Buy a knife magazine to find some of those or just do a universal Internet topic search.
A true survival knife is in the eyes of the beholder. What works really well for you might not for somebody else and vice versa. I like mid-sized knives with fixed blades with a good gripping handle. I never go far from our Bug Out camp without a sheath knife, a folder and a pocketknife. There are usually several in my camp pack, EDC, and BOB. A really good survival knife certainly keeps you on the cutting edge. You know I had to say that.
It just isn’t realistic to think all of our prepping supplies will hold out forever. My family, friends, and I may have devised the best survival plan there is, even better than most of the selection of “you can make it” books at the big box book store. But, as time dwells on, the supplies will dwindle. Maybe our Bug In survival scheme has enough food stocked for the millennium. Good for us. Tell me again how long that is? Not unlike the Lord’s return if you believe in that survival book, we know not when the end comes. So, how do you plan for it?
By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache
Likewise, my loved ones and I had the forethought and the financial commitment to branch out to secure a designated Bug Out backup survival location. This comes complete with a farmhouse, water well, and rural power. A backup generator with a 1000 gallon fuel tank surely ought to last long enough until stability returns. Well, we hope so anyway.
At the Bug Out, our panty is chocked full of long term foods, a mix of food types, and tastes. With the available water we can mix up just about any variety of menu concoctions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a few snacks thrown in. We are among the lucky ones to have provisioned so well for the long haul.
Time Bears On
We’re six months into the SHTF and doubt is starting to creep in. The food stocks have gone past the first three rows in the cabinets, and now variety selections are waning. Everybody is getting tired of canned meats, and if they eat another helping of tuna, they may start to grow gills. Everybody’s eyes are not green with envy, but green from all the green beans and green peas. Sure we are fine, but we all want something more, something different.
Our Bug In residence is only two blocks away from a wooded area, and open sage fields teeming with natural life, both plant and animal. The Bug Out escape house is near a huge forested area. So far, neither area seems to have been approached by anybody else in the immediate area. Scouting hikes provides good Intel that nobody seems to be using these available resources. It’s time to take advantage of this situation.
Hunting Becomes Necessity
This section is not so much about how to hunt, but more emphasis on the why we should. Apart from whatever food supplies we laid by in store, we should be mixing in available game meat to supplement our diets. Actually this should be done from the get go. This makes our pantry supplies extend further well into a longer period of unrest or instability, or no new food supplies at the usual outlets. We have to learn to supply some of our own food resources. The argument here too is for the value of this supplemental food source. I am not a nutritionist, but everything I read about food recommends that protein is a good thing. In a SHTF survival situation, adding meat to a diet would seem to be a very wise move.
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What will you hunt? If you have never hunted before and nobody in the group if there is one has never hunted, then you need to start to learn how now. Books, videos, hunting television, seminars, and other participation activities can bring you up to speed fairly quickly. I highly recommend a good library of hunting books, and everything to do related to the subject.
Now, if you are an experienced hunter already, then you know what to do. Generally this activity is initiated by on the ground scouting to inventory what game might be available to harvest. This can be done by simple stealth hikes into prospective hunting areas. Maintain as secret and as low a profile as you can. Once you fire a gun to hunt, then you have given notice of your presence. Archery is also an option to consider.
Scouting can also be accomplished to a certain degree by observing via optics from a distance away. You must have good binoculars and or a spotting scope to do this part well. You are looking for obvious signs of game movement, tracks, deer rubs, and other game sign. Visual confirmation of game in the areas is a really good start.
What game might you expect to find? Naturally this essentially depends on where you are in the country. The United States is very blessed with a long list of wild game species available for pursuit via hunting. The short list is white-tailed and mule deer, elk, antelope, goats, sheep, big bears, big cats, wild hogs and wild turkey. Small game could be rabbits, squirrel, raccoon, and such. Upland game will include all kinds of bird species from quail, dove, woodcock, pheasant, grouse, and the list goes on. If water is around, you may find waterfowl in ducks and geese. Find out what is normally available where you live and where your Bug Out site is located. Your state wildlife agency will have a web site and likely pamphlets for this information.
For hunting you will likely already have the necessary firearms including a decent, accurate, scoped rifle, one of at least .30 caliber, but a .223 or others can be used with the correct hunting type ammo. Small game can be hunted with a rimfire rifle or handgun. A shotgun will be useful for birds, waterfowl and small game. Have a variety of shotshells on hand besides self-defense type loads. Certainly, you can add all types of hunting gear and accessories including hunting clothing, camouflage, knives, game bags, and everything else to help you secure the game meat you need.
Sport Fishing for Sustenance
When we highlight hunting, we do not mean to slight or ignore the freshwater or saltwater fishing opportunities where you might reside during a SHTF. As you have prepared for hunting, also prepare for fishing. Fish are a high priority, good quality food to add to the menu. As with game animals, research what fishing opps are available to you and which types of fish can be caught. I won’t list all the possibilities here, because the variety is so regional. You should know your area well enough to know about fishing lakes, rivers, streams, and even small rural farm ponds, any water source that might hold edible fish. Take the same advice on fishing as with hunting, if you do not know how.
Stock up on basic fishing tackle, rods, reels, line, lures, tackle supplies, hooks, weights, etc. Have the whole shooting match on hand. Again, a good book on general fishing will describe what to buy, and how to use it. You may find also like hunting that fishing is a good recreational activity as well. You’ll need that as well to support mental health during trying times.
This is my own weakness beyond knowing how to grow a garden. By all means make plans and provisions for growing a garden of any size. As you know Mother Nature also provides many sources of plant life that can be eaten raw, added to salads, or cooked. Again a good regional resource book will be valuable for finding greens, flowers, seeds, legumes, mushrooms, wild fruits, and other plant-vegetable life that is indigenous to your area. This resource will be valuable so you’ll know what to gather and how to process it for food.
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So, obviously this was a quick treatise just skimming the bare essentials of food harvesting skills you will need to acquire and practice. Ideally, you have stored up enough food stuffs to grind it out over a long period of time. However, it is just smart to learn to supplement these supplies with fresh foods found in your local habitats. Learn now what these resources are in your area, how to harvest or gather them as supplemental food sources.
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If you have ever spent any time at all on a survival or firearm forum, you are bound to come across the phrase “Buy it cheap, and stack it deep”. This phrase is, of course, referring to the amount of ammunition one should have if disaster strikes. After years in the shooting community, I have heard many reasons people stockpile ammunition for emergencies. There are really only a few loons out there who prepare for impossible and downright foolish reasons. One guy, I met really believed in an alien invasion followed by an Illuminati takeover.
Sure, there are always a few crazies, but there are many normal people who do have a fear of what could happen in our increasingly volatile world. Like it or not, we have to admit that this is not the 1990s anymore and we are seeing an increase in danger daily. The economy can be compared to a savage ocean. ISIS is rampaging through the Middle East and their sympathizers are attacking innocent people in the USA, Europe, and Canada. Iran’s nuclear program. The riots following Trump’s election. I could go on.
In fact, I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the question, “how many rounds should I have on hand in case something happens?” If you read the forums and even some articles, a lot of armchair generals and self-described “experts” say you need to amass 100,000 rounds per caliber, minimal. And while 100,000 rounds is an impressive amount of ammunition, enough to fight a small war, it is completely insane to think you will ever need that much ammunition. Well, if you are going to invade a small Caribbean nation, go ahead and pursue your 100,000 rounds. With the price of ammunition today, you’ll go broke.
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In all truth, it is impossible to see the future and know how much ammunition you will need. My crystal ball stopped working a long time ago. But I doubt you will be engaging in a firefight after firefight with gangsters or looters every day in a survival situation. Even if you did, what are the odds of you surviving dozens of gunfights? I have done my best to put together a realistic minimal goal for ammunition needs during a survival situation. The focus here is of course hunting and defense.
A .22 is about the most versatile firearm when it comes to food procurement you can own. From squirrel to a feral cat, a .22 can put meat on the table for you and your loved ones during hard times. I strongly suggest everyone have at least one reliable .22 for emergencies. The bare minimal I believe you should have is around 1000 rounds of .22 ammunition. Ideally, 2-5,000 rounds are best. Buy .22 in bulk, in tubs of at least 500 rounds to purchase cheaply.
A .12 gauge or .20 gauge should be something every gun owner owns in addition to a .22 long rifle. A shotgun can be used to kill waterfowl, turkey, game birds, and with a slug or 00 buck loads can be used to kill the larger game and be used in home or self-defense. I strongly recommend pump action guns as they are by far some of the most reliable. To be wise, I would say one should have 2 barrels for each shotgun unless the shotgun is a dedicated home defense weapon. If it is a hunting shotgun, you should have a longer “bird barrel” for shooting bird shot, and a smoothbore “slug barrel” for shooting slugs and 00 buck loads. I suggest at least 300 rounds of game loads such as number 6s or 7s, 50 turkey loads, 200 slugs and 200 rounds of 00 Buck.
The Big Game Rifle
If in addition to a shotgun and .22, you are blessed to own a game rifle, this can be a real tool in keeping your family fed. If it all goes downhill, a game rifle can, of course, be used to hunt game, and it can also be used to hunt feral cattle, pigs and other such domesticated animals that tend to go feral in dark times. For every game rifle I own, I like to have at least 100-200 rounds of game loads. More if you can afford it. If your rifle is properly sighted in, 100 rounds can last you years of procuring larger animals for food.
The Semi Auto Sporting Rifle
In the USA, this includes AR-15s, AK-47s, AK-74s, and so much more. These are not the true assault weapon. In Canada, these usually mean the SKS, M1A/M-14, M1 Garand, and maybe an AR-15 kept for target and competition shooting. A true assault weapon by the true definition is a rifle chambered in an intermediate cartridge that has the ability to switch between semi-automatic and full automatic gunfire. In truth, the inner-workings of these firearms are no different than a semi-automatic hunting rifle.
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These rifles are highly versatile and can fill the role of both home defense firearm, personal defense weapon, game rifle and varmint rifle. If you only have 1 gun, one of these are your best options. If you have a rifle with a detachable magazine, be sure you have at least 12 magazines. That is my minimum. If the firearm you have is an SKS, M1a, Garand, or any other semi auto that uses at least a 5 round magazine, you probably have noticed they are bullet eaters. In fact, a semi auto can eat more ammunition than a college kid eats pizza.
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I’ll admit it readily; I’m a gun snob of the highest accord. I like my guns classy, old, and made of walnut and blued steel, forged and carved by craftsmen from a different era. I’m not saying that I don’t have and use ARs and polymer-framed pistols – I do; they are my “oh shit” guns, and I use and abuse them properly. What I am saying is that if I don’t need to be using that high-capacity new-age gun at a given time, I’m not gonna. Though the AR platform is great for a small-to-medium-game hunting platform, I’d rather ditch the “Rambo” vibe and carry something with a “soul” when I decide to head into the woods for an afternoon of scouting, hiking, or snowshoeing. A well-used and -loved decades-old rifle on my shoulder feels to me like it’s bringing company; call it corny, but I like to think that a small part of every man, woman, and child who ever had that gun in their hands comes with me when I carry these old firearms around. It’s comforting and warming to me – and modern milled-and-molded aluminum and plastic guns just don’t give me the same warm and fuzzy feeling.
To that end, I get picky on the guns that I buy; I’m not an accumulator like many other self-proclaimed gun snobs I know. I buy quality items sparingly, and use every gun that I buy. If a firearm doesn’t perform, just isn’t quite what I had in mind, or falls by the usage wayside, it gets sold or traded off. Too many guns is wonderful, but it’s a maintenance and security liability I don’t want to deal with. So I only buy firearms that I connect with – both literally and figuratively.
The “Walking Around Rifle”
Like the infamous “Scout Rifle” concept idea put to words by the immortal Jeff Cooper, the idea that came to be dubbed my “Walking Around Rifle” probably needs some explanation. While my conceptualization wasn’t quite as specific as Mr. Cooper’s to-the-letter explanation, the idea in my head had to fulfill certain requirements. The idea was kick-started by my sighting of a rifle at a local gun shop – a rifle I didn’t know I needed until I saw it. It was a Savage 23D, a featherweight middle-sized sporter in the elusive and under-appreciated .22 Hornet caliber, manufactured somewhere between 1923 and 1942. The smooth, warm oil-dark walnut with the worn checkering called to me, as did the detachable magazine and slightly worn bluing. The rifle sported an inexpensive Simmons 3-9x scope, probably weighed all of six pounds, and wore a price tag of $350.00. It was lust at first sight. Soon, visions of popping deer-chasing nuisance winter coyotes with the quick-handling rifle were dancing in my head.
I then committed a major gun-buyer faux pas: I didn’t put money down on the rifle. Heating season was coming up, the baby needed winter clothes, and I just couldn’t justify putting bill money down to nab the rifle. (being an adult sometimes isn’t all it’s wrapped up to be). So I put it back in the rack and justified my actions by thinking “surely nobody will want an old .22 Hornet”.
I was wrong. I went back a couple weeks later to find that surely someone did indeed want an old .22 Hornet, and they had wanted it the day before I walked in the door with money. So I was back to the drawing board to come up with a snazzy, lightweight firearm to fill the new hunting/hiking void I’d created in my head.
I sat down and listed my criteria. The needed requirements were few, but relatively specific.
- Caliber – centerfire, flat-shooting, capable of downing small and medium-sized game. I hand-load, so ammunition availability wasn’t too much of an issue as long as I could find brass and it was in a common bullet caliber.
- Bolt-action or break-open, for less moving parts and lower potential for breakage/wear. Likely higher potential accuracy as well over lever actions, pumps, and semi-autos.
- Provision to mount optics, namely a high-quality fixed low-power scope.
- Provision for backup fixed sights – because optics can fail, even good ones.
- Light(er) weight – I didn’t want to pack around a 9 pound rifle – so I was looking for a scaled-down action and lightweight makeup
- Unique if possible, made up of blued steel and walnut – I had to assuage the inner gun snob, after all. I could have sourced a new Remington Model Seven Synthetic in .223 and it would have fit this bill to a T – but it just doesn’t appeal to me. I wanted something less than commonplace.
Why Did I Want a Walking Around Rifle?
I realize some may not see the need for this rifle, and I can understand that. Why carry around a rifle that really is somewhat limited in purpose and versatility, especially when the bug-out AR-15 fits the bill? Why not a bigger rifle/caliber combination, like a .308, that is more capable over a wider array of situations?
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This rifle requirement all stems from what I like to do. My woods time is usually comprised of keeping up to date with bug-out locations, exploring, hunting coyotes, or – most frequently – scouting deer patterns for an upcoming whitetail deer season. A rifle is handy to eliminate pests, use as a signalling device, or even provide security. The rifle has range and accuracy capabilities that far surpass even the most precise handgun, at the price of added bulk. However, when snowshoeing and scaling mountainous countryside with a pack, the added bulk can be a burden – so I needed to be picky about the size and contours of the rifle. Semi-auto firepower wasn’t a requirement – in all likelihood, the rifle won’t even be fired on most excursions – so precision and unobtrusive carrying qualities take precedence over lots of fast follow-up shots.
To sum things up: My rifle’s mission was to be portable,and have more punch and range than a .22 Long Rifle or similar rimfire caliber. The .22 LR works well as a small-game foraging rifle, but just doesn’t possess the additional horsepower I wanted to have available.
So Why These Requirements?
Caliber – Here in Maine, the need for a large caliber to pull anti-animal duty only runs a couple of months – usually September, October, and November, when black bear and whitetail deer season are open, to the delight of local and imported sportsmen. The remainder of the year, most traditionally edible game animals are not legal quarry. Porcupines, woodchucks, coyotes, and red squirrels are the only critters that Maine allows sportsmen to pursue year-round. For these animals, a large caliber rifle just isn’t needed for clean kills. Certainly, a .22 Long Rifle can be considered viable for vermin dispatching duties at appropriate ranges. However, once the ranges open up past 50 yards, the stalwart .22 LR’s and even the .22 Magnum’s meager ballistics start becoming a hindrance, and clean kills are not certain. So we need to start looking at the centerfire family of cartridges to carry the fight to undesirable fur bearing creatures (or even emergency anti-deer use) at longer distances. The .22 Hornet, .222 Remington, and .223 Remington/ 5.56x45mm are all cartridges that were squarely in my sights. Surely, the .22-250, .220 Swift, .204 Ruger, and .17 Remington would have all been good, even excellent, at what I wanted – but since I reload, I wanted smaller, efficient calibers that didn’t burn a ton of powder (eliminating the .22-250 and .220 Swift), and were in bullet diameters that I had on hand – namely the common .224” bullet (there goes the .17 Remington and .204 Ruger.). I briefly considered older-though-still-cool-and-sort-of-useful calibers such as the .218 Bee, .25-20 Winchester, and .32-20 WCF, but the difficulty and expense of finding brass cases to reload, plus their lackluster long-range performance, put them out of the running once my brain overrode the romanticism of using the old calibers. So .22 Hornet, .222 Remington, and .223 Remington/5.56mm were the main focus. Rifles chambered in these smaller cased-cartridges also have the benefit of sometimes of having the action scaled down to the caliber – so you’re not lugging around a full-sized rifle that’s just a modified version of a full-sized short-action rifle meant for the .308 class of calibers.
Action Type – Again, though I had an AR-15 that would fill this made-up mission quite nicely, I just didn’t want an AR over my shoulder while hoofin’ it. I’ve shot deer with a Windham Weaponry AR-10, and while it worked very well on a certain 5-point buck, it just didn’t feel right to a guy who grew up carrying leverguns and bolt actions in the woods. Also, once I shot said deer, carrying the AR became a whole bunch of not-fun: the brass deflector and charging handle kept digging into my body, the Picatinny rails caught clothing and abraded it, and the tall profile just made sure there was more surface area to get in the way. Purpose-designed traditional hunting rifles are generally lower-profile, smoother, sleeker – easier to carry once you don’t need them anymore and you’re dragging 170 pounds of dead ungulate weight behind you.
Also – a reasoning that has somewhat more validity – bolt-action and single-actions are USUALLY more accurate than their semi-auto, lever, or pump counterparts. Yes, I know that there are hideously accurate semi-autos, and I’ve shot running deer at 150 yards with a lever action – but the bolt gun will be a bit more effective on little target critters at further distances due to its higher level of intrinsic accuracy. There are always exceptions to rules, but this is a statement I decided to bank on, based on personal experience and expected usage for the rifle.
Optics/Sights– This is a no-brainer. I need to be able to scope the rifle for longer-ranged shots. However, I like redundancy in my firearm sighting methods, so I’d like to be able to have the provision for iron sights. Scopes fog up, batteries run out, slips and falls leave firearms crashing to the ground (probably onto the largest, harshest, most abrasive rock in three counties) and optics get jarred out of alignment or damaged. A backup set of iron sights – no matter how rudimentary – is just a nice piece of security to have.
Lighter Weight– Again, another no-brainer. The less your rifle weighs, the more likely you will have it with you, and the more convenient it will be. The scaled-down action size of the smaller calibers I was looking at help a lot in this department. I almost bought or sought several different firearms that neatly fit the bill; they were all quite capable and fully met my needs…I just never seemed to pull the trigger (pun intended).
I was drawn to the CZ 527. A nifty little scaled-down carbine with a detachable box magazine, it comes in .22 Hornet and .223 (and interestingly, 7.62x39mm Russian…interesting…). But they are difficult to find ‘round these parts due to their popularity and immense handiness, and I ended up finding my solution before I found one of these.
The H&R Handi-Rifle was a great option, too – and I almost ordered one up. They are rugged, dependable, no-nonsense, inexpensive break-open single-shot rifles that feature interchangeable calibers by swapping out the barrels. I’ve had a lot of fun with these rifles over the years, and they certainly hold a special place in my heart. They come in .22 Hornet and .223, (and lots of other calibers and gauges) with black synthetic stocks that lend themselves well to a beat-around rifle. I know it wasn’t walnut or terribly unique, so I kept looking despite the utility.
The Remington 799 is a scaled-down version of the fabled Mauser 98 action, and if I had seen one in .22 Hornet, .222, or .223 (all standard calibers for the rifle), I might have scoffed one up in a heartbeat if it was of decent quality – I had never actually seen one, but the specs look good. Of course, another Savage 23 or a Winchester 43 would have been lovely – but alas, not for sale in my neck of the woods.
The Solution Presents Itself
After the mildly devastating loss of the vintage Savage .22 Hornet, I was on the hunt. No gun shop in the locale was safe from my perusal. There were lots of options that would have fit the bill, but Captain Gun Snob was being fussy. I wanted something a bit different….
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One day, my wife and I were skimming through the local Cabelas, and somehow she actually followed me into the gun library (it hasn’t happened again since, I’ve noticed…). She was present at my side when I sucked in a deep gasp and quickly opened one of the upper glass cases to reach for the gloriousness of a rifle that had caught my eye.
A 1950’s-manufactured Sako L-46 “Riihimäki” in .222 Remington, complete with graceful full-length “Mannlicher” style stock, detachable 3-round magazine, and vintage steel-tube El Paso Weaver K4 fixed 4x scope in Redfield Jr. rings had my complete and undivided attention. I fell in such instant and complete lust with the trim, beautiful little rifle that I didn’t even care if my wife saw the $1,199.00 price tag (which she did). I put the rifle on layaway, and a few too-slow weeks later, the rifle came home with me. My wishes had come true and the fun began.
I stocked up on factory ammo and empty brass where I could find it, and I’ve spent a very joyful past few months developing a handload that shoots well. I also replaced the charming (but prone to fogging) Weaver K4 with a vintage Leupold M8 fixed 4x scope that is a perfect match for the rifle. A canvas sling was added, and the rifle has reached “perfection” status in my eyes. It propels a 50-grain Hornady soft-point varmint bullet at 3200 feet per second out of the 23-inch barrel, and can group 5 of them into a neat 1-inch cluster at 100 yards. The rifle has a hooded front sight, and I found an ultra-rare Redfield scope mount with an integral flip-up aperture rear sight. It rides delightfully next to a pack on my shoulder or in my hand,and fulfills every one of my requirements. I’m a happy camper, mission accomplished!
Yeah, But Does This Have Anything to do With Survival?
Some of you may just view this as bombastic gun bragging, and maybe it is to a small degree. But more than that, I’m trying to portray that there are other options – quality, graceful options – out there to fulfill the needs of the forager/scout/pest control mission. I know that for many individuals, the AR-15 or other military-type platforms are distasteful, impractical, unneeded, or unwanted, and commercial hunting rifle offerings punch the ticket nicely. The AR and other platforms are truly versatile and may be a better way to go if you’re on a one-gun budget for SHTF-type needs, but if you have other plans for scouting, small-to-medium game hunting, or pest eradication post-SHTF, why not have another rifle that doesn’t use your stockpile of “oh no” ammo? Why not have a rifle that says “Hunter” or “Rancher” instead of “Prepper” or “Survivalist” or “Military”? And truth be told, the day may come when your AR-15 or similar rifle may not be able to see the light of day due to legislation; you’ll still want to be able to have a quality, accurate rifle on your shoulder that is capable of pulling off multi-mission duty and not set off alarms. A rifle that shares a common caliber as your SHTF rifle may be a great idea too (like the CZ527 carbine in .223 to compliment your AR). Just food for thought.
What do you think? Do you have a secondary/scouting type rifle in your plans? Or does your situation and prepping make a rifle such as this unnecessary? Sound off in the comments!
Photos Courtesy of:
Lauren Nicole Photography
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When calamity strikes and grocery stores become barren, it will be imperative for people to produce their own food. Many individuals who have never hunted will be forced to learn quickly. In my own experience, I’ve found field dressing, not shooting, to be the most challenging part of the hunt. Among those who have never hunted, the prospect of cleaning a bird is probably intimidating.
By D-Ray a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache
Thankfully a YouTube user, Shawn Woods, has an informative video on how to clean a pheasant in under two minutes. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a novice, this video is impressive. Novice hunters will learn how to expertly field dress and more seasoned hunters can appreciate a speed run.
A Breakdown of the Process
To begin, it is important to understand you are working with six components for removal: head, tail, two wings, and two feet. First, let’s take a look at the legs of your pheasant. The lower, scaled half of pheasant legs connects to the feathered top at a joint. In a circular motion, cut just below this joint and snap the leg of the pheasant back. At this point, the leg should be hanging on by a few tendons. Cut any excess tendons and remove the lower portion of the leg.
Next, you’ll want to focus on the wings. Pheasant wings are separated by a joint dividing primary and secondary feathers. Grab the primary section of the wing and bend back sharply breaking the joint. Once the joint is broken, pull back to reveal any connecting tendons. In a similar fashion to the legs, cut these connections to remove the primary section from the secondary. With the primary section off, you can leave the secondary section to wait for later. This will addressed during the skinning process.
Now for the good part. Grab the base of the pheasants neck and cut. Without too much effort, this will come right off. Remove the pheasant head and use this opening to peel back skin and feathers. With the exception of the remaining secondary feathers, removing this skin should not be too difficult. For the most part, this should be a quick process.
To conclude, cut the pheasant tail at the base and remove. Next, make a small cut along the lower breast portion; this will create a hole underneath the breast to allow for access to intestines, heart, gizzard, liver, and other organs. Insert two fingers into this hole, get dirty, and pull out the pheasant guts. In a couple of tries, you should have a pheasant largely removed of all organs.
At the end of this process, Shawn Woods produced a cleaned Pheasant in 1:44 seconds. Perhaps the most impressive part of his process is meat retained. Very little was wasted in this process. Although he did not mention it, pheasant liver and gizzard can be consumed as well. In a survival scenario, you will want to hold on to these for consumption.
What the Video Missed
While I was impressed with this video, I must throw in a few caveats. You should not emulate the haphazard process of organ removal used in this video. Take a bit of time to carefully remove intestines and other internal organs. Rupturing these inside the pheasant is messy, unhygienic, and smells god-awful. Nobody wants to clean pheasant meat that has been covered in bird feces.
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A less important note: when removing the legs, don’t sever the tendons outright. Take a bit more time to pull them out of the bird. While this process will make the cleaning more time consuming, it will expedite your cooking process. Speaking of which, the skinning process used in this video could have been a bit more thorough. Rather than frantically pulling at feathers, a slower approach on skinning yields a cleaner, more hygienic bird.
It’s also important to mention that a thorough cleaning process involves looking for shot embedded in the meat. You don’t want to start digging into your pheasant meat to chew down on a mouth full of metal. The bird in this video seemed to be killed in a pretty clean fashion. This isn’t always the case. From time to time, you will kill a pheasant that is, at points, too mangled by shot to be consumed. In these instances, you will be forced to toss ruined meat.
Wrapping It All Up
As this video demonstrates, cleaning a pheasant isn’t an overly difficult or time consuming practice. If you remember to cut your six components and take time to skin, you will produce a cleaned pheasant ready to cook. Also, if you’ve never been hunting, I recommend you go. Bird hunting is a great deal of fun and a valuable skill in survival scenarios. If you need an excuse to take a few days off and shoot a shotgun, bird hunting is the perfect activity. I challenge you to find an unhappy hunter after a trip out to the woods. The old adage ‘a bad day of fishing beats a good day at work’, is also applicable to hunting.
For the seasoned hunters out there, what is your process? While I think a two minute clean is a little hasty, I was still impressed with the speed clean. Let me know what you think in the comments. Also, feel free to share your hunting experiences.
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Andy was pulling duty on bug out perimeter security. We had heard shots coming from the woods at the far west end of our prep team property. This was not an unusual occurrence out in the rural area where we have planned our long term bug out existence. None-the-less it is always discomforting not knowing who might be unlawfully accessing your property lines. He left out on his Honda ATV to scout the end of the road line which was roughly two miles west from our camp area and cabins.
Keeping a Watchful Eye
Unfortunately for us, the west end is paralleled by a railroad track, the side of which allows for easy access down our north-south property line. We have often chased unauthorized trespassers from the area and even poachers shooting deer from the railroad tracks across our property line. Usually just a presence in the area thwarts any unwanted activity. So, a regular series of drive by cruises on an ATV is enough to let outsiders know we are about the posted area.
On this patrol as Andy drove by an open utility power line right-of-way that comes through our land, he noticed an ATV sitting near one of our deer hunting stands. Upon close examination with binoculars, he could see somebody sitting in the stand seat. He immediately put out a call on our camp radios for backup (might as well be melodramatic about it).
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Another owner and I showed up in the clear view of the guy sitting in the stand. At this point, he hurriedly climbed out of the stand, jumped on his 4-wheeler, but it would not crank. He immediately abandoned his ride running off into the woods. The three of us noted he was carrying a hunting type rifle, which is a situation that could often turn dicey. We were glad he fled the scene.
A call to wildlife authorities went non-responsive, so the lesson as a prepper/survivalist is to never count on help from anybody else. You’re basically on your own. We decided not to chase the trespasser down, but we did confiscate his ATV and turned it in to the police station in town. The police officer said he knew who owned it and would put out the appropriate warning to stay out of our place. Yeah, right.
Maintaining a Safe Distance from Threats
Had this situation escalated into a confrontation, it could have turned ugly. I think the point that we outnumbered him helped, but what if Andy had been alone in camp? Had this been a real life SHTF event, the trespasser/poacher might have stood his ground just as well.
Related: Technology & Survivalists
In these circumstances, the decision-making point is critical. I don’t know of anybody that really wants to get into a shootout over somebody crossing a property line, but what if the offending party takes the offense? I mean in this day and age thugs are killing shop owners or citizens on the streets for $5 bucks. It would be nothing for a trespasser to fire off a few rounds to settle the issue. The question is, will you (we) be ready to defend our position?
In a life and death situation, you can bet we are prepared to defend ourselves. But we want to be smart about it. Slinging lead might well put a stop to the advance, but it has to be dedicated targeting with some purpose. That purpose might not be to wound or kill somebody, but it might be just to peel some bark off a nearby tree. Preppers have to be ready for any such contingency whether bugging out or bugging in at the home residence.
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Part of this “targeting” is knowing what we are shooting at especially given the firearm we hopefully are carrying at the time. The preference would be to maintain as maximum a distance as possible to make our own position more difficult to target from an adversary. Judging those distances has always been a difficult task to learn and practice. This is where modern technology steps in to help.
Enter the Nikon Prostaff 7i
It may sound unusual to the Survival Cache readership that I might suggest adding an electronic rangefinder to your prepper gear list. As a big game hunter all over America and Europe in years past, the use of a rangefinder was a normal occurrence. As a prepper now, it occurs to me the usefulness of one for those applications. And as to our prepping/survival tasks, the use of a rangefinder is still helpful for collecting vital game meat for the table. In longer range shooting attempts, it is good to knowingly nail down the exact distance to the targeted animal, be it an elk or a white-tailed deer. They are useful, too in ranging predators or nuisance game animals you may wish to dispatch before they grab your little Molly pup out of the camp yard.
This ranging principle works also for defending your property rights and or any site you may have picked to bug out on private or public lands. Is that band of 2-3+ unknowns crossing the fence at 300 or 400 yards? It would be nice to know. For this job let me recommend the new Nikon Prostaff 7i Laser Rangefinder. I have had one in hand for several months and the neighbors get tired of me ranging them in their yards. I can hardly wait for hunting season next month for further in the field testing. The 7i can range from 8-1300 yards. Yep, 1300. Too far to shoot, but plenty of range to make further decisions. Its magnification of 6x helps immensely to “paint” the target in yards or meters by user choice. The unit’s eye relief is 18.3mm which is really good if like me you are wearing eyeglasses. It uses one CR2 Lithium battery. It lasts forever, but buy a spare.
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This Nikon’s size is only 4.4×1.5×2.8 inches. It is small and easily handled in the palm. Its objective diameter is 21mm so it lets in plenty of light for spotting targets. It also has a built in angle compensation which is super if you happen to be in an elevated position, or downhill from a ridge. The unit is also waterproof, which is always a good feature.
The Prostaff 7i is black in color, but has an orange stripe across it. You may think this trivial until you drop it in the grass or the forest floor. Controls are easy to learn and use and are very intuitive. The unit’s cover is grainy which aids in its gripping. There is also a provided neck lanyard, which I recommend using, then slipping the rangefinder into your shirt pocket. For prepping to hunt for food or protect your family from distant threats, a rangefinder is a highly useful piece of gear. The Nikon’s cost can be shopped around for about $270 or cheaper. Add it to your Christmas list now.
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As hard as it is for me to say this, I think I’ve finally found a knife that I like better than the Ka-Bar Becker BK-2. The BK-2 is an awesome knife. It’s a workhorse and of the few smaller knives out there it’s one that you can actually chop and pry with that has some effect on what you’re hitting. Check out a comparison of the BK-2 and a couple of other knives here. I’ll use the BK-2 as a comparison here because this is probably one of the knives I’ve used most in the last five years.
Before that I had a Ka-Bar USMC fighting knife that I used for many different tasks. If you’re one of my old readers you’ll know I love the BK-2. I still do, but I’ve found an alternative knife that I like a little better. The Tops BOB knife was designed right from the beginning as a woodsman/survival knife by the Brother of Bushcraft. It’s got some cool features that might seem a little gimmicky like a divot to be used as a bearing block with a bow drill set, but I’ve actually used it and it works.
The knife is made from 1095 High Carbon Steel with a blade thickness of 3/16″. It’s got a Kydex sheath with a rotating steel belt clip. The whole knife is 10 inches with a blade length of 4 1/2 inches, which makes this a smaller knife. But, it gets the job done.
I used it for the normal bushcraft things you’ll do: splitting wood, chopping, cutting, carving, among other things. It’s real test came when I took a class at the Maine Primitive Skills School. I can’t emphasize how important a knife is during wilderness survival since it’s arguably the most important piece of gear you’ll take into the field. Sure, most any knife will get the job done, but it takes a special knife to get good marks in all categories.
At the Maine Primitive Skills School we used knives to split wood, carve a bow drill set, peel bark from a pine tree, and all kinds of other stuff. Over the last few months I’ve put this knife to the test and the more I use it the more I like it. One area that it really excelled in was whittling. I used it to whittle a spindle and fireboard out of a piece of firewood and it worked beautifully. I also carved a spoon and wasn’t disappointed with its performance there either.
Some of the features of this knife include a whistle attached to a fire steel, which makes it a pretty good simple survival kit. Drawing from Dave Canterbury’s 10 C’s of Survival this kit gives you cutting and combustion, and you can make your own cover with it.
The features on this knife are pretty cool too. First of all the ferrocium rod also has some magnesium rods on it that can be whittled down and used to assist your spark in starting a fire. The whistle is shrill and would help if you got in trouble and were able to blow it. Remember – three blasts is a distress call. There’s also a divot in the knife which allows you to use the knife as a bearing block with a bowdrill, which I used to successfully start a fire.
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There’s a small wedge on the bottom of the handle that you use as a striker for the fire steel. It’s a little awkward to hold the knife when starting a fire at first, but you get used to it after using it a few times. When used for whittling there’s a thumb ridge along the back of the knife you can use to help with that fine detail work.
The Kydex sheath holds the knife tight and there’s a holder built in for the fire steel and whistle combination. I didn’t like the way the whistle tapped against the sheath as I walked and I was afraid the firesteel was going to fall out when I was in the wood, so I wrapped a Ranger band around the knife over the whistle and firesteel and that kept it in there nice and tight and quiet.
Testing consisted of actually using the Tops BOB Knife in many different scenarios. As mentioned earlier I split wood with it. Because it’s so sturdy it handled very well at this task. I’ve used some knives in the past where the handle would twist when you used it batoning, but this was rock solid. The thickness of the wood being split is determined by the blade length, of course, so keep that in mind when gathering wood you intend to process with your knife.
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I also started fires with both the firesteel and by using it as a bearing block with a bow drill set. The firesteel is much easier of course, but not having to carve and burn in a bearing block probably saved me fifteen minutes of looking and actual work, so it’s a handy feature.
The knife is marginally heavy enough that you could chop wood with it, but it would be a struggle, so I didn’t bother trying to chop a tree down or anything of that nature. You can generally look at a knife and have an idea of how it’s going to work at a given task and while the knife is sturdy and of a good weight for its size, it’s not a hatchet. If you’re going to do some serious chopping bring an axe.
The question I ask myself every time I have a piece of equipment like this is, “Would I be confident that this would be useful to me in a survival situation?” Meaning, do I think this knife would stand up to the rigors and be an asset to me if my ass was on the line?
The answer is yes. I’m confident it would be helpful. As mentioned earlier I’ve favored the Kbar BK2 and it still has a place in my heart, but the Tops BOB Knife is now my main knife and it now holds the main place of honor in my everyday Bug-Out Bag.
Sound off below!
All Photos By Jarhead Survivor
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Tom Rowland shows how the Uni Knot can be used to set up an entire fishing outfit from the bare spool to the hook, including tying braided line to Fluorocarbon. If you were to learn only one fishing knot, this is the one.