Build a Longterm Survival Supply Bag

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bug_out_bags-2Some preppers and survivalists might scoff at such an idea.  After all, beyond the initial 72 or so hours of a bug out scenario, most would think you’d be surviving out of more permanent supply sources than another bag or storage box.  Well, you might be, or in some cases, you might not be.  SHTF happens.  The idea of a secondary supply bag then may not seem like such a bad or farfetched idea.

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

Every bug out plan however perfectly executed may not pan out exactly as planned.  You may have cached out a perfect bug out hiding location, a camping spot, another shelter at a long range destination or other hold over site until calm returns, or a new lifestyle starts.  But what if you don’t make that back up site right away or at all?

Related: 10 Bug Out Bag Essentials

What if there are delays or outright changes in the plan altogether?  What will you do if roadblocks hinder your progress or throw you off on an entirely new route, one you have not practiced or are even familiar with.  Suppose riots, armed threats or searches deter you?  If any of that happens or more, you’ll need additional survival provisions to survive.  

Defining Long Term

prepare_SWOT-2This is obviously the hard part.  During any kind of a SHTF, time frames simply cannot be nailed down, or likely even predicted.  Everything is in flux, and I mean everything.  If you were even successful at getting away from your primary residence, or work with family in tow if that is part of the plan, then you will spend some time in travel.  You may have calculated the Bug Out trip in advance knowing how many hours or days it will take to arrive at your back up location, SHTF housing or secure site.  Assuming that all works out.  

As a suggested back up plan then, or a sort of supplemental Plan B, one should also prepare for the potentiality of an extended short term situation turning into something more.  But what?  It seems reasonable all else being equal to have emergency provisions beyond the 72-hour scenario for a minimum of two weeks at least with the possibility of a month not being unrealistic.  

Back Up Bag Scenario

jeep_offroad-2Let’s be truthful here, too.  In most real Bug Out situations, you do not want to have to plan to abandon your vehicle to hike on foot.  It could happen, but it is not a best case scenario to strike out into the woods with a one bag source of supplies.  Most of us are simply not equipped physically or emotionally to hike off into the sunset to try to “live off the land.”  Perhaps the top tier of survivalists could, even for a while, but it is the toughest plan to achieve.

If it comes to it, should you become detoured, plan instead a hide in place by the vehicle on an abandoned road, under a bridge, or other place where your vehicle could be parked relatively safe, and out of sight.  Then plan to camp there with your vehicle and supplies as long as you have to or indeed as long as you can.  Doubtless this could be a highly “iffy” situation, but it could happen.

Also Read: Knee Deep in Bug Out Vehicles

The vehicle then becomes your fort, your storage container, tent, and thus offering some measure of security and comfort.  But, you’ll need the extra extended supplies, goods, and gear to make this viable until you can move on or be forced to hunker down there.  

Then later, if you do reach your intended secondary site, these back up provisions can be used there in addition to what you may have already cached in place or hidden along the way.  To be honest, if Plan A never works out, and Plan B’s provisions are expended, then basically all bets are off.  

You may have to then shelter in place, wherever or whatever that turns out to be.  It is not without consideration to think about a scrounging plan as well, but hope it does not come to that.  Always remember many others are out there vying for the same limited sources of supplies or even what you have already secured.  

Secondary Bag Priorities

Granite-102-side-1_436a00ed-364d-440b-a93f-172e6f472a16_1024x1024-3By bag, this could be a very large zippered duffle type bag with triple or more interior space than your initial 72-hour Bug Out type bag.  Ideally, it would need sturdy grab handles on each end and perhaps the sides.  Loaded such a bag will be heavy.  Two people will likely be needed to load it in a vehicle. But, honestly, it does not have to be a bag at all.  There are some very large, and of course heavy when loaded as well, storage boxes that can withstand a lot of abuse.  These can be packed, locked, and stored in a ready grab spot as a throw in bag/box.  This may not be an option for every prepper, but it is a backup worthy of consideration. Again, this bag or box should be provisioned with enough additional consumables and gear to manage the two weeks to a month or even longer term.  

It would seem the highest priority should go to food, and water, or additional equipment to convert questionable water sources into acceptable water, as not enough could be transported via this plan.  Food supplies, also need to be light, and offering long term viability.  This means a large quantity of quality pre-packaged survival foods offering maximum variety and palatability.  This implies commercial survival foods, dry packages, freeze-dried, and or MRE type meals.  Frankly, you can forget carrying canned goods and such as the weight and volume would be too much to handle.  

Though debatable as personal choices, a good cooking mess kit should be included as meal prep would be more than munching a protein bar at this point.  Minimalist type gear is important, but necessary anyway.  

Bug_out_bag_flashlight-2Add to the long term bag more gear.  An axe, more tarp covers, more medical supplies especially medications needed for specific disorders that require treatment.  Rope, rough wood saws, a hammer, large nails/spikes, batteries, more matches and butane lighters, candles, more flashlights, zip bags, heavy duty trash bags, work gloves, a knife or two more.   Water storage bags would be helpful.  Include light fishing gear and/or nets.  Add whatever else you can manage.  Seasonal clothing as space permits or yet another soft bag?  

Add more ammo, perhaps a thousand rounds each for a primary rifle and handgun with half that for a shotgun.  Add one or two more weapons if convenient.  Sounds extensive?  Expensive?  Perhaps.  You have to make that judgement on what you can handle.  These goods are carried by the vehicle and stored there during travel or roadside camping, perhaps for the endurance.  

The long term survival bag (LTSB) then is provided to extend the usual 72-hour initial Bug Out period as or if needed.  It certainly could come in handy and also in the end supplement what has already been stocked at some alternative sheltering site.  It’s just an idea, but one acted upon soon and in hand rather than merely wished for later under more dire circumstances.  

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External Belt Gear Rigs

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USMC web gear

When the soldiers left the ships to fight in that big war to end all wars, the troops were all carrying a webbed web gear reviewbelt around the outside of their coats or jackets. This webbed belt carried a wide variety of accessory pouches for ammo, weapons magazines, medical supplies, a canteen, maybe a holster for a 1911 Colt .45 and other optional gear items. The external webbed belt kept the gear weight well distributed around the waist and easy to access. Some web gear units even had shoulder straps.

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

Without carrying these immediate need items on the pants belt itself, the soldiers would not have their trousers weighted down or pulling excessively at the waist. Also this web belt could be quickly detached to set aside, however these rigs were usually carried at all times.

Fast Forward

Today, preppers and survivalists would do well to copy this gear carry mode themselves. In fact, such rigs are once again finding favor with outdoors enthusiasts from hunters, campers, hikers, and survivalists working around bug out camps. These external belt rigs can be customized to easily carry needed items that are used often or that can be reached or deployed quickly. With a little planning and thought, such an outside carry belt can be easily designed and outfitted. What gear should be added to such a rig? Make a list then narrow down the choices.

Also Read: Pistol Bug Out Bag For Under $500

Start with a heavy duty belt. Some still like and carry the old military surplus webbed belts and theseexternal_belt_gear_rig_pistol_knife_survival can work with the proper accessory attachments. Better yet is a thick leather belt that will not bend or bind with a load. I bought a double layered leather 1.5 inch wide belt recently off the rack at Cabela’s. It is super stiff, but will become more pliable with use. It has a good brass buckle. Now I see carry belts with steel lining inserts to add further strength.

Make sure whatever belt you get is large enough with enough adjustment holes to fit over outer clothing including light jackets as well as heavy coats. It may be best to wear a coat into the supplier or retailer to get a proper fit over the outer garment. Try on different styles to see what seems to work best.

Gear to Attach and Carry

So, what to hang on such a belt? The first thing that comes to mind is a sidearm weapon in a holster. This of course can be any handgun that you use confidently and have practiced with often. Likely you wear this outdoors, so if working on a farm, ranch, bug out camp or similar environment, you may want a handgun with substantial enough power to dispatch varmints or other intruders that might invade your space.

The most common choices that most will pick include a 9mm or a .45 ACP. Revolver shooters will pick a .357 Magnum (for which .38 Special ammo can be used), a 44 Magnum (with .44 Special ammo) or perhaps a .45 Long Colt. Obviously other choices are available, too. One of my personal favorites being the .41 Magnum in a Smith model 57 or 58.

Your handgun choice can be fitted to any number of holster types and styles that suit your uses best.external_belt_rig_holster_campknife Pick a heavy duty, durable holster with good gun retention. A safety strap is not a bad idea, because when working outdoors and such you do not want any likelihood of the firearm dropping out of the holster or being snatched out by a tree limb or vine or trespasser.

Next besides a weapon would probably be a good camp knife. The blade choice should be something between a hunting knife, general purpose Bowie, or heavy blade that can do some chopping along with regular field cutting tasks. An ESEE #6 comes to mind. If you want or need a pocket knife sized utility blade or two, then carry one of those, too in a smaller scabbard.

Read More: Survival Knife vs. Hatchet – A Question of Gear

Now comes all the options that preppers, farmers, or other outdoors workers might choose specifically for the kinds of field work they are performing. It might be a hatchet or small hand ax, a mini-first aid kit with meds, a canteen, compass, cell phone w/case, ammo pouch or pistol two-magazine pouch, bear spray, other accessory pouches (forestry tape, bright eyes, paracord, insect repellant, small digital camera, snacks and nabs, fire lighter, flashlight, multi-tool or other gear items). The balance in picking these items is not to unduly weigh down your belt rig.

Wearing the Rig

Where to wear or use this belt rig? Obviously, outdoors, but such a rig could be worn while working inside and survival web gearout around the bug out camp, farmhouse, barn, or other situation. It should be an easy take along when riding an ATV, UTV, or even a horse or tractor. The rig would be ideal for walking the property to inspect fences, gates, and for security observation.

The belt rig would be good for hiking trips, too, assuming such carry is permitted on public use trails. WWII soldiers found great utility in the everyday carry of their gear over their coats with a webbed belt. It spread the weight around the waist, but gave immediate access to needed items. Preppers and survivalists can adopt this type of rig for many uses performing a variety of tasks. Be creative in how you design your belt rig so it becomes a real go-to gear carry option.

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Burying Guns & Ammo with MonoVault Burial Tubes

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Best way to bury guns

Whenever the headlines carry news of a new law that limits our 2nd Amendment rights, conversations will often come around to Best way to bury gunsthe subject of burying guns or creating a survival cache of some sorts.  If not firearms, people talk about burying silver and gold, ammunition, cash, important documents, even caching food storage or fuel on the path to a bug out location.  I even know of people who bury gear at their bug out location in the event it is compromised before they reach it.

By Joe Nobody

The Law

While I know of no law that would prevent someone from stashing stacks of canned beans and birth certificates, one must be fully aware of the laws in his/her own locale when it comes to burying guns or ammunition. Take the state of Massachusetts, for example:  The law requires guns to be stored in a specific manner.  All guns, when not in use, with the exception of primitive firearms, must be stored or kept “secured in a locked container or equipped with a tamper-resistant mechanical lock or other safety device,” to prevent unauthorized use. Penalties are assessed even if no underage person obtains access (source).

Also Read: “Holding Your Ground” Book Review 

I’m no lawyer, but it’d seem to me that you’d be violating the law if you’re burying guns in Massachusetts.  So – stay mindful of the laws in your area if you’re seriously considering the subterranean storage of guns or ammunition. Even if you find it is legal – is it safe or wise to do so? ­What if a stranger discovers to tomb? Could children? Those are questions for you to answer. Stay legal. Stay safe.

Guns, ammo, gear, precious metals, and most anything you deem necessary can be buried in a variety of different containers, the Survival Cache Burial Vaultextent to which goes beyond the scope of this post. Here we’re focusing on one type of container, the Mono Vault.  The Mono Vault is a ready-to-bury storage tube. Constructed of a one-piece molded body, there are no joints along the sides or on the bottom that could leak.

This type of product represents the simplest, fastest, most convenient way to get your goods safely in the ground. Looking like a large PVC pipe with sealed ends, it functions in much the same way. While the tubes do not come cheap, once one goes about pricing similarly-sized PVC pipes, and factors in the value of one’s time, there’s a new appreciation and understanding of the pricing, and the product itself.  The tubes come in a variety of different sizes, and all function in the same manner, but for purposes of this post, we’ll be looking at three in particular: the 110s, 130s, and 248s. Each has similar construction, coming in either black or olive drab. The “s” denotes standard wall construction of 1/4”. The top of the containers have a large-mouth spin-on lid with o-ring seal, and atop that sits another cover, the “Burial Shield,” that looks much like the top of a landmine.

Also Read: Implementing A Secondary Survival Cache

The 110s has an inside diameter of 9 3/4” and an inside depth of 7 1/2”. The 130s has a diameter of 9 3/4” and a depth of 23 3/8”. Survival Cache PVC PipeThe Mono Vault 248 has a whopping diameter of 12 1/4” and a depth of 45”!  Dimensions, diameter, and depth – blah, blah, blah. The real question here is – how much stuff can you cram into these things? Well, we found out.  This is the Mono Vault 248 with everything we crammed into it:

  1. A mid-length AR with collapsible stock, five 30-round magazines, and 1,075 rounds of 5.56,
  2. A Ruger 10/22 and 1,275 rounds of .22lr,
  3. A Remington 870 shotgun and eighty 12-gauge shotgun shells,
  4. A S&W Shield with spare magazine and 450 rounds of 9mm,
  5. A crank-powered radio,
  6. A large survival knife,
  7. Small pair of binoculars,
  8. A small bag of various “survival” tools (fire-marking products, few first aid products, etc.),
  9. Small solar panels for charging batteries, and best of all,
  10. #10 Can of Freeze Dried Food Storage.

Look into the top with all of this gear, there’s still room for more. If we’d been more careful with the packing, made boxed ammo PVC Survival Cacheinto loose ammo, we could have easily double the amount of ammo and packed another 45 servings of freeze dried chocolate drink.  For the 130s, we packed what you see pictured:

  1. A mid-length AR with collapsible stock (upper separated from lower), five 30-round magazines, and 925 rounds of 5.56,
  2. A S&W Shield with spare magazine and 450 rounds of 9mm,
  3. A crank-powered radio,
  4. A large survival knife,
  5. Small pair of binoculars,
  6. A small bag of various “survival” tools (fire-marking products, few first aid products, etc.),
  7. Small solar panels for charging batteries, and best of all,
  8. #10 Can of Freeze Dried Food Storage.

For the Mono Vault 110, we packed what you see pictured:Survival Cache PVC Pipe

  1. a S&W Shield with spare magazine and 100 rounds of 9mm, and best of all,
  2. #10 Can of Freeze Dried Food Storage.

Burying Your Mono Vault!

Bury your tube before filling it, or you may be carrying a very heavy tube.  The makers of the Mono Vault write: “Your Mono Vault will float. While this is great on the water, it is not so good in burial applications. Clay soils of an excavated hole can inhibit drainage of any water that may collect. Water collected in the hole can impart tremendous floating forces on your Mono Vault, driving it to the surface and then some. It is advisable to anchor your vault effectively with appropriate compaction or the addition of hardening or sealing agents. A few sacks of concrete in the clean bottom of your backfill can serve to anchor the vault to the bottom of the hole. Use caution with concrete in the vicinity of the lid as most concretes will shrink as they cure and may cause some distortion of the vault and critical sealing surfaces. Choose your site carefully to avoid natural drainages that may direct water to your vault. Slightly sloped or cresting locations may be best.”

Surround the tube with crushed stone before back filling it could offer additional protection.  If you’re concerned about the possibility of someone hunting for your cache with a metal detector, you can always throw rusty, scrap metal (old nails, cans, etc.) around the site to help throw people off.

Also Read: Raid Routes

The manufacturer also writes:  “In high frost areas where the ground freezes deeper than the cover soil, it may be advisable to cover your Mono Vault with a piece of foam insulation below the cover soil and extending a couple of feet out from the perimeter of the vault. This insulation can reduce freezing of the soils around the neck of the Mono Vault and the resulting pressures and possible distortion. Be aware that such insulation can also slow snow melt so don’t use a square piece that will leave an unnatural looking residual snow pile.

The landmine-looking Burial Shield will help direct water away from the lid, and it protects against possible shovel damage as it is being recovered. The shield will keep the lid area clear of dust and dirt that could otherwise enter the tube when you open it, potentially compromising the unit when it’s resealed.

How Are You Going To Mark Your Site?

Are you going to be able to find it when it’s time? You can identify the site by remembering natural landmarks, making note of Best way to bury a riflethem, or by using a portable GPS—just make sure you have good satellite reception. A 10’ difference could mean a whole lot of digging in search for it.  There are additional products you can buy to protect the contents.  “NoRust” storage bags are available for guns, and your standard desiccants will work wonders for sealing moisture out. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could always use cosmoline on your guns.  And remember—never whisper about the location of your cache!  What would YOU bury? How would you bury it?  I welcome your comments.

About the author: The Joe Nobody library of books includes apocalyptic novels, science fiction, political thrillers, children’s books, and instruction manuals. T-Shirts Now Available






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Converting .223 rifle to .300 Blackout in 2 Steps: Part 1

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convert 556 to 300 blackout

The .300 Blackout is an effective round that bridges some of the wide gap between a .223 and a .308 as well as allowing an AR15 best ar15platform rifle to encroach on the ballistics territory of the venerable AK 47.  Plus the 300 BLK has the benefit of easily going subsonic making it about as quiet as possible given the mechanical noise of operating a rifle’s action.  Adding to the quiet excitement is that the difference between a traditional AR15 in .223/5.56 and one in 300 BLK is little more than a barrel swap. That’s right, everything else might be interchangeable between the two.

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

Chicken or Egg?

Wildcat cartridges can successfully address niche ammo needs, but unless the specific cartridge was blessed by Sammy 300 blackout conversion(properly SAAMI or Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute), the cartridge would not get the widespread support needed to be taken seriously by the big gun and ammo manufacturers let alone the general shooting public.  AAC, or the Advanced Armament Corporation in collaboration with Remington Defense ironed out the kinks in the wildcat .300 Whisper cartridge getting formal SAAMI joy in 2011 which is why the .300 Blackout still has that new car smell.

The .300 Blackout is a 30 caliber solution that grew from a set of needs not the least of which included the use of existing AR-style magazines while maintaining the same mag capacity, the use of M4-style platform uppers and lowers; being ballistically similar to the AK 47 round of 7.62mm x 39mm, and be a higher-mass barrier-penetrating bullet while maintaining low recoil and high performance through short suppressed barrels. Oh, and best of all, easily running both supersonic and subsonic in the same rifle with absolutely no change in the gun. In fact, it is this latter capability that 300 BLK owners find most attractive. So the .300 Blackout can drop a deer at 200 yards, or lob 30-cal lead downrange with little more noise than a cycling bolt.

AK 47 rifles are near impossible to run subsonic due to the gas system. And they are certainly not able to interchange between supersonic and subsonic on the fly. Major adjustments and tuning would be needed. In the case of the .300 Blackout, it is a cartridge deliberately made to run flawlessly in an AR rifle in both subsonic and supersonic. In fact, the high bullet weight of the subsonic 300 BLK ammo is not just to slow down the bullet (F=MA in Newtonian physics) but also to provide enough of an equal and opposite force to cycle a traditional AR bolt and buffer (Newton’s Third Law of Motion).

While the initial ballistics of a 300 BLK running subsonic are very similar to a .45 ACP, the bullet shape of a .300 Blackout provides a much better trajectory and deeper penetration. A 220 grain 45 caliber slug flying out the pipe of a handgun designed prior to 1911 is much like a forty-five caliber musket ball. On the other hand the .300 Blackout behaves more like a 7.62×39 round causing death hundreds of yards away. A .45 ACP will bounce off cowhide at distance while the 300 BLK should still shatter bone.

Walmart Test

300 BLK ammo in the supersonic variety did pass my Walmart test.  That means it is sitting on the shelf at the local Walmart right switching from 556 to 300 blackoutnow. However, I was unable to locate any subsonic .300 Blackout ammo at the any nearby Walmarts.  Of course subsonic 300 BLK ammo was available at almost every gun store and big box sporting goods store I checked so the stuff is common.  And the Walmart gun clerk did say they’ve had 300 BLK subsonic ammo in stock before, but it was elusive as 500 round bricks of .22 long rifle.

Related: 10 Basic Tools For Your Armorer Kit

The ammo choices for 300 BLK in supersonic was varied across price and performance.  I found plenty of boxes of 20 from $16 all the way up to almost $50.  Subsonic rounds hovered around $20-$25 and there was rarely more than one choice at any given store.

Presto Change-o

Changing a .223 AR 15 into a .300 Blackout can be as simple as swapping barrels.  The complete upper, lower, magazines and gas 300 Blackout vs .223system might work just fine with the 300 BLK. Usually there are a couple other parts that get changed out as well, but truly in a nutshell, it is just a barrel switch.  So a best-case conversion to turn your .223 AR into a .300 Blackout is 1) remove your .223 barrel, and 2) install a 300 BLK barrel.

Tool Side

Changing barrels on your standard direct impingement AR is fairly straightforward, but does require some tools. The undeniable magpul armorers wrenchtool is a barrel wrench which is usually part of a multi-function armorers tool like the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench.  But in order to turn the barrel nut, you must remove the gas tube. And in order to remove the gas tube, you will need to remove the gas tube cross pin using a 5/32nds punch (gently push it out from left to right).

With the gas tube removed, you can unwind the barrel nut freeing the barrel from the upper receiver. You can reuse the gas tube if its in good shape and the right length, and maybe even reuse the gas block as well assuming it works with your barrel and handguard.  In my case, I opted for a new low profile gas block because I am going from a Magpul MOE polymer handguard mounted on a 5.56 barrel with an A2 (triangular) front post.  The Midwest Industries free-floating handguard I’ll be shrouding the 300 BLK barrel with will need a new gas block. So it was Yankee Hill to the rescue.

Also Read: How To Trick Out A Cheap AR15

Backing up for a minute, there is an essential tool that makes barrel removal and installation every so much easier and that is an converting a 556 rifleupper receiver vise block. The vise block is a blockish clamp that wraps the upper receiver like a glove allowing the whole unit to be clamped in a vise without concern of damaging or warping your upper receiver. Add a torque wrench to round out your toolset and you’re as good as done.

Grunt Work

The .300 Blackout went into military service in July of 2015 when the Netherland’s Dutch Convert 300 BLKMaritime Special Operations Force (NL-MARSOF) ordered 195 carbines chambered in 300 BLK.  According to an uncited Wikipedia article on the .300 Blackout, it has an effective supersonic combat range of about 500 yards. Flying subsonic, 200 yards is pushing the limits of effectiveness outside of threats made of paper.  Now before anyone goes all sniper on me, most folks, and let’s be honest here, are not able to shoot reliably to 500 yards even under ideal conditions. In fact, 200 yards is a very reasonable and ethical hunting distance. In my particular case, I intend on hunting with this rifle in thick woods where a 50 yard or less shot is common. I grew up hunting in such places with a Winchester Model 94 30-30 which is an excellent “brush gun” as we liked to call them. Iron sights were plenty good at these distances.

I also intend to hunt with a suppressor, or silencer if you want to retain the original name that its inventor Hiram Maxim called them back in 1902; the “Maxim Silencer” to be exact. On a side note, a movie in 1946 was made about Hiram’s life and titled “So Goes My Love.” But reading about the movie, it doesn’t sound like there is any gunplay in it, let alone any silenced fire.

Quiet Down

Factory loads of 300 BLK come in several popular bullet weights. In general, those bullets over 200 grains slide down the pipe How to convert to 300 Blackoutunder the 1100 feet per second speed of sound while anything lighter breaks the sound barrier with a boom. Since most of the powder is burned within the first nine inches of barrel, near total performance can be achieved in very short barrels. To avoid paperwork and a tax stamp and months of delay, I opted for a 16” barrel literally off the shelf at a local gun store.

I already had a SilencerCo Omega suppressor so adding a can to this build was a no-brainer. In fact, that Omega is most of the reason I went down the 300 BLK road in the first place. A suppressed subsonic .300 Blackout literally is only as loud as the bolt cycling and bullet impacting.

Related: Firearms Maintenance When SHTF

All this is not without a problem. And it’s potentially a big one. A .223 or 5.56 round will cycle into a 300 BLK barrel, and possibly 300 BLKthe reverse is true. This means you have to practice proper ammo management. At no time can you risk mixing up or mixing together your mags or your ammo.

There are various solutions and products to keep your ammo act together. The Blackout Band is a silicon bracelet you wrap around your 300 BLK mags. Some folks run different colored mags, while others mark their mags in personal ways. I chose to dedicate Magpul’s sand colored mags to my .300 Blackout with the intent to dye them later to a more fun and useful color. So at the moment, white mags for the Blackout. No exceptions. There is an ever growing number of tales where someone had a loose 300 BLK round that found it’s way into a .223 mag only to blow the gun apart when it was stripped off the top of the mag by the bolt and the trigger was pulled.

And as I noted in my review of the Magpul D-60 drum magazine, not all ammo containers for the .223/5.56 platform are completely interchangeable. In fact, some are downright dangerous. But since .300 Blackout ammo is easily twice to three times the price of .223 rounds at a minimum, getting sloppy with Blackout ammo shouldn’t be a popular problem.

Survival Apps

It should go without saying that a 30 caliber subsonic suppressed round with a 200 meter range should have endless uses. Hunting is obvious as is protection. But let’s put a finer point on that protection thing. A bolt cycling is noisy but only within a very limited sound radius. Add snow or thick brush or trees and the noise of a buffer spring boinging and bolt clanking will not travel far. And the thump of bullet impact is evidence that it’s too late to do anything about it.  Unfortunately, the 30 caliber bullet leaving the muzzle under the speed of sound drops like a mountain pass after a hundred yards, and like a double-black diamond ski slope at 200 yards. Beyond that it’s ballistics curve would be a boat anchor.

The Downside of Loud

And speaking of sound suppression, if you ever plan on popping off a round indoors, you will want to minimize the bang or risk convert from 5.56 to .300 BLKtemporary disorientation and permanent hearing damage. Sorry to be a buzzkill here, but I do have trouble taking seriously anyone who plans on using a short-barreled AR or AR pistol with spiked muzzle brake as a home defense weapon. One boom and it’s all over for most involved. Better get that first shot right because you will be too stunned for a follow up shot. Kind of like flash-banging yourself and loved ones.

Also Read: Review of the Glock 42

Just as a gas-powered generator makes an unwanted and unavoidable racket, and a campfire makes unwanted smoke and smell, firearms make unwanted noise. So having a silent solution with more umph than a pistol is a good thing. And when things do go noisy, you have a 500 yard solution at your index finger’s fingertip.

Given that the 300 BLK is still young enough to have spots it’s not surprising that reloading your own brand is the go-to option for the more-than-curious. There are limited factory ammo options for subsonic bullet designs often leaving the big game hunter to settle for either throwing projectiles faster than sound or launching barely hollow-pointed varmint rounds downrange to settle the score. But the big news here is that there is actually a selection of subsonic 300 BLK ammo on the shelves of the big boxes. So something’s going in the right direction these days.

Let’s see how this all works out. Stay tuned for Part 2.
All photos by Doc Montana

This article is for informational purposes only, please consult a gunsmith before you make any changes to your rifle. T-Shirts Now Available






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Prepper Pocket Pistols

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survival pistol

The essential idea behind a pocket pistol is to carry it concealed on your person in the event of immediate need.  During an active Best self defense pistolSHTF event, a prepper-survivalists may have multiple opportunities to engage their pocket pistol for a wide variety of reasons.  It might be needed to get out of the office and home or out of the driveway to get on the road toward your Bug Out destination.  It may be needed to thwart a threat at the front door or in the parking lot.

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

When things go south during a natural or unnatural event, self-defense and family/team protection can quickly become a top priority.   For this reason, a pocket pistol has to be chosen very carefully with deliberate intents in mind at all times.  A pocket pistol has to be small enough to be carried easily, but it must be retrieved quickly to put into play.  Then it has to carry enough power to be an effective defensive threat.  The shooter has to be trained and proficient in doing this.

Pocket Power

The first round of the debate starts with the size of the hole in the end of the muzzle.  The primary contenders are the .380 ACP, best concealed carry ammo.38 Special, 9mm, and maybe with a select few shooters, the .45 ACP.  See, I have already stepped on somebody’s toe by not mentioning this round or another such as the .40 Cal.  Some 10mm fans might be offended.  And if you are just getting into shooting handguns, start with the .22 rimfire from the get go, but then move up.  Skip the rimfire for self-defense as it just has too many limitations for serious protection work.

Related: Buying SHTF Ammo

The bottom line here is to choose a caliber with which you are confident in using and in a best concealed carry ammohandgun you can shoot well.  Any one in this first list will perform well in the right hands of a properly trained and experienced shooter.  The days are gone when the .380 and the .38 Special were considered wimps.  Even the 9mm was slighted not all that long ago.  Forget that.  Ammunition manufacturers have stepped up the game with new highly potent and accurate self-defense loads new on the market.  Many new offerings by Hornady, Remington, Winchester, Federal and others have laid to rest the arguments about these rounds being too weak for self-defense protection.  Make your choice.

Gun Choices

To simplify things I generically used the term “pistol” when I am really talking about both semi-auto pistols and revolvers as well. best concealed carry pocket pistol Believe it or not, a good revolver in the hands of a competent and confident shooter becomes an awesome defensive combination.  The “pistol” is certainly a popular choice but by no means the only one or even the best one in every instance.

Related: A Case For The Revolver

A top of the line revolver such as many by Smith and Wesson, Ruger, Charter Arms, Taurus, and a few select others are good choices for prepper pocket pistols.  An intriguing new revolver that I have yet to see or handle is the Kimber K6s Stainless in .357 Magnum, which of course can handle .38 Specials including hearty +P loads.  This ought to be a grand pocket pistol, pricey, but extremely well made as all Kimber’s are.

Pistol wise there are just so many choices, the average or new prepper to the horse race is going to quickly get bogged down in decision-making over features, fit, grip, handling, magazine loading, pointing, slide cycling, sight alignment, safety mechanisms, weight, size, carry and concealment considerations.  These are a lot of things to think about when picking out a good pocket pistol.  Among the competitive leading makers of pocket pistols, you have to look at the Glock 42 and 43, the Ruger models LC9 and LCP, several from S&W including the Bodyguard and their 9mm series.

Related: 10 Tips For Concealed Carry

Remington has out a new .380 pistol to look at in earnest.  Others worthy of a look include the Kimber Micro Pistols, the Solo, Ultra models, and some of the downsized 1911 versions.  In this marketplace, there is no shortage at all of models, brands, and versions to examine for use as pocket pistols.

The Wrap

In the selection process, canvas internet recommendations from noted sources like Survival Cache.  Check with reputable gun best pocket pistoldealers, and nose around at shooting ranges, and gun shows.  Handle and inspect as many different gun models as you can get your hands on.  Shop where the inventories are large, selections and prices are competitive.  If you know a cop, then ask them their opinions as well as other preppers and survivalists.  Gather all the information you can as you make your choice or choices.

The pocket pistol profile is a lightweight, small, 2-4 inch barreled handgun designed to be easily carried actually in the pocket or in an IWB (inside waist band) or OWB (outside waist band) holster.  It has to ready to be drawn quickly and deployed into action at a moment’s notice.  Besides picking the right gun in the right caliber for you, proceed to knowing your gun.  Learn it, clean it, take it apart, and get intimate with it.  Spend a lot of quality time on the shooting range running it through the paces.  Shoot your new gun at realistic confrontational distances.

Also Read: Gum Creek Vehicle Pistol Mount Review

Forget 50 yards.  Concentrate on 7 feet to ten yards.  Punch those paper plates in the center.  Practice quick reloads with a fresh magazine or a 5/6-round speed loader.  This is a learned talent all its own that requires lots of practice to perform smoothly and securely.  Practice, too, withdrawing your pistol from your pocket and carry holsters.  Dress up in the role of concealed carry to see how all that works out.  Get in and out of your vehicles to test those moves.  It all takes practice.  Just keep at it.

Get your concealed carry permit so you’ll be legal.  Start to tote your pocket pistol on a regular basis.  Carry it around some to get used to the weight, feel and tug of it on your body.  At home or discretely work with drawing your pocket handgun in practice, unloaded of course.  Learn that sight plane down the barrel and pointing that muzzle nose to the target.  If you have to depart your office, home, or vehicle during a SHTF event of any kind, you are going to want some measure of protection.  A pocket pistol can help fill that role.  Make your selection with earnest consideration, then move full forward to learning to use it effectively.  It could save your life or the lives of family members, a prep team, or others caught exposed. T-Shirts Now Available






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SHTF Armorer: Magazine Maintenance – Part 2

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best way to clean gun magazines

So we know to try to keep any severe damage from happening to our precious magazines – that one’s a Best Way to Clean Pistol Magazinesno-brainer.  But we also need to be aware that during normal use and training, magazines get dropped onto the ground, which is the natural habitat of mud, dirt, dust, snow, small bugs, standing and/or running water, and sand.  Also, carbon and powder fouling (especially from suppressed guns), lead, copper, and brass debris from the cartridges will become denizens of the magazine just through normal use.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog
This post is Part II of a series (Read Part I)

Next To Godliness

Let this crap build up, and eventually, your mag ain’t gonna run no’ mo’.  So you train and shoot… and as a happy consequence, you now have some cruddy magazines.  What kind of maintenance do we need to do to keep these crucial systems from becoming your gun’s Achilles heel?

Related: Rifle Magazine Management Strategies

Luckily, MOST modern box magazines can be easily disassembled for cleaning, so you don’t have to make do Best way to clean AR15 Magazineswith turning the mag upside down and shaking to get the sand out via cartridge count holes.  This will be a general guide on magazine disassembly – I heartily recommend you perform a little internet/YouTube research or consult your local gunsmith for a magazine disassembly consultation for your specific firearm if it doesn’t seem to work with what I’m outlining here.  As stated previously, your standard magazine has just a few parts: the magazine body, the magazine follower, the magazine spring, the magazine insert, and the baseplate.

  • Magazine Body: The outside sheathing of the magazine, that encapsulates all the parts to the magazine as well as the cartridges. Usually steel, aluminum, or polymer.

  • Magazine Follower: This component provides a bearing surface for the magazine spring to exert pressure on the cartridges, as well as helping to provide proper alignment to the cartridges. Usually steel or polymer, can be seen through the open end of the magazine when the magazine is empty.

  • Magazine Spring: A steel coil spring (with very few exceptions). Provides the upward force to feed the ammunition from the bottom of the magazine, out into the gun.

  • Magazine Insert: A small, flat component that sits inside the magazine body and uses the spring’s tension, combined with a small tab or detent, to keep the baseplate locked in place. Usually steel or polymer.

  • Baseplate: The bottom flat plate of the magazine. Provides a bearing surface for the spring and keeps dirt and debris from entering the bottom of the magazine. Can be made of a multitude of materials; usually steel, aluminum, or plastic/polymer.

Tools needed are few.  A small flat-headed screwdriver is useful for gentle prying, and a punch, or even a bullet nose or pen/pencil can be used to depress the magazine insert to unlock the baseplate.  A rubber/plastic mallet or block of wood is useful for using gentle impact coercion to re-seat baseplates.

You won’t need many cleaning supplies, either.  I like Q-tips and toothbrushes to get in the hard-to-reach tight areas, and a small, clean, dry rag and a short cleaning rod works pretty well to rid the magazine innards of detritus and debris.  Unless your magazine has lots of carbon buildup, you shouldn’t need any solvents or cleaners – it’s best to wipe the magazine internals clean and leave the inside dry and oil-free.

Oil will attract dirt and dust…and it’s also possible penetrating oil can do what it was designed to do and work its way into cartridge primers, neutralizing the priming compound.  If you’re in a high humidity or salt area, you can put an extremely light coat of oil on the magazine spring – but remember, it can attract and hold debris.  The ONLY time I put heavy oil or grease on the inside of magazines is if they are going into seriously long-term storage.  If this is the case, I will mark these magazines with a note that they must be cleaned before use.

The Breakdown

For the visual purposes of this article, I’m going to use an AR-10 .308 Magpul PMAG, since these are the same Gun Cleaninginternally as the PMAGs used by pretty much anyone with an AR…and conveniently, the disassembly principles are largely the same as many magazines that commonly used SHTF guns would utilize.

For most modern magazines, disassembly starts with removing the baseplate.  The baseplate will usually have a small hole or slot where a protrusion from the magazine insert interfaces to keep the baseplate locked in place mechanically – see the oblong gray surface on the baseplate of this PMAG.

Take your punch and push this magazine insert down, dropping its tab down and out of its corresponding slot on the baseplate.  This will allow the magazine baseplate to be pushed forward (sometimes backwards) off the magazine body.

If this is the first time the magazine has been apart, the baseplate will likely fight you to stay on the body. Likewise, if you have a steel magazine with a steel baseplate, you may have internal corrosion locking parts together.  Here is where that mallet and/or screwdriver will come in handy.  While keeping forward (towards the front of the magazine) pressure on the baseplate with your thumb, try tapping and/or gently prying the baseplate forward if needed.  Once that baseplate starts moving forward, you won’t need to keep downward pressure on the magazine insert to keep it from jumping back into its slot in the baseplate.

Keep your thumb at the back of the baseplate and keep pushing forward over the open bottom end of the How to clean a glock magmagazine.  Use your thumb to keep control of the insert and magazine spring, as they are under spring tension – and once you pop that baseplate off, there’s nothing keeping the spring in check – and go flying it will.  Keeping a thumb or palm over the magazine will help keep things under control.

Related: Sig Sauer P320 Review

Gradually release the spring tension (there can be quite a lot!), and then pull the spring and insert out. The magazine follower may or may not be stuck or locked onto the spring.  If it is locked on, the follower will come out with the spring.  If it is not, you may need to turn the magazine upside down to get the follower out.

IMPORTANT: Be sure to note the orientation of the spring, magazine insert, and follower – they only go back together one way that will allow the magazine to work!  If you reassemble the mag and it doesn’t play nice, chances are a part was reassembled backwards, upside down – or missing altogether.  Take a picture or make a sketch or use your eidetic memory for reference until you’ve done this a few times and gotten the hang of things.  As I was re-assembling the magazine I took apart for purposes of this article, I actually put the magazine insert on the spring backwards and tried to re-assemble.  Nope.  It’s good to have reference points, whether you’re a first-timer at magazine work or a seasoned disassembly veteran.

While your magazine is apart, now is an excellent time for upgrades if you want them.  Extra capacity baseplates, new stock or increased strength magazine springs, anti-tilt followers, and Ranger pull plates are all great upgrades depending on the magazine you have.  Magazine parts are cheap, so if you predict heavy usage for certain magazines your own, throw a few bucks down and let them know they’ll be loved.

Also Read: The Easiest 100 Gallons Of Water Storage

Once you have performed your desired upgrades/maintenance/cleaning, it’s time to reassemble.  Essentially this glock magazine cleaningis assemble in reverse order: Magazine follower goes in first – usually it is attached to the magazine spring and not just free-floating.  The spring follows the follower, and the magazine insert – also usually connected to the spring – goes in last.  You’ll now have to compress the spring by pushing it down far enough into the magazine body to get the magazine floorplate started.  Sometimes holding the spring tension in one hand and trying to wrangle the baseplate while holding the magazine body can be a little exciting – you might want to use a padded vise to hold the magazine body (careful not to crush the magazine body!) or borrow a friend to help hold things stable.  I was able to get the spring in my Magpul PMAG back in by myself, but it took a couple tries.

The baseplate may need to be gently tapped back on.  Just be sure to get it started on the magazine body as far as you can before starting to hit it.  Keep the spring pushed down to keep it from catching on the baseplate and binding or kinking.

Once the baseplate is fully seated, the magazine insert should snap back into its baseplate hole securely.  You best way to clean pmagmay need to use your punch through the baseplate hole to align things properly – but everything should go together nicely once all the components find their correct homes.  My PMAG went together slick with no tapping necessary, but it was relatively new.

  • Glock Magazines can be a complete bear to disassemble, since the magazine bodies have small tabs that keep the baseplate locked in place.  At my Glock armorer’s course, the instructor said to take a long, skinny tool like an allen wrench or a Glock disassembly tool, and insert it inside the magazine baseplate hole.  Push the magazine insert out of the way, and use your tool as a lever to carefully pry against the inside of the magazine body.  Careful – this method can damage your magazine if you’re a bit hamfisted.  Once you get the baseplate moved forward about one quarter inch or so, take the tool out, position your thumb over the back of the baseplate, and push forward and off, using your thumb to keep the magazine spring and magazine insert from launching.  When reassembling, use a small rubber mallet to tap the baseplate back over the tabs to lock in place.
  • Ruger 10/22 magazines are a different animal altogether, and the description on how to take them apart would fill an article in itself.  Luckily, someone else has already done that, and the excellent instructions can be found by clicking here.  I use these as reference when I work on my personal 10/22 magazines.

  • If you’re running a firearm that’s a bit different or you can’t find magazines anywhere, try looking at The Numrich Gun Parts Corporation.  Brownells and Midway USA are pretty good sources too for entire magazines or replacement parts.  However, I’ve found that far and away, the best luck I’ve had in sourcing oddball magazines is to stay diligent at your local gun shop’s bargain bins and used item bins (any good gun shop has them).  They probably won’t be labelled – bring along a magazine for reference.  eBay is an excellent source as well if you know what you’re looking for.

  • Safety glasses are nice for when springs and components go launching.  Lots of spring tension usually associated with these activities.

  • A great many .22 pistol and rifle magazines won’t be very easily disassembled – I was reminded of this when I pulled out a Ruger Mark I magazine for pictures. Best to go online for your specific gun and do some disassembly research.

Wrapping It All Up

Yes, my article above is a little vague on details for specific magazines, and it was intended to be that way.  No one article can sum up all the different specifics of each firearm’s feeding mechanism.  However, as stated, most modern detachable box-type magazines follow the same basic design and you can probably figure things out on your own magazines with a little head-scratching and common sense.

Also Read: How To Choose An Urban Bug Out Bag

NOW is the time to sit down and learn how to de-crudify your magazines.  Once the balloon goes up and you have to depend on your magazines – or salvaged magazines – to save your life, it’d sure be nice to have a basic knowledge and understanding of how magazines work and go together so you can keep your gear running.  Having the knowledge to pull damaged magazines apart also helps, since you can cannibalize parts from damaged or found magazines to keep your magazines going.

How about you? Do you have any tips or comments on magazine maintenance you can share with your brethren? Sound off in the comments below!

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SHTF Armorer: Magazine Maintenance – Part 1

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Best Survival Gun

The AR-15.  AK-47.  M1A.  Glock 17.  SIG Sauer P226.  Colt 1911.  S&W M&P.  CZ-75.  Beretta 92.  Ruger 10/22. The Best Survival Gun H&K MP5.  Walther P22.  All of these firearms each have an army of diehard pundits in the firearms world.  You probably have at least one of them incorporated in your SHTF plans.  It’s possible your very life and chances of survival will depend on one of these some day.  However, they all have a common weakness, a vulnerability that can reduce these fine pieces of weaponry to single-shot, barely useful clubs: the detachable magazine.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog
This post is Part I of a series.

Modern Flaws

Even though modern magazine designs, construction methods, and materials are top-notch, they can still fail.  Neglect, slightly bent or damaged feed lips, worn magazine springs, sloppy followers, and/or just plain, simple dirt will positively destroy the functioning of an otherwise flawlessly-working gun…and these problems can be virtually undetectable if you don’t know what to look for.  Therefore, magazine maintenance should be of the utmost priority – just as important as the cleanliness of the firearm – for anyone who plans on relying on an autoloading firearm when the chips are down.

Related: PMAG Torture Test

However, firearms with detachable magazines aren’t the only problem guns – your grandfather’s trusty old Winchester 1894 .30-30 lever action could have magazine problems.  So could the Remington 870 you leave with a loaded magazine in the closet in case of emergency.  If your gun is a magazine-fed repeater – detachable or fixed – that feeding system needs to be taken care of. It’s your gun’s lifeblood…and by extension, that means it could be your lifeblood as well. Magazine maintenance is probably the most purposely neglected (“I’ll get it later…”) and/or forgotten aspect of gun cleaning, but it could be considered one of the most important. (We’ll address fixed magazine guns in a future article.)

The Detachable Magazine

The detachable magazine comes in a myriad shapes, sizes, lengths, capacities, colors, and methods of Best AR15 Magconstruction.  However, the vast majority of “box” magazine designs have similar components: the magazine body, the magazine follower, the locking plate, and the baseplate.  Rotary type magazines (such as the Ruger 10/22’s nifty little cartridge feeder) are a bit of a different animal, but the principles are the same – they just keep the cartridges in a circular holding pattern inside the magazine, instead of in a straight vertical stack.  Generally, magazines are very simple in design, and really, with just a bit of semi-regular maintenance and cleaning, they will be virtually trouble-free.  Most of the parts don’t require replacing or fixing; the only component that may need to be replaced is the magazine spring if the magazine hasn’t seen any damage.

Concerning the spring: you’ve probably heard/read the age-old debate: does leaving magazines loaded for an extended period of time weaken the springs?  The general consensus from magazine manufacturers seems to be that leaving them loaded, even over years, does not induce spring failure.  Far and away, the most common cause of spring failure is the fatigue caused by constant loading and unloading.  Nobody can put a finger on an exact number of rounds that it takes to make a magazine spring fail, so a good way to keep an eye on things is to get a paint marker or silver Sharpie and number your magazines.

Also Read: SHTF Armorer AR15 Bolt Carrier Group

Try to keep a general round count of the number of rounds that have been put through them if possible.  When one of your magazines starts to fail or cause firearm malfunctions, (this usually takes thousands of rounds) check the magazine’s round count and use that as a guideline for the other magazines of the same make and capacity.  Replace the magazine spring accordingly, at appropriate intervals.  Some of us may never run enough rounds through a gun to have to worry about this issue…but it’s always good to have an extra magazine spring or, even better, extra magazine(s) kicking around, just in case.

Another issue: If you drop your magazine on the feed lips and bend them, you have a problem.  Most magazines I’ve run have never had a spring failure, but have suffered damage from being dropped onto the feed lips.  If you have a polymer magazine like a Magpul PMAG, chances are pretty good you’re still in business.  However, steel magazine bodies that have damaged feed lips are probably not worth keeping.

Related: Survival Armorer Basic Kit

You can try to bend them back to factory spec, but the metal has been fatigued, and now has an excellent starting fracture point for future breaking or malforming.  If you’re not in a dire SHTF situation, pull the magazine apart, keep the baseplate, spring, and follower, and junk the magazine body. It’s not worth the headache and possible failure to try making the old magazine work.  A new magazine is a few bucks – a failure in a survival situation could mean death.  Don’t hedge your bets if you don’t have to.

The Body

The same goes for the magazine body: if you accidentally step on a steel/aluminum magazine, check the sides of Survival Rifle Magazinesthe magazine for dents or damage, and try to run some rounds through it.  A pinched magazine body might not have clearance to allow rounds to be loaded, or to be fed.  This has happened to me before with metal bodied GI-issued AR magazines…all the more reason to look into polymer magazines like the excellent Magpul PMAG.

Also Read: Boston Shooting Bible Review

An excellent basic test, especially for AR magazines, is to load the magazine up to capacity, and then turn it upside down and briskly smack the baseplate at the bottom of the magazine.  If rounds fall out, chances are excellent that your feed lips are out of spec or your magazine spring does not have sufficient strength to keep enough tension on the rounds to feed the gun reliably.

Related: Review of Magpul PMAG D-60 Drum

You will find some older or smaller gun designs have steel bodied magazines with welded or silver-soldered fixed baseplates.  For these, there’s not much you can do but baby the magazines you have and keep spares.  They’re probably from an older design, so for the purposes of a SHTF gun, I might consider going a different route with a modern firearm platform design that utilizes magazines that can be disassembled for cleaning and parts replacement.

Likewise with many older .22 rifles with tubular magazines under the barrel or in the buttstock. The magazine spring and follower are encapsulated in a (usually) brass tube that slides down into the magazine body, over the cartridges.  This is a well-used, much-loved and reliable system, but if that follower tube gets dented or bent, you’re out of business.  Maintenance on the follower tubes is also difficult, and replacement parts are getting harder to find.  It might be worth looking into a more modern design like a M&P-15/22 or Ruger 10/22 for a SHTF gun.

Stay Tuned For Part II

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Prepper Uses For A Range Finder

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How to use a range finder

Andy was pulling duty on bug out perimeter security.  We had heard shots coming from the woods at the far how to use a range finderwest 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.

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

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).

Also Read: Leatherman Raptor Review

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  SHTF_Survival_Cache_SHTFblog_Windham_Weaponry_308_AR10_R18FSFSM-308_Aimpoint_COMP_ML3_VTAC_Sling_outdoorsoutnumbered 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.

Related: Bug Out GPS

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 nikon_prostaff_7i_review_range_finderto 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.

Also Read: 4 Things To Consider When Bugging Out

This Nikon’s size is only 4.4×1.5×2.8 inches.  It is small and easily handled in the palm.  Its objective How to use a range finderdiameter 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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Dr. Woods
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Bug Out Flashlight Wisdom: Part 2

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SHTF Flashlights

Part 1 of Bug Out Flashlight Wisdom addressed modern LED lighting and the single CR123-cell flashlights in Best SHTF Flashlightsparticular. In Part 2, flashlight features and operational wisdom will be discussed.  I can tell that the dust has not yet settled on flashlight interfaces in the same way it has not yet to settle on computer operating systems, gun safeties, and even knife blade locking mechanisms.  I have three different flashlight switch options in the same brand of flashlight.  And another light that has a user-specified programmable interface that you access with three quick twists of the bezel.  I had to get YouTube help just to figure out how to program my light.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog
This post is Part II of a series.  To read Part I (click here)

But in the end, this is all for you.  Once you go down the rat hole of choice, there is no end to the possibilities Best SHTF Flashlightswhen there’s no limit to money and electric circuits.  I’ve got variable 0-100 lumen lights, high-low, low-high, single speed, three-speeds, and even considering Surefire’s new line of “IntelliBeam Technology” actually does the brightness adjusting for you depending on how much light is already falling on the scene.  I guess it means I’m old if I had to stop and think about that one.

A big choice with the switch is whether or not the light can be turned on using a flat surface instead of a thumb.  Recessed switches can prevent unintentional activation of the light, while protruding switches allow the light to be activated with a crude tap on the butt.  Both have their place.  I prefer shrouded switches, but find that exposed buttons are great for brief on/off lighting and weapons lights.  Also, exposed switches usually prevent the light from standing on its tail for a feeble attempt at general area lighting.  And in Surefire’s absurd fashion, they managed to make some of their tail switches peek out above the shroud enough to prevent solid tail standing, but not enough to activate the light. Some of those engineers in Fountain Valley really need to get out more.

Other brands have split the difference shrouding only 50% of the tail switch in two 25% barriers on opposite sides of the ring.  A flat surface cannot activate the light, but any smaller protrusion can be used as a surrogate thumb.  Of course tail-standing with that design is out of the question.

Programming Interface:

The choices within any individual flashlight can be a simple on/off, to a complex multi-bright-multi-Survival Flashlightstrobe-SOS programmable interface.  Or anywhere in between.  There are three considerations when thinking about the interface.  The first thing to think about its if the interface is even necessary for your needs.  Some lights like the 4Sevens are programmable and then hold the lighting sequence until changed. Other brands require a specific set of clicks on a switch meaning both that the choice can be ignored or must be memorized.  Other than that, it’s a crapshoot as to what will happen when a user tries different click or twist combinations.  Maybe something, maybe nothing. Maybe the worst possible choice for the situation.

The second consideration about the interface is which way you want it to cycle.  Defensive lights cycle from brightest to dimmest while utility lights cycle from dim to bright.  Other lights might cycle through a series of dim to bright to strobe, etc.  All lights have their advantages, but you will need to carry the the light that best needs you anticipate.  Personally, I prefer only two stage lights that have low or brightest or brightest and low.  The Surefire Fury goes from 20 lumens on first click to 500 on second click.  My Surefire E2D Defender goes from 500 lumens on first click to 5 lumens on the quick second click.  Both have their place in my daily carry.

Also Read: How People Will Act After TEOTWAWKI

And the third is consideration has to do with if the interface is if it’s something that you actually memorize. For instance, the 4Sevens lights have a triple rotation of the bezel to access the interface before you can fiddle around to what the blinking light means.  Other interfaces, like the Streamlight, might be as simple as clicking through the secondary bezel-mounted button, or with a set of quick-clicks of the tail switch.  Some other lights have rotating bezels with different features, while others have different degrees tailcap depression.

As much as  I’m a fan of modern technology, I like a simple, predictable interface that I can toss across the room to a child when necessary that will work 100% of the time.  For me, that’s Surefire and Fenix. However I do love my small 4Sevens lights and use Streamlight AA, AAA, and CR123 lights in Bug Out Bags, Truck glove boxes, and daily carry.  But trust me, when the S H’s the F, I’ll grab my Surefires first, no questions asked.

Bezel Design:

The Bezel is the business-end of the flashlight.  It is responsible for the light throw, the shiny reflection, and Survival Flashlightsin some cases, the sharp rim or crenulations that can crack skulls, scrape DNA, and inform those nearby that the light is on when face-down on a smooth surface.

The reflector inside a flashlight can be smooth, rough like an orange peel, or of high-tech geometry blasting the beam in an efficient and desired way.  Orange peel reflectors are the new hotness.  Long gone are the hot spots and dark spots of the D-cell Maglites.  The new norm is uniform light spread across the entire landscape. Seriously, if you haven’t yet experienced quality in hand lighting projection, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise.  There is a reason some light cost over a hundred bucks and it’s not just the American fingerprints all over the manufacturing.

Also Read: Self Defense or Murder

Crenulated bezels, or those with raised bumps like the turrets of a castle or scallops on a knife blade, are both fighting weapons and essential indicators of when the light is on, but face down on a flat surface.  The raised regions of bezel, or crenulations, make tiny dull knives that focus the impact onto a smaller sharper surface when shoved into flesh. And the spaces between the crenulations allow light to seep out indicating that the batteries are in use but going nowhere.  Frankly, I am surprised how many times I encounter a face-planted flashlight dumping photons into a tabletop, countertop or floor. It seems everyone but me parks a running light down on its lens.

Pocket Clip:

The thin metal strips of spring steel that parallel the flashlight’s body are a simple idea that just cannot seem Survival Flashlightsto evolve beyond its knuckle-dragging stage in life. Flashlight pocket clips, not unlike folding knife pocket clips, run the gamut from passing usefulness to better-off-without-it. The clips vary widely in design, shape, grip strength, direction, and location. Some even play both sides and don’t work well in either direction, while others have mastered the skill of ineffectiveness in only one orientation. Surefire has a well-developed clip that grabs a pocket edge quite well with the lens down, but also has an oversized wrap-around portion of the clip that gives a second carry option as well as grabs nicely to the bill of a baseball cap.  Only problem is Surefire lights are known for being a little big and can be heavy so you might need to snug up the cap’s retention on your skull.

No matter the clips shape, the one thing I want for sure is the ability to remove the clip. Not to keep it removed, per say, but rather to take it off and bend it how I want. Mostly the clip needs tightening to my personal specs, but occasionally, I want to increase or decrease the shovel angle on the clip’s tip to either slide into my pocket with less help, or reduce its stress on my pocket or thigh because it pokes out like a figurehead on a wooden ship.

Paper or Plastic?

Most lights today are made of one or two of three materials.  High end lights for non-explosive conditions usually run aluminum throughout.  A few are titanium, but those are definitely outliers.  Drop down a price point or two and you find plastic and polymer.  The final material is a Lexan or similar hard plastic that is often transparent.  My preference is aluminum when titanium is not available.  Although I don’t notice any weight difference between the two since the quantity of metal in a flashlight is pretty low given the strength requirements of such a device.

Also Read: Murphy’s Laws of TEOTWAWKI

Aluminum does have it’s downsides including higher cost, need for proper anodizing, and care when threading together the components.  Aluminum can be milled to much finer tolerances than synthetics so they are usually noticeably more refined.  That is the quality aluminum flashlights, not the junk ones in the hardware store checkout line.   But aluminum does scratch, dent, and sink. Plus, it seems that only those cheap Chinese dollar-lights next to the cash register are the only ones that truly embrace my love of bright colors. Surefire seems to think silver is a major departure from the norm.

The use of plastic can cut the cost of a light in half or more for roughly the same output performance by the same company. However, the flexible nature of plastic means that a hard blow will likely knock the stuffing out of the light whereas a quality aluminum one would just get bruised.  A good indication of how well a light will stay together under stress is found in the number of revolutions holding the components to each other. Two complete rotations is the minimum for high quality. If less than two, wear your seatbelt.  If less than one, wear a helmet.  Fenix lights use up to three rotations to keep their heads screwed on tight, and Surefire is at least two spins. And when twisting the pieces, notice the smoothness of thread interaction.  Many quality lights use thick durable threads, and even squared off thread tips.  While lesser lights, even those that might spin two or more times use such paper-thin threads that you can bend the head off the body even when screwed down tight.  Not all threads are created equal.

Batteries are Life

My barn full of lights run on everything from button-cell batteries to 18v rechargeable packs, but many of my Bug Out FlashlightsEDC and bug out lights run on CR123 batteries.  And if you ask to borrow a light, you will get a tube full of  AA batteries.  I divide my lights up across three categories:  Those that will be stored for later/emergency use, those for high performance use, and those for general or anticipated use.  CR123 batteries ride in my stored and high performance lights, and AA and AAA batteries ride in my general use lights.

The reason for the dichotomy is simple: cost.  To get maximum performance out of a high end light, you need fresh batteries.  Most modern LED lights only run their maximum output for a short time, then they step down their output according to available voltage.  Finally, there will be no difference between high and low. So if you want a blinding bright blast you will need full power batteries.  And since maximum output runtime is measured in minutes, every second of on now is a second of lower output later.  Usually this is not a problem because the output of a high end flashlight is plenty so even halving the lumen count is still triple figures. But halve that again, and you start to sense you are at a disadvantage.

Also Read: 3 Reasons Not To Stock Precious Metals

Rechargeable batteries are a great idea that is gaining more traction in the market.  However, there are many nuances and persnickety flashlight circuits out there so using high-powered rechargeables is on a case-by-case basis.  That said, some companies are going full on into the rechargeable side of EDC lights beyond the key fob lights discussed here.  The Factor Company is pushing the edges of tactical and EDC formfactor lights including micro-USB rechargeable flashlights that can take regular batteries if needed.

It’s a Wrap

Having to bug out is never a good thing, but having proper lights solutions at hand can certainly make the difference between life and death.  Whether feeling your way through a dark stairwell, or cutting corners through garbage-filled alleyways, or jumping over downed timber at night on the way to your bug out location, proper lighting is likely the first of your bug out tools to be put to the test.  While some like to say the best flashlight is the flashlight in your hand, I like to say the best flashlight is the best flashlight to have in your hand.  Junk can get you killed as fast or even faster than lack of experience.  Lighting solutions, like firearms and survival knives must mirror your talents and expectations because when you put your life in your flashlight’s hands, you must know it’s limits as well as its dedication to your mission.

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Jurisdictional Creep

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Best Survival Tips

Have the read the national newspapers today?  Did you watch Fox News, read Drudge, or get any of dozens survival_shtf_teotwawki_food_storageof news flash emails?  Are you planning to attend the next city council meeting where you live?  How about the school board meeting?  How do you know what is going on where you reside?  Do you care?  Did you take notice that the Massachusetts Attorney General just changed the states gun laws?  How about Magpul’s departure from Colorado to Wyoming and Texas?

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

Winchester is expanding its ammunition manufacturing in Mississippi, when Illinois was once Olin’s stronghold.  Do you wonder why all of a sudden these companies have changed residencies?

Are You Awake?

How are you feeling about national health care these days?  Have you applied?  Were you amazed at the gun grabbers agree tyrantspersonal information you had to reveal?  Did your doctor ask you if you owned guns on your last visit?  It’s on the form.  Are you the least bit paranoid that the NSA is checking up on all your emails?  Maybe mobile phone calls, too?  If you belong to certain political factions in American like the Tea Party, do you fear the IRS is double checking your tax returns?

Related: A Brief History Of Martial Law

Does it bother you in the least that illegal immigrants are pouring across the southern borders under the guise of being refugees fleeing oppressive Central American governments?  Are they poor kids, abandoned by their parents?  Does it matter that 90 percent of them have been shown to be teenagers?  Will they be carte blanche given citizenship with full entitlement benefits and voting rights in just a few years?

I just attended a local state university wildlife management course and was lectured by a state wildlife biologist that told us if we have a deer camera on our private property to take pictures of deer using corn as an attractant that we now have to have a state permit to do this.  Oh, and on the permit we are to provide the GPS location of the camera on our private land.  NOT!

Do you keep up at all with the numerous Executive Orders doled out on a regular basis?  Did you notice the one recently stopping the importation of foreign manufactured AK-47s?  Well, maybe Norinco will start making them here.  Where am I going with all this that impacts our prepping and survival planning?  Truth is I am not sure what the depths of the impacts are yet?  If product importations are restricted then supply and demand kicks in making that product immediately more expensive in the short term and eventually non-existent in the long term.  Is Tula or Wolf ammo next?  I don’t personally use it for my own reasons, but you might.  What if you can’t buy it any longer?  All of these events can be classified as jurisdictional creep.  You can just Google the term if you want to read more details and headlines.

Boil the Frog

You know the story.  A frog is put into a beaker and the flame is turned up ever so slightly.  The water warms taxation-is-theft-salesslowly.  The frog does not react to the water getting increasingly hot until it is too late.  Soon enough the water is boiling and the frog is cooked.  In terms of political fodder as the provisions of our American constitution are constantly diluted, we go on about our daily business of working, raising families, and paying out taxes not noticing we have suddenly lost some of our freedoms.   It’s all incremental like the boiling water.

One day you wake up and you have to pay an entry fee into the national parks we are supposed to own as Americans.  Didn’t our taxes paid on April 15th cover that?  Non-resident hunting and fishing licenses escalate in price every year somewhere, even though we pay the Pittman-Robinson tax on firearms and ammunition purchases for that federal money to be turned back to state wildlife agencies.  Are we not all Americans in one nation?

Related: Civil Asset Forfeiture – Policing for Profit

Are your taxes raised incrementally all the time?  Federal tax brackets change, deductions are reduced or disappear, state taxes increase, sales taxes increase and municipalities can add their own little tag on percentages, local property taxes go up as the county tax collectors suddenly decide your home is arbitrarily more valuable today than it was last year.

To add further insult to injury, they have relabeled taxes to “enhancement fees” or surcharges, alternative payments, etc.  If nothing else, politicians that enact these taxes are certainly creative when it comes to repackaging the taking of money from our pockets.

Diligence and Awareness

Like it or not jurisdictional creep slips up on all of us all the time from all fronts around us.  It comes from the federal government down through the state houses, the county courts to our local city halls and community centers.  It comes from hordes of agencies with oversight control of everything we do from registering vehicles, building permits to add a garage onto the house, postal regulations, gun registrations, health permits to bury a septic tank or a body in a casket, permits to cut a tree in the yard, neighborhood restrictions on the types of roofs we can have or where we can park our cars and on and on and on.

Also Read: A Community To Die For

A big part of our on-going responsibility as preppers is to stay on top of these things.   You can plan, scrounge, buy gear, store food and water, buy guns and learn to shoot, locate a Bug Out option site, learn to light a fire in the rain, or put up a tent in the pitch black, or lock down your Bug In home, but if you pay no attention to what is going on around you outside of your little world, then how prepared for a SHTF are you really?  As a prep friend of mine says, “When to pull the trigger?” is the most critical aspect of prepping for survival.  We have to stay current on world events, national news, local stuff and other critical communications such as catastrophic weather on the horizon from hurricanes, tornadoes, to polar blasts.  Don’t get stuck somewhere on a bridge when it hits.

As preppers we have to be a lot more sensitive to the water getting warmer.  Ideally your plan is in place, and you can Bug Out at a moment’s notice.  I don’t know how realistic that is for most of us.  We may be at work, wife at a job on the opposite end of town, and two kids in two different schools.  Work out the contingencies and know what to do.  Monitor the jurisdictional creep and how it slowly but surely alters your lifestyle. Remain ever vigilant.  – John

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Our Growing Dependence On Electronics

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Pokemon Go Survival Tips

If you’ve been to a shopping center or a mall lately you’ve probably noticed how many people these days are totally plugged Pokemon Go Survival Tipsinto their phones or other electronic gadgets.  It is even worse today now that the Pokemon Go craze has hit the world like a tidal wave.  I was in the big city of Augusta, Maine recently, which isn’t that big, and was reminded of how many people are constantly plugged into their toys.  Kids, young adults, and increasingly even the Baby Boomers are getting attached to their phones.

By Jarhead Survivor

cell phone

Wicked “Smaht” Phone

Don’t get me wrong, I love my smart phone too or “wicked smaht phone” as we say here in Maine.  It has my calendar, social media, weather, Google, and all the awesome things that make this day and age so damned busy.  Over the last year I’ve found myself with my face in its screen more and more.  Facebook, Messenger (that insidious Facebook messaging app,) and Snapchat.  What I found was that my ability to concentrate was going to hell because of all the instant gratification I was giving myself.  I’d be working on something, Messenger would ding, and I’d immediately pick it up to see who was saying what.  We have a group of people that all hang out together and when we can’t get together we go back and forth on Messenger.

Over the last couple of weeks I haven’t looked at Messenger or Facebook at all.  I uninstalled Snapchat.  Oddly enough I don’t feel as driven up as I used to.  Once I turned off the dinging sound and stopped other notifications coming in it was like someone gave me an extra hour or two every day for other things – like writing this blog post.  Not to mention my stress level dropped to what I would consider “normal” levels with our current crazy lives.

Also Read: Death By GPS

Have I given up using my cell phone for everything?  Not when it comes to education or listening to music.  I like the ability to read anywhere with the Kindle app.  I love listening to podcasts on my ride to and from work, so there’s an hour a day of otherwise idle time that I’m learning something.  Awesome!  I also have a pretty good library of music I listen to – everything from Classical to Rap.  (But I still mostly listen to Pink Floyd.)

The difference is that I’m back in charge of my phone instead of it being in charge of me.  With no dings or beeps coming from it every five minutes or less I no longer have the Pavlovian reflex to drop whatever I’m doing and see who’s doing what.  Now, you’re only as connected as you allow yourself to be, of course.  The choice is totally up to you.pen and notebook


“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.” Henry David Thoreau

As you can see disconnecting from civilization is hardly a new concept.  Thoreau talked about it back in the 1800′s and I’d be willing to bet many people in a changing society often looked to the wilderness with longing in their hearts with the desire to slip the constraints of civilization.

I’ve tried to have conversations with folks when their text alert was going off constantly, their email was dinging, and Facebook was chirping telling them there’s a vital comment on their latest humorous post that needs liking.  To say it’s frustrating is an understatement and I’m sure you’ve all had that same experience.

Related: Setting Up A Back Up Generator

I usually go out in the woods at least once a week and that’s a perfect time for me to unplug.  It’s nice to put the phone down and just listen to the wind blowing through the trees.  My young kids – four and seven – like to come out with me and they climb trees, play with sticks, dig around in the dirt, ask if they can play with the fire and generally do what kids are supposed to do in nature.  It’s awesome.laptop

If you haven’t done it lately give it a try.  Head out to the woods, or park, or whatever you have available to you, turn your phone off, or better yet leave it at home, and connect with a family member or friend, or just sit there and listen to the wind blow or the rain fall.  It’s a great experience and I think it’s something we all need from time to time.

Situational Awareness

People love their earbuds.  And truth be told if you want to listen to loud music I’d just as soon you put in your earbuds and listen to it that way; however, when you do you take away your ability to hear what’s going on around you effectively cutting your situational awareness down to nothing.  If you listen to loud music and read Facebook (or whatever social media you’re into) at the same time you’ve effectively turned into a zombie shambling down the side of the road without the ability to see or hear.  Have you ever seen people walking down the side of the road with their backs to traffic and plugged in so that they can’t hear that trailer-truck sneaking up behind them?

Also Read: DIY Solar USB Charger

The other day I listened to a podcast about visual intelligence where Amy Herman discussed this very topic.  (Listen to the podcast here.)  She told a story about how she was waiting to get on the subway and a man who had obvious mental problems was walking up and down the platform talking to himself.  Then he took out a knife and cut himself before going back to having his one way conversation.  Meanwhile people stood around plugged into their phones not realizing the potential danger literally right next to them.  When the train pulled up they all got on the same car together oblivious of the threat boarding with them.  She walked down to the other end of the train and avoided what might have been a bad situation.

If you do feel the need to plug in to your phone, instead of using the two earbuds and blasting at full power I would suggest using a Bluetooth ear piece instead.  These little guys fit in your ear leaving one ear free to hear what’s going on around you.  They don’t have the cable either so you can leave it holstered on your hip, or stored in your purse or backpack, so that if danger does appear suddenly you have both hands free to react without fear of dropping your phone or having your hands tied up.  Listen at a reasonable volume and you’ll still be aware of what’s going on around you (although still somewhat diminished) and you’ll be able to hear and assess danger in your environment.  Cheap bluetooth earbuds start at around $25 and are well worth the investment.  bluetooth earbud

The Dark Side

Another facet of using a Smartphone is that you no longer have any privacy.  Guess what?  When you use Facebook and the GPS to post a selfie of you drinking a beer at the local watering hole some people see it don’t think it’s anywhere near as cool as you do.  I’ve read stories where people posted pictures or videos of themselves driving drunk and got busted because their friends reported it.  Now that’s just plain stupid, both the drunk driving and the posting of it.

Other than stripping away your own privacy the government also has the ability to track every movement you make.  I’m not saying they do… but I’m not saying they don’t either.  I don’t want to launch into a long paranoid discourse of how “Big Brother” is reading every text you send, checking out the movies you’re watching, or listening to your phone conversations, but they certainly could if they wanted to.

Ever hear of someone getting lost in the woods and they find them by pinging their cell phone.  It ain’t that hard to do folks.  Even if your phone is turned off it will still return a signal, so don’t think by turning off your phone you’re slipping off the grid.  The ability to spy on smartphone communications is too shiny a toy for many folks in law enforcement to resist.  Now someone will say, “Aww, Jarhead, you’re just being paranoid, dude!  People can’t do that sci-fi stuff!”

Ever heard of Stingray?  That’s the code name for a secret technology used by police to trick your cell phone into thinking it’s connecting to a legitimate cell tower, when in fact it’s really a device being used by the police.  Check out this story of how a guy named Rigmaiden discovered it and exposed it (click here).

What Happens After TEOTWAWKI?

All this talk of unplugging from the matrix is great, but what happens when TSHTF?  As you know it wouldn’t take much to turn that communications device into a piece of plastic and dead electronic surface keyboard

Increasingly, we are using our smart phones for more than just simple communications.  We bank with them, shop with them, learn on them, get entertainment from them, rely on them for navigation, get our news from them, keep our schedules on them, and so on.  I’ve come to rely on my phone for many things, but I always try to keep paper backups or local copies of the important stuff.

Now imagine if all of a sudden there were no more electronics.  Let’s say North Korea hit us with a few nuclear airbursts and destroyed 80% of our electronic grid with a well timed EMP burst.  First of all, our entire culture is now run with computers.  Nearly every facet of your day to day life relies on a computer chip of some kind.  Everything from turning on your stove to starting your car requires a computer of some sort today.  All of a sudden our whole society is brought to its knees with a few well timed nukes.

If you’ve seen the movie “American Blackout” or read the book “Lights Out” by Ted Koppel, you can get a good idea of what we could expect with a grid down scenario.  The scary thing is that I’m not sure they went deep enough into what might actually happen.  Second of all,  a good percentage of our population has come to rely heavily on these devices and will now have to turn elsewhere for their information, communication, and entertainment.  Initially we’ll all have to find ways to cope without our electronic nanny attached to our belts.

How to Prepare

Other than doing what we’re doing, which is prepping for an event like this, there’s not much we can do about the first scenario.  Most scenarios we prepare for all have to do with the grid going down.  Hunker down, protect yourself and your family, and ride it out is about the best we can do.

The second scenario – the one where everybody is going through phone withdrawal and trying to figure out how to operate in a society without instant communication and gratification -will be a different kind of hardship. Luckily we can prepare for that one a little better simply by unplugging once in awhile. I like to play guitar, draw, read books, and play with my kids as well as practice my wilderness skills.  It would suck without the electronics, but I’d get used to it fast enough.  After all, I lived through the 80’s when there were no cellular gadgets or personal computers.

Also Read: Off Grid Mobile Phone

Now, it’s true I’m painting this picture with a broad brush and a good many people out there aren’t dependent on a cell phone.   But in the developed countries it’s unusual for people *not* to have a smartphone these logo

Again, I’m not bashing people who own a phone or tablet, but I am suggesting you take a little time now and then to explore nature the way it was meant to be experienced.  Let your kids go out and get dirty.  Take them into the woods and let them see spiders, and trees, and all that nature has to offer.  My two kids love being outside.  I even take them out in the winter on showshoes.  If you’ve never seen a four year old on shoeshoes I invite you into the forest with us next year when we have three feet of snow on the ground again.  It’s awesome to see and my seven year old is like an old pro on them.  So the question is are you prepared to unplug?  Try it for a day and see how it feels.

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11.5 Bug Out Bag Mistakes That Are Not Mistakes

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Bug Out Bag

About the only tangible aspect we have for a real bug out is the bug out bag.  Sure you might have a BOVehicle or BOLocation, but Best Bug Out BagBOBag is often the beginning and the end for most lightweight survivalists and preppers.  The problem is that unlike taking a cruise to Alaska, or a family trip to Disney World, pretty much nobody you know has bugged out in the pure sense of the verb.  Now while I would actually like to keep it that way, the point of this blog, and your reading of it no less, is to cover the bug out contingency the best you can.  Unfortunately, most of the words about bugging out and bug out bags in particular are recycled from questionable sources or where someone played connect-the-dots using military-grade playbooks.

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

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Over the years I’ve read many of the same recycled advice columns about setting up a bug out bag.  And I’ve listened to podcasts from information purveyors whose bug out plans were gleaned from a Boy Scout camp out in fifth grade.  As I consumed the advice I’d pick and choose what I wanted to believe based on my past experiences, and what made logical and practical sense. But I could only take so much non-information or bad ideas before I stopped listening or reading.  Not that I have anything against recycling because I’m actually greener than most (many of us who dabble in off-grid solutions are), but that it seems nobody else will step up and risk being labeled as a heretic only to be chained to the proverbial internet post and flamed by the those who own recycled advice has just been challenged.

Above the Belt

Before reading further, here are my ground rules: First, this is about bug out bags or BOBs, not Get Home bags, not 72-hour bags, Survivaland not any of the other short-term carryovers or disaster-specific bag variations.  Second, obviously rules can be broken, but you need logical reasons to break them. Skill and experience will make up for some lack of equipment, but so too can good equipment make up for lack of skill. To a degree anyway.

And third, this article was written with the intent to shake some popular beliefs that are repeated ad nauseum across the internet whether or not the parrot has ever tested their own advice. Everything I address here is based upon my real-world experience. Of course you are free to do and say what you want, but when the fat lady sings you better have chosen wisely.

1. Do have a very big bug out bag

So-called bug out experts seem to fixate on backpack size because of noble but misguided intentions. The inaccurate but common belief is that a big bug out bag will be overpacked and impossible to carry. In reality, that logic just enforces my belief that the one giving the “smallest possible bag” advice has never done anything big outdoors. There are five main reasons you want a big bug out bag.

1) You can pack more (but see topic #2 below for more on this).

2) Big packs carry heavy loads much better than smaller packs. They hug the body and distribute weight so a 30 pound small pack is a pain, but a 30 pound large pack is almost invisible (but see topic #4 below to get it right).

3) You can use a large pack as a sleeping bag or bivy sack.

4) You can always carry air. Nobody is going to make you fill all available space in your pack.

And 5) If you leave home with a stuffed small pack, you cannot add to your load as you go. So unless you are bugging out on a commercial airline flight, you can forget about carry-on size limitations and do this right.

2. Do pack everything you think you might need

For some reason many bug out bags are packed with more good ideas than real-world supplies.  There is a prevalent fear that “too most common bug out bag mistakesmuch” is bad.  Well, I like to say that you cannot dump out what you don’t have.  Imagine an EMP caused you to hit the “go button” on your bug out plan. A month before, however, you cut down the size of your bug out bag assuming that the 30 mile jaunt to your bug out location (BOL) would be easier with a minimalist carry.

Related: The Best Food for your Bug Out Bag

But just as you head out the door, your neighbor fires up his EMP-proof truck and offers you a ride in the right direction.  No time to pack more, so guess what, you just made a colossal mistake in packing and you haven’t even left yet!  If you neighbor happens to drive a Chevy Luv packed to the gills, then you can dump out that case of Dinty Moore Beef Stew in order to wedge your bug out bag onto your lap.  Or better yet, keep it loaded and duct tape it to the hood of the truck.

3. Ignore the weight of your bug out bag

Similar to #2 above, weight can be a false prophet.  Consider why you are concerned with weight.  Is it to make your pack lighter just because? Well, does it really need to be lighter?  Or what will you be able to do with a lighter pack that you cannot do with a heavier pack? And how light is light? Or how heavy is heavy?  I hear supposedly informed preppers toss around numbers like 25-35 pounds. Well unless you are running to your BOL, the weight of your bug out bag is just one of many variables that can be adjusted on the fly. How you ask?  By dumping out what you don’t need or can no longer carry.

But if you are constantly mumbling something about pounds being pain, then you will have to make big decisions without waiting for all the information you could gather. Instead of cutting corners ahead of time, prepare to ditch weight as needed.  Water is a great ballast choice and can easily be substituted with air (see point #1 above). By the way, that old adage about three days without water and three weeks without food is nonsense in a bug out. You might survive those numbers adrift in a raft then rushed to a hospital, but certainly not walking around and doing survival work.

4. Do buy the very best you can of everything

Any internet list of “best” equipment that often further qualified by being under a certain price.  And that has failure built-in from Survivalthe start. Buy your tools and equipment based on need, quality and performance instead of price.  I’ve read lists of the best xyz under $50 or $99 with full knowledge that a massively better option is just a couple bucks more than the artificial cost ceiling that was chosen by the author for little more than dramatic effect. If you really need to pinch pennies, go with used equipment.

Since a real bug out has little margin for error, the fewer points of failure you you bring with you the better.  The problem is that most folks have not pushed equipment to the point of failure so they don’t know just how dangerous a cascade of failures can be in a survival situation.  Every year people die in the backcountry as one failure or injury multiplies into many.

Related: Jarhead’s Bug Out Bag

Someone gets disoriented snowshoeing.  They take a tumble in the powder filling their coat with snow that melts dampening their cotton clothes just as sun begins to set.  Numb hands cannot start a fire so they continue on.  A turn left at the big tree and they would have found their previous tracks and the way home.  But instead they went right and tomorrow morning their frozen corpse will be discovered by the rescue dogs on scene.  Then the spokesman for the S&R folks will again share the news cycle in an impromptu press conference highlighting the list of user errors for the umpteenth time.

5. Do skip all the military/tactical/police advice

Well, maybe not skip the advice, but certainly put it in perspective. Some of the big differences between the bug out and M/T/P INCH Bag Mistakesperspective is that a bug out is a deliberate run and hide while the M/T/P response is to engage or start the fight.  Consider what M/T/P life is like compared to the reality of a bug out. Sure a select fire weapon is effective, but unlike M/T/P you won’t have a supply chain feeding your machine gun, or an ambulance parked just behind the yellow tape. Instead, take the advice of those whose activities are closer to the bug out.

My models are mountaineering, rock climbing, canyoneering, deep mountain four-wheeling, extended backpacking and camping, winter camping, backcountry skiing, adventure racing, long-distance bicycling,mountain biking, sailing, river rafting, ultra-marathon trail running, big game hunting, forest fire fighting, and off-grid life in general. To transfer the knowledge to the bug out bag, you can first start with the equipment.  If you want quality outdoor equipment, then you have to pony-up for the tools that the serious outdoors folks count on for serious outdoor adventures. So perhaps a trip to the local REI will be more helpful bug out-wise than wandering the aisles of the big box gun store yet again.

5.5 Don’t skip all the military/tactical/police advice

In fact, embrace all the tactical aspects you can even if you look like a mall ninja’s mall ninja.  Just like the overstuffed bug out bag, the tactical look can come and go as needed, but will never be available unless with you at the start.   A common mistake that is batted back and forth by students of the bug out is whether or not to look tactical, especially in the departments of clothing, pack and loadout.  But the funny thing is that most discussions end there.

Also Read: 10 Must Haves For Your Bug Out Bag

In reality, you have plenty of options that straddle the lines of both worlds. I have a highly tactical-looking bug out bag in the form of a Eberlestock G4 Operator.  It’s a bohethomith in any language, and plays an operator in real life and on TV. Nobody would mistake the G4 for a family camping rig especially with a rifle sticking out of the top like a high frequency whip antenna on a Humvee. But in less than a minute, I can completely house the pack within a rain cover of my color choice whether light green, olive green, tan, or FDE. And the smooth fabric hides all the MOLLE, webbing ladders, 5.11 side pockets and ammo pouches. The rain cover does nothing for the size, or the rifle antenna, but it does totally neutralize the overtly aggressiveness of a tactical backpack.

For smaller daypacks, the same game can be played by simply tying or pinning fabric onto the pack, or even making the pack wear a sweatshirt.  Since the daypack is much like a human’s upper torso (which it’s designed to hug), you can dress it up in human clothes to your heart’s content.  The same is true for your tactical clothing.  Wear your operator threads under loose-fitting street clothes, and when needed just jump into the nearest phone booth and morph back into Superman.

6. One is plenty

The funny thing about redundancy is that it is usually practiced on the easiest and funnest targets like knives, fire starter, and back up iron sightsguns.  While I don’t discount the importance of those three areas for backup, I think some future bug outers are hiding low quality behind claims of redundancy.  I’ll take one good knife, one good flashlight, and one good gun over two or more lesser of any of the above. If you are worried about losing your tool and needing another one, then I suggest being more careful. Save the redundancy for those things that likely will break and create a catastrophic disadvantage. If you want to start a list of redundancies, begin with footwear. Yea, I know. Where’s the fun in that?

7. Don’t plan on bartering

I often read recycled “intel” that stresses the inclusion of barter items in the bug out bag. The problem with this type of thinking is that it wastes valuable space and weight on something for someone you haven’t yet met and who will likely not need it.  Focus on you and your plan, not that of some imaginary future person . And worse, many of the commonly suggested barter items are purely superficial.  Gold?  Silver?  Ammo?

Related: A Real Emergency Fund

Would you trade your food for a box of .303 British cartridges?  How about some pre-1964 quarters for your fish antibiotics?  Or some small yellow fragments that may or may not be gold for your extra warm clothes?  Not this guy.  I’ll engage in barter as needed with what I have at that time.  Most likely it will be for skills over objects, and especially not for those things that require intrinsic and agreed upon value like gold dust.

8. Carry cash in large denominations.

Everywhere I’ve traveled around the world, good old American greenbacks have value. The exchange rate might not be in my favor, Get Out of Dodge Bagbut bills with dead US presidents are always accepted.  Traditional prepper lore is to carry small bills such as fives, tens and twenties.  But the flaw in this wisdom is three-fold.  First, it assumes that reasonable prices will remain active during the bug out.  I sincerely doubt that bottled water will be a buck a pint or a box of 9mm for a single Hamilton will be the norm.

Related: How to Choose an Urban Survival Bag

Instead I’m betting that everything will be $100, or if not my $100 bill will beat your pair of twenties when fighting over that last case of canned soup at the gas station. Expect price gouging by packing enough financial firepower to overcome the competition and also the hesitation of the sellers.  Let the zeros do the talking.

9. Don’t rely on Paracord for much of anything

Handy yes. But only one solution of many you will need.  Paracord is by far the most popular prepper noun that doesn’t involve nitrocellulose or carbon steel. But as far as cordage goes, it’s main benefits are that it’s cheap and colorful.  Paracord was pretty much an afterthought on my outdoor adventure checklist during the first three-fourths of my life. Instead I chose specialized cordage for particular duties.  Thread, string, twine, fishing line, kevlar cord, dynamic rope, static line, one-inch tubular webbing, and so on. In fact about the only thing I use paracord for is to attach tents to anchors, and hanging food bags in trees.  Paracord is the duct tape of rope.  A catch-all solution with no specific job. But today it seems that paracord is the prepper’s dream material and is used with reckless abandon as if its presence alone will ensure survival. Learn your cordage and knots. Then use the proper rope for the job.

10. Do eat jerky

The bug out is an endurance sport so why would you take advice from someone who rarely pushes themselves to any physical limit. Mistakes for bug out bag One piece of faux-wisdom I hear often is to skip certain foods during the bug out, and beef jerky seems to be singled out more often than not.  The folksy wisdom seems to have your best interest at heart, but in reality it misses the point.  Yes, jerky is salty so you will need to drink water.  But you need to drink water anyway and at a level commensurate with the endurance sport you are now playing.  If you avoid jerky because you are delinquent in your hydration needs, the problem is with you, not the jerky.

Also Read: Have You Tested Your Bug Out Bag?

The only way to learn about the demands stressful endurance activity will place on your body is to play around with endurance. So take your nutrition advice from those folks who routinely push themselves in directions that parallel the bug out and pack your bug out bag with those nutritionally dense foods that power our super athletes whether world class bowhunter or marathon runner, Tour de France rider or ocean swimmer. Coffee and donuts might be the preferred pre-mission breakfast of SWAT teams, but don’t count on lasting long in the real world on that diet.

11. Do rely on technology

Of course technology can fail. I’m not stupid. But technology can also give you a massive strategic advantage in terms of speed and Survivalprecision. A compass and a GPS are two completely different items that have a slight bit of overlap. Yet I know plenty of folks who swear the GPS is a disaster waiting to happen while the compass they carry but don’t know how to use will save their life. All a compass does is point north. The rest is knowledge, skill, and geometry. Cell phones are magical when they work and I fully intend on using mine until it stops just as I plan on extracting all possible benefits out of every other electronic device, cable and charger I own. Half of all bug outs will happen at night, and using a compass in the dark is hardly forward thinking.

It might keep you walking in a straight line, but navigationally speaking, you’re screwed unless you have the terrain memorized in which case you don’t really need the compass. Bic lighters are technology as are gas stoves, binoculars, red dot sights, laser rangefinders, night vision, and semi-automatic pistols. And I intend to use all of them to their fullest potential. Sure a failure of my lighter and gun could have me rubbing two sticks together and whittling an atlatl, but, as I like to say, I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.

Blame Game

So there you have it, my eleven and a half bug out mistakes that are not mistakes. I’m not sure this list will make a dent in the information recycling efforts of the average prepper, but it is my survivalist intent to provide a place you can point to when you want to question the popular advice, experience or even motives of the classic prepper.  So steer them towards this article and they can blame me, not you. T-Shirts Now Available






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Low Profile Survival Weaponry

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Best Survival Rifle

Yet another mass shooting has turned an unwelcome light upon civilian ownership of semi-automatic rifles derived from militaryBest Survival Rifle weaponry.  These are usually erroneously called assault rifles, by the press, a misnomer that there seems little point in continuing to correct.  The public has been made to see these as assault rifles, and has been convinced that they are evil and have no place in civilian hands.  We can argue our points, and try to correct misrepresentations; but sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, particularly where the law is concerned. You can’t fight city hall.  A fight deterred is a fight won.  This is where the idea of low profile weaponry comes into its own.

By Neal, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Ideally, we are looking for something that does not stand out or draw attention to itself, yet is still capable of providing sufficient firepower.  So we do not want military derived guns, with bayonet lugs, flash hiders, aggressive looking assault style stocks, or military finishes.  On the other end of the spectrum, we also do not want single shot rifles, bolt actions, or anything else with a slow rate of fire.  We want something that fires a sufficiently powerful cartridge to get the job done.  So a traditionally designed gun, with a good rate of fire and a respectable amount of power is needed.

Happily, this hardly limits our choices at all. They are:

Lever action

This was the original assault gun.  Created at a time when most guns fired a single shot, and many muzzle loaders were still around, lever action gunthe lever action gives a lone individual the capability of firing off as many as a dozen rounds as fast as the lever can be worked. Working the lever and firing fast was nicknamed, a frontier drum roll.  The failure of the military to immediately adopt these guns was responsible for a number of slaughters.  Ironically, at the battle of Little Big Horn, Custer’s men were armed with the standard single shot trap door rifle, while an estimated 200 lever action rifles were in the possession of the natives. This is thought to have made a major contribution to his defeat.

By modern standards, the classic lever action holds up quite well. As an example, see the table below. It can be seen that, compared to the AR-15, the modern copy of the old Winchester is better in almost every way. It is slightly smaller, slightly lighter, fires a more powerful cartridge, and nearly matches the rate of fire.

AR-15 Winchester (Marlin) 92
Weight 6 pounds, 4 ounces 5 pounds, 14 ounces
Length 39” 37”
Rate of fire 150 per minute (semi) 12 per minute
Magazine 20 (30) 10
cartridge 223 44 magnum
Energy 1308 fp 1630 fp

Disadvantages are that a lever is slower to reload, when reloading becomes necessary, it has a somewhat lower rate of fire (though it still fires pretty quickly), and as a general rule is not as accurate as a good semi-auto, though this is a matter of debate. Considerable as it is, the 10 round magazine capacity is not equal to the twenty or thirty round magazine capacity available for the AR-15.

Also Read: 6 Reasons Why You Need A Shotgun

Still, the point here is that the classic lever action is plenty good enough, considerably less expensive, and far less likely to be banned, restricted, or require licensing than a modern military style semi-auto.  These are considered hunting arms, rather than military pieces, and will not draw undue attention when being carried in the woods, or wherever else.

Pump action

Maligned, ignored, or seen as a specialty gun, the pump is faster than you think.  It is surprisingly, one of the more popular deer rifles, and is useful in places where using a semi-auto for hunting is illegal.  Like the semi auto, it does not require you to remove your attention from the sighting plane.  This is the most popular action style for shotguns, but was somehow never embraced to the same extent in rifles.  The only major manufacturer of this action type in a useful caliber is Remington.  In its various guises as the model 760, 762, 7600, and model 6, there have been something like a million and a half of these rifles produced, and they are still in limited production today.


This is basically a semi auto rifle with the slide working action bars to cycle the bolt. In the semi auto version (the model 740, 742, 7400, or model 4), a gas piston does the job.  The guns are target accurate, and made the news shortly after their introduction when a US shooting team used them to place first in a competition in Norway.  I have always been able to get all of my shots into a single hole at 100 yards, which is plenty good enough for defense.

The pump compares well to my benchmark AR-15 in a comparison table below.  The pump is slightly longer, and a bit heavier, but fires an overwhelmingly more powerful cartridge. Rate of fire is nearly the same, and with a box magazine, reload is just as fast.

AR-15 Remington 7600
Weight 6 pounds, 4 ounces 7 pounds, 8 ounces
Length 39” 42”
Rate of fire 150 per minute (semi) 20 per minute (estimated)
Magazine 20 (30) 4 (10)
cartridge 223 30-06
Energy 1308 fp 3000 fp

Where the AR-15 beats the pump is in its larger capacity magazine, though for a rifle, I still think 10 shots is plenty.  Additionally, the AR-15 is three inches shorter and a pound lighter.  At distance, the pump’s 30-06 will completely outclass the .223 of the AR-15.  Closer in, the higher magazine capacity of the AR-15 gives it an advantage. Most important, for the purposes of this article, the pump Is not nearly as threatening, does not have the assault rifle stigma, and is less likely to be restricted, banned, or scrutinized.


If you must have a semi auto, get one that does not shout assault rifle.  I admit to owning several AR-15’s, an HK-91, a pair of Best Survival GunCalicos, an M1A, a Thompson, and a few other high profile firearms.  I rarely leave the house with them. They are high profile weapons.  If we ever lose control of the government to the extent that weapons bans go into effect, these are the first guns that will be confiscated, taxed, or tracked.

Related: Best Survival Carbine

When I want to shoot semi- auto, I take my Marlin Camp Gun.  Marlin made these in two versions, one that took standard M1911 .45 magazines, and the other that took standard S&W 9mm magazines.  These are wonderful guns, sadly out of production, that are traditionally designed, easy to shoot, and look a bit like junior’s grown up 22 rifle. They are not threatening, and are unlikely to draw any unwelcome attention.

Related: The Katrina Rifle

When compared to the classic AR-15, the camp gun is about the same size and weight, with the same rate of fire, and approximately the same magazine capacity.  Both have box magazines for fast reloading. The AR-15 has a significant advantage in cartridge power, but the advantage is less applicable close in.  While these guns are no longer made, they can still be found for far less money than what an AR-15 will cost.  They also have the advantage of taking standard, cheap, available magazines. Ruger made something similar with its Police Carbine line, also discontinued.

AR-15 Camp Gun
Weight 6 pounds, 4 ounces 6 pounds, 7 ounces
Length 39” 35”
Rate of fire 150 per minute (semi) 110 per minute (estimated)
Magazine 20 (30) 15 (25)
cartridge 223 9mm
Energy 1308 fp 608 fp

Browning and Remington, have both been making traditionally styled semi auto hunting rifles for decades.  The Browning BAR, and Remington 740, 742, 7400, and Model Four series have been taking deer, elk, and dangerous game for almost a hundred years. Both are semi-automatic, both have removable box magazines, and both are reasonably light and handy.  The BAR is quite expensive, but the Remington is no more costly than a decent bolt action rifle.  These rifles take full sized cartridges, and can even be chambered for magnum rifle rounds.  They are probably better for the individual survivor than a military assault style rifle.

Surviving Today

A weapon that is confiscated will do you no good when things go bad. An illegal weapon that gets you tossed in jail will subject you to your own personal SHTF.  Neither will enhance your survival.  Someday SHTF will happen. It may occur within our lifetimes, and it may not; but it will happen.  No civilization lasts forever.  In the meantime, the rifles listed above are legal most places, unlikely to cause you any grief with the local authorities, and will serve you will in a SHTF situation.

Stay low, stay out of trouble, and survive.

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10 Tips For When You Get Lost In the Woods

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Best Bushcraft Survival Tips

In July of 2013 Geraldine Largay was hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine by herself after her partner had to leave because of a family emergency.  She was 66 years old and had a poor sense of direction and when she went off trail to use the bathroom she got lost and couldn’t find her way back.  She tried to send a text using her cell phone, but there was no signal.  Her remains were found two years later by a surveyor about two miles off the trail.  Her journal is now shedding light on what happened.  You can read her story here.  This is one of those stories that eats me up, because with just a little training it could have been avoided.

By Jarhead Survivor

The Maine Woods

The North Maine woods as seen from Mt Katahdin

The North Maine woods as seen from Mt Katahdin

If you’re wondering how someone could walk a few steps off the trail and get completely lost allow me to offer an explanation. The northern Maine wilderness isn’t like the lovely forests that Thoreau wrote about in Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts.  Those woods are thick and dark and beautiful and you must be on your guard because they are unforgiving of mistakes.  The trees grow close together and walking through them can be like pushing through a rack of clothing at a department store where it’s so tight you literally have to put your head down and bull your way through to make progress.  On several occasions I’ve walked through the woods around my house within feet of a trail and never saw it because of how dense the forest can be.

It would be easy to walk a little ways off the trail out of modesty to get out of sight of someone walking the trail behind you and then get turned around.  You start walking in the direction you think the trail was, but you don’t see it.  Second guessing yourself you turn back and walk a ways in the other direction.  At first you’re a little nervous and feeling sheepish that you can’t find the stupid trail, then eventually you start to panic because you know you’ve walked three or four times the distance you walked in and now you know you’re lost.  The trail could be five feet away at this point and it would easy to miss.

I know what it’s like to be in trouble in the area Geraldine was hiking in.  As a matter of fact I broke my ankle on the trail in the 100 Mile Wilderness not too far from where she got lost.  You can read part one and part two of that story if you’re interested.  I too ran into the problem of not having cell phone coverage, but I wasn’t really surprised by this fact as we’d had limited coverage during most of the hike.

So what do you do if you get lost?  Since she had a full pack lets assume that we have food for a few days and full equipment for a long term backpacking trip.  This sets us up pretty good for survival.

Wilderness Survival Tips

Typical forest in Maine.

Typical forest in Maine.

1. STOP!

This is an acronym for Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan.

Stop:  Stop moving.  There’s a good chance that you’re feeling panic right after you first figure out that you’re lost.  The urge is to run and find the trail.  Don’t do it.  Chances are good you’ll get even more lost or hurt yourself as you go flailing through the woods.

Think:  Get your head going.  Let the panic go.  Once you start thinking you can:

Observe:  Look around you.  What can you see or hear?  At this point hopefully you haven’t gone dashing through the woods looking for the trail.  If so you’re probably still within sight or at least hearing distance of it even though you can’t see it.  Take out a whistle and blow it sharply three times or yell every thirty seconds or so.  Keep an eye out for people hiking.  Listen for people hiking.

Plan:  What’s your best course of action?  Do you have a compass with you?  Do you know how to read it? How much food and water do you have?  Do you know where north is?  Do you have a tent and sleeping bag?

2. Don’t trust electronics to save your life

Too many people today enter the wilds of America with the assurance that their cell phone, or GPS, or whatever will save them if they get in trouble.  The truth is that if you trust your life to a piece of gear that runs on a battery or can die if it gets wet, then you are putting yourself in mortal danger without realizing it.  In the woods here in Maine a cell phone signal is a luxury and there are no stores to replace batteries that have died.  Take one with you for sure, but don’t pull it out expecting it to save your life.  That way if it doesn’t work you won’t be disappointed.

3. Know how to use your gear

One of the saddest things about Geraldine’s situation is that she had a compass in her pack, but she didn’t know how to use it.  If she could have spent an hour with me I could have showed her the basics of land navigation and she wouldn’t be dead right now.  If you put a piece of gear in your pack know how to use it.  A compass is not an ornament and when navigating from point to point it can save your life, but you must know how to use it.

4. Always have an emergency azimuth

compass, direction, bearing, azimuth, hiking

Taking a compass bearing or azimuth in the wilderness.

Before going on a hike anywhere, you need to look at a map of the area where you’ll be operating in.  Usually there will be a road, or a river, or some kind of land feature that will act as a handrail for where you’re hiking.  For example, if you’re hiking a trail and there’s a road that parallels the trail five miles to the south, then south is your emergency azimuth.

Related: How To Use An Emergency Azimuth

If you wander off the trail, set 180 degrees on your compass and follow it until you hit the road.  It might be a long five miles bushwhacking through dense forest, but if you follow the azimuth (or direction) you will eventually run into the road.

5. Always know where you are

As you move along the trail make sure you know where you are on the map.  If you cross a stream or river find it on the map and you’ll know exactly where you are.  If you’re hiking east and walk off the trail to your left what direction is that?  If you said north then you’re well on your way to surviving.  Let’s say you walk left (or north) far enough and lose sight of the trail and you want to find it again.  Which direction would you follow on your compass to get back to the trail?  If you said south congratulations, because you’ll find your way back to the trail and instead of it becoming a deadly situation this incident will just be a little blip on your day.

 6. Leave a detailed hiking plan with someone

If there’s any one thing I’m guilty of not doing this is the one.  Quite often I won’t hike a trail, but set out to bushwhack to a new place.  Instead of saying, “I’m going to hike the trail up Ragged Mountain,” I’m more likely to say, “I’m going to follow an azimuth of 277 degrees magnetic until I get to the rockfall at the base of the mountain, then I’m going to hike 256 degrees to summit,” if I say anything at all.  I pledge to be better in the future about leaving a detailed hiking plan with my wife before heading out.  Either way, at least make sure someone has an idea of what general area you’ll be, because if you get hurt or lost they’ll have no idea where you are.

7. If you’re lost, make camp

winter camping

Jarhead Survivor on a winter campout.

This will prevent you from becoming even more lost.  Geraldine was two miles off the trail, but in those woods it might as well have been 200.  As soon as you figure out you’re lost, stop moving.  Set up your tent and make yourself comfortable.

8. Signal

Start a fire in a clearing.  Start it using dry wood then add leaves or green wood or whatever you can to make it smoke.  The more smoke the better.  Use a whistle to blow three sharp blasts from time to time.  The louder the better.  If you have a mirror use it signal aircraft that might be looking for you.  Set up a bright colored poncho or one of those reflective emergency blankets in a clearing.  Anything you can do to draw attention to yourself is good.

9. Remember the Survival Rule of 3′s

You can survive:
3 minutes without air
3 hours without shelter
3 days without water
3 weeks without food

These aren’t actual rules of course, but guidelines to help you organize your activities should you get lost.  Thus, shelter is more important than food using this model.  If you have a tent and sleeping bag, then you can move quickly along the priority list to water.  Once you have a water source then you can start thinking about food.

10.  Evaluate your situation and make a decision based on your facts. camp fire pit

If after three days I haven’t been found or haven’t seen any sign of activity like a helicopter circling around looking I will probably try and self rescue, but that’s based on the fact that I’ve done a lot of wilderness survival, land navigation, backwoods hiking and camping, and have tons of experience.  If you’re from the city and all you have is a couple of classes and a few hikes along well beaten trails under your belt, then you might want to sit tight.  Carefully evaluate your situation.  Ask yourself, “Does anybody know where I’m hiking?”  If the answer is yes then you might want to stay put.

If the answer is no, then perhaps you’ll want to start moving.  It’s hard to give a definitive answer because everybody’s situation is different.  I probably would have advised Geraldine to sit tight because her husband had a good idea of where she was hiking and he would be able to alert the authorities to her general area.  Unfortunately, she moved further off the trail looking for a cell phone signal and made it impossible for rescuers to find her.

Also Read: Maine Primitive Skills School Review

Each survival situation is different.  The actual key here is to be as prepared as possible for any situation while out hiking.  Other tips might be don’t hike alone if you’re a novice, carry a good first aid kit, and on and on.  There are many things you need to take into consideration when going on a hike like the Appalachian trail and the more research you do and the more experience you gain the better off you’re going to be.  I’ll leave you with this advice.  Even though I’ve said it before it’s worth saying again:  learn how to read a map and compass and if you put something in your pack know how to use it.  It could save your life.

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2 Types Of Military Sleeping Bags To Use On Your Bug Out

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Best Military Sleeping Bag

military sleep system - intermediate - patrol - bivy

This picture shows the bivy, the intermediate bag, and the patrol bag.

I love military gear.  Some people hate it for various reasons, but to me this gear has proven itself on the battlefield.  It’s constantly evolving and being updated as technology changes, but it’s always being put to the test.  Another good reason is that you can usually get it relatively cheap after it’s been used at Army/Nave stores or other discount stores.

Today we’re going to talk about sleeping bags.  There are thousands of sleeping bags on the market and it can be a tough decision to try and figure out which one you should use if you have to bug-out.  Sleeping bags tend to be expensive as well and who wants to spend $300 on a new sleeping bag that’s going to live in a bug-out bag and see the light of day once a year when you go in to check the gear?  Leaving a newer sleeping bag compressed will eventually cause it to lose it’s loft ending the usefulness of the bag.

By Jarhead Survivor

There are a couple of types of military sleeping bags I’d like to compare and contrast today.

Old School

First, let’s go back to the ’80s when I was in the Marine Corps as a fresh faced youth.  The bags we used back then were much heavier than the ones used today.  I usually rolled mine up and tied it to the outside of my ALICE pack and carried it around that way if we were going to be marching.  I spent a lot of time in artillery, so luckily we could just throw our bags on the back of the 5 ton trucks when we were moving around.

tennier military sleep system - bivy - intermediate - patrol - compression sack

This is the Tennier System (4-Part). The fourth part is the compression sack in this picture.

The standard bag back then was the Bag, Sleeping, Intermediate Cold Weather (ICW) and its Extreme Cold Weather (ECW) cousin.  I spent hundreds of nights in both of these bags and never got cold.  The ICW bag weighed about 7 1/2 pounds and surprisingly, so did the Extreme Cold Weather; however, the ECW bag also came with a liner for really cold temps and that added some to the weight.  I slept many nights at -40 degrees Fahrenheit and never felt unduly cold in the ECW bag.  Most of my nights in the ICW bag never really fell below freezing and I never felt cold in it either.

Related: M1951 Fishtail Parka Review

These are mummy type bags with drawstrings that you can use to pull the hood of the sleeping bag tight around your head in cold weather.  One of the things they told us to avoid was sleeping with your head down inside the bag.  This puts a lot of moisture inside, which can cause you to get cold.  However, I did this many times without getting cold, so I leave it up to you try it for yourself.  When the temperature is below zero your natural tendency is curl into a ball and try and get your head as far from the biting cold as you can.  Some people wore a balaclava and others, like me, wore the wool watch cap to bed.  They also advise sleeping with the parka mits over your feet to help keep them warm.  Although I never did this it makes sense if your feet get cold.

One night I was camping with my dad just off a frozen lake here in Maine.  The wind was howling and the ambient air temp stood at -20.  He couldn’t believe it when I stripped down to my undershorts, t-shirt, and wool socks and climbed into my ECW bag.  I was shocked to see that he had brought a kids Charley Brown – type sleeping bag and froze his ass off all night.  I gave him my field jacket and some other stuff, but I could still hear his teeth chattering all night long.  It didn’t take him long to get himself a good warm bag after that night!

 The New Gear

comparison icw bag - tennier sleep system

Hilary models the ICW old style military sleeping bag. Next to her is the Tennier Systems (4-Part) sleep system

Now let’s talk about the more modern military gear.  The new Modular Sleep System (MSS) bags are made by Tennier Industries and come in four or five parts depending on the model you get and is rated between 50 and -50 degrees Fahrenheit.  There’s a lightweight patrol bag rated for between 30 and 50 degrees.  The Intermediate bag is rated for 30 degrees to -10.  There’s a compression bag you can get that’s a good modern day addition that will compress the MSS down to one cubic foot.  The one piece I really like is the bivy, which is basically a personal tent.  It’s water resistant and has a cover over the face I found useful in cold weather.

Like I mentioned earlier, you can separate these bags and use them independently or together.  I slept in the lightweight patrol bag in 40 degree weather and found I was a little cold though it’s rated between 30 and 50 degrees.  I’ve slept in the intermediate bag in 30 degree weather and was reasonably warm in it, but I wouldn’t want to try it in -10 degree weather by itself.

Also Read: SHTF Sleep Deprivation

If you combine all three components and you’re sleeping in your polypro underwear they say it’s good to about -50.  The coldest I’ve slept in the combined sleep system was around -10 and I was comfortable, although I wouldn’t want to attempt -50 in one of them.

One thing I had to learn was how to ventilate properly.  When I first got in the bag I zipped up all three components and was too warm.  So I unzipped the inside sleeping bag down to my belly button and cooled off until I was comfortable.  As it got colder I zipped the inner bag up a couple of inches at a time until I was in full mummy mode with the bivy closed and covering my face.  I liked this feature as it meant I could breathe outside the main bags without getting moisture down inside them.

Also Read: Mil Surplus Sleeping Bag Review

Over all this bag is much closer to the civilian bags on the market today.  They are far lighter than the older bags and more versatile; however, they are a little more expensive.  They also compress down nicely and can fit in your pack a little better, although I found that most quality civilian bags rated for the same temps will compress more and be a little lighter.

Tennier Sleep System and ICW bag side by side.

Tennier Sleep System and ICW bag side by side.  The Tennier bag is NOT compressed in this picture.

As mentioned earlier I like the bivy.  One thing I’ve done is take the bivy from one of my Tennier sleeping bags and put it in my Get Home Bag (GHB.)  By itself it doesn’t offer much in the way of insulation for warmth, but during the non-winter months it would be ideal for get home purposes.  Open it up, climb inside with your clothes on, and you basically have your own personal tent.  Put it on top of some pine or fir boughs, or a pile of leaves, and you’d even be comfortable while you grabbed a couple hours of tactical shut-eye.


When to Use These Sleeping Bags

So when is the best time to use these bags?  The older bags would be good:

When you’re on a budget
When you don’t expect to be carrying your bag anywhere
When you want to be sure you’ll be very warm
If you are dragging it on a sled

The newer sleep systems would be good:

When you expect to be hiking and need a lighter bag
If you have a little more money to throw at them
When compression is important to you (pack space)
When you need a bag you can split up for different purposes and climates

Overall they are all pretty good sleeping bags. I bought a pile of the newer ones at once and still have a few kicking around.   There’s a link on their site for a Retail Outlet and you can pick up individual gear there as opposed to bidding at Government Liquidation.  One thing you might try though:  if you have a few like-minded friends looking for pretty good sleeping bags or other military gear pool your funds and bid on a lot of sleeping bags.   Split the shipping costs and you might be able to pick up twelve to twenty sleeping bags for a few hundred bucks like I did.  I sold some of them, but kept four or five for family and friends and have loaned them out to friends several times when we went camping and our friends didn’t have any gear during a bug-out.  You might also need to loan to family during a bug-out.  Ya never know, folks.

If you have questions about bidding at Government Liquidation let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.  I spent a good deal of time on this site a couple of years ago and got a pretty good feel for it.

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Implementing A Secondary Survival Cache

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How to bury a survival cache

Is there a compelling reason to justify selecting, creating, and stocking a back up supply hide?  This is a subject I have spent Best Survival Cacheconsiderable time researching over the past several months.  My conclusions are not hard and fast, because I realize first and foremost that every member of the Survival Cache family has different survival prep priorities, goals and objectives.  Creating another survival cache of goods is not for every prepper.  And don’t be confused by my use of the terms secondary or intermediate, because I mean them to be interchangeable.

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

Why Create Other Cache Hides?

Here’s the scenario.  You work downtown in a medium or large city.  The commute is several miles from home and it takes up to an Best Way To Make A Survival Cachehour depending on the traffic congestion to get to your office or work site.  Your wife and kids work and go to school in the opposite direction.  By noon there is a report of severe weather coming in.  A glance out your office window reveals dark, ominous clouds rolling in your direction.  It is obvious the winds are picking up and it starts raining.  What do you do?

You call your wife and tell her to gather the kids and head to your predetermined secure Bug Out location, which is a rural farmhouse built to withstand nasty storms.  When you finally negotiate the traffic and arrive at your Bug Out locale, what have you done to prepare at that site for an extended stay?  Did you cache out the site?

Related: Monovault Burial Vault Review

Scenario No.2 is different.  You live downwind only 40 miles from a chemical plant that has experienced a melt down.  You have been ordered to evacuate your home and you have zero time to pack anything.  The whole thing catches you off guard.  You gather your family, jump in the SUV and speed down the driveway praying you can find a motel somewhere down the highway in the safe zone.  The nearest town is another fifty miles down the road.  Perhaps you wish you had stashed a cache of supplies somewhere else away from your home just in case?  Maybe just a hidden plastic sealed vault with some emergency food, water, medicine, and some other supplies to carry you over.

Obviously we could create an endless number of “what if” SHTF scenarios in which the creation of a secondary supply cache would have proven extremely beneficial.  Questions arise about where, what, how much, how long, and such.  It seems as though some of these questions could prove quite problematic to having a secondary cache.  I guess the question will always remain just how practical it would be to build out a secondary supply hide.  For me, the tough issue would be setting aside critical supplies in a potentially vicarious location where expensive goods might deteriorate over time or be discovered by somebody else or even be gone when I needed it.

Some would say to cache out at a distant family or friend location where it would be secured.  Others advocate the extreme of burying it somewhere in the wilds hoping it will endure the natural elements.  All questions worthy of poised thought and planning.  But for the sake of consideration for proper prepper planning, let’s consider the possibilities.

The Cache Bag

Perhaps this could be considered nitpicking, but what if we created a smaller version of a Bug Out Bag that contained perhaps Best Way to Store Guns Undergroundsome of the same stuff, but in smaller emergency type quantities that we could cache in one or more locations for “on the run” situations.  This would be an intermediate grab and go bag on our way to a more permanent Bug Out location.

It is not to be kept at your fixed home living domicile, though I suppose it could be in the car trunk or in the back of the SUV.  The idea though is for it to be hidden out at an in between location from Home A and Bug Out Location C.  The Cache Bag is posted at Site B.  The location could be a friend’s garage, a known business location such as a warehouse of an associate, or the upstairs closet of an aunt somewhere along the travel route.  There could be multiple Cache Bags hidden at alternate routes all eventually leading to your final Bug Out hold out.

These supplies are meant to sustain you until you reach your final pre-planned destination during the SHTF.  This would differ from larger Bug Out Bags that would be intended for an extended starter supply bag once you traveled direct from your home or office to the Bug Out site.  This Bug Out Bag would be kept at home or in the vehicle if secure.  The Cache Bag idea is also not a substitute for well supplying your final Bug Out locale in advance.  I realize this is taking a fine line, but one principle of prepping is to remain flexible and to consider multiple options.  Frankly, we’ll never really know what options we have until we’re in the middle of it hitting the fan.

Packing a Cloaked Hideout Cache

One has to realize in this day and age that we could be displaced from our homes sometimes on very short notice as a result of any How to bury a survival cachenumber of circumstances such as the examples opening this treatise.  If we are away from our primary residence at that time, then we may realistically not have time to gather supplies or essentials for our evacuation or escape.  We may need gear, supplies and equipment hidden elsewhere either before we can get to our Bug Out site or as an alternative to that Bug Out site.

Such a cache is meant to be hidden long term and retrieved in the event of a SHTF.  As mentioned above there could be many options for hideout places.  You have to pick ones you are secure about and comfortable with.  What sort of goods should we plan to pack into a hideout cache?

Also Read: If You Only Have 4 Pieces of Gear

The list should be kept short, concise, and focused on essential needs.  One list might include some clothing items geared toward seasonal weather, everyday use toiletries such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, shampoo, a comb or brush, wet wipes, washcloth, small towel, some cash and coins, perhaps some candy, energy bars, and some water.  Consider a shelter top, tarp or heavy duty plastic leaf sacks.  Other items worthy of consideration to cache based on an assumption that your evacuation might be due to a natural disaster that could have possibly destroyed your home, neighborhood, or town and thus you could suffer the loss of critical items like important documents.

You might want to strongly consider copies of credit cards, essential keys such as duplicates for your vehicles and house, insurance papers, social security cards, banking information and account numbers, and critical personal files you might wish to copy onto a flash drive.  Any other personal important items as well perhaps birth certificates, legal papers, your will, home mortgage information and titles to your house and cars.  Pack a supply of any required medications and perhaps some over the counter items such as aspirin, Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, antacids, and any other items you may normally use on a regular basis.

All of these items could be cached securely in a 58-gallon molded survival barrel with a waterproof screw on top.  These containers are available from many sources and could be buried or just well hidden.  There are many other products out there as well to be used for caching supplies, gear, and goods for a long term storage plan.

Maybe What Not to Cache

Personally I am a bit squeamish about packing weaponry and ammo in an intermediate hideout cache.  I want that kind of gear Best Survival Cachewith me the entire time.  A few extra boxes of ammo maybe, but I’m not putting an AR or a pistol in a ground vault.  You may decide otherwise.  Check shelf life on food products you cache.  A number of MRE meal packs would be good and expected to last a while.  Store bought granola or energy bars may not last that long.  A few bags of purpose-driven survival food would work.  Again the idea (hopefully) is for this secondary cache to just tide you over in route.  You decide how many days of rations and supplies you want to hide out.

It is reasonable to consider that any SHTF escape plan could be interrupted, altered, compromised, or become a dead-end effort.  You may have initially worked out a plan to get from Home A to the final Bug Out site C in two days.  What if the roads are blocked, gangs or zombies are controlling or raiding points of exit.  It might take you to alternative routes and a much longer protracted scenario to reach safe haven.

Start setting seconds of gear, goods and supplies aside to build out your Cache Bag.  Keep focused on the idea that this is not your final destination so it is not imperative to put your best stuff in a secondary hideout location.  Save the best stuff for your more permanent Bug Out site.

I hope you guys can think of a cajillion (that’s more than a million!!) other things to put into a secondary cache.  We are counting on your thoughts to supplement ours.  Use our comments section to post your ideas and suggestions.  We are all in this together so please share your lists.

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Building a Post-Apocalyptic Survival ATV

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best survival atv

Fresh off watching Mad Max Fury Road for the second time, I am almost ready to drop some cash on airfare TEOTWAWKI ATVand tickets to attend the increasingly popular Wasteland Weekend.  For someone like me, a publisher of post-apocalyptic fiction and survival nonfiction, it’s like a dream event right up there with attending the annual SHOT Show in Vegas.  Wasteland Weekend… don the roughed up leather jacket, scrap metal and cut rubber for shoulder armor, make a wild Mohawk and prepare to party with post-apocalyptic peeps for an entire weekend.

By DG, founder of Prepper Press

I’d roll into the event in my… on my… hmmmm.  Post-apocalyptic ATV? Yes!  Now hold up, before you all-too-serious folks dismiss this post, read on as I’ve included more practical SHTF information in the second half. But for now, how would I get to a post-apocalyptic ride like Max’s off road motorcycle?  There’s some obvious takeaways here, mainly dirt, scuffs and randomly secured blankets and bags. The ATV, though, while slower than a dirt bike or motorcycle, may be better equipped for riding through the wasteland. It can carry more gear!

Racks & Boom Sticks

Racks – you can’t store spare gear without front and rear racks, right? Chances are high if you own an ATV, Best Survival ATVyou already have racks installed.  Figure out how to use them to their fullest.

Spikes – I didn’t get this far, but if I was going to Wasteland Weekend with an ATV, you can bet there’d be spikes all over it to ward off people and enemy ATVs.  The easiest route would be welding pieces of rebar to the rig, but that would likely be more apt to risk hurting the rider than anyone else, but in a Fury Road scenario, you don’t want people jumping onto your ride – let them impale themselves on that pig iron.

Antlers – they look kinda cool, don’t they?   All post-apocalyptic like?  Horns would also work, ideally Texas long horns.  They’re not very practical, but they can offer an imposing appearance, a symbol of… something, I’m not sure what, but I like them.  They give the ride character, like it’s ready to butt heads.

Fury Road Boom Sticks – you know the explosive spears they toss in Fury Road to disable vehicles.  You Best Survival ATVneed ‘em. I made replicas, took wicker tiki torches, spray painted them black, and “boom” goes the stick – at least we pretend, but if loaded with tiki fuel, it’d do something.

No, I didn’t end up going to Wasteland Weekend, sadly.  If I had, traveling from Maine wouldn’t really make arriving in an ATV probable, but maybe someday. In the meantime, the boys had fun pretending to be war boys.

Beyond Appearance, More Practical

So you’re not planning to hit Wasteland Weekend with an ATV or looking to make an “art car” for Burning Man Festival. You’re of the more serious mind, practical and logistical, and you’re certainly not going to waste time and energy making what equates to vehicle cosplay. The ATV is still an obvious asset to have should SHTF, as any fast, light, off road transportation would be.  What you need to know.

ATV Specific Gear

Zombies (a.k.a. unprepared urban dwellers invading your neighborhood) are on the hunt and you need to get out of dodge – ASAP! You saddle up your ATV ride, but with what? It calls for some special “insurance” items:
1.  A Jerry Can and mount. You can’t roll without gas. One of these cans will carry 5 gallons of spare gas. Double the tanks if your machine can fit them and your planned route warrants it.  Want a better idea?  Check out the RotopaX gas packs, they’re made for ATVs.
2.  A winch. Well duh. Do I really need to explain this one?
3.  A basic commercial patch/plug and compact tire pump.  That will take care of most tire-related troubles. Toss in some spare headlight bulbs as well.
4.  An axe or quality saw. Don’t let a downed tree block your path to safety (and it doubles as an anti-zombie tool).
5.  A trailer – that’s right. It’s a whole lot easier to pull gear and there’s a lot more room. You can easily triple your load capacity with a trailer. It’s a no-brainer. Just make sure to get one specific to the task with enough ground clearance to meet your needs.
6.  GPS – mounted to the front.
7.  Gun carrier – again, for obvious reasons, unless you want it accessible and ready to go at all times. Then figure out an attachment that works for you.


“But wait,” you say. “Fire that ATV up and you’ll be heard a few miles away, eliminating any hope of OPSEC.” They’re called “ATV silencers” and they’re readily available on Amazon and other sites. “Silent Rider” is a popular brand.  Did you hear that?  No, me neither.

ATV Bug Out Bag – How’s it Different?

So your bug out plan involves departing by ATV – lucky you! Not only can you travel faster, but you can carry Best SHTF ATVmore gear.  I’m not going to rehash what goes into a bug out bag as I’m sure many of you know, but the ATV allows you to double, or even triple, up on some key pieces of equipment.  My advice? More water and more food.  Perhaps some additional gear pertinent to your locale (extra blanket, sun hat, etc.).  Still, put all of that “stuff” inside a backpack just the same. Who knows what you and your machine might encounter. Plan to bug out by ATV, but be able to take essentials with you by foot if necessary.


The ATV, under certain circumstances, can make a wonderful survival vehicle and/or post-apocalyptic ride. This all assumes you need to get from point A to point B, and the ATV will facilitate that.  It could also have utility in a SHTF situation.  Say, for example, you need to get firewood or carry water in a trailer, things of that nature.  Remember to be mindful of your ATV’s load capacity. You don’t want to exceed it. Ideally you’d come under capacity.  Keep your ATV maintained, and ride safe, ride hard!

– 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.

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Summer Prep For Kids

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I have listened to a lot of people lately complain about their kids and how all they want to do is sit in front of Survival Kidsscreens.  Ironically while these people are telling me about their “lazy” kids, they are checking their phones and physically, appear to be the indoor/ couch type of person.  I am extremely tired of hearing how lazy children are these days when their supposed role models are no better.  Kids will imitate those they spend the most time around.  If you are an active individual they too will be active.

By Tinderwolf, a contributing author of SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Likewise, if you are lazy and you show them that technology is the most important activity to spend their time on, well they will follow suit.  Having your kids be active as soon and often as possible is paramount. Start off small and keep it going.  You don’t have to plan some fancy trip to the mountains for a week straight.  All kids really want is attention and consistency.  My kids were going through a phase where they enjoyed pirates.

Related: Get Your Kids Outside

So, I got a hold of a bunch of old half dollars (non-silver) and various other coins and planned treasure Camping & Survival Kidshunts. I would hide the “treasure” in the yard or at park and then make up a treasure map.  Be creative and don’t make the map too difficult to read. I drew mine with crayons or markers, added various landmarks that they would easily identify and added a North, South key on it.

I took it one step further to make the map look older by rubbing used coffee grinds all over it and crumpling up the paper.  Sometimes they would have trouble finding their way and I would make up very simple riddles or clues for them to figure out.  This simple activity got my kids outside, introduced them to reading a map, used their imagination and they had an absolute blast with this game.  I found what works with my kids so they enjoyed this activity and now they ask to go on treasure hunts all the time.

Related: 4 Step Household Evac Plan

Learning how to fish is not only fun (in my opinion) but is a critical skill to learn.  From my experience, my Best Survival Skills for Kidskids got bored pretty quickly when I first took them fishing.  I found they stayed interested in the process much longer when we were catching fish.  The easiest way to accomplish this is by not fishing for the biggest fish in the pond but rather, fish for the little ones.  I would always find a spot on shore where I knew I could dip and pull little Bluegills and Sunfish out of the water with regularity.

When my kids knew they could get their own fish they wanted to completely take over the process and soon they were sitting next to me doing everything themselves.  As they get older make the fishing experience more challenging.  Instead of using a store bought pole have them make their own from a tree branch or have no pole at all.  I found what works with my kids to make fishing fun and now they ask to go all the time.

Also Read: Everyday Survival Kits

I first took my kids camping in my mom’s backyard.  They helped me sent up the tent, laid out the bedding, collect firewood, and sorted out all of the other particulars.  It was important to me that they didn’t rely on just a tent for shelter so we made other types of “forts” to play in.  We used a tarp and other natural materials to create different kinds of structures that could be used for shelter.  I had them do everything when the time came to create a fire. Creating a scavenger hunt to find the materials kept them interested in the process.

I gave them a very small Old Timer knife to scrape tinder and cut small twigs.  Once the ingredients for the base of the fire were ready I had them use a lighter to get the fire going.  When they saw that little flame grow and grow into a warm life giving fire, their eyes got as big as silver dollars.  This made the frustrating process of them using a fire rod much easier as they had the knowledge and drive to see that fire again.  I found out what works for my kids and now they want to go camping, they want to learn different methods for starting a fire, they want to create their own shelters.

Related: Family Survival

What I found most interesting with my kids were the questions they would come up with on their own.  I was Survival not introducing them emergency situations or prepping but getting them involved in outdoor activities and skills that many don’t become involved with anymore. As time went along   the questions they had were prepping and emergency situation related.  “Dad, what happens if you can’t get food from a store?” “Dad, what do you do if you get hurt and no one is around?”

I fostered these questions and treated them gently like a small ember of a fire.  Never doom and gloom the situation until you have to.  You have to find what works for your kids to keep them interested and having fun. I used the same methods as mentioned above to teach them gardening, food storage, self- defense, navigational skills and the list goes on.  You are the adult, you are the role model, you not only have to show them (and yourself) how to take the first step, but how to keep putting one foot in front of the other in the pursuit of a more fulfilling, skillful lifestyle.

You Might Also Like: Bug Out Bags for Kids

Power down all the empty, time consuming aspects of your life and get involved.  Sometimes teaching others is easy and sometimes it makes you want to hit your head against the wall.  One of the most important aspects to teaching others I have found, is that I learn just as much, if not more, from those I am teaching. Get out there and remember, have fun!

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food storage

Prepping takes time and preparation.  This is essential whether you are doing a Bug In at home with family, a Survival few extended family, neighborhood friends, or a Bug Out solo or with a partnership team.  Just know that the more numbers you add, the more complicated and difficult things suddenly seem to become.  It is inevitable I guess.  Either way you will be facing the daunting task of learning, teaching, practicing and perfecting your TTPs or Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures.  Far be it for me to preach to you guys all the details of that approach, so I will just highlight some priority topics.

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

Look at the Survival Cache site under the books section to get some heavy duty reading materials on the subjects at hand.   There is rarely a substitute for building a foundation of basic knowledge regardless of the subject.  I have probably quoted this before but this comment by Patrick Rogers in SWAT Magazine just about says it right.  “When all is said and done, practice does not make perfect.  Practice only makes permanent.  If we strive for only for mediocrity that is all we will ever achieve.”

Also Read: Review Henry Arms AR-7 Survival Rifle

That is the bottom line with survival prepping.  We can read all we want.  Attend seminars and take courses to expose ourselves to knowledge.  Watch all the You-Tubes we can, but if we never try to perform these skills ourselves, then we are just kidding ourselves in the worst way.  And I point the same finger at myself with many of these things.  We have got to do better.

Contingency Training

Do yourself a favor whether a Bug In or Bug Out alone or with others, conduct a SWOT analysis.  These are Best Survival TrainingStrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  The easy way to do this is to use different colored sticky pads for each of the four SWOT concepts.  Have your family, group, or team write down ideas on each topic and stick them to the wall or white board under each category.  Compile them, consider them, debated them and then prepare for them.

SWOT Analysis is a commonly used management tool for developing teams to work better toward common goals but also to learn more about the challenges you face as a team.  It can be a fun process, if you anoint someone with leadership skills to guide the process and control the discussions.

Related: 3 Bug Out Lessons From A SWAT Officer

In terms of practicality, I can only imagine how difficult if not actually impossible to train or prep for every possible contingency.  You have to take stock of where you live for example and look at the most likely worst threats.  Where I live we are subject to tornadoes, and hurricanes.  This year is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  There will be more.  There are tornadoes every year that rip apart entire communities in my home state.  What if one hit your house, or mine or the neighborhood down the road knocking out all power for a month?

Where I live I am 60 miles as the crow flies from a nuclear power plant.  What if ISIS somehow bombed that or an insurgent slipped in with a suitcase dirty bomb?  Impossible you say?  Better rethink that line of denial.  Am I spending a lot of time on how to recover from a nuclear plant meltdown?  Nope.  Do I know what I need to do to get ready for the aftermath of a tornado or hurricane?  Yep.  You have to regionalize your prep plan when it comes to the potential for natural disasters where you live.  Then get our TTP priorities in order and initiate action.

Also Read: 10 Best Survival Movie Lessons

Then you can start to concentrate or parallel your prep for unnatural disasters such as an economic collapse, a bank closure, widespread power grid lock down, communications crash, epidemics of all kinds (Dah, like what…..measles?), and other SHTF events that are out of our control except for the survival part.  Work to those ends.  Heed your SWOT, even if all you do in that regard is one for yourself.  You have to know where you stand in your world.

Training the Undesirable Tasks

Do not spend all your training time on the things you like to do or already do well.  For example, most of ussurvival_prepper_shtf_survivalistpreppers like guns and shooting.  We make a critical error if we dwell on firearms defense and protection to the neglect of many other things.  Sure it is important, but if you starve to death or die from weather exposure without shelter, then what have you gained but weapons left to rust.

Stock up your canned goods or dry pack foods.  Learn to light a fire in the wind and rain.  Get your reserve fuel stocks in order including cooking stove fuels.  If you Bug Out, know how to assemble your tent in the dark or by flashlight.  Work your “pack and jerk” plan which is to say have supplies ready to go, ready to toss into the pickup bed or SUV at a moment’s notice.

Also Read: You’re a 1000 Miles Away and the SHTF

Don’t just buy a can or bag of survival food.  Buy some then prepare it.  See firsthand if it is edible or if you spit it out.  Can you light that Coleman lantern or replace the mantle screen?  Can you sharpen knives, and axes?  Have you tried to put a tourniquet on someone?  Can you break new ground for a garden, hoe it, and plant it?  What would you try to grow?  You could actually try that in your backyard this summer.

Maybe a good start to this end would be to make a list of the things you dislike doing the most, then dedicating at least some time to those tasks.  Perhaps there is a person on your team or family that might actually enjoy that task.  Let them plan for it and lead the practice.  Hey, SHTFBlog fans, what are the prepping tasks you hate the most?  Tell us in the comments below.

Adverse Conditions Training

Train and practice in good weather and bad.  SHTF knows no fair weather birds.  In fact many naturally How to surviveoccurring SHTF’s are severe weather incidents.  As I look out my office window right now the temperature has dropped 20 degrees in three hours and a winter advisory is out for the evening and tomorrow.  How would you like to camp out tonight?  It would be a perfect time to test your skills and your will.  See, this is just another reason I plan to Bug In.

Related: 1 Pistol, 1 Rifle, & 1 Knife

Suppose right now you lived in Boston and maybe you do.  How was that walk to the corner market just to find many items gone from the shelves because restocking was impossible on the impassable roadways?  How many times can you dig out the sidewalk or driveway?  Are these conditions starting to wear on your psyche?  Getting a little edgy are we?

I suppose within nine months we will see a spike in the birth rate in these areas impacted by adverse winter weather.  Did your prep plan factor in another child or a first one?  Now you have other issues and concerns to deal with.  So, don’t just pick the blue sky park days to get outside to execute some of your prep plans.  As nasty as it might seem and will be, whether freezing cold or super hot and humid, when a SHTF really does come, the environmental conditions will be real all year long wherever you reside.  Know this, prep for it and practice for it.

Plan For Training Then Execute

Neither planning nor training is like reading a book then putting it up on the shelf to collect dust.  You may well know how to overhaul that garden tiller motor, but have you done it?  A few months ago you bought a new AR for defensive perimeter work and a bright shiny new red dot optic for it.  How many rounds have you put through it to date?  One box is not nearly enough regardless of the cost of the ammo.  Can anybody else in your family or on your team shoot this weapon with reliable accuracy?

Every component and aspect of your prepping plan has to be executed at some point in order for the plan to be effective.  Well, there’s a no brainer if I ever heard one.  It’s just reality that most of us have longer lists of things to accomplish on our prep plan than we have yet to do.  I am with you brothers.  You are not alone in the prepper wilderness.

Also Read: Raising A Prepared Kid

For me, I am the best planner, I create impeccable detailed lists, and am a thinker of things to be done.  But I am the worst at doing them in a timely manner.  My wife on the other hand is a doer, but plans nothing.  Whatever she buys she never reads the owner’s manual, while I pour over one for days.  She’ll plan a project, have half the tools needed, and always forget some critical phase of the deed.  I hope she doesn’t read this.  You’d think we would complement each other, but as you know, it doesn’t work that way.  Which one of us is it again that is from Mars?

Again, I think the best most prudent approach is an incremental one.  We simply cannot do everything at once anyway, though our thought patterns may be able to work and plan that way.  If we continue to postpone the inevitable, we are likely to get caught with our pants down around our ankles with Brian Williams there on the chopper flying overhead, but passing us by.

Also Read: SHTF – Women & Sex

I’ve never had to really survive a tough SHTF yet, but I cannot imagine any part of it being much fun.  I had to “survive” nearly a week without air conditioning and electricity from Katrina in August heat.  It was grossly unpleasant, but it was only 5 days.   What if we had to do endure that for a month, a year, longer?  Get your TTPs in order and things will go much easier down the road.

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Bug Out Gun Lights: Part 2

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Best Gun Light

As noted in part one of Bug Out Gun Lights, mounting a light on a weapon, whether long gun or handgun, is Bug Out Gun Lighta necessary option for every bug in and bug out scenario.  The light is not just for discriminating among potential targets, but also to light the escape route, to light the impromptu medical theater, and to signal others as needed. In part one, the generalities of WMLs or weapon mounted lights were explored.  In part two of Bug Out Gun Lights we will consider long rifle implications, shotguns, and specific lights.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog
This article is Part 2 in a series on Bug Out Gun Lights (Read Part 1)

Have vs. Want

The next time I get mugged, it will be in broad daylight, under a noon blue sky, inside the lobby of a police station, during SWAT open house, while POTUS is in attendance, and I just happened to have started my demonstration of how to load an MP5 with live ammo.

Also Read: Pro Level Key Fob Lights

Unfortunately statistics are not on my side. Most violent encounters in the US happen after the sun is well on it’s way to China.  In other words, it’s dark. So training with a weapon mounted light is an important piece of the survival puzzle.  FBI stats have shown that over 50 percent of LEOs that were killed in the line of duty met their end during the hours between 8pm and 6am. And even worse, 92% of all assaults on LEOs occurred between those same hours. While you might not be a LEO, the risk of assault, robbery, and pretty much everything nasty in between is more likely to happen at night. Thus the need for a WML. But also the responsibility of the gun owner to absolutely know his target. Wandering in the dark is ignoring 80% of the input the brain prefers to use to process a situation. Sight is our dominant sense, and light is essential for sight.

Related: Compact Flashlight Comparison

Not all LEOs were giddy about dedicated weapons lights when they arrived.  In fact, it was the K9 officers who were first in line to adopt WMLs.  With one hand perpetually attached to a dog leash, they had only half the number of available upper torso appendages to begin with.  By making gun and light one unit, the K9 cops could move around more like their unleashed brethren.

Location. Location. Location.

Now that WMLs are powerful enough to be practical on a rifle, it really is only a matter of time before you get one. But where to put it?  Many modern ARs have three linear feet of rail or more, but only the final two inches near the muzzle will work for a light. If you have a fixed front sight, you probably don’t want to mount the light on the top rail since the photons will hit the first object they encounter the hardest (the front sight) and under maximum intensity it causes an unacceptable hotspot that will compromise your vision and aiming. If you are right handed, you might want the light opposite your support hand’s grip (the left side). That leaves the bottom rail and the right side as good choices.  A bottom mount behind the muzzle will create a shadow above the gun, while a right mount will create a left-side shadow and can cause issues when rounding corners just as a left-side mount will.

For forest and ranch work, I don’t mind the under barrel mount on my AR.  In this case I would rather have a clean view of the ground for safer travel. But a simple twist of the carry position moves the light into the 9 or more likely the 3 o’clock position minimizing any forward shadowing when needed.

Most mounting choices lock-in the light in one of the 90-degree positions: 12 O’clock, 3, 6 and 9 O’clock.  The two things to consider are light activation by the support hand, and preferred shadow position opposite the light.

Also Read: 10 Best Survival Items

If an intermediate option to the four standard coordinates is desired consider options such as the Daniel Defense light mount or the Magpul offset light mount. A downside to the Magpul mount is that it is screwed onto the rail (two bolts), and the flashlight is attached to the mount (two more bolts), so switching between using the light in-hand and-on gun takes time and tools. The Daniel Defense option is much simpler but three times as expensive. It uses a single large knob to attach the mount to the rail with the light held to the mount like a scope in a ring.


Muzzle blast and recoil can damage lights and coat their lenses with light-diminishing debris. Some lights Gun lightslike my now-discontinued Leupold have synthetic sapphire lenses to deal with the harsh life of living next to muzzle blast.  Other lights might seem tough at the store, but a few mags later are crying for mommy.  While I thoroughly appreciate the effort Leopold put into their now-defunct MX modular flashlight system, it should have been built for continuity with interchangeable LED modules since the lens, battery barrels, and switches are good for decades but the LEDs are evolving faster than the Avian Flu. So much good tech has gone to pasture due to fixation on the present.

Also Read: Streamlight TLR-3 Review

Lights must be strong enough to shake off gun recoil.  While LEDs usually ignore impacts, the circuits, switches, battery contacts, and lens components can get their bell rung.  Batteries have mass and thus prefer to remain still when the rest of the light is accelerated in a direction opposite of the bullet.  Simple Newtonian mechanics. This can lead to compression of the springs and contacts that normally ensure a complete circuit that keeps the electrons flowing. Darkness falls whenever there is a break in the circuit causing the light to blink or go out all together. And sometimes the electricity never flows again. But this is a double-edged coin to mix my metaphors. Any working light will work until the trigger is pulled. So basically you have at least one shot with any WML. Good lights will keep running. Weak lights…well, you need to move to plan B.

Moving Parts

Most good lights have O-ring seals at all material interfaces.  But that won’t necessarily keep the light from Best Weapon Mounted Lightsunscrewing itself over time or during repeated fire.  Keep an eye on the connections between components, and give the light a good shake every once in a while to listen for parts rattling around inside the tube.

Also Read: Project Squirrel Gun

And speaking of moving parts, the design of the switch on paper is completely different from the operation of the switch in a human hand, especially when contacting that wonderful opposable thumb we’ve been taught separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. The thumb switch should have the right amount of resistance and tactile click to talk back during the activation.  Of all my lights, there is just something about the Surefire and Fenix lights that have that proper click.  Although you might have noticed that Fenix does not make any WMLs.  That’s because they do, but they are marketed under different brand names and non-competition clauses will prevent Fenix from selling any for at least a few more years.

Toyota spends millions on the feel of it.  And so does Geissele, Magpul and Daniel Defense.  You see there are very few places on a weapons light that involve human interaction so those companies that pay special attention to the human-flashlight interface are those that I prefer.  The reason for stressing this particular tangent of weapons mounted lights is that when the S hits the Fan, your pulse spikes, adrenaline is dumped into your bloodstream, and your vision tunnels, the operation of a WML must be like every other human reaction that has evolved over millions of years. Not time for memorized luminosity sequences. No time to wonder, to paraphrase Sigmund Freud, if a click is just a click.

Related: Bug Out Flashlight Wisdom

Another area to consider is the composition of the lens.  Super-high-end lights use sapphire glass material, the same stuff in your Rolex watch crystal.  Moving down in price is impact resistant glass of sufficient thickness, followed by glass. Then polycarbonate plastic. Then plastic of unknown origin.  But anything near the business end of a rifle should not be made of a meltable oil-based material like plastic.

Bolt Upright!

Mounting solutions run from simple to complex, and cheap to expensive. If the light has a built-in rail mounting option, then the rail slots must match the light’s size. On full-sized autopistols like the Glock 17, small form-factor lights may generate a substantial gap between trigger guard and light. A raw fact to keep in mind is that if a solidly mounted light extends further forward than the pistol’s barrel, it will be possible to jam the gun into the perp without concern of a misfire due to the slide being pushed rearward and out of battery while the business end of the gun squishes into the flesh of the bad guy.  To put a friendly face on this important fact, there are notable events where a LEOs bacon was saved by the purp punching their lighted muzzle into the cop’s belly or forehead and jerked the trigger but no bang followed.  All possible by the slightly-forward mounting of a WML.


On the other side of the coin, if you have a light such as the Surefire x300 Ultra you can enjoy the ease of Gun Light Reviewswitching the light between guns, hands or pockets. Do note, however, that the x300U fires up quite easily in the hand and pocket compared to traditional dialed-in flashlight designs due to its pressure activation in addition to its switch rotation. I’ve also fired up my x300 just by grabbing the gun out of a case. If done in the dark, you just shot your night vision all to hell. Just food for thought.

Also Read: Why The Tomahawk?

Inexpensive and versatile mounts include the ExtremeBeam Weaver mount. For $14, you can mount any one-inch diameter light to almost any gun.  The mount can grab standard rails, or use the included rail mount to secure it to a barrel.  I have used this mount on a 20 gauge Remington 870 shotgun in addition to ARs.  There are almost no aftermarket tactical accessories for the 20GA 870 platform since it seems the entire rest of the world only cares about the 12 gauge so I was on my own to find a light mount. Lately I’ve settled in on using the rail mount of the ExtremeBeam Weaver to hold a Streamlight TLR-4 light/laser to my house-bound blued pump blunderbuss.

1000 Is The New Black

For a WML, 500 or more lumens is a great number for a pistol these days. But for a rifle that might breathe some fresh outdoor air once in awhile, 1000 lumens is my new best friend. Surefire makes some triple-cell lights under the Fury name. I have both the tactical version and the regular one. The P3X Tactical Fury has a no-click tail cap switch, but instead just a pressure button that fires the light as long as the rubber is held down. The Tactical only has one setting…full blast, which limits its general usefulness as a flashlight. To keep the light on, the tail cap must be rotated clockwise. I like to mount this light on the nine O’clock position so I can fire the light easily with my support hand thumb while keeping a tight grip on the handguard. If I want the light to stay on, I just grab the tail switch like the cap on a beer bottle and give it a twist.

Also Read: Taurus First 24 Kit

The regular P3X Fury has a two-stage tailcap click switch that fires first a 15 lumen beam, the a thousand lumen one if clicked again within a second. I prefer to pocket carry this Fury since most of the time I use it in first gear.

The Dust is Settling

At the moment, we are at an intellectual transition about weapon-mounted lighting. Much of the negative Best AR15 LED Lightpress and skeptical opinions are based upon old knowledge, old designs, old filament lights, and old tactics. Where modern bug out wisdom diverges from conventional law enforcement procedures is with duration of use, location of use, and situational use. Plus, in a bug out you are hopefully not running towards trouble like the LEOs are paid to do. In a true WROL, I will skew the rules in my favor. As they say, a fair fight is any fight you can lose. I know there are risks to using a weapon-mounted light, but frankly we’ve said the same things about so many other aspects of personal safety until the next generation’s embrace of the technology proved our historical concerns to be no longer founded in 21st century reality. So light it up.

Got a weapon mounted light and/or advise about your use of it? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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Bug Out Long Term (B.O.L.T) Pistol: Part 2

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Best Bug Out Pistol

Continuing this story… The innards of the Ruger 22/45 are not the only pieces of metal in need of Best Bug Out Pistolmodernization.  There are plenty of upgrades necessary on the outside of the pistol to make this a B.O.L.T.-worthy tool.  For instance, the magazine baseplates, the grip, the threaded barrel protector, carry options, and of course the sights.  And speaking of sights, the stock Ruger 22/45 iron sights are near impossible to see.

By Doc Montana, a contributing author of SHTFBlog and Survival Cache
This is the second article in a 2 part series (Read Part 1)

Night Blindness

The rear sight is little more than a flat black square notch that centers a thick flat black front sight blade Best Bug Out Pistolensuring the stock sights are nearly useless.  Low light situations are out of the question, and anything with a dark or variable colored background makes sight alignment nearly impossible.  Since sights are imperative to accuracy, quality aftermarket sights are a must.  In this case, Williams FireSights were the obvious choice. No, I’m going to take this further.  If you don’t update the sights, in specific to FireSights, then it would seem that you are not taking this situation seriously.  The fiber optic light gathering and contrasting colors make the Fire Sights embarrassingly better than the stock irons.  The brilliant glowing green and orange dots are nothing short of magic.  For less than fifty bucks, you can put your 22/45 on target every time, not just when conditions afford visibility of flat black on flat black.

Grip Matters

The grips on the 22/45 are, well, like a government issue .45 auto which is exactly where the 22/45 gets itsBest Bug Out Pistol name.  As a diehard Glock fanboy who was born with a Glock grip angle on my first toy rattle.  But the semi-slippery scales that screw onto to the handle of the 22/45 can benefit from a rubberized upgrade.  And it’s Hogue to the rescue.  By providing a grippier circumference to snuggle up with, the Houge’s offer a positive interaction between shooter and machine.  But as a Glockster, the finger indexing on the Hogue lock in a positive interface making aiming the Lite intuitive and rock solid.

One In The Holster

Carrying all this .22LR firepower all day every day requires a suitable holster.  And none serves this duty Ruger 22/45 Reviewbetter than the Blackdog.  As a adjustable friction fit Kydex containment system for all things Ruger (and a Benchmark), the Blackdog could care less about barrel length, and to a certain extent suppressor length. Hint, hint.  But back on topic, for this exercise I chose the Low Ride Blackdog.  I like high ride holsters for aggressive carry, and low ride for day to day open carry.

Holosun? Yea, I Heard Of Them

Finally the optic.  I was all ready to snap on an Aimpoint Micro onto the OEM rail. But then Holosun Best Optic for Ruger 22/45HS503C caught my eye.  In roughly the same form factor as the Aimpoint, the Holosun HS503C incorporates two reticle options as well as running on both solar and battery power.  One thing I really liked about EOTech sights (about the only thing) is the large sighting ring, something around 65 MOA. A single small red dot is great when you can see clearly and have a good cheek weld, but waving a pistol around trying to find the dot can be a challenge especially if the shooter is in motion.  There are just a few degrees of movement where the dot appears in a micro-sized tube at arm’s length.  Having the choice of large ring or small dot gives the shooter the best of both worlds.

Also Read: The Hurricane Katrina Rifle

And while the Holosun has a battery life in the ballpark of Aimpoint’s three million minutes (50,000 Best Survival Pistolhours=2083 days=five years eight-and-a-half months).  Although the solar does not charge the battery and needs the sun, low light shooting with a dead battery will require iron sights.  But enough dust should have settled in five years to not need to sneak around in the dark.

My main comparable in optics on a .22 pistol is my Ruger Mark III Target pistol with fluted bull barrel and Leupold 2X pistol scope.  While the Mark III is better at long range and more accurate with the crosshairs, the Holosun topped 22/45 was much faster on target massively lighter.


Sound is a dead giveaway.  Even the pop of a .22 will attract attention and scare game.  So a true Bug Best SHTF SuppressorOut pistol would not be complete without a suppressor.  Unscrewing the Game Changer Compensator and threading on the Gemtech Outback II drops the decibels to the “what was that?” level.  If that.

Gemtech is a leader in suppressor (or silencer to the Hollywood crowd).  Based in Boise, Idaho, Gemtech produces some of the finest and lightest suppressors on the planet.  The Outback II is a high-end ultra lite .22LR only suppressor. It’s certainly not the least expensive, but certainly one of the higher performing and higher options available from your Class-3 dealer.  And if you want to upgrade your Outback II, you can opt for the G-Core upgrade for another pair of Benjis.

Related: CZ75 9mm Pistol Review

Sound suppression should be a fact of life, but instead the NFA makes it a $200 tax plus paperwork, fingerprints, signatures, and a few months of waiting. But that should not be too much to swallow when it comes to an optimal bug out gun. Spinning on a suppressor opens some doors otherwise closed to ear-ringing decibel damage. For the cost of just five more barrel inches and 2.7 ounces, the silence is defining.

When subsonic ammo pops out the far end of the suppressor at less than 1100 feet per second the B.O.L.T. Pistol spatters lead down range both accurately and with no more sound than the bolt cycling, usually by hand.

Compensating For Something?

A stock 22/45 with a threaded barrel comes with a small protector. Tandemkross makes a Compensator Best Pistol Ruger 22/45that works wonders whether on pistol or rifle.  The muzzle jump on a .22 is near-zero, but the compensator does reduce it. I measured the upward acceleration of the muzzle using a Vernier accelerometer comparing the compensator to a bare muzzle and with a supressor.  The Tandemkross Game Changer compensator noticeably reduced the muzzle flip, and redirected the muzzle blast away from down. Normally not a problem with a pistol since you are not shooting with the barrel just inches above dirt, but I did notice it when shooting off a snow-covered rest.

Rubber On Road?

So how does all this B.O.L.T. kit shoot? Like a dream! The flow from presentation to trigger pull to bang (or muted pihfft) is a scary reminder how little weight and effort can change the game.  Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber) lived in a cabin just a few miles upstream from my favorite fishing hole.  He was known for quietly poaching deer by shooting them in the eyeball with a .22 rifle.  Where long guns differ from handguns is mostly in sight radius.  The reason a pistol would ever need a long barrel is not necessarily to give the powder more burn time, or more spins on the bullet as it zings down the pipe, but in fact to hold the front sight further away from the rear peep.  But a red dot sight negates all that sight radius stuff since it makes no difference anymore.  So a four inch barrel is as useful as an eight inch one.  The red dot sight used here makes accuracy not an issue of front post on target, but red speck on topic.

Also Read: Pocket Carry vs Concealed Carry

Holding the gun steady is the issue, not keeping the dot on prey.  Painting the target is easy.  Pulling the trigger while the dot is where it needs to be becomes the challenge.  But that is a good problem.  Plus, you can hand the gun to anyone and it will be obvious that the red dot means kill.  Nobody would second-guess the operation of a red dot sight where irons take understanding.


At 15 yards off a rest this B.O.L.T. gun easily makes one ragged hole in paper with CCI ammo.  Well, most Best Bug Out Pistolof the time. Enough of the time.  Out to 50 yards, it’s possible to keep the pistol on a dinner plate since the Holosun red dot sight couldn’t care less if it was on a handgun, rifle, or Sherman tank.  A single point of red light has no sight radius.  But if one restricted the target size to the orbital cavity in a deer skull, anything under 25 yards could be considered ethical…in a SHTF sort of way.

Related: Grab ‘N’ Go Pistol Bag

In the end what one needs in a bug out tool gun is a reliable machine that can deal with day-to-day chores as society rebuild itself for too long we’ve tried to find the perfect gun for all situations but in the end what you really need something that can live a few grains of lead downrange and dispatch the furry or feathered food with precision simplicity and elegance.  Although the B.O.L.T. gun is not THE perfect solution, it is A perfect solution for an imperfect world.

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Tops BOB Knife Review

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Best Survival Knife

BOBknife3 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.

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author at SHTFBlogSurvival Cache

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

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.BOBknife1

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.

Related: 7 Things To Consider Before Buying A Survival Knife

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.

You Might Like: Fallkniven A2 Review

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.

Also Read: Parry Blade Knife Review

I also started fires with both the firesteel and by using it as a bearing block with a bow drill set.  The Best Survival Knifefiresteel 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.

Final Determination 

The question I ask myself every time I have a piece of equipment like this is, “Would I be confident that Best Survival Knifethis 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.

Questions?  Comments?
Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

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Rehab A SHTF Prep Shack

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Survival Bug Out House

When I was a kid growing up in Southeast Missouri, my dad bought a lot at Kentucky Lake outside of Murray, Ky.   We started Bug Out House SHTFcamping there in a big tent then later dad traded an airplane for a house trailer and boat from a manufacturer in Elkhart, Indiana.  That’s another whole story for another day.  The boat riding, skiing and fishing was great.  Anyway on the drives over to the lake in the back seat of the old sedan we would always pass by numerous old ramshackle shacks falling in to the point of total disrepair.

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

Dad would always say, “Hey, now there is a fixer-upper if I ever saw one.”   We would then begin a long discussion of what we could do to the old house to make it livable.  It sure did pass the time on the long, hot drives to our lake campout site.  This got me to thinking recently when I passed by an old rundown shack like the ones we used to spot on our way to the lake.   Maybe preppers could acquire such a property for an escape bug out location.  What would it take to get such an old place back in decent shape to create an alternative site to outlast a SHTF situation?

Conduct a Bug Out Shack Search

For many preppers around the country finding a good “fix it up” house, barn or other structure on a piece of land might be easier survival shtf housesaid than done.  It is certainly going to take some dedicated research to locate just the right place for just the right deal.  Those living in more rural small towns or mid-sized cities can often escape to the country easier than those living in huge metro complexes.  Still finding a little piece of land with an existing structure can be done.  Start by studying the web sites of real estate agents in prospective targeted areas.  Eventually plan to visit these areas for a firsthand inspection.  If there are farm or rural newspapers available in your region, these often list such properties for sale or even rent/lease or lease to buy.   You just have to start the process and be prepared to make your move when the offer is right.

Points of Access

Wherever you buy or locate a potential bug out spot, determine your own comfort levels with how easy, difficult, open, or hidden bug out housethe access points are to the property.  Where are neighbors located, essential services, supply outlets availability, utilities, water service, and other critical issues to consider for a secondary SHTF residence?   There are many factors to take into consideration when selecting a potential bug out shack.

Also Read: Campground Bug Out Location

Even with a prepper bug out shack the bottom line is still location, location, location.  What that means for preppers is the degree of relative security for the area.  A bug out shack does not have to be at the end of a long gravel road lost out in the country somewhere.  It just has to have potential for some elements of security, isolation, and protection considerations.  Avoid buying something that sits right on a highway or even a rural road in plain view of the public passing by.  It would be best to have a house out of sight down a driveway where a sturdy locked gate could be erected.  Again, ideally the lot would be wooded.  This could not only be a source of firewood for the house for heat or cooking but also a habitat for game that could be harvested for food.

Related: 4 Types of Bug Out Camps

A prime property would have established trails or ones easy to make as well as observation points to the outside.  If things really go down the tube, then marauders will be out searching for anything they can steal (heck, they do that now).  Don’t make it easy for them to simply drive up to the front door and bust it down.  Seclusion and security will be paramount.

The Austere Approach

Your SHTF bug out shack need not have all the elements of refinement like your primary residence probably has.  You might be Best Bug Out Houselucky to get electrical power, good water, and sewer or a septic tank.  If not, then preppers can certainly improvise what they perceive as their most necessary needs.  Power can be supplied via gasoline generators, water wells can be created, and an old fashioned outhouse can be built as well.  During a SHTF event, prepper-survivalists may have to live by wood heat, candle lights, and other very basic living conditions.  These are just circumstances that preppers need to be prepared for whether bugging out or in.

Fix Up Skills

I can do a lot of damage with a hammer.  If you do decide to buy a self-fix it up place, survival_shtf_teotwawki_food_storageyou’ll need carpentry or home repair skills for sure or a team member that has them.  You might have to do roofing work, inside flooring or walls, plumbing repairs or many other repair tasks.  Remember to have the proper tools purchased, too.  Besides buying or leasing an existing structure do a pre-deal assessment of the work needed to make any potential shack inhabitable and as comfortable as possible.  This expense may be more than an RV or a large camping trailer.  Keep all your options open.  If you do not possess the skills necessary to rehab a place, then don’t take on more than you can handle or afford.  Dreams are dreams, but don’t be foolish in the face of reality.

So, this is just one more option to consider for a suitable bug out domicile.  It does not have to be a castle, but it has to be sound, secure, and livable.  It may not have or ever have all the ideal amenities, but then improvements and enhancements can be done along the way, too.  If you are definitely leaning toward a bug out to an alternative site then consider the search for a SHTF prep shack.  It may just be the option you are looking for.

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Trick Out A Cheap AR15

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Top Survival Website

The rash of inexpensive ARs clogging gun store shelves right now might not be the greatest battle rifles since the M1903 Top Survival BlogSpringfield, but they can advance well beyond their pay grade with a few mild upgrades that basically undo the cost saving measures installed at the factory.  In addition to cost-saving measures, many entry level ARs will lack a forward assist plunger, and a dust cover.  While the former might never be used by 99% of shooters, the dust cover can come in handy in certain conditions and environments.

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

The Walmart Rifle

But neither should be considered a deal-breaker if you find a brand-name good deal.  A goal here is to put some dollar numbers on what it would take to bring a budget-priced AR up to speed for real-world challenges.

A required assumption here is that a reputable company that builds ARs will make them more affordable though a handful of forge_survival_supply_best_rifleminor shortcuts rather than some massive oversights in quality.  In fact it might take a doubling or even tripling of cost within the product line to get a functionally better barrel or bolt carrier group.  The difference between a $599 and a $1299 AR by the same company will be in the details across three main areas:
1) Those small parts where a few pennies are saved here and there
2) In finishing work done both by machine and by hand especially the trigger group
3) The number of minutes of quality assurance inspections along with accompanying lower standards of acceptability.

Companies known for making better rifles will not make cheap barrels and bolts.  That’s too risky and expensive for them.  Instead they will use the good stuff and cut costs elsewhere.  On the other hand if the AR company is known for inexpensive or poor quality guns with a few or no upper-end firearms in their product catalog, then those better ones are the exception to their rule so upgrading will be, as they say, lipstick on a pig.  Just remember that most folks cannot outshoot their rifles, and don’t worry about if or when your round count will overcome the quality of your AR parts since we’re not pushing theoretical limits here. Just putting a trustworthy AR in your hands for less money.   Before we get started, know that the fun stuff like optics, red dots, weapons lights, covert carry options, drum mags, bipods and suppressors are all fine goals for the financial future but the first principles are first for a reason.

Picky Begging

So to begin, hand select the best inexpensive AR on the shelf.  Or better yet, if the gun store really wants to make the sale, crack Top Survival Blogopen a few boxes in backstock.  Concentrate on the upper and lower receivers mating, the action of the bolt, and alignment of the gas tube any and rails.  There’s no point upgrading if the AR is already damaged goods.  Also avoid fixating on any part that will be swapped out.  Cheap buttstocks might rattle around or require extra force to slice back and forth.  Cheap sights are included to make the rifle work out of the box (a supposed selling point), but since they will soon be tossed into the junk parts box in your shop, don’t waste valuable store time on them.

Related: Magpul P-Mag Torture Test

Next, plan on swapping out the trigger, buttstock, handguard, mag, sights (as needed), and make a few additions while you’re at it.  Each replacement part has an important upgrade purpose, and each addition will take the AR up a pay grade or two in stature and use.  The new parts can be replace all at once or over time.  The point of this article is to give some focus when there you have a gnawing desire to buy a quality sale-priced new AR.  If considering a used one, all bets are off.

Breaking Glass

Triggers are an easy place to both cut costs and raise them.  Inexpensive ARs will often have worse-than-normal triggers. than spending your day trying to polish up the already crippled fire control mechanism, just get one of the newer but affordable drop-in trigger kits.  While not perfect, the inexpensive kits will put you much closer to the cool kids.  One of the $70 ALG triggers would make a good option, or a Mil-spec enhanced trigger group from Rock River.

Butt Out

The buttstock might seem to work fine, even look mil-spec, but cheaper ARs often have brittle plastic mildly adjustable stocks.  For the cost of a few boxes of ammo, the Magpul OEM stock can be had for less than $40 and will get you up to speed where your stock will work better, feel better, and hold up to abuse especially if your need pummel something or someone with your buttstock.

Hands Off

The hard plastic two-piece tubes that form the handguard on budget ARs are heavy, slippery, and often lack any attachment Top Survival Blogpoints for rails, etc.  Again, the sub-$40 Magpul OEM handguard fits the bill and moves you and your rifle into a more productive tactical position.

Black Box

If your AR came with a Magpul Pmag of any generation, then move on.  But if it came with a no-name metal box, then assume the worst and swap it out with a ~$15 Pmag.  Not all GI-style metal mags are created equal, especially when you know that the chief selling point of the rifle it came with was a low price.  The main points of failure for the cheap mags, assuming they even fit and work in the first place, are with minimally functional followers and springs of marginal quality.

Zero Me

Likely, there will be a standard triangular.  A2 front sight pinned onto the barrel. While the finish work after tumbling out of Top Survival Blogwhat forge or press might be lacking, its function will be much the same as any other factory installed front post.  But the rear sight is another matter.  You might be lucky and the rifle came with a polymer Magpul MBUS. If so, great.  If not but a rear sight was included, take it off and feel its heft. Some weight a ton because cheap does mean light. Further, the adjustments might be coarse and limited.

Also Read: Best Survival Carbine

Since the point of the rifle is to land a projectile on a target from a safe distance away, the sighting mechanism is as important as any other critical part of the gun. Might be the best $40 spent thus far.

Nickels and Dimes

A few additions beyond the basics include an enhanced trigger guard base and Blackhawk single-point sling adapter.  Oh, and a Katrina Riflecouple of AR tools to become more intimate with your rifle. Start with a couple of punches, and an armorer’s tool.  Magpul makes a great enhanced trigger guard for about $9 that will greatly increase the internal space of the trigger guard allowing better and safer operation especially when wearing gloves.  The single-point sling adapter sells for less than $7 and allows you to quickly clip a sling to a spot on the buffer tube, or back on the buttstock.  When placed on the buffer tube, the rifle becomes single-point compatible without an expensive QD mount added on.

Related: DIY Survival Rifle

The last piece of kit to gentrify your AR is to get some Slip2000 gun lube.  I prefer the Slip2000 EWL30 because of its higher viscosity.  Since ARs are known for chain smoking gun lube all day long, the EWL30 puts up the good fight between metal surfaces assuring you that your AR is as healthy as it can be.

Check Please

By adding about $220 to your over-the-counter AR, you will be in great shape to do almost everything anyone buying a budget AR would do.  Given recent AR prices hovering under $600 and some holiday or promotional sales dropping in sight of $500, having a plan to capitalize on the savings but not the functionality will make the decision easier.  Remember, this strategy requires you start with a good foundational AR so keep with the known brands and compare the specifications.  An inexpensive AR from Bob’s Basement Budget Builds might be easy on the wallet today, but it will punish you for years to come.

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Doc Montana
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6 Calibers That Fly Under The Prepper Radar

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If you’ve been a gun-owning prepper or survivalist for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed a pattern.  After every Best Prepper Caliberlarge-scale shooting where a politician opens his mouth and breathes the words “gun control”, whenever a large-scale firearms regulatory law goes into effect (remember the 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban”?), or whenever there is a general alarm that gets raised for a perceived condition, certain firearms and ammo calibers suddenly become unobtainable for a period of time.

By Drew, a contributing author of SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Most recently, after the tragedy at Newtown, I remember whole AR-15s, AR stripped lower receivers, AR magazines, .223/5.56mm, 9mm,7.62x39mm, and .22LR ammo just being ripped off the shelves at the gun shop I worked at.  Glocks and 9mm ammo disappeared in a flash. Heck, .22 LR production STILL hasn’t recovered fully.

All the standard go-to guns and calibers that preppers gravitate towards – AR-15s, AK variants, SKS variants, Glocks and other Top Survival Blogsemi-auto handguns, any .22 rifles and handguns, for example – are the first items to vanish once the balloon goes up.  While I can’t say that I don’t take part in grabbing what I can when I see trouble on the horizon, I do also take notice that there are some calibers and some guns that always seem to be around, even during scares.  That got me to thinking: are there caliber and firearm combinations that I should be looking into if I want to maintain a relatively uninterrupted supply chain during the alarmist times that are sure to come – especially if a certain someone gets elected this November?

Let’s take a look at a few great calibers that always seem to stay on the shelves in extreme times (at least in my corner of the world), and are definitely worthy of a second glance, especially if your plans don’t require High Speed Low Drag ARs or AKs.

The Secret 6

1) .270 WINCHESTER:  The .270 is an oldie but a goodie, having been introduced by Winchester in the early 1920′s as a pairing with their new Model 54 (one of my personal favorite rifles ever).  The late, great gun writer Jack O’Connor quickly endorsed the caliber and the cartridge quickly found widespread favor with hunters who appreciated the round’s versatility: it shot hard enough to be effective on most of North America’s big game, yet the trajectory was so flat that varmint hunters embraced it for long-distance shooting as well.  The cartridge shoots a  .277” (6.8mm)130-grain bullet well over 3,000 feet per second (fps), and 150 grain bullets at almost 2,900 fps – and these figures can be improved upon with handloading.  Speaking of handloading: bullets are available from 90 grain varmint weights, all the way to deep-penetrating 180-grain bullets. Factory loads on store shelves are almost always 130, 140, or 150 grains.

Also Read: Building The World’s Most Versatile Gun

The .270 Winchester still consistently places in the top ten most popular U.S. centerfire caliber lists – a nod to its effectiveness, even though it’s not the newest, hottest powder-burning hot rod caliber out there.  The sheer popularity also guarantees that ammo companies will be producing this caliber in large quantities for years to come.

The .270 still comes as a standard caliber in a wild array of rifles (again, owing to its popularity).  You like semi-autos?  The Remington 4/74/740/742/7400 line of rifles or the Browning BAR are available in this caliber.  Pump action? Sure!  Take a gander at the Remington 6/76/760/7600 family.  Lever guns?  The Browning BLR is pretty sexy and good at what it does.  Bolt guns?  Pretty much every manufacturer out there makes one (usually many more than one) in their long action configuration. Added bonus:  You can get 10-round extended magazines for the Remington 7400 family, making it a heavy-hitting, fast-firing semi-auto rifle that doesn’t set off “black rifle” alarms.

2) .17 HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire) & .17 Mach2 (MK2):  The .17 caliber rimfires came out in the early 2000′s as speedier, flatter-shooting alternatives to the .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) and the ubiquitous .22 Long Rifle.  The .17 cases are designed by necking down the parent .22 cases to accept flyweight .177” projectiles.  The .17 HMR, based on the .22 Magnum, has been a modest success, while the .17 MK2 never really took off.  However, ammo is on the shelves in the bigger box stores when the .22 shelves are barren and collecting dust.

Ballistically, these calibers out shoot their parent cases with ease, with far higher velocities and flat trajectories making them stellar small game (think smaller than coyotes) calibers out past 100 yards.  The downside is the lightweight bullets don’t buck wind as well, and don’t retain energy very well.  The little tiny jacketed .17 caliber bullets are more expensive to produce in their many forms (FMJ, Polymer Tip, JSP, and JHP bullets are available) so be ready for sticker shock if you’re used to buying .22 LR at $40/brick.  But if it’s there and the .22 is not, The diminutive .17 rimfires suddenly look a lot better…

Related: Best Handgun Calibers For Survival

There are several rifles out there available if you look.  Savage and Marlin seem to lead the pack with the .17 HMR, and Ruger made the 10/22 series guns in .17 MK2 if you poke around.  There are also conversion kits available if you want to change out your big boy caliber AR upper and shoot .17 HMR or .17 MK2.  The .17 rimfires are expensive plinkers, but devastatingly useful foraging and varmint eradication calibers.

3) .40 S&W:  This caliber is included here as more of a prediction based on current events.  The .40 S&W is really a great Best Survival Gunshandgun caliber, effectively bridging the gap between 9mm and .45 ACP.  The handgun world is experiencing a paradigm shift these past couple years, with the FBI and many other police departments switching to 9mm – the 9 is a bit more controllable, and holds more ammo in the mags.  With bullet and powder technology making advances quickly, the 9mm is having the playing ground leveled somewhat.  (Nobody has seemed to mention that these advances might make the .40 S&W and .45ACP that much better, too…but I digress.) 9mm ammo is also less expensive, with military surplus or mass-produced military style ammo easy to find these days…though the 9mm military 124-grain FMJ ball round is notoriously ineffective.

The .40 is still a very viable caliber for anyone to consider, fitting between the 9mm and .45 ACP perfectly.  Yes, the caliber is a high-pressure meanie, causing more muzzle blast and recoil, but guess what?  It’s not that bad.  There, I said it and I mean it. I carry a S&W M&P Compact in .40 S&W every day – and its recoil is easy to work with if you practice.  Full-sized .40 guns are easily controlled.  A .40′s standard load of 155-grain JHP at 1,200 FPS is pretty mean – especially when you consider that the “gold standard” 9mm load – the 124 grain Speer Gold Dot – is only 100 FPS faster.

Related: 2 Guns, 1 Caliber

Fast forward to a politician-driven weapons ban or even a SHTF event – since everybody has switched to 9mm, that ammo Top Survival Calibers for Survivalistscreams off the shelves.  The .45ACP fanboys follow suit.  The .40 S&W, while still relatively popular now, is declining with people starting to swing to the 9mm or .45 ACP camps – so ammo will likely be available for long enough for you to go out and top off the reserves if you act fast enough.

There are literally hundreds of awesome .40 S&W pistol designs out there, especially in the police department trade-in market. You can get Glock 22, S&W M&P or Sig P226 PD trade in pistols for half the cost of a new 9mm variant.  Tried to find a Glock 19 lately?  Good luck with that! But Glock 23s – the exact same gun in .40 S&W – are usually in stock in most stores.  It never hurts to have a gun with a caliber that begins with “4” in the SHTF arsenal.

4) .30-30 WINCHESTER:  The timeless .30-30 Winchester was introduced a staggering 121 years ago for Winchester’s fresh-off-the-presses John Browning-designed 1894 Model levergun.  It became a runaway success immediately, with its .30 caliber bullet motivated out the muzzle at the serious-for-the-time 2200 feet per second.  It was used all over the globe and considered a great game-killer, even being used on game like brown bears and African species.  Today, we would shudder at the thought of hunting leopard with a .30-30, but in the early 20th century, the little rifle’s fast-handling characteristics and zippy bullet meant it was THE caliber to have for hunting. (Remember, the ’30-06 wasn’t even introduced until 1906 – and it probably still took a while for it to get to the civilian market.)

For a modern SHTF planner, the same still holds true.  The .30-30 is still a very effective caliber for protection and game-getting. To this day, handy, fast .30-30 rifles are coming off the production lines, and modern bullet and powder technology like Hornady’s LeveRevolution series have breathed new life into this ancient caliber. Winchester alone made over SEVEN MILLION ’94 Winchesters, and Marlin’s 336 is still running strong. If you handload and you own a bolt-action .30-30 like Remington’s tack-driving Model 788, you can push the .30-30 awfully close to .308 Winchester velocities. It’s a versatile caliber, with factory loads produced from 125 grain hollowpoints to 170 grains. Prepper tip: the .30-30 is ballistically VERY similar to the infamous 7.62x39mm that feeds millions of AK variants worldwide.

A good  man with a ’94 Winchester or 336 Marlin can rip a magazine full of aimed rounds off a lot faster than you’d think – and aftermarket accessories are available to mount lights, scopes, and more to these often-overlooked designs. Due to the sheer number of .30-30 rifles in the world still on active duty, ammo will always be made and should be available when that 7.62×39 for your SKS isn’t.

5) BELTED MAGNUMS:  Ahh, the magnums.  All testosterone and horsepower.  And recoil.  And noise.  And it’s on the Top Survival Blogshelves in the common calibers.  When the post-Newtown scare had every gun guy buying up .308, 5.56mm, and 7.62×39 the second they saw it, the 7mm Remington Mag, .300 Winchester Mag, and .338 Winchester Mag were still hanging out like the smelly kid at a school dance. Why? Well, they are fairly specialized calibers.  They are excellent at what they do – shooting long, long, loooong distances, hitting with lots of authority, and grouping accurately.  However, the calibers produce lots of recoil.  All that powder in those huge, fat cases means a brutal muzzle blast and stout recoil.  The long cartridges require magnum-length rifle actions, which means the rifles are heavier and overbuilt.  Handloaders shy away from them due to the huge amounts of gunpowder that the cases swallow up.  And those finger-sized brass cases and large amounts of powder means that any factory ammunition you grab up will be quite expensive.

But all that being said, these calibers have a definite place in the SHTF arsenal.  For the purposes of this article, we have to point out that this ammo is usually on the shelf.  Also, like all the calibers on this list,they aren’t military calibers per se – these are 99.9% used for hunting big game – so ammunition bans aren’t likely to target these calibers. But the real shiny reason to have one of these in the rack is that they are capable of hitting targets hundreds of yards away. (I personally shot a West Virginia whitetail buck at over 600 yards with a .300 magnum – and I have a witness! )  Now, that doesn’t mean that owning one suddenly makes you Chris Kyle – it takes lots of practice rounds downrange to be able to put a bullet that’s less than a third of an inch across into a four-inch bullseye at 500 yards.  But you have the capability at your disposal, and many can see the use of a long-range, accurate, hard-hitting game rifle once the chips are down.

Stick with the 7mm Remington Magnum, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .338 Winchester Magnum.  The new “super Mags” from many makers, the Weatherby calibers, as well as the .300 and .375 Holland & Holland cartridges are too few and far between, and will be hugely expensive to procure, even in quantity.  Rifles for all these calibers can be sourced from pretty much all the major manufacturers – mostly bolt guns, but there are semi-autos and lever actions out there too.  Check out the Nemo Arms Omen series if you want to do some SERIOUS drooling.

6) .30-06 SPRINGFIELD:  I’m saving the best for last.  My grandfather always told me, “if you can’t kill it  with an ought-six,Best Survival Gun you shouldn’t be shooting at it in the first place.”  That phrase always rang in my head and made me smile, and it’s probably the major reason why it’s my favorite caliber of all time.  But it holds true – the .30-06 has probably killed every species of game on this planet (whether or not it was a smart idea to be shooting at Cape Buffalo with an ’06 is debatable).  The 110-year old .30-06 design may very well be the most versatile caliber on the planet.

The Old ’06 is just one of those calibers that turned out “right”. An evolution of the .30-03 case with a shorter neck, the .30-06 was brought about as a military caliber, and it quickly turned into the sportsman’s sweetheart – and it never went away.  Today, the .30-06 is running as strong as ever, even in the face of new designer calibers – many of which are based off the ’06 as a parent case.  Excellent rifles are being turned out in droves with the ’06 as the bread-and-butter caliber. It is a dependable caliber that will kill anything on the North American continent with authority (even the big coastal brown bears if you’re good about bullet placement).

Factory loads used to start at 55 grains with the old saboted Remington “Accelerator” loads (I’m not sure if these are still produced), but now they start off with Hornady’s 125-grain SST rounds and go up through the heavily-jacketed 220-grain round nose loads, with most fodder you run into being 150, 165, or 180 grains.  The ’06 is a handloader’s dream, being forgiving to load for, with excellent accuracy usually resulting. If I could only have one rifle caliber in this world, it’d be the .30-06.  Luckily, ammunition is plentiful and pretty inexpensive – as are rifles in any configuration you could really ever dream of. You don’t have one?  Why not?


This article is relatively subjective, based on what I’ve seen with my own two eyes as people react to situations out of our control. If you don’t want to be a slave to scraping the bottom of the barrel and price gougers, one of the above calibers in a high-quality firearm is a safe bet. It may not be the sexy AR-15 with a high-capacity drum and lasers and 20 power scopes and lights you dream of. But a firearm is only useful when it has ammunition – and what you have when the ball drops is what you have.

Related: Military Surplus Guns For SHTF

If what you want is that chicks-dig-it AR or AK, get it now.  Get ammo and mags now. As of today (3/10/2016), ammo is plentiful and gun shop racks are bursting with magazines and accessories.  We never know when there will be another Newtown or politician-driven “Assault Weapons Ban” – one could happen today.  If you don’t want to make do with what others won’t, act now while you can. It’s a smart course of action for your SHTF plans.  If you react when the masses do, you won’t get what you need, and you’ll pay too much for what you end up with – and nobody wants “this will have to do” in a SHTF situation.

Anybody else out there have other calibers to add to this list?  My list is based on observations in the New England area – what have you seen in your locale? Sound off in the comments section!

Stay Safe!

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The Human Element

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Survival Blog

Though we as humans are not listed on the periodic table, everything that combines into our chemical makeup is.  We, you, me, Forge Survival Supplyall of us are at the essential core of the salvation of mankind.  If that sounds redundant or worn out, well, think about it.  We are not only charged with surviving ourselves, but we need to contribute to the preemptive avoidance of any and all catastrophic events to the extent we can influence such.  I assume nobody wants Armageddon.

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

This may sound trite, but I am encouraged by the level of grassroots participation in some of the state political caucus events.  People are getting involved.  This is critical even at the local neighborhood and town levels.  Don’t let these local “powers” take your world away from you.  Speak up, get active.  Keep prepping as though your life may well depend on it, but at the same time let’s not give up on avoiding it.

What Will Be Left of Life?

Let’s hope the cockroaches, rats, and the coyotes don’t inherit whatever is left after the final SHTF.  That demise is ultimately left up to us.  Us being the human race.  Wow, that all sounds pretty dramatic even to me.  If you have read my stuff before, you know I enjoy dissecting clips from popular movies depicting the portrayal of the apocalypse(s).   I know it’s fiction, but if you really want to see a taste of reality just look around our world to see what is happening to other populations of people.

Also Read: 4 Step Household Evacuation

ISIS really is terrorizing the world.  They really are beheading people including children.  They are actively recruiting young Top Survival Blogpeople in Europe and America.   We just had two college students from a Mississippi university intercepted trying to reach Turkey to get to ISIS operatives in the Middle East.  This is real stuff.  I often hear preppers discussing their futures after a prolonged SHTF.  It may not be pretty.  Sometimes I think we live in a dream world if we think life would ever be the same if a dirty bomb went off in America.

When something like that arrives on our door steps, we will never be the same.  Just think of how the aftermath of the Twin Towers still lingers especially for the families directly affected.  Such events nearly wipe out the soles of that generation.  Sure, Japan survived Hiroshima, “we” survived Katrina, the town survived Sandy Hook, San Bernardino has recovered, the country will survive the present administration, we hope.  What will be left of life after a SHTF may be in big part dependent on what we do now to shape it before the next SHTF.

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Trump: HGH For An Insurgency

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Best President Candidate

As predicted in this very forum back in June, the rise of Donald Trump has been many things, not the least of which is Best President Candidateentertaining.  Hurricane Donald has had massive success shining a 100,000 lumen spotlight on the serious rift within the Republican Party as well as tightly winding the mainstream media’s undies.  Two satisfying outcomes for this American.  But those are far from his only accomplishments, one unintended consequence has also come with the rise of Trump.

By Professor Liberty Mize, a contributing author of SHTFBlog

He has inadvertently laid the groundwork for a legitimate independent run this Best Presidential CandidateNovember.  Shockingly that ticket will not be headlined by Trump himself.  Consider the following hypothetical.  If we enter late April and Trump still has a stranglehold on the Republican nomination (still a massive if), and if Hillary is indicted (a shockingly less unlikely if), the vast majority of voters in this electorate will find themselves without a candidate.  This is based on high negatives for each of the aforementioned major party alternatives.

Also Read: Comb Over Chaos

This will force a “none of the above” wave that this country hasn’t seen since Richard Pryor ran for Mayor in Brewster’s Millions.  Combine that atmosphere with ballot access rules that allow independent candidates the ability to defer a decision until late spring/early summer and things could get interesting.

How can we be sure? 

Consider the candidacy of Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger.  While the circumstances surrounding their rise to office best presidential candidateare nuanced, three key thing fueled both:

1.    The ability to get on the ballot without facing a legitimate primary
2.    A fundamental dislike by voters of the other candidates  (The recall of an incumbent in Arnold’s case)
3.    A fiscally conservative, but socially liberal message

Together these three things allowed each to beat a path to the sweet spot of American politics. Polls show that the majority of Americans are fiscally conservative and laissez-faire on social issues.  Yet today these people have no outlet.  You can’t support abortion and sniff a republican primary, and you can’t tout free markets and economic reason and capture the fancy of democrats.  By carefully spinning those into a platform a candidate could re-configure the electoral map and be competitive in every state.

So Why Don’t More Independents Run? 

Because to run is a fool’s errand.  In national elections roughly 40% of the people will vote for their party regardless of the nominee.  So even if you capture the vast middle, you are still short on votes taken by the major party nominees.  That is unless the base actually hates their nominee or that nominee was recently led away in leg irons.

The Perfect Storm

Therefore we have the perfect storm.  Pissed voters, crappy nominees and a real mess to clean up in DC.  It is a formula that has Mayor Bloomberg, Jim Webb and even Joe Biden putting out feelers and seriously considering an insurgency.  Bloomberg’s ability to self-fund means he could be a particularly serious player.  Elections are expensive and party infrastructure and influence are key to fundraising and building a successful organization.  None of this applies to him.  Bloomberg need only crack his piggy bank and shake out a few hundred million bucks and he could be in business.  The others face longer odds, and there may be others considering a run that have yet to surface.  Could someone Ross Perot their way to a legitimate shot at the white house?  Stranger things have happened, and if anyone has those ambitions this is certainly the year to try.

The Bottom Line

Again the above is based on hypotheticals.  Hillary’s indictment could very well be squashed by the justice department or be Trump for Presidentspun as a right-wing conspiracy, but I wouldn’t bet on it.  The FBI doesn’t mess around and reportedly has 100s of agents on the case and the evidence is overwhelming.  If the justice department fails to indict they could go public and either force Obama’s hand, or just destroy Hillary.

On the Republican side Trump is also far from home free.  Cruz will likely win Iowa, Trump will win New Hampshire and it is anyone’s guess after that.  But if he sweeps the SEC vote we could very well be headed for Trump as the nominee.  In an era where a populist anti-establishment wave has carried Ron Paul, Trump and even Bernie Sanders to prominence– anything is possible.  Who might be able to tap into that and ride the wave all the way to DC is really anyone’s guess.  Regardless I’ll likely still be endorsing “none of the above”.

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Donald Trump
Justin Hoch
Michael Vadon

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4 Things To Consider When Bugging Out

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Bug Out Vehicles

The sh*t just hit the fan.  Things have gone from bad to worse and you and your family are in the affected area.  Now what?  Whether you are a seasoned prepper or just beginning on the journey down the road to preparedness, there may come a time when you will have Best bug Out vehicleto make the decision whether to bug in or hit the road to a safer location with your family.  When that time comes, here are the first four things to consider before you start bugging out by vehicle:  Which vehicle should I take?  What should I take with me?  Where am I headed?  What will be the safest route to take?

By Chuck Savage, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

1. Which Vehicle Do I Take?

For those of us who don’t own a Hummer, the decision may be a little harder.  Things to consider in an escape vehicle are ground Best Bug Out Vehicleclearance, four wheel drive or not, load capacity, fuel consumption and toughness.  Even if you plan on bugging in during an emergency, not having a backup plan complete with a remote location that is well supplied could prove fatal.  Case in point and mentioned often is when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans.  Thousands of people hit the roads to evacuate and many had no idea of where they were headed.

This lack of planning led to panic and indecision that only made matters worse. Horror stories of people stranded on overpasses and people being attacked at rest stops filled the news. Many people waited until it was too late to leave and perished as a result of poor or no planning.  So, what vehicle will you take?  I would take the vehicle that I feel is the safest for me and my family. In my case, we have a GMC Envoy 4WD.  It is not the toughest vehicle but it is better than our Kia Spectra. This GMC gives me a fair load capacity and the option of better traction if needed. I always keep at least three quarters of a tank of fuel in my vehicle at all times and make sure my oil, fluids and tire pressure are good.

Also Read: The Katrina Rifle

Having 4WD is a nice option but don’t let 4WD give you a false sense of security.  My wife and I learned this a few weeks ago while checking a new clear cut on our leased property in our Jeep Liberty 4WD.  I had driven on these roads before but the logging activity had damaged the roads badly.  I hit a soft spot, came to a stop and sank.  I confidently shifted into 4 wheel low range and tried to drive out but with no luck and sank deeper.  I rocked the vehicle back and forth but sank deeper.  So deep, that I would not be able to get it out.  I am confessing this to try and help you avoid my same mistakes.

Things in my Jeep:
1.    A ranch jack: Can be used to lift the front or rear onto stable ground.
2.    Straps or chains: Can be used with a jack or come along.
3.    Folding shovel: Dig around the tires to improve traction
4.    Ratchet straps: Can be used to strap a board or tree limb for self rescue.
5.    Snow chains: Can be used in snow, ice or mud to improve traction.
6.    A hand operated come along: Able to wench the vehicle out.
7.    A tool kit: For small repairs.
8.    Leather gloves
9.    Extra towels
10.  Hatchet or hand axe

These are just a few of the most important things needed in a bug out vehicle to be able to self rescue.  Unfortunately my story didn’t end like a fairy tale. I had to hike out to civilization and find someone with a 4WD tractor to pull me out. My wife, (not in the best of moods by now, had to wait in the submerged jeep for me to make it back with help).

2. What Do I Take With Me?

Decide that now and not when you find yourself having to haul butt. My wife and I found ourselves with about ten minutes to best bug out vehiclemake that decision while living in Durango, Colorado.   The Missionary Ridge fire had changed directions within minutes and we had to load our vehicle and leave the rest behind. We didn’t have time to deliberate on what was important. We just grabbed the CPU to our computer, a few clothes, water, dog food, people food, sleeping bags and a tarp for a shelter.  As we left our drive way, I remember thinking that it may be the last time I would see our home and the things we had to leave behind.

Related: 7 Reasons to Have Money In Your Bug Out Bag

One thing that I learned from living in Colorado was to always keep emergency supplies in our vehicle at all times.  The weather in the Rockies is constantly changing and can be very unpredictable.  I have seen it snow in August, rain anytime and hail in midsummer.  Temperature swings from hot to freezing in a matter of hours. We are seeing more of these extreme weather patterns throughout the United States so be prepared.

My list includes the following:
1.    Two blankets (wool if possible).
2.    Drinking water (can be used for water for the vehicle if needed).
3.    Food bars
4.    Fire starter
5.    Emergency shelter
6.    Small stove with fuel
7.    Flash light with extra batteries
8.    Multi tool
9.    First Aid Kit
10.    Cell Phone and charger

I did have most of these items when we got stuck and my ever present firearm with extra ammunition. Fortunately I was close enough to hike out for help but I might not be able to the next time. I learned a lesson to never leave these items at home or base camp again.  Now I keep a loaded box with what I need in my garage. Everything we need is prepped and ready to load at a moment’s notice. My advice to everyone is to take the time to do this now, not at the last minute when you are under intense pressure. You will be glad you did.  I know that I have forgotten some things not listed above but you get the idea. If you have to leave, you don’t know what you will be facing or when you may be back.

Related: A Campground As A Bug Out Location?

If you take the time now when not under pressure, you will be less likely to forget the things you will need. So please, think it through and put your plan together now. Don’t put it off and become a victim or a statistic we read or hear about on the news.

3. Where Am I Headed?

My family is fortunate to have some leased land that we can use as a safe place to bug out. It has all of the resources that we Survivalwould need to survive in an emergency. We store some things there on site to help us from having to carry too much with us.  Every evacuation plan should have a well thought out destination. If you don’t have a land lease, maybe you should consider State or National forests. The down side to this would be having to share space and resources with other people you may not know and can trust.

Also Read: The Ultimate Bug Out Vehicle

Another safe place may be with relatives or friends who live in safer more desirable location to weather out emergencies.  It is good to consider the resources you need to survive and for the location to be defensible against undesirables. In emergencies, you will not want to have to depend on protection from the government.  Law enforcement and rescue/EMT personnel will be stretched thin so learn to meet your own needs.

4. What Will Be The Safest Route To Take?

Getting to the bug out location is the last consideration.  Evacuation routes are going to be packed.  For people who don’t know Best SHTF vehiclethe back roads, they will all follow the signs and before long the roads will become blocked.  I have planned two alternate routes to our bug out location and there are even more if I need them.  Study your routes for safety issues like areas that may flood during storms.

Also Read: Raid Routes

The news reminds us of the many people who drown each year because of trying to drive through flooded roads.  I plan to avoid Interstates because everyone else will be using them. Avoid stopping at rest stops or crowed public places as these can be a point of ambush for people who want to steal or do harm.  Unfortunately we live in a crazy world and it’s harder to know who you can trust. So, don’t let your guard down! Always be alert, have your head on a swivel and be ready to defend yourself at all times.  Hopefully this info will help you as you plan your bug out strategy. Get prepared now. Then if and when the time comes you will be ready.

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Chuck Savage

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Technology and Survivalists

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cash One thing I’ve noticed in the past is that every time I’ve really needed technology the most is when it let me down.  I was thinking about this the other night after my cell phone shut itself down never to start again.  I happened to be on call that night for work and in order to dial into the company network I need to have security software that ran on my phone.  No phone, no network.  It got me thinking about the other times I’ve really needed some kind of technology only to have it fail and leave me twisting in the wind.

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

For example, not long ago I was in Canada and needed to use my debit card to book a hotel room.  My little boy was with me and cranky after being in the car for so long and when I gave them the card it was declined.  I had plenty of money in the account, it just wouldn’t accept the card.  So I pulled out my laptop to connect to the wifi to see what was going on and when I went to my bank site the online banking was down.  Lucky for me my dad was traveling with me and loaned me enough money to book the room, but to say I was feeling stressed is an understatement.  Carrying large amounts of cash is a little more difficult to do these days, but a lesson I learned here is that it’s a good idea to have at least a few hundred dollars on me to cover emergencies like this.  Lesson learned.

Another time years ago when I was in the service we were running fire missions on the new (at the time) ballistic computers.  I was the Fire Direction Control (FDC) Chief and still carried an old fashioned plotting board.  We’d been in the field practicing shooting for a couple of weeks when the batteries started to die.  We were setting up to shoot on a Saturday when my computer suddenly quit.  Oops.  We’d gone through all the batteries and there were none left in the battalion!  So we had three mortar declination diagramplatoons set up to fire and no computers.  I whipped out my old plotting board without telling anybody and plotted all the information on it while the CO and everybody else was freaking out.

Admittedly I was a little rusty, but I ran through a few dry fire missions and was pretty confident I could shoot the mission.  I told the CO to give me a round of HE (High Explosive) and shot it from our center gun.  It was pretty close and with a few adjustments I was able to shoot the whole platoon.  Success!  But then the commanders from the other platoons showed up wondering how the hell we were shooting and when I showed them the plotting board (ancient technology by that point) they were duly amazed.  Pretty soon I was shooting three platoons off the plotting board – something I’d never done before.

Data Storage

solar generatorOne of the greatest things about computers is their capacity for storage.  I love the fact that I can store a thousand books on a USB drive the size of a quarter, but I hate the fact that it runs on electricity.  I have a bunch of paper books in my library that will be of great benefit if things ever go south, but admittedly I have more stored on an electronic USB hard drive.  I also have a solar panel hooked to a deep cycle battery with an inverter so that I can charge electronics if I need them.  I’ve used it to charge phones and tablets as well as to power LED lights during power outages and it’s been rock solid for years.

If you do have something saved on computer storage make sure you the means retrieve it if you need it.  Having a laptop with no way to charge it would be a pretty sad situation to be in if the power went out for good.  I would suggest keeping your most critical documents and books in hard copy somewhere that you can get to.  A strong enough EMP or Carrington type event will theoretically render most delicate electronics useless

Compass vs GPS

Here’s one that every one of you knows to be true:  when the SHTF and you need to bug-out, knowing how to read a map and compass could save your life.  But I’d be willing to bet less than 10% of you reading this could reliably navigate through the woods on a point to point course.  Here’s a small test of your knowledge:  do you know how to adjust for the Grid/Magnetic angle in your area?  Do you know what it is?  If you can’t answer this question point to point land navigation will be impossible for you.  You’ll be able to go from road to road or other big targets, but a destination like a field or building would be difficult at best for you to find when pulling information from a map to use on your compass.

Is GPS a bad thing?  Not at all.  I love GPS.  It takes the guess work out and I like to use my phone to navigate when I’m out hiking.  But here’s a couple of things I’ve observed over the past couple of years:  one time I was hiking in the woods behind my house and called up the GPS and for some reason it showed my location more than ten miles from where I actually was.  I tried to adjust it, but to no avail.  I pulled out my map and compass and continued on the old fashioned way.  I downloaded another app that was supposed to show a compass needle on it.  Coolest thing ever!  Except it pointed west instead of north.  I looked it up and it’s a pretty common problem with android phones.

Also Read: Death By GPS

compass2If there’s one skill that you should pick up I highly recommend learning how to read a map and compass.  I put it right up there with learning how to start a fire, building a shelter, and knowing how to find water in the wilderness.  Imagine that you’re trying to get to your (Bug Out Location) BOL with your family and you’ve had to detour from your route because of traffic or what have you.  You’re suddenly on foot carrying your BOBs and dependent on ground based land navigation.  Could you find your way to your destination if the GPS you’re carrying died?  Can you find your location on a map using terrain association?  Could you hook around a road block or a town if need be and get back on track?  Can you look at a topographic map and determine what kind of terrain you have ahead of you?

Technology Isn’t Bad

Technology isn’t bad, folks.  Far from it.  I love technology and all the gizmos available today.  It’s our dependence on it that has me worried.  Even if you have the smartest phone, and the sharpest GPS unit, and the latest tablet, you should still be able to do the things your mission requires without them, like shooting that fire mission on a plotting board instead of a computer like I mentioned above.  How to get by without it?  Imagine the worst case scenario when TSHTF and plan for it as if you don’t have any of your of electronic toys.  If there are no communications make sure you’ve set up preplanned things to do with anybody you need to communicate with.  For example:  if the phones go down during a huge storm make sure everybody in your family/unit/tribe knows what to do.  Maybe you have a standing order with your kids of, “If the power goes out and we can’t talk go to grandpa’s house and stay there until me or mom can pick you up,” or whatever your situation is.  Make sure you have plans in place ahead of time.

Can’t navigate without a GPS?  You might want to consider taking at least a basic land nav course, and you might want to include others in your family as a back up in case you’re not there.  Give them the skills to survive.  My oldest daughter has had some training and my six year old son has shown some interest in map and compass lately.  He’ll know his pace count soon and understand the cardinal directions by the summer.

Use Technology to Help You Prepare

It’s fine to use technology to help you get ready for the dark times that potentially lie ahead, but when the power goes out make sure you have a way to d0 those important things without electronic devices.

Go Camping Without It

Here’s something to try:  load up your pack without any electronics and go camping.  Keep a journal of your trip and use it as a learning experience.  I love camping with just the basics such as a knife and axe, sleeping bag, lantern and oil, canteen and canteen cup, poncho, and a little food and water.  When you don’t have a phone in your hand you tend to look up at the night sky instead of down into your lap.  You’ll think more and consume less.  I love writing down ideas in my journal by the light of the campfire and the lantern.

Try it.  You just might like it.
Questions? Comments?

Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

BTW:  I’m curious to know how many of you can or can’t navigate with map and compass.  Do you think a basic Land Navigation course would be useful?  Don’t have enough time to devote to it?  Already an expert and good to go?   Don’t think you’ll ever need to use it?  Leave a comment below and let me know.

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Bug Out Long Term (B.O.L.T) Pistol: Part 1

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SHTF Handgun

To B.O.L.T. is to Bug Out Long Term.  As a complement to the Katrina Rifle, I decided to assemble a B.O.L.T. Pistol.  The Survival SHTFrequirements, as they say, are similar but different from the Katrina Rifle in that the B.O.L.T. Pistol must be a reliable lightweight small-caliber semiautomatic with optic and suppressor.  B.O.L.T. is my nickname for a version of bugging out.  Since the term “Bug Out” means everything from fleeing a house fire to planning for three days of isolation during a hurricane, to hitting the hills forever, I decided I needed at term to describe a Bug Out Kit that says what it is.  The B.O.L.T. kit does not include comforts or survival jewelry. Redundancy is a luxury practiced only in very narrow circumstances.  With quality, I’m gambling that “One is one, and one is one.”

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

.22, 23. Whatever It Takes

Just as a .22 Long Rifle rifle is an optimum utility bug out gun, so too is the .22 Long Rifle pistol.  It is not THE optimum choice, Best Bug Out Pistolbut AN optimum choice.  With a full resume of light weight, low recoil, simple operation, and about nine rounds per ounce, the .22 is heavily suited for tool-use in hunting and protection.  Most critters larger than a skunk will either be picked off early in a SHTF scenario, or move to high country and out of reach except from the most determined and skilled hunters.

Pound for pound, the .22 LR is an exceptional choice for a B.O.L.T. Lots of folks immediately look towards law enforcement or military weapons for their B.O.L.T. guns.  Those black weapons have their strengths as offensive tools when you are running to the fight instead of away from it.  The Katrina Rifle had offensive capabilities as well as hunting talents.  But a .223 round weighs almost four times as a .22 LR. And the concept of a B.O.L.T. means you intend on carrying plenty of ammo to get you started in the next adventure.

Here’s a breakdown of the average number of rounds in one pound:
12 gauge: 10 shells
.308: 19 rounds
.45: 21 rounds
.40 S&W: 28 rounds
.223: 37 rounds
9mm: 38 rounds

And the wonderful .22 Long Rifle: 140 rounds per pound! So whether bangs per pound or bangs per cubic inch, the humble .22 long rifle wins.  Back when Stevens Arms & Tool Company basically invented the .22 cartridge, there was no anticipated SHTF, no Bug Out gun, and no real concern that an EMP or Grid Down situation would cause God-fearing Americans to high-tail it into the boonies.  But ever since then the .22 Long Rifle has been responsible for plenty of game getting, defensive protection, and an unfortunate number of folks had that their last thought be the feeling of a .22 bullet entering their skull, heart, or other essential piece of anatomy.

The .22 is “real” out to 100 yards.  Not a .308 by any means, but certainly a dangerous opponent if grappled with whether by a prairie dog or mule deer eyeball.  Sure, if everything is an option, than one would choose something other than the .22, but when a single handful of ammo holds a hundred bangs, you need to seriously consider the .22 as an enemy of fate given its large potential and minuscule size.  Of course it has it’s limits including elephant skin, car doors, house walls, and thick outerwear, but when line-of-sight to a vulnerable target is on the menu, the .22 is a killer. Period.

Supersonic, the .22 carries the potential of death out beyond its accuracy. Subsonic, the .22 wreaks havoc long before anyone knows where the muzzle is pointed.  If you have to, think of it more of a force-addition than a full on force multiplier.  Yes, I would rather have nine millimeters of lead and metal jacket punch through the dermatitis of the bad guy, but six months down the Warrior’s Road I doubt I’ll still have pockets full of shells if I have to pop off even just a few per day.  In the volume of a beer can you can have over 600 .22 bangs.  In the volume of a shoe box, you can have enough  ammo to get your name in bold on a terrorist watch list.  So when push comes to shove, you need to get your ducks in a row and make decisions based on the short term realities of long term survival.  And that includes both calibers of the twenty-two variety as well as those eighty-eight-thousandths of an inch thicker.  Don’t get caught splitting hairs here.  Flying metal is flying metal. If it lands in the wrong place, it’s game over. Make fun of the .22 if you want, but when bullets fly, you cannot argue with lead.

Also Read: Bug Out Bullet Bottles

Bang for bang, a .22 LR must be part of any B.O.L.T. kit. Which brings up another point. If BOLTing, your .22 will get a workout both in utility-carry and gross number of rounds down range. That means quality and performance of the firearm and all components is critical because there is no point in carrying thousands of rounds for one gun of questionable lifespan.

The magic about the particular bug out pistol highlighted here is that it’s versatility is unlimited.  Not to spoil the ending, but building on a lightweight alloy and polymer frame is a full tune-up of high-end mechanical upgrades, topped off with a top rail red dot sight essentially eliminating sight radius from the aiming equation. Oh, and then there is the suppressor. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Outside In

The starting point for this B.O.L.T. gun adventure is a late model Ruger 22/45 Lite.  As a semiautomatic of proven design, the Ruger action will eat anything for dinner and put lead downrange all day long for weeks before hitting the shower. With its aluminum barrel shroud filled with “shark gills” that cool the stainless steel threaded pipe and cuts the belly fat, the 22/45 Lite is an exceptional choice for anyone in the market for a .22 auto pistol regardless of the end use.

But alas, the 22/45 Lite is not perfect. Like all Ruger autos, it has some idiosyncrasies that can drive a shooter crazy.  From the fragile and obnoxious “LCI” or loaded chamber indicator, to the dysfunctional relationship between magazine seating and bolt closure, to the pot metal firing pin, and the unbelievably bad iron sights, the 22/45 is in need of some serious TANDEMKROSS upgrades.

Also Read: The Katrina Rifle

Upgrading many of the parts of any gun when done by the owner has the side effect of increasing the intimacy with the firearm. Survival PistolWay too many gun owners are fearful of putting screwdriver to screw, wrench to bolt and punch to pin on their favorite bullet launchers. But that’s how we learn. The AR-15 is an excellent playground for the curious, but also a great way to shoot springs across the room and detents into the ceiling. Whether grip, buffer tube, or safety selector, we’ve all been there. Pling! What the hell was that? But the result is fearlessness when it comes to pulling apart the gun. The only way to learn is to do it. So scratches be damned, I unrolled the punch set next to my new Ruger ride.

For those just arriving to this party, TANDEMKROSS machines and stamps some of the finest part upgrades for a handful of select pistols including the Ruger 22/45 Lite. TANDEMKROSS offers no less than 30 upgrades and supporting accessories for the 22/45 Lite in particular. In the interest of building the finest lightweight .22 heavyweight, a baker’s dozen TANDEMKROSS enhancements were added to the Ruger including six internal parts and seven external ones.  Not all are built by TANDEMKROSS, but all are recommended and sold by them.

The upgraded internal parts replaced the Loaded Chamber Indicator, the magazine release, extractor, a firing pin, a “Kanewolf” bolt release kit, and a better hammer bushing. The upgraded internal parts include plus-1 mag bumpers, trigger, charging handle, compensator replacing the barrel thread protector, sights, grip, and holster.

Related: Project Squirrel Gun

The TANDEMKROSS LCI basically eliminates the stock loaded chamber indicator. Unfortunately the original plastic protrusion Best Survival Pistolthat signals if a shell is in pipe comes at a cost in the form an actual lever inside the receiver that requires case pressure and careful cleaning. If you local jurisdiction allows you to remove features that both add and subtract safety, the the TANDEMKROSS LCI is a good spend of twenty bucks. In my case, the pin that held the original LCI pin in place was not interested in coming out. It took a drill press and muscle to remove it, but that was all caused by some sloppy tolerances between the steel receiver and the aluminium shroud installed at the Ruger factory.

Take a Mag Dump

The stock mag release on the Lite is not much to write home about. So a larger more pronounced mag release button is needed. Not only for releasing the mag, but also for not releasing the mag. When a button or lever on a pistol is subdued, it affects both the deliberate activation of the feature as well as its accidental activation. When a gun’s control surface is not well matched to the size and natural motion of the human hand, it is at risk of lack of use or unintentional misuse. The TANDEMKROSS Extended Mag Release Button is both longer and more textured making it deliberate to use and possible to ignore. When your mag needs to take a dump, you don’t want to fiddle with the flusher.

The Head of the Pin

By switching the firing pin from heavy soft steel to ultralight and hardened titanium you gain more than just longevity of a critical part, but also a faster moving part given the lower moving mass to strike the primer.  As Isaac Newton noted three centuries ago, F=MA.  That means that Force is the product of Mass times Acceleration.  If the weight of the firing pin spring is a lowered, the same firing spring will cause an increase the pin’s acceleration and thus it’s force of impact on the .22 primer rim. Add in the additional hardness and strength of titanium over steel, and you have a much more effective and long-lasting critical component. So this upgrade is another no-brainer.

Extraction Team

Why is it the extractor is where gun companies save a few pennies?  Luckily the TANDEMKROSS engineers spend some of their life designing a better extractor for the Ruger 22/45 Lite.  By using better steel and a sharper machined hook, the positive grab of the TANDEMKROSS Eagle Claw extractor all but eliminates failure-to-eject (FTE) and stovepipe violations (except with some subsonic rounds while suppressed).  If you are in the market for such a thing, it’s the best ten bucks and two minutes you will ever spend.

You Can Fix Stupid

TANDEMKROSS makes an unusually named upgrade called the Kanewolf.  Carrying the name forward from an acquired product, the Kanewolf upgrade from TANDEMKROSS addresses the ridiculous stock Ruger feature that eliminates the ability of the bolt to snap back or “slingshot” a new round into the breech when a fresh mag is slammed home.  Look, I don’t care why Ruger deviated from the norm, but I’m just glad TANDEMKROSS is here to help.  The Kanewolf upgrade allows you to slap in a new mag then “slingshot” the bolt by giving it a tug backwards before letting it slip out of your fingers and slam home.  Yea, I know that’s how you always do it, but with an off-the-shelf Ruger you need to use the bolt release lever. No, seriously!

Run It On Empty

The final internal upgrade of this Ruger 22/45 Lite is a TANDEMKROSS hammer bushing.  By substitution the factory hammer bushing for the TANDEMKROSS one, the shooter, me in this case, gains additional reliability as well as the ability to fire a shot with the magazine removed. Something just not possible with a stock pistol.  The upgraded stainless steel hammer bushing allows the magazine disconnect to be removed creating a more functional and uniform shooting control set familiar to most, especially us Glock users.  Again, know your local laws to ensure that you don’t disable some obscure gun feature that turns you into a felon.

Outside The Box

The TANDEMKROSS upgrades on the outside of the pistol are just as important as on the inside.  For starters, there is the little issue with the charging handle.  It’s not like an AR15 where there are two bucket holds to the east and west of the bolt. Instead the Ruger has lightly textured grip points that require some significant muscle when a full charge is needed, any slippage causes scraped skin.  By adding a TANDEMKROSS Challenger “Charging Cone” to the back of the stock handle, it is much easier to rack the slide without risk to skin or failure to feed. Other solutions to this problem extend the wings of the handle further west causing the width of the pistol to grow to absurd proportions.  At this rate why not an Eight-ball shift knob. But after just one full charge, the low-drag cone solution makes much more sense and works in all 360 degrees of grab.

Compensate For Something

The threaded barrel of the 22/45 Lite is capped by a thick washer designed with little more in mind than protecting the threads. TANDEMKROSS designed a more functional piece of jewelry to grace the business end of this machine. When properly indexed, the TANDEMKROSS Game Changer Compensator reduces the already small amount of muzzle flip to near zero. And like all good .22 accessories, the Game Changer acknowledges that this filthy little cartridge dirties up anything it touches so large cleaning holes circumnavigate the circumference. To test the effectiveness of the Game Changer, I ran a few mags through the gun with an accelerometer attached to the barrel. Ten shots each comparing the compensator to both a bare muzzle and one with a “silencer” attached.

Mag Force

After more than a century of development, you would think that box magazines would be dialed in by now. Unfortunately, that’sSurvival SHTF Pistolnot the case. The Ruger 22/45 mags lock home with a whisper, and more often than you’d think, the mags just pretends to be seated only to drop free during charging. Again TANDEMKROSS to the rescue. The 22/45 Pro Bumper gives the shooter extra oomph to the mag seating as well as providing 10% more rounds in the mag. While one extra bang over the factory 10 is not huge, it is in the right direction and one of the very few places where you can overload a stock mag.

Also Read: 7 Ruger 10/22 Accessories You Need

Additionally, the Pro Bumper comes with an optional spring to power-up the ejection of the mag when the enhanced mag release button is pushed. Instead of the polite magazine slippage masquerading as a mag ejection, the enhancement spring fires the mag earthwards making damn sure the decision to drop the mag is final. Like most other TANDEMKROSS upgrades, the Pro Bumper becomes indispensably essential immediately. Or as Iike to say, “IEI.”

Victory Rules

Triggers levers are always an easy target, pun intended. TANDEMKROSS is first on the scene with a textured flat trigger Tandemkross pistol upgrades reviewnicknamed the “Victory.” By using a straight lever arm, the tactile relationship between finger pad and anodized aluminum is magnified using leverage and predictable pull even though the rest of the trigger’s guts are factory. TANDEMKROSS addressed over-travel and pre-travel with set screws. Rather than having the trigger flop around in its cage, the set screws lock in the movement range making the Victory trigger more predictable. By diminishing the variability of the trigger feel, the flat face of the Victory trigger improves accuracy by proving the shooter with tactical feedback if the gun is pulling right or left, and eliminates the variability of pull weight depending on how the trigger is wrapped with the finger. Loading the trigger face with your index digit low on the lever gives the perception of a lighter poundage pull keeping the sights on target with less effort. Unfortunately it does not change the spongy two-stage nature of the stock Ruger trigger components, but it certainly minimizes the negative effect.

Stay tuned for part 2!

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High Tech Prepping: How To Get Free Topographic Maps Using Your Computer

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Best Maps for Survival

Are you using available technology to help you with your preparations for when TSHTF?  If you’re a Luddite then this post is not Top Survival Blogfor you; however, if you own a tablet, laptop, or desktop computer then this post will show you how to obtain and use free topographic maps.  You might ask the question, “If we’re using high tech why not use a GPS?”  Great question.  The way I use technology is to assist me now while the grid is still up.

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

The way I use technology is to assist me now while the grid is still up.  Creating lists, downloading and printing maps, using online resources such as SHTFBlog and Survival Cache, looking at gear reviews, etc.  If you’re planning on using your GPS endlessly after the grid goes down I’m afraid you’re going to be stuck somewhere up a river without a paddle.  The batteries in your devices will eventually die.  Are you prepared for that?  There’s a hundred uses for technology if you have it available and you’re not afraid of it.  Let’s get started.

Stuff You’ll Need

Here’s a list of software that I use.  I’ll lay it out and show you how you could also use other software.  First, I’m using Windows 10 on a Microsoft Surface 3 Pro.  I use Windows Edge or Internet Explorer as a browser, and Microsoft OneNote to capture and manipulate images.  This could easily be done on Windows 7 or Windows 8.  You can use Google Chrome or Firefox as a browser, and there’s a free tool in Windows 7 under accessories called the Snipping Tool, that allows you to capture images off the screen.

OneNote is awesome for a bunch of different reasons.  It’s a free download and all you need is a Microsoft account in order to use it.  This is one of the few pieces of software out there that I really recommend.  I basically run my life off OneNote.  If there’s enough interest I’ll write another post about it in future and how I use it for prepping if anybody is interested.  There’s also a similar piece of software called Evernote, which is just as awesome.

Free Topographic Maps

Who doesn’t love free stuff?  I like Google maps and use it fairly extensively, but I still like topographic maps when I’m out doing Land Navigation.  As is true with nearly everything these days there are other ways to do what I’m about to show you, but the following method works best for me.

To get topographic maps follow this link.  This link should bring up the following page.



Use your mouse (click and drag) to get to the area you want then use the scroll button on your mouse to zoom in.  You can use the pinch method on a touch screen if you’re using a tablet.  Here’s what Maine looks like as I start to zoom in:




The red squares are quadrangles that indicate areas that have corresponding maps.  Zoom in some more until you get to the level of detail you want.  Here’s a screen shot of West Rockport in Maine in an area in the hills I’ve hiked often:




This is smaller than what I can see on my screen, but now you can see roads, lakes, contour lines, etc.  Basically all the details that make a topographic map what it is.  Now it’s time to actually get a screen shot and paste the pictures into OneNote or whatever software you use.  When you download and install OneNote you should see a another tool called “Send to OneNote”.  It’s small icon that looks like this:




If you’re running Windows 7 and didn’t download OneNote you can always use the Snipping Tool under the Accessories menu.  When you have the map just the way you like it click the Send To OneNote icon on the tool bar at the bottom of the screen and it will pop up a screen like the one below.  Click “Screen Clipping” and the screen will darken up a little.  That’s Windows way of telling you that it’s ready for you to make a selection.  I start at the top left corner of the area I want to highlight then click and hold the left mouse button and drag down and right until the area I want is highlighted.





Let go of the left mouse button and a screen like the one below will appear.  I usually choose “Copy to Clipboard”, which takes your selection and stores it in memory.





You can paste it into just about any word processor or graphics program.  Again, I like OneNote for it’s versatility so I’m going to paste it there.  I go to OneNote and create a new page, then I can either Right Click and choose paste or just hit the Ctrl – V shortcut on the keyboard and paste it in.



In the above graphic you can see I’ve named it Spruce and Ragged Mountain Map.  The cool thing is that you can copy and paste as many maps as you want then print them out when you’re ready to use them on a trip.  Below is a printed version on my black and white laser printer.  If you print these out on a color printer they look great and work great too.  I’ve got many of these black and white maps of various areas here in Maine.




Magnetic Declination

We now have the map of our area, but we aren’t quite done yet.  If you’ve used a map and compass before you know that you have to adjust for the magnetic declination in your area.  To find out what it is in your area click here.

Enter your city and state,  click SEARCH MAP and you’ll get a screen back like this:



In the white information portion on the map you’ll see where it says Magnetic declination:  -15 degrees 51’

I’m just going to use 15 degrees as my declination, so I write that at the bottom of my map.  I can even put it in the same type of graph you’d find on a real map.




It’s a little crude, but it conveys the necessary information.  Now I know what I need to use in order to convert from grid to magnetic and vice versa.  If you don’t know how to do this don’t worry.  I’m getting ready to write a series of posts about map reading/land navigation coming up.  You might also want to check out my YouTube channel for more info on this topic.

Use It!

You now have a perfectly good map to use when you’re out on your land nav trips.  Many of you probably use a GPS when out hiking, but I encourage you to start taking a map and compass when you go out and track your progress on a real map.  That way when the batteries die on your GPS you’ll have a backup and the knowledge on how to use them to get where you’re going.

Questions?  Comments?
Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

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The Thinking Man’s Trump: 3 Reasons the Donald’s Run Will Ensure a Carson Win

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Ben Carson running for president

Donald Trump’s entry into the republican presidential race, though much-maligned, still offers the best antidote to a Hillary Ben Carson for PresidentClinton presidency.  He’s single-handedly injected life into a nomination process that has lacked passion for 20 years with his ability to tweak the media and boldly state his point of view.  His very presence has made every debate must-see television as he’s repeatedly shunned political correctness, boldly pointed to Obama’s failures and unabashedly embraced the immigration issue that others dodge due to an increasingly diverse electorate.

By Professor Liberty Mize, a contributing author of SHTFBlog

Oh yeah, and he’s done something else.  He’s built a roadmap to the nomination for Dr. Ben CarsonTrumpCarson is a one-two punch that has everyone deeply concerned about the jab, when a massive left hook is ready to rain down upon them.

Trump Repeatedly Goes Off Book

One of the biggest reasons Trump resonates so much for people is that he absorbs the attacks of the media and doesn’t cower in Donald Trumpthe corner when they come.  His immigration stand has been predictably branded racist, his rhetoric maligned and yet he consistently doubles-down and stays on message. When attacked, he attacks.  Carson sees this, and has added this arrow to his quiver.

Consider just last week, when Carson was assailed by internet reports that statements in his book may be less than truthful.  Conventional wisdom (along with most political pundits) says the best course of action is to ignore attack attempts and they go away.  Perhaps make a benign statement, but under no circumstances do you make it a big deal and lower yourself to their level as to do so only raises the reach of the reports.

Also Read: 5 Reasons to Support Donald Trump

Carson’s response was to do the exact opposite.  He didn’t back down, shrug it off or calmly hope it went away.  He stole a page from Trump, came out swinging and destroyed the narrative, reportedly pulling in a huge day of contributions in the process.   It was pure genius and nothing a party operative would ever endorse, which is part of why it worked. Highly paid pundits build campaigns like Jeb Bush’s where the strategy is to hang around, avoid gaffes, say little and hope you are the last man standing. In a crowded field, that is a recipe for failure.

Trump Draws Crowds

Record audiences come to see what insane blather Mr. Trump may invent at each debate, but along the way they stay to hear the Top Survival Blogreal candidates.   The platform Donald provides is invaluable to those offering real solutions and prudent commentary.  Carson has capitalized and come off as sensible and thoughtful.  He’s the perfect yin to Trump’s yang, and yet the only reason his homespun solutions get any attention at all is because of the intense media coverage provided by Trump.

Yes, Carson is unpolished and at times awkward, but it only adds to this charm.  He’s not a politician, he’s a guy.   In a world where “would you have a beer with this guy” is the lowest common denominator in selecting a leader of the free world, this plays well.   People want to vote for a guy! It is all very “W” of him as Bush was a candidate who repeatedly showed up very poorly at the debates, but ultimately won two terms based on likability.

Trump Has Moral Baggage

Perhaps most importantly is the contrast between the two men –as men.  Trump is on wife #3, has declared bankruptcy multiple times, was born into money and is a tone-deaf narcissist.  He isn’t even bought in to 90% of his own party’s platform.  He is an opportunist who sees a chance to self-promote and has struck out to do just that.  All of this makes him wholly and completely un-electable by a conservative party.

Carson on the other hand is the real American success story.  Rising from poverty through hard work and sacrifice and creating first generation wealth and esteem.  Most importantly, he actually believes in the ideas that made the Republican Party great (40 years ago).  Personal accountability, equal protections and incentivizing people to help themselves are not just ideas, they are a way of life.

Few politicians have a moral framework, fewer still actually will attempt to govern from it.  Carson seems like the rare exception.  He knows right from wrong, understands America and appears poised to govern on principles rather than opinion polls.  Not since Ronald Reagan have we seen a president who merges policy with principles and it is high time we did.

The Takeaway

The point of all of this is not to malign Trump, but to thank him.  Without his passion and energy, we’d be doomed to Clinton part 3.  He truly is the carnival barker of our generation.  Thank goodness Dr. Carson is there to back all the hype with real solutions.

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Michael Thomas

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The Fear Factor

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Fear….. It is the number one item that everyone forgets to prepare for in cases of survival, emergency situations and personal doomsday preppersprotection.  Yes, you may have your Get Home Bag, your Bug out Bag, your SHTF location and your weapon. But did you prepare to deal with FEAR? Most likely NOT.   Unless you can manage fear, you have an exceedingly high probably of not surviving. Fear strikes fast, it produces sometimes uncontrollable responses; it distracts your from what is really going on and significantly inhibits your ability to make the correct decisions.

By Dan C, a contributing author of & Survival Cache

Acting out of fear can get you into more trouble than the situation you are already in. Fear comes in many forms and levels. The simplest might be fear of insects, spiders and snakes, more intense fear might the instilled fear of heights, public speaking, the unknown, and extreme fear might be the fear of death, injury or pain. The most intense form of fear can completely incapacitate a person. Even though each level of fear elicits a primal reaction, each person will have a different response based on their experiences.

To enhance your likelihood of survival or functioning during a bad event, you must learn how to control your fear. It is not easy and requires significant training and practice to master the process.  But it should equally as important as any part of your planning process such as, packing your Get Home Bag, practicing personal protection shooting and being physically fit.

As part of evolution the human brain has developed a very sophisticated means of dealing with fear to enable us to survive. In doomsday preppersmost cases, fear is primal in function and activates our bodies to take the “fight or flight” posture and response.  There are many respected people that believe premonition is also a fear response.  That your body can feel or anticipate something bad, thus making you feel uncomfortable and having the desire to feel like you need to be on alert.  Whether real or perceived, in each of these cases, your body is responding to what it perceives as a threat and your fear response has been activated.

When something instantly scares you, it is easy have a primordial response and over react, respond quickly without thinking and immediately go into a defensive mode. Anyone one of these three primal responses could save your life on the other hand any one of these three responses could injury or kill you too.

Some of the devastating effects of fear are hesitation, confusion and chaos.  When those are the first responses to a fearful event, you are at a disadvantage. Even worst these factors can interfere with your ability to analyze the situation, thus it will take longer than normal to regain your thoughts, situational awareness and figure out what is happening. In the interim, you or someone else may become of victim of the circumstance because of your delay in properly responding to the threat.

Also Read: Situational Awareness, A Skill You Need

Let’s explore how fear is managed by the body. In general, fear is managed and dealt with totally in the brain. Several key parts of the brain deal with fear and activate the body’s various responses. One part of your brain, the amygdala sends out the signals for an immediate response, while the frontal cortex of the brain is trying to determine what is happening and analyze the response. To overcome an inappropriate responses to a fearful event and increase the speed in which you correctly respond. You must learn how to control and sometimes override some of these cerebral functions.

The brain takes two kinds of actions when confronted with fear.  The amygdala reacts fast and initiates the primal response of fight or flight.  The frontal cortex follows with questions such as “what just happened?”, “what should I do?”, “what will happen if I do something?” Overcoming the controlling power of the amygdala and rationalizing the questions of the frontal cortex requires considerable training and practice.

To be in control during a fearful event you must learn how to control these two separate parts of the brain.  The military completely understands the role fear plays in being able to perform your assigned functions during a scary and stressful event. So they go to great lengths to determine one’s ability to manage fear.  One of the biggest fears of a human being is the inability to breathe.  If you have ever choked on anything, you know the experience. You freak out and you go into panic mode immediately.

Based on that fear, during BUDS (Basic Underwater Demolition School) the Navy Seal program conducts several drills to test the Top Survival Blogstudents’ ability to manage fear. Several of these tests are conducted underwater in very stressful conditions. One such test requires the recruits to bob from the bottom of the pool to the top of the pool while their hands and feet are bound.  Thus, they need to rise to the top of the pool take a quick deep breathe, then slowly sink to the bottom of the pool while holding their breath and keeping their body under control. Then once at the bottom of the pool use their legs to propel them upward toward the top to take another breath.

In another drill, the recruits kneel on the bottom of the pool with all their dive gear in place, mask, tanks and fins.  Then instructors swim to the recruit and pull all their equipment off, turn off their tanks, tangle up their equipment, rough house the student.  After a predetermined amount of time they leave the student and the student must untangle the equipment, turn on the tanks, and put all the equipment back on.

These are incredibly stressful and fear inducing events.  Thus, to survive these events and demonstrate you have the ability to control your fear, play a significant role in moving to the next stage of the SEAL training program.  If you cannot control your fear in these situations it is highly unlikely you will not be able to do so in far more complex and uncontrolled environments.

Related: First Aid Training – An Essential Survival Skill

Now, what the SEAL programs does is an extreme method of training.  It is not something you should try.  But if you do not practice at your respective level, then when a fearful experience occurs to you, you will most likely not be able to deal with the situation in a timely and effective manner.

So how do you prepare to address fear and make sure that it does not interfere with your ability to address an adverse event? I recommend six ways to prepare yourself for a fearful event.  The scope of this article is going to focus on managing fear in a personal protection or survival situation. You can use the same tools to combat other types of fear.


Training is the most important aspect of dealing with fear.  If you do not obtain good training, then you will not know the correct technique to use in dealing with a fearful situation and your self confidence will be compromised.  One of the key factors in dealing with fear is having the confidence that you can overcome the fear and deal with the situation.  Knowledge decreases fear by increasing your ability to understand a situation and address it. So whether it is a survival course, a firearms course or a self defense course you need to take training.  One key tip about training courses is that you must choose good ones. There are lots of training programs, in particular firearms courses, that are taught by individuals that do not the experience or expertise to teach these courses.  No matter what course you take be sure to ask about the instructor’s qualifications and experience. So your valuable money and time is put to good use and you GET something out of the course.


Once you have received training you must practice, practice, and practice.  Muscle memory and mental memory are two key shtf survivalfactors in the immediate response to a fearful situation.  Muscle memory and mental memory are very similar. They are responses that are basically pre-programmed into your muscles and brain as the result of repetitive training. You have practiced them so many times that your response requires little to no thought.

Practicing enables you to control the primal response generated by the amygdala and perform a well practiced action with limited interference from the amygdala.  This is where muscle and mental memory come into play and become major assets.  Practice also plays a major role in helping you control the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that is going question your actions.  For example, “What if they think I am the bad guy?” ”What if I get beat up?” ”What if I get hurt?”  Practicing helps you override those questions because you know what you are going to do, you have practiced it, and you are confident in your ability to do what needs to be done, eliminating any hesitation in your response to the bad situation.

The next four tools that help you manage and deal with fear is used by Navy SEALS. Naturally, there are other methods, but the SEALS have gone to great lengths to understand fear and develop techniques to manage it.

Goal Setting

One of the main keys of survival and dealing a fearful situation is to remain focused.  This means you must control the frontal cortex of your brain, which is going question everything you do and constantly keep coming up with other ideas.  So to survive and succeed you must focus your full attention on the situation at hand.  For example, if it is an instant event such as a robbery. Then you must immediately focus on personal protection, subduing the adversary, and getting to safety. If it is a survival situation, it might mean you must focus on finding shelter, starting a fire or to get your bearings.  By creating short term goals for yourself, you keep your mind busy and occupied with tasks that are essential to the immediate time frame and self preservation.  Thus, keeping you from getting distracted with thoughts that might induce greater fear and resulting in you becoming unfocused and distracted, causing you to fail.

Mental Rehearsal

Mental Rehearsal and visualization are one in the same.  They both involve the same techniques and they both are invaluable in preparing to deal with a fearful event.  Both require a tremendous amount of mental focus and preparedness.  This technique requires you to think through any scary event you may encounter and prepare yourself mentally for dealing with the situation. This requires you to really focus on the task at hand and really consider all the options that might occur as part of completing the tasks. Equally important you want to see yourself finishing the tasks. You cannot do this just once and think you got it.  You need to practice this very frequently to master it.

For example, you may be scared of elevators and heights, as I am. But you know you have a meeting on the 19th floor and it is a glass elevator. So you first think through the process as no big deal, I can handle this. Then you plan your ride. I am going to get in, stand near the door and not look at the panel indicating the floors as we go up. I will do my best to have a conversation while going up and focus on the person I am talking to. When to doors open I will be polite and let everyone else out first. You should think about this event several times and in each case consider different things might happen. Such as, What if I am the elevator alone? What if there person in the elevator does not want to talk? What if the elevator stops on a floor before mine? By using this technique you keep your mind focused, instill confidence in yourself and you create a sense of I have done this before and you have a plan of action.

Self Talk

This is a powerful tool. As you read earlier in this article maintaining focus is essential to survival and dealing with fear. This is a concealed carry trainingconstant task; keep your frontal cortex from going wild with thoughts, so you can maintain your focus. Self talk is a tool you can use, before a fearful event, during it and after it. Here are examples of each situation. In the time before an event can use self talk to increase your confidence, see your way through the event and mentally prepare for the event. For example, you have to walk down a dark alleyway that you know is in a high crime area. So you start by saying, I know I can do this. All I need to do is stay focused and be prepared. If this happens I am going to do this. This is easy; I am just going to watch all around me as I walk. During the event, you may use self talk to prepare for you next move. Such as, if confronted you may think to yourself, if he does this I am going to do that. During a longer survival type situation, you might talk to you self and decide what you need to do, describe the positive aspects of your situation and insure yourself you can do this.

Also Read: 20 Things You Need In Your Get Home Bag

Recently, there was an episode of Naked and Afraid that featured two participants that were placed in the jungle.  The male was an experienced veteran with multiple combat deployments and a retired police officer.  The female was single mom who was baker with little survival experience.  In the early going of the event, the male survivalist was very critical of some of the female’s skills and touted how strong and experienced he was.  Yet within two days he tapped out and left her alone. For the next several days as she endured many, many obstacles, but she keep saying to herself, I can do this, I must do this for my daughter, and I am not giving up.  She made it the whole 21 days, an incredible and powerful testament to her determination, commitment and use of self talk.

Once an event is over your still must use self talk as a tool to maintain your focus.  What is known as “condition black” means your brain may be working very hard to analyze what just happened and this creates tremendous chaos in your mind.  The ability to self talk yourself and assure yourself that everything is ok and to calm down and to do what needs to be done next, plays a vital role in keeping your head after an event.

Arousal Control

Arousal control is paramount to dealing with fear.  There are two instances where arousal control are necessary and need to be Survivalimplanted in order to control your body and mind.  The first comes while you are getting ready for or anticipating a scary or fearful event.  In this case you your body will become anxious as the amygdala releases its power to get your body ready for fight of flight. During this time you may have a hard time concentrating, you made be distracted by negative thoughts and you clearly feel yourself getting nervous.  This the time you should be visualizing your upcoming experience and getting mentally ready for the adventure. But you can’t because you are scared and nervous.

In the second case, the instant a fearful stimulus is receive the amygdala goes into action. Instantaneously you body reacts. Immediately you take a defensive posture and action. Your brain and body have reacted before you even knew why?

In both cases, arousal control is imperative to keeping you mind and body under control.  One of the best means to control arousal is deep breathing. Box breathing is taught in the special forces community to control arousal.  By taking slow deep breathes as you count to 4 then slowly exhaling as you again count to 4 lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, reduces to release of hormones into your body, adds oxygen to your system.  Concentration on this maneuver decreases your body’s desire to release hormones that cause excitement.

Also Read: Tooth or Tail

Fear is the unknown factor in all fearful, stressful and dangerous situations.  The responses to fear can be instantaneous like when you are unexpectedly scared.  Or long term as in a survival situation.  You never know when the ugly head of fear is going to arise. In both of these cases, the use of these six techniques can help you overcome fear, respond appropriately and increase the likelihood you will survive.  As mentioned in the first part of this article you must practice these skills routinely or when you need them you will not know how to use them and thus they are useless.  As with all personal protection and survival techniques you must be trained, then practice, practice and practice.

Hopefully learning and practicing these skills will enable you to manage fear the next time you are in a fearful, scary or dangerous situation.

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Hannah Lee
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How to Make Your Camp Fire Burn All Night

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Have you ever wanted a fire to last all night long, but didn’t want to stay up feeding it hour after hour?  Most nights you lay down Axe and woodand open your eyes again two hours later just in time to throw more tinder and wood on just before it goes out.  Recently I was watching a video on Far Northern Bushcraft – a favorite Youtube channel of mine – about how to keep your fire going all night long.  The short version is you take one log and lay it top of another and light them on fire.  Once the fire is established it will burn very slow.

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

The rule of thumb on this fire is that for every inch of thickness you have in your logs it will burn for one hour.  Thus, if your logs are eight inches thick the fire should last eight hours. Nothing is ever that precise in the bush of course, but it does give you a reference point.

Materials and Procedure

Long fire setup

I started with two logs about four inches thick. After chopping them up with my ax I carried them back to camp and then cut four green poles about four feet high.  Then I flattened the two logs by taking my ax and trimming about two inches of wood off each length leaving a flat side along one side of the log.  Thus, if you stacked one on top of the other they would lay flat without support.  I drove the poles into the ground and stacked the two logs one on top of the other with some tinder and kindling between them.

Related: Fire Starter Review

To reiterate, this is not a big fire.  It’s more of a smolder that will last most if not all of the night depending on how thick your Firelogs are, what kind of wood you’re using, how hard the wind is blowing, and stuff like that.  I set my fire up with kindling in front of it as well as in between the logs with spacers and then lit it.  After a small blaze that lasted for a few minutes I was rewarded with a fire that smoldered between the two logs.  For more info check out the short video I made:

The only real downside to this fire is that because it burns so slow it emits a good deal of smoke.  If you set this up in front of your shelter for heat make sure you’re upwind or you’ll suck down smoke all night long.


The fire lasted about 2 1/2 hours before I had put it out, but was well on its way to burning the full four hours predicted by the Long firerule of thumb.  The next time I head out for a backwoods camping trip I’m definitely going to try this set up.  You’ll want an axe to help get this set up properly and don’t forget to use green sticks for the support posts.  That way they won’t catch on fire as it burns through the night.

Got any tips for an all night fire?

Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

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Choosing The Best Survival Food For Your Bug Out Bag

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Freeze Dried Food

I have been giving this a lot of thought lately, been reading others opinions, and have been using many different items.  I know Survival Foodwhat I like and will eat, that goes a long way to stocking ones backpack.  Much has been said about stocking your pantry for the future, whatever it may bring.  Stock what you eat, sounds simple, but it is less than simple.  My girls eat fresh and frozen veggies, never canned.  Canned goods last a long time and are pretty mandatory to stock in my opinion, so I also think that if you are really hungry you will eat what’s put in front of you.  That’s how I grew up, eat it or go hungry no matter how bad it is, and we did.

By Pineslayer, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Food for your pack needs a little more thought.  Nutritional value, weight, ease of preparation, calories ( Because you will be burning them up quickly ), and lastly, but very important, taste.  Remember back in the day when Gorp ruled and then was challenged by Power Bars, we have come a long way.  It would be foolish to not look at what indigenous hunter gatherers took with them for the ‘road’.  The circumstances have certainly changed since then, but think about the gathering part of it.

Before we delve into various items, I will lay out a few ground rules.  ‘We’ should be looking for food that will stay good in your pack for a year.  Can be eaten without cooking or just add water.  Will give you the nutrition you require to push through to achieve the objective.  It should be stuff that you currently eat, so you can use it and replace it regularly.  Last is affordability.

Alexander Wolfe over at TEOTWAWKI blog said something a while back that stuck with me.  He was looking at pack foods that fit into a category of each ounce needs to have about 100 calories.  I liked the sound of that and have been using that as a benchmark in my purchases.  You be the judge as to if it holds water, but you gotta start somewhere.  As we break down some of my favorites, we will accomplish two things,  I will get a more honest assessment of what I bring and you get to throw out your suggestions in the comments area.  We learn from each other and only get stronger by sharing ideas.

1. Energy Bars

This is a big category.  I mentioned Power Bars early on, gosh did they taste mediocre, but we ate them.  I stock 5 different Best food for your bug out bagEnergy Bars here, so I will use them as examples.  My favorite is the Clif Bar.

1. Clif Bars – Many great flavors, good story too.  My thoughts are that I could live on Clif Bars and water, for a long time.  Great sustained energy.  My experience with them is that one year is about its lifespan, then they start to get hard and lose a little taste, but never have I seen one go bad.

2.4 ounces    260 calories
Fat 7g   Protein 9g   Carb 41

2. Tiger’s Milk Bar – Yummy, girls will eat them, no problem.  Tigers Milk Bars won’t stand up to the heat very well due to the chocolate coating.  Not only do you get some good stuff in you, but the morale boost gives it extra credit points.

1.23 ounces   140 calories   Fat 5g   Protein 6g   Carb 18g

3. The Power Bar – Iconic.  Power Bars have improved greatly in taste.  Shelf life is years, if kept fairly cool.  The joke around here is that is might be the best bar to have in your pack, because you will only it eat when you need to and it will always be good to go.

2.29 ounces   240 calories   Fat 4g   Protein 9g   Carb 44g

4. Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Granola Bar Peanut – Just let that soak in.  Nature Valley Bars are amazing tasting decadent savor every bite goodness. They are slightly fragile and have yummy coating that can get melty.  Let’s see if they are all talk.

 1.2 ounces   170 calories   Fat 9g   Protein 4g   Carb 20g

5. Fig Bar – Now we move a little to the left.  I found these originally at Costco, big box.  Nature’s Bakery Stone Ground Whole Wheat Fig Bars.  They come in Blueberry,  Raspberry, and Fig.  These are more like a cereal bar, just not quite there yet.  Shelf life is a year or better.  As always fresher is better.  Very good taste and texture, like a pastry with nutritious filling.

 2.0 ounces   220 calories   Fat 5g   Protein 4g   Carb 40g

So that is my collection of energy bars.  There are many others that I buy occasionally and would not hesitate to put in my pack or belly.  Lots of good options out there and they seem to give you good bang for your buck.


You knew it was coming, no pack is complete without some dried meat.  Remember the first time you bit into a Slim Jim or SHTF foodTeriyaki Beef Jerky, it is like your first kiss, maybe that is pushing it, but it never leaves you, you always want more.  Here are the ones currently tickling my tastebuds.

Pacific Gold Original Beef Jerky made from Top Round Steak.  Some jerky’s seem to lose their flavor quicker than others, this ain’t one of them.  You might find yourself using this like a dip of Cope rather than jerky.  It really is good and holds it flavor for a long time.  I like to slowly let the jerky re-hydrate in my mouth and savor the spices for as long as possible, also seems to be a little mind game in there making  you think you are eating more than you are.

1.25 ounces   90 calories   Fat 1g   Protein 14g   Carb 8g   Carnivore rating 8 of 10

Impulse buy at the store, Krave Beef Jerky Sweet Chipotle.  Very tender pieces, excellent quality.  Flavor is deep, made in the USA.  I was happy with this buy, but like all good jerky it is pricey, but in the scheme of things, worth it.

3.25 ounces   315 calories   Fat 4.5   Protein 24g   Carb 36g  Carnivore rating 8 of 10

I may have saved the best for last,  Epic 100% Bison Bacon Cranberry Bar.  I have informed the family all I need for presents are these and semi-sweet chocolate bars.  These ‘bars’ are amazing.  For those who love pemmican, you will really appreciate these treats.  These may be the most expensive price per ounce item in this post, but nothing beats the quality.

Dehydrated Meals

First the bad, maybe the only problem, you need water and heat, most of the time.  That means time and energy.  Don’t forget Forge Survival Supplyabout the smells and light associated with heating water or cooking.  Could you run a cold camp for days or weeks?  You can re-hydrate items without cooking them, add water and wait.  If you are traveling close to water resources, this would be a great way to cut weight.  With freeze dried meals, there are many different options and flavors.

My family bought me these Backpackers Pantry items for Xmas, Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce.  It’s sauce over brown rice and veggies, yum.  Now it is meatless so for some of you carnivores it might not sound great, but trust me they are great.  I bet some bunny or squirrel would be a perfect addition.  Let’s look at the stats:

8.1 ounces   1000 calories   Fat 52g   Protein 40g   Carb 112g

Those numbers represent 2 servings as indicated on the package.  Cost about $6.  Others ones I stock are Mountain House and AlpineAire.  I buy them whenever I have extra cash or feel the urge after watching the news.  For brevity’s sake I will only breakdown one, Lasagna w/Meat Sauce by Mountain House.

4.8 ounces   600 calories   Fat 20g   Protein 35g   Carb 68g

Now these packages say approx 2.5 servings per package and my math shows the whole thing, not per serving.  I guess when it comes down to it, with all the options in this category, let your tastebuds do the choosing.

More Options

Hot cereals, oatmeal, and soup mixes all can be had for cheap with good shelf life.  My favorite quick breakfast is Quaker Real Medley’s Oatmeal cups.  Add hot water, stir and wait 5 minutes.  I believe there are 4 flavors, maybe 5.  The stats that follow are for the Maple Pecan Raisin cups.

2.46 ounces   270 calories  Fat 7g   Protein 6g   Carb 49g

Now that may seem like small numbers, but I can say from experience that a cup of this can sustain you for hours of hard work.  Price seems to 3 for $5 on average.

MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat)

Careful when buying these, check the expiration dates.  There are many on sites like Ebay that are getting old and their storage has been suspect.  Manufacturers are making civilian offerings, go that route.  They are on the heavy side, but need no cooking, maybe a little heat.  They are also affordable.  I can’t comment too much having never eaten them.  I will have to buy some for experimentation.  OK this is getting lengthy, so let’s finish up.  The whole point of this post is to show you options that are inexpensive, easy to use and give you the energy you need.  All of the items listed are stuff that I eat, so for me it is easy to rotate them and therefore stock up without hesitation. Most people think of their Bug Out Bags as a 72 hour kit and that is a good starting point for food and water.  A couple more things you should have in your pack to supplement and extend its/your life:

1.  Fishing Kit
2.  Snares or traps
3. Vitamins,  stress will be great, supplements can keep you healthy

More advice, keep your food in an outside pouch if possible.  Little critters can wreak havoc with your kit, so it would be better if they tear into an outside pouch than right through the main area, I know.  Big critters are a different story, bears mainly.  Bear proof canisters, stored up high with a rope,  guarded by you and a rifle 🙂  Don’t sleep with your food in bear country, I had to remind you.  Oh yea, Snickers bars.  I don’t have the stats because we ate them all.  Share your ideas below in the comments.

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Mountain House

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Prep For The Future

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How to be a prepper

I recently read that “The future is where we will spend the rest of our lives.”  Ponder that one for a few minutes.  If you live in SurvivalColorado, you would maybe be headed to the local neighborhood pot store to get some encouragement for taking on any philosophical debates to discuss that statement.  In Alabama it would take at least a couple six packs to prep the mind to rationalize the wisdom in that comment.  Just kidding.

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

In a ZITS cartoon strip this month the main teenage character Jeremy Duncan was saying to his bud Pierce, “Do you think about your future, Pierce?”  He replies, “I try….but technically every second my future becomes my past.”  Jeremy says, “So, it’s almost like you have no future.”  Pierce answers back, “That’s what the guidance counselor keeps saying.”  Humor aside though, truth is the future is inevitable, it is every second just ahead of us.

Also Read: SHTF Firearms Training

The question is serious though and remains one of the most critical a prepper needs to ask themselves.  Exactly what kind of a future do you want for yourselves, family, or survival team in a post-SHTF environment?  What level of existence or sustenance are you planning for?  These are tough issues and even tougher to fulfill.

Try a Bit of Daydreaming

An employee came into my office a while back as I sat in my chair with my feet up on the desk.  She asked what I was doing.  I How to get ready for the apocalyspetold her “I am doing something you probably never do….I am thinking.”  I mean, when was the last time you just sat quietly at your desk or in your recliner at home and just simply thought about things?   Indeed, I propose to you that the concept of thinking is a dying art.

Related: Prepper Monthly Checklist

When I do the thinking thing, I am never without a notepad nearby.  At my age thoughts, concepts and ideas come and go like fireflies.  If I don’t jot them down pretty quickly they will likely be gone forever.  So don’t take any chances.  As you think, ponder, and plan, make notes, lots of notes.  Maintain a notebook, a folder, or a journal that compiles all your random thoughts and prepping ideas.  This will surely become your blueprint.  Add to it, take things away, but keep track of them.

This goes for watching television, listening to radio new or special interest programs or reading materials from other sources.  You may hear parts and pieces of a good idea or thought so write it down.  You can expand on it then or file it back for work later.  This goes for related magazine or internet site information or ads including web site contacts to check later on.

Daydreaming is a good virtue for a prepper.  It allows the brain free dimensional thinking.  There should be no limits to your dreaming in terms of plans or aspirations.   Always think positive about what you might be able to achieve or even for example afford to achieve.  Dream big, work hard and most likely you will find that you can get there if strongly enough determined to succeed with your plans.  It takes a lot of internal motivation to kick start any project and to keep it on track and running smoothly.

Conceive of a Post SHTF Life

It’s true I tend to watch a lot of apocalypse movies or post-SHTF programming just to imagine a flavor for what a taste of the Preppersnew reality might be like.  I also watch shows such as Alaska Bush People just to get a mindset on the hardships that could arise from starting over.  I try not to lose sight of the fact that film crews are just out of the camera view with the team eating fillets and lobster for dinner while the program characters crack another can of pork and beans.  I don’t know if that is reality or not, but I have my suspicions.

As a Bug In proponent, I try to frame my thoughts and plans on what resources I might have available after the storm.  I went through Katrina both at home and work so I have a sense of how bad things can get, but frankly we had it pretty good.  We continued to have city water service for drinking, cooking, bathing, and sanitation service.  Natural gas continued to flow so we had hot water and a gas stove to use.

Book Review: How To Survive TEOTWAWKI

We did not have electricity for a week at the house and in the south in August it is really hot and humid.  No AC, no ceiling fans, and no breeze.  I don’t fare well in hot weather, so it was a test for me.  Reality is how conditioned (or weakened) we have become to creature comforts.  Post-SHTF we might never get electrical power again or for a really long time.  Gasoline was in short supply and lines were long.  My full tank of gas in the truck lasted me the entire week of the power outage.  We had a second vehicle, but the family stayed home and did not travel.  We had food stores sufficient for at least a month, so we did OK.

Based on all that I have tried to project ahead to planning for worse conditions.  Despite no power, etc. we still preferred the relative comfort and security of our primary dwelling.  I am just not a camping person, so my secondary cache locale is a hunting camp cabin an hour’s drive away.  We could easily provision that Bug Out site, but by our standards it would be crude.  However, it is a world away better than living out in the woods under a blue plastic tarp with very limited infrastructure.  Can me (us) a whoos, but that is our reality.  What is yours?

Practice Supply Side Economics

The elementary foundational keys to SHTF survival is planning, knowledge, supplies and practice.  It is good if you can start a fire if need be with minimal effort, but you’ll need wood cut, stacked, or located.  Oh, get those waterproof matches, and a bunch of butane lighters, too.  Sure you can cook over open fires if you have pots, pans, and something to put into them and a ladle to get it out and a plate to put it on, then some utensils.  Don’t forget the heat pad pot holder and a grill frame would be nice, too.  See where I am going with this?

Related: The Ideal SHTF Bug Out Team

And sure there are a million other issues and things to take care of along the way.  While the blueprint lays flat, it still guides you to build up something much more substantial for the long haul.  Such is the flow of prepping.  So, you have also to deal with food, water, cover, security, medical issues, sanitation, comfort, self and team protection, clothing, tools, carry and storage containers, radios, lighting, batteries, solar devices, transportation options, fuel, on and on.  Basically prepping never ends, because you will always have some new skill to acquire and hone, new information to assimilate, additional gear to buy, and test out, plus hours upon hours of practicing all this under all kinds of simulated conditions.  It’s enough to wear you out isn’t it?  Just wait until a real SHTF event hits.  The future is now, your future is now.  Start visualizing it and planning for it.

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