A Survivalist’s Top Prepping Tips

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Prepping, prepper, survivalist, surviving, expo, community, people

Fire is one of survivalist Fischer’s top prepping priorities

Last month hordes of prepping enthusiasts and survivalists turned out for the Survival Expo in Richmond, Virginia. Vendors like Preparedness Essentials were present selling prepping  products from long term food storage solutions to solar power to tactical gear. One of the vendors was Joe Fischer, a firefighter and air force veteran turned business owner who promotes survivalist training. His business USURVIVEALL also sells survival equipment like the Firestarter which retails at $25.00.

“Preparedness is a way of life.”

Joe is a strong advocate of versatile items in a grid down situation. The essentials in the trunk of his car include pouches of tuna, rice and beans and tea lights. But two key pieces are his bandana and some black tape. Why? They are versatile! A bandana can protect your face from bugs, act as a water filter and be used as a bag to carry berries or other food. Whereas, black tape can be used as a bandage, for repairs or lashing things together to make a shelter or some other construction.

Fischer doesn’t prep for civil unrest, economic collapse or the end of the world, he simply wants to be ready for a particularly bad storm, tornado or power outage. Versatility he believes is the key to surviving.

His top prepping priorities are:

  • Fire – not only for heat and cooking, fire is an important resource for purifying water. It also has soothing abilities; anyone who’s sat by a crackling fire knows how calming it is. Therefore, it helps put you at ease, as Fischer points out, “every animal on earth is afraid of fire”.
  • Knife – common sense prevails, this is an extremely important tool for any survival situation and can get you out of some sticky situations.
  • Shelter and water – a product like a mylar blanket not only keeps you warm but can be set up as a shelter. It can also be used to collect water. Plus, it’s cheap and easy to pack, folding down into a small square for transport.
  • Cordage – something that doesn’t cross everyone’s mind, but is just as important urges Fischer. Cord can help you string up a shelter or a rain tarp. Not to mention if you need to do some climbing (up or down) this can be the difference between life and death.
Prepping, prepper, survivalist, survival, off-grid, self-sufficiency, versatile

A bandana is a versatile piece of kit that could be game-changing in a survival situation

The next Expo coordinated by RK Prepper Shows is being held in Springfield, Montana on June 24th and June 25th. Tickets are priced between $12 – $14.50 for adults and $5 – $7.50 and can be purchased online.

Surviving societal collapse

Even though Fischer doesn’t believe in prepping for end-of-the-world scenarios, two South Carolina law makers have a different view. Josiah Magnuson and Jonathon Hill have set up the “Virtue Solution Project”, a group which aims to save America… or survive societal collapse. Based on a mix of religion, political organizing and disaster prepping, the group advocates their followers to form communities that do not rely on corporate America. Community preparedness centres will enable followers to learn about spiritual leadership, first aid, farming, renewable energy and tactical defence.

Magnuson is setting up the first prepping centre in a barn on an acre of land outside Campabello. Although it will start life as a coffee shop, it is hoped it will be developed further for the group. Apparently, other groups are planned for Pickens, Simpsonville, Charleston and over the border in Georgia.

Magnuson states, “there will come a point where there is a major disaster in our country…we need to be ready for that, and (prepping) will give us an opportunity to have a fresh beginning.”

The group is heavily based on religion, with a focus to reshape community ideas towards those of the Founding Fathers. However, Hill points out that the group is in its infancy and development of ideas is still taking place. “We’re not saying that everybody should go and pick up guns and go have a revolution.” Instead, he says prepping is about self-sufficiency and providing for your neighbours and community.

For a more in depth analysis of the group’s ideology, take a look at this article.

The post A Survivalist’s Top Prepping Tips appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Survival Gun Review: The Ruger Alaskan

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1_Featured_Ruger_Super_Redhawk_Alaskan_44_Magnum_Buffalo_Bore_bear_ammo

2_Ruger_Super_Redhawk_Alaskan_44_Magnum_.There has been an explosion of carry pistols and what I call “city variants” of guns over the past couple decades. From a Glock in every home, to more concealed carry permits that ever, to a wide choice of magazines about the topic in the grocery store. It’s no wonder that notable wheel guns seem a bit of an oddity these days. Especially the larger caliber “hand cannons.”

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

While I won’t completely dismiss the “Dirty Harry effect” on big muzzle wheel guns, I do find the .44 magnum a proper load when follow up shots might not be an option. Like with bears for instance. Now I’ll admit I am a fan of bear spray. I hear endless city folk and even plenty of suburbanites complain that pepper spray is ineffective, full of drawbacks, and nowhere near as good as a firearm. Basically that tells me that there are some holes in their knowledge about bears, bear spray, and firearms.

2_nice_bear_pondFirst of all, pepper spray is effective on bears. I find it a little funny that there seems to be plenty of survivors (mauled maybe, but living to tell the story) who sing the praises of pepper spray, and plenty that don’t. The one thing they all have in common is they lived. I’ve drawn down on bears with both pepper spray and rifle. Luckily I never had to fire the pepper spray, but I have the gun. One black bear took two 30-06 shots to the gut, and three more 30-30s to its midsection and hindquarter before I got a clear view to put a fourth 30-30 into its head. Bear and moose hunting is probably the closest to African dangerous big game hunting as you can get in North America. Hogs might fit there too in the cheetah/lion category.

Bear spray is a deterrent to an attack. I might not thwart it entirely, but the painful sting of cayenne in the bear’s eyes and nostrils is a pretty good start. And accuracy, while helpful, is not required. Just aim in the general direction and let the cloud do the talking. However, wind, distance, expiration date, and duration of the spray all set limits on the experience for the bear. And, of course, when the spray can in empty, it might be game over unless you have a backup plan.

A Little Big

4_Ruger_Super_Redhawk_Alaskan_44_Magnum_barrel_billboardEnter the Ruger Alaskan. A massive handgun stuffed into a small package. The Alaskan, or Super Redhawk “Alaskan” as its billboarded on the right side of the barrel, is an overbuilt stainless steel six-shot revolver of excessive proportions except in barrel length. At only two-a-half inches, the barrel is frightening from the shooter’s side. When Dirty Harry was bragging about the power of his magnum, he had about six inches more out in front to weigh down the recoil and keep the muzzle somewhat in the same direction as the target after the bang. But surprisingly, the Ruger Alaskan is quite manageable, and due to its weight, balance, and heavy rubber Hogue grip, the Alaskan is nowhere near the squirreliness of snub nosed .357’s.

Related: The Unappreciated 10mm Auto

When shooting .44 shorts, you can double-action all six cylinders in a row grinning all the way. .44 magnum rounds certainly remind you that they are not for the weak or fainthearted, but again nothing to be scared of. However, the +P+ Buffalo Bore heavy loads do send a tingle up your arm. It’s not that the muzzle flips, but more like swinging an aluminium baseball bat into a brick wall. It takes a second or two for the recoil jolt to transform into a sharp sting. But if you ever do “need” to fire the Alaskan, you won’t notice the recoil. I guarantee it.

When talking blunt force trauma, the .44 is an ideal cartridge. But unlike hollow point bullets popular for those unfriendly human encounters where you want to disrupt organs and bleed out the foe, the idea behind a hard cast flat nosed bullet is pure bone-breaking concussion. If a bullet fragments early in its journey through an angry bear, it will have little to no effect in any timeframe that matters.

As Isaac Newton penned 300 years ago, force equals mass times acceleration. That means that the force of a .44 magnum can approach that of a 30-06 rifle bullet if the .44 bullet weighs twice as much, say 340 grains compared to 165 grains, but only traveling half as fast, say 1400 fps compared to 2700 fps. So when playing at the upper tiers of pistol power, you are treading far into the realm of rifles.

And More

6_Ruger_Super_Redhawk_Alaskan_44_Magnum_cylindersThe Ruger Alaskan is more overbuilt than the other Redhawks in a couple ways. One of the most beautiful aspects of the Ruger Alaskan is that the entire main frame is one solid piece of stainless steel that completely surrounds the cylinder and extends to the muzzle. Traditional revolver designs have the barrel screwed into the main frame. Not the Ruger Alaskan. Another visible feature is the thickness of the top strap that runs from rear sight to barrel. So beefy is the top strap, among other parts, that it is one of the very few listed handguns that Buffalo Bore suggests can handle it’s most powerful solid cast bullet +P+ cartridges. Don’t bother looking for a Smith & Wesson on the list. There isn’t one.

Packing the Heat

For Alaskan carry in bear country, I have three solutions. The first is the standard Galco Dual Action Outdoorsman belt holster made specifically for the Ruger Alaskan. It is a beautiful piece of gunleather and the first choice of most Ruger Alaskan owners.

8_Ruger_Super_Redhawk_Alaskan_44_Magnum_Galco_chest_holsterMy second carry solution is for more specific activities including hunting, backpacking, and fly fishing. It is the Galco Great Alaskan Shoulder System chest holster right for the Ruger Alaskan. A nearly identical holster to the belt version but with a trio of straps that snug the holster to your chest, belly or sternum depending on need. Often the belt space is hidden inside waders or under a backpack waistbelt, or occupied with other kit. And there is risk that you might not be able to reach your belt area depending on the turn of events. Plus with a belt holster you have to commit to a carry side, in my case on the right hip. Drawing the Ruger Alaskan with the left hand from a right hip is not easy under the best of circumstances, and if you “need” to do it, the circumstances are certainly not best.

Check Out: How to Pick the Best Personal Protection Firearm

Drawing from a chest holster with support hand is still not the quickest but much easier. The final solution I use is to plop the pistol into the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag. This critter is like a thin fanny pack that rides securely on your chest. I prefer this method of carry when on cross-country skis, snowshoes, or mountainbiking.

For extra ammo (being optimistic) I use the Galco 2x2x2 ammo pouchUnlike auto pistols, carrying a handy 18 rounds of .44 magnum is quite a bit. Of course, if out in the sticks for  more than a week, I would up the round count to at least a couple dozen bangs depending on my other guns. If rifle hunting, not so much. If my only carry, then very much yes.

Home on the Range

8_Ruger_Super_Redhawk_Alaskan_44_Magnum_Primos_shooting_stickOnce you get the hang of the sights, the Ruger Alaskan will shoot all day long making a hockey puck-sized group. That’s from a rest, of course. On a bench or table, anything works. But for the open field, I prefer the Primos Gen 2 Bipod Trigger Stick. It allows me to hold the Ruger Alaskan at eye level, and I can quickly put all six rounds into a five dollar bill at 25 yards which is plenty good for hunting. Of course, if I take my time, I can keep those shots around Abe. With a little work, you could probably feel comfortable deer hunting out to 50 yards with the Ruger Alaskan. And in a survival situation, the ethics of fair chase take a back seat allowing you to push your luck. There are plenty of reports of Ruger Alaskan owners keeping everything inside a dinner plate at 150 feet.

For bears, however, there is a different equation at work. But first a joke: Do you know how to tell if a bear is really charging you or bluffing? Answer: If it’s a bluff, the bear will stop. And within that joke lies the problem. You have very little time to decide if how you will respond. If the bear gets too close, it won’t matter how many shots you get off. If the bear is bluffing, or just curious but not an immediate threat, well then you can quickly mess that up. And having an injured bear running around is all kinds of bad.

Looking for Action

The trigger on the Ruger Alaskan is fine. Quite fine, in fact. In single action the trigger trips around five pounds. Expect a dozen or more pounds of pull to snap off a round in double action. But if you can hold this gun safely, you can pull a 12 pound trigger.

The cylinder on the Ruger Alaskan spins counter-clockwise so keep that in mind if you need to load one more round. I also played around with three different Ruger Alaskans in .44 before deciding on the one I liked. The cylinder play was a hair too much for my taste in the first two. Well one was quite a few hairs off. But the third locked up like a rock. When dropping almost a grand on a narrow use pistol, perfection is part of the deal.

1_Ruger_Super_Redhawk_Alaskan_44_Magnum_muzzle_cylindersShould the need arise to have a handgun with this kind of power be needed for chores other than dispatching pesky four-leggers, the Ruger Alaskan is up to the job. The list of guns for survival is as deep as it is wide. But there is a popular convergence around those calibers of the .22 variety and millimeters in the nine to ten range. Most lists would put the Ruger Alaskan outside the top ten so I would have suggest that this particular gun is more on the experienced preperation list, or for those living in the proper geography. Ruger’s naming this the Alaskan is no accident. But it works fine in Montana, Idaho, and parts of Wyoming. For those states whose bears are smaller than my dog, I would suggest something else. A 10mm perhaps. But when it comes to sheer firepower for close quarters combat in the wilderness, the Alaskan is in a class by itself.

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Gardening for Preppers and Survivalist

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Gardening for Preppers and Survivalist Forrest & Kyle “The Prepping Academy” Audio in player below! The “The Prepping Academy” and talking all things gardening. There’s not a single good reason anyone could give for not building a seed bank. In the eventuality of a grid down scenario, or even unemployment, a seed bank could be life saving. … Continue reading Gardening for Preppers and Survivalist

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Best Guns for Preppers and Survivalist!

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Best Guns for Preppers and Survivalist… Forrest & Kyle “The Prepping Academy” Audio in player below! Join Kyle and Forrest as they talk guns for defense. As American diplomacy, politics, and society falls apart anyone with a sane mind should be considering owning a gun and preparing for a WROL (with rule of law) America. … Continue reading Best Guns for Preppers and Survivalist!

The post Best Guns for Preppers and Survivalist! appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Going Off The Grid By Gary Collins First Thoughts Video

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Going Off The Grid By Gary Collins First Thoughts

 

 

This week I got my hands on my friend Gary Collings New book, Going Off The Grid. Unlike most of my u

Unlike most of my unboxing videos, I wasn’t sent this book. You always want to support your friends so I bought this copy as soon as It was available. 

Like many of us, Gary got the bug to live a simpler life. And luckily for us, he has documented the whole process. 

In Going Off The Grid: The How-To Book Of Simply Living and Happiness, he provides a step-by-step guide for how to find a private piece of land and build a self-sustaining home. 

This doesn’t come from research alone but from experience. Gary has been building an off-grid home in northeast Washington state. 

You can watch some of the trials and tribulations on his Youtube channel.

Learning from others troubles can save you time and money. And from honest upfront people. 

If you watch many of the DIY tv shows you will have an unrealistic view of the process. Building an off grid home takes a lot of time and effort.

The reward is worth it, though. 

So if you are thinking about living a simpler less hectic lifestyle this is the book for you. Pick it up now before you need the info in here. 

Are you off the Grid? Wanting To Be? Let me know about your plans in the comments!

 

 

 

 
 

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Doomsday Preppers? You’ve GOT to be kidding me…

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This post was written exactly 4 years ago, on my Facebook page. I still stand by it. Rich Fleetwood – February 7, 2012 · Riverton · Watching “Doomsday Preppers” on NGC this evening, with an as objective as possible viewpoint. I’ve been doing this stuff myself for 20 years, and in my position and experience, with the […]

The post Doomsday Preppers? You’ve GOT to be kidding me… appeared first on SurvivalRing.

SurvivalRing Radio Podcast – Show 103 – Jan. 20th, 2017

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Friday night’s  show is done…news of the day, homesteading tips, frugality, home security, and brain science…understanding how your brain responds to danger…and how to make it better. SurvivalRing Radio…we’re gonna make it out alive….catch the podcast here… http://www.freedomizerradio.com/blog/2017/01/survivalring-radio-01202016/ As always, you are invited to be part of the show every week, either calling in, emailing […]

The post SurvivalRing Radio Podcast – Show 103 – Jan. 20th, 2017 appeared first on SurvivalRing.

Build a Longterm Survival Supply Bag

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bug_out_bag_materials-2

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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Conduct a Prep SWOT Analysis

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pen_paper_SWOT-2American management practices use a lot of techniques to examine planning, program development, future goals, and modes of execution to achieve those goals.  One of the business school tactics used by many groups is called the SWOT.  This stands for (1) Strengths, (2) Weaknesses, (3) Opportunities, and (4) Threats.  Walking through this process applied to your prepping plan can assure confidence of achievements, point out items for improvement, expose future opportunities and recognize potential threats.  It is an assessment strategy to reveal all the functional aspects of your prepping plan and processing.  

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

Remember that your SWOT is not my SWOT or Reuben’s down the street.  There can be no two plans or executions just alike.  Therefore, there really is no textbook SWOT to copy or plagiarize.  It is a process that only you or your prep team can solely experience, define, construct, refine, and deploy.  It has to be customized to your situations, conditions, and circumstances.

Strengths

strengths_SWOT-2What have you done right and what are you doing right?  Do you have a basic plan advancing to a more thorough plan laid out, via paper, or PC or both?  Is all this development work documented in a file, notebook, or folder for constant referral and reference?  If not, this is the place to start. Your personal prep manual needs to be easy to reach and within reach at all times.  Then when an idea or lightbulb thought pops up, you can jot it down.  Keep plenty of plain paper in the side pocket for such notes, then refine them to move to the main manual pages if appropriate.  Prepping is a constant moving target, but the ideas need to be collected.  

Review all your prepping components.  You may have a “Bug In” section as well as a “Bug Out” section just in case options are a viability.  Then break it down into all the categories of stuff that have been discussed here at Survival Cache and our Blog pages over time.

Related: 10 Bug Out Bag Essentials

Confirm what items you have completed and what items need work.  Review your supply lists, weapons cache, and every item in your prep plan so far.  This is an emphasis on your plan’s strengths, but does not imply completion.  

Weaknesses

prepare_SWOT-2This is not the time for dogging yourself or your plans.  It is a time to constructively peel back the layers to see what is not working, at least not yet.  On this examine it is time to reveal things you are not doing or have failed at completing.  A good practical example is training achieved to date.  Can you put that tent up in the dark, even in the backyard?  Do you know how to disassemble that AR you bought for Christmas?  Have you finished calculating how much food and calories your family will need for an extended SHTF?   Is your bug out camp ready to go? Do you need a course in auto or engine mechanics, welding, carpentry, or camp cooking?  

Also examine what factors or elements are preventing you from moving weaknesses to strengths.  Is a limited, tight, or reprioritized budget part of the issue?  Are you setting any funding aside for prepping causes regardless of how little it is?  Have you considered weekend employment or selling off some unnecessary items to raise funds for prepping?  This is not easy.  

Again, weaknesses are things that are probably on your prepping plan list but you simply have not followed through.  If it is a critical element like securing proper quantities of food, water, ammo, medical supplies or whatever, then just dedicate yourself to chipping away at these issues.  

Opportunities

ATVs_at_camp_SWOTThese can be difficult to recognize.  The possibilities are everywhere, it is just a matter of nailing them down or acting to take advantage of them.  Perhaps a neighbor offered you an old boat if you would come get it, patch it up, repaint and repurpose it.  It could be other stuff too, like an old ATV, chainsaw, or other useful tools, equipment, and hard goods.  

Maybe next month the local community college is having a free series of classes on various skills issues.  You need to block out the time to pursue these free chances to learn new stuff when they become available.  Likewise a big box outdoor store might offer seminars on camping, fishing, trapping, canning, knife sharpening, reloading ammo, or whatever.  Sometimes lumber and hardware supply outlets have building classes and tool demonstrations on a Saturday.  Don’t miss these opportunities.  

Opportunities can come in all sizes, unexpected, and at any time.  Sometimes you have to act fast to cash in on them.  Maybe on trash day your neighbor has piled up some 2x4s on the curb.  Could be good supplies for bug out camp building projects.  

Perhaps a neighbor, work colleague, or other friend invites you to go fishing one day, or hunting, or yard sale perusing.  One never knows what such an invitation could turn into.  Fish or meat in the freezer would be nice.  A set of wrenches for $5 would be sweet, too.  

Threats

doctor_medical_SWOT-2Threats are the things that hinder you from completing plan goals or objectives.  Whatever they are, they need to be recognized and addressed.  Do you have medical issues that restrict your progress?  Perhaps you have a bum shoulder that needs surgery, knee or whatever.  Maybe you are long overdue for dental work.  Take care of these things, now, while you can.  In the midst of a SHTF is no time to expect dedicated medical care to be available.  

Read Also: Survival Books for Your Bunker

What if you live in a declining neighborhood and you don’t like what is happening around you.  Is it time to move?  It is time to bolster your home security in terms of technology and or defensive measures such as adding another gun or two or training family members to use them?  

Perhaps there are threats that are completely out of your control.  You at least need to identify them, recognize such threats, and understand its impact on your planning.  It could be such things can be bypassed, kept at a distance or minimized in the short term.  Keep them on the radar screen though.  

A SWOT analysis can help you achieve many things, but awareness is the main benefit.  These are elements of prepping that you simply cannot afford to ignore.  So don’t.  

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Survival Gear Review: Walther G22 Bullpup

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g22_bullpup

g22_bullpup_shooting_actionIn the world of low-caliber rifles, the G22 Bullpup is a great choice. The rifle is accurate, sleek, and reliable. For survival applications, such a rifle may be lacking.  No matter how cool the rifle, how can you expect a .22 LR to be a workhorse? This gun will never be powerful enough to bring down big game or seriously deter assailants. Even with 11 round mags and quick reloads, the G22 Bullpup simply does not have enough utility to be a contender as a survival rifle.

By Sam, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Outside of more pragmatic uses, the G22 is great. As a plinking rifle, the G22 is a wonderful choice. The gun is accurate, lightweight, and features rails for after-market customizations. For these reasons alone, the G22 is well worth adding to your armory. Whatever you do, don’t expect the G22 to bail you out in a survival situation.  Unfortunately, the G22 is no longer commercially available but it can still be purchased used.

Specs

Weight 95 oz (2.7 kg)
Length 28.4–29.5 in (72–75 cm)
Barrel length 20 in (51 cm)
Width 2.2 in (5.6 cm)
Height 8.7 in (22 cm)

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The Katrina Pistol: Part 2

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glock_19_katrina_pistol_trijicon_streamlight_tlr2_surefire_high_sightsPutting together a dedicated Katrina Pistol to complement my Katrina Rifle was an entertaining exercise in apocalyptical scenarios. But seriously, a deadly extension of the human hand with a semi-auto pistol and a few enhancements will ensure you’ll be packing more firepower than most foes would expect. And it is for that very reason that my Katrina Pistol will be the last surprise in a bad guy’s life when the SHTF.

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

In Part 1 of the Katrina Pistol I outlined seven straightforward considerations with the Katrina Pistol. But there were also some loose ends and dead ends. As this Katrina Pistol effort unfolded, some directions were not pursued, and others took longer to resolve. Two areas where I chose not to enhance the Katrina Pistol include suppressing it with a screw-on silencer, and tinkering with the internals pistol gears including the trigger. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a closer look where we left off in Part 1 and where we went in Part 2.

Gut Check

The gun of choice was an Glock 19 MRO. As of note here is the low Glock number. The very first Glock was the 17, and the second Glock was a full-auto (select-fire actually) version of the 17 named the 18. But unlike the Glock 18 used in the opening train scene of the James Bond film Skyfall, a real G18 eats through a 33 round magazine in under two seconds!

Continuing the Glock 9mm trend, Glock produced a compact version of the 17 and it was christened the Glock 19 because it came after the 18. So in essence, the Gen4 Glock 19 is a solid gun that has been evolving steadily since 1988, and the Glock 17 for six more years than that. To add some closure here, the Glock 26 is a subcompact double-stack 9mm and the Glock 34 is a long-slide 9mm. And the most recent Glock, the 43, is a single stack subcompact 9mm. And, of course, there are many variations of the above including threaded barrels, compensated or ported barrels, Modular Optics Ready (MRO), colored frames, Cerakoted slides, various generations of some numbers, and a new Glock 19S.

Read Also: The Katrina Pistol

Except for the select fire switch on the driver’s side of the Glock 18’s slide, all the Glocks are pretty much the same. However, there is often a tremendous urge to mess around with inner workings of your gun. Or at least that’s what the after-marketers want you to believe. While I’ve been known to “Barbie Up” a gun on occasion, I’m going to leave the dark parts of my Katrina Pistol Glock alone at the moment. But if I was forced to make a change, the trigger is a good starting point since it, like almost all other Glock triggers, drives like a pickup truck. No more, no less.

Shut Up. Or Not.

glock_19_katrina_pistol_trijicon_streamlight_tlr2_surefire_light_onSilencing the Katrina Pistol seemed like must-do for any total makeover. And I had planned on going that route when Katrina was still on the drawing board…well actually a bar napkin. That is, until I hit the wall of reality. It quickly became apparent that a suppressed 9mm Glock was neither quiet, nor small, nor light, nor simple, but with plenty of conspicuous reasons to lock up whoever is carrying it when the thin blue line is at it’s breaking point.

A suppressed Glock 19 is twice as long, near twice as heavy, and maybe only a third as quiet on a good day. While subsonic 147 grain and heavier 9mm bullets are finding their way onto local gunshop shelves with occasional regularity, it is not really the ammo I’m worried about with the Katrina Pistol, it’s the silencer. A suppressed Glock 19 has a total barrel length in the realm of an SBR or short barreled rifle. Now consider that unless the suppressor lives on the Glock through thick and thin, there are two components that must be managed in addition to mags and ammo.

And remember that lanyard? Well that’s for those times when the gun takes a hike on its own. Although suppressors are fairly durable, a not-too-hard blow to the far end of the gun might just be enough to allow a baffle strike rendering the suppressor useless. And the last thing, the very last thing you want to worry about with a Katrina Pistol is a fragile component, especially one that is longer than the gun itself and twice as expensive. But building a suppressed Katrina Pistol is only an aftermarket-threaded-barrel away should that feature be desired later. I still have the napkin.

Going Home…Again

glock_19_katrina_pistol_trijicon_streamlight_tlr2_surefire_bravo_concielment_holsterA recently resolved component of the Katrina Pistol was the holster. Finding something reasonable in looks, function, retention, and price has thus far been near-elusive. There were some off-the-shelf solutions on my radar, but the custom options seemed the only clear route. I started with a Fobus holster that fits the Glock with a laser/light as well as a pile of other pistols. The Fobus was not expensive so I am quick to take the hacksaw and utility knife to it in order to explore optics options. Instead, the Fobus ended up on the Island of Misfit Toys. Why? Because I discovered a wonderfully effective and intimately customizable Bravo Concealment Kydex holster that not only met my Katrina Pistol holster needs, but also asked me exactly that I wanted in a Katrina Pistol holster. Every choice from color, to belt width, to specific weapon light, optic, and hard sight height was offered. And then there is the military/LEO discount. I searched high and low of what really might be my very last holster, and the Bravo Concealment answered the call with zero complaining and zero issues. As much as I love new gear, I really will not be looking for another holster for my Katrina Pistol anytime soon.

Related: Put a BUG in your Bug Out

One added benefit of the Bravo Concealment Kydex holster I had not thought much about was complete coverage of the muzzle. This became apparent to me during one wet expedition. Not that I was worried about putting a ding in the crown, but instead I was concerned about packing the pipe with mud. So without knowing it, I took another page from the WWII playbook and enclosed the barrel of my pistol inside a holster. It’s not perfect coverage, but plenty good enough that any barrel-plugging debris would have to squeeze through a Kydex crack first.

Another layer of protection I employed was to add the Trijicon RMR Adapter Plate. Its literally nothing more than a thin sheet of metal that sits between the exposed battery housing of the RMR and the mountain plate that comes with the Glock MOS. Without it, you can see just a hint of the rubber gasket peeking out along the edges of the RMR above the slide. Under magnification it appears there is a complete seal, but the exposed portion of rubber O-ring is of concern. I don’t see it lasting all that long unless able to fully seat against a flat surface. So for a few more bucks and a couple more grams, I now feel more confident in the mounting interface between electronics and cold, hard, fast moving steel.

Take the Fork in the Road

glock_19_katrina_pistol_trijicon_streamlight_tlr2_box_with_manual_of_armsThe Katrina Pistol is a self-contained fighting tool that must function independent of everything else in the universe. That means it can be part of a bug out loadout, or run solo as a grab-and-go package. While I considered this duality of survival, I opted to place the Katrina Pistol in a Pelican case and surround it with some necessary kit. And then I filled in the remaining space with a few components that, if needed, are true lifesavers.

Inside the Box

In addition to the 17 round mag of the Katrina Pistol Glock 19, are three 15 round Glock mags and one 33 round Glock mag. And on one of the 15 round mags is a Glock loader which is nothing more than a plastic collar that depresses the top round in a mag allowing the next one to slide in easily.

glock_19_katrina_pistol_trijicon_streamlight_tlr2_surefire_ammo_pileFilling out the extra space in the box are a compass, a few pairs of ear plugs, the T-Reign Lanyard, an oversize Ferrocerium rod, a Bic Lighter, a Boker neck knife, four CR123 batteries (for the Streamlight TLR-2G), a pair of CR2032 batteries (for the Trijicon RMR), a couple 1/16” allen wrench for the Trijicon sight, and, perhaps most importantly, 120 rounds of loose 9mm ammo (that’s eight 15-round mag refills), and an aftermarket Glock manual of arms. Oh yes, and a few hundred dollar bills stuffed under the lid foam.

For the record, the Glock manual is for those who might need some lessons. It is a spiral bound book about pistol shooting in general and the Glock’s care and feeding in specific. I know my way around the this Katrina Pistol and Katrina Box since I built it, but others who depended upon me will need help when if I’m not around. I cannot overstate the importance of planning beyond you. Giving a Katria Pistol is a gift. Giving the Katrina Pistol to a loved one who has limited experience with guns and security is a potential disaster. And that would be on you…or me.

Think Outside The Box

glock_19_katrina_pistol_trijicon_streamlight_tlr2_surefire_katrina_box_shtfNext to the Katrina Pistol Box is a Bug Out Bullet Bottle containing another 300 rounds of 9mm FMJ. Since the Katrina Pistol Box already weighs in at 12 pounds, adding a quart of ammo increases the Katrina Pistol loadout another 7.7 pounds. Of course you can always dump out weight as I noted in my article on 11.5 Bug Out Bag Mistakes that are not Mistakes. But as also noted, you cannot dump out what you do not have.

The holster presented a problem in the smaller Pelican case. I could fit it inside the case but would have to scrub the 33 round mag and the 17 rounder. Also some of the smaller kit would not fit except under extreme Pelican pressure. I opted to kick that problem down the road, but will likely just use a larger Pelican case and reassess the theory behind the box in the first place. Stay tuned for that.

Katrina Means You Are On Your Own

There were many lessons from the original Katrina event, and many, make that most, were true SHTF implications. If this Katrina Pistol truly comes into its own, then not only are you on your own, but you are likely your own thin Red, White, and Blue line. Don’t be scared, but do admit the reality when it presents itself. No matter the direction the future takes, a multi-use, near-indestructible pistol with light, laser and optic is now on my short list of what to grab for any situation.

Can You Make Me a Student Survival Kit?

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Can You Make Me a Student Survival Kit? We got a reader question asking us if we could make a low-budget student survival kit. If you yourself are a student or know one and would like to give him or her a survival kit that would be excellent for wilderness survival but that doesn’t break …

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The post Can You Make Me a Student Survival Kit? appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

Buying a Survival Kit? Why It’s Always Better to Make It Yourself

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Buying a Survival Kit? Why It’s Always Better to Make It Yourself There are a lot of pieces of gear you can buy to increase your chances of survival, but one that’s most frequently marketed toward survivalists is the “handy dandy” survival kit. Is it wise to buy a survival kit? Are these things ever …

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The post Buying a Survival Kit? Why It’s Always Better to Make It Yourself appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

Your GPS Is Awesome – Until It Gets You Lost

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china_maine_gpsThe other day my wife sent me on a mission to China to recover an important tactical item.  That would be China, Maine and the item was a coffee table she found on Craigslist.  Anyway, I jumped in my trusty pickup truck, fired up the GPS, and headed inland from the coast to grab the package.  The GPS, a literal device, took me on the shortest route. Which, as you’ve probably discovered, doesn’t always necessarily mean the fastest.  I was going up over mountains, down back roads, and twisting back and forth on an old dirt road that made me happy I have survival gear in the back of my truck.

By Jarhead Survivor, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

Now, the coffee table was in South China, and when I got to an intersection where I could go left to South China or right to China it took me right.  Confused, I stopped and checked it out a little closer.  It took me north over China lake and down the other side.  Ok, I thought, maybe they consider “south” to be on the west side of the lake.  People and directions are funky and I was willing to give my GPS the benefit of the doubt.  With a few misgivings, I followed the GPS.

Related: Why I Prefer a Map and Compass Over GPS 

I should have listened to my instincts.  I got to the other side of the lake and all my warning bells were now going off like a  five-alarm fire.  I pulled over, looked, and sure enough the GPS was taking me to the wrong address.  I put in the address I wanted and it pointed to another area.  I won’t use the real address, but here’s an example of how it appeared. Address I typed into the GPS:  83 Fire Road #45, China Me.  It decided I really wanted to go to: Fire road 45, no number address.  Ok, they give addresses very oddly in China, so I tried this instead:  Fire Road 83, #45. It then decided I really wanted to go to Fire Road 11. WTF?

I poked at it for a few minutes with rising frustration then did something I haven’t had to do for awhile.  I asked for directions. There was a guy across the street playing with his dog and I pulled in and asked if he knew where Fire Road 83 was.  He rubbed his chin for a minute while his friendly black lab sniffed my leg.  I patted the dog (best part of the whole trip) while he thought about it.  He then pointed me to the other side of the lake with some head scratching, giving me low confidence in his directions.

At a store on the top of China lake, I stopped and asked directions.  Nope.  They had no idea.  I called the woman I was getting the item from and she asked where I was.  When I told her I was at the top of China Lake, she said, “What are you doing there?”  She then gave me some confusing directions on how to get to her house.  I finally asked her what she was near and she gave me the address of a bank.  When I put that in to the GPS, it worked and I followed it there. Of course, when I got there, the GPS told me I was at Fire Road 83, #45, just where I wanted to be.  Really? Thanks a lot!

Not Just Road Directions Either

gps_compass_lostA few years ago I was hiking behind my house following my GPS.  As you know, driving and hiking are two very different forms of navigation, so being the paranoid survivalist that I am I was keeping track of my location with a map and compass too.  At one point I looked down and it showed my location in a town about fifteen or twenty miles away in a completely different county!  There was a moment of “congnitive dissonance” as I looked at both map and GPS.  Finally I put the GPS away and followed the map and compass.  I knew exactly where I was even if the GPS didn’t.  I told a friend about this and he said, “Yeah, sometimes that happens.”

So, I did what any self-respecting human being would do and turned to Google.  Turns out this is a pretty common issue. Wow.  I’m no Luddite.  I love my phone and my laptop.  I use Linux.  I understand computer networks.  I get it.  But after a little study, I’ve determined that if you’re going to trust yourself to a technology that works “most of the time,” you might find your ass lost in the woods crying about your GPS.

Carry a Compass

appalachian_gps_trailI’ve written about this before and I’ll write about it again.  If you’re going to go out in the wilderness, carry a map and compass.  Carry it, know how to use it, and at the very least be able to follow a cardinal direction. A few years ago Geraldine Largay went off the Appalachian Trail and got lost.  Her body was found a couple of years later.  She had a compass but didn’t know how to use it. A compass is not an ornament.  If you put it in your pack, at least know the basics of how to use it.

In my opinion, the best way to operate in the wild is to use your GPS as primary navigator with a map and compass as backup.  This accomplishes two things.

  1.  You’ll learn map and compass reading almost as well as how to use a GPS.
  2.  If your GPS fails for whatever reason, you’ll know where you are and how to get out safely.

Use a Bailout Azimuth

I coined the term Bailout Azimuth. If you’re lost and can’t go point to point, you can at least follow your compass until you hit a road, stream, river, or landmark.  Refer to the map on Geraldine Largay. Look carefully at where her remains were found and then look where the Appalachian Trail is.  A little common sense and some very basic map reading skills could have saved this woman’s life, but she chose to walk north looking for a cell phone signal instead of following her compass south back to the trail.  I’ve been in this part of the Maine woods before and it would be quite easy to walk off the trail and get lost.  That’s why a compass is a critical piece of equipment.

Related: GizzMoVest GPS Cases 

In this case, she moved north of the trail.  The moment she discovered she was lost, she should have pulled out her map and compass.  She would have seen that she was hiking east on that particular piece of trail. With a little study, she would have found that moving south or east would bring her back to the trail.  Instead she made a fatal error and moved north.  This really breaks my heart because a small amount of time spent at a compass class could have saved her life.

There are many stories where a GPS led people off road in their vehicles and they wound up stranded in the wilderness.  Sometimes they get rescued, sometimes they don’t.  Don’t be a statistic, folks.  Learn how to read a map and compass and be a survivor.  That’s why you’re here isn’t it?  To learn how to survive?  Trust me, if there’s one skill you can learn that trumps everything else, it’s how to navigate in the wilderness with a map and compass.

Summary

Use your GPS!  Like I said, I love mine; however, I try to be critical of it when traveling because it’s not always 100% accurate.

Here’s a little challenge for you.  The next time you decide to go on a trip take out a map and plot it by hand to see if you remember how.  I’ll bet when you look at the route you selected and where your GPS wants to take you, you’ll be thinking, “Why the hell is it taking me that way?” Questions?  Comments?  Sound off below!

Photos Courtesy of:

Jarhead Survivor
Filkferengi

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How to Find Civilization When You Have No Idea Where You Are

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How to Find Civilization When You Have No Idea Where You Are Let’s set the stage: you’re lost in the wilderness. You strayed off-road because your car broke down and you were in desperate need of some water. Now that you have the water (you managed to luck out and find a stream after walking …

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Bad news: Its Doomsday – Good news: You will die in total Luxury

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DALLAS 11 Nov – AP – A Texas investor group is building a $300 million luxury fly-in community replete with survival tools – the underground homes and air-lock blast doors will be designed for super-rich families worried about a dirty bomb or other disaster.

The Trident Lakes community has begun with a flourish northeast of Dallas near the Oklahoma border: A statue of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, holding a golden trident will stand some 50 feet above a massive fountain billed as one of the largest in the world.

Subtlety won’t do for Texas.  Although the organisers are curiously self-effacing, and few photos exist, if any.

“The initial perception is that it’s defined as a doomsday scenario,” said James O’Connor, CEO of Dallas-based Vintuary Holdings, which represents the collection of investors backing the project. “I’m trying to change the perception to a long-term sustainable community, with the concept of a 200-year community. We’re not looking at just putting all our residents underground; we’re looking to put together a beautiful place to live that’s also secure.”

The standard luxury amenities will apply: 18-hole golf course, high-end spa, gun ranges, zip lines, shops and restaurants, and not just a single helipad but a row of them. But plans call for the 700-acre spread to also include an equestrian center, polo fields and 20-acre lakes with white-sand beaches. The entire compound will be wrapped by a 12-foot wall and have private security manning watchtowers. The project has received the necessary approvals, O’Connor said, and people are expected to take up residence in 2018.

Developers intend to construct about 400 condos that have 90 percent of their living space underground. Most would cost in the mid-six figures and each topped with a terrace overlooking one of the lakes. The community could have as many as 1,600 residents who, should disaster strike, can rely on water and energy production that’s off the grid. O’Connor said designs and concepts may change as the project progresses, but a navigable tunnel network and an air-purification system are planned.

As is a DNA vault. The vault is an opportunity for “family sustainability,” said Richie Whitt, spokesman for Trident Lakes.

“You can take DNA and preserve it, where if something should happen, then technology down the road could take DNA and replicate a person,” he said. “It’s kind of science fictiony but it’s also not that far in the future.”

Whitt said Friday that Vintuary Holdings has purchased land in Ohio for a similar community and investors hope to expand the idea to other states. He didn’t provide further details.

It’s not clear just how many similar bunker communities are open for business in the U.S. or other countries. The Vivos Group, based in California, has six in the U.S. and one in Germany.

“It’s definitely something, anecdotally, that we’re seeing more and more of,” said Jeff Schlegelmilch, deputy director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University in New York.

The center works with an array of companies, groups, states and other entities to ensure a broad, comprehensive response when a natural or man-made disaster strikes. The concern for Schlegelmilch is that groups like Trident Lakes cut themselves off from that shared response.

“The aggregate of individual preparedness translates into greater community preparedness, and the aggregate of community preparedness leads to greater national preparedness,” he said.

But Whitt says Trident Lakes is pursuing a sustainable community that by definition means people must rely on one another. He says residents are wanted with a varied skill set so that in the aftermath of a disaster everyone can contribute with the recovery.

O’Connor adds that Trident will offer more than protection from doomsday fallout. Well known celebrities and professional athletes have expressed an interest because of the privacy and security it will offer, he said.

“We think we have defined an untapped market,” he said.

The post Bad news: Its Doomsday – Good news: You will die in total Luxury appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

Surviving Alone

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static_tv_survive_shtfWhat if SHTF?  You are the only one home at the time when it hits.  Your kids are grown and gone.  Your wife is gone at work.  It is dark outside.  You hear nothing; see nothing.  There are no cars on the streets. When you finally venture out of the house early the next day, you see nobody on your neighborhood street.  The following day you find no one on any streets in your entire neighborhood.  You retreat back home and lock down in earnest.  There are no cars on the streets.  Normally you can hear 18-wheelers on the interstate highway just two miles away. Now, nothing.

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

Since it hit the fan, the electricity has been off.  City water is still on, thank goodness.  The natural gas stove still works.  For now, that is. Cell phones are dead.  FM and emergency radio channels yield only a static buzz. The police scanner scans and picks up….nothing. What do you do now?

The New Routine

It is time to execute your Plan A, the Bug In Option. Now you fully secure the house and implement your PDWs (personal defense weapons).  Everything is locked and loaded. Various firearms are stationed near primary exterior doors with loaded mags or pouched ammo within reach.  Your CCW weapon of choice is on your waist and an AR is nearby at all times now. Time to focus.  You break out all your prepper emergency gear and supplies. You lay it all out in plain view. Water, food, candles, flashlights, meds, batteries, extra firearms, survival knife, ammo packs, first aid and all else. Everything is organized, grouped, and put within easy access.

ar_resizedYou hydrate, eat, bathe, and rest.  You watch out the windows, moving quietly and judiciously around the house.  At night it is mostly a total blackout, so as not to draw attention from outside.  If you want light to read, or study, or rest, you use an interior room with no windows like a bathroom, closet or laundry room.  All noise is kept to a whisper.  Later, you elect to slip out a back door, well-armed, to recon the yard, street, neighborhood, venturing as far as you dare.  After sundown, that night vision scope really comes in handy.  You stop often to listen, smell, peer, and move cautiously.

The next night you spot a dim flicker of a light in one house down the street. In another house a form of a shadow moves across a corner window. There are still no cars on the streets, no police, no national guard, no planes overhead, and no more highway noise off in the distance. You vow to knock on those two doors the next day, but you change your mind.

Related: Top 5 Worst Incidences of Martial Law in The United States 

Days later the FM radio blares on. The announcement is like a weather warning but not the same. It is recorded and orchestrated. The news is confusing without many details, but some kind of an explosion or more has occurred and this caused a massive grid shutdown. There was no clue given about how extensive it was or how it has affected your general area. It is frustrating.

You learn that this final announcement that came before the full extent of the SHTF event warned everyone to stay put wherever they were and not to venture out. You missed that report, but it explains a lot. You worry again where your wife is and if she is OK. You worry the same for your kids hundreds of miles away. There is no way to know their fate.

Status Observation and Investigation

This worry emboldens you to visit the two houses where you spotted signs of life. As far as you know, the air is not toxic. Birds are flying and squirrels are playing in the yard as usual.  For a moment you see a dog run across the end of the street. Still no people or cars.

Now you wish you had at least met your neighbors down the street, but at least you have the neighborhood directory and look up the names of the residents in those two homes before you knock. You think, at the very least, it is best to be able to call them by name.

In the daylight no evidence of residence can be seen. There is no answer at the first house and no sounds come forth. At the second try a meek, scared voice asks your name. You speak your name and they recognize you as an administrator from the local college. That gives you some credibility, but the guns you carry are a bit discomforting to them.

bug_in_bag_shtf_woodsYou assure them you are no threat, because you are not. They know your wife, so they open the door just enough to peek. It is a relief and a welcome comfort to see another human face. The family inside is from Japan, here now as the husband is an engineer with the nearby automotive manufacturing plant. You are invited in. They exhibit signs of fear and caution, which is expected given the circumstances.

Their supplies are meager as the event has caught them completely by surprise.  With two smaller kids, they have a lot to manage.  They never ask for anything from you.  They have city water, too, with filled vessels in plain view as well.  You note a pan of rice on the stove.  They have one flashlight, but the batteries are dead. You promise to bring them more and some candles.  They are receptive of your visit. They become trusting and kind. You reciprocate.

Read Also: Bug In Contingencies

The man of the house speaks English quite well.  He was coming home when he heard the radio announcement.  He locked up the house and hunkered down.  The guy is smart and displays common sense.  They have no firearms, but you note a golf club at the front and back doors.  Work with what you have,’ you think. You ask about the other house across the street. They have nothing to report.  Their only radio is in the car which they listen to daily.  You assure them of your support and offer to visit them again the next day with some supplies.

On the walk back home, you round the corner and coming down the street is a military vehicle with some personnel walking alongside.  They spot you, armed.  They display their weapons as the vehicle comes to a halt. For moments you stand there staring each other down.  What do you do now?  Fiction or reality to be?

Photos Courtesy of:
Dr. John J Woods
Alex Watson 

 
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Food Storage Smarts: Stock Up On Meal Stretchers

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Food Storage Smarts Stock Up On Meal Stretchers via The Survival Mom

For many of us, buying food specifically for food storage is an additional expense that can, sometimes, become too burdensome. When money is tight, it’s hard enough to cover the groceries for our main meals, much less add another few day’s worth of food to the grocery cart.

One solution to this dilemma is to stock up on meal stretchers. Foods like rice, beans, potatoes, pasta, and other grains have always formed the core of most food storage plans. First, they are inexpensive foods, like these potato dices. Purchased either from the grocery store or in large multi-pound packages, it’s a lot of food that will go a long way in your meals. If you add just 1 cup of rice to a pot of soup, the expense is just a few cents. This is probably why some of my Nana’s recipes contained elbow macaroni. Just cook up a little ground beef, add some onion, a can of tomatoes, seasonings — and then double the amount of food in the pot with macaroni! During the Great Depression days, as I wrote about here, this was a common and necessary practice. Most of the macaroni in my pantry is in large #10 cans. The larger size provides lots of servings and the metal can provides an optimal storage container.

These meal stretchers also add a lot of calories. Now, for many of us, calories are something to be avoided but consider what life is like during a long-term power outage. Folks who have lived for days and weeks following a hurricane or Superstorm Sandy had to do without modern electrical conveniences that typically make our lives easier. We burn far fewer calories when machines do our laundry, wash our dishes, and help us in so many other ways. Without them, there’s more physical labor and stress. Thus the need for more calories.

I’ve heard stories of financially strapped moms learning that company is coming over and quickly adding a meal stretcher or two to their dinners. A scoop of homemade chili over a cup or two of white rice, stretches the pot of chili at least another few servings. One Facebook reader recently told me how she cooked bulgur wheat with beef bouillon until it was tender and then added it to some of her soups and chili. She said it had a similar consistency to ground beef. Classic meal stretcher!

One other advantage to most meal stretchers is that they are easy to store and have long shelf lives, with the exception of pasta. Grains, rice, dehydrated or freeze dried potatoes, and beans all have exceptionally long shelf lives, which means they retain most, if not all, of their flavor, nutrients, texture, and color over a long period of time. Stored in a cool, dark, and dry location, they will last for 20 or more years. Pasta, on the other hand, is a little more finicky when it comes to long term storage, but still, we’re talking about a good 8-10 years or more shelf life and worthy of including in your food storage pantry.

Not just for homemade recipes

Although I use meal stretchers primarily in my from-scratchrecipes, they can also be helpful with just-add-water meals. This Hearty Vegetable Chicken Soup mix could easily be stretched with the addition of rice or small pasta. Augason Farm’s Southwest Chili Mix can be stretched with any number of stretchers — more beans, bulgar wheat, or macaroni for Chili Mac.

This is also a good strategy for increasing the number of calories. One complaint many of us have with “survival food” meals is that they usually don’t contain enough calories per serving. That is easilysolved, again, with the magic of meal stretchers.

If you have pouches, cans, or buckets of instant meals, give some thought as to how you might stretch them if you ever really needed to make a 3-months-supply of food last 4 months or longer.

Some downsides to meal stretchers

There are just a few negative points about storing meal stretchers. First, they can attract insects. If you’re planning on storing them for many years, you’ll want to protect them by adding food safe diatomaceous earth to the container. Here’s some information about diatomaceous earth, if you haven’t heard of it before, and these instructions will help you know exactly how to add it to your food for pest control.

One other method for pest control is to put tightly sealed containers of food in the freezer for several days. This kills any microscopic insect eggs that could be present. I do this and also add the appropriate size of oxygen absorber, which deprives insects and their eggs of oxygen, insuring their doom.

Most store-bought packages of things like rice, beans, and pasta are made from very flimsy plastic or cardboard. In both cases,the foods will have to be repackaged to extend their shelf lives. Here are instructions for doing that. It isn’t a complicated process. It just takes a little time.

A reality of modern American life is the prevalence of gluten sensitivities and other food allergies. If this applies to you or anyone in your family, then wheat and anything made from wheat will be on the “Do Not Buy!” list. Instead, stock up on varieties of beans and rice. Stocking up on large quantities of gluten-free pasta is probably not going to be practical.

Wheat and beans, in particular, can be rough on digestive systems that aren’t used to them, so in a crisis, be prepared to deal with tummy troubles for a few days.

Stocking up on meal stretchers is a very smart strategy for any family’s food storage pantry.

Food Storage Smarts Stock Up On Meal Stretchers via The Survival Mom

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.

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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.
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Survival Hunting: How To Create A Food Plot — For Free

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Survival Hunting: How To Create A Food Plot -- For Free

Image source: Pixabay.com

If you’re a homesteader, hunter or survivalist, then you may have seen videos or read how-to books about making a food plot in the woods – all requiring purchases that can run in the hundreds of dollars.

In this story, I’m going to tell you how to make your own food patch for free, nothing out of pocket.

For those of you just tuning into the subject of food plots, let’s talk about what exactly a food plot is. You might be thinking, “Don’t you mean garden?” Well, the answer is both yes and no. Food plots are meant as a lure to draw in certain game. From squirrels to game birds, a well-made food plot (depending on what you’ve planted or allowed to grow there) can make trapping and hunting a far easier endeavor.

However, study up on your local baiting and luring regulations to stay inside the law and avoid a monstrously hefty fine or possible jail time. Finding these regulations is as simple as searching “baiting and luring regulations for (your home state).”

Learn The Secrets Of A Veteran Hunter As He Demonstrates How To Quickly Field-Dress Game

There are three reasons that you would want a food plot.

  1. Luring – Luring simply means you either plant the seeds of plants and foliage that attract big and or small game, and in doing so you do away with the need to track in the future.
  2. Feeding — Feeding large game is a way to ensure that their numbers don’t drop suddenly.
  3. Wildlife watching — This is a great option if you have children or don’t have to worry about food, and simply want the enjoyment of wildlife.

Once you have the legal information on luring and/or feeding in your home state, then the next step is to get your food plot set up. Let’s line up the items that you will need.

  1. A clearing in a wooded area where large and/or small game are known to congregate.
  2. A strong or at least hole-free pair of working gloves. Get ready to get your hands dirty.
  3. Homemade compost. Foliage, potato peelings, orange peels, carrot tops, etc. (preferably non-acidic compost, as what you want to grow doesn’t like acidic soil).

Now you will need to clean up the area in which you plan to make your food patch. Make sure that your patch doesn’t have mushrooms growing in it, as this is a sign of acidic qualities.

Survival Hunting: How To Create A Food Plot -- For Free

Red clover. Image source: Pixabay.com

Our goal is to create a food patch with red clover and chicory — two plants that many animals, including deer, simply love.

Remove any dead foliage littering the ground, such as leaves and the like. Once you’ve given it a good once-over, it’s time to dawn our gloves. Anything that is currently growing in your patch outside of red clover or chicory should be removed by the roots to prevent them from coming back any sooner than normal. Once you are positive that all plants and weeds inside of your food plot are removed, we can move on to the fun part — turning the soil. To encourage natural growth of the plants we want such as chicory or red clover (or any variations) you will need to disturb the soil.

If you prefer to do this part with your hands, then all the power to you! Personally, I find that a garden hoe works best. Remember not to go too crazy and slap into the soil, as most of the dormant seeds of red clover and chicory won’t lie further than 3-4 inches below the surface. Once your entire plot is nice and fluffed up, you can add to the effectiveness of this free method by adding a small layer of your compost over the soil and mixing it in.

If you are one of the fortunate individuals who knows where a patch of red clover or chicory grow naturally, then it would be in your best interest to wait for it to go to seed, grab yourself a few plastic sandwich bags, and collect as much as you possibly can. Spread the seeds out as evenly as you can in your food plot; this gives your soil a little nudge in the right direction and can save you some wait time.

You will need to return often to ensure no invasive species of weeds has moved into your beloved food plot.

Once your food patch is working well, you can return and begin setting snares for your small game along the edge of your patch, or if you’re abiding by the regulations on luring and feeding in your state, you can wait for a buck to stumble into the wonderful meal you’ve laid out for him.

Enjoy your food patch!

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

How To Make A Swedish Torch

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swedish-torch-fire-survival

Ever wanted to know how to take one piece of firewood and turn it into a stove/torch?  Wonder no more.  This is an introduction to the Swedish torch.  As with anything there’s a dozen ways you can use this concept; from taking your chainsaw and cutting a pile of notches in a log for a long burn to doing it how I did it here, by taking a small chunk of firewood and splitting and cutting it into smaller pieces with my survival knife.

By Jarhead Survivor, a contributing author at SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Click on image to enlarge

Click on image to enlarge

Check out the Swedish Torch video:

The Steps

First you need a chunk of wood.  In this example I used a 3 inch thick piece and about 14 inches long just to see how it would work.swedish torch  I wanted to make sure it would light easy, so I used a dry piece of fir tree that had been standing dead for a long time.  I split the wood using my TOPS Survival Knife then whittled the inside down a little to make a chimney.  Once the wood was split I whittled about an inch or so out of the four quarters before putting them back together again.  I also cut a notch into the wood that would be the place where I lit the fire about two or three inches up from the bottom.  I also had an old wire coat hanger I used to tie it together at the bottom of the log.  What I did there was wrap the wire around the bottom of the wood and then used my multi-tool to tighten it up so it wouldn’t fall apart after it started burning.

Lighting the Torch

Now I had a stick of firewood that had been split, hollowed out, had a hole carved in the side, then wired back together again.  I swedish torch front viewgathered the driest smallest sticks I could find, which typically come from the dead branches of a fir or pine tree.  I broke these little twigs into even smaller pieces and stuffed them down the “chimney” hole from the top.  Don’t stuff too much wood down or it will block the flames and you won’t get a fire.  If this happens simply pull some of the wood out and try again.  Next I lit a piece of birch bark and put it into the side hole (the fire place – if you will) then let it burn up and into the dry twigs I’d stuffed  into the top.  I wound up blowing on the fire for awhile and for awhile I didn’t think anything was going to happen.

Related: Make A Fire With A Bow Drill

It actually felt similar to blowing on a “bird nest” when you’re trying to light a fire with a coal made from a bow drill.  At first nothing happens, then bam!  There’s a beautiful flame burning.  The top of the torch lit like it was supposed to and burned reasonably even from the top down.  Nothing in nature is ever perfect, but I was really pleased with how it performed.

Duration

This particular Swedish Torch lasted maybe a half hour or so.  If I’d made the log bigger it would have lasted a lot longer, but since swedish torch top viewthis was just a test I was happy with the way that it went.  The Swedish torch isn’t really meant to be a torch.  It’s not like in the movies where the hero walks into the cave and grabs a torch covered with cobwebs that’s obviously been there for fifty years, then lights it and it burns like the sun for three hours while they explore the darkest reaches of the cave.  Could it be used as a torch if you wanted to walk through the woods?

Also Read: How To Make Your Fire Last All Night

You could probably get away with a few minutes of walking through the forest or a dark cave with it, but I wouldn’t want to depend on it for any length of time.  I’m not sure how it would perform being moved around when it’s really meant to be a stationary fire.  Would I do it if I had to?  Hell yeah!  You can always make something that is adaptable, so always try and look for more uses for something if possible.

Make It Into a Stove

I was also able to take my canteen cup and put it on top of the log in such a way that when it burned it was heating water.  It didn’t swedish torch boiling water in a pottake too long for it boil a cup of water, maybe seven or eight minutes, which is totally acceptable in the bush.The next time I make one of these torches I’m going to cut a notch in the top in such a way that it will hold the pot and still be able to burn freely at the same time.  I left it flat on top and it burned ok, but I had to offset it so that it didn’t smother the fire.

Overall Impressions

I liked the Swedish Torch for several reasons.  First, it’s economical.  It doesn’t swedish torch burning outtake a lot of wood to keep a small fire going for a reasonable amount of time.  It’s not going to throw a lot of heat, but you’ll be able to warm your hands over it with no problem.  It’s a great way to throw light if you don’t have a candle, lantern, or flashlight, or if you just want to use it for atmosphere sitting next to your fire pit.  You can heat water on it without having to make a bigger fire.  Of course the downside to it is there’s some work on the front end to fashion it and get it lit.  If I were to spend a night out without man made light, I’d probably make four or five of these and have them laying around.

Questions?  Comments
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Jarhead Survivor

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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

Disconnect!

“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 chips.microsoft 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 days.windows 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.

Photos by:
Jarhead
Pokemon Go

Questions?  Comments?
Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

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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.

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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.

pump_rifle_low_profile_survival_weaponary

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.

Semi-auto

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.
Neal

Photos By:
Neal
John Ronald

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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.

Questions?  Comments?
Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

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10 Non-Edibles for Your Emergency Stash

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non edibles emergency stash

While not exactly edible, stocking up on these ten items will make everyday life more comfortable, whatever your emergency.

Deodorant/anti-perspirant

Picture this.  You’ve been in your bunker for three weeks.  Sponge baths are a rare treat.  Then you remember your stash of Secret anti-perspirant.  Ahhhh….. instant morale booster, especially if shared.

Feminine products  
Periods don’t stop for something trivial like a nuclear war.  A six month’s stash of tampons, especially o.b., won’t take up much room, and will greatly improve your quality of life. However, a much better option, by far, is a menstrual cup, such as the Diva Cup that I review here.

Small items for entertainment
Choose multi-use toys and games.  Playing cards or Play-Dough, for example. Yard sales, dollar stores, and thrift shops are all very good places to buy these. They’ll keep kids busy during stressful times and will provide diversions for the adults in the group.

Bar soap

In a pinch it can be used for shampoo and even laundry. Buy a variety of soaps, including some that do not have a lot of extra dye or perfume added. You should also stock up on classic laundry soaps, such as Zote or Fels-Naptha. These are terrific as stain removers and as an ingredient for homemade laundry detergent.

Zip-Loc bags of all sizes

These can’t be beat for everything from a tooth for the Tooth Fairy to containing nuclear waste, aka dirty diapers.
Rope for a clothesline and clothes pins.  Air-dried laundry smells and feels so clean and crisp.  It may become your preferred method of drying, even after the electricity comes on, and of course there’s the added benefit of being oh-so-Green!

A pack of never-before-opened underwear for each family member

This is something that most folks will overlook in their zeal to stock up on freeze-dried food and ammo, but sooner or later, the kids are going to outgrow theirs and mom and dad will appreciate having a nice, fresh set. Ditto for bras.

Battery-powered CD player & CDs
There’s just something about beautiful music for defusing tension and calming nerves. I put this in the category of “Sanity” when it comes to packing emergency kits and making survival preps at home.

Tylenol PM
Seriously.  Do you really want to be 100% conscious wrapped up in your silver emergency blanket, huddled in the back seat of your mini-van for hours?

Toilet paper

While it’s true you can’t stock up on enough toilet paper to last indefinitely, but you can stock up on a year’s worth. I’ve done it. Use coupons and store sales to bring the price down. Keep track of how many rolls your household uses in a month, multiply by 12, and you’ll know about how many rolls you’ll need. Some have argued in favor of using cloth wipes in lieu of TP, and this isn’t a bad idea in general, but it will require the ability to bring a few gallons of water to a boil at least 2-3 times per week, and then dispose of the resulting “black water” in an area that won’t contaminate ground water or growing, food-bearing plants.

Preparing for natural disasters, nuclear war, complete societal breakdown, doesn’t mean we have to lose our sense of humor. In fact, your sense of humor should be #1 on this list! Don’t ever hunker down in your bunker without it!

This article was originally posted in June, 2009 and has been updated.

non edibles emergency stash (2)

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.

Questions?  Comments? Sound off below!
-Jarhead Survivor

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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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Why Preppers Should Consider Homeschooling

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preppers homeschoolI don’t remember when I first became convinced that homeschooling was the only type of education I wanted for our children. I do know it was long before I ever became pregnant. Now that we’ve finished our eleventh year of homeschooling, I’m more glad than ever of our choice. Homeschooling has been the perfect fit for our prepping family.

The foremost benefit for preppers like us is that homeschooling provides a continuous flow of education in spite of changing circumstances. Any event that would normally disrupt the school year doesn’t have nearly the same impact on homeschoolers. During a time of intense stress and change, a homeschooling family is together, along with the reassurance and the anchor that only parents can provide. This family survival manual will set you up with everything necessary for getting ready for emergencies.

Experienced homeschoolers know that you can “do school” at any time of the day or night. You can fill a backpack and a Kindle with all the curriculum you need and hit the road. School can happen in the waiting room of a hospital, in a Red Cross emergency shelter, or at Grandma’s house for an extended stay.

READ MORE: What if you were forced to homeschool? Could you do it? What might you need to do now to prepare?

It’s the versatility of homeschooling that lured us to this way of life and should everything hit the fan, for whatever reason, it may disrupt our homeschooling for a time, but at least we have the curriculum, supplies, and confidence to continue, even through the high school years.

No relocation trauma

If a family decides to move to another location or has to evacuate for a time, other than losing some time in the moving process, kids can pick up their schooling right where they left off. When we moved from Arizona to Texas, it did take a bit of catching up and a few hours with a math tutor to get my daughter back on track with Algebra, but within weeks, it was as if we’d always lived here and our schooling just continued in spite of the rather large blip.

(Our move didn’t go exactly smoothly, and I wrote about it here.)

The trauma of leaving one school and starting over in another is a non-issue. Our kids didn’t have to face walking into a classroom of strangers and when we landed in our little corner of Texas, little by little, they found their place among homeschoolers. We joined a large group of homeschooling families, which offered a Girls Book Club, a Boys Book Club, papercrafting classes, a homeschool baseball team, horseback riding lessons, a homeschool archery club, a rowing team, rugby, lacrosse,  you name it. Within a short time, it was as if my kids had always lived here.

In case a pandemic hits, homeschooled kids will already be at home, along with their textbooks, computers, and everything else they need for learning. School closings and quarantines will be one less thing to worry about.

Will they be isolated and weird?

If you’re worried about socialization, that homeschooled kids will turn out “weird” and unable to order a cheeseburger at McDonald’s,  I present to you my two children.

My daughter is now a senior in high school and, gasp!, she’s been homeschooled since kindergarten and throughout her high school years. She has taken sewing classes, been on swim teams and in a year-round swim club. She’s tried out cheerleading, took piano lessons, has been in Toastmasters for 3 years, a homeschool drama class, has dissected just about everything a Biology student can dissect and is handy with both a rifle and a handgun. She cooks from scratch, can make her own homemade beauty products, knows how to dehydrate food and can use a Sun Oven.

When she left for church camp this summer, she packed a small emergency kit with her: an emergency blanket, her Swedish fire knife, a Sawyer mini water filter, a multitool and a flashlight. She is confident and in so many ways already ready for college and beyond.

So proud.

My son is now 14. He’s in Civil Air Patrol and focused like a laser on moving up in the ranks. He’s on a rowing team, plays on a homeschool baseball team, and can talk with anyone about anything, anywhere, anytime. In the past, he’s been on an archery team, gone to a shooting skills summer camp, taken horseback riding lessons, and has even made his own forge. I’ve seen him stay calm in situations where I was near panic and have come to rely on him as a strong and steady member of our family.

Just from these bits and pieces of my kids’ homeschooling activities over the years, you can see they’ve had plenty of time to learn practical skills and spend time with people of all ages. They aren’t unique. They are very much typical homeschoolers and ours is the typical homeschool experience.

The false argument, “But what about socialization?”, isn’t an issue, and it never really was. (I don’t happen to think that putting a gaggle of kids who just happen to be the same age in a room together for 9 months is the ultimate in developing well-rounded kids, but maybe that’s just me.)

Both social and practical skills

Our homeschooling has given them the time to develop practical skills, like canning and gardening, that would otherwise be limited by public school hours and homework. For preppers, this is the ideal educational setting: kids are able to learn academic subjects and still have time to explore their own interests and learn skills of self-reliance.

When I was in elementary and high school, decades ago, there were practical skills classes beginning in 7th grade. I learned how to iron, how to bake and cook, and how to use basic hand tools. Hunting, fishing, foraging, gardening, and canning were once a part of everyday life for the majority of Americans. Now, if parents do not teach these skills to their kids, who will? Certainly not the public school system.

DON’T MISS: “Homeschooling: Where Academics & Survival Skills Meet

If you want your kids, to learn practical, life-long skills, it’s up to you. This is where grandparents and extended family can play a huge role. Certainly, among the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others in you family circle, there’s an abundance of knowledge and skills that could die out with that generation. Just yesterday, I was wishing that I had thought to ask my own great-aunts about growing up during the Great Depression.

Take advantage of the wealth of knowledge right in your own backyard and prepare your kids for a future of self-reliance by learning those skills now. Homeschooling helps make this possible because the “school day” is generally much, much shorter than the 7-8 hours spent in public schools, Monday through Friday.

Homeschooling for the tightest budgets

Another reason that preppers should consider homeschooling is because it’s many advantages come with a tiny price tag. In fact, there is a multitude of resources online that are absolutely free.

The curriculum that our family has thoroughly enjoyed over the years is AmblesideOnline. This challenging, 36-week curriculum is completely free and follows the educational philosophy and principles of Charlotte Mason, a British educator who established several schools in the late 1800’s. The website, SimplyCharlotteMason, explains:

The Charlotte Mason method is based on Charlotte’s firm belief that the child is a person and we must educate that whole person, not just his mind. So a Charlotte Mason education is three-pronged: in her words, “Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.”

AmblesideOnline provides the curriculum, book lists, and dozens of resources — the only expense is the actual books, and many of those are free online and can be found in used bookstores. For many reasons, this curriculum worked out perfectly for my family. When I saw my 11-12 year old daughter reading the original Mary Poppins, the original Peter Pan, and Oliver Twist and then discussing with me the themes of the novels without the need of a textbook or workbook guiding her thoughts and conclusions, well, I was impressed, especially coming from a public school background as a teacher, where so much literature for kids is “bottom of the barrel.” (Captain Underpants, anyone? The mindset of the public school system is that kids just aren’t bright enough to comprehend “hard” books.)

There are dozens of other curricula, though, and if you’re a beginner, you can read through my articles of advice for beginners. The main point is that homeschooling doesn’t have to cost much money at all. In fact, since so many homeschooling families are single-income with mom staying home, you’ll find yourself right at home with families who are also budget-minded and prefer to live simply in order to provide this education for their kids.

A multitude of free homeschooling resources on the web can take the place of more expensive curriculum if need be.

Self-reliant families in homeschool circles

I have found that homeschooling parents are generally eager to share their experiences and offer advice and suggestions, and chances are, there are homeschooling activity groups and co-ops in your area. However, beyond that help, you will find that homeschooling families tend toward self-reliance, and you will likely find other prepper families in these groups.

We’re used to swimming against the flow and are just a little bit rebels at heart, so prepping and homeschooling are a natural fit.

READ MORE: Here is a list of all the homeschooling articles that have appeared here on The Survival Mom.

“Follow your heart”, isn’t always the best advice, but when it comes to homeschooling, I think it’s an excellent guide. If your heart is telling you to, at least, consider homeschooling, there’s no better time to do that than right now.

This article was originally published in June, 2009, and has been updated.

preppers homeschool

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.

Noise

“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.

Summary

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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TTP’s For SHTF

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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.

Blowback

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.

But…

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.

All Photos by Doc Montana
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Experiences in living off grid!

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Experiences in living off grid! DJ Cooper “Surviving Dystopia” On this weeks episode of Surviving Dystopia DJ Cooper welcomes John Milandred to the show.  John has been a Preparedness, Survivalist, and Prepper Consultant to individuals and companies alike. Having been involved with The Prepper Podcast Radio Network, Radio host of Pioneering Your Way to Freedom, co-founder … Continue reading Experiences in living off grid!

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Montana retreat near Canadian border

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Low maintenance home

Low maintenance home

If you want to unplug and enjoy the breathtaking scenery that Montana has to offer, head to The North Fork. Located only a mile from Glacier National Park and three miles from the Canadian border, this small community operates on off-grid generators and solar power, with no cell phone reception for miles.

“That’s exactly why we chose to build here,” said Bill, owner of a three-level log home. What attracted Bill and his wife Luann to the area is also what created a unique challenge for builder Scott Leigh. “To get to the site, we had to drive 60 miles up a gravel road, sometimes in terrible weather, and then have no cell phone reception the entire time we were there,” Scott said. To minimize the difficult commute, he would stay onsite with his workers four days a week and then drive back to his office on Friday and gather more building materials.

The layout and design of the three-bedroom, three-bath log home was a collaborative effort that included Scott, Bill and Luann and designer Eric Bachofner whose company provided the 12-inch Swedish cope, hand-hewn lodgepole pine logs.

Because the site had an unspoiled view of Kintla Peak in Glacier National Park, the scenery was a major influence on the design. “Bill’s big push was centered on how the house was oriented,” said Scott. “He wanted the bay windows to face the mountain range, so we sat out there together with a compass and the floor plans and made it happen.”

The other key essential was a dining bay with 14-foot ceilings that Bill saw on another floor plan and wanted to incorporate into his own log home. The room features large windows with a 270-degree view of the horizon. Western larch logs provide structural support for the roof, but also create a unique “speckled” design leading up to the ceiling.

Not to be outdone by the dining bay, the kitchen boasts amazing views that “look straight out into Lewis and Clark country,” according to Bill, and is decorated to transition seamlessly into the dining and great rooms in the home’s open design.

To complement the logs, Kurt Kress was brought in to create the kitchen’s custom cabinetry from knotty alder. He applied several layers of stain, glaze and lacquer before heavily distressing the doors to give them an antiqued look. He chose a deep brown hue with green undertones that plays off the copper farm sink framed with two handmade newel posts. Seeded-glass panels were inserted into several upper cabinets as accents. Crema Bordeaux granite countertops complete the rich look of the space with copper features that mirror the same accents found throughout the home.

If you want to disconnect from the wired world, Bill and Luann’s home is certainly the place to do it. And you couldn’t ask for a better backdrop than some of the most spectacular scenery in North America.

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6 Calibers That Fly Under The Prepper Radar

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Top Survival Blog

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?

CONCLUSIONS

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!
-Drew

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5 Great Tips to Make Prepping Easier

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5 Great Tips to Make Prepping Easier Have you found prepping to be difficult many days? You’re really not alone if you’ve felt this way before. Prepping is no easy feat. It’s actually hard to do even if you find some aspects of it enjoyable. But hard things are often times the most worthwhile to complete, …

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15 Reasons to Prep Even if Doomsday Never Arrives

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15 Reasons to Prep Even if Doomsday Never Arrives One reason many people hesitate to start prepping is the fear that it will all be for nothing. What if they spend hundreds of hours practicing survival skills and thousands of dollars on survival supplies, and nothing happens? Would that mean it was all a huge …

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Damper Recipes: Try Australia’s survival bread

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“Have you heard of Damper? It’s an Australian bread that’s made using few ingredients and cooked in a campfire. Stockmen and drovers would make it using their basic camping rations.” from Alex in SurvivalCommonSense.com Comments

by Leon Pantenburg

Actually, I had not heard of Damper, but I never need much excuse to experiment with survival foods, and asked Alex for a recipe.

“Leon, I think there are as many Damper recipes as there are cooks, and nobody agrees on what the real one is,” Alex replied. ” The basic recipe uses flour, baking powder, salt and milk, and is cooked in a campfire (either in a pot, or wrapped in foil, or suspended on a stick, or straight on the coals). It’s usually served with jam or honey or something similar.

“My great uncle was a drover, and he used to make it for us when he visited. We never could get his recipe straight – whenever we asked, he’d just grab handfuls of ingredients and say:  ‘You just add a bit of this and a bit of that…’ His came out perfect every time. Ours didn’t.”

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Every prepper, survivalist or emergency preparedness enthusiast should have a variety of these simple, tasty recipes as part of their survival kit! Food is a basic survival requirement, but sometimes, even hunger can’t overcome  monotony. Eat the same thing, day after day, and some people might just quit eating.

So survival cooking, of necessity, must be simple and tasty! It makes sense that every region has an emergency-type  ration based on simple ingredients such as flour or meal.

Bannock, that staple among trappers and traders in the Northwest in the early to late 1800s,  probably originated in Scotland. “Ramrod rolls” were common in the Confederate Army because of  a lack of  options. In this recipe, a cornmeal dough was wrapped around a stick or ramrod, and toasted over a campfire.

Fry bread became a favorite among some Native

Hardtack, a very simple, long-lasting survival ration, is very easy to make and has the texture and consistency of a fired brick!

American tribes after they were forced onto reservations and issued flour and salt for rations. Hardtack was a standard American military ration for over 200 years.

Since Australia was colonized by Great Britain, I’d guess Damper is a variation of a popular English bread.

Regardless, Damper is easy to make, and don’t over-think it! In any of the following recipes, mix the dry ingredients together, add the milk or water and form a smooth dough. Don’t knead too much. Then, either make biscuits or a larger loaf, and bake it however you want to. It look really cool (and is a great kids’ activity in camp) when the dough is rolled around a stick and toasted over a campfire. Put peanut butter in the hole, and you have a delicious, warm sandwich.

Another recommended  idea is to amend the flour with one tablespoon of soy flour; one tablespoon of dried milk and one teaspoon of wheat germ per cup of white flour. This combination makes a complete protein of the flour, and turbocharges the nutritional value of the bread.

Here are a few Damper recipes that could work well in your survival kit:

Plain Damper

2 c self-rising flour (If you don’t have self-rising, add 1-1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt to every cup of regular or

all-purpose flour)

2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

water

Mix dry ingredients together first, then add water to make a soft dough. Knead until the dough sticks together, but not too long or the Damper will get tough. In a conventional oven bake at about 375 degrees about 20 minutes, or  until the edges start to brown.

Standard Damper

2 c self-rising flour

1/2 tsp salt

1-1-1/2 c milk

2 tsp butter

2 tsp sugar

Follow standard cooking directions.

A Damper camping recipe from Cheryl
  • 4 c self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp chives
  • 1 tsp crisp bacon, crumbled
  • 1 small onion

Preparation:

Rub the butter into the flour. Add salt. When it looks like crumbs, add water and the rest of the ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until it is a sticky dough. Turn out on to a floured board and mold into a round. Place in a well-greased cake tin and cut across to make 8 or 10 servings. Bake (at 35 degrees) for 20 minutes or it sounds hollow when you tap on it. Turn out and serve hot with butter. (Recipe courtesy of About.com. camping.)

 

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The Single Biggest Mistake Preppers Often Make

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The Single Biggest Mistake Preppers Often Make

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Survivalists and preppers have a lot of great ideas. While others are ignoring possible signs that our world might be on the brink of significant change, there is a growing community of people who are determined to survive whatever happens.

Unfortunately, some of these great ideas are just that — ideas. It is easy to become so enthusiastic about preparedness that crucial steps get skipped.

If I could give one sentence of advice to those new to the preparedness community, it would be this: TRY IT NOW.

That seems like a simple enough tenet, but it often gets overlooked — and it becomes a huge mistake. Preppers talk about plans for living in the forest, cooking food on an open fire, shooting animals for meat, growing their own vegetables, getting by without power or running water, and walking 30 miles to a bug-out location carrying sixty pounds of supplies.

Those things are all absolutely possible. Most of them are good ideas in the right circumstances, and many of them are activities which have been done since the dawn of humanity. However, it is valuable to bear in mind that successful execution of these theories requires some practice.

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Cooking over an open fire, hunting for meat, and walking 30 miles in a day were part of the daily routine to many of our ancestors, and it is tempting to assure ourselves that if they could do it, we can, too. And indeed we can. But they lived very different lives than we do. To a society accustomed to motorized transportation, fully equipped kitchens, readily available groceries, and flush toilets, the things our predecessors did might be challenging for us.

If your preparedness plan includes relocating to a remote forest, consider this question: Have you and your family ever spent any real time in the forest? I’m not talking about an afternoon stroll in the city park, wearing pearly white sneakers and carrying a bottle of Evian and posting regular Facebook statuses as you go. I don’t even mean a two-mile hike into the foothills of a national forest for an overnight at a bed-and-breakfast hostel.

I mean the down-and-dirty forest, with not a single cushy bunk in sight, no Wi-Fi, not even an outhouse. A forest where the only beaten path was made by four-legged creatures, and the only sounds are the raucous calls of crows and the rustle of leaves. And the only food available is what you carried in yourself and can cook on a portable stove.

If it still sounds easy, spend a week there. You might love it even if it’s your first such experience, but you will very likely want to tweak your survival plan afterwards.

Many post-disaster plans include at least some components of homesteading. Raising vegetables and keeping livestock for meat, dairy and eggs are the most common directions people intend to go, and with good reason. Growing your own food is the best possible way to feed your family long term.

The Single Biggest Mistake Preppers Often MakeBut again, consider the question. Have you tried it? Have you actually grown food and eaten it? Not just a little window box full of lettuce, but a real full-sized garden with a wide variety of crops that will truly keep your family out of the grocery store produce aisle for the whole season?

Many people garden for a hobby, but I recommend trying to garden like your life depends on it. If it ever happens that your life does depend on what food you can grow for yourself, you will be glad you worked out the kinks in that plan ahead of time.

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Try eating primarily what you have grown and raised and harvested and preserved yourself for a season, or even a year, and see how you do. Like many homesteading practices, it is likely to be a rewarding endeavor, but there will be challenges you did not anticipate.

Shooting animals for meat and processing the carcass looks easy enough on YouTube videos, but it is not something you will want to put off actually trying until it is the only thing between you and starvation. There will be that inevitable moment when you encounter something that wasn’t in the how-tos, or the overwhelming emotion or yuck factor that you didn’t see coming.

If you Google specific homesteading skills, you are likely to find plenty of people waxing nostalgic about how their grandparents used to do it, but there might not be a lot of people actually doing it now. Nostalgia is nice, but actual experience will serve you better if you ever need to do those kinds of things.

Plenty of people think of their physical abilities in nostalgic terms, too. They might have been a track star in high school or bagged mountain peaks in their youth, but that was a couple of decades ago. Today’s reality might include a lot more pounds of body weight and a lot less stamina. This is one area in which nobody can rest on his or her laurels. If you think you are going to walk a long distance carrying heavy loads, set down the TV remote and strap on your hiking boots now.

Gardener Resting in Vegetable GardenAnother important thing to try now is deprivation. How will you and your family actually cope in a scenario devoid of social media, hot showers, television and a comfortable couch? If your spouse and children have never spent a day without modern amenities, their performance could be compromised in the event of an emergency. Instead of focusing on the tasks at hand, they might be anxious and distracted in a world without comforts.

I am not suggesting you sell your house, quit your job, and go live in the woods today. Many people do so without regrets, but that lifestyle is not for everyone.

The good news: You don’t have to. You can take up gardening anywhere — even if you live in a city apartment, you can seek a community growing space. If you can’t keep livestock, then volunteer on a farm near your home. If you don’t know anything about hunting, then hire a guide to take you. Try charcuterie with someone who’s done it. Spend time doing things outside in all kinds of weather.

How about a weekend without electronics? Turn off the phone, the television, and the computer. Maybe even take it a step further and go without modern conveniences completely.

If you want to experience life outdoors and without amenities, try it. You can start off small by pitching a tent in the backyard, and gradually move up to a weekend in the backcountry in a homemade shelter.

And by all means, get fit. There is no post-apocalyptic scenario in which couch potatoes will be better off than active people. Unhealthy people who plan human-powered travel will certainly suffer when that happens.

In these uncertain times, it is good to prepare for harder days ahead, and good to have a handful of excellent ideas that will keep you alive and safe during a man-made or natural disaster. But don’t stop at ideas. Try it now.

Do you agree or disagree? What advice would you add? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Don’t Waste Anything: Survival kit and craft projects from big game animals

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There is more than just meat to harvest from a big game animal. With a little thought and ingenuity, you can find useful projects that will use many of the other parts of the animal!

by Leon Pantenburg

Before the foreigners arrived on the American scene, the indigenous people used virtually every part of  a big game animal.

They had no choice! The carcass of a deer, elk, buffalo, antelope or other game animal was their combination grocery/hardware and home store. A large animal provided the raw materials for food, shelter, weapons and virtually everything else needed for wilderness survival.

Today, a harvested big game animal is still a great survival resource. And, IMO, the best way to show respect and appreciation for the animal whose life you took  is to use everything possible.

To start with, every shred of usable meat should be harvested. That means learning butchering and meatcutting skills to most effectively cut, wrap and preserve the meat. (Every prepper and survivalist should know basic butchering as a survival skill!) Get good tools, and practice cutting and wrapping meat whenever you can. The better you are at butchering, the less meat you’ll waste.

Get a meat grinder or grinding attachment for your blender. I have been using the same Osterizer blender with grinder for over 20 years. By now, it has ground up the meat from a small herd of deer and elk and is still going strong.

The ability to make your own hamburger is cost-effective, and assures you save all the tougher and less flavorful cuts to eat.

Don’t neglect the organs. Last October, after a successful Oregon elk hunt, the intact heart was saved from one elk  carcass. It was donated to  Mountainview High School (in Bend, OR) to be used in the anatomy class for dissection.

Dog Food: My office supervisor is Belle, a 14-year-old Labrador (non)Retriever, and there are no wasted scrap meats at my house. While butchering, meat scraps are placed in gallon Ziploc bags, labeled, and frozen. Later, the scraps will boiled and used to supplement Belle’s  food. The broth is also saved. Belle’s favorite meal is  boiled elk or deer scraps, with broth, poured over her regular dry dog food.

Dog Liver Treats: If boiled deer scraps are Belle’s favorite meal, then baked liver treats are her favorite food on earth! If you don’t personally like liver, don’t leave it in the gutpile! (Take along a 2-gallon Ziploc bag and it will be big enough to carry a bull elk liver!) Give the liver to someone who will eat it, or use it to make dog treats.

Here’s a quick recipe for liver treats that will have your dog begging for more! Slice the liver into slices about 1/4-inch thick. Boil for awhile. Put on a cookie sheet and bake at about 300 degrees until the meat is dried and hard. Store  the completed liver treats in a plastic sandwich bag in the freezer until ready to use. If you don’t have a dog, give the treats to somebody who does. I imagine other organ meats could be prepared in a similar manner.

In no particular order, here are some suggestions to make the fullest use of that elk, deer or antelope carcass.

Leadhead jigs are very effective fishing lures, and can easily be made of feathers and hair from game birds and animals.

Leadhead jigs are very effective fishing lures, and can easily be made of feathers and hair from game birds and animals.

Fishing Lures: If you know a fly tier, give the tail to him or her. The hollow hairs of a whitetail make great lures, and flytiers – good ones, anyway – are notorious, constant scroungers of natural materials such as animal hairs, feathers and other stuff. Play your cards right, and you might get some neat flies back. Squirrel tails are another fantastic resource for fly and jig lure makers.

Buck Tail jig: One of the finest all-around lures I know of  is a simple leadhead jig tied into a bucktail. Making one is simplicity itself – all you have to do tie some of the long tail hairs to the jig and go fishing.

Tip the jig with a minnow or a nightcrawler and and you have a very effective rig for catching walleye or northern pike. One of the most effective colors for the jig is the hair’s natural brown.

Soap: If an animal has fat, that fat can be rendered into lard, and made into soap. I made some soap one year from a fat whitetail doe, and distributed it to the rest of the hunting club members for Christmas presents. I called it “Buck Rub,” but think about it while you’re while out on stand, and you can probably come up with a better name!

Soapmaking expert Karla Moore regularly makes soap with a variety of wild game tallows. Click here to get her recipe for a basic  bar soap.

Hides: I am too lazy to attempt braintanning a hide like the indigenous people did.  But the hide can still be kept, rolled up in a garbage bag in your freezer,  until it can be donated to a worthy cause. In many areas, barrels are placed at check stations to collect hides, and local civic clubs process the hides as fundraisers.

In my hometown of Bend, OR, the local taxidermist trades hides for leather gloves. The hide has value, even if you don’t personally want to tan it.

Antlers or Horns: Talk about a useful material! You can make handles for knives, and other tools, and use them for a multitude of pioneer products.

Saw an antler into thin slices, drill two holes in the center, and you have bone buttons. These become prime barter items at historic re-enactments or mountain man rendezvouses.

I used a piece of horn for the handle of my blackpowder rifle’s round ball short starter. It’s easy to make powder measures out of antler tips. Just cut off the desired length, clamp it into a drill press and start drilling. Pour sand or salt into the hole from a powder measure, and keep enlarging the hole  until you get the right sized hole for the desired volume. When you’re done, check the capacity of the horn with a powder measure and gunpowder. These are so easy to make, you can have several.

Elk Ivory: Every elk has two ivory molars in the back of their jaws. I got a pair of nice ivories when I can across a kill site from some other hunters. My Leatherman allowed me to quickly remove the teeth.

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Food Storage Part 1- Spoilage

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By Richard Bogath Food Storage – You gonna eat that? I’m not necessarily asking if you’re going to finish your meal because I’m still hungry, I’m asking if the food in front of you is actually safe to eat? Or that knife you’re using to cut up that game meat you took last week—is it […]

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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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The Fear Factor

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shtf

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 SHTFBlog.com & 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

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.

Practice

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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Essential Survival Secrets Beyond The Obvious

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Essential Survival Secrets Beyond The Obvious

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Just buying and stockpiling food and gear is not enough to ensure that you’ll survive during a natural or man-made disaster.

In fact, the greatest threat for the regular Joe Survivalist is not represented by economic collapse of predator drones, but his own hutzpah, i.e. an overblown ego.

Too much confidence can kill you faster than a smart bomb, and this article is aimed at showing you there’s more to learn and there’s room for improvement, so you won’t be defeated before your journey has begun.

Let’s look at a short list of what we’ll call forgotten survival secrets.

Things You May Have Forgotten

I’ve heard a lot of so-called survivalists acting and talking tough, claiming they’d rather drop dead than leave their property. That’s plain stupid and there’s no harm in having a Plan B if you’re a true survivalist. I admit, sometimes you must stand your ground and defend your property and your family if necessary, but an exacerbated sense of pride and lack of tactical thinking will definitely put an end to your life prematurely. Therefore, always have a bug-out/secondary retreat location.

New Solar Backup Generators Deliver 4 Times More Power Than Other Models!

In such a scenario, your health and physical fitness will make all the difference between life and death. I mean, if you can’t run 200 yards without having a heart attack, you may be in trouble. Even if you’re an old homesteader/survivalist, there’s no excuse for not taking care of your body. The solution is very simple and obvious: Eat healthy, eat less and exercise, even moderately, on a daily basis.

Another open-secret which is actually an acute and obvious inadequacy in the survivalist movement is community building and organization.  There’s no point in playing lone-wolf ad nauseam. After all, there’s a lesson to be learned from history: United we stand, divided we fall. Basically, it’s almost impossible for any single person, prepper or not, to cover the wide spectrum of supplies and skill sets required to endure a long-term economic collapse or a natural disaster.

The most common logical fallacy is the argument that bigger communities are bigger targets. But, in a disaster scenario, everyone is a potential target; when it comes to societal chaos, having friends and neighbors you can count on in case of an emergency will definitely increase your chances of survival.

Essential Survival Secrets Beyond The ObviousSome of the biggest “guns” in any respectable survivalist’s paraphernalia are barter markets and trade skills. In a society collapse scenario, the private trade networks (the barter markets) will become the new normal; just look at what happened in Greece in times of huge financial instabilities. You must learn how to trade for acquiring essential supplies in dire times; if you fail to learn these things, you’ll find yourself in a world of hurt.

Get The Essential Survival Secrets Of The Most Savvy Survivalists In The World!

Let’s close by looking at a few items, in addition to food and water, that you should consider purchasing:

1. High-quality and durable survival clothing. Even if this may put a dent in your wallet, just bite the bullet and try to buy the best survival clothes you can find, and in multiples. These clothes will have to last (and protect you from the elements) for long periods of time in a crisis scenario, so choose wisely.

2. Solar panels/solar generator. It’s shocking how many survivalists overlook this aspect, i.e., owning a readily available and free source of energy. Being capable of powering your vital appliances during a disaster scenario will dramatically increase your chances of survival.

3. Geiger counters and chemical warfare strips. These are to prepare yourself and your community for potential radiological/biological disasters.

4. A greenhouse. You can use it almost anywhere and in any climate, and it will help you grow food year-round.

5. Raw materials for the home. For example, nails, lumber, steel, iron, sealants and bags of concrete; you never know when you’ll have to maintain your homestead.

The ultimate secret for becoming an accomplished survivalist is to act as an independent thinker, a free man on the land, making your own decisions and not expecting a helping hand from the government.

What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Are Your Prepared For A Grid-Down Scenario? Read More Here.

8 Prepper Mistakes That Could Get You Killed

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8 Prepper Mistakes That Could Get You Killed

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There are about 319 million people living in the United States, and approximately 3 million of them are survivalists, preppers, or whatever the parlance is of our times (I prefer to call them realists).

What does that mean? Well, it’s simple math: Only one person in 100 is truly prepared for a failing economy, natural disaster, regional war or pandemic – not to mention a simple job loss. Yes, we’re talking here about the top 1 percent, but in terms of situational awareness, not money.

If you’re among that group, your goal should be maximizing efficiency and reducing costs. That said, let’s look at the top eight prepping mistakes, in no particular order.

1. Not learning survival skills. The most usual frame of mind when prepping is that gear means everything. So, all you have to do is stockpile (food, water, guns, etc.) like there’s no tomorrow. But you must learn at least basic survival skills, i.e., how to fish, hunt, defend yourself, etc.

This Crazy New Device Can Start A Fire Even In The Worst Conditions

Read those survival books, watch YouTube videos, go out camping, go hunting, fishing and so on and so forth. Basically, you should practice what you preach as a “survivalist.” Information is non-perishable, while gear comes and goes.

2. Planning for unrealistic events. For example, you may plan for a nuclear strike while forgetting that you live in a flood/tornado/hurricane/wildfire area. You must prioritize the potentially dangerous situations in your area, be realistic and don’t get lured by the hype.

3. Focusing on just one catastrophic scenario. You can spell disaster in various ways, ranging from losing your job and being unemployed for two years to, let’s say, total economic collapse in North America. You should prepare for everything and if that sounds complicated, just remember the basics of survival. In any given crisis scenario, you’ll need food, water and shelter. The rest are luxuries.

4. Failing to have a properly formulated survival plan. Even in a heist, there’s the man with a plan and the rest are executioners. The same story goes with every situation in life: First plan, then go for it. When disaster strikes, you (and your family) must know what steps are to be taken, what to do next, where to go, where to meet, whom to call and so on and so forth. There is no “one plan to rule them all.” Every plan is individually made to suit your unique situation, i.e., your climate, location, personal resources, etc.

8 Prepper Mistakes That Could Get You Killed

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5. Storing all of your eggs in one basket. That is, all of your stockpiles in the same place. By doing that, you will lose all of your supplies/gear in one single catastrophe. You should store your “nest eggs” in different places.

6. Being a total green-horn with your survival gear. Lots of people have stockpiled all sorts of cool survival gear/gadgets, but they are completely unable to use them properly in a disaster situation. You must spend “quality time” and learn how to use your, let’s say, emergency fire-starter kit, especially in a “hairy” situation when you don’t have much time on your hands and you can’t afford to make a mistake.

7. Not storing enough water. Yes, it may sound strange to you, but lots of survivalists fail to achieve this basic goal.

This Ultra-Efficient Water Filter Fits In Your Pocket — And Removes 100 Percent Of Water-Borne Bacteria!

You can survive without much food for weeks, but the lack of water will kill you much quicker than that, in just 2-3 days depending on the weather. Also, don’t forget to include water purification gear and to learn water collection/creation techniques (there are quite a few).

8. Failing to rotate your food supplies. This can be a very expensive “habit” because food has a tendency to spoil over time. Yet many survivalists tend to store food indefinitely, until they end up with lots of expired stuff that may not be edible. Basically, you must store what you eat and vice versa: Eat what you store. In this way, you’ll avoid waste or potential dangers to your health.

Stay prepared, stay focused, don’t get too comfortable and everything is gonna’ be alright!

What mistakes would you add to this list? Share your suggestions in the section below:

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

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.

Jerky

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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Pineslayer
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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Your Tinfoil Hat Is Making Us All Look Crazy

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So, here we are: 16 September with Operation Jade Helm over and done and nothing terrible has occurred. For the record, you will notice that I didn’t talk much here on Backwoods Survival Blog about all the hysteria going around, largely instigated by the Tinfoil Hat crowd that tends to see a conspiracy around literally every corner. This is because, while I did vigilantly keep an eye out on things, I wasn’t really worried. 
Unfortunately, many in our little subculture haven’t yet learned that there is a line (and not a terrible thin line either) between facts and hear-say, facts…

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Best Five Books For Living Off The Grid Or With A Prepper Mindset

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One thing that can definitely be accurately said about those of us in the Prepper / Survivalist subculture is that we are all voracious learners. Often this education is achieved through reading, probably because that’s a very economical way of gaining new information, and we are also notoriously frugal when it comes to financial matters. To that end, I thought it would be pertinent to list what I consider to be the five best books for living off grid and/or with a Prepper mindset with a couple of additions as honorable mentions.

What do you think of the list below? Feel free to let me know…

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Survival – Become a Survivor in the Wild

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Survival – Become a Survivor in the Wild

Learn to become a true survivor in the wild as this amazing guide teaches invaluable skills against the Seven Enemies that threaten your life. Highly recommended by Sean McBride, Ex-Australian Green Beret Army Special Forces and founder of Touch the Wild survival school, this must-have program includes life-saving tips, practical survival skills and

10 SHTF Preppers Communications

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10 SHTF Preppers Communications

Top 10 SHTF Communications. Comms are vital in an emergency situation and Cell phones could be shut down in certain situations.
Cell Phone
Multi-Band Scanner
AM/FM Radio
Weather Radio
Shortwave Radio
FRS Radios
GMRS Radios
CB Radios
Marine
Ham / Amateur Radio
Tags: SHTF, Communications, Comms, Prepper, Survival, Survivalist, Doomsday Preppers