The New Remington 1911R1 10MM Hunter

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2_remington_10mmThe Remington Arms Company began making firearms in 1816.  Specifically, the founder Eliphalet Remington made his first handgun in that year.  Later, in 1830, the original factory armory building was constructed in Ilion, New York.  Other buildings were added in 1854 and again in 1875. As you can well imagine with an arms company that grew to be such a comprehensive manufacturer of firearms, the total history is complex and multi-faceted.  It would take a book to outline it all, and in fact there are many books on the Remington Arms Company for those interested in such things as firearms history.  The study of Remington is a good one.  

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

Remington Arms just celebrated their 200th Anniversary last year.  The company remains in a strong market position, though arms making these days is in a constant mode of flux as the markets and politics constantly changes.  And Remington has changed with the times, too.

Perhaps Remington is best known for their long guns including their benchmark bolt action rifle, the Model 700, as well as the 1100 Shotgun which became the 11-87 with enhancements, and their quintessential pump action shotgun, the 870.  But since 1816, Remington has manufactured countless models of handguns, rifles, and shotguns, not to mention ammunition, their famous Bullet knives, and other trademarked accessories.  

Remington was also a huge manufacturer of military arms from the Civil War’s 1861 revolver, various Derringers, pocket pistols, Calvary 1875 Army Revolvers, Rolling Block pistols and rifles, numerous percussion rifles, the US 1911 Remington UMC pistol, and rifles for World Wars I and II.  Their production of sporting arms is likewise legendary.  Their imagination and engineering creativity continues today.  

Recent Remington Renditions

3_remington_10mmRemington Arms Company has never been an industrial firearms manufacturing company to be satisfied with sitting on their laurels.  In just the past few years, Remington has gotten back into the pocket pistol, self-defense, personal protection and concealed handgun weapons business despite how crowded that marketplace is these days.  

First, Remington brought out their new .380 ACP semi-auto pocket pistol dubbed the RM380.  Next, they produced a pocket sized 9mm labeled the R51.  Finally, is their newest rendition, the RP9, a full sized personal protection 9mm that holds a fully stocked 18-round magazine.  

Check Out: Hiding Home Guns in Plain Sight

But along the way and besides these pistol introductions, Remington has stormed the classic 1911 pistol market with numerous variations on the 1911 frame theme including government models, commander models, enhanced versions, threaded barrel models, and more.  The 1911s come in blued steel and stainless versions in .45 ACP with limited models offered in 9mm and 40 S&W.

One of Remington’s latest 1911 renditions is the 1911R1 10mm Hunter Long Slide.  It is their first entry with a fully dedicated hunting 1911 version as well as a first semi-auto pistol chambered for the awesome 10mm round.  It’s not only handsome, it is totally purposeful for hunting, prepping, survival, and protection.

The Remington 1911R1 Long Slide

4_remington_10mmLong slide?  Yep.  Out of the box, the very first thing you notice if you are a true 1911 aficionado is that the muzzle tips over a little quicker than usual in the grip of your hand.  Why, you may ask?  Well, because this slide is six inches long, one inch more than a standard 1911 slide.  This extra inch of barrel and slide contributes to a number of enhancement performance features for the 1911R1.  Catalog specifications for this new 1911 besides the obvious six inch tube and slide includes the chambering of the 10mm Auto round.  The pistol’s magazine capacity is 8+1 rounds.  The barrel itself is stainless steel, six grooves with a 1:16 inch left hand twist.  Trigger weight pull is set at around 4.75 pounds.  Some say too heavy but it is completely manageable.

The trigger is a 3-hole design.  There is a beavertail grip and ambidextrous thumb safeties, a very nice feature.  The extractor is of the HD heavy duty type.  The pistol’s grips are the VZ Operator II type for durability, long lasting wear with aggressive checkering for firm gripping.  

The overall length of the pistol is 9.5 inches.  The gun’s carry weight is 41 ounces.  That is slightly over 2.5 pounds, so it is no lightweight.  The sights are fully adjustable, a match type with a serrated rear sight panel to reduce glare.  The front sight is a post type with an orange-red fiber optic insert.  They are highly visible and easy to line up.  The accessory rail under the frame can handle mounting a light or laser.

The gun itself is stainless steel, but it is factory finished in a black matte PVD-DLC coating.  PVD is a “physical vapor deposition” coating and the DLC is a “diamond like carbon” coating that provides a low friction factor plus a high micro-hardness feature.  So what does all that mean?  It means the metal or pistol itself is virtually impervious to moisture sink impact.  The DLC coating makes the moving parts of the pistol slick running.  

Though the factory guns are black matte as mentioned, there is a special version available now through Davidson’s Gallery of Guns.  This 1911R1 model comes with a special PVD oil rubbed bronze finish.  The VZ Operator II grips on this special pistol are a bronze reddish brown color.  It is not only unique but particularly beautiful.  These pistols should become collector’s models, but still with every bit of utility as the black versions.  Davidson’s also offers a full lifetime replacement warranty on guns bought from them.  Good deal, Lucille, as BB used to say.  

Factory delivery accessories includes a cool collectable Remington green box.  In the box is a fitted foam insert for the pistol, two silver chrome magazines, a cable gun lock with two keys, a hard plastic barrel bushing wrench, a 200th year Remington sticker, and a factory owner’s manual.  

The 10mm Auto Story

5_remington_10mmIn 1983 the earth shook.  The 10mm Auto and its first pistol, Crockett’s Miami Vice Bren Ten was introduced.  The initial load used a 200 grain fully jacketed truncated cone bullet with a muzzle velocity of 1200 fps.  The energy rating was set at 635 foot-pounds.  This meant it was more powerful than the .357 Magnum and the rather lackluster .41 Magnum police load.  

Related: How Much Ammo is Enough for SHTF? 

The Bren pistol and the 10mm came from development work by Jeff Cooper and his buddies trying to produce a new cartridge being touted as the ideal combat weapon’s load.  Some federal agencies adapted the 10mm, but in rather short order, users began to complain of recoil and training issues.  Ironically, the 10mm case was later shortened to create the .40 S&W, which is now nearly defunct in its own right.

The 10mm remains a good choice for defensive work and small game hunting up to deer sized game at reasonable ranges.  Colt, Glock, and Kimber still offer pistols chambered for the 10mm in addition to Remington’s new 1911R1 Hunter Long Slide.  

Factory ammunition is available from Hornady, Remington, Sig-Sauer, American Eagle, Armscor, Buffalo Bore, Cor-Bon, Double Tap, PMC, Prvi Partizan and Sellier & Bellot.  Bullet weights vary from 135 to 220 grains.  The standard is a 180 grain jacketed hollow point bullet.  Plenty of reloading supplies are also offered for home brewed 10mm loads.  

The Remington 1911R1 Hunter’s Purpose

6_remington_10mmSo, what is this new Remington pistol and the powerful 10mm Auto round to be used for?  There is no denying that the 10mm is a hummer, but having worked with a 10mm pistol for a couple years, I find it no more difficult to control than a full powered load in a .45 ACP.  If the .45 Auto is not for you, then the 10mm may not be either.  But try it before you dismiss it wholesale.  

In this Remington 1911R1 long slide delivery platform package, the 10mm is even more tamed with the extra inch of slide and barrel.  The increased sighting radius of this handgun also makes getting on and staying on target much easier.  The weight of this pistol dissipates both excessive recoil and muzzle blast.  

I look forward to further testing.  The bronze model came too late for my fall hunting seasons to get the new pistol into the white-tailed deer hunting stands.  Next year will not come soon enough for me.  

I have experience with the 10mm and feel confident it is suitable for hunting and gathering at stalking ranges under 100 yards.  I am not a proponent of long range shooting with a handgun or a rifle.  In a hidden ground blind, or up in a tree stand over a woods lane or food plot, I fully expect the 10mm to perform well, and the new Remington 1911R1 Long Slide even better.  

Personal defense?  Once the shooter-gun handler gets accustomed to firing the 10mm and targeting with a 10mm handgun of any brand, then for sure this combination will deter threats with authority.  So far, the edge in this regard fully goes to this new Remington.  

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Survival Gear Review: Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag

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3_Hill_People_Gear_Recon_Kit_Bag_with_backpackHill People Gear is a unique company nestled in Grand Junction, Colorado. It is not just the exceptional quality of their bags, but Hill People puts a modern and even tactical twist on ancient solutions for humping gear in real-world situations. So practical and effective are their solutions, that Most Mall Ninjas would shy away from the more convenient kits because they would be unsure what their friends would think.

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

Hill People Gear has a line of what they call Kit Bags. In a nutshell, a Hill People Gear or HPG Kit Bag, is a sophisticated pouch you wear on your chest. It rides solidly with four 1.5 inch straps snugging the bag to your sternum, only of which one has a fastex buckle while the other three straps in the “H-harness” have adjustment sliders. All the straps reconnect on a mesh backside panel that can comfortably ride under a backpack if needed.

Rugged Versatility

I’ve grown to love the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag. Whether walking the dog in the mountains, or hunting, or doing some recon around the bug out location, the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag is my go-to go-bag.

I’ve carried the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag with a .22 revolver and auto, with 9mm and 10mm Glocks, and even my anti-bear Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan in .44 Magnum. While you feel some handguns more than others, none are too much.

Related: Birksun Backpack Review

4_Hill_People_Gear_Recon_Kit_Bag_wearingIt’s hard to underestimate the efficiency and convenience of a Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag right in the middle of your two hands. If your lifestyle runs heavy on adventure, you might discover that there are few places on your body that are not occupied already by essential gear. When fly fishing in the cold rivers, my waders go to my belly. The Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag works fine in the available space. When skiing with a pack that just might not be accessible depending on the situation, the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag works fine. When mountain biking and unlikely to want a daypack, let alone a backpack, the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag is an excellent choice. And when backpacking with 65 pounds and 6000 cubic inches of gear, the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag provides a convenient source of gun, survival gear, or navigation instrumentation. Or in my case, all of the above.

Hill People Features

The Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag strap system places a mesh panel square on your back with all buckles and adjustment sliders on the front side. Wearing the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag under a backpack is truly a non issue. Even under a coat is a fine choice.

On the forward facing side, no less than eight columns of three rows deep of PALs webbing gives you near-unlimited accessory options. And even if not PALing the PALS, you can can use the webbing ladders for knife pocket clips, pens, and anything else that needs a nylon shelf to secure it.

When carrying a handgun in the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag, you can either drop it in the main pocket, or use a velcro holster or barrel securing accessory. The Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag has  a 1.5 inch velcro strip running vertically up the center of the bag. There are plenty of options including my favorite, the  Maxpedition Universal CCW Holster.

5_Hill_People_Gear_Recon_Kit_Bag_Ruger_Alaskan_homeFor larger guns like the .44 Ruger Alaskan, I prefer to to have it floating in the main compartment of the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag so it’s easily accessible with a pull from either the right or left hand. I also want the gun to be something that could fall out into my hand in the off chance I am upside down when the bear moves in for the kill. This is not so far fetched when skiing, fishing, or mountain biking. Having to navigate a holster might take too long, or demand too much effort.

Check Out: How to Pick the Best Personal Protection Firearm

6_Hill_People_Gear_Recon_Kit_Bag_adminstration_pocketOn the administrative side, the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag has a thin front-end zippered pocket with two 4.5 inch organizational slots in addition to the overall pocket space. The first thing you might notice when handling the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag is that it is not big nor thick. It lacks the depth of heavy fanny packs, which is a good thing. To be an effective chest rig, the gear cannot be big. I’ve had overbuilt and oversized front-end storage options, but they interfere with the very activities that keep us limber and nimble when it matters. Heck, if you are just a pack mule than you can strap on a backpack as easily on your front-end as your back.

The Verdict

7_Hill_People_Gear_Recon_Kit_Bag_overallWhen wearing a Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag, it is noticeable…for about five minutes. Then the Kit Bag blends into the background. So much so that the first time out with one, you will likely think that everyone should have one of these. They are really that good. In fact the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag literally melts into your wardrobe quickly becoming and absolutely essential part of your outdoor routine.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that the price of the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag limits it to the serious. Weighing less than 14 ounces but costing over a hundred dollars, the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag can only be indispensable if you can afford it.


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Survival Gear Review: The Council Tools Apocalaxe

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First of all, regardless of the name, this Council Tool ApocalAxe has uses well before the apocalypse arrives. And while it would certainly make a formidable and handy zombie stopping weapon (seems killing a zombie is redundant), the ApocalAxe will work fine on those that haven’t had the privilege of dying the first time.

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

1_Council_Tools_ApocalAxe_multi-too-axe_blade_handgripMade of hammer-forged steel, the ApocalAxe is far stronger than stamped steel that would save costs and simplify manufacturing. The ApocalAxe on the other hand has its iron grain aligned through being smashed with 20 tons of force while glowing red hot. Although the forging process might produce superior strength, it is a little rough around the edges from a finishing standpoint. But as a fan of hand-forged Swedish axes, the spit and polish of modern high speed manufacturing is easily overshadowed by performance and durability.

Thor’s Hammer

3_Council_Tools_ApocalAxe_multi-too-axe_leather_sheath-caseCouncil Tools has been forging American-made cutting, digging and striking tools since 1886 when John Pickett Council founded the company. Based in Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina, Council Tool has been instrumental in not only forging some of the best US-made traditional tools, but also in the design of new lines of tools for specific purposes. For instance, when the US Forest Service approached Council Tool in the 1930s to create forest fire fighting implements, one outcome was the Fire Rake, or catalog number LW-12 in case you want to order one.

Read Also: Estwing Survival Tomahawk 

The ApocalAxe contains a set of essential tools and grip choices, and one not-so essential bottle opener. However, the near-six-inch cutting blade, the hammer head, gut hook, and the pry bar end are truly go-to essentials of any large survival multi-tool.

Home Front

6_Council_Tools_ApocalAxe_multi-too-axe_forged_gut_hookThe domestic chores the ApocalAxe can handle need little introduction, but the survival elements of the ApocalAxe cannot be underestimated. On the domestic side, the blade is both a hatchet and a knife. An Ulu knife to be more specific. With a gripping surface above the blade edge, it is a direct and complete transfer of precise force from the hand to the cutting surface. Traditional knives have the blade leveraged from a distance, but the Ulu is more like brass knuckles.

9_Council_Tools_ApocalAxe_multi-too-axe_compared_Estwing_hatchetAs a hatchet, the ApocalAxe behaves itself quite well. The head weight of the ApocalAxe is low compared to axes with edge lengths this side. Well, actually, I don’t have a traditional axe let alone hatchet that has an edge anywhere near this size. In fact the only edge close to this is the Timahawk, another tool with tremendous survival leanings. Even my 35” Gransfors Bruks Felling Axe has a blade a full inch shorter than the ApocalAxe.  On the far end of the main blade is a smaller blade in the form of a guthook/seatbelt cutter. Due to the placement of the grip handle forged into the main blade area, this gives great purchase and tremendous leverage when using the gut hook. The grip also provides the same advantage but in the opposite direction when applied to the main blade. This is much like the classic Ulu Knife that has provided Eskimos and vintage hunters a fabulous knife design for meat slicing, light chopping, and skinning.

A hammerhead is found opposite the main blade. It is smaller than a traditional framing hammer face. In fact, one would have to drop down to something in the 12 ounce claw hammer range before finding a similar hammerhead size. Notably, the head is also quite smooth, and could use some texture if pounding nails is a major use of the ApocalAxe. But for general pounding, breeching, and occasional self defense, the hammer head works quite well as-is.

Another feature of the hammerhead is as handguard keeping a secure fist on the forward grip. When using the blade as an Ulu, or yanking on the gut hook, the web of your hand butts up against the neck of the hammerhead.

Pry Me

10_Council_Tools_ApocalAxe_multi-too-axe_bottle_openerThe southern end of the ApocalAxe features a lightly tapered prybar edge, a bottle opener, and a lanyard hole. In between the main edge and the pry bar is a rubberized grip almost five inches long. And hidden under the grip are a series of holes that will make excellent paracord anchor points should the apocalypse outlast the rubber-covered handle.  This would be a good time to address the overbuilt and uber functional sheath. Similar to many full-cover axe sheaths, the ApocalAxe cover is a full leather, fully stitched complete cover with no less than eight steel rivets. Belt slots outfit the back of the sheath along with a single D-ring to use in a dangling configuration. But the real advantage is that with the blade cover on,  full access to the hammer head and pry bar features are accessible and encouraged. A fold-over flap with a single snap secures the cover.

In the field, the ApocalAxe chops very well. Not quite a dedicated axe, but plenty good enough. In fact, for general chopping chores, the ApocalAxe could easily be a go-to hatchet, no questions asked. Even though the blade is on the larger side, it chops like a smaller edge in average sized workpieces. If you put the entire blade to work such as on a larger diameter branch or trunk, you would quickly hit the end of the leverage of this tool. But again, these are not intended functions of the ApocalAxe.

When choking up on the blade using the Ulu-like handle, the axe behaves better when punched or swiped. Pounding straight down into wood does little since the small amount of force is distributed over too large an area.

As a hammer, the ApocalAxe pounds with more force than you usually need with a head this size. Common outdoor hammer uses are nails and tent stakes, but as a weapon, this is pretty good choice. It is also the ApocalAxe surface of choice for breaking glass, windshields, and lightweight breeching. The axe blade is for chopping. The hammer is for pounding and breaking.

As mentioned, the gut hook does an admirable job especially after a touch up with file and ceramic rod. Council Tool knows that those serious about their edged tools often prefer to do the final detail sharpening. While the blade of the ApocalAxe comes sharp enough to get the adventure going, power users will want to hone the edge to their preference. However the gut hook could use a polish no matter who uses it. Out of the box, the gut hook had a tough time with elk hide. But a few minutes with a file, stone, and ceramic, the ApocalAxe could be yanked through thick hide and seat belts alike.

11_Council_Tools_ApocalAxe_multi-too-axe_gut_hook_elk_hideSince hunting season is still a ways off, I went to work on a roadkill to see how the ApocalAxe worked processing game. Well, gamey game, that is. Like the guthook, the main blade would do well for a customized sharpening for specific tasks whether wood or meat. Not that the factory edge wasn’t sharp, but it was not at the level of sharp that I am used to handling.

The prybar aspect is as functional as any quality forged 16 inch straight pry bar. And “forged” is the key word here. According to James Elkins, a vice president at the company, “Council Tool Designed this tool to be a highly reliable, tough, and multi-functional tool that does quite a few jobs efficiently and well and it is again the only tool in its category that is drop forged out of a single 4140 high carbon steel billet, heat treated and tempered so that it will not break or bend.”

Stamps are for Licking

12_Council_Tools_ApocalAxe_multi-too-axe_on backpackCompared to some of my other stamped steel options, this Council Tools ApocalAxe is vastly stronger, and you can easily feel it when in use. In fact, I would like to reference Snap On again. Tools might look the same, but the forging, heat treating, and especially the very iron from which it was birthed, makes all the difference in the world. And there are plenty of YouTube videos of catastrophic failure to backup my personal experiences. A human under an adrenaline rush due to escape, evasion, defense, or panic can easily deliver enough force to fail a foot-and-a-half pry bar. Heck, even without adrenaline I’ve bent spud bars that are inch-thick circular steel about five feet long. I bent Estwing axes, bent large screwdrivers, bent crowbars, and snapped sockets. I’ve broken pipes with a wrench, crushed oil filters, and snapped off lug nuts. So unless your survival tool has that final 10% stronger everything, you literally won’t know it’s limitation until you actually need it. I mean really need it.

Likewise, if your intended needs may include some precision in your prybaring then the somewhat coarse taper on the pry bar tip could use some thinning. Now I am comparing the ApocalAxe to my go-to pry bars made by Snap On. But those are dedicated pry bars and have little use elsewhere. Council Tools thoughtfully ships the ApocalAxe with the option to remove some material if desired which is infinitely easier than to add missing iron.

Check Out: Building an Emergency Shelter With no Tools

4_Council_Tools_ApocalAxe_multi-too-axe_bottle_opener_Magpul_beerFinally there is the bottle opener. The one on the ApocalAxe is fun to use simply because it has such a brute force lever arm behind it. It opens bottles as well as any good bottle opener, and just might displace my favorite opener namely the Magpul Armorer’s Wrench. But opening bottles is not the only use for this tool. The prying feature of a bottle opener can be applied to anything else that needs prying and has a similar lip geometry as a bottlecap.

Don’t Wait

While the ApocalAxe will certainly be an exceptional heavyweight multitool for darker times, the ApocalAxe is also a necessary car, truck, or bug out tool for both escape and rescue. And should the zombies attack, the ApocalAxe will make a fine defensive and evasion tool. But seriously, zombies are little more than a metaphor, and EMPs are (hopefully) a fictional vehicle for prepper fiction. But non-fiction vehicles often need a little assistance when bent or rolled over. Glass needs breaking. And wood needs chopping. So while the ApocalAxe might have some heavy overtones in its name, you don’t need an apocalypse to put this essential tool to work.

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Survival Gear Review: Estwing Survival Tomahawk and Double Bit Axe

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2_Estwing_EBTA_Tomahawk_EBDBA_Double_BIt_Axe_head_compare_3The company Estwing makes some of the most ubiquitous and diversified hammers, camp axes and hatchets ever to roll around the bed of a pickup. Ernest Estwing’s steel tools are the industry standard from framing hammers to camp axes, and the ones we grew up with and loved for their simplicity and durability since 1923. But tomahawks? Well, let’s take a closer look. The Estwing brand is an American made all-steel uber-strong set of striking tools from pry bars to drilling hammers, to camp hatchets, to full-sized axes. And two diversions from the traditional line of swinging tools includes some even more traditional tomahawk-like tools.

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

These are single-bladed, pick iron variants of the same tools the Algonquian Indians used to crack skulls and carve up meat before the Europeans came to North America. Jumping into the 21st century, the tomahawk, and even “tactical tomahawk,” have entered the mainstream bug out vernacular with a vengeance. To the point that any major knife or axe maker worth his or her survival salt makes a tomahawk or tomahawk-ish hand tool. I included the “ish” because one of the earth’s premier axe maker failed to market a “tomahawk” but does have an excessively expensive “Outdoor Axe” that easily mimics a tomahawk for most practical purposes. But enough of the Sweed.

Related: 12 Things You Should Know About Knives

In Estwing’s lineup of tools that fall under the axe/hatchet variety are a series of tomahawks that two head designs and a series of colors and handle options. Actually, Estwing only lists one head as a tomahawk but I am lumping their double-bit axe into the tomahawk category due to it’s size. I consider double-bit axes as those twice-as-big lumber tools that Paul Bunyan would have slung over his shoulder, not a two-pound 17-inch double-headed hatchet. So I’ll take the liberty and consider them together and both in the tomahawk family.

Two Bits

3_Estwing_EBTA_Tomahawk_EBDBA_Double_BIt_Axe_chopping_doubleThe double bit axe has two of the same edges. Often double bits are ground at different angles for two distinct chopping experiences. But this is more of a case of redundancy than duality. For throwing, camp chores, and general small-scale slicing, a double-edged axe like this works great. Very great, in fact. This is certainly not a felling axe, but it would easily be a go-to camp axe, or bug out tool. Like all Estwing tools I’ve had the privilege to use, the double bit axe preforms like a champ. Maybe not the world champion, but certainly a national champion.

The thin-thickness of the Estwing double bit places this tool outside the common axe/hatchet/wood splitting duties where lateral forces are as important as downward chopping forces. So more angled chopping is needed if using the Estwing double-edged axe for traditional firewood preparation. Throwing, on the other hand is truly a forte compared to those wood chopping tools with little personality.


The Estwing Tomahawk is a precision chopper. The balance is wonderful, and the grip to blade ratio leans heavily toward small work. Small accurate work to be more specific. The proportions of this tomahawk’s design supports a fine woodworking talent that make the Estwing Tomahawk a great piece of camp gear for minor woodworking, kindling chores, and even some kitchen duties.

5_Estwing_EBTA_Tomahawk_EBDBA_Double_BIt_Axe_choppingUnlike the Double Bit axe, the Estwing Tomahawk has a vastly different back end. Protruding opposite the Estwing Tomahawk’s main feature is a powerful spike that is as deadly as is it is functional. When you need a hole in something fast, the Estwing Tomahawk will deliver with the speed and force of a quality geology hammer. The pick is not sharp like a blade, but more of a blunt sharp, to coin an oxymoron. But anything organic that gets in its way is history. Between the two, I really like the precision chopping of the Estwing Tomahawk over the double bit axe. But if I was to carry one in my truck for camping duties, it would be a toss up with a leaning towards the double bit. Luckily I don’t have to choose. And given the relatively low street prices, you might not need to either. But no matter which Estwing you carry, you will be able to push it to your limit before reaching it’s limit.

Check Out: How to Pick the Best Personal Protection Firearm

Overall, both tools are in the thinish metal Estwing tradition with excellent rubberized shock-absorbing grips. They lean more towards value than brute strength or selective steel. But for 95% of users, those potential limitations are not limitations. So when it comes to outfitting your bug out bag or bug out vehicle, I can whole-heartedly suggest either of these Estwing tools. And even another one. But that is for later review. Stay tuned.

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Let’s Talk Knives: 12 Things You Should Know

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kk_skeleton_review_fallkniven_survival_knifeNo survivalist’s kit is complete without at least one knife, and there’s always an open space in the collection for just one more perfect specimen. (I know many who refuse to leave the house without theirs: When going hiking or camping, you’ll almost always have a use for one.) A knife is the one thing you’d rather have and not need.

By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Here’s what you should know about buying, using, maintaining and owning your knives…

1. You should never buy cheap.

Aron Ralston, better known as the subject of ‘127 Hours’, was forced to amputate his own arm after getting trapped in a canyon. After the event, he stated that the knife he had bought was nothing more than a standard cheap gas-station pocket knife – dull, at that. Don’t buy cheap knives. Always buy the best you can possibly afford: Something that’s going to last you a long time, something that’s not going to rust, bend or break. You never know what you’re going to need it for, and that’s a perfect example.

2. Know what to look at for quality.

Article_SOG_PIllar_Knife_USA_Made_hand_choil_full_viewJust what makes a quality knife, then? Consider brand-name manufacturers rather than something you’ve never heard of that costs half the price – sadly, that is a good rule of thumb if you’re going to need your knife for life-and-death. Generally, buy something that comes recommended: Ask around. Try several in your hand before you buy one. You want to purchase a knife that feels right – something that’s too small or too big for your hands is going to be more of a danger and annoyance to you in the long-run.

Read Also: The SOG Pillar

3. Flashy is not always better.

A lot of people pick a flashy blade for their first (or carry-on) for no other reason than… It looks flashy. Don’t do this. Buying a knife because it looks flashy and cool assumes you’re going to have a situation come up where you’re going to want to flash it. (That, if you’ve seen anyone come out of a knife fight recently, is a terrible idea.) Buy a knife for practicality, never for show. (If you want to buy a piece simply for its beauty, that’s fine, but in the case it goes!)

4. Know the laws about knives in your state.

Laws on knives (and the concealment thereof) vary by state and country: Familiarize yourself with what you’re legally allowed to carry (especially in terms of blade length) and how you’re allowed to carry it before you take your knife out on the road. It can land you in far more trouble than it’s worth.

5. Always handle your knife with care.

Zero Tolerance EDC KnifeKnives are sharp; if not, they should be sharpened accordingly. Handle your knife with care (always!) and teach anyone you give a knife to as a gift to do the same. There have been far too many accidents involving knives, and we don’t want to be responsible for any more. (Note: When storing knives in your pocket, make sure that it’s one that won’t fly open and stab you in the leg by accident.)

6. Knives can be an heirloom; consider a customized piece.

Customized pieces are available online from many excellent, specialized knifemakers. Consider this as a long-term goal, especially if you’re a keen collector or would like to pass something like this down.

7. There’s a knife for almost everything.

knives_cheap_good_average_bargainAsk yourself what you’re going to need from your knife: Is it something exclusively for preparing food when camping? Is it something for taking plant samples? Are you going diving and need a good diving knife to take along? Do you need a knife with a built-in flashlight or compass? (At this point, you might have realized that there’s a knife for almost everything and that you might need to get several to fit your needs.)

8. Learn how to sharpen a knife properly.

Fallkniven_A1-Pro_survival knife_batonSharpening your own knives is a skill that both comes with time and is best practiced on one of the cheaper knives (trust us on that!). If you don’t yet trust your own hands, have your knives sharpened professionally – it’s not as expensive as you’d imagine and it’s much better than ruining your grandad’s favourite hunting knife. For those who want to learn how to do it themselves, there are great guides on YouTube, like How to Sharpen Kitchen Knives and How to Sharpen a Knife with a Flat Stone, or you can take a look on for knife sharpeners.

9. What knives can and can’t do.

Never over-exert a knife: Know what kind of pressure your knife can handle. I’ve seen people try to do excessively stupid things with their knives, and well, put simply… You really shouldn’t.

10. The danger with knife-fighting.

Knife-fighting is an art unto itself, and not one that should be practiced lightly. Ever. (Open up your search engine and look up “injuries from a knife fight” if you’ve got the stomach for it; your entire perspective on knife-fighting should change right about there). If you want to learn how to fight with a knife (or take a knife off of someone in self-defense), your best bet is to take classes from a professional in the field. (Anything, and we mean anything else is bound to lead to serious injury.)

11. Knife-throwing: The cool stuff.

You might want to learn knife-throwing as a way to show off your skills, improve your dexterity or simply demonstrate that you can be bad-ass with a knife. It goes without saying that safety applies (never practice this near children, animals, other humans; anything you can hit that you shouldn’t, basically), never indoors (no matter what you’ve seen on tv) and always with proper knives (not all knives are throwing knives). There are some great lessons available on YouTube, check out these from Tim Rosanelli for starters.

Check Out: Mora Knife

12. Using knives in the kitchen, too.

chef_knifeKitchen knives deserve a special mention, as you’re going to want special knives for food preparation. Chef’s knives can be expensive, but they are guaranteed to last a lifetime if taken care of properly. Again, there are several varieties so you should shop around: From stainless steel to ceramic. There are also paring knives, scaling knives and a range of others, each suiting your individual needs.

Use the comments to tell us about your favourite knife or some handy skills you’ve picked up over the years.

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How To Choose The Right Grain Mill For Your Needs

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A grain mill is a very useful kitchen appliance.It is a necessary tool if you have whole grains as part of your food storage program. And it is an essential kitchen appliance for those who wish to cook the freshest, most nutritionally complete foods.

There are many types of grain mills available today. You can […]

The post How To Choose The Right Grain Mill For Your Needs appeared first on The Weekend Prepper.

Survival Gear Review: Magpul X-22 Hunter Stock for Ruger 10/22 Takedown and TANDEMKROSS Upgrades

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1_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_boxThe Tree Trunk of a rifle is the “stoc” or as we say today, stock. In a nutshell the stock holds the important gun parts and is placed against one’s shoulder when shooting. I think tree trunk is an apt description since until recently, gun stocks have evolved about as fast as trees. But today there is little sacred ground with rifle stocks to the point they have jumped species and the thing we used to call a stock might now be called a chassis and could be confused for an alien visiting from another planet.

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

I decided I was done with wood stocks back in the 1980s and have never looked back. Sure I enjoy the beauty of a artistically carved and finished gunstock, but for real world applications in my life, tree trunks are out. So with my loyalty to the woodstock in the rear view mirror, I am quick to adopt new designs and new technology especially when it comes to interface points between me and the machine. So optics, triggers and stocks are are always on my radar.

Magpul Magic

2_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_apart_sunlightFew companies in the history of the world have revolutionized the rifle stock as fast Magpul. And given that the stock has been referred to as such since 1571, Magpul’s ability to shake up an almost 450 year old technology really says something. Of course, others have dabbled in the buttstock but none with the same vim and vigor as Magpul and its polymer wizards. Beginning with the AR-15 platform, Magpul quickly diversified our appreciation for choice and customization. And then just as fast, Magpul moved beyond the AR and just recently entered the glorious 10/22 marketplace.

See also: 10/22 Takedown Review

Magpul’s first 10/22 stock was the Hunter X-22. An overbuilt chassis with fabulous ergonomics and features. Frankly, my first thought when I held an X-22 Hunter was that Magpul cares more about the 10/22 than Ruger does. My feeling was an outgrowth of something I’ve noticed in the past, and that is that often aftermarket builders of gun parts put quality into their designs proportional to the initial cost of a gun or by its cartridge. And thus the lowly .22 Long Rifle was not worth a full-on stock. Just plastics, lookalikes, and underbuilt experiments. Sure, some were much better than others, but it seemed any major upgrade in .22 stock was as special order.

Compared to the base model Ruger 10/22 Takedown’s black plastic factory stock, the Magpul takes all of the “toy” feel out of original and moves the gun into a whole new rifle experience. There are two primary pieces to a takedown stock, the buttstock with grip and the forend which in the case of the Magpul also contains a separate barrel tray. The weight of the Magpul buttstock is 29.6 ounces while the factory Ruger buttstock weighs 16.7. The Magpul forend weighs in at 8.6 ounces, and the factory Ruger forend is 5.7 ounces. So overall, the Magpul X-22 Hunter stock adds about one pound more than an out-of-the-box Ruger 10/22. The price in weight of the X-22 Hunter is more than made up in performance and off-hand accuracy.

There are two ways to look at the 10/22 Takedown. One way leans heavily towards minimalism. And the other is to overcome the limitations or shortcomings of a light rifle that breaks in two. The Magpul X-22 Hunter Stock clearly bends towards making the 10/22 a better shooter regardless of adding some additional size and weight. But don’t fear, Magpul is working on bending the otherway as well. Stay tuned on that.

3_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_buttstock_mounting_pointThe Magpul X-22 Hunter stock has an M-Lok friendly forend, and a sling-ready back stock. There are also several points to screw in Quick-Detach receptacles. To adjust the length of pull, the Magpul X-22 Hunter comes with additional buttplate spacers. Two spacers are installed at point of purchase, and two more are included in the box allowing the shooter to dial in the perfect length of pull to fit their needs. Additionally, Magpul sells cheek risers that fit the X-22 Hunter. So you can really customize this chassis for serious precision shooting and hunting.

4_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_stock_slingIn my case, I installed a M-Lok AFG or Angled Fore Grip on the underside of the X-22 Hunter’s forend. On the right side of the forend I M-Loked (there is no noun I can’t verb) a QD Sling Mount. So of course I put on a Magpul MS1 Padded Sling. I’ve been using Magpul slings since they first appeared in the homeland, but this is the first padded Magpul sling I’ve used. First of all, the MS1 works as great as the other Magpul slings but the padding really takes the bite out of a long carry over the shoulder or across the back. And for those high-speed situations, the I attacked an Magpul MS1/MS4 Adapter to add a QD or Quick Detach option to the top end of the sling. The Adapter snaps into the M-Lok QD attachment point on the forend

Read also: Leatherman MUT Gun Tool Review

The forend of the Magpul X-22 Hunter stock has a reversible barrel tray that accommodates the so-called “pencil barrel” of base model 10/22s as well as the 0.920 diameter bull barrels. And proving that Magpul really loves us, adjustable shims are included that allow the shooter to adjust the barrel harmonics through a set screw directly under the shim.

The Next Level

5_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_Tandemkross_bolt_leupoldTo trick out my 10/22 Takedown Hunter X-22, I first swapped out some internals of Bill Ruger’s 10/22 clockwork. There are obvious upgrades that 10/22s need right out of the chute. The first is a bolt buffer pin and the second is a bolt release plate. To soften the bolt’s equal and opposite motion backward when a shot is fired, I replaced the metal pin from the Ruger factory with a TANDEMKROSS “Shock Block” Bolt Buffer. The Shock Block is a polymer cylinder that works like a drift pin, but is softer and absorbs the shock of a cycling bolt. The Shock Block also reduces the wear on the bolt from repeatedly slamming into a metal stop. I’ve struggled to insert a softer pin into the 10/22 receiver on many occasions so I usually put a mild taper onto the far end of the buffer pin, a TANDEMKROSS Shock Block in this case. To install a subtle taper on the polymer pin to aid in seating without risk of mushrooming either end, I first insert the polymer pin into the jaws of my drill’s chuck. Then I spin it with a piece of sandpaper pinched around the the tip. Ten seconds later I have just the hint of taper to make the pin behave just like a metal one. Better in fact.

See Also: Survival Rifle Debate

In order to sling-shot the bolt closed, I used the TANDEMKROSS “Guardian” Bolt Release Plate. Rather than the “tired but true” clunky bolt release plate of the factory 10/22, a quick swap of the plate makes the 10/22 behave like one would expect this far into the 21st century.

Another important TANDEMKROSS upgrade I made to my X-22 Hunter 10/22 Takedown included swapping out the factory bolt for hardened tool steel CNC-machined “KrossFire Bolt. The KrossFIre is a thing of beauty and has a vertical movement restricted firing pin for more reliable and predictable .22 ignition reducing misfires.

Since I was replacing the bolt, I also swapped out the small but dense factory charging handle with a longer Spartan Skeletonized Charging lever. The TANDEMKROSS Spartan is easier to grab thorough its larger and more ergonomic human interface. But the low mass of the skeletonized grip keeps the bolt cycling at the proper speed.

Check Out: How to Pick the Best Personal Protection Firearm

6_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_Tandemkross_slide_LeupoldThe final receiver upgrade I made, well almost the final one, was to replace the factory bolt-on scope rail with the TANDEMKROSS “Advantage” Charging Handle and Picatinny Scope Base. While providing a slightly elevated scope platform, the real advantage of the “Advantage” is that you can easily cycle or charge the 10/22 bolt from both the left and the right side of the rifle. Rather than being a total rework of the bolt, the Advantage charging handle is component that engages the existing charging handle but offers an ambidextrous option. When I first saw a picture of the Advantage charging handle, I was skeptical that it would offer the fluid and smooth charging of the factory bolt. But at the 2015 SHOT Show I got some hands-on time with one and was impressed. It worked beautifully.

Shooting the Dream

In the field, the Ruger 10/22 Takedown with Magpul X-22 Hunter stock was like a whole new level of 10/22. The feel of the stock in hand felt so much more precise and natural compared to the classic but ancient lines of the traditional stock.
The Ruger rotary magazines are legendary for their durability and reliability. But there is still some room for improvement and I thought I would take a few mag upgrades for a spin. First is a TANDEMKROSS “Companion” magazine bumper. The Ruger magazines are known are smooth and fairly featureless which makes them difficult to extract when they don’t pop out on their own. The Companion bumper adds a rigid base with wings onto the factory magazine.

7_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_Tandemkross_magazine_enhancementsAnother TANDEMKROSS adventure is the “Double Kross” dual magazine body. The Double Kross is a transparent housing that combines two magazines into one piece with a two 10-rounds mags 180 degrees apart but in one housing. The Double Kross works great, just like the original. However, it uses the internal parts of two existing magazines so one must swap out the guts, twice. And that is where the adventure is. If you’ve never disassembled a Ruger rotary magazine, you are in for a treat. So much so that TANDEMKROSS makes a “10/22 Rotary Magazine Tune-up Tool which I can attest is worth it’s weight in gold when the springs start flying.

With all this 10/22 magazine goodness, I went ahead and installed a TANDEMKROSS “Fireswitch” extended mag release lever. Using a cantilevered design, the Fireswitch will release the magazine with either a push or a pull on the lever. The Fireswitch is also much easier to use while wearing gloves compared to the stock mag release.

9_Magpul_X-22_Hunter_Stock_Ruger_1022_backpack_slotsRuger packaged the 10/22 Takedown with an oversized backpack. I was not thrilled with the pack, and considered it far too large for the svelte Takedown. But a 10/22 Takedown wearing the Magpul X-22 furniture fits wonderfully into the Ruger backpack. So I put it back into service again.

Big Boy Pants

The Ruger 10/22 Takedown is finally maturing into the rifle I knew it would be someday. But wait, there’s more. But you will have to wait. So stay tuned right here.

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BMS Custom Made Rifles

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bms_rifle_customJust the idea of having a custom rifle built to your own specifications is enticing.  In fact, having anything created on our own behalf for personal use is rather satisfying.  For the prepper looking for something a little more special than a stock weapon, a firearm from a custom machine and gun manufacturing build shop is the way to go. Sure you can pull completely utilitarian products right off the shelf and in most cases they perform well.  Sometimes not.  

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

Ever bought a new pair of tactical pants or a jacket at the store or mail order, then after a few times of wearing it, the garment just does not feel exactly right?  Back in the closet it goes. Maybe later, you’ll sell it at a garage sale.  In fact, how many pieces of gear do you have collecting dust right now that just did not work out as expected?

The Custom Concept

bms_custom_builds_riflesEver attended a really big knife show?  Looking at all the blades hand shaped and hewn by small shop custom steel smiths is exhilarating.  Then examine those individualized handle panels of exotic woods, or high strength synthetics, all shapes, all colors, palm swells, fits and finishes.  Owning a new custom made knife is special.  Using them is even more special.  

Read Also: The SOG Pillar Knife

It is the same with having a custom firearm built to your own specifications.  There is usually a general platform, design, configurations, and materials, but many of the final details are left to the customer.  Options are the element of customizing the firearm to the customer.  That is the purpose after all of having a custom made gun.  It is tailored to just you and virtually nobody else.  

BMS’s Custom Manufactured Rifles

bms_rifle_top_profileBryant’s Machine Shop in Jackson, Mississippi creates specialized rifles from solid billets of aluminum or other materials.   This is not a factory assembly line rifle by any means of the imagination.  It is not a back room sweat shop either where assorted export parts are assembled in dim light to produce a finished rifle.  Quite the contrary as a matter of fact. BMS’s equipment is the best state-of-the-art CNC machines available on the market today.  They design and manufacture a lot of custom parts and pieces for a lot of different industries and purposes all in house.  For our interest, they also manufacture some of the finest AR platform rifles made as well as other rifles, rimfires, and now suppressors.  

They offer the complete package for sport shooting, hunting, and defensive work.  All of these purposes should appeal to preppers and survivalists of all survival core values.  

BMS has been manufacturing custom AR-15 type rifles for several years and can offer an amazing array of customer specific demands for that one-of-a-kind special rifle.  They can also custom build a more standard rifle built in the precision care mode for an exceptional firearm.  

BMS AR-15s can be customized with any number of features including different barrel types, styles, and lengths, various types of forearms, flattop rail configurations, pistol grips and stocks, and other hardware accessories.  Custom colors and coating finishes are also a trademark of BMS.  I suspect if you can think of it, they can figure out a way to do it.  

Related: How to Pick the Best Personal Protection Firearm

BMS can even supply optical options from conventional optical scopes, red dots, electronic sights as well as night vision and thermal units for night hunting operations.  You just have to contact BMS to explore all the varieties of customizations they can do with an AR rifle.  

BMS’s New Build

bms_rifle_custom_excellenceFor survivalists wanting to add a substantial increase in firepower to their prepping arsenal, BMS is now building AR-10 units chambered for the .308 Winchester or the 7.62 NATO.  The .308 of course amps up considerably more terminal ballistics on target, thus allowing shooters to reach out to touch longer range targets with greater target impact.  Bryant’s new AR-10 is configured from 7075 billet aluminum for both the upper and lower units.  

The set up includes a 556 barrel, a Velocity 3 pound trigger, a Strike Industries stock, Magpul pistol grip, and an extended charging handle for easier reach and operation.  The slim line type handguard can be offered with either M-Lok or KeyMod accessories attachment modes.  

If the idea of having a custom AR-15 or AR-10 built for you sounds intriguing, then contact BMS for details.  Pricing depends on which rifle is ordered and the features specified.  All you need on your end is a licensed FFL for the local transfer shipment.


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Survival Gear Review: The SOG Pillar – A USA Made Knife

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Article_SOG_PIllar_Knife_USA_Made_hand_choil_full_viewSOG Knives in general need no introduction, but a few SOG blades in particular do require a few minutes of your attention. And one such knife is The SOG Pillar.  The SOG Knives company takes its name from a Vietnam-era covert US Special Ops unit known as Military Assistance Command, Vietnam-Studies and Observations Group or MACV-SOG. But the real story here is that the SOG part of the MACV-SOG was a cover name to hide the real nature of the entity. Soon SOG began to be shorthand for “Special Operations Group” which was a little more descriptive and honest given the nature of SOG work.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Many know SOG knives to be of good value and often of excellent performance. The Washington-based company named SOG began in 1986, but can trace its inspirational roots to special operations during the Vietnam War. The SOG Speciality Knives company began as the dream of Spencer Frazer who, as a UCLA math/science graduate, worked in the aerospace defense industry. The first SOG knife was the SOG Bowie, a commemorative nod to a fighting blade Frazer could feel was magical when he held one.

The SOG Bowie was the extent of the entire SOG knife line for a while and retailed for $200. And that was over 30 years ago. Sometimes events in a corporation’s history are not so much circular but spiral in quality and design while maintaining a familiar form. And thus is the case of The Pillar.

SOG began its journey into our hands with fixed blade knives and USA-based manufacturing. As time went on their designs diversified, so did their manufacturing options. In 2016, SOG had its blades and multitools manufactured in forges and tool factories in Asia. But 2017 brings some of that knife forging and construction home. So in a twist of inevitability, SOG presents a USA-made fixed blade of exceptional steel and design.

A Pillar of Society

The Pillar is the single fixed blade in the USA-made release of knives. There are three folders, all automatics, that also carry the USA pedigree. But the Pillar represents a homecoming of sorts, to the point it first caught my fancy, and then my desire, and finally my loyalty.

Related: The Fallkniven Professional Hunting Knife

As many readers know, I have a fondness for super steels and cutting edge designs. And I am happy to say that the SOG Pillar is a knife worthy of the respect any top-shelf knife deserves, whether custom or off the assembly line.

The Pillar, and note that I choose to capitalize “The” out of respect, is a blade of the highest performance and sharpness. The Pillar is a 7.4 ounce, 10-inch masterpiece of stonewashed S35VN steel. The five and a half inch blade is all business, and the canvas Micarta scales form a near-perfect union between human hand and tool.


Article_SOG_PIllar_Knife_USA_Made_choil_close_jimpingOn the blade-side, the clip point is classic SOG with a traditional edge belly, but an embellished spine carrying forth three transitions from aggressive jimping at the grip end, to a graceful dip in the spine-flow, to a classic focus to the tip. While SOG does get creative with its spins including full rasps, the treat The Pillar shares with us is what I believe to be the sharpest 90 degree spine bevel in recent memory. Corner turning on the spine of The Pillar will strike fear in firerods the world over. In fact, you can just wave The Pillar close to a fire steel and sparks will fly. It’s that sharp.

The choil just forward of the index finger guard (where all choils are found) is pronounced enough for functional use, but not so deep to interfere with full blade-length cutting tasks, or large enough to impede with precision grip-close bladework. Some knives have a chasm between grip and blade causing trimming and paring work to suffer due to the leverage distance between hand and true edge. This is exactly why the sharp edge most kitchen knives begins immediately where the handle ends, and even sometimes flows back under under the grip to get a headstart on the slicing chores.


The balance point of The Pillar is distinctly within the handle. The fore-aft flow of the knife centers just behind the index finger in a regular forehand grip. Many blades of this stature have skeletonize steel under the scales that moves the balance forward. Not The Pillar. The only absent steel out of sight under the grips are the two small holes where the fasteners bolt the Micarta scales to the blade. A balance behind the index finger makes for a very solid feel in-hand. The tradeoff of a balance-back design is found in a decreased chop force for a knife of this weight. Batoning with the The Pillar is a real treat however, especially with the plentiful flat shelf running from the midsection of the spine to the tip. But using The Pillar for such crude tasks could be viewed as an insult to the intelligence of this blade. However, that did not stop me from splitting some pine rounds with a diameter three-fourths the length of the blade.

The overall grip size of The Pillar falls somewhere between medium and small. Unlike Gerber’s blocky LMF or KaBar’s Becker series that leans on the circular, the greying canvas Micarta scales on The Pillar provide a firm handshake without making themselves the life of the party. This means they do not attract undue attention during use. Some blades have grips that consider themselves more important than the overall knife. Grips and scale must know their place in the knife dynamic. For grips and scales, serving the human hand is, as Ford says, job one.

Popular handle materials for fixed blade knives these days include good old wood and a pile of synthetics and composites including various plastics, G10, and Micarta. For the record, Micarta is a layered composite that could contain linen, canvas, paper, fiberglass, carbon fiber or other fabric which is then pressed and heated into a strong plastic that feels great in the hand. Micarta can trace its roots back to 1910 when its properties of electrical non-conductivity, temperature insensitivity, and disregard for moisture were new in such a strong material.

Rounding out the back end of The Pillar is a protruding tang with both pronounced jimping and a large diamond-shaped lanyard hole. The curved steel on the back end of The Pillar presents a viable surface upon which pressure can be applied, and even blows if absolutely necessary. But pounding on the knife might constitute abuse under the SOG Lifetime warranty, as it should.

Steel Valor

Article_SOG_PIllar_Knife_USA_Made_Scales_removedSo what’s up with the fancy steel? S35VN is a powder steel from Crucible Industries (CPM) that abbreviates stainless (S), Vanadium (V) and Niobium (N). This precision mix of elements including carbon, chromium, and molybdenum makes of a blade of exceptional durability, sharpenability, and resistance to chipping and folding. The S35VN steel is tougher than even the famed S30V that I’ve sung the praises of in other reviews. Furthermore, The SOG Pillar’s Rockwell hardness of 59-61, and a glorious mix of metallurgical alchemy in the steel, The SOG Pillar is about as stain resistant and corrosion resistant as a fine knife steel can be given our current mixes of earthly elements.

Read Also: Swedish Steel Mora Knife

The SOG Pillar leans more towards the tactical/combat side over a survival/bushcraft blade. The Pillar has hints of that mean look we love about the SOG Seal Pup but with better steel, a more refined finish with less of the black special ops persona, and a vastly stronger handle design using scales above a solid steel frame over the Seal Pup’s glass-reinforced nylon handle. Fully enclosed handles are necessary to reduce the chance of electrocution if the blade encounters a hot wire, and also to reduce the thermal conductivity to a bare hand of hot or cold, but mostly cold.

A Sheath Done Right

Sheath_Article_SOG_PIllar_Knife_USA_Made_sheath_tech_lock_pmagThe Pillar comes with an outstandingly well engineered friction blade cover complete with locking mount that will clamp securely to a belt up to 1.5 inches wide and a quarter inch thick. In the field, The Pillar is as fast to deploy as to stow, all one-handed. And about the only way to knock The Pillar free from its sheath would be to fall about six feet landing on your head. Needless to say, that would likely negate your need for a knife, possibly forever.

Removing The Pillar from the sheath is a real treat. The highest grommet hole on the spine-side of the sheath has jimping on it and is an excellent thumb ramp allowing, the extraction of The Pillar in one clean safe move.

The Pillar and I have made several trips now and it’s still dangerously sharp. I’ve come to appreciate the handle size even more, and enjoy The Pillar’s fluid ability to slice with precision. Despite its tactical leanings, The Pillar works wood very well and shaves fire sticks with ease. The Pillar is just as comfortable working in the kitchen slicing meat and veggies as it would be, and this is just a guess, separating life from a bad guy during government sanctioned wet work.

On a more domestic tone, The Pillar is presented well in its box at point of sale. When you open the cardboard, The Pillar is floating in space centered in the rectangle. In actuality, The Pillar is secured in transparent plastic. Compare this to being stuffed in a sheath and wrapped in a piece of paper, then stuffed again in a box. Presentation of the knife might end the moment the knife goes into service, but the pride of workmanship comes across even before you touch the knife.

When it Matters

Article_SOG_PIllar_Knife_USA_Made_baton_woodAlthough the tactical edginess of The Pillar might scare some hunters and outdoorsmen away, I can say with confidence that the classic lines and proven clip point are more than capable of cutting up whatever needs cutting up whether bush or beast. Those folks with survival bends might find The Pillar alluring as a bug out knife or primary resident in the Go Bag. And I would certainly agree. In fact, The Pillar is like a stick of cutting dynamite that can sit quietly on belt or pack, and does basic work without complaint. At a moment’s notice, The Pillar can step up to be the most aggressive and angry knife in the room. Instead of pushing a lesser knife to work above its pay grade, The Pillar hedges your bets towards the Big Survival side, which is exactly where they should if you’re serious. Mall ninjas need not apply.

The SOG Pillar is not an ordinary knife. The Pillar can play well with the little jobs yet jump to the front line and charge into battle when things go bad. Spencer Fraser, the founder of SOG has said about his company, “We don’t settle for ordinary. “We never did, and we never will.” And The SOG Pillar proves that. Again.

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Back to Basics: The KISS AR-15

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KISS_SHTFblog-survival-cache-tactical-magpul-aimpoint-comp-ml3-fenix-pd35-troy-magpul-dissipator-stramlight-tlr-1I admit it – like most gun culture involved individuals in America, I also got way too caught up in building an “ultimate” AR-15.  While I didn’t go as wild as some, I definitely spent way more money buying and trying different setups until I settled on my current “Goldilocks”configuration. I use and shoot the hell out of that AR – it’s my SHTF “gotta go!” rifle – but I’ve figured out with actual use that the rifle just has a lot going on for occasional range use, training, and scouting/small game hunting.  It’s heavy for an AR, to boot.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

The basic rifle uses a Windham Weaponry 16” heavy barrel SRC upper, modified with a Troy low-profile gas block, 13” Troy Alpha rail and aluminum Sig Sauer flip-up BUIS.  The lower has a Magpul MOE grip and a Magpul ACS stock, both stuffed to the gills with extra springs and pins, small sample tube of CLP, a spare firing pin, and a full complement of CR123 batteries for the 1000-lumen Fenix PD35 TAC light.  With the rubber-armored Aimpoint Comp ML3 red dot optic and steel LaRue M68 QD mount, the rifle weighs over nine pounds with a full 30 round magazine and BDS sling.  It’s set to go for a SHTF event and is a very capable, reliable, great-shooting rifle.  You could ask almost anyone and probably get the reply that it has everything one might need on an out-the-door grab-and-go SHTF AR platform.

But does this AR have things I don’t absolutely need (besides weight)?  Since building that SHTF rifle, my mind has been drifting occasionally to a “KISS” (Keep It Simple, Stupid!), rifle that is lighter, has no frills, and just works for a variety of uses and missions.  I recently assisted my father with assembling a rifle that he dubbed his “ULWC” (Ultra LightWeight Carbine) that utilized a lot of really high-end lightweight parts and a dash of simplicity to create a nice, functional AR that tips the scales at under 7 pounds with a micro red dot optic and 20-round P-Mag.  I wanted to straddle the line between the weight of my father’s ULWC, the utility and mission of Doc Montana’s “Katrina Rifle”, and what I had built already.  Nothing battery-powered, (though retaining the capability of mounting a light)  just tried and true simplicity.

Opportunity Provided By Colt

I’ve had a Colt Match Target Sporter HBAR for years, and I never really shoot the rifle anymore due to its competition-designed setup: it is a standard AR-15A2 configuration, with a 20” very heavy barrel, non-removable rear “carrying handle” adjustable sight, and fixed rear stock with added weights. The rifle shoots great, but its 1:7 rifling rate of twist means that it doesn’t group my preferred 55-grain bullet handloads very well – the 1:7 twist spins the fast-moving little pills too quickly, and the rifle grouped badly with 55-grainers as a consequence.  I didn’t want to stockpile another bullet in the 69-75 grain range and develop another handload for a rifle that didn’t have the capability to mount an optic optimally, so the rifle sat in the safe and gathered dust for a long time.

However, one day I was talking with my brother about possible upcoming AR builds, and he said, “why don’t you just throw a collapsible stock on your Colt?”  A light bulb went off.  I have built up a cadre of friends and local shops who were very capable of excellent AR builds and had all the tools I hadn’t accrued yet….so indeed, why not modify the Colt?  It possesses all the basic upper and lower receiver ingredients for a great KISS rifle – it just needed a different barrel and stock configuration.  I rooted through the couch cushions for extra change and set to work once I had the funds.

The configuration I knew I’d go to was one I’d had in mind for years: Dissipator, baby.


KISS_SHTFblog-tactical-survival-cache-dissipator-colt-ar15-streamlight-TLR-1sI remember being quite young – probably before my teens – and perusing through the many stacks and stacks of gun magazines my father had accrued: my earliest firearms education.  I remember seeing an a picture of an AR-15 that still sticks with me – it looked like a mean-looking chopped-off standard AR-15A2; and really, that’s what it was.  Later in life, I found that the then-Maine-based company, Bushmaster Firearms, had put a name to the design that Colt had pioneered years ago: The “Dissipator.” A classic Dissipator is a standard AR-15A1/A2 with the barrel –  usually 20” on a standard A1/A2 – lopped off to a handier 16” length.  The flash suppressor sat just beyond the fixed tower front sight and full-length rifle handguards, giving a stubby, businesslike appearance.  But even in my now long-gone younger ages, I knew that the rifle had a longer sighting radius for better accuracy, while boasting the handier CAR-15 shorter overall length.

Original Dissipators had issues with reliability; they had a full-length rifle gas system on a carbine-length barrel.  Gas impulses and resulting short dwell time were funky and the guns had a habit of not cycling properly unless the gas ports were opened up significantly.  Modern Dissipators usually utilize M4-pattern barrels and carbine-length low-profile gas systems under full-length rifle handguards, with the fixed tower front sight not being utilized as a gas block, as per the usual.

Today, things have come full circle.  After the A3/M4 AR variant reared its head, sprouting its myriad spawn and video game experts, shooters started to realize that the extra handguard length meant more rail room for more goodies and sling mounts.  It also lead to a longer sight radius for any attached sights, and with the modern arm-extended “C” clamp method of holding the rifle, more space to muckle onto the forward end of the rifle and not get your phalanges cooked medium rare.  You’ll see many modern builds are actually de facto Dissipators – short barrels with full-length handguards/rails growing around them, and sights that are placed almost to the muzzle.  Hey, if it works, people will figure it out eventually, right?

But I’d figured out long ago that it looked purposeful and damned cool.  And I was gonna get one, dammit. Or, y’know, in this case I’d build one.

Putting the Puzzle Together

Okay, so I had a Colt rifle and the entire interwebs to help me figure the best way to modify it.  Really all I needed was a barrel, appropriately-lengthed gas tube, and a collapsible buttstock.  I’d had the receiver extension, end plate, buffer spring, and carbine buffer kicking around already, waiting for a build.  I sourced a black milspec Magpul CTR stock from the local Cabela’s, and converted the lower from a fixed A2 stock to a 6-position telescoping rear stock one evening after dinner.  Mission one complete.

Related: Theory and Practical Application of the Walking Around Rifle

KISS_SHTFblog-survival-cache-best-ar-15-colt-dissipator-streamlight-magpul-MOE-tlr-1SNow for the upper receiver modifications, which were going to require more digging to make sure I did things right.  I searched the catacombs of online sources for a couple days, looking for the proper barrel for my build.  I definitely did not desire another heavy barrel; nor did I want a flyweight barrel and its walking groups.  Finally, I found that my local boys at Windham Weaponry do indeed offer Dissipator setups – I could have bought an entire completed Dissipator upper receiver, but settled on just the barrel and gas tube to replace the 20” heavy barrel that was on the Colt.  In the Dissipator models, Windham Weaponry offers a heavy barrel setup, as well as a stepped, lighter M4-pattern barrel.  I opted for the latter, and was 100% confident I’d have a great barrel; I’ve personally toured the Windham Weaponry facility, and their quality control is second to none.  Every person who works there is fiercely proud of their product and what they represent.  As stated before, my other AR build has a W-W upper, and with a good field rest, that rifle will keep 4-5” groups at 200 yards with no issues if I do my part behind the Aimpoint.

Windham Weaponry offers the ability to purchase directly through their website and I could have installed all the hardware, but I wanted to support another local business.  I called on an old schoolmate, Jeff Furlong at Furlong Custom Creations in Raymond, Maine, to order the parts and assemble them to my upper.  I’d had a custom kydex holster made by Jeff years ago, but had never had any rifle work performed.  He has a stellar reputation for his builds here in the area, so I called on him to help with the build.  Jeff helped me sort out what I wanted and needed, and he got to ordering the barrel and necessary accoutrements from Windham Weaponry.  While he was at it, I asked him to source a set of black rifle-length MOE MLOK handguards from Magpul, and a new charging handle.  He had a BCM Mod 4 charging handle in stock, so we threw that on the pile of parts.

I dropped the upper off at Furlong Custom Creations, and less than a week later, I got the message that the parts had arrived and the new parts were assembled on the upper.

And the Survey Says….

Huzzah! I buzzed up to Furlong Custom Creations to collect my upper.  Jeff remarked that it looked “badass” with the Magpul handguards, and I was inclined to agree.  Though aesthetics aren’t exactly the only thing we aim for with our ARs, you know we all smirk inwardly with unabashed satisfaction when another gun guy tells us our rifle looks “badass”, or some variation thereof. I probably would have skipped back to my truck if it wasn’t for the icy driveway.

Once home, I reunited the old receiver mates and assembled the newly transformed upper onto the Match Sporter lower.  The end result was, in my eyes and hands, delightful.  The weight sits just a bit further forward than a standard M4, and the handling qualities are excellent.  The initial handling time I got with the rifle, comparing it to its fully decked-out brother, made me like the Dissipator more and more – maybe there really was something to this simple, lightweight thing.

The first range trip was short – I barely got it on paper at 50 yards before the Maine 4th Keyboard Commando Brigade showed up at the pit with their AKs and .45 Glocks and started performing breathtaking 7.62 drum dumps and even occasionally hitting their Bin Laden targets.  I packed up and headed home before the cops showed up.

I finally got a few minutes to do some accuracy work while on my lunch last week, and the results were very good.  With Federal 55-grain FMJBT ammunition, I was able to keep 5-shot groups to 1” or so at 50 yards offhand.  Benched groups at 100 yards with the same Federal load hovered in the 2”-3” range – adequate for the purposes I need. I’ll try a few different factory loads and also try a handload – but for all intents and purposes, I’m happy with groups this size from an open-sighted rifle.  My old Winchester Model 54 in .30-06 shoots 2-3” groups at 100 yards with open sights, but will cloverleaf three rounds at the same range when scoped – so I know that the larger groups at long range are due to my aging Mark 1 eyeball’s capability, and I’m fine with that.  I accept it, anyway.

Though I’ve only run about 300 rounds through the rifle thus far, I have been very happy with the package and the performance.  Reliability has been flawless – though one really can’t gauge long-term results from just a few rounds downrange.

A Couple Additions

I didn’t want – or really, need – to add a bunch of crap to this rifle; I wanted to maintain the KISS principle to the best of my abilities.  Light weight and no-frills are the core concepts in this build. In my mind’s eye, I only needed two accessories: a good sling, and the ability to mount (and dismount) a light.

For the sling, I ordered a Magpul MLOK-compatible QD sling mount, and attached the circular mount at the 10 o’clock position, as far forward as I could place it.  The Magpul CTR stock already had a quick-detach sling swivel mount built in, so I sourced a pair of Midwest Industries Heavy Duty QD sling swivels from Amazon.  The space in between the swivels was filled with an adjustable Wolf Grey Blue Force Gear Vickers Combat Application sling to keep the whole rig in place on my body.  For those of you who haven’t tried a Blue Force Gear Vickers sling, they are phenomenal and highly recommended.

For illumination, I obtained a 3-slot MLOK picatinny rail attachment point, which I mounted at the 2 o’clock position, also as far forward as was allowable.  The small, simple rail is just the right size to mount a Streamlight TLR-1, which can be activated by my support hand fingers without adjusting my grip.  Simple, easy, tough…and with enough illumination power for what I expect to use the rifle for.

Possible future upgrades that are not necessary for this rifle to complete is mission, but are desireable to help improve user-friendliness:

  • a three-dot tritium sight set to replace to stock A2 adjustable sights, as budget allows – but with the Streamlight mounted, the need for the illuminated sights is negated mostly.  If I don’t go with tritium sights, a finer post front sight will find its way on the rifle.
  • An Odin Works extended magazine release is definitely on the list; they are a vast improvement over the stock magazine release, and I install them on all of my AR platform rifles.
  • A Magpul MOE Enhanced Trigger Guard will also be installed in the future to allow for improved access to the trigger with gloved hands.  They are more smoothly contoured as well, and don’t have a tendency to shave skin on my fingers as badly as the stock sharp-edged metal one.  I saw a screaming deal for a BCM extended trigger guard, so that was ordered and installed on the rifle instead of the Magpul part.

Defining the Mission for my KISS Rifle

While some may say the need for this rifle may be vague or non-existent, it fills a very vacant hole in my lineup.  I’m very fond of running guns that are sans optics unless I need them; I like the lighter weight and better handling qualities…a good aperture sight setup is all I need for 90% of my rifle use.  I’m comfortable and pretty quick on target using the built-in, non-removable sights.  For a few bucks, I can always drop some cake on a new flat top upper and have the Dissipator parts swapped on, once my eyes finally give out (I’m fighting it as long as I can, dammit) and I require an optic to keep my rounds heading in the right direction with anything resembling a modicum of precision.

KISS_shtfblog-tactical-survival-cache-KISS-rifle-dissipator-blue-force-gear-vickers-snowBut, what will I do with this rifle?  I’m glad you asked.  Like the aforementioned Katrina Rifle engineered by Doc Montana (check out his article here for a similar rifle concept that is different in execution), I built a rifle around an idea that requires a simple, light, rugged, and above all, reliable rifle that is capable of security detail/protection, hunting, and scouting.  Light weight is essential so that the rifle can be on my person perpetually if the situation demands it.  In a true disaster or SHTF event, having a lightweight rifle as a force multiplier may be the difference between life and death – and if the rifle is so heavy or obtrusive that you leave it at home standing in the corner, it is of no benefit.  This KISS rifle is also a second primary rifle, so that I may outfit my teenaged-but-larger-than-me son with an effective rifle in case of severe emergency and extra security is required.

I also wanted a platform for my KISS rifle that was easily serviceable, with parts readily available, either aftermarket or from salvaging “found” guns if needed – the Colt fit the bill flawlessly in that department.  However, since the Colt is an older “pre-ban” (is that still a bragging point anymore?) rifle, it has larger .169” trigger/hammer pins, not the Milspec standard .154” pins.  This necessitates a couple spares taped to the inside of the Magpul MOE grip….just in case.  A complement of easily-lost detents, springs, and pins also reside in the grip cavity along with a shortened 1/16” hardened steel pin punch and a small sample tube of CLP.  I like being able to effect small repairs and lubrication in the field if necessary, but big parts replacement, if required, and deep cleaning can be carried out at the home/BOL armorer’s bench.

Read Also: The AR-15 Bolt Carrier Group

The rifle will likely stay at the homestead, but remain ready to fulfill its duties with a ready complement of four loaded (and regularly rotated) and ready-to-rumble Magpul P-mags for immediate danger work, or a couple five-round magazines with a small-game/varmint handload in case I don’t feel like taking my Walking Around Rifle for a jaunt in the woods.

This KISS Dissipator (KISSipator?) fulfills all the basic requirements I was looking for when I started building the gun in my head.  I got the Dissipator I’d been dreaming of for 20 years, and was able to tailor the long lusted-after rifle and its few accessories to fill a hole in the SHTF arsenal, all while not overloading the rifle with gadgets and battery-powered weights. Mission accomplished.

The Sum of its Parts

The Dissipator configuration is a great choice if you’d like the longer handguards for mounting and grasping real estate, but without the added cost and/or hassle of free-floating rails.  Really, if I didn’t want to retain the capability of mounting a light to the gun, I could have left the standard A2-style handguards on the rifle, mounted the sling to the standard swivels, and had a great rifle for even less money.  As it stands, the cost for the barrel and gas tube assembled to the Colt upper, BCM charging handle, Magpul MOE rifle-length handguards, Magpul CTR rear stock, Blue Force sling and mounts, and the MLOK attachments is $407.00 – much less than the cost of a new, high-quality rifle (with no accessories!), even in this heyday of the AR rifle and aftermarket parts glut.

Check Out: Windham Weaponry

And keeping it simple?  That’s a personal choice.  I like having a rifle that is 100% effective at its intended job without any additional tactical detritus that weighs the rifle down and requires a larger stockpile of batteries.  I was pleasantly surprised at the utility of this rifle, even without all the gadgetry installed.  The fixed rear sight A2 platform is the ultimate in platform simplicity and ruggedness, and may even be the direction you want to go in if you’re looking for these same qualities in a SHTF rifle.

What are your thoughts on this setup?  A waste of a good Colt, or the right direction to go in? Sound off in the comments with your thoughts if you have a minute to share.

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Urban Survival with The Prepping Academy

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Urban Survival Forrest & Kyle “The Prepping Academy” Audio in player below! On “The Prepping Academy” for this episode our host Forrest and Kyle are discussing urban survival. You might be thinking to yourself this doesn’t apply to you. Let us assure you it does. Current statistics say that approximately 82% of the United States population … Continue reading Urban Survival with The Prepping Academy

The post Urban Survival with The Prepping Academy appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Survival Hacks! on I Am Liberty

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Survival Hacks Host: James Walton “I Am Liberty” Audio in player below! All over the internet people are doing things that are truly noteworthy in the survival realm. Its very interesting to scroll through the numerous websites filled with survival hacks. In a capitalistic society like ours we often forget that there are options outside … Continue reading Survival Hacks! on I Am Liberty

The post Survival Hacks! on I Am Liberty appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Survival Gear Review: Surefire E2D and E1D Defender Flashlights

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Surefire_E2D_E1D_Defender_CR123_Flashlight_.paracord_Falkniven_A1When I run out the door at night, I alway grab a light. Whether to a store, a walk around the block, or out for the evening, an electric torch rides in my left pocket, a knife always in my right. And both are always of the highest quality.  Two torches that have the most pocket time are a pair of Surefires, one the dual cell E2D, and the single cell E1D. Both lights are the latest generation but I carried earlier generations earlier. There are many similarities between the lights, both good and bad, but there are some significant differences as well.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

The things these two lights have in common beyond their maker include extreme brightness, two light intensity levels, tail click switches, crenelated bezels, dual-direction pocket clips, CR123 lithium batteries, aircraft aluminium, glass lenses, LED technology, O-ring sealed housings, and astronomically high MSRPs. The differences include the number of CR123 cells used, the sharpness of the bezel crenelations, the size of the pocket clip, the runtimes (close, however), the max brightness, the weight, and of course the length (but not by as much as you would think).

One For The Road

The single battery E1D is still a handful at four-and-a-quarter inches long, or more than three times the length of a CR123 battery. The E1D has a twin brother with deliberately subdued features to slide in and out of pockets without snagging. It is called the Surefire EB1 Backup.

Surefire_E2D_E1D_Defender_CR123_Flashlight_.in_handThe E1D’s 300 lumen output is more than enough for big tasks, but the true measure of a survival light is how low it can go and five lumens is an excellent choice. Carrying the light in a pants pocket is noticeable. Not because of the weight but because the bezel shares the same diameter as a quarter. The type of tail-cap switch is an option on the E1D. I chose the traditional two-click with shroud, however even with the shroud the light is still unstable when standing on its tail. But then again, it was never designed for such uses. While the shroud does protect from unintentional lighting, there is still ample room to deploy the switch with almost any bump or corner that is smaller than the shroud. The harsh form of the E1D easily slides in and out of clothing with very little chance of snagging. Four potential lanyard holes cover the tail switch shroud, and the pocket clip prefers a lens-down deep carry.

Related: Milwaukee Work Lights

The E1D weighs about three ounces with battery which doesn’t add much swing weight to the fight, but if the flashlight weighed much more, you wouldn’t carry it. So light is good for a light.

Make Mine A Double

Surefire_E2D_E1D_Defender_CR123_Flashlight_.511_Battery_caseThe E2D Ultra Defender is a full 123 battery longer than the E1D and just under two times brighter at 500 lumens compared to 300. The bodies of both Defenders are textured with a rougher but still comfortable gripping surface. Much better than most other lights that offer little more than a teflon-slick surface that is dangerous under the best of conditions. At 5.6 inches long, the Surefire E2D fits wonderfully in the hand with both primary and secondary striking surfaces peaking out from your fist. The shape of the light housing fits great in the hand with increased diameters at both ends keeping it centered. At a hair over an inch thick at its widest diameter, the E2D is strongly grippable by even small hands.

One of the defensive aspects of these lights include their ability to behave as a club, and a sharp one at that. It’s a mild force multiplier at best, but a multiplier it is with six sharp scalloped crenelations ready to dig into flesh. Although the smooth surface won’t likely capture much skin DNA, the blood that will be drawn can certainly provide evidence should it be needed.

Related: Bug Out Flashlight Wisdom

The E2D should provide a little over two hours of maximum lighting beginning at 500 lumens and tapering down over time. Or, with a second button click, it will give you almost three solid days of five lumens of output. Of course all runtimes assume starting the burn with fresh quality batteries. The Surefire E2D with two onboard Surefire batteries weighs only 4.2 ounces.

Photons from a Phirehose

Surefire_E2D_E1D_Defender_CR123_Flashlight_.HeadsDon’t get me wrong. I am a fan of massive amounts of lumens. Nothing is a cool as lighting up the side of a mountain with something that easily fits into your pocket. Or illuminating the trail at night out a few hundred yards. But turning on a 500 lumen light in a dark place is like a flashbang going off without the noise. Anything within five feet of the light is too bright to look at, and if you were hoping to read a map or find your keys, good luck. Most indoor lighting chores are close up and require no more than a dozen lumens, often much less than that. Surefire offers a five lumen low gear which is plenty for personal tasks and affords enough light to walk briskly over uneven terrain. But don’t take off running with five lumens or you will quickly outrun your stopping distance.

Spilling Light

Firing off hundreds of lumens might sound like a good idea, but the contrast difference between a fully illuminated surface, areas within the light’s spill, and those regions still in shadows is so great that your eye cannot adjust fast enough to see anything but a brilliant dot surrounded by utter blackness. About the only way to use a 500 lumen light inside a car is to cover the lens with your fingers allowing only a few photons to sneak out. But that won’t work well or for long. With each movement, the light intensity changes, usually towards the too much light side, and the horsepower of such lights generates enough hot aluminium to burn your hands. Finally, if your other hand is busy, you cannot turn the light off without opening the floodgate for a few seconds. Although your car’s interior won’t quite be visible to the astronauts on the International Space Station, it will show up from miles away.

This Ain’t Burger King

Surefire_E2D_E1D_Defender_CR123_Flashlight_tailcapsMany high-end flashlights have a user interface that allows more than one choice of brightness level along with a few other outputs including strobe, SOS signal, and moonlight level. But with half a dozen brightness choices comes complexity and unpredictableness. The idea for many choices is a good one…on paper. But in real life, the multitude of choices in a defensive light can be worse than an empty mag or unfamiliar safety. In the case of the Surefires, the two choices, all or just a little, are plenty. And “all” must always be the first option when pushing the switch.

So in a nutshell, the Surefire Defender Flashlights are excellent at providing blinding light, long low-level runtime, and a sharp circle of crenelations to add some spice if things go all hand-to-hand on you.

Having carried and extensively used Surefire flashlights for decades, and the E2D series for years, I am confident that it is one of the very best choices. It is at the top of my Bug Out list, and I travel with it without hesitation. My only concern with the Surefire Defender Flashlight is that some uber-efficient TSA agent will consider it a banned item and keep it for himself. To avoid this violation of my constitutional rights, I often wrap a ring of electricians tape around the business-end neutering the look of the bezel’s crenelations. I’ve also been known to black out the name of items like this with tape in order to prevent easy identification by thieves, and to keep the security-curious from wondering why a flashlight is called a “Defender”.

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Survival Gear Review: The Smart Bungee System

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smart_bungee_set_outIt’s extra sweet when you open a shiny wrapped present from under the Christmas tree and it is a super gear gadget any prepper could use.  It is even more special when that gift comes to you from your own daughter.  My daughter Allison got it right. The Smart Bungee System is a storable sack of various bungee cords with universal attachment ends to accept a host of connections for a wide variety of applications.  If you want or need to lash down boxes, equipment, gear, bags, or tools in the back of an SUV, pickup truck, ATV, or UTV then this is the perfect kit adaptable to many uses for securing stuff.  

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

The Smart Bungee kit comes with eight different cords in four different lengths, two each.  Included are 4-foot, 3-foot, 2-foot, and 1-foot lengths.  The bungee cord material itself is composed of a steel core for added strength, durability, and long lasting use.  The base rubber cords are weather resistant and wrapped in a material that is easy to grip and is long wearing.

The Bungee Cords

red_orange_couplings_bungeeThe ends of each cord are affixed with a universal connection point.  This is a red-orange colored coupling that allows the installation of the many connection devices included in the kit that are adaptable to a wide range of applications.  The variations of how the cords could be configured are nearly endless.  There are also connector sleeves that allow two cords to be connected together to make an even much longer cord to span wider/taller pieces of gear to strap down.  Again, the connection options are left up to the creativity of the user.

Read Also: The Survival Staff 

All of the cords with their connection points accept the attachments in the same manner.  Simply insert the connection point component by pushing it into the receptacle.  Then just twist and turn the connector to lock it in place.  The twist and lock is secure and will not simply pop loose even under the stress of pulling the cords tight to strap something down.

Standard Attachment Points

bungee_hooksIn this kit are four of the most basic connection points.  These are standard “J” hook type attachments that affix to a selected cord length, then simply hook over a hook up point.  This could be the usual bungee cord or net attachment points found in the beds of many pickup trucks, but also inside the rear “trunk” area of an SUV auto or other hatch back type vehicle.  The racks on ATVs are also common tie down locations.  These hooks are made of a super strength ABS type polymer plastic.  The pieces are then sealed in a plastic coating to protect the part adding durability, strength and long use.  

Specialty Connections

The Smart Bungee System includes a number of connection points that I have not seen on conventional bungee cords before.  I mentioned the connector sleeves before of which there are four so cords can be linked together.  This is a nice, functional feature.

There are two “Y” connectors in the set so that cords can be configured in such a way to build a sort of spider net or cords reaching to four end points for wider items like prepper gear or supply boxes, crates, or such.   The “Y” ends could use two shorter cords then connect to a long cord over to the other “Y” point.  

See Also: Pandemic is an Inevitability

There are two connection points that have attached carabiner type snap on hooks.  These are standard functioning carabiners, but without a screw down lock.  These are not intended at all for climbing or climbing support.  They are just a quick connection as like the “J” hooks, but with a closed spring activated latch on a totally enclosed loop.  

bungee_system_connectorsFinally there are four connectors that are termed “loop connectors.”  These are made to be attached to a cord end first.  Then the other end of the cord can be looped around a hold point like on an ATV rack frame, a pipe, tree limb, or other point to either be an attachment point or to suspend something overhead as the cord is looped back through the connector hole loop and wedged into the cord gripper. You have to get creative with these connectors, as the more I work with them the more I discover new uses.  Once you loop the cord back through the connector hole, the cord then locks into the “vise” teeth in the loop.  I just call this the cord gripper.  

By now you’re thinking this is a lot of parts and pieces to keep track of.  For sure, but the whole Smart Bungee System fits into a nylon bag with a pull string that has a push button lock to cinch the string down to lock the bag closed.  All in all, this is a neat bungee cord system that is buildable into an infinite number of configurations.  These can be ordered via Amazon or likely many outdoor-camping supply outlets.  The set retails for about $30.00.  

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The Stihl Pro Universal Forestry Axe: A Civilized Battle Axe

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Stihl_Pro_Universal_Forestry_Axe_head_profileWood and zombies have a lot in common besides their acting abilities; an axe easily splits them in two. And surprisingly, both zombies and iron battle axes share a similar timeline more than a dozen centuries long. Sure, stone axes were chopping coconuts and skulls as far back as 6000 BCE, but metal ones took longer to develop. Gunpowder displaced the battle axe as a primary weapon in the 1600s, but the modern zombie craze has caused a resurgence of interest in the swinging heavy blade.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Battle axe evolution followed technology improvements as well as battlefield tactics. The early wood handles were often the target of the enemy combatant’s own axe since axes cut wood and a broken handle makes the weapon as useless as an empty magazine. Seems every weapon can be reduced to a club.

Stihl_Pro_Universal_Forestry_Axe__precision_choppingMetal handles were the natural outgrowth of adding metal reinforcement to the traditional wood handle. But metal adds weight and if of sufficient strength, the wrought iron handles of battle axes relegated them to two-handed use except by those humans of the heavily muscular variety. A six-pound head on a battle axe was huge with single-pound heads not uncommon. Since battle axes were more for chopping flesh than chopping wood, the blade could be narrowed and have a longer, more curved presentation. They could also be thinner overall prior to where handle mounts. If a wood axe was designed as such, it would chop much like a machete meaning it would stick into wood and provide little splay.

Recommended Daily Allowance

Stihl_Pro_Universal_Forestry_Axe_glovesA distinct advantage of the axe as a tool is that it really is a tool. Nobody doubts the utility of a good axe to the point that even the U.S. Government’s National Forest Service lists the axe as an essential part of the “Responsible Recreation” kit. But not all axes are the same. While a steel head is uniform across the axe platform, it all ends there. And even steel has a host of variations: from overseas iron that is soft and rusty to finely crafted German blades polished and sharpened, to hand-forged Swedish steel that preserves the old ways of doing things. Handles range from Ash, to Hickory, to fiberglass, to plastic, to nylon, to a continuous steel extension of the head. All have their disadvantages, but a few materials and designs have very distinct and important advantages. And Hickory is one of them.

Related: Stihl Splitting Hatchet

In the case of the Stihl Pro Universal Forestry Axe, a high quality Hickory handle is used for durability, strength, power transfer, and shock reduction. However, wood is easily damaged by water, impacts, and time. Stihl addressed the impacts issue by adding a heavy steel collar around the neck of the axe to prevent overstrikes damaging the handle. And even more, the collar protects a super-thick neck that is a third more robust than traditional axe designs. And that’s on top of already being exceptionally hard Hickory with proper grain orientation.

With a length of just over 27 inches and a head weight of just under three pounds the Stihl Pro Universal Forestry Axe lands in the middle range of battleaxe demographics. And it looks the part. Compared to traditional axes you are likely to find around the woodpile, the Stihl Pro Universal Forestry Axe stands out as something different. And it is different.

Hang Your Head

Stihl_Pro_Universal_Forestry_Axe_in_handIn addition to the overbuilt handle and steel sleeve, the head of the Stihl Pro Universal Forestry Axe is manufactured by Germany’s oldest axe forge, the Ochsenkopf company. So with all this brute strength in components, Ochsenkopf designed a system to hang the head on the handle with more than the the usual flat or round wedges. The Stihl Pro Universal Forestry Axe head is literally bolted onto the handle with a long screw and additional metal wedge plug and steel endcap all securely attaching the axe head and collar to a fitted handle. Ochsenkopf calls this their Rotband-Plus system. So not only are the pieces ready for battle, but the entire mechanism is assembled to outlast axe traditions that usually outlast their owners anyway.

Check Out: Granfors Bruks Hand Hatchet

Stihl_Pro_Universal_Forestry_Axe_posing_logThe head of the Stihl Pro Universal Forestry Axe is forged with the German equivalent of 1060 steel they call C60. The “C” stands for carbon, but a 1060 steel is on the low end of high carbon steels. Not low in quality, but in carbon content. This minimal amount of carbon is fine as long as the heat treatment is correct for the tool. Axe heads are often of variable heat treatment with a different hardness at the bit (cutting edge) end compared to the eye (handle hole). Ochsenkopf axes are known for moving the hardened heat treatment further back than the usual half-inch or so from the sharp end. The 1060 steel in the Stihl Pro Universal Forestry Axe bit area appears to have been heat treated a full inch-and-a-half from the edge as noted by the change in light reflection off the blade. The variability in hardness of an axe head is a dance between sharp and brittle. Too much and things chip and crack. Too little and they bend and deform. Further, shallow heat treatments are often ground off during the axe’s short life of sharpening. A downward sharpening spiral begins when softer metal becomes the blade.

…But Prepare for the Worst

It wasn’t just gunpowder that sent battle axes to the back of the line, but also their overall durability especially when encountering an armor-clad foe. Battle axes were fearsome but fragile. In proper hands, they were nothing short of harbingers of death and dismemberment. But swung wildly and with disregard for the landing zone, the axes broke with unnerving predictability. And the same can be said about today’s modern forest axes.

See Also: Why the Tomahawk? 

Double-duty is name of the preparedness game. Just as the ancient grindstone handle can be found in modern configuration as a side-handle police baton, the battle axe could be hiding in the woodpile or by the campfire. While any axe can be dangerous (even to the user), not all axes are the same. Survival requires an unbroken chain of good decisions, and with the Stihl Pro Universal Forestry Axe, we have an exceptional hard-use tool for the homestead, and a dangerously strong striking weapon for breaching, rescue, and self defense.


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One Socket to Rule Them All! Tools for the Apocalypse!

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I’m of the belief that when the poop hits the fan, tangibles are going to be very important. The money in the bank will be worthless.  But if you have something in your hands that is of value, well, you will be in a much better spot!

As a prepper, I believe you should have food, water, medical supplies, a means to defend yourself, etc…  You should have an emergency fund.  And, if you are able, having some precious metals is good too!

But one other thing that I think is important is having good tools, specifically non-power tools. Think about it.  If you have tools, not only can you fix your things, but you could find work fixing other people’s things.  Good tools might be worth their weight in gold in a poop hit the fan scenario.

Lately, I’ve been trying to make wise purchases when it comes to tools.  I definitely don’t want to have a bunch of dollar store or inferior tools if I ever really need them.

So with that, I would like to share with you a tool that I recently purchased that seems to be a good choice.  It is a socket that can fit any nut and more.

I recently used it to change out the headlamp bulb in my wife’s vehicle.  I have to say that it worked just like it was supposed to.  And, it looks and feels like a very solid socket.

The socket is made by Blendx.  The tool is  the BLENDX 7mm to 19mm (1/4″ – 3/4″) Ratchet Universal Socket.  On Amazon, it has 25 reviews with 4.5 stars.

This socket will replace many other sockets since it can fit anything between a 1/4″ to a 3/4″ nut.  It will also grab other types of fasteners that need to be turned (see video below).

The socket is created with 54 small spring loaded rods inside.  When you push the socket down around a fastener, it grips around it and allows you to turn the socket.  It comes with a 3/8″ adapter.

Shown above with the Stanley Multibit Ratcheting Screwdriver.

The socket only costs $9.99.  It is made in China.  I know many frown on the fact that it is made in  China.  But like I said above, it has good reviews.  From the Blendx Storefront page on Amazon, “BLENDX is a Professional Online E-commerce Brand offering trendy Outdoor Products and Home Gadgets.We have Overseas R&D center in Shenzhen, where’s the core of the Chinese manufacturing industry. By taking this advantages, BLENDX provides you various kinds of great products at the lowest possible prices.”

If you would like to purchase the same type of tool from another country, the Gator Grip runs under $39 and is made in the Czech Republic.

The video below is of the Gator Grip version.  But the Blendx version will work exactly the same.


Do you have one of these sockets?  How has it worked for you?  And, which tools do you believe would be important for a SHTF situation?


The Survival Staff

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survival_staff_inhandIn this “back-to-basics” article, we will look at a basic building material, tool, and weapon- one that can be used for shelter, a tool handle, walking stick, and the most basic and primitive weapon.  As a weapon, the more-or-less six foot staff is one of the most universal among many martial arts traditions, and often the first taught.  Shaolin, Wing Chun, Kobudo and other schools of martial arts teach staff “forms”, or choreographed practice sequences that have been passed down through the ages.  For basic utility, the staff can be used to carry firewood and water (by hanging bundles or buckets at the ends and carrying over one’s shoulders), and for other forms of transport (such as game, strung up between two people; or to craft a sled or skid).  Sturdy poles can be used to build tripods, lean-tos, and other structures you might need around camp.  A staff can also be used to make a spear or whittled down for a tool handle.

By Nathaniel Whitmore a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache

There are many articles online regarding various types of survival staffs that are basically types of walking sticks, perhaps of lightweight material, that have chambers to hold objects for survival.  There are many clever designs.  I do like the idea of such staffs, but wonder how well they will hold up.  For this article, we are discussing the primitive staff.  It might seem a very simple subject, but there are many considerations worth becoming familiar with, including wood selection, crafting tools and handles, building possibilities, self defense, and weapon-crafting possibilities.

Gathering Resources

survival_staffs_hemlock_and_white_pineAt my campsite in the Catskills there were White Pines (Pinus strobus) and Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) saplings about 10 years or so in age and thick enough to block visibility and make walking difficult.  Besides other considerations regarding location, it seemed fitting for a campsite to clear the thick trees that were already shading each other out.  Small trees a few inches in diameter can be easily cut with a hatchet, camp saw, or machete.  They provide material for building structures and for other craft.  The unused material dries relatively quickly to provide future kindling and firewood.  Plus, depending on the species of trees being felled, food and medicine can also be gleaned.  In the case of White Pine and Hemlock the needles and bark can be used to make “tea” for medicinal use, pleasure, or as a nutritional supplement.  Many tree barks have medicinal uses and sometimes leaves or other parts are also useful as food or medicine.  

Related: Medicinal Uses of Pine Trees 

Once felled, the branches can be removed from the saplings with a machete or hatchet.  A small saw can be useful.  I also like to have pruners in my pocket and some loppers nearby.  Though more time consuming to use, such tools can more cleanly remove branches if desired.  I like to leave interesting branches and crotches in case they are useful for some project later.  But for the most part the idea is to work the sapling down to a relatively uniform building material.  After the branches are removed the poles can be organized by size.  This process gives you lots of material to work with for shelter building and the like.

survival_staffs_red_cedarYou might consider removing the bark while the saplings are still green.  For one thing it is easier to remove than when it dries to the trunk.  You also may want to use it for making rope, baskets, and the like.  It can be used as lashing for certain things right away.  You probably can’t get nice sheets of bark from small trees such as you would want for bark baskets, but the possibilities with even small strips of bark are many.  In some cases you will be able to find a stand of smaller trees that died from being shaded out.  The wood might still be good quality.  The Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) pictured is good quality even though it died as taller trees outgrew it.

Use as a Walking Stick  

survival_staffs_cabinA primary use of a staff is as a walking stick.  My first mentor in the world of wild edibles and survival skills, Taterbug Tyler, used to walk with a garden hoe that had been cut down to just a small triangle left of the blade.  He claimed that he once saved himself from falling over a ledge by grabbing onto a tree root with the hoe.  Mostly he used it as a walking stick in the rugged territory we hiked through looking for Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius).  The blade came in handy for unearthing roots and flipping over rocks.  It is a good tool and could be reproduced with the natural form of a hardwood staff.  

Another use for a staff as a walking stick is for crossing streams.  In certain territory you might have many streams weaving around, or you might need to repeatedly cross a stream that you are traveling along.  Even if you find logs and rocks to help you cross, a staff can help you maintain balance.  Without rocks to cross on a staff can be used like a pole vault to help you jump across what you otherwise could not.  For these reasons, it is useful to carry a staff.

As a Weapon

survival_staffs_cut_woodI am fascinated with the bo staff and like to go with just over six feet as a standard cutting length.  Particularly when Hickory (Carya spp.) or some other hard wood is found, it is an ideal size for a weapon as well as to begin making a bow or spear.  When cutting the trees down and into length, look for nice straight six-foot sections.  It is generally good to cut the trees where they bend in order to preserve straight sections and removed the crooks.

The staff has been a most basic striking implement since ancient times.  Needing to use a weapon against wildlife is an unlikely scenario, but not impossible.  Certainly, it could make you feel better to have some protection in hand.  There has been more than once when the sound of coyotes or something unknown has prompted me to pick up a stick.  Better yet is the feeling of knowing how to use it.  Most people should be able to wield a staff should an emergency arise and be able to perform basic strikes to protect themselves.  With training, the staff becomes an increasingly useful weapon, with several distinct benefits: there are reasons otherwise to keep it at hand, it is superb blocking instrument, any part can be used as the handle, and it can be used for a variety of strikes to virtually any part of the body.  It can be swung with great momentum.  It can strike low or high, as well as both in relatively rapid succession, and one can thrust with the end of the staff with the potential for damaging penetration.  For these reasons, the staff is a primary weapon of many styles of martial art.

Read Also: Low Profile Survival Weaponry

bruce_lee_bo_staffKobudo – the martial art of the Okinawan weapons (which is often integrated with Karate), Shaolin Kung Fu, Wing Chun Kung Fu, Ninjitsu and many others have their study of the staff.  Learning the forms, or kata, of these arts is a way to learn special combat moves.  Becoming proficient with these moves not only makes the weapon more effective, but provides a healthful exercise that improves balance, coordination, circulation, immunity, and awareness, all of which are important in a survival situation.  Plus, study of the forms could provide a pastime during life in the wilderness.

Shelter and Selecting Wood

survival_staff_witch_hazel_shrubWhen selecting a location to set up camp one should consider finding a nice stand of relatively young trees or saplings that can serve as a source of materials.  Your lean-to could be positioned centrally to reduce expenditure of time and energy.  Of course, you also want to consider exposure to sun and other elements.  In the part of the world where I live you generally want your lean-to opening toward the south to increase sun exposure in cold seasons.  If there is a strong prevailing wind you will want to put the back of the lean-to toward it.  You can also look for suitable trees to support a lean-to before you chop them down.  

Of course, when gathering trees for utility, one should consider the various types of wood and their pros and cons.  Generally, hardwoods are prefered.  “Hardwood” usually refers to deciduous trees, even the softer ones.  And “softwood” refers to conifers, which are usually softer than hardwoods (though soft hardwoods are softer than hard softwoods).  Hemlock and Pine are both softwoods.  Particularly White Pine is soft.  Although both softwoods, Hemlock is much harder than White Pine.  The White Pine saplings that are staff size (naturally or whittled down) are quite weak.  They have certain uses, but would break far too easily under any significant weight or force.

White Ash (Fraxinus americanus)  has a low moisture level, even when green.  My freshly cut staff looked stouter than it felt, compared to the heavier woods (Witch Hazel, Iron Wood, Hickory…) I had been working with.  Regarding bushcraft, one advantage of a lower moisture percentage wood is that building materials have less time to rot.  If you are planning to turn the bush into a campsite there is a good chance you’ll be using some green wood.  If you are building with green wood, there is a good chance for mold to develop as the wood dries out.  Thick, heavy, damp wood will dry out much slower than something light like Ash.  In fact, Ash has so little moisture that it can be burned green.  As we all know, the drier the better.  The survivalist, however, should be aware of the low moisture content of Ash in the event of finding no dead wood.  Perhaps green would might be a better choice than soggy logs from the ground.  Regarding a staff, Ash has the interesting benefit of being lighter.  So, the strength of a green stick with the weight more of a dry one.  Ash is the primary wood for baseball bats as it has strength but receives the vibration.  Although not nearly the strength of Hickory, Ash is used in much the same way for bows and tools handles.

The bushcrafter should be aware of the various kinds of woods, including their benefits and weak points.  Although the basic staff (or bo) seems simple, it’s uses are many.

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Survival Gear Review: LaCrosse NOAA Weather Radio

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NOAA_Weather_Radio_2There are pieces of emergency gear that preppers and survivalists simply have to have.  A multi-functional, multi-powered weather radio is one of them.  One of these radios should be extremely high on your “to buy” list if you do not have one now.  It needs to be kept easy to access and ready to go out the door, too. Undoubtedly there are numerous such weather radios on the market and I have had two or three over the years that all eventually died.  I have an old model sold by L.L.Bean that still works but the station dial is so crude it is difficult to zero in on a station with clear reception.  It also eats batteries like popcorn. Enter an intuitive, energy efficient rebuttal to older inefficient radios: the LaCrosse Model 810.

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

This LaCrosse model has it all.  In fact its features are darn near too many to mention, but here is a rundown on the essentials. First of all, the radio is small and compact.  Out of the package it appears to be well made in a black matte finish in ABS plastic.  The grill or speaker front is silver matte chromed.  Had it been bright chrome, it could have been used as a signal function.  The ‘control’ panel is centered on the front with simple, intuitive buttons to manage all the radio’s functions.

The LaCrosse Model 810

NOAA_Weather_RadioTo begin activation of the LaCrosse 810, pull the battery seal out of the back to activate the LIR123A recharge battery to initially power up the unit.  Backup power sources also include a built-in solar panel on top that can recharge the radio in 10-12 hours of sunlight.  Also available is a hand crank on the back to recharge the unit.  About one minute of cranking gives 30 minutes of radio juice to hear anything that is being broadcasted.

Related: Surviving Alone

A red charging crank rate light will shine as you crank.  It will turn green when fully charged.  As you crank, you can get into a sort of rhythm, but one minute of cranking seems an eternity.  It occurred to me during the process what a great job for the kids to do.  

The radio itself can be set to AM-FM for standard stations for music, news, and local weather.  One more button push switches the radio to the NOAA weather bands for fully detailed weather reports from an official government weather source.  The LaCrosse 810 picks up seven weather band frequencies, so something should be available and live no matter where you are.  

Other Features

NOAA_Weather_Radio_4Besides the more or less regular features of a weather radio, the 810 unit also has a built-in LED flashlight with focused fresnal lens, a blue back light flashes red during weather alerts around the digital read out panel, a digital station tuner, volume buttons, and a digital clock reading AM-PM time readouts. There are two stainless steel bars on the ends of the front panel which go through the case to reinforce the internal framework of the radio to make it more durable.  On the side is a telescoping antenna that can be pulled out and rotated to isolate the best radio reception.  There is also a 3.5 mm earphone jack if you want to listen via headphones.  

Read Also: Survival Radio: What Will Work 

Also built into this unit is a mini-USB port that can be used to charge the radio via a computer or any other USB power source.  Users can also utilize the hand crank feature to charge a phone or other external mobile device. The LaCrosse NOAA Weather Radio is very simple to self-use, but directions are printed on the bottom of the radio in case the paper instructions become lost.  The included directions come printed in three languages, English, Spanish, and French.  I guess the Russians will have to hack in.  

As a final footnote, I plan to find some kind of soft-sided slip case or bag to store the LaCrosse radio to offer extra shock protection and safety from any outside elements.  For now the radio sits on my work desk ready for the next weather event or to listen to talk radio or music.  The LaCrosse 810 retails for just under $50 and is well worth the investment.

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Survival, Camping or Bushcraft?

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Survival, Camping or Bushcraft?

If survival is what you are interested in & preparing for, then that is what you need to concentrate on. Camping is not survival, unless it is primitive camping, in which case there are skills to be learnt there. Bushcraft in the main is not about survival, it is about inventing new so called “skills” that you can practice & share but have no real practicle survival value. Modern camping & bushcraft is about gadgetry, new gadgets & tents are being produced all the time to lure the gadget oriented person into spending more money on stuff that has no real practicle value. Camping used to be about practicle skills & basic equipment, now it is an industry.

Lost survival is different from shtf survival. Lost survival involves people who fail to notify anyone where they are going & how long they will be, or they change their plans without telling anyone. SHTF survival is about surviving a major catastrophe, surviving an event that endangers your life & your living standards. If you are in the city you will have to leave & find somewhere safer in the country. If you are living in the country already you will need to step up your security measures. In both cases you will need to know primitive skills, & you will need basic tools to help you survive long term. Modern gadgets & modern tents won’t cut it. They will not last or stand up to the rigors of primitive living conditions & once they are gone you are left with nothing.

The author’s .62 caliber flintlock smoothbore fusil.
You need to choose a period pre 19th century & equip yourself with the tools & equipment of that period. Why? Because these tools will last, these tools were designed with a specific purpose in mind, survival, & once you are equipped in this fashion you will never drop below that level of comfort. Some 20th century tools will be very useful if you are already living in the country or are intending to move to a retreat. We are talking “hand tools” here, basic hand tools that do not rely on electricity or fuel to operate. You may well be living off grid using solar power electricity, but there is no guarantee that this will last. One of our batteries now has a dead cell, the system is still holding up, but for how long we can not tell.
So, think long & hard & seriously about how you equip yourself. Think about what will be required of the tools that you choose. A short bladed bushcraft knife will not kill as quickly as a longer bladed hunting knife if used for stabbing. Modern methods of fire lighting may not be the best, get a real flint, steel & tinderbox. This will last a lifetime & using it will teach you more fire lighting skills than using a ferrocerium rod. 
12 gauge Black Powder breechloader shotgun with brass cartridges.
When it comes to guns modern firearms are best for defence at your home in the bush, but if you have to “bug-out” with no dwelling to go to, then I recommend you carry a flintlock muzzleloading gun & a bow. Modern ammunition is heavy & bulky & if a modern firearm malfunctions, you are left with a fancy club or a goat stake! People are for ever rubbishing the flintlock muzzleloading gun, in favour of a more modern firearm. Yes having a 9mm Glock on your belt would be very reassuring, IF you can obtain one! My argument is that I can have a flintlock pistol right now, & I would sooner have a flintlock pistol than no handgun at all. Besides which there are many advantages to using a flintlock that are not available to you if you are using a modern breechloader.
.32 caliber flintlock rifle. Accurate, more power than a .22 rimfire & practicle for long term wilderness living.

So make up your mind now if you are really serious about shtf survival. If you genuinely think that something major could go down in the future that could threaten you (& your family);your life & your way of living, then stop wasting your time & money on modern gadgets & tents. Learn primitive skills & equip yourselves with primitive gear that will last long term. You will find that it is less expensive in the long run anyway.
Belt axe/tomahawk. Far more practicle than a machete.
Hunting knife for skinning, butchering & self-defence.
.70 caliber smoothbore flintlock pistol for defence.
Exceptions? Possibly water filters, these could be useful if you have to leave the city & go bush. Maybe not of long term use, but they may help in your escape. Medical. You can’t beat good modern medical supplies. By all means use herbal remedies, but do not rely solely on herbs for your survival.

Medical supplies are very important.

The author’s hunting sword. A good basic self-defence tool to carry after the fall.

Survival Gear Review: Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope

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Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_Camelbak_caseAs you build out your optics kit, the spotting scope is a necessary component for longer-term, higher-magnification observing. Unfortunately most quality spotting scopes are larger, heavier, and more expensive. Luckily there is a new spotting scope space that rivals binoculars in size, but offers the performance and magnification of of a quality spotting scope. A new kid on the rather small block of micro spotting scopes is the Celestron Hummingbird ED Spotting Scope. Where the Hummingbird differs from the others in its space is with ED glass, 45 degree eyepiece, and affordable price.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Spotting scopes provide a much more powerful viewing option compared to binoculars and are used for surveillance, target spotting, and, of course, enjoying wildlife. Unless your viewing leans towards astronomy, a 10x bino is on the high side, with 8x a normal power for those who anticipate scoping subjects during or after exertion. Seven power is reserved for use on boats, and anything below that is for the opera or when something small enough to slip into a shirt pocket is needed. But spotting scopes, while rarely starting their magnification in the single digits, quickly move into the 20s, 40s, and higher powers. In the case of the Celestron Hummingbird ED Spotting Scope, two options are available with a 7-22×50 and a 9-27×55.

Mini High Power

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_posingSpotting scopes bridge the gap between binoculars and telescopes. They range in power from about 10x to 60x. Above 60x and you are well into telescope territory. Spotting scopes are also identified by their objective lens (the target-facing end of the scope) diameter measured in millimeters. A small objective is about 30mm while an average scope might be around 60mm. Large spotting scopes have 80mm or larger diameter objective lenses. As the objective grows in size, so to0 does the rest of the scope that houses the scope’s internals.

Related: Opmod Optics 

The numbers of a scope describe the optics but not the optical quality. Many spotting scopes have variable power (zoom) eyepieces that change the magnification through a rotation of a collar on the eyepiece. The difference between zoom and variable power is that a true zoom will retain focus throughout the magnification range while a variable power requires refocusing when the power changes. The light gathering of the scope is noted by the diameter of the outer objective, and the bigger the number, the more light enters the system. Celestron’s Hummingbirds are 50mm and 56mm respectively. Fifty millimeters is not an unusual rifle scope size so for perspective, 60mm is a common starting diameter in a spotting scope company’s product line with the numbers going up from there. Binoculars also use objective diameter numbers as in 10×50 or 4×32. In these cases, the 50 and 32 represent the objective size in millimeters. So, you can see that even a small scope like the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro is on the big size for binocular and rifle scope objectives.

On the other side, telescopes transcend millimeters pretty quickly when above 90mm. Inches are the preferred unit of measure where eight inches (203mm), 10 inches (254mm) and 12 inch (305mm) scopes are common telescope objective/mirror sizes.

Less is More

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_HandOne major way to save weight is to limit the diameter of the optics. The Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope was tested because it was the smaller of the two small scopes and small was the objective, both figuratively and literally. There are plenty of larger scopes on the market, but quality mini spotting scopes are still fairly rare. Possibly because they can be viewed as a contradiction. The smaller the lenses, the less light the scope gathers leading to lower performance as daylight diminishes, or with dawn still in the future. But once there is enough light which happens to be the majority of the day, the limitations of larger heavier objective lenses are lessened. However, if you don’t or won’t carry your spotting scope into the field due to its size and/or weight, then that huge objective lens that likely cost a bundle now distracts from usefulness. So everything is a tradeoff. No point in owning the best if you won’t or can’t carry it, and no point in miniaturization if it loses its usefulness.

Other features of spotting scopes include interchangeable eyepieces, zoom eyepieces, ED glass, mounting options, water and shock proofing, nitrogen or argon filled, rubberized or armored exteriors, fine and coarse focusing, straight or angled eyepieces, integrated shades, transport cases and camouflage covers, and even integrated rangefinders for those with more tactical needs.

Other considerations of spotting scopes include the weight, size, and brand reputation. In the case of the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope, the weight is a touch over a pound, the size is about a pistol, and the brand is known for building world-class optics especially those of the high-powered telescope variety.

Through The Looking Glass

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_window_mountThe ED glass, or Extra-low dispersion glass helps to compensate for the difference in how colors of light bend when moving through lenses. The size of the wavelengths of visible light (well, all light for that matter) causes it to have a unique refraction when “bent” with a lens. Objects, especially lighter colored ones, when viewed through a higher magnification (think more bending) optic can cause the light waves to separate into colors causing “fringes” of color to appear especially where there are light-dark boundaries. To combat the so-called chromatic aberrations, rare earth elements are mixed with the silicon when making the glass. In many ways, glass making is like knife blade making. There is silicon and steel, and then there are a multitude of additional elements that can be added in proprietary quantities creating a lens or knife with unique properties and best suited for its tasks.

Out in the field, the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope is a winner for wildlife and bird watching, general observation of the greater outdoors, and a fine close-work mini-telescope. With a minimum focus distance of under 10 feet and over half-an-inch of eye relief, this Hummingbird can sing. Its lightweight and compact size allow for quick and easy handheld use, but bolted to a tripod or truck window mount using its integrated tripod socket locks in a viable viewing platform you can use for hours with little or no eye fatigue.


Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_Dirt_EyepieceI did notice one thing that hopefully other users won’t encounter and that is it’s hard to clean dirt out of the eyepiece. The dirt was not inside the eyepiece, but I did manage to fill the eyepiece cup with a fine powdered soil. It all started while using the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope in Yellowstone National Park. It was a particularly windy day and while birdwatching at the edge of a open field, the wind caught the light scope and even lighter carbon fiber tripod and tossed them gently to the ground. Fortunately the scope’s fall was broken by grass and silky soft powdered dirt. Unfortunately the scope landed user-side down in the soil effectively plugging the eyecup area with dirt. Most of it fell out and much more blew off with little effort. However the coarse threads of the screw-out eyecup remained filled with dirt as did the rim of the eyepiece lens. The eyecup was glued in place and required forced removal to get at the stubborn dirt. In the end, it was no big deal, and I’m sure the rubber armor covering of the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope would have easily protected the scope had the ground arrived sooner.

Prior to the fall of the scope, I got the opinion of a volunteer park ranger and professional bird watcher. He was impressed with the little scope and was surprised not only with the size, but the quality of the optics. I too have used many spotting scopes and owned a Leica for a while and got some heavy use of a Swarovski. My previous carry prior to field testing the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope was a Gold Ring Leupold (American made, not a Chinese budget Leupold-branded one).


Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_RangerThe Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope has a 7-22x eyepiece that is a functional power given the small objective and desire to be held in the hand. The angled eyepiece is particularly effective for wildlife but can cause issues if used on a bench to view targets. Your eye must be above the scope so if the Hummingbird is on a small tripod that in turn is on the bench, you might have to stand up to see it. When at the range with this scope, I use it on a ground tripod so I can lower it. But that is a case I prefer my straight-sighting Leupold.

Read Also: The Katrina Pistol 

The scope is packaged with a snug padded nylon case with strap and zipper closure, but I prefer an easier drop-in container from which I can one-handed deploy and stow the Hummingbird. So instead of the included case, I use an insulated Camelbak waterbottle case complete with MOLLE attachments and a little additional storage.

Almost Perfect

Celestron_Hummingbird_7-22x50mm_ED_Micro_Spotting_Scope_in_handThe optical performance of the Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope is exceptional except for the final bit of magnification. Above about 18x, I can notice some loss of image quality, and at the full 22x I cannot see near as well as on lower power. Certainly not a deal breaker, but I am spoiled by world class optics with Nikon, Leica, Leupold, and Swarovski. But those brands command impressive prices where a thousand dollars is often the cover charge to get into play. Accessories will follow and, of course, a tripod of equal quality will cost another handful of Benjis. And what usually happens at this point is that a second, less expensive scope is acquired which will get carried, shared, and especially used. So money and the quality it can buy might also be a barrier to practicality and deployment.

Celestron broke new ground with its Hummingbird spotting scopes because ED glass is usually reserved for the larger higher-end scopes. Further, they are affordable, portable, and seem plenty rugged for their intended use. So yes, my new feathered friend and travel partner is a Celestron Hummingbird 7-22x50mm ED Micro Spotting Scope.

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Survival Gear Review: The Timahawk Part 2

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Timahawk_tomahawk_axe_pry_bar_pry_bar_on_log-3A handful of edge is a beautiful thing. The convergence of steel is one of the most useful things in a survivalist’s kit. It is the tool that builds all other tools. It is the tool that makes shelter, prepares food, and provides defense. So it’s no surprise that a variety of steel edges are in the bug out loadout. But within that variety are found the problems of weight, of cost, of space, and of necessary performance. With smaller tools the problems are minor, but with bigger heavier tools, carrying more than one is usually out of the question.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Enter the Timahawk. By combining several tools into one heavily evolved design, Tim Ralston has made a bit of survival history with his pair of self-named Timahawks. The shorter version called the Tactical Timahawk has made an appearance here, but the longer handled full-size Timahawk still needs an introduction.

Ralston’s Masterpiece

Timahawk_tomahawk_axe_pry_bar_pry_bar_hanging_on_tree-2At 64 ounces, the Timahawk is a formidable piece of hardware on its own. Four pounds of striking steel with every end a business end makes for a highly adaptable tool. But let’s take a closer look at the edges of the Timahawk. The most obvious feature is the broadhead axe face with full beard. A bearded axe was a popular design back in the medieval era when an axe was the Colt Peacemaker of the time.

Related: The Tactical Timahawk

Having a beard on an axe pushes the tool more more towards being a weapon. The beard provided a protected handgrip as well as a hook that was used to strip away a foe’s shield or weapon. I find the beard works as advertised as well as making for a strong hook for various camp duties like holding up a lantern and remaining accessible but out of reach of the little ones. The beard also generates a much larger cutting surface without the extra weight of a fully cheeked axe head.

Face Plant

Timahawk_tomahawk_axe_pry_bar_pry_wood_chopping_closeup-2The overall cutting surface of the axe is about six inches in a straight line. Three and a half of those inches are the beard leaving plenty of strength onboard for serious chopping. Bending or breaking quarter-inch thick 4130 steel not only exceeds normal use of the Timahawk, but also exceeds normal human strength.  Opposite the sharp crescent and beard is an adz which is nothing more than a stone-age carving tool that is simply a short blade turned sideways. It works great for digging, scraping, and a lever for breaching. The two-inch wide adz is not much of a weapon compared an axe proper, but it will certainly do damage. The adz can also be somewhat sacrificial surface when you need to strike steel-dulling materials like rocks, brick and metal.

Read Also: Fail to Prepare Fail to Live

Two well-defined hand placement points with finger grooves are forged into the design. A vertical grip is found behind the axe-face beard, and another similar handhold is on the top of the axe head halfway between the bit and the adz. Basically the two grips are 90 degrees rotated from each other, while the traditional main handle grip of the Timahawk is just downstream from the beard grip.

The main gripping surface on the Timahawk is actually two scales of 18-inch long recycled hard black plastic held in place by four evenly spaced stainless steel screws. The scales ovalize the flat metal backbone of the Timahawk making the handle about 1.25 inches wide, by about one inch thick.

Pry Baby

Timahawk_tomahawk_axe_pry_bar_pry_bar_delimbing-2Rounding out the southern end of the Timahawk is a two-and-a-quarter inch wide combination prybar face/nail puller. The tailend of the Timahawk flairs out an additional half-inch on each side looking similar to a chisel or moulding pry bar. As a weapon, this far end has some advantages over the adz even though they are of similar size. Remember those gripping handles? Well with one fist wrapped around the top handle and the other on the plastic scales, you can operate the sharpened nail puller with precision and the full force of your body. Like a pry bar from hell.  I actually have a prybar I carry on some wheeled adventures. It is a 24 inch Snap On pry bar. It works for for opening and moving stuck or heavy things, and some rough engine mechanicing. Having a serious pry bar along for ride is always a good thing, but a single dedicated pry bar is a another heavy piece of gear. So combining tools, while a violation of “two is one and one is none,” you can also look at it as “one is two and two is good.”

Here To Help

Luckily the bright orange powder coat gives the impression that the Timahawk is here to do good. No skulls, or barbed wire, or lightening bolts. Just good old American made EMS camouflage. Nothing to see here so move along.

With three sharp ends, the Timahawk ships in a completely encasing padded nylon case. A full-length zipper opens and closes the works, while three different sized pockets cover one entire face of the case. The opposite side contains an 11-inch MOLLE ladder with four included snap attachment strips of webbing. Two carry-strap attachment D-loops are sewn in at the top and bottom of the case separated by about 22 inches. Of course, a 1.5 inch shoulder strap is included.

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Survival Gear Review: Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10

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Celestron_Elements_Thermotorch_10_overall_viewMany folks these days are not interested in single-function devices whether a watch that just tells time, a phone that just makes calls, or a flashlight that just, well, flashes light. So enter Celestron, a company known for telescopes and innovation. Celestron is now exploring the market of creative tools that improve your chances of survival. Or at least make the situation more convenient and comfortable.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

The Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 is a newer offering that combines a 300 lumen rechargeable flashlight with a pair of 5000 milliamp-hour (totaling 10,000 mAh) USB outputs of external backup power for phones, tablets, and cameras, combined with an electric hand warmer that pumps out enough micro-BTUs to take the edge off cold fingers when it matters most.

A Pound of Light

This set of valuable features does come at a cost. Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 weighs in at 17 ounces (486 grams). That’s a handful, about the same as a fully loaded Glock 42. But given that there is a pair of USB outputs (a one amp and a two amp) this light is more than meets the eye.

Related: Bug Out Flashlight Wisdom

Celestron_Elements_Thermotorch_10_Charging_iPhone_USB_PortsThe input jack to charge up this beast requires a standard mini-USB port, not the ubiquitous micro-USB that powers almost all non-Apple cell phones and other portable electronic devices on earth. I’m not sure what’s behind the continued use of the mini-USB since I don’t see any real advantages over the micro-USB that is the global industry standard for cell phones, and properly known as the Common External Power Supply or Common EPS.

Remember This

The operation of the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10, or its smaller brother, the Thermotorch 5, is pretty simple but must be memorized. The single large button on the upper side toggles through the low-medium-high flashlight settings. If depressed and held for three seconds, the hand warming capabilities are initiated. Another three seconds of constant button-down and the feature is turned off. It does take minutes before you will notice much of a temperature change in the flashlight’s shaft, and five minutes later you will be enjoying this feature.

Celestron_Elements_Thermotorch_10_charging_iPhoneCelestron calculates that you can charge your iPhone four times, your iPad once, and GoPro or music player about seven times. The dual 10000mAh (combined) battery power can also be routed to 48 hours of 60 lumen light (low), 30 hours of 100 lumen light (medium), and eight hours of 300 lumen light (high). However, to the human eye, there is not a dramatic difference between 100 and 300 lumens, and between 100 and 60 lumens. So for most use, the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 will be used at it’s highest or lowest flashlight setting. As a big fan of Surefire’s decision of a five lumen minimum, I think that amount is a useful low end cutoff when you really do need low light or a wildly long runtime.

An added feature under the tailcap of the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 is a four-LED battery level indicator that shows how much juice is left, or how far along the recharging is progressing. The LED indicator is activated with a push of the flashlight button and they stay lit for about 10 seconds.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

The Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 can also give you up to 10 hours of hand warmer heat between 103-114 degrees F. Or, if doing a little cold weather nighttime E&E, you can get about six hours of 60 lumen light while the handwarmer is chugging away. The handwarmer feature is a welcome addition to cold night use with bare hands. But I found that if it’s cold enough to need a hand warmer, it’s cold enough to use gloves. However, the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 can warm up other things besides hands including batteries, electronics, and gloves and mittens. The Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 does not blast out heat but it does take the sting out of your cold hands. Right now it’s about 2 degrees above zero F outside, and I suspect that using the handwarmer might actually improve internal battery life, or at least maintain it at a higher output. Just a guess, but why not test it?

Pushing the Limits

Celestron_Elements_Thermotorch_10_voltmeterSetting the flashlight outside, I let it cool off to about 8 degrees F as measured by my infrared noncontact temperature sensor. I plugged in my USB tester that measures voltage. When cold, the USB voltmeter recorded about 4.90 volts. After 20 minutes of the handwarmer function turned on with the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 sitting in the almost-zero outdoors, it warmed itself up to about 60 degrees F. The USB voltage output was measured at a maximum of 5.02 volts. I learned three things. First, the handwarmer function will not work at the same time as the USB charging ports. Second, the ambient temperature plays a big role in how warm the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 can get. And third, the heavy aluminum Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 can get dangerously cold to the touch and requires either gloves or use of the hand warmer for any sustained bare hand holding. Smaller lights like the Surefire are also cold when left outside, but have a much lower overall density and thus smaller heat capacity allowing their smaller profile to warm up in the hand much faster. The Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 is like holding a billet of aluminium which in a defensive situation could be a good thing. In fact it is reminiscent of the 2-D Maglite flashlight/club/boat anchor.

Read Also: Milwaukee Work Lights

I don’t see backpacking with the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10. But not because of it’s weight or size. But because I like to travel in the wilds with a supply of batteries. Unless I also carried a solar panel charger with mini-USB cable and some sunny weather, I would get one use from the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10, although that is really three uses in one.

Where the Celestron Elements Thermotorch 10 does shine is car travel, off roading, and base camping. Having a rock-solid light/charger/hand warmer is a good thing if you don’t have to carry it far even though it does ship with a nice belt holster with velcro closure.  Considering the Celestron’s long-life light and external battery pack, this flashlight will always be on my shortlist of electronics when heading out on a domestic adventure or for camping near my truck.

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The Unappreciated 10mm Auto

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glock_29_sf_10mm_bug_out_survival_hunting_gun_pistol_buffalo_boreThe 10mm auto is a fine cartridge that was created as a very real solution to a very real problem. Unfortunately the 10mm performed exactly as designed while predictable humans went and messed it all up. But before we start, if you are quite familiar with the 10mm auto and perhaps even happily own one, you likely live in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Alaska or Texas. According to a contact at Smith & Wesson, the vast majority of 10s are sold in those states and thusly the vast majority of appreciation for the 10mm is found on those vast states. By the way, if you add up the entire populations of MT, WY, ID and AK, it is still less than one-sixth that of Texas.

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

Revolvers these days seem to jump from .22 to .357 without so much as changing shelves in the gun store. And then they go up from there to .41, .44 Mag, and onto the wrist-snapping .454, .460, .480, and a choice of .500s. While pistol cartridges, on the other hand, look like a bunch of inbreeds sharing the same clothes and bald heads. In fact it can be comical debating the differences between the .380 through the .40 like little kids acting tough in the sandbox. The .45 struts around like the big man on campus, but is actually just an old guy driving a sportscar. And then there is the 10mm looking like the giant blond Russian villain in a Bond movie. A huge side of beef that can throw a man across the room.

You’re The Man

glock_29_sf_10mm_bug_out_survival_hunting_gun_pistol_cooper_bookJeff Cooper was instrumental in the design of the 10mm and as a .45 fanatic, Cooper’s standards, while socially abrasive, were high, and the 10mm reflects that quest for handgun perfection (yes, that’s a not-so-subtle nod to Glock). The original 10mm produced over 600 pounds of energy by firing a 170 grain jacketed hollow point at 1300 feet per second. For reference, a Buffalo Bore +P+ 9mm can generate about 500 ft-lbs of energy with a 115 grain bullet at 1400 fps (if your gun can handle it), while regular 9mm loads often carry less than 300 ft-lbs of energy. But for further reference, stuff some Buffalo Bore 155 grain into your 10mm and you can easily get 774 ft-lbs of energy. Even the 220 grain hard-cast bullet bear loads I use in my 10mm scream along at 1200 feet per second and still exceed 700 ft-lbs of energy. And that’s out of a gun not much bigger than my subcompact Glock 26!

Related: The Katrina Pistol

To handle a real 10mm cartridge (not that watered down FBI stuff) a new gun was needed and the Bren Ten was born. Unfortunately health problems prevented the Bren Ten from reaching puberty, heck it didn’t even reach kindergarten before going bankrupt, but in it’s short life it did become a meme for Miami cops just like the 24-hour five-O’clock shadow. However, the genie of autopistol power was out of the bottle. On a side note, the actual Bren Ten used on the Miami Vice TV show shot .45 blanks and was heavily chromed to show up better in low light scenes.

The generally accepted demise of the 10mm’s popularity is from a recoil level that is certainly more than the 9mm that many LEOs were qualifying with. The FBI was all hot and heavy for the 10mm when it arrived on the scene, and it is easy to imagine why the serious government shooters would be excited about what the 10mm offered. But for the vast majority of special agents and desk jockeys who draw down on paper as rarely as possible, the 10mm felt like Dirty Harry’s hand cannon. And don’t get them started on follow-up shots.

There was also another issue at work to shove the FBI in the direction of the .40 S&W and that was flat-out pistol durability. The 10mm is a much hotter load and all that bang takes it’s toll on hardware. Machining and metallurgy at the time was about as good as the music from the 1980s. But there were some winners in that decade with Guns N Roses and Glock among them. Unfortunately Smith & Wesson was not one of them. Smith produced a pistol named the 1076 and nicknamed the “FBI Pistol” after the bureau placed an order for 10,000 of them. But it only took 2400 of the pistols to arrive before the FBI canceled the order and moved on.

Tap Twice, They’re Small

glock_29_sf_10mm_bug_out_survival_hunting_gun_pistol_compare_9mmThe initial attempts to dilute the 10mm cartridge into something you could drink all day long punched a hole in the auto-cartridge lineup. And the .40 S&W stepped in and saved the day. Or so we thought. Today the difference between a 9mm and a .40 is minor in the big picture, but the difference between a 10mm and everything less than a 10mm is significant. Not only does the 10mm punch much harder, but also carries that energy far down range. So much so that a real 10mm (not that wimpy FBI stuff in the white box) has more umph at 100 yards than a .45 has at the muzzle. Even more, if you walked into a bar, the 10mm would be drinking beer with the .357/.44 magnum crowd rather than with the parabellum and its friends sipping cocktails. In fact, the 10mm routinely beats the .357 in arm wrestling, and often ties with the .41 Mag.

Is That Real?

If you saw a foot-and-a-half long auto pistol with a bore big enough to plug with your finger sitting in the display case at the gun store, you’d probably think it was a fake handgun, or at least a one-off custom job. And it’s true that autopistol designs present very real limits on cartridge size and design, but that’s no reason to throw out a perfectly good caliber just because the Feds found it a little too snappy for their manicured hands.

Related: Project Squirrel Gun

The two things the 10mm has over the smaller rimless cartridges is a longer case and a bigger bullet. The larger case holds enough powder to launch 200 grains of lead over 1200 feet per second, and light rounds at over 2400 FPS! That’s rifle territory. So with the right driver behind the wheel, er I mean slide, the 10mm is a serious deer hunting round coming out the chute of an auto-pistol that some choose to carry inside their waistband.

For decades, the .357 was the minimum gun in black bear country and the .44 Mag at the bottom of the list for trespassing on grizzly land, especially in Alaska where everything really is bigger. So when you reduce bullets to numbers, the 10mm puts some outstanding points on the board. Delivering over 600 foot pounds of energy was Cooper’s goal for his super cartridge. You can always downshift the powder load or bullet weight for lesser tasks, but you cannot put more power where it won’t fit. History recorded that the 10mm was uncomfortable to shoot by the average G-men and G-women. So while the 10s were being emasculated leading to the so-called “FBI Load,” the .40 S&W jumped in bed with the Fibs. Before we knew it, the 10mm auto was a footnote and if it wasn’t for a rabid constituency of 10-lovers, it would have died. Luckily Colt Firearms was one of those 10-lovers and produced the Delta Elite in 1987. The Delta Elite was a 1911-esque design that surely pleased Jeff Cooper who probably appreciated the 1911 in .45 more than Browning himself.

Colt to the Rescue

glock_29_sf_10mm_bug_out_survival_hunting_gun_pistol_billboardThe Delta Elite is considered the first successful 10mm pistol but slow sales stopped production in 1996. Then at the 2008 SHOT Show, Colt announced the Delta Elite in 10mm would return. Overlapping the Colt timeline, Glock produced its first 10mm in 1990, a large frame named the Glock 20. But in a twist of fate, the Glock 22 (.40 S&W) was released first because the FBI flip-flop from 10mm to .40 S&W thus back-burnering the 20 for a few months. Six years later in 1996, the subcompact 10mm named the Glock 29 was released into the wild. And today there are two 29s (Gen4 and SF) along with a new long-slide MOS version named the G40. So in case you lost count, your local gun store could four distinct versions of Glocks in 10mm. And there are at least half-a-dozen other major manufactures producing 10mm pistols as well.

Ten is the New Ten

bear_countryToday, the cult-like following of the 10mm is being replaced by the mature appreciation of the cartridge that Colonel Cooper wanted. 10mm ammo is plentiful with bullets for self-defense, big game hunting, and even hard-cast bullets for the most dangerous animals in North America including grizzly and polar bears. It should be obvious that if your stable of survival-oriented handguns has increased beyond the traditions, them give serious consideration to the 10mm auto. In fact, think long and hard about the 10mm as a single solution for both defense and hunting when the World goes all ROL on you. And for the record, I think of Glocks like food storage; more is better and I don’t get rid of the old just because I got something newer.

Related: Glock 42 Review

Being essentially a .40 Magnum, the 10mm auto has changed from a choice between pain or power, into a fighting man’s cartridge that has the respectable knockdown energy and flat trajectory that lesser rounds can only dream of. So like the rattlesnake, yes it bites, but those new to the 10mm most likely just misunderstand it. And that is all about to change…again.

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Prepper Planning Tips for 2017

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new_year_prepThe coming of any new year starts out of the gate brimming with a plethora of opportunities to achieve many things.  This includes wrapping up goals, projects, and missions from the previous year and a new chance to sit down to lay out the priorities for the year ahead.  All of this should be approached with a fresh breath of air.  You know how it feels and smells just after a big storm has passed, especially a lightning storm that charges the air with fresh ozone.  You can smell it.  Take it in, breath deep, chin up and embrace the coming 12 months with a positive attitude to keep plugging away at your prepper initiatives.  

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

The virtual plague of the past eight years is ending.  Pro or con, this country has slipped into an international quagmire of disrespect and disregard.  We hope this status can be regained in short order. Domestically, the economy is beyond flat.  Regardless of what the administration peeps say, nearly 8 million Americans are out of work and countless more are underemployed.  All of this is seasoning for a SHTF recipe.

The New Political Climate

irs_logoFive generations of citizens have been on welfare now to the point that it is considered the entitlements of all entitlements.  This needs to end, too.  And the “government” still does not get it.  The IRS just rolled back the per diem expense allowance for vehicle business travel for 2017, ostensibly because they say fuel costs are down.  Today at home, unleaded gasoline is $2.19 a gallon.  Up over twenty cents in a month.  An executive order just cancelled more offshore drilling and the huge new oil field in Texas cannot be tapped even if we had the pipelines to transport it to refineries.  All this adds stress to an economic recovery.

Related: Prepper Guns on a Budget

Health care for the working class is in crisis.  My wife and child pay $1100 a month for basic care with a huge deductible.  It is only good for a catastrophic health incident or accident.  Doctor and hospital costs are totally out of control.  My GP’s office charges $65 for a flu shot, while a local pharmacy charges only $25.  Go figure.  And on and on it goes.  

Taking Care of No. 1

money_budget_gunsNot to be purely selfish, but this is the age of taking care of you and your family first, then help others as you can.  This includes the entire realm of personal attentions to health and welfare for you and family, then taking care of business in preparation against any potential threats that might develop this year and beyond. Once you have your own affairs relatively in order, then you can reach out if you choose or then direct your efforts or attention to other projects.  This is a tall order, so there is no better time to take it all on than right now.  Nothing happens all at once.  It’s like a huge marble statue that you chip away at day after day.  You may never see the final product, but you can take pride and honor in the constant effort toward the final goal.  

Review the Current Plan

This is assuming you have a plan or sort of directional guide in hand and that it is written down to pass around, invite comments, add to, take away, alter, shift, redirect, adapt, adopt, and then initiate.  If not, do this first, now.  Perhaps reconsider bugging in or out. For existing plans, review them now, item by item.  If you have achieved some of the steps, check them off and or add comments about parts that need to be rechecked, revised, or completed.  Try to add completion dates so that some achievement schedule can be established.  Otherwise, everything is just floating out there undone or half done.  

Things change all the time.  Adjust your plan according to changes that you anticipate or not.  For example, maybe you plan to acquire a new bug out property or perhaps an RV, camping trailer or other major purchase to give you options during a SHTF event.  Such changes can produce a number of new tasks to accomplish.  Plan accordingly.  

2017 To Do Tips

bug_out_essentials_stuffDefensive security should be reviewed and shored up if lax.  Add new supplies, weapons, ammo, accessories, and gear to fulfill your security needs.  Again, review what you have and then move forward.  Perhaps it is time to beef up your home security with heavier locks, window storm covers or other precautions. This first initiative includes inspection, maintenance, repairs, or replacements of weapons, gear, and equipment already in hand.  Add to this additional time for training, shooting practice, formal shooting course training, and then more practice for everyone.  This should include reactionary drills at the bug in or out location.  Have everybody comfortable to respond as necessary.  If needed, buy an extra firearm and add to ammo supplies.  

Unpack your bug out bags, inspect everything, recycle old out of date supplies and repack.  Inspect the bag, too for wear and tear, zipper function, clean it up.  Refresh the entire kit bag.  Same for other quick grab bags full of gear for a bug out.  Do the same for your EDC satchel, bag, or backpack.  Clean guns, oil knives, refresh batteries in everything, and get the everyday carry squared away again.  

Read Also: Survival Books for Your Bunker

Check out your entire bug in food stocks and supplies both at the bug in locale and the secondary bug out site, camper, trailer or whatever.  Recycle dated foods, snacks, staples like beans, rice, flour, sugar, etc.  Add new canned goods, and other foods you eat regularly. Restock or recycle water stores and add more as space allows.  

batteries_prepReplace batteries in everything you own including house smoke alarms, security system backups, communication radios, AM-FM-Weather radios, flashlights, electronic or regular illuminated gun scopes, rangefinders, bore lights, lanterns, cameras, hearing aids, and such.  Charge or replace vehicle batteries, ATV or SUV batteries.  Replace old batteries in storage with fresh ones.  

Revisit all medical supplies, personal medicines, aid devices, CPAP, and OTC med stocks.  Check first aid kits, refresh as needed.  Add new boxes of band aides, gauze, wraps, bandages, and other medical supplies.  Check stocks on antiseptic ointments, creams, Vaseline, lotions, and other supplies to support health care and injury recovery.  

Do an inventory on all other kinds of consumable supplies.  The list could include all types of paper products from paper towels, toilet paper, paper plates, a variety of tapes, glues, oils and lubricants, grease, chainsaw oil, and anything else other than cooking materials that you use up on a regular basis.  Inventory all types of parts for plumbing, HVAC, motor parts, etc.  

Refresh fuel supplies from regular gasolines, diesel, white gas for lanterns or camp stoves, bottled propane, and charcoal lighter if used.  Ditto on charcoal for outdoor cooking, newspaper supplies for charcoal chimneys, and stock up plenty of matches and butane lighters.  

Now is the time to take advantage of New Year sales, too.  Watch newspaper ad flyers, visit the big box outdoor stores, gun shops, and gun shows to stock up or shop for advantageous price points on gear and stuff you need or want to add.  

A bright horizon comes with 2017 but that is no reason to let our guards down.  Natural disasters cannot be controlled.  Terrorism is still viable and a threat.  Our borders remain open for now.  Crime is still rampant.  There is plenty to be considered about to remain vigilant.  

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Comfort Equipment.

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Comfort Equipment.
Definition of Paleolithic. Of or relating to the earliest period of the Stone Age characterized by rough or chipped stone implements. Merriam Webster Dictionary.
Humans have been surviving for thousands of years, back in the Paleolithic period life was hard, even so these people must have had some creature comforts, perhaps local flora placed on their beds to make it softer and keep them up off the ground. Tools were very basic being made of wood, stone bone, horn or antler, and yet these people survived.

Make no mistake, most of the equipment we carry today is for comfort, to make life easier, but we could survive as a people without the equipment we carry. Some items I deem essential, a good medical kit for instance. But as for the rest, no it is not a necessity, just a preference. So why all this modern so called “survival gear”? Does it add to our comfort? In some cases perhaps, but it also has drawbacks. Take the sleeping bag for instance. Great until it gets wet, then it will not retain as much of your body heat as an ordinary pure wool blanket! I am not going to list all the fancy gadgets here that are basically designed to attract people that like gadgets, people that have no real sense of what is needed to survive long term in a wilderness situation. But I would like you to think about this. Every time you add a piece of equipment to your pack, ask yourself these questions: Do I need this? Is this piece of equipment sustainable? If it breaks can I fix it? Will this piece of equipment serve a needed purpose, or is it just taking up room where I could be carrying something else that is more important, such as water, food and ammunition?

Think about the tools that you carry or are about to purchase, think about their purpose. The knife, what is it used for? Skinning and butchering game, and for defence; Is the blade long enough for defence use? Can I kill with this blade or is it too short? The axe, used for many tasks that involve the cutting and shaping of wood as well as for defence and possibly needed for hunting. How easy would it be to replace a broken helve? How heavy is it? Can I use the poll as a hammer to drive stakes into the ground? And so on and so on. Your equipment needs to be versatile & sustainable, it needs to be able to perform the function that it’s namesake was originally designed for. Paleolithic flint knives were not used for cutting down small trees; they made flint hand axes for that purpose. In today’s modern world of survival equipment manufacturers seem to have forgotten this common sense approach that those primitive people in the Paleolithic took for granted. Think about that, your life may depend on it!

By David Wright.

Genius Sundial that Displays Time Like a Digital Clock

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Genius Sundial that Displays Time Like a Digital Clock (let’s use their image, it’s pretty specific!) If you’re already living off the grid, or you’re prepping for the day you have to live off the grid, you’re going to have to improvise in a lot of things.  One piece of technology that a lot of …

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Survival Gear Review: Hybridlight Journey 160 Flashlight

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I was listening to The Survivalist Podcast a couple weeks ago while driving to work, and the featured guest was a well-spoken survivalist gentleman by the name of Tim Ralston (inventor of the “Timahawk” survival tool), and he was discussing bug-out gear. When the conversation turned to flashlights and illumination, Mr. Ralston verbally swooned over a flashlight product by a company called HybridLight. The product he’d mentioned was the Journey 250, and the description and testimonial was compelling enough for me to track down the company and see what they were all about. So I looked ‘em up and shot ‘em an email.

By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

solar_panel_hybridlightWhile performing the initial research on the Journey 250, I quickly found my way to HybridLight’s website and started scanning. The “About” link filled me in on the basics: HybridLight offers solar-powered illumination (yes, you read that right) products across a variety of platforms. That’s the basis of the product design – but there’s more to it than just a flashlight with a solar panel. HybridLight goes one step further: the majority of their products boast standard USB ports to act as charging stations for your cellphone, tablet, MP3 player, GPS, you name it. If your electronic gadget utilizes a USB cable to charge, chances are a HybridLight will play nice with it. The company found its roots in 2006 when Terry Peterson started toying with solar-powered technology. Solar panels were becoming smaller, more dependable, and able to be used in a multitude of applications. Terry has since developed hybrid solar power into an immensely useful tool – not just to capture and store solar energy, but tailor it to be used to charge cellphones or tablets. All this works – extremely well.

The HybridLight Journey 160 Rundown

After some jovial communications with the incredibly nice HybridLight team, they sent me a Journey 160 model flashlight to use, abuse, and evaluate. The Journey 160 flashlight is a tidy little number, 6 inches in length. 1.75” wide across the lens bezel, and 4.5 ounces. The handle profile features a solar panel, about 1” wide by 4” long, inset into the polymer casing. The only control on the Journey 160 is a single rubber push-button mounted just ahead of the solar panel. This button tells the enclosed 2,400 mAh lithium-ion to send power to the LED bulb in low or high intensities, and features a strobe function if held for a moment. The bezel and lens are fixed; no Maglite-type focusing beam here. Nice and simple; simple things don’t break as easily. The Journey 160 blasts out 160 lumens of useful light at its highest setting.

Read Also: Streamlight Stylus Pro Pen Flashlight Review 

hybridlight_usbUnder the waterproof O-ring sealed tail cap at the rear of the Journey 160, you’ll find two ports: one is a “power-in” Micro-USB port; the other is “power-out”, a standard USB dock. You can use a standard micro-USB cable to charge via a standard outlet-mounted wall charger (such as the one that comes with your smartphone – not included with the Journey 160.); all you need to do is plug the Journey 160 in just as if you were charging your phone – just plug the Micro USB end of the cord right into the port on the flashlight. A red LED, mounted just forward of the power switch, will illuminate to show that you are charging the sealed battery. Once the battery is full, the LED turns green.

To charge the Journey 160 via the integral solar panel, all you need to do is put the flashlight in direct sunlight with the panel towards the sun. Foolproof. The Journey will still charge if there is cloud cover, albeit at a much slower rate. Charging via USB from your home outlet is substantially faster than the solar method.

To use the HybridLight Journey 160 as a device charger, all you need to do is insert your standard USB cable into the larger port, and the other end to your device that needs a charge. The Journey 160 works with micro-USB, Older Apple cords as well as Apple Lightning chargers, mini-USB…you name it. It will charge Android as well as Apple devices with equal aplomb; but the included USB cable will not work on Apple products, so you’ll have to supply your own.

As reported by HybridLight, the Journey 160 is waterproof to 1 meter and floats, and can  withstand drops from one meter. One full charge will supply 25 hours of continuous light at the low brightness setting, and 8 hours at the brightest 160 lumen setting. The battery will, according to the manufacturer, hold a charge for years if not used.

How The Journey 160 Holds Up Under Daily (Ab)use

Website-issued specifications are all well and good, but how does an item such as this flashlight – a life-saving tool for sure – stand up when used and abused on a semi-daily basis? Well, I’ve been beating my specific Journey up for a couple months now, in all sorts of weather and varying conditions, and I’m happy to report my findings.

hybridlight_durable_snowMy three-year-old son LOVES flashlights, so the very first thing I did after taking the Journey 160 out of the packaging was to turn it on and hand it over to him for his version of QC inspection. Over the course of the next twenty minutes, he subjected it to far more abuse than I usually punish my gear with over the course of a year. The flashlight got thrown across the room, ricocheted off a pellet stove, rolled over floors, bounced off end tables, dropped about a hundred times, rolled around on hardwood floors, crashed into by Hot Wheels cars, and, of course, found its way into the toilet after lil’ dude overheard me telling my wife the flashlight floats (it does). I took back ownership after the initial abuse testing, and there was nary a scratch or dent in the casing of the Journey 160, and the bezel lens was pristine. As a matter of fact, all photos shown in this review are of the flashlight AFTER it’s been used for quite some time, toddler torture included.

I also did some testing of my own. I performed some waist-high drops onto our kitchen tile floor, including one gentle toss of about eight feet. The HybridLight bounced a couple times, and that was about it. Pretty anticlimactic; the Journey 160 earns high marks for ruggedness in my book. Honestly; most light sources ride in glove compartments, kitchen drawers, pockets, or packs until they are needed, so they can lead a pretty pampered life under normal use. Provided the Journey 160 doesn’t take a tumble off a cliff or get run over by a tracked vehicle, I’m confident it can withstand all ordinary, and some extraordinary abuse most users will subject it to. It can’t be used as a hammer or anything like that, but it’s quite sturdy for a moulded plastic casing that weighs 4.5 ounces.


Oh yeah, the Journey 160 is a portable charging station as well as a splendid torch. The onboard 2,400mAh battery can be used to charge portable devices. If one leaves the flashlight plugged into a device via USB cable and leaves the light in the direct sun, the solar panel will continuously charge the flashlight’s battery, which will then charge the device’s battery.

hybridlight_charging_androidHowever, solar power is not needed to charge devices – assuming a fully-charged battery, 80% of the 2,400 mAH battery is on tap to charge devices; the remaining 20% is always saved on reserve to allow the Journey 160 to soldier on for a time in its primary illuminating mission. Most modern large-screen smartphones have batteries in the 2,500-3,000 mAH range; an iPhone 6S has a 2,750 mAH battery, and an LG G4 and Samsung Galaxy S7 both boast 3,000 mAH batteries, so the Journey 160 won’t provide a complete battery charge in one sitting for most cellphones – but it’ll get you about halfway there. My personal LG G4 smartphone went from 12% to 64% before the Journey cut the power, with a charging time of probably 20 minutes – faster than expected.

Charging via a wall-mounted charger takes an hour or so from a depleted battery to full. Charging the Journey to full charge via solar power alone takes a while – like 18-20 hours in direct sunlight. So, unless you’re in Alaska in July, you’re not going to get enough direct sunlight during the course of one day for a full battery charge. And if you’re counting on fully charging a smartphone and the flashlight in that period of time, you’ll probably be pretty disappointed. However, I was able to charge both of my Motorola MJ270R walkie-talkies in one day of bright sunshine – so results will vary based on equipment you use and ambient daylight levels.

Wrapping It Up

In the usefulness department, the Journey 160 is aces. Not too big and not too small, the flashlight fits in a hand beautifully, with the kinda-rubbery feeling polymer being contoured to provide adequate grip without being obtrusive (think an old 4 “D”-cell Maglight) I’ve been keeping the flashlight by my bedside for night duty, in my jacket pocket when I go outside or to work, and have just made a point to make sure that it is readily available for when I require illumination. While it’s a bit big for an EDC (every day carry) pocket flashlight, the Journey 160 is a wonderful size for general-purpose flashlight use, and it has supplanted my old similarly-sized rechargeable Streamlight Scion as my favorite go-to flashlight. The HybridLight Journey 160 is just a killer flashlight that throws a useful amount of illumination- and that’s even before you consider that you can charge devices from it.

Related: Bug Out Flashlight Wisdom

The price on one of these bad boys is lower than expected – just $34.95 via their website. And when I tell you you should run right out and get one, you should. Get two. Or Three. This is the best general-purpose flashlight I have in my house: it keeps a full charge, I never have to worry about the kids stealing the batteries to put in the TV remote control, and it can bounce around in the “miscellaneous stuff” drawer along with paperweights and your spare hammer and it’ll be ready when you need it. Same goes for the Journey 160 being a stellar Bug-Out-Bag light – it weighs almost nothing, is sturdy, and charges itself – emergency perfection. Really, the only improvement I could envision to this flashlight

More Journey 160s – one for my truck box and one for my tacklebox – are on my Christmas list; I’m hoping Santa is nice to me this year. But seriously: go get a Journey 160. Right now. I am without doubt that you’ll positively love it. Questions? Got something that does the same thing but better? Sound off in the comments below!


Survival, Then and Now.

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Survival, Then and Now.

What do you think has changed  in the last 300 years regarding our survival needs? Anything? Whether it be long term wilderness living as it was for the New World settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries or whether it be a lost in the bush survival situation, I don’t see as though anything has changed. Our requirements are still the same, sensible tools, good survival provisions and primitive survival skills. Yet here we are in 2016, and people are obsessed with using dryer lint. stubby so called “bushcraft knives”, camo clothing, ferrocerium rods, pop-up nylon tents, RAT packs and freeze dried foods, special hiking boots, fuel stoves, battery operated equipment and no skills to speak of except invented ones like “battening”, making Vaseline cotton balls and other “homemade” fire starters and inventing new ways to lay a fire so they can take photos of it for their favourite forum!

300 years ago the main tools you needed to survive were the gun, the axe, the knife and flint and steel for making fire. You could even survive without the flint and steel if you had to because you could use the lock on your flintlock gun to make fire. You needed skills such as trap making and the knowledge of trapping. You packed only the essential equipment and provisions, and if you made mistakes in packing too much useless gear, then you ditched it along the track and learnt a hard lesson. Generally you asked experienced people for their advice, some ignored that advice to their own peril, and others profited by it. Today many so called survivalists and preppers also seek advice on internet forums, or at least they appear to. Most though have already made up their minds, and really all they want to do is share on the forum what they have chosen and carry. Giving correctional advice to these people is usually a waste of time, and in some cases you will be answered with rudeness and ridicule. Most of us, who have been there and done that, had a lot of experience in long term wilderness living simply ignore this and perhaps go to the persons profile and click the “Ignore” button. After all, we don’t have to put up with abuse, and the less people that survive after tshtf the better for us, less hunting and foraging competition.

For those of you that are serious about survival, and genuinely think that a shtf situation could arise in the future, here is my advice, take it or leave it: Think about your needs, think about the tasks you will be faced with if you have to survive in a wilderness situation. Choose you tools carefully. You will need a tool or tools for hunting, you will need an axe for cutting wood for shelter construction and trap making, you will need blades for skinning and butchering, camp chores and trap making, and perhaps a spare just in case. You need a hunting knife with a blade long enough to be used in self defence. You do NOT need a tool for skinning and butchering that was designed to cut wood, and you don’t want to have to cut saplings down with a knife! Each tool should have a specific purpose, don’t skimp on tools to save weight, you need the right tool for the specific job in hand.

Think sustainable, if you purchase something that is going to break, wear out or run out and you are unable to repair it, then it is just extra weight in your pack you don’t need, and it is going to compromise your safety. Carrying good sustainable gear may mean that you are carrying extra weight, and may mean that you will have to travel slower and take more breaks, but long term it will pay off.

Learn the skills you will need now. Having a good pair of hiking boots may help you initially, but what happens if they break or wear out? Do you know how to make a moccasin pattern? Do you know how to make moccasins? Do you know how to tan an animal skin to make leather? If you make a pair of moccasins now, then you will not only have learnt the skill, but you will have the moccasins and the pattern for another pair. This is the way you need to think. A modern firearm is great providing it remains functional, but what if it ceases to work? Can you fix it? How much weight in ammunition can you afford to carry? How much ammo do you use on an average hunting trip? You may shun primitive hunting tools such as the traditional bow, the crossbow and the muzzle-loading gun or rifle, but these tools have certain advantages over the modern firearm for long term wilderness living. By all means if you are travelling in company have someone carry a modern firearm, but make sure it is not the only hunting tool you are taking with you.


The Lost Ways – A Truly Amazing Prepper Book

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Learn how to build a self-feeding campfire. How to use herbs to heal a wound. How to forage for food, navigate by nature, and make your own knives. How to cook a survival staple that will keep for years. How to build a shelter and cook over open flame. Preserve food and water. Make homemade soap and toothpaste. If the world as we know it came to an end tomorrow, would your family be able to survive? The Lost Ways is a book that could help you thrive.

I’d like to tell you about the book The Lost Ways. I bought the book several months ago, and really haven’t been able to put it down. There are so many prepper topics covered in the book, that I think everyone would be able to learn something from reading i; beginning prepper, and seasoned survivalist. Take a look at the table of contents, and you’ll see what I mean.

The Lost Ways – Table of Contents

Disclaimer …………………………………………………….. 4
The Most Important Thing ……………………………… 18
Making Your Own Beverages: Beer to Stronger Stuff …………………………………………………………………. 23
Making Beer – Basic Recipe ………………………………. 25
Equipment ………………………………………………………………. 25
Ingredients ……………………………………………………………… 26
Creating the Malt: Malted Barley ………………………………. 26
Making the Yeast …………………………………………………….. 27
A Word on Hops ………………………………………………………. 28
Making the Beer ………………………………………………………. 28
A Bit of the Stronger Stuff: Distilling Your Own ‘Moonshine’ …………………………………………………… 30
Making a Still …………………………………………………………… 31
An Alembic Still ……………………………………………………….. 31
A Homemade Still ……………………………………………………. 33
A Schematic of a Homemade Still ………………………………. 35
Ginger beer: Making soda the old fashioned way .. 37
The Deadliest Drink? ……………………………………….. 38
Drunken Sailors ………………………………………………. 39
Beer Gets Boring …………………………………………….. 40
Spicing It Up …………………………………………………… 41
An Easier Brew ………………………………………………… 42
An Unusual Organism ………………………………………. 43
Doing It Yourself ……………………………………………… 45
How North American Indians and Early Pioneers Made Pemmican …………………………………………… 47
Nutritional Qualities ………………………………………… 49
Directions ………………………………………………………. 51
Ingredients ……………………………………………………………… 51
1. Rendering the Fat …………………………………………………. 51
2. Dried Meat Preparation ………………………………………… 58
How Much Do I Need? ……………………………………… 65
Spycraft : Military Correspondence during the 1700s to 1900s ………………………………………………………. 67
Rectal Acorn, Silver Ball, and Quill Letters …………………… 68
Invisible Ink……………………………………………………………… 70
Mask Letters ……………………………………………………………. 74
Wild West Guns For SHTF And A Guide To Rolling Your Own Ammo…………………………………………. 77
Modern Firearms …………………………………………….. 78
Handguns ……………………………………………………………….. 78
Rifles ………………………………………………………………………. 80
Ammunition ……………………………………………………………. 80
Reloading Components …………………………………….. 82
The Cartridge Case …………………………………………………… 83
Processing Brass Cartridge Cases ……………………………….. 85
Primer Pocket………………………………………………………….. 86
Bullets and Projectiles ………………………………………………. 86
The Cast Lead Bullet …………………………………………………. 87
Casting Bullets………………………………………………… 88
The Bullet Mold ……………………………………………………….. 88
The Lead Melting Pot ……………………………………………….. 89
The Ladle ………………………………………………………………… 90
The Melting Process …………………………………………………. 90
The Casting Process …………………………………………………. 91
Swagging Bullets ……………………………………………………….. 93
Machining Bullets…………………………………………………….. 94
The Final Word on Lead Bullets …………………………………. 95
Powder …………………………………………………………. 95
Black Powder ………………………………………………………….. 95
Smokeless Powder …………………………………………………… 96
Primers …………………………………………………………. 96
Primer Size ……………………………………………………………… 96
Reloading Equipment ………………………………………. 98
The Lee Loader ………………………………………………………… 98
The Single Stage Press ………………………………………………. 99
The Progressive Press …………………………………………….. 100
Reloading Dies ………………………………………………………. 101
Reloading Bench ……………………………………………………. 102
The Tumbler ………………………………………………………….. 102
The Powder Scale …………………………………………………… 103
Manuals ……………………………………………………………….. 103
Storage of Ammunition and Components ………….. 104
How Much Ammunition is Enough? …………………………. 105
Recycling ………………………………………………………………. 105
Work Practices ………………………………………………………. 106
How Our Forefathers Built Their Sawmills, Grain Mills and Stamping Mills ………………………………. 109
How the Overshot Wheel Works ………………………. 111
Making That Force Usable ……………………………………….. 115
Gears ……………………………………………………………………. 116
Belts ……………………………………………………………………… 119
For Reciprocating Saws …………………………………………… 121
Don’t Forget Lubrication …………………………………………. 122
Building Your Own Water Wheel ……………………………… 123
How our Ancestors made herbal poultice to heal their wounds ……………………………………………… 126
What is a Poultice? ………………………………………… 127
A Few Poultice Recipes……………………………………. 130
Cataplasma Aromaticum …………………………………………. 130
Soothing Poultice …………………………………………………… 131
For Stomach Aches …………………………………………………. 131
A Mustard Poultice …………………………………………………. 132
A Native American Recipe to Treat an Abscess …………… 132
A Word of Warning from The Past ……………………………. 133
What Our Ancestors Were Foraging For? Or How to Wildcraft Your Table ……………………………………. 134
Arrowhead (Sagittaria Latifolia) ……………………………….. 135
Asparagus (Asparagus Officinalis) …………………………….. 136
Bulrush (Scirpus acutus, Scirpus validus) …………………… 138
Cattails (Typha Latifolia, Typha angustifolia) ……………… 139
Chickweed, Common ……………………………………………… 141
Chicory (Cirhorium Intybus) …………………………………….. 143
Cleavers ………………………………………………………………… 144
Dandelion (Taraxacum Officionale) …………………………… 145
Henbit (Lamium Amplexicaule) ………………………………… 146
Lady’s Thumb (Polygonum persicaria) ………………………. 147
Lambs Quarters (Chenopodium album, Chenopodium berlanieri)……………………………………………………………… 148
Mint (Mentha piperita, Mentha spicata) …………………… 150
Mulberry (Morus alba, Morus rubra) ………………………… 151
Mustard, Black (Brassica Nigra) ……………………………….. 152
Peppergrass (Lapidium Virginicum) ………………………….. 154
Pigweed (Amaranthus Retroflexus, Amaranthus Hybridus) ……………………………………………………………………………. 155
Plantain (Plantago major, Plantago minor) ………………… 156
Pennycress, Field (Thlaspi Arvense) ………………………….. 158
Prickly Lettuce ……………………………………………………….. 159
Purslane (Portulaca Oleracea) …………………………………. 160
Quickweed ( Galinsoga Parviflora) ……………………………. 161
Reed Grass ( Phragmites communis) ………………………… 162
Shepherds Purse (Capsella Bursa-pastoris) ………………… 163
Sour Dock (Rumex crispus) ……………………………………… 165
Storksbill (Erodium Cicutarium) ……………………………….. 166
Watercress (Nasturtium Officinale) ………………………….. 167
How Our Ancestors Navigated Without Using a GPS system ………………………………………………………. 169
Shadow Tip Method ………………………………………. 170
Watch Method ……………………………………………… 171
Using the Stars ……………………………………………… 171
Letting the Sun Guide You ………………………………. 174
Letting the Moon Guide You at Night ………………… 175
Moss and Other Vegetation …………………………….. 175
Making a Compass …………………………………………. 176
How Our Forefathers Made Knives …………………. 178
Forging a Knife Blank ……………………………………… 179
Forging the Blade …………………………………………… 180
Forging the Tang ……………………………………………. 181
Grinding the Blade …………………………………………. 182
Hardening the Blade ………………………………………. 184
Making the Handle…………………………………………. 186
To Make Your Own Knife…………………………………. 187
How Our Forefathers Made Snow Shoes for Survival ………………………………………………………………… 190
Anatomy of a Snowshoe …………………………………. 191
Making Survival Snowshoes …………………………….. 193
Using Your Snowshoes ……………………………………. 196
How North California Native Americans Build Their Semi-subterranean Roundhouse ……………………. 197
Building the Semi-subterrain Roundhouse ………….. 201
Supporting Poles ……………………………………………………. 203
Roof Construction ………………………………………………….. 204
Roundhouse Entrance …………………………………………….. 206
Fire Pit ………………………………………………………………….. 206
Summary ………………………………………………………………. 208
Our Ancestor’s Guide to Root Cellars ………………. 210
History ………………………………………………………… 211
The Right Space for the Job ……………………………… 212
Climate …………………………………………………………………. 212
What to Keep Where ……………………………………………… 215
Creating the Ideal Conditions …………………………… 216
Lighting…………………………………………………………………. 216
Humidity ………………………………………………………………. 217
Dirt Floors …………………………………………………………….. 218
Wet Cloth or Paper ………………………………………………… 218
Standing Water ……………………………………………………… 218
Bury Your Treasure ………………………………………………… 218
A Condensation Nightmare ……………………………………… 219
Ventilation ……………………………………………………………. 219
Storage Ideas ……………………………………………….. 220
In-Garden Storage ………………………………………………….. 221
Insulation ……………………………………………………………… 222
Things That Do and Do Not Belong in Your Root Cellar ………………………………………………………………….. 223
Proper Storage ……………………………………………… 224
Cull the Crops ………………………………………………………… 224
Preparing Vegetables for Root Cellar Storage ……………. 225
Curing Winter Vegetables for Storage ………………………. 226
Pests …………………………………………………………………….. 226
Organization ………………………………………………………….. 227
Good Old Fashion Cooking on an Open Flame ….. 230
Cast Iron Cooking ………………………………………….. 231
Care and Use …………………………………………………………. 232
Seasoning Your Cookery …………………………………………. 232
Never Use Dish Soap ………………………………………………. 233
Iron Rusts ……………………………………………………………… 234
No Fire ………………………………………………………………….. 234
Companion Tools……………………………………………………. 234
Roasting Meats ……………………………………………… 235
On a Spit ……………………………………………………………….. 235
On a String …………………………………………………………….. 236
Dutch Oven Cooking ………………………………………. 238
The Right Temperature …………………………………………… 239
Companion Tools……………………………………………………. 240
Recipes Past and Future ………………………………….. 241
Colcannon …………………………………………………………….. 242
Meat Pies………………………………………………………………. 242
Mock-mock Turtle Soup ………………………………………….. 243
Wassail …………………………………………………………………. 243
Apple Pie ………………………………………………………………. 245
Biscuits and Gravy ………………………………………………….. 245
Easter Cake ……………………………………………………………. 246
Porridge ………………………………………………………………… 247
Stew ……………………………………………………………………… 248
Bread ……………………………………………………………………. 248
Learning from Our Ancestors: How to Preserve Water ……………………………………………………….. 250
How Can I Make Sure That the Water Is Clean? …………. 256
Where Should I Hide or Store My Stock of Water? ……… 260
Learning From Our Ancestors How to Take Care of Our Hygiene When There Isn’t Anything to Buy … 263
Soap Making …………………………………………………. 264
Basic Recipe for Soap ……………………………………………… 264
Making Lye Water from Wood Ash …………………………… 265
Collecting the Fat …………………………………………………… 266
Cooking Up the Soap: The Cold Process Method ………… 268
Making Your Own Signature Soaps …………………… 269
Medicinal Soaps …………………………………………………….. 270
Homemade Toothpaste ………………………………….. 270
Basic Baking Soda Recipe ………………………………………… 271
Clay Toothpaste …………………………………………………….. 271
To Taste ………………………………………………………………… 272
How and Why I Prefer to Make Soap with Modern Ingredients ………………………………………………… 273
History ………………………………………………………… 274
Why Modern Ingredients ………………………………… 275
Understanding The Process …………………………….. 275
Irreplaceable Ingredients ………………………………… 276
Machinery and Equipment for Making Soap at Home ………………………………………………………………….. 278
Possible Soap Additives ………………………………………….. 279
Essential Oils …………………………………………………………. 279
So, How do You Make Soap? …………………………… 280
Ingredients ……………………………………………………………. 280
Equipment …………………………………………………………….. 281
Methodology…………………………………………………………. 282
Temporarily Installing a Wood-Burning Stove during Emergencies ………………………………………………. 288
Why a Wood-Burning Stove …………………………….. 289
Temporarily Installing Your Wood-Burning Stove … 290
Temporarily Installing the Chimney ………………….. 292
Heating with Wood ………………………………………… 294
Making Traditional and Survival Bark Bread ……. 296
How to Make Sourdough Starter (The Rising Agent People Used Before 1900) ……………………………….. 298
How to Make Tasty Bread Like in 1869 ………………. 301
Making Bark Bread (Famine Bread) …………………… 302
Trapping In Winter For Beaver And Muskrat Just like Our Forefathers Did …………………………………….. 306
Why Our Forefathers Trapped ………………………….. 307
The Best Places to Trap for Beaver and Muskrat … 308
Their Local Habitats ……………………………………….. 309
The Types of Traps You’ll Use for Beaver and Muskrat ………………………………………………………………….. 310
Foot Hold Trap Types ……………………………………………… 311
Finding the Land Trails ……………………………………. 313
How to Set the Foot Hold Trap …………………………. 314
Finding the Underwater Trails ………………………….. 315
How to Set a Body Grip Trap ……………………………. 315
Tanning ……………………………………………………….. 316
Selling at the Trading Post ……………………………………….. 318
And There You Have It…………………………………………….. 318
How To Build a Smokehouse and smoke Fish ……. 320
Cold Smoking ………………………………………………… 322
Before We Start: Woods for Flavoring Your Fish ………… 322
Cold Smoking the Fish …………………………………………….. 323
First Things First: Curing the Fish ……………………………… 323
Making a Cold Smoker ……………………………………………. 324
Creating the smoker……………………………………………….. 326
Hot Smokin’! ………………………………………………… 330
Recipes Using Smoked Fish ……………………………………… 332
Practical Survival Lessons from the Donner Party 335
The Story of the Donner Party …………………………. 338
The Fatal Decision ………………………………………………….. 338
Escape and Rescue Attempts …………………………………… 343
Survival Lessons from the Donner Party …………….. 345
Follow the Known Route …………………………………………. 345
Money Won’t Save You; It’s What You Know …………….. 346
Supplies + Time = Life……………………………………………… 346
Weather Is the Deciding Factor ……………………………….. 347
Know When to Turn Back ……………………………………….. 348
Stress Leads to Anger and Volatility………………………….. 348
Age and Gender Play a Huge Role in Survival …………….. 349
Small Wounds = Death ……………………………………………. 350
How The Sheriffs From The Frontiers Defended Their Villages and Towns ……………………………………… 351
Crime in the West………………………………………….. 354
Equipment …………………………………………………… 356
Guns …………………………………………………………………….. 356
Communications …………………………………………… 359
Organization ………………………………………………… 361
The Sheriff …………………………………………………… 362
Deputy Sheriffs ……………………………………………… 363
Posses …………………………………………………………. 364
Bringing It Up to Date …………………………………….. 364
Showing the Flag ……………………………………………. 368
Raising a Posse ……………………………………………… 371
References …………………………………………………. 375


The Lost Ways has a 60 day 100% money back guarantee on the book. Also several other interesting books. Click on the The Lost Ways book image below to watch the video. Decide for yourself if it is something you want.

The Lost Ways book

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Survival Gear Review: Magpul Tejas Gun Belt

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magpul_tejas_gun_belt_packagingThe Magpul Tejas “El Original” Gun Belt is what happens when tradition falls into bed with technology. By combining the best leather with the best polymer for the purpose,  Magpul invented a whole new genera of gun belts. The top grain bullhide is taken only from the shoulders of the finest English speaking bulls, while the polymer is mixed from the finest carbon atoms harvested from dinosaurs buried deep in the earth.  The result is a belt that has all the style of a traditional belt with increased functionality and strength. 

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

At 1.5 inches wide and a quarter-inch thick, the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt would be a formidable weapon on its own. The belt’s true purpose in life is to carry your weapon with style, grace, and undying devotion. What makes the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt unique is that it successfully mates reinforced polymer with leather forming a cohesive and practical belt. The polymer lines the user of the belt ring while the bullhide rounds out the public side.

The strength of the polymer allows the adjustment holes to be closer together at about ¾” apart. This is closer than usually found on more fragile leather-only belts. The Original Tejas Gun Belt retails for about $85. For a hundred bucks more you can get one that substitutes sharkskin for the bullhide. Or for $25 less you can get the Tejas “El Burro” that lacks both the sharkskin and the bullhide leaving you with just a heavy duty polymer belt. Plenty functional, but less the fancied-up materials.

Open Carry

The human-facing side of the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt handles sweat like a champ. The polymer side of the belt is impervious to water, salted or not. In fact the polymer of the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt is impervious to just about everything. Modern synthetics are amazing.  The fact that they have incorporated synthetics into a leather belt is a game-changer.  

Related: Escape and Evasion Gun Belt 

magpul_tejas_gun_belt_ruger_super_blackhawk_alaskan_riding_perfectlyTo test the limits of the Magpul Tejas “El Original” Gun Belt, I packed a particular handgun all over the grizzly infested snow-covered backcountry of my neck of the woods. Strapped to my hip were 3.5 pounds. I carried a Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan, Galco Leather Holster, and six rounds of Buffalo Bore 340 grain .44 Magnum ammo. That’s over 55 ounces of asymmetrical belt tugging gun weight! For reference, a fully loaded Glock 17 with 17 rounds weighs just a little more than one-half of the weight of the Alaskan. It’s like wearing a fully-loaded Glock 17 and a fully-loaded Glock 26 on the same side of the belt.

After hours of hiking through the snow on many occasions, I have to say that the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt is by far the best gun belt I’ve ever used. Not that my other gun belts don’t serve me well, but the overbuilt composite (leather and polymer) design is impressive. The weight of my holstered gun and big bladed sheath knife distributed all around the waist, and there was no twisting, sagging, or leaning off the hip. Honestly, at first i was aware of the heft of the gun on the belt, but not much later, even the heavy Alaskan melted into my stride as the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt carried the weight with no added attention. Contrary to some range reviews of the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt, the true merits of this belt begin to shine many hours into packing a heavy gun.

Buckle Up

magpul_tejas_gun_belt_skeleton_cowboyThe stiff Magpul Tejas Gun Belt requires a bit of patience when buckling up for the day. Unlike thin leather or nylon webbing belts, the Magpul Tejas can be difficult to adjust. Unlike others, the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt is a rock-solid platform to wear your gear. Sometimes I wonder if the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt is more of a gun belt than a pants belt, but I’ve not yet reached the level of bodily decay to need a belt to prevent dropping my “trou” unintentionally.

See Also: External Belt Gear Rigs 

And since the sales of the Glock 19 compare to the Ruger Alaskan at probably 10,000 to one if not more, I did plenty of “lightweight” testing carrying a G19 around. Compared to the Ruger Alaskan, the G19 was weightless and rode on the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt with invisibility.

Dress for Success

The Magpul Tejas Gun Belt, while an excellent gun carrier, is also a fine looking piece of your dress-up kit. You can rock this belt at the office, the night life scene, and of course the gun range. At no time does the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt feel like it doesn’t belong.

The Magpul Tejas Gun Belt is not your grandfather’s gun belt. It is a modern take on a historical weapons carrying trend. The combination of leather and polymer should satisfy the most discriminating belt wearers. Due to the balance between leather and polymer, I am 100% sold on the Magpul Tejas Gun Belt as the best dedicated gun belt.


MSR Whisperlite vs Esbit Pocket Stove

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katahdinOne recent fall weekend my wife and I went to hike Maine’s Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park. It was a gorgeous hike, as you can see in the image. The hike wasn’t for sissies, however; that or we’re just old, but we hiked for about 8 miles and 8 hours before we were back at our campsite and ready to eat a little Mountain House for dinner. Yes, we could have packed a full grill and made a meal fit for royalty, but that means packing the grill and a whole lot of effort. After a full day of hiking? No thanks. Mountain House is fast, easy, and it tastes good. Besides, I wanted to test a new stove, the Esbit Pocket Stove, to see if it would have a place in our camping/emergency gear. Could a disposable, light, tiny stove heat the water we’d need for food and drink? It could be life changing! Well, not really, but it could certainly change our approach to some hiking/emergency situations.

msrflameJust in case it didn’t go well, I’d brought our standard hiking stove, the MSR Whisperlite. Most people are familiar with the MSR brand of stove, the Whisperlite being the most common. They’re solid, time-tested, with simple mechanics. They can be a little messy at times, particularly when starting them, and you have to carry liquid fuel, but they work. I’m not sure one brand in this style of stove is any better than another. Jetboil seems like another nice brand, particularly if you like using propane. Propane is cleaner and can be set to simmer. The Whisperlite-type stoves can burn multiple fuels, however, better for survival situations.

pocketstoveflameLet’s get back to the Esbit stove, though. I’d never heard of this thing, but it seemed to have potential. “Use for cooking, boiling water, making hot coffee or tea,” the package reads. It’s made in Germany, which has a reputation for producing decent products. The box contains a foldable “stove” (a foldable, metal frame to hold a small pot of water or pan) and 6 half-ounce fuel cubes. The burn time, it claims, is approximately 12 minutes per half-ounce cube. The fuel cubes are stable, non-toxic, and they light easily with a match or lighter. The manufacturer claims that, depending on conditions, one cube will bring one pint of water to a boil in approximately 8 minutes. Not bad! The exterior conditions on that weekend were nothing short of beautiful. Figuring how the package also says the stove works well at altitude, I figured we were all set with “depending on conditions.” We had ideal conditions.

If you’re sensing this is shaping up to be a David versus Goliath matchup, you’re probably right. I’m not so naïve as to think a ten dollar, solid fuel, disposable pocket stove has a fair shot against an eighty-five dollar, white gas-fueled camping stove. The difference in construction and power between the two stoves is obvious. It’s clearly not an apples-to-apples matchup. Still, it was an interesting experiment for me. If the Pocket Stove did what it said it could do, there would be a whole range of situations I’d prefer to have a Pocket Stove over an MSR Whisperlite or comparable stove. When, exactly? I’d use a Pocket Stove over an MSR in any of the following scenarios:

  • Flying overseas. We had a recent trip to Iceland. The airfare there was reasonably priced, but once you’re staying there, everything is expensive. Gas is expensive, beer is expensive, souvenirs are expensive, and dining out is very expensive. We packed our MSR Whisperlite with an empty fuel bottle that we filled there. The plan was to hit the grocery store and cook anything easy from the stove to save money. It’s the scenery you’re after in Iceland, after all. The first day there we searched Reykjavik for Coleman white gas, a bottle that we used little of by week’s end. A solid fuel Pocket Stove would have been much more convenient and we could have packed it on the plane.
  • Day hikes. Here in New England, it’s not uncommon for us to make a day trip to a local mountaintop. It’s nice to do it not bogged down with weight/gear. It’s also nice to have a hot cup of coffee or tea at the top, and maybe a hot lunch if it’s late season hiking. I don’t know how much the Pocket Stove weighs, but it’s barely anything. The MSR and its bottle of fuel have weight, weight I’d rather leave at home.
  • Emergency kits. The Pocket Stove is tiny and easy to slide into an emergency kit for your vehicle or backpack. No worries about liquid fuel, and less costly to purchase if you’re only buying a stove for just-in-case purposes. One of these Pocket Stoves, a small pot, a few Mountain House meals, and you’re in good shape.
  • Bug out bag. Theoretically, your bug out bag (BOB) only needs to get you from point A to point B. Hopefully that’s not a great distance to travel, and if you’ve got to do it on foot, the less weight and size your stove has the more weight and room you have for other items. The Pocket Stove seems more suitable to a BOB.

The more I think about it, the scenarios above are exactly the types of situations I use my Whisperlite in, so the Pocket Stove—if effective—could prove to get far more use than the Whisperlite.

So what are the Pocket Stove’s advantages?

  1. Lower cost
  2. Lighter weight
  3. Smaller size
  4. Stable, solid fuel
  5. Fewer moving parts

The MSR, of course, has its own advantages:

  1. Gas power
  2. Multi-fuel
  3. Larger, more stable cooking platform
  4. Made in the U.S.A.

stoves-on-tableSince 80% of my entire stove use is to boil water, either for drink or to add to dehydrated food, the test was simple: see how each compares when boiling one pint of water. I lit the stoves and they were off to the races!  I know, I know, the MSR fuel canister looks awfully close to the Pocket Stove flame. I just moved the can there for the pic… *ahem.* This Whisperlite always takes a little tinkering to get it going, but the Pocket Stove fuel was easily lit with a lighter. However, you can see the significant difference in the flame. The Whisperlite has a healthy roar to its sound. The Pocket Stove’s solid fuel is more like a dancing flame than the Whisperlite’s burner.

The Whisperlite’s bendable windscreen is a great benefit. Not only does it help reduce wind hitting the flame, but it reflects the heat back toward the burner and up the sides of the pot for greater efficiency. The Pocket Stove has no such screen, making it more susceptible to wind. There was another problem, however. The Pocket Stove’s flame is very low to the surface level. Needless to say, it caught the picnic table on fire in the process.  Sorry Baxter State Park officials!

boiling_stoves_msr_esbitBut soon we had reached full boil… well, the MSR did.  Your can see here the MSR was at a full, roiling boil. It took 4.5 minutes—fast! You can also see here where the Pocket Stove’s lack of windscreen left the flame blowing out the side resulting in poorer efficiency. Mind you, this was by no means a windy day. The air was quite still. Conditions were ideal.  That said, Esbit claims it takes 8 minutes to reach boil, which is still fast, so we kept it going. Except, the fuel cube burned out at 7.5 minutes, despite Esbit’s claim that each cube will burn for 12 minutes. I stuck my finger thermometer in the water and it read slightly warmer than lukewarm.

pocketstoveflameonsideI attributed the failure to burn to the flame blowing out the side rather than sitting fully under the pot. I moved the stove to the ground to save the picnic table, lit another cube, and surrounded it with the Whisperlite’s windscreen. That still didn’t seem to help.  The second cube eventually burned out and after 13 minutes and 20 seconds sitting over the Pocket Stove’s, flame the water was finally hot enough for tea, but still not boiling.

Sadly, this little stove failed to live up to the claims. The only purpose I can recommend it for… is… well I guess I can’t recommend it for any purpose. I took the remaining fuel cubes and tossed them into the campfire to watch them burn. The foldable stove I threw in the trash. I guess you could use the fuel cubes for emergency fire starters, then the unit goes from being a cheap stove to becoming an expensive set of fire starters. You can do better than that. Esbit could do better, too.

Don’t buy the Esbit Pocket Stove. Save your money and splurge on an MSR, Jetboil, or similar quality camping stove. You won’t be disappointed.

Derrick 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.

All Photos Courtesy of: Derrick Grant

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The Fallkniven Professional Hunting Knife: When Quality Really Matters

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fallkniven_phk_professional_hunting_knife_closeAs knife designs evolve they have to overcome the traditions and stereotypes of the past. In an effort to drive knife sales, manufacturers have produced more versatile, creatively inspired blades. While this has yielded a multitude of blades, some manufacturers have missed the mark entirely with poorly designed, gimmicky knives. Others, like Fällkniven, produce modern blades that are just as useful as traditional blades. In 1984, Fällkniven opened its doors to the world and pushed blade technology to new limits. 

By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

There seems to be very few constants in knife making these days. I can think of two constants: human strength and cutting capacity. The ideal blade isn’t too dull, flexible, or blunt. If you will, the ideal blade is a ‘Goldilocks Blade’. Beyond that, there are few rules. With this being said, there are many traditions and these must be properly navigated in order to innovate.

The Hunted

fallkniven_phk_professional_hunting_knife_blade_profileSince the mid-1980s the Fällkniven Knife Company has served the needs of those who might find themselves floating to earth under a parachute, or working their way back home after a crash landing. The Fällkniven F1, also known as the Swedish Pilots Knife, is a small package of cutting dynamite. With the F1, hunting is on the menu, but the menu is quite large with many vegetarian options. I carried the F1 in my hunting kit, but often found myself looking around for something better when it came to hunting tasks and game processing. Fällkniven, in usual fashion, answered the call.

Read Also: Survival Gear Review: Fällkniven A1 Pro

The Fällkniven Professional Hunting Knife, or PHK, is a gorgeous upswept-point blade of mildly larger proportions than dusty traditions would specify. Frankly, the moment I saw the design of this blade, I knew it would be good. There was just something so right about it. It carried forward the belly of a skinner with the rigidity of a wilderness blade while offering the user more control. The Fällkniven Professional Hunting Knife has an upsweep-drop point which seems like it could be an oxymoron, but in fact it’s the best of both worlds. Perhaps it is the best of all worlds.

The potentially contradictory blade shape of upswept-drop point is an irony of iron that really works. Traditionally upswept designs are elegant but small slicers are arguably more effective. When the blade exceeds the distance between palm and index finger, the whole hand must move beyond the grip. This motion compromises safety and is simply inefficient. It’s a dangerous move that requires practice especially when done quickly or blindly. On traditional larger drop point blades, the tip of the blade rides below the index fingernail meaning it’s easier to poke a hole into the skin or membrane during a slice. The pros can drag the tip precisely like a surgeon’s scalpel, but anything done in the field or elements is risky. And the more blood and sweat in the mix, the more likely the game won’t be the only one skinned. However, on the Fällkniven Professional Hunting Knife the upswept drop point allows fairly precise driving even from the back seat. The thick spine provides firm control and the added length in front of the fingertip is user friendly.

Iron Maiden

The iron coursing through the veins of the Fällkniven Professional Hunting Knife blade is a 3G laminated steel scoring a 62 on the Rockwell hardness scale (HRC). The tang is a broad protruding one that, like Fällkniven’s survival blades, pops out the back of the grip completing the solidity of this package. A single grommeted hole graces the far end of the kraton grip allowing a lanyard to be attached.

Related: Fallkniven A1 Survival Knife

fallkniven_phk_professional_hunting_knife_archeryBut with change comes controversy. If mildly noticeable deviations from the blade norm raise eyebrows, then drawing your PHK from the sheath will leave mouths agape. Without knowing it, most survivalist and hunters are carrying on a tradition that began long ago. The camo-clad crowd spouts “two is one, and one is none.” Big blades and little blades have been complementing each other for millennia. Big jobs are for the big knife and small jobs are for the small knife. A further refinement of this concept did develop further prejudice and that is with the sacrificial blade and the primary blade, or the Pawn and the King, if you will. In hunting circles, there is the hunting knife that is cared for, babied, and often rides safe and warm in the hunting pack instead of on the belt. Then, there is the working knife that does all the daily maintenance and dirty jobs far below the noble duties of the king. I admit that I practice this bit of favoritism, but in terms of survival, the OO knife (double-oh knife), or Only One knife concept is very real when the hunting gear must be high speed, low drag.

Traditions Change

I think hunting knives began to evolve when hunting moved from an out-the-backdoor activity to a pseudo-military expedition into the untamed wilderness. There’s not a lot of hardware to carry when popping a Bambi off the back porch. You gut the beast right there donating the innards to the predators that keep the place clean and tidy. Afterwards, you drag the carcass back home and string it up on a tree to cool. When ready, you head to your  kitchen for some meat and bone-specific cutlery. 

All is fine and dandy until you are miles into the woods and your quarry might not go down willingly like the whitetail snacking on your hedges. Enter the big hunting knife. When money and carry-weight is tight, items seem to gain more uses. Military knives moved from BDU belt accessory to top-tier hunting wardrobe. The knife needed to run triple-duty as a camp knife for those lifetime adventures in the national parks, off-grid hunting expeditions, and self-defense.

Like all evolutionary change, as one critter specializes, another pops up to capitalize on the available niche. So as the hip-hugging hunting knife moved away from the detailed work and more towards bigger cruder jobs, little knives moved in like tiny mammals taking over the mini-landscape left behind as the dinosaurs grew bigger. Then, when the mighty asteroid dirtied up the place 65 million years ago, the little furry warmbloods made their move. And here we are, more or less.

fallkniven_phk_professional_hunting_knife_gutting-birdSpecialized knives started to weigh down the hunter who might actually carry a combat blade for general outdoor use, a razor-sharp cutting knife, a skinning knife, a bone saw, and perhaps even a hunting hatchet to split open those pesky big game rib cages and detach bony limbs. What drove this equipment frenzy was the search for exactly the right tool for the job, and not the best tool for many jobs. While at home, you can have all the specialized tools and blades you want. Carrying them on your back and belt is a different story. Especially when you know you will need to use the knife for many other non-hunting chores and rarely for the chore it was designed for.

Small is Big

In a strange twist on a perpetual theme, there was a movement that started out with good intentions but ended up causing a mess. That movement was fueled by the belief that the better a hunter you were, the smaller the knife you needed. This was the opposite of the Bowie and Tennessee Toothpick persona. Imagine Rambo whipping out his Spyderco Ladybug. Maybe let’s not. The issue rose to epic proportions when a hunting knife could be mistaken for a scalpel complete. Of course, another knife was needed for regular camp tasks, and an even larger blade was carried for the traditional forest duties. So add to the growing pile of knives the sharpening tools and extra blades necessary to keep the knives in the fight.

Further Reading: Three Excellent Survival Knives for Under $100

But the same evolutionary rules that lead to the population explosion of knives can also lead to extinction. Blades were staying home and hunters were squeezing more performance and specialized jobs out of knives obviously not designed for such work. As the proverbial pendulum began a healthy swing back towards center, so started another renaissance of sorts with hunting knives. The short ones got a little longer, thin ones got a little thicker, the pointy ones got a little more dropped, and knives of all kinds implemented the full belly of the skinner.

fallkniven_phk_professional_hunting_knife_carvingTaking advantage of this enlightenment in hunting knives was none other than Fällkniven. By creating an obviously unique take on the philosophical concept of a hunting knife, the Fällkniven PHK has hints of many different blades from Samurai Sword, to Tanto fighting knife, to skinning blade, to wilderness knife, to survival blade. In fact, the PHK is like a piece of contemporary art that assumes the preferences of the viewer as much as standing on its own. In other words, the PHK does it all, and most things well. At five millimeters thick, the PHK blade shares a level of strength uncommon to traditional hunting knives. And its blade length exceeds the hunting industry standard by about an inch. Further, the attention Fällkniven gave to hygiene is something more in line with the butcher shop than the killing field. The stainless steel and kraton grip clean up nicely and provide few homes for bacteria.

In general, the PHK guts like a gutter, skins like a skinner, chops like a chopper and slices like a slicer. It does none of these things quite as good as a blade specifically designed and dedicated to such tasks, but the PHK is well within the margin of error for modern task-specific cutlery. Adding to this list, the Fällkniven PHK also worked great as a minor clever as it crunched through upland game bird wings and legs with skill and finesse. The full belly rolls smoothly through all things aviary, and breaks the bones of any fish you can lift. But big game is another story. Processing hundreds of pounds of animal requires some seriously edged firepower so pushing eight inches of blade length around a carcass is a task well within the Fällkniven Professional Hunting Knife skill set.

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Survival Gear Review: Epic Ultimate Travel Bottle

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

By Tinderwolf, a contributing author to SHTFBlog & Survival Cache

Thorough Filtration System

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

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

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

Also Read: Weighing the Options For Drinking Water

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

Testing It Out

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

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

Related: The Platypus Collapsible Water Bottle 

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

Extra Features and Final Verdict

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

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





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Rethinking Survival Tools: 6 Areas Most People Get Wrong

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Rethinking Survival Tools: 6 Areas Most People Get Wrong

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It seems that everyone has their ideas about survival kits and must-have tools. I’ve probably read through at least 100 different lists in the last few years, and in reality, what I find are the same ideas being reiterated over and over again. The new ideas I find in those lists are all too often impractical — either too heavy or too bulky to carry.

With that criteria in mind, I’m always going back and rethinking my kit, looking to see if there is something I can improve. While a lot of time that doesn’t accomplish much more than assure me that I’m doing alright, at times I find something else that will serve me better. Recently, I’ve made a few changes in my tools, seeking to have a set that will serve me better if I ever find myself bugging out and having to survive on what’s in that bag.

The tools in your survival kit will probably be used for two main purposes: building shelter and gathering firewood. Both of those tasks require a lot of wood cutting. So, one of the biggest needs for my tools is to be able to cut a lot of wood, quickly and easily. If the tools can’t do that, they are essentially worthless.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some common categories of tools and see how well they will work in a true survival situation.

1. Knife

Everyone agrees that the knife is the most important tool you can carry for survival. I’m not going to argue that. In fact, I just added a second sheathe knife to my bug-out bag. My basic bug-out plan calls for me to have one on my belt. But what happens if that one gets lost? The answer most people go with is to have a folding knife as a backup. I have that, too, as a folding knife is part of my everyday carry (EDC). But I really wouldn’t want to depend on a folding knife in a survival situation, hence the second sheathe knife.

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I’ve had a number of different knives through the years, which has led me to appreciate what I feel makes a good survival knife. First of all, it has to be quality. More than anything, that means being made of quality steel, with a full tang. Good steel will stay sharper longer, increasing the knife’s utility and reducing maintenance.

As for knife design, I’ve settled on a length, from 3 1/2 inches to 5 1/2 inches. My main knife is the longer length and my backup is the shorter. For survival tasks, anything longer is too hard to work with and anything shorter leaves you struggling to get things done. Avoid a sharply pointed knife, like a severe clip point or dagger, as the point will break easily. But be sure to have a point, as they can be useful. A drop point is just about ideal. Tonto points leave you without the ability to use the knife as an awl.

2. Saw

If there is any one area where I think most of us have missed it in our survival tools, it’s with the saw. Most people carry a wire saw. Some have replaced that with the pull strap chainsaw. Have you ever really tried cutting a tree branch with a wire saw? Forget it. Besides, in a true survival situation, the wire saw is probably going to break. Forget any saw which is part of a knife blade or multi-tool, too. They are just too short.

I was tempted to add a bow saw to my bug-out bag for a while, although it’s really too big. But if you want to cut tree branches, that’s about the best manual saw for it. It’s definitely faster than anything else you can find, and cuts with minimal effort.

Rethinking Survival Tools: 6 Areas Most People Get Wrong

Image source: Garrett Wade

But I found something almost as good. That’s the pruning saw. No, I’m not talking about the type that are on the end of a pole, but rather a folding pruning saw. Looking much like an oversize pocket knife, these will have a saw blade from 8 to 12 inches long and are razor sharp. Lightweight, they’ll still cut through a tree branch in a few minutes of work, rather than an exhausting half hour.

One other option is to combine your need for a saw with a machete. Some manufacturers make machetes with a saw blade on the back side. I have one of these, and while it doesn’t cut as good as my bow saw, it’s almost as good as the folding pruning saw. What it lacks in tooth design and sharpness, it makes up for by being longer.

3. Machete

Since we’re on the subject of machetes, let’s talk about them. Maybe it’s the time I’ve spent in Mexico, but I’ve grown to really appreciate the general utility of a machete. Not only are they about the only tool you can use to clear underbrush and blaze a trail, they’re excellent for cutting down saplings and cutting off small tree branches. Properly sharpened and used, they are better for cutting small branches than a hatchet.

New Solar Oven Is So Fast It’s Been Dubbed “Mother Nature’s Microwave”

The machete also makes an excellent short-range weapon, should you find yourself in a melee and need something better than a knife. Using one against a knife-wielding attacker definitely gives you the advantage of reach, all but ensuring that you’ll win that confrontation.

All this and the machete is actually a rather light tool. It’s much lighter than a quality hatchet will be and even lighter than most tomahawks. Considering the importance of keeping the weight of everything you carry down to a minimum, the few ounces a machete saves is worth it.

4. Hatchet/tomahawk/machete 

Somehow, the tomahawk has become a very popular option within the preparedness community. Granted, it’s a cool weapon, much cooler than a hatchet. Yes, the hatchet can be used as a melee weapon, and, yes, it can be thrown. But if it came down to that point, I wouldn’t want to be throwing my tomahawk and perhaps giving a weapon to an enemy.

Many think of a tomahawk as a hatchet with additional benefits. But a tomahawk can’t do everything a hatchet can. More than anything, it can’t be used as a hammer, something that any good hatchet does very well. And while you can cut wood with it, it doesn’t cut wood as well as a saw or a machete.

Rethinking Survival Tools: 6 Areas Most People Get Wrong

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Actually, although I still have a hatchet strapped to the side of my bug-out bag, it’s lost a lot of its prestige to the machete. The main reason I still carry it is that the one I have has a hammer head and a pry bar built into it. Both of those can be useful tools to carry. While a rock can do service as a hammer, there’s really nothing else I’m carrying that can do double duty as a pry bar, without breaking it.

5. Shovel

When I was in the Army, we carried a shovel (more properly called an “entrenching tool”) as part of our field gear. The main purpose of that was for digging foxholes. Considering the effectiveness of foxholes in warfare, that made sense. But do we really need one for survival?

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There are a few places where a shovel is useful in survival, such as digging a latrine, making a fire pit and digging a trench around your tent to divert water. While those tasks could be done with a knife or other tool, that would probably dull the tool — not something you want.

Thus, a shovel is part of my kit. What I’ve found is that the longer the shovel, the better. When it comes time to dig, a handle that’s a few inches longer gives you more leverage, making the job easier. Look for length, rather than the added whistles and bells that some companies try to include. You don’t need your shovel to double as a saw or a compass; they won’t do that well.

6. Multi-tool

Ever since the multi-tool hit the market, they’ve been included in survival kits and bug-out bags. Perhaps that hearkens back to the days of the Swiss Army Knife or the multi-purpose knives that we carried as Boy Scouts. I’m not sure.

But there’s a big difference between today’s multi-tool and those knives of the past. That difference is that the multi-tool is intended to be a compact tool kit, with screwdrivers and pliers as the main focus. Yeah, they usually have a saw blade and a knife blade as well, but not some of the more useful survival blades, like an awl.

The thing is, you’re not likely to need to strip down a piece of equipment and repair it when in the middle of the wilderness. You’re more likely to need to make clothing out of a hide that you tan yourself. So, why are you carrying that multi-tool along? What are you going to use it for?

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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

21 Survival Uses For Paracord

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Paracord used to be used as the suspension lines for parachutes. After landing on the ground soldiers would cut the cord from their chutes because they found a multitude of uses for the light weight, durable cordage. Today, paracord has become incredibly popular not only with the military but with the civilian sector as well.

By Tinderwolf, a Contributing Author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog

Why Paracord?

The most commonly used type of paracord is type III.  Type III has a minimum strength of five hundred and fifty pounds, which is why most people refer to it as 550 cord. Paracord is a nylon kernmantle rope which means there is an inner core of nylon strands incased by a nylon sheath. paracord_uses_orangeThis type of rope construction gives way to its strength and the variety of tasks it can accomplish. Type III paracord generally has seven inner strands but can have up to nine. Given that it is made out of nylon, paracord is fairly elastic and mold resistant. One of the reasons it is so versatile is that you can cut the outer sheath and use the individual core strands as well. Years ago, paracord only come in black or olive drab but with its grown popularity you can now purchase paracord in virtually any color that you want.

Below is a list of how I have used paracord.

  • Shoelaces
  • A line to hang up wet clothes
  • I have used one of the inner strands as fishing line and yes I did catch a bluegill. Some people have even made fly lures out of the paracord.
  • I have braided ropes
  • I have made monkey fists for the purpose of weighing down one end of my ropes. This makes the task of throwing a line over a tree branch or from a boat much easier.
  • Bracelets, while stylish, can be undone for emergency cordage. I recommend a double cobra weave as you will have twice the amount of cordage available.
  • Belts
  • Lanyards, I caution that if you make or buy a paracord lanyard make sure it has a break away clasp or on it.
  • Long gun slings
  • I have used the inner strands and an upholstery needle to sew shut a rather large hole in one my packs and it has held for over a year now. I also sewed shut a hole in my driver’s side truck seat which due to climbing in and out, gets a lot of wear and tear. Six months later it is still holding strong.
  • Rock slings
  • Hammocks
  • Tow lines, for vehicles and boats
  • I have tied down loads in my truck bed
  • Knife handles
  • Keychains
  • Bottle wraps
  • Dog leashes
  • Snares
  • Dog collars
  • Dental floss. While somewhat uncomfortable to use it will serve the purpose if you get popcorn stuck in your teeth around the campfire. 


The uses for this cord are only limited by your imagination. Generally paracord is sold in either one hundred foot hanks, or one thousand foot spools. Personally, I like the one thousand foot spools because you can cut the length you want for a specific job in mind. If you are going to be paracord_uses_greenmaking other items from the cord, such as bracelets and slings, having the extra cord on hand in case you make a mistake is definitely worth having the spool on hand. Given it’s plurality of uses and durability, any survival scenario is improved by paracord. I would be very interested in hearing what you have all used paracord for and your experience with it. So sound off and keep making adventures!

Photos Courtesy of:
Fabio Bertoldi


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It’s A Matter of Organizing Your Garage Cabinets….

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I have a very handy husband….I believe he can fix or build anything….and probably has.  I am fortunate that Rooster Senior will quickly repair, build, or address anything I ask for in a short period of time.  Because of this, I try not to ask for too  many things because I want him to enjoy being home and not having got ‘work’ too much at home. 
With all of his talents, he struggles with organization.  He is the king stuffing bags, re-purposed bottles/cans, and boxes into any crevice he can find. He reminds me of the game of Tetris….with the purpose to just find anyplace where the part/piece can fit.  

How To Organize Garage Cabinets:

See the bags, boxes and items placed in the cabinet without rhyme or reason (to me anyway).  So, because of Rooster Senior’s generosity, I decided (at my own peril) to try to be helpful by organizing some of the Garage cabinets.  
I looked at what I saw as chaos.  I got online and ordered milk crates and clear shoe boxes.  (It is important to Rooster Senior that he can see everything.  This is why I chose these containers.  You can see what is inside for the most part).  I set up a ‘sorting station’.  I used an 8 foot table and utilized the space on top of the table as well as under it.  As I took out a bag/box/can, I sorted the items into an appropriate container.  I am a Speech-Language Pathologist by training. One of the things that we teach folks with Executive Functioning issues to learn categorization and to use it to problem solve…along with other things.  Organizing requires categorization….so I used Categorization to sort the many items I was pulling from these cabinets.
While sorting, I found many duplicate items.  This is ultimately costly and takes up precious space. 
It’s amazing how many things you can fit into a milk crate! They are sturdy as well.
I also used my handy-dandy label maker to identify the contents of the containers.  All of these labels are essentially at the same eye level to make scanning for needed items easier to find.
For smaller containers, I used the label maker to identify large categories and some with a sorted but similar items.  “Lighting” items in the top box, and other items associated in the lower box. Each type of item is listed on the outside of the box.
To help categorize and assist in visual sorting, I also put labels on the inside of the doors. These cabinets are deep, and some items were placed in the back of the cabinet because they are not used as frequently as others. This again helps Rooster Senior to see and find things.
See the end result?  All items are labeled and sorted by category.  Whole cabinets were also classified.  We have a ‘camping/recreation’ cabinet, wood-working, etc.  
I would like to say that he was ‘thrilled’ and even ‘excited’.  However, he was polite.  Overall the cabinets have essentially remained mainly the same.  I have to go in and reorganize on occasion.  I chose not to do all the cabinets at once.  I need to let my Tetris husband decide if he was ready or even wanted more of this throughout the garage.
For me, this is a welcome change!  I can find things!  I know right where they are!  I am hoping that with time we can continue this method to help reduce duplicates, and have a space for everything. This was a safety issue at times as the stacking and sliding items as you open the cabinet doors with items randomly falling out.  Also, the piles of these items on the floor can also pose a safety risk. Time will tell to see how this experiment will work over time for him. For me, it is a big success.  Now, I need to respect the rest of his space….he is worthy of such respect both in time and space.

10 Smart & Practical Uses for Rubber Bands That Actually Work

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10 Smart & Practical Uses for Rubber Bands That Actually Work Look no further than your junk drawer for the solution to these common home problems. A rubber band (or two) may be all that you need to execute home hacks while painting, using tools, or moving furniture. These 10 rubber band solutions are simple, …

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Good, Cheap Knives

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The prepper survivalist can never really have too many knives. And of course, there are more knives to be knives_cheap_good_average_bargainhad than the Clinton Foundation has mysterious dollars in their bank account. By the way, just curious, but where exactly is that bank account? But, then again, your everyday bug in or out blades do not have to bear such names as Loveless, Randall, Dozier, Morseth, Randy Lee or so many other well recognized blade masters with retail pricing to match, not to mention waiting times for their products. Average, good knives can serve you well.

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

Nope, us everyday folks can obtain and use a slew of good quality, multi-purpose blades and tools at the fraction of the cost of a custom fabricated knife from a named maker.  Right now I bet you can search your kitchen drawers, workbench, tool bags, and cases and probably find a dozen decent knives that will serve you well and do all the cutting jobs you need done.

A Blade Goldmine

So, to prove it, I did just that. I started opening drawers around my man cave, plastic storage boxes, and other hidey places just to see what would turn up. Like most preppers, I tend to horde and, from time to time, I have to do a reassessment inventory just to see what I have picked up since the last accounting.

Related: Three Excellent Survival Knives For Under $100

And, yo ho, what a treasure trove.  Category wise I found pocket knives, hunting blades, multi-tools with cutting blades, a box cutter, an electricians blade, a kitchen paring knife, a cook prep/garden harvesting knife and a handmade knife I got on a fishing trip to Homer, Alaska.

These few do not even scratch the surface of my odd collection of blades. Any and all of these suit me fine as a prepper. You just have to dig around to see what you have on hand now, then fill in the gaps if something in particular is really needed for specific projects or jobs.

Blade Investments

As I hinted early on you don’t really need a $500+ Randall knife to do the majority of prepper work. If you have one or want one, fine, but all it will give you is an elitist edge, which doesn’t really cut cheese. That pun was not intended, but it did work out well.

Common propriety brand knives work well, too, but shop around and make sure they are not the low end, foreign made junk. That stuff is creeping into what was once fine lines of knives, so be careful. Blade brands like Remington, Browning, Kershaw, Ruger, Schrade, Gerber and many others are still selling some decent knives even though they may be made in China. Not everything from China is junk. Remember what Japanese-made used to mean?good_cheap_knife_budget_prepper

All of the blades shown in the accompanying photos cost under $100, most of them well under $50. The most expensive was probably the IISAKKI Puukko knife I bought at a hunting and fishing shop off the main square in Helsinki, Finland years ago on a moose hunt with Sako firearms. The Puukko is a classic Scandinavian blade of high quality, and fine workmanship. That company has been making such knives since 1879.

Also Read: Cold Steel Pocket Bushman Knife Review

The common tools like a box cutter, a very useful and necessary cutting implement, can be bought at any hardware or building supply store for under $10. Buy several of the disposable ones for just a couple bucks apiece. These blades are razor sharp so don’t take them for granted.  Same can be said of the electrician’s blade used to trim insulation off wiring. I talked an electrician out of that one at a trade show job fair. It has turned out to be a very handy little knife for many jobs around the house and campsite.

Other Blade Applications

Again, this is just a sampling but a good cross section of what every prepper ought to consider having in their Bug Out Bag, EDC, SHTF tool box, house, camp or escape hideout.  A multi-tool like this little Gerber is a must.  This one was on sale for $25 at a big box store during hunting season.  It has a couple cutting blades, small tools like screwdrivers, and when folded out, it is a set of pliers.  I use these all the time for a variety of jobs.  Preppers should have several of these in different sizes, and one to carry on their belt at bug out camp.

See Also: DMT Diamond Sharpener Review

The pocket knives are just that.  They are useful for cutting nearly anything from gutting small game, to cutting rope, twine, string, tape, rubber tubing, gasket material, you name it.  I suppose a good pocketknife is just about the quintessential cutting tool that every prepper must own.  In fact, it’s a good idea to own several of different sizes with different blade configurations, shapes, and locking mechanisms. Small ones can easily be carried.  After all, one should always be at hand.

The hunting-camp curved skinning blade by garage knife maker Maynard Linder of Homer, Alaska is a multi-use caribou_knife_good_cheap_budget_toolblade.  I went to Linder’s house years ago to watch him make knives with his trademark native Alaskan animal bone handles, mostly Caribou but other types as well.  He makes all types of hunting, camp, cooking, kitchen and utility knives.  They are reasonable in price, durable, and well made.  His wife made the leather sheaths.  The whole point here is that there are a lot of good, decent quality knives out there for a wide spectrum of uses for preppers, and survivalists. Whether it is for food foraging, repair work, building projects, general cutting and trimming, food preparation, or whatever, you need to assemble a good selection of knives for multi-tasking around your bug in residence, a bug out tent camp, or an SHTF escape domicile. There are plenty of good, cheaper blades available that do not have to slice up your prepper budget. Take care of them and they will take care of you for a long, long, time.

All Photos Courtesy of Dr. John J Woods

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What Skills Will Allow You To Do & Not Do.

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Medical Kit.


Food bags & containers.

Water bottles or flasks.

Tools for hunting & defence.

Shelter & bedding.

What Skills Will Allow You To Do & Not Do.

The debate regarding equipment versus skills is ongoing, in my personal opinion, both are of equal importance. We are not just talking about survival; we must also be concerned with our quality of life. Yes learning primitive skills for long term survival are very important, but you have to think about what these skills can provide you with & what they can’t. For instance, if you need to cook a stew, then you need a fireproof container. You could experiment making clay vessels, you can also use animal skins & use the hot rock method. But how much easier is it to carry a metal kettle with you?

So why am I mentioning this? I am mentioning this because weight matters if you have to carry it on your back when travelling on foot. There has to be some compromise between two principles, minimum weight & maximum self-reliance. When people are asked about the hunting tools/weapons, top of the list is usually high powered breech-loading firearms. These are fine for self-defence, but how practicle are they for long term survival? The larger the caliber, the more the ammunition weighs, & the more space in your pack it takes up. We need to prioritise, is it more important to carry a lot of weight in modern ammunition? Or is it more important to carry more medical equipment & supplies, vitamin supplements, more food & more water? If we are travelling alone, we can not carry both.

If we are only carrying a modern firearm & we intend to use it for hunting & defence, then the ammunition will not last long. We can of course avoid a fire fight by keeping a low profile, & we can save on ammunition by setting up a trap line for meat. But how secure will you feel knowing that when your ammunition runs out, you will be left with nothing with which to defend yourself or procure game? Your alternatives are: carrying an air rifle, carrying a traditional bow & arrows, or carrying a flintlock muzzle-loading gun/rifle & pistol. Another alternative for those in America might be to carry a modern sidearm in combination with one of the aforementioned hunting tools, or carry a bow & a modern firearm.

Weight is the all important factor, that & sustainability. Solid form medications have a long shelf life, so we need to take advantage of this. Dry foods too have a long storage capability & it is important that we carry as much food as we can. Eventually we hope to be able to take the time to forage for edible flora & hunt & trap game, but until that time comes, we are on the move & we need to keep a low profile.

Can primitive skills supply you with medications? Yes of course they can, but finding the herbs you need will not be easy, & especially so if you are already feeling ill. We need to think about our well being, our comfort. Any item that is sustainable & will make life easier is worth carrying, within reason. Skills will enable you to make a survival bow & arrows, but if you should ever come up against someone with a gun, you may have some difficulty surviving. Something that people often fail to take into account is the shock factor of a firearm, the noise & the impact of the missile. A bow against a firearm can not deliver this.

Anyway, the purpose of this article is to make you think before you leap. Think about the equipment you are going to carry & how it will best benefit your survival physically & mentally. Learn all you can about primitive skills, & if you plan to survive on your own retreat, then think about the living skills you will need to keep things in good repair.

When it comes to transporting equipment on foot, you can use a hiking trolley, but like all forms of transport from vehicles to animals, there will always be a negative side. The tracks you will leave to be followed, the places you can’t go, the noise you will make.

The ability to Improvise will be a must in an SHTF world, so get ready for it!

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Hello, my friend and welcome back!  Improvising or repurposing items around you will be a key factor in surviving in a post SHTF world, so you better get ready.  In today’s post, we are…

The post The ability to Improvise will be a must in an SHTF world, so get ready for it! appeared first on American Preppers Online.

The cost & importance of learning. Clubs, Groups & Schools. Plus the advantages & disadvantages.

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The cost & importance of learning, clubs, groups & schools. Plus the advantages & disadvantages.

When it comes to long term survival, the skills start with choosing the right clothing & equipment. After that you have to learn how to use that equipment & you need to learn how to manage if you should lose that equipment. Survival schools are generally expensive, this is because they have to put in a lot of time teaching people the skills, & time cost money if you are running a business. Some schools will teach you primitive skills, others will not. Some schools will teach you how to survive if you get lost in the bush, others may teach you how to survive long term. But it will all cost you money.

Bushcraft groups are good & they will teach you some survival skills. Again, some may promote the use of modern tools & equipment, where as others may teach you more primitive skills. In general, you will pay a yearly fee which is used to pay for your insurance cover. Survival groups fall roughly into the same category as the bushcraft groups, a mixed lot which may or may not teach you what you need to know. Basically it depends on the individual members, some will be more knowledgeable than others, but in the long run they can’t teach you what they don’t know themselves.

It is well known that in order to survive long term in a wilderness situation, you will need to learn primitive skills, & your equipment & tools will need to be low tech. Modern equipment is not made to last, batteries will go flat, items will break & wear out. You need sustainable methods & primitive gear. If you start off with pre 19th century equipment you will never drop below that level of comfort. But if you start off with all modern gear, then sooner or later you will be thrown back into the stone age.

Now let’s look at another kind of club or group, an 18thcentury living history group. Most again will charge a yearly membership fee, & it must be said that not all living history groups are equal in the benefits that they offer the survivalist. But, the potential for learning is still there, you simply may have to put in more effort to gather some members together who have the skills that you need to learn.

Our group, the New England Colonial Living History Group does not charge any membership fees or training fees, it is all free. However, we do not carry any insurance either, our members are covered by the Civil Liability Amendment (Personal Responsibility) Bill 2002. For many years I payed for our group insurance out of my own pocket so that lower income families could afford to join our group. Eventually, I had to stop paying out of my own pocket (there never were any accidents or insurance claims). When you think about it we go with groups of friends out bush for various recreational activities, & no one ever questions if there is insurance cover. We all take personal responsibility for ourselves, & we watch out for the safety of others.

The advantages of joining a group like ours is that our activities cover a wide range of interests. We can advise on equipment & clothing, & we teach people all the skills they may need for free. Individuals do not have to participate in any activity if they do not wish to, but remember, in a shtf situation, there will be NO insurance, NO doctors & NO hospitals. If you want to cover yourself, use your money to purchase a good modern medical kit & take it to group meetings. Also carry a personal first aid kit in your pack. That way if you cut yourself or smack yourself in the head whilst learning archery, you can patch yourself up & keep going.

Kids in general love participating in living history. It is an opportunity to do something which is fun & educational & they get to share this experience with there parents or carers. In shooting clubs, archery clubs & fishing clubs you will learn only so much, very little of what you do learn will prepare you for survival. In a group like ours though you get to learn everything; you learn what is the best equipment & how to use it. You learn how to repair your equipment & in the case of archery & fishing, you learn how to make your own from scratch with no modern tools.

Some living history groups have splinter groups such as a militia group where you can learn battle tactics. Some groups are purely Ranger groups & again, battle training is a normal part of their activities on top of all the other skills you can learn. All Living History groups are family oriented, so all the family gets to join in one way or another. On top of all this learning & training, living history groups are a lot of fun. If you are serious about long term wilderness survival, I recommend you inquire in your area for a living history group, be it medieval period or 18thcentury or somewhere in between.

Our Group’s Official Forum:  

You will also find links to other groups in other areas & countries on our forum.

Survival Gear Review: Vargo Titanium Wood Stove

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Most quality bug out kits give a hefty nod to a petroleum powered stove. Whether white gas, vargo_titanium_folding_wood_stove_ultralight_sticks_hot-2compressed gas or fuel tablets, the common thread is the need for man-made fuel. Even the multi-fuel stoves are at risk when there is nothing to eat. Enter the mini-wood stove.  Vargo makes an impressive line of titanium products including the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove. Folding flat and weighing just 4.3 ounces, the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove does the same things a conventional stove does without the need for extra help. Add another half ounce for the hexagon-shaped velcro-closure pouch and two dozen wooden matches, and the kit still doesn’t break five ounces. 

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

Fuel Load out

Using sticks, bark, and the essentially unlimited supply of fuel found in any forest, the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove will boil water and cook food better and faster than a small campfire. The shape and design of the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove makes for concentrated heat and focused energy all in a tiny package. The stove has a five-inch diameter base that focuses the energy out of a three-inch chimney. The area of a circle is pi times the radius squared. So a five-inch base has about 19.6 inches of surface area, and the chimney has about seven inches of area. This means that almost three times the amount of burnable real estate heat is concentrated into the business end of this little wood furnace. Since pure titanium has a melting temperature of over 3000 degrees F, there is little chance that this alloy of Ti will ever soften during use.

Also Read: 15 Ways To Start A Fire

The Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove is a set of seven hinged panels all folding flat into a quarter inch high plane. One panel is the hexagonal base, and the others are the six triangular walls. Piano hinges connect all the panels, and one simple notch on the base provides support and alignment with a wall panel, and another spring clip on the base holds the whole thing together. A single panel remains movable as the door.

Black Pots Matter

Unlike other folding stoves, the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove is ultralight and folds together in mere seconds. The folding mechanism creates a solid furnace that supports pots and has a door to open when feeding is necessary, which, by the way, is very often. I’ve used other flat-folding wood stoves and was impressed with their efficiency, but not their assembly. This becomes especially important when it’s cold, dark, wet, and there is no flat surface in sight. Further, the stove will be caked with black carbon so the less it must be handled, the cleaner your fingers will remain.

Gas stoves are great when they have gas. Otherwise they are dead weight. Campfires are a vargo_titanium_folding_wood_stove_ultralight_screws_cross_barswonderful morale building tool, but heavy on the smoke, smell, and evidence. Plus, most folks new to campfire cooking build way too big a fire and make a mess of things. Part of the dramatic efficiency of the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove is that it has a raised base with 19 hexagonal-shaped ventilation holes in it. The flow of oxygen into the base of this stove makes for a much hotter burn than wood sitting on the ground. This also means you must keep the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove sitting on its base feet in order for air to freely circulate under the stove. As the holes fill with ash or the stove sinks into the ground or snow, the efficiency will suffer tremendously. As such, keeping the base above ground is critical to a healthy fire. 

Wood Fired Afterburner

Up at the hot end of the stove, five of the six panels have a V-shaped notch about a half-inch wide and ¾-inch deep that allows flame to escape the stove and wrap up and around the pot. A sixth but smaller V-shaped notch is on the door. Since the top of the door is half an inch below the plane, the smaller door V actually corresponds to the bottom portion of all the other panel Vs. This makes for a level mount for wire or stakes but would prevent the door from opening. The top of the door is the largest vent. All these vents provide plenty access for pot-blackening carbon to coat the sides of your cookware.

The V-shaped notches also have another purpose. By placing small metal rods, tent stakes, or four-vargo_titanium_folding_wood_stove_ultralight_cut_hatchetinch steel grabber screws across the top of the stove, you create a grill-like cap on the top allowing small containers to sit above the flames. Stainless steel water bottles may require this mod. If you prefer, you could just add a four or five-inch square of screen to use a grill surface. I don’t recommend a circle of screen due to all the exposed wires ends from cutting that shape. The more you add to this kit, the more you deviate from the lightweight simplicity you paid for.

Related: 5 Dollar Preps: DIY Fire Starter

If you’re adventurous, you could put the stove upside down inside a pot to make a small grill. You can cook meat and veggies right on the stove-top.  With the proper mods, this stove has the potential to be a very versatile addition to your survival kit. 

Feed Me Seymour

The success of the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove is dependent on a steady and endless supply of small lumber. The Vargo eats pencil-sized sticks like there’s no tomorrow so have a pile on hand before lighting up this hungry monster.

In reality, the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove does not burn wood much faster than a campfire, instead it feeds on a diet purely of high-surface area kindling. The interior of the stove is rather small so the fire burns hot and fast. The first time I took my Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove for a spin, it kept coming close to going out. I thought I could take a break from stoking it, but I was wrong. You only get a few minutes of downtime between feedings. And you cannot put a nice juicy log into the fire to make a big glowing ember. To put it simply, the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove is more like a blender where you keep adding sticks and they keep disappearing in flames.

Phase Changing

I was equally surprised at how fast a half-quart of water came to a boil on the Vargo Hexagon vargo_titanium_folding_wood_stove_ultralight_centimeter_thinTitanium wood stove. The concentrated heat literally firing out of the titanium tipi went directly into the pot. Time-to-boil depends on your wood, starting water temperature, outside temperature, and the shape of your cooking pot or cup. Something in the 10-15 minute range is a normal boiling time. Other variables include altitude, quality of fire, lid use, and wind. If you double the amount of water, it seems to triple the amount of cook time.

This titanium stove gets sooty quickly. That’s one big difference between a clean-burning gas stove and a primitive tree-burning one. In fact, the stove becomes a pretty dirty thing to handle. Thankfully the black nylon pouch included with the stove keeps soot contained. 

Check Out: Gear Portable Military Wood Stove

Of course, this stove should burn about any fuel you can fit inside it. So fuel tablets, alcohol, and other dedicated burnables will work. However the opposite cannot be said for tiny tablet and alcohol stoves which have trouble digesting wood. If alcohol is a preferred cooking medium, Vargo does make a titanium alcohol stove that fits inside their wood stove creating an efficient windscreen and additional stove. 


The downside of a small stove is that it is small. A small stove supports small pots with small water capacities. vargo_titanium_folding_wood_stove_ultralight_quart_cupUnder ideal conditions, you could balance a quart of water on Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove, but that’s pretty gutsy. Instead, the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove works great with small pots and large metal cups. I use both stainless steel and titanium cookware, but always single-wall. The double-walled cups can explode if heated, so keep that factoid in mind.

The price of the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove is around sixty bucks or roughly three times the price of its stainless steel counterpart. So if weight is not an issue, you could buy three iron versions for the same price of one titanium one. The stainless version of the Vargo Hexagon wood stove weighs almost twice as much as the Ti version but both are considered light weight by reasonable standards. Well, actually the steel one is just lightweight. The titanium one is ridiculously lightweight.

Stained for Life

One use and the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove will have permanent blackened walls and lightly rainbow patina. Live with it. You can get some of the carbon off by scrubbing the stove with sand or dirt after it cools. I’ve wire-brushed mine but it’s usually not worth the effort. The next time you fire up your stove, you will re-blackening it.

The simplicity of a campfire has always been its main attraction. So, adding a little titanium tech to the campfire concept is hardly a big step. The Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove should be a welcome addition to any bug out bag or survival kit. The stove probably won’t make the difference between life and death, but it will do important cooking and boiling tasks much better than when in the open air. If time is critical and you need to keep a low profile, the Vargo Hexagon Titanium wood stove is worth it’s minuscule weight in gold.

Vargo Hexagon Titanium Wood Stove is available on Amazon (Click Here)

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Bug out power: Keeping your electronics charged while bugging out.

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Hello my friend and welcome back!  In today’s post, we are going to take a look at the challenge of keeping your portable electronics charged while bugging out.  We will also take a look…

The post Bug out power: Keeping your electronics charged while bugging out. appeared first on American Preppers Online.

5 Forgotten ‘Antique Tools’ You Better Store For Uncertain Times

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5 Forgotten ‘Antique Tools’ You Better Store For Uncertain Times

Image source: Wikipedia

The march of progress and the changing demands of an increasingly industrialized world without frontiers has changed the tools we use, but that does not mean all have lost their utility.

For the survivalist, homesteader or simply those interested in the methods of times gone by, there are plenty of useful tools that our ancestors used that the modern world has almost forgotten. They could be used now – or stored away for an uncertain future. Here are five:

1. Flails

5 Forgotten ‘Antique Tools’ You Better Store For Uncertain Times

Flail. Image source: Wikipedia

Flails are ancient grain-threshing tools made obsolete by modern harvesting methods. While thankfully we no longer have to thresh grain by hand, a homesteader growing small amounts of grain may find these useful. Made from two pieces of wood and fastened together with a chain, a flail was swung so that one stick struck stacks of wheat or other grain, knocking the grain from its husk. While labor-intensive, it is an effective process, and when all else fails, it is a great way to thresh your grain harvest, and a skilled hand can thresh about seven bushels of wheat in a day.

2. The hewing axe

In a world where timber and lumber are cut in high speed, there is precious little reason to trim a log square by hand. Unless, of course, there is a long-term blackout, or you live so far away from civilization that you have no other choice.

Are You Prepared For A Downed Grid? Get Backup Electricity Today!

Hewing axes are just what they are described as: wide-bladed axes designed for shaping round timbers square. These specialized tools are a must if you want to make your own timbers and you don’t have access to a mill of some sort.

3. Augers

While more commonly seen today in mechanized versions, the original hand auger was an absolute must for boring holes in beams and timber. Regardless of if you are fastening things together with bolts, lag screws or simply using wooden pegs, this handy and somewhat obscure in its manual form hand tool will be the quickest way to bore large and deep holes. Put one of these aside, because without being able to bore holes, your ability to construct buildings gets a lot harder.

4. Butcher knives

It’s not that we don’t use butcher knives anymore, but rather that we don’t use them as our ancestors once did. Throughout history, a common person might have one or two basic utility knifes, and while we now enjoy all manner of special blades, many people once made do with a basic butcher knife. It is easy to get caught up in carrying special hunting knives and forget that once upon a time, our ancestors carried a butcher knife on their belt and made great use of it. So if you are looking for an affordable utility knife, consider a butcher knife.

5. Pick mattock

5 Forgotten ‘Antique Tools’ You Better Store For Uncertain Times

Pick mattock. Image source: Wikipedia

Unless you work regularly with digging tools, these brilliant and simple hand tools are likely to be as forgotten as crank telephones. Combining a wide pick, with an adze, you get two tools in one that are perfect for gardening, working the soil, digging and cutting roots and even shaping timbers. The pick part speaks for itself, but the adze can be sharpened and used to shape wood, cut or any other purpose. This indispensable tool is important for off-grid survival and homesteading.

I am pretty certain that our great-grandparents would happily choose many of the labor-saving tools and methods we have today. However, knowing the simpler tools of the past is important to surviving in an uncertain future — plus there is great personal satisfaction in mastering difficult and nearly forgotten skills. Anyone who is prepared or preparing to live off grid must be ready to dial back their technology base and skill sets to a 19th century or earlier level, and that starts with understanding the tools our great-grandparents would have used.

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

Are You Prepared For Extended Blackouts? Read More Here.

Survival Gear Review: The Tactical Timahawk

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Crovel Tim Ralston

Few things turn on a survivalist like a new piece of kit that has tremendous potential. And two oftimahawk_tomahawk_axe_pry_bar_tree_punching them just landed in my bug out loadout. Cutting to the chase, they are Timahawks. ‘Timahawk’, you ask? Yes Tim-a-Hawk. The designer Tim Ralston got to choose the name so it only makes sense. Had I created the tool, it would be the Docahawk. You’ve got to admit that Timahawk sounds better.


By Doc Montana, from Survival Cache and SHTFBlog

The Modern Middle Age

Although the Timahawk is a modern take on a multipurpose survival tool, it traces its roots to medieval times when survival really did depend on skill and edged weapons. Ripping a page from the battle axe manual, the Timahawk put a contemporary twist on a bearded battleaxe.

Like a hornet, the bright orange color is a warning that messing with this axe will cause injury or death in every state including California. But seriously, there is so much more to this tool than it’s overt muscle. The Timahawk is an everyday survival tool that moonlights as a weapon.

timahawk_tomahawk_survival_hatceht_bugoutAs a war axe, the Timahawk contains the necessary features to fight old-school as well as provide a platform for necessary day-to-day survival tasks. I have to admit that I was skeptical about yet another heavyweight survival implement, but this turned out to be different. In the past, combination tools from the Leatherman forward have given those with a survival bend more of an advantage than the sum of their parts, but as the tools got larger, the differences got smaller. Axes, hammers, pry bars, and breeching tools were somewhat the same so a combination of those similar metal ends was useful but not exciting. Enter the Timahawk.

By combining a powerful curved battle axe with a bearded edge, with a heavy steel handle with a welded adz, the Timahawk quickly rose to the top of my heap of multipurpose heavy tools. Philosophically speaking, the Timahawk can replace many of the big tools freeing you up to carry more smaller, more precise tools. This is an important consideration since with a Timahawk and a neck knife, you could rule the world…or at least your little bug out slice of it.

Check Out: Survival Gear Review: Cold Steel Pocket Bushman Knife

Blunt Force Precision

I won’t sugarcoat this and say the Timahawk is a precision device for fire starting and minor defense. No, the Timahawk is a brute force weapon that has plenty of gross motor skill options for breaching, pounding, chopping, stabbing, and digging. In a nutshell, the Timahawk is the big stuff that you can carry while running.

As a battle axe, the beard or extended lower blade aspect, forms a hook that in ancient times was used to yank away the shields of foes during hand-to-hand combat. By latching onto the unfortunate foe’s defensive tools, the bearded axe would pull down and expose the fleshier parts of the adversary. As a deadly side note, the beard also made a wonderful horizontal impalement tool complete with a knife edge.

There are two versions of the Timahawk, a 27” 4lb version that steps on the toes of axes, and a  15.5” “Tactical” version that weighs three pounds. The heads on both versions are exactly the same but the handles and grip ends are different. Part 1 of this review will focus on the Tactical Timahawk, or the shorter version.

At three pounds, the Tactical Timahawk weighs about 1.2 pounds more than the industry standard hatchet, namely the leather-handled Estwing Sportsman’s Hatchet. That’s about one-and-a-half times as much, meaning the Tactical Timahawk is a formidable tool that is only two inches longer than the Estwing.

The Tactical Timahawk and it’s big brother the Timahawk proper are both made of pre-hardened 4130 steel. Compared to many of the knives I review, 4130 is an uneventful metal in the 41xx family of steels. It is a workhorse steel that wears the moniker “aircraft steel” when used for such things. It is a strong, dependable alloy with great properties for big jobs including crankshafts and roll cages, two things that when when I think about it might make a heck of a survival tool somehow. Maybe Tim has some ideas? Anything for preppers with the name “Crank Cage” has potential in my book. For reference, a similar steel known as 4150 (with just a little more carbon) is one of the few steels cleared for duty by the US Military in M16 and M4 carbine barrels.

It Adz Up

The Tactical Timahawk has a six inch curved cutting blade that chops, slices, and dices like any good battleaxe. A two-inch adz blade runs perpendicular to the grip and primary blade. An adz is a carving tool that dates back to the stone age. It also happens to be a formidable digging and breaching tool, but I doubt there was much to breach 8700 years ago, let alone structures to breach into.

My experience with an adz, or adze as Tim likes to spell it (both are correct), comes from mountaineering and ice climbing. Today the adz is a working tool for digging and carving when things are calm. For those with forestry timahawk_tomahawk_little_small_tacticalbends, an overgrown adz is found on the famous Pulaski Tool named after the great Edward Crockett “Ed” Pulaski who is a US Forest Service Ranger credited with saving all but five of his 45-man team during the Great Idaho Fire of 1910. Taking no crap, Pulaski held his men face down in a mine tunnel at gunpoint until the fire passed. Five souls and two horses were lost, but it was a major credit to Polaski to restrain panic while applying his knowledge and science of forest fires. The “Pulaski Tunnel” still exists and is listed on the Registry of Historic Places for those who would like to vacation into my neck of the woods but over in Idaho just a few clicks west of my bug out usual stomping ground. And as far as Pulaski tools go, yes I have one as does anyone else around here who dabbles with living off the land.

The far end of the Tactical Timahawk contains a pointed butt with a sharpness angle of 70 degrees. The unhoned 5/16” thick steel is a blunt instrument at best. But blunt is exactly the personality you want when you need to call to action the base of the Tactical Timahawk. And given the grip and handle of the Tactical Timahawk for just such a butt-end announcement, there is little to argue about when push comes to breach.

Barehanded the 5/16” steel fights both directions so wearing a glove is a good idea. However, if you are in a life or death situation, a comfortable grip is for sissies. The same holds true for the punching grip of the bearded main Timahawk blade.

Bug Out Loadout

The never ending quest for the perfect bug out loadout just got easier. The Tactical Timahawk, at only three-and-a-half inches more than a foot makes for a serious contender for title of best bug out battle axe.

Also Read: 2o Things You Need In Your Get Home Bag 

One of Tim Ralston’s missions in life is to combine multiple tools in one. The Tactical Timahawk is brought to you by the creator of the Crovel (crowbar and shovel), a Nax (knife + axe), the X-Caliber (multi-caliber gun), and many timahawk_tomahawk_axe_pry_bar_glock_26others from firearms to aggressive tools to watches. So the Tactical Timahawk was a natural progression, and tip of the survival iceberg, so to speak. Or perhaps the tip of the survival spear.

Real World

Using trees as aggressors, the Tactical Timahawk put a serious dent into any and all foes that got too close to me. It removed limbs, gouged holes, and punched debilitating slices into any bark that invaded my space.

The battleaxe is an evolved tool that provides both offensive and defensive aggression. When on the attack, the Tactical Timahawk force multiplies through mass, sharpness, and blade size. Rolston even sells the Tactical Timahawk as something you can throw. As one who has spent much time throwing conventional metal tomahawks, I’m not sure I could find the balance of the Tactical Timahawk without practice so if you intend on using Tactical Timahawk as a projectile, practice first since the disproportionately shaped head will throw off (pun intended) your usual rotation, and the adz is not much of a sticker. But at three times the blade size than a regular “hawk” you will have more rotation angle to consider a successful hit.

Related: 10 Tips For When You Get Lost In The Woods 

The adz is a two-inch horizontal blade that runs perpendicular to the main blade. Adzes are great at carving, precision chopping, and digging. In winter, the adz on an ice axe is used to chop steps, carve ice ledges, and flatten the tent space. Opposite the adz on an ice axe is a pick used to support weight or arrest a fall. But it should be obvious that the pick has little use during a bug out except for those who also pack zombie fantasies in their BOB.

As a digging tool the Tactical Timahawk lacks the volume to make a major dent in soil anytime soon, but if that soil is filled with rocks and debris, the Tactical Timahawk’s adz garners the same advantage the made the Pulaski tool rock the fire lines.

The scales (handle covers) on the Tactical Timahawk are recycled plastic. They are too smooth for my taste but that is easily remedied with a little rough sandpaper.  I also added a paracord lanyard through the thankfully included quarter-inch hole in the base.

Something included on the larger Timahawk but not on this one is blade cover.  When the  Tactical Timahawk is timahawk_tomahawk_axe_pry_bar_estwing_sportsman_axe_comparewaiting for use, like an angry rattlesnake or a bored kitten, it’s six-inch blade sits ready to attack anything that comes close to it. So a leather or Kydex sheath would be a welcome feature. And a place to start designing would be to pay attention to Pulanski covers which have endured years of trial and abuse. My Pulaski has a simple vertical/horizontal strap that covers the blades with mundane effectiveness.

The Tactical Timahawk’s beard has functions beyond those of the fighting kind. The balance point on the Tactical Timahawk’s handle is at the lowest point of the beard. This means the Tactical Timahawk will hang just fine on its beard hook. Whether on branch or rope, the Tactical Timahawk will grab on to anything that fits in the one-and-a-quarter inch channel between handle and blade with little chance of falling off.

The Tactical Timahawk aggressively attacks the single handtool space in the bug out bag. Classic hatchets like the Estwing and my favorite, the Gransfors Bruks, provide an effective bushcraft-level tool, but fall short when addressing the downside of mankind. For those darker events, tools such as the Tactical Timahawk are the best option. Maybe the only option.

Stay tuned for part 2, the full-sized Timahawk: An Epic Tool for good and bad times.

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Animal Parts Use Image.

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Don’t forget the brains can be used to brain tan animal skins. Bones can be used to make tools, spear & arrow points. Horns for containers; powder horns, tinder horns, grease horns, cups & other vessels. Tendons for bow strings & cordage. The hide for making many leather items & for making hide glue. 

9 Uses for Rancid Cooking Oil

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9 Uses for Rancid Cooking OilNow, I won’t say that I am cheap, but I never like to see waste. I use everything that I can. As many of you know, the shelf life of cooking oils is not indefinite, so the other day I found some olive oil that was out of date. I got to thinking about alternate uses for rancid cooking oils. Here is the list of uses for old oil.

Lubricant and rust preventative.  It can be used for everything from squeaky hinges to oiling your tools. In a pinch, it would work to protect your firearms.

Lamp oil.  Oil lamps are a good alternate use for rancid oils. They are easy to make and put out about the same amount of light as a candle. Having a selection of oil lamps is a very good prep and lamp oil, like this brand, isn’t too expensive.

Furniture Conditioner and Polishing Agent.  Cooking oils can makes a great wood furniture polish and conditioner. I have used it on butcher block in the past. Combine equal parts oil with vinegar for an amazing mixture that can make old, scratched furniture look almost new.

Olive oil softens and preserves leather.  You can also use it on leather to help restore suppleness, and protect the leather.

Get paint off your hands. Rub some oil into your skin, let it sink in for 5 minutes, and then wash thoroughly with soap.

Protect rattan and wicker furniture. It helps keep rattan and wicker furniture from cracking. Just gently rub some warm oil into the furniture with a soft cloth.

Making soap.  Rancid oils can be used to make lye soaps. This book is a classic for basic soapmaking information and instructions. This would be a good skill to have for TEOTWAWKI.

Animal feed.  Dogs and cats do not appear to be bothered by rancid oils. Add a little to their food and it will improve their coats.

Making Diesel.  Old cooking oils can be processed and burned in diesel engines.

These are the alternate uses for rancid cooking oil that I came up with after a few minutes of thought. I am sure there are many more. Every now and then, somebody I know wants to get rid of old cooking oils. I tell them to mark it as not fit for human consumption and keep it. It may come in handy someday.

If you’re wondering why it’s not a good idea to eat rancid oil, read this.

Try to find multiple uses for everything you store.


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7 Incredible Tools The Native Americans Crafted From Tree Bark

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7 Survival Items The Native Americans Made From Tree Bark

Most of us see little use for bark. We peel it before we build with it, we trim it off before smoking fish or game, and we generally don’t see much value in it as firewood or a dependable heat source.

Native people, though, had a much different viewpoint. They used bark from many trees as a resource for numerous solutions, but there’s a trick to working with this material.

Paper birch is the bark of choice for bark crafters, and the Ojibway took barkcraft to a new level thanks to the fact that birch grew everywhere they lived. Other tribes had to make-do with stiffer and less pliable resources, although slippery elm, willow and aspen offered workable solutions.

Harvesting Bark

Be careful with living, green trees. If you remove too much bark, you will potentially kill the tree. In fact, if you cut the bark from a tree around its circumference, it will be dead in weeks, if not months. Native peoples would sometime “girdle” a tree. This involved removing bark around the full circumference of the tree; this was a designed action and they knew that the following year the tree would be dead. Often, a large fire was started at the base and stone axes were used to cut into the weakened and charred wood until repeated fires and chopping felled the tree.

Discover The Secrets Of The Word’s Top Survivalists!

Even a dead birch tree will provide a strong and pliable source of bark. If you come across a dead-fall birch, harvest the bark to your heart’s content. If you’re desperate and only have access to live trees, limit your cuts and stripping to half of the tree if you can. That will at least give it a fighting chance for recovery.

You may be wondering: Why is bark so important to a tree? The inner bark or “xylem” is essentially the circulatory system for any tree. Water and nutrients are delivered to the tree from the roots to its leaves by this circulation. That’s why a “girdled” tree will soon die. When its only source of water and nutrients is cut off, the tree has no options for survival.

Pre-Treating Bark

There are a few steps to making any bark more workable. Some tree bark, like the slippery elm, requires a bit of scraping of the outer bark to make the piece more pliable. Birch is naturally flexible, but it will be curved when first harvested. Native Americans flattened the birch bark on the ground with the curved side down and weighted it with stones. The moisture in the ground and the weight of the stones eventually flattened the bark.

Another key step is to soak the bark in hot water before working with it. This also adds some flexibility, and it helps to keep the bark from splitting when it’s folded or shaped.

Many bark creations were sewn at the seams with cordage or strips of leather to re-enforce items like baskets and bowls. If the object needed to hold water, the seams were sealed with pine pitch.

Let’s take a look at items the Native Americans made from bark:

1. Cup

One of the easiest and most common uses for bark was for a ladle or drinking cup.  A circle of birch bark was cut and a triangular fold was made from the center to the edge. This fold was then overlapped to form a cone. The creased bark was held in place with a stick with a split in it, and the fact that the bark was not cut made it water tight to either scoop water from a spring, or to simply drink it as a cup.

2. Bowl

This same approach was used with a wider circle of birch bark or slippery elm to make bowls supported by rocks around the side, or a hat that would shade you from the sun or protect you from the rain.

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3. Pot

The bowl concept also can allow you to cook with a bark cooking pot. Hot stones were picked from a fire with two sticks much like chop sticks, and the stones were swirled in the water until the water actually started to boil.

But be careful with hot rocks. A rock from a river may appear nice and smooth, but many of them contain moisture in their cracks and crevices and can explode and shatter in the fire. Igneous rocks like granite or basalt are the best because they are less likely to be porous and allow water to seep in.

4. Sunglasses

“Sunglasses” are another option, with a piece of bark cut about six inches wide and two inches in height. You may doubt the need for sunglasses, but in winter, snow-blindness is a serious problem, as sunlight reflects off forests and fields of snow. These sunglasses, though, did not contain any glass or plastic. A couple of sticks were used to support the bark strip over the ears like a regular pair of sunglasses, and two crosses in the shape of a plus sign (+) were cut into the bark at eye level.

Ultra-Compact Water Filter Fits In Your POCKET !

A semi-circular cut was made to fit over the bridge of the nose. The size of the crosses was usually a half-inch long both up and across, and the slit was about an eighth of an inch wide. You look at the world through the slit, which allows less light and protects your eyes. This was actually an Eskimo invention.

5. Backpack

A backpack is also easy to make with a long piece of bark about three feet in length and a foot and a half wide. The bark was folded over, and the seams on either side were sown together with cordage or long strips of leather. Holes were poked first and the cordage or leather simply woven through. Straps from cordage or leather were attached and reinforced with more lacing. and everything from personal items to harvested plants, fruits and vegetables could be carried with ease.

6. Candle lantern

A curved piece of birch bark, wrapped and held in place at the base around a circle of sawn wood creates a wind block and reflector for a candle lantern in a fixed camp. Be careful using this indoors. Birch bark is highly flammable, which makes it great tinder, but not something you want to burst into flames in a cabin.

7. Torch

A simple torch is easy to improvise, with strips of birch bark held in place by a slit in a long branch. Additional strips of bark can be added as the birch burns; it actually gives off a good amount of light for a long time.

Final thoughts

All Native American tribes crafted canoes from birch, but that’s something that’s a bit beyond my expertise, although I’ve had success making small-scale toy canoes from birch bark, and my kids and grandkids still play with them. Maybe someday I’ll see if I can scale it up and actually make a birch bark canoe, but I’ll definitely be testing it in very shallow water.

What advice would you add on making tools and utensils from bark? Share your tips in the section below:

Every Year, Gardeners Make This Stupid Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

Failed New Australian Survival Forum. But Old One Still Exists.

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Because I was not satisfied with present survival forums I attempted to start one myself. This failed miserably. Simply put not enough people were really interested in the forum, even though I bent over backwards to make it interesting & supplied plenty of choices on subjects. It was primarily a Primitive Survival forum, although modern equipment was not left out. Even so I think that most survival preppers & survivalists are not really serious about survival, they like the idea, but are not prepared to go the extra distance. Camping & playing at survival is fun, but this will not get you through a serious shtf situation.

If you can’t think of anything more important to carry than modern battery operated equipment & multi-tools along with a ferocerium rod for fire lighting, then in a long term wilderness survival/living situation you are going to be in a lot of trouble. How long do you think this modern equipment will last? What will you do when your hiking boots come apart at the seems? What you need is equipment & methods that are sustainable & to a point renewable, & you need to have skills.

Modern medical supplies & equipment are a priority, no argument there. Modern firearms if they are only used for defence & you can afford to carry them without compromising your ability to hunt are also fine. But if you are only going to carry a modern firearm for hunting & defence, then you will not only need to carry a lot of ammunition, but you will also be putting all your eggs in one basket!!!

If you are serious about survival, if you think there is a possibility that a TEOTWAWKI situation may arise in Australia, then I suggest you check out our forum “The Survival Connection” on our group’s 18th century Living History forum at:  We have some good people on this forum, knowledgeable people from all over with whom you can share your knowledge & learn from. 
Regards, Keith.

FarmBot Genesis

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Here is a computer controlled growing tool called the FarmBot Genesis. It is a computer controlled farming robot which can be used to get the most out of each plot by controlling exactly where each seed is put, how much water it gets and it even can seek and destroy weeds. All using magnetic heads […]

3 Survival Uses For Bones, Straight From The Native Americans

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3 Survival Uses For Bones, Straight From The Native Americans

Image source: Cody Assmann

People living in a self-reliant or survival situation must be resourceful. That seems obvious, but it is worth remembering.

This point is constantly reinforced when you watch someone on a survival show learn about living a more natural existence. As we’ve previously covered, creativity is a must in a survival situation, and that promotes resourcefulness. Resourcefulness refers to both finding new resources to use as well as fully using the resources you have. In other words: Waste not, want not.

One resource routinely discarded, but particularly useful, is the bones of animals after the hunt. Most folks today don’t give bones a second chance after dressing a carcass. It’s either a short trip to the dump or off to a deep hole for the coyotes and flies to pick clean. But in a situation where you must be completely self-reliant, you can’t afford to let all of the potential uses of bones go to waste.

If you ever do find yourself in that kind of situation, you’ll want to know these top three uses of bones.

1. As a cutting edge

Prior to the importation of iron to this hemisphere, Native people needed to be innovative to find a cutting tool. A cutting edge is simply one of the most used tools for primitive skills. It is common knowledge that stone materials, such as obsidian and flint, were widely used for cutting tools. What is known to a lesser degree is the use of both bone and copper by Native people for cutting tools, as well. Fresh bones take an edge very well and were used for knives, arrowheads, needles and spear points, as well — anything that needed a cutting edge.

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The processing of bones is very simple. Cutting tools can come from a variety of bones, but big leg bones work well. Bones can be split by smashing between two rocks or cutting lengthwise if you have access to a saw. Smashing tends to produce small chunks well-suited for arrowheads, while cutting in halves creates ideal material for making larger points. Once you have your bone pieces broken to size, you simply start to file it to shape using a modern metal file, or a hard stone of some kind. When you have your general shape it’s only a matter of honing the cutting side to a sharp edge. You’d be surprised how fast you can knock out a sharp bone point.

2. As heavy working tools

3 Survival Uses For Bones, Straight From The Native Americans Heavy-duty bones, such as shoulder bones and pelvic bones, also can be put to work. Native American people would have used these bones for heavy labor, like scraping hides, to be tanned or turned to rawhide. Scraping can be a rather labor-intensive process, and the heavy-duty bones would have stood up to the test just fine. It also has been said that rib bones were used for scraping hides, and with their concave nature that seems to be a likely scenario.

Bones were used for farming purposes by many people. Eastern woodland tribes depended heavily on agriculture for their sustenance, and farming takes a lot of work. Bones were used as shovels and bound to handles to make crude hoes, as well. These bone tools would have been quickly exchanged for steel and iron tools, but they were the tools used by millions of people prior to the importation of harder metals.

3. As nutrition

Heavy leg bones are packed full of nutritious bone marrow, which has omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. It can be cooked in several different methods or boiled and made into a broth. This broth has been used by doctors around the world to treat a variety of diseases, from digestives issues to cancer. It is also consumed throughout the world by different cultures for its taste and nutrition. The Native Americans, too, ate bone marrow. I would doubt that most Americans have ever even considered eating bone marrow, but in a situation where food is tight, you can’t afford to let a single thing go to waste.

Next time you return home from a successful hunt, be thankful for the meat you’ve been blessed with, but also take advantage of the bounty of bones, as well.

What survival uses would you add for bones? Share your tips in the section below:

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Survival Gear Review: Streamlight Stylus Pro Pen Flashlight

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LED Flashlight

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

By Tinderwolf, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

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

Related: Compact Flashlight Comparison

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

50,000 Hours

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

Related: Bug Out Flashlight Wisdom

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

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

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Advanced Tools and Equipment For When the SHTF

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Oxygen/Acetylene Torch

An acetylene/oxygen flame burns at about 3,773 K or 6,332 °F/3500 C. Imagine, what can you do with that kind of heat and it doesn’t take any electricity to operate one. Of course, the tanks will deplete over time, but a torch like this is not something you would use every day, so you could conserve and have a valuable survival tool for months or even years to come. However, it takes a certain skill level to cut metal, weld and to shape metal with an acetylene torch. You can even melt iron, steel, silver, and gold with a torch that produces high heat.

A torch like this can be dangerous, so make sure you know how to use one, how to transport, and store one before running out and getting one.

Heavy Duty Floor Jack and Smaller Jack

You may need to move or adjust foundation or support timbers if building a cabin or shelter post-crisis, and of course, you may need to lift vehicles to change tires, or to lift a transmission or engine off its mounts. Thus, you need a heavy-duty jack. Keep in mind, the jack you have now may suit your needs and vehicles but once the SHTF, you may need to use a jack on considerably heavier equipment or objects you come across as you try to survive.

You will know when you need a heavy-duty jack, and if you don’t have one, then what.

Battery Box

The newer battery boxes not only  jumpstart a vehicle but they also have USB ports for charging cell phones, laptop computers or any electronic device that uses a USB port. Jump boxes usually have an air pump that will inflate a vehicle tire, however, it will take some time for it to fully inflate a flat tire, and you may have to shut the box off after 10 minutes of continual use, to allow it to cool, to prevent overheating, but it will get the job done. Most boxes have built in lights and some even have removable lights and built in emergency radios for weather and other reports.

Most battery boxes do not actually “jumpstart” a vehicle, however. The cranking amps are limited in the boxes because there is a relatively small battery inside the box that stores the power, so there are limits to what you can do as far as jump starting a dead vehicle battery. Typically, you attach the clamps and allow the box’s battery to essentially add enough charge to the dead battery in the vehicle before turning over the engine. You are transferring a charge from the box’s battery to the vehicle battery.

It does take electricity, of course, to recharge the battery box, but a small solar panel would work nicely to charge the box and other small devices you have on hand. It will take longer, so adjust to accommodate for the longer charging time.

Halligan Tool

A Halligan bar also called a Halligan tool is a forcible entry tool used by firefighters and law enforcement, and has found service in some military units as well, but under a different name with slightly different design aspects.

This truly is a multi-tool used for punching holes, prying, twisting, or striking. It has a claw, a blade, a wedge, and a pick end, which is mainly used to breach door locks quickly.

They come in various lengths from 18 to 54 inches, and the longer ones can weigh as much as 12 pounds. For most people, not involved in rescue operations as part of their job, the 18 or 24-inch models would be ideal. The 18-inch bars can conceivably be carried on your person by strapping to a pack or by attaching to a pack harness.

Cordless Drill/Power Drill

As with a battery box, a cordless drill would have to have the batteries charged, so before buying portable tools that use batteries you need a way to charge those batteries once the SHTF.

There are any number of uses for a drill around the home over even around a campsite when the SHTF. Punch holes in leather, use the spinning chuck to create friction and start a fire, drill holes in metal or wood to lighten the object not to mention use a drill as a power screwdriver. The uses are endless and you will find you will use one if you have one almost on a daily basis.

Additional Tools and Materials

  • A quality set of masonry, metal and wood drill bits
  • Machine oil/lubricant
  • Quality bolt cutter (not the ones for 10 bucks at a Dollar store or Wal-Mart’s, they will snap even under slight pressure)
  • Set of wood and metal files
  • Punch set
  • Rubber mallet
  • Vise
  • Quality electrical tape

The lists above are not comprehensive by any means, but it is a start. Remember some if not many of the tasks you do today will still have to be done once a disaster strikes. You may hire out some of the tasks today, but you will not be able to do this once something happens. Do you have the tools and skills to survive?

The post Advanced Tools and Equipment For When the SHTF appeared first on Preparing for shtf.

How To Build A Log Cabin, Just Like The Pioneers Did

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cabin -- wikimedia

For the pioneers, building a log cabin was not just a cool project that you took on for the fun of it. You had to know how to build your own home because there was no one else to build it for you.

Below, we will discuss the basics of building a log cabin. If you want a more detailed diagram, there are books on the subject. However, I would read this report first, as we will cover things, from experience, that others may not.

Back in the day of the settlers, the log cabin we are speaking of was their home. So, we are not talking about building a home by today’s standards, where homes average several thousand square feet.

Tools You’ll Need

Sure, you can get by without a few of these items. However, for the most part you’ll be darn glad you have them.

  1. A crosscut saw to fell the trees, cut your lengths and make any strait cuts.
  2. An axe for hundreds of jobs.
  3. A two-person log carrier, because carrying a 20-foot long log up a hill can be challenging.
  4. A draw knife or barking spud to debark the logs.
  5. A peavey to roll the logs into position.
  6. An adze to start most of your notches, smooth limb stubs and knots.
  7. A hand drill and a 20-inch drill bit so you can pin the logs together at the corners if you choose to build that way.
  8. A broad axe is likely the most useful tool you will have. Use it to smooth and fit notches, shape any part of any log, and more.
  9. A mallet or sledgehammer to drive corners together and set corner pins.

There are other basic tools that you and everyone should have, such as a tape measure, a hammer and a hand saw, just to name a few. We won’t cover them, as they are basic tools and not specialized for this task.

The Basic Steps

1. Get a plan. If you don’t have a log cabin plan, we suggest you get one. They can be found at many local libraries and also online.

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On your land, face your door true south. There are three big reasons for this: A) The southern sun will warm and light your home if you have windows there. B) Just by looking at your cabin, you’ll know the compass directions. C) You won’t have to worry about snow drifts covering your front door nearly as often.

cabin wikimedia 22. Pick your wood. Here, you can go with many different types of trees for your cabin logs, but two of the best are spruce and tamarack, while pine, too, can be used.

If you can, forage your timber in the winter and let it set for two years before you build. Winter harvesting will allow it to dry slower at first. This, along with two years of seasoning, will minimize checking and cracking.

Go for trees that are 8 to 10 inches in diameter and have the lowest degree of taper that you can find. You really can’t go with any more than 2 inches of taper on a 16 -foot log or you’ll run into problems that chinking won’t even solve.

3. Debark your logs when they are fresh. If you let them sit for 2-3 days, the bark begins to adhere to the tree, and you’ll have a lot more work with your barking spud or draw knife.

You can debark them where you fell them or haul them first to the building site before cleaning them up. That’s up to you. But, hauling them with your log hauler first leaves them looking better, as the bark protects the wood hauling.

4. Build your foundation and set your sill logs. Your foundation should be a rock wall 2 to 3 feet tall; most are closer to 2 feet.

Then, build stone walls in rows at 4- or 6-foot intervals all across the prepared and packed dirt within your outer walls. These will allow you to lay your girders on the full length of them and give you anchors for your flooring.

Others just tell you to use small support pillars. But, that means you have to hit those pillars spot on with your flooring. When you build walls on rows, every floorboard is fully supported and you don’t get floor sway as the girder longs sag over time.

Pro tip: Leave a 3-foot section of each girder support wall open and unbuilt. The reason: If you ever have to crawl to the center of your cabin under your floor, you’ll have a path. Stagger these openings so that one side of your cabin doesn’t have less support that another area.

You can joiner your girders in with a mortise and tenon approach, which will secure them well.

Cut your girders flat on top to get a wider spot for your subflooring to nail to. Most settlers used the adze for this.

In one spot where you’re going to build your fireplace, build up a platform for it and build your subflooring around it.

5. For your subflooring, you’re going to want to hue logs into boards. This can be done with your adze or with the crosscut saw. The adze is faster, and since it is subflooring no one will see it anyway.

Do NOT cover your sills with your subflooring; your subflooring goes inside your sills.

6. Erect your walls. Here’s a pro tip: If you live in areas with a lot of rainfall such as Washington and Oregon, you should strongly consider single-sided saddle notches with all the notches facing downwards. This is so that you don’t have any upward-facing notches to collect rainwater and develop rot.

A lot of cabin builders will number their logs on how they see them going up on the walls. We are here to tell you that the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes go awry.

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You’re better off looking at how the walls are shaping up, looking at your inventory, and seeing what fits. Once you do this a few times, you’ll see what we mean.

Don’t cut your log long groove in the bottom log for the next log to fit on top of. Instead, cut your grove in the bottom of the next log before you seat it. This will prevent any accumulation of water, dirt and debris, as all your grooves are facing downwards.

If you’re in dryer territories, you can double saddle notch your log ends, which is the simplest method. Just roll them together, scribe them and notch them. When they look good, refit them, scribe any areas that need better fitting and broad axe the notch into that perfect fit.

How To Build A Log Cabin, Just Like The Pioneers Did 7. With your log in place, drill your hole for your alignment corner pin. Tap in your alignment pin and prep for the next log. You can use metal pins or wooden pegs — that’s your choice.

Here’s another pro tip: don’t drill them through your notches like most people do. Drill them about a foot inward of your notches. The reason: The wood at the notch is thin. When the cabin settles as they nearly all do, you won’t split your thin wood at the notch as the stress is put on the log from the settling.

8. Build your fireplace. Visit our article on how to build a mountain or river rock fireplace here.

When you meet your roof to your fireplace, you’re going to need to flash it. Most pioneers brought some hardware with them along with their windows. One thing they nearly always brought was flashing.

If you don’t want to do it that way, then there is a pine tar chimney sealing trick, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

9. Do the roof. Most cabins are going to be rectangles of some sort. It’s easiest to run your roof long ways on your cabin.

The roof we’ll discuss has purlin and rafter construction, as this is the most sound in a high wind or heavy snow situation. No, we are not going to talk about premade trusses; this is not how your pioneering forefathers did things.

Your end walls are built to the height of the peak of your roof. Scribe your wall and cut it at the proper angle of your roof to both sides.

You then set your two end rafters just a couple of inches from the end of your purlins as they hang over the outside of your walls. You notch them into place so they are flush with the purlins themselves.

Install the rest of your rafters at regular intervals.

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Attach your roofing boards that you’ve split horizontally to the rafters.

Then, shake your roof. We strongly suggest reading our article on cedar shaking a roof here.

10. Window the frames and doors. The simplest way to frame your windows and doors of a cabin is going to be to cut a notch in the ends and lengths of the logs surrounding your windows and doors that you then put a pre-made board into. So, you’re recessing your frames into the ends and lengths of the logs, all the way around the windows, but on only three sites for the door, as you don’t cut the bottom one because it’s the floor.

How To Build A Log Cabin, Just Like The Pioneers DidMount your windows to your recessed boards that should have been so tightly fit that it required that mallet in your tools list to pound them into place, before nailing them in as well.

Next, simply hang your door.

11. Finish your flooring. You may want to slit and sand the boards for your floor that goes atop the subfloor. Or some many want a stone floor. How you finish your floor for the look you want is up to you.

12. Clean and protect. The pioneers didn’t have any bleach or chemicals to wash down the outside of their cabins. However, it is advisable to water wash it with a long handled brush or similar to remove the dirt.

Let it dry for 2 weeks before you protect it.

Mix 1 part linseed oil to 5 parts turpentine, and apply to the outside of your cabin. This process should be repeated on an annual basis for the first 3 years, and then as needed for every five years thereafter.

That’s it — you’ve just build a log cabin just like the pioneers did.

Have you ever built a log cabin? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

Gadgets The Prepper Might Forget!

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Gadgets The Prepper Might Forget! Highlander “Survival & Tech Preps” When we prep we think we have everything we need, well.. maybe not. In this episode we will be all about prepper oriented gadgets. Maybe you have forgotten a few? Here’s a chance to add them to your list, or maybe you are prepared! We shall see what all … Continue reading Gadgets The Prepper Might Forget!

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Tools You’ll Need When Manufacturing No Longer Exists

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Figuring out the basic tools and machines that can get you productive in a time of crisis or in everyday life is more important than you think.

The post Tools You’ll Need When Manufacturing No Longer Exists appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Survival Gear Review: Escape & Evasion Gun Belt

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Shark Tank Belt Review

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

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

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

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

More Than Skin Deep

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

Also Read: Tips For Flying With A Gun

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

My Lowdown

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

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

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

But Wait, There’s More

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

Last Chance

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

Related: SHTF Wardrobe List

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

All Photos By Doc Montana

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EDC Update

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A while ago, I discussed my every day carry (EDC) items and some of the guiding principles behind my choices. Having helpful items on your person is a great way to become better equipped to handle daily life as well as the unexpected. Since it has been over two years, let’s revisit this subject and […]

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NEW Australian Survival Forum.

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I have recently started a new Australian Survival forum. Please check it out, & if you join, please feel free to post ideas & suggestions for improving this forum if you see a need.
Thank you.
Regards, Keith.

Survival Gear Review: Magpul PMAG D-60 Drum Magazine

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Best AR15 Ammo Drum

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

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

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

Plead Your Case

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

Under “survival conditions”…

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

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

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


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

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

Related: Magpul Armorer’s Wrench

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

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

High Speed Low Drag

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

Also Read: Magpul MBUS Pro Iron Sights

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

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

Into the Wild

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

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

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

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

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

Like some TP with your Mag Dump?

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

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

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

Also Read: Magpul PMAG Torture Test

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

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

Need vs. Want

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

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

WROL 2.0

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

Photos By:
Doc Montana

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Everyday Carry: The 5 Dumbest, Craziest Mistakes People Make (Do No. 4 And You May Lose All Your Gear)

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Everyday Carry: The 5 Dumbest, Craziest Mistakes People Make (Do No. 4 And You’ll Lose All Your Gear)

In a way, our everyday carry kit is our bodyguard: It’s always with us to keep us safe. But even bodyguards make mistakes, and the EDC is one aspect of survival that needs to be fine-tuned.

One way of adjusting your EDC is to look at all the possible mistakes you can make — the topic of today’s article. So let’s see them!

Mistake No. 1: Carrying Too Much Stuff

Should you really be carrying a personal water filter with you all the time? Not unless you have a large purse or a belt pack and you’re in a rural or wilderness setting. The reason you’d want food and water in a get-home scenario is that it could take you hours or even more than a day to come home — if the roads are blocked, for instance. But your personal water filter can be stored just as well in a get-home bag, and there’s no need to have it on your person all the time.

Articles with EDC items lists have way too much stuff in them, and it’s not the authors’ fault: They’re giving you all the options so you can then make your picks. But it’s up to you to choose the items that apply to the emergencies for which you’re preparing.

Compact Water Filter Fits In Your POCKET And Removes 100 Percent Of Water-Borne Bacteria!

As I said, the starting point is you listing the emergencies you want to prep for and THEN figure out which items to purchase. Never buy something just because it’s on a list inside some survival article.

Mistake No. 2: Carrying Items That Are Too Big

Why carry a mini flashlight when you can carry a micro-flashlight and keep it on your keyring? Why carry a small multi-tool when you can have one that fits in your wallet?

Smaller items are easier to keep in your pockets; the issue is getting quality ones. It takes more work and higher quality materials to squeeze the same durability and functionality into something smaller, and that will reflect in the final price. But with proper research, you’ll be able to find the items that will not fail you in an emergency.

Mistake No. 3: Not Checking Gear Periodically

Everyday Carry: The 5 Dumbest, Craziest Mistakes People Make (Do No. 4 And You’ll Lose All Your Gear)

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Just like your get-home bag or bug-out bag or your stockpile, your EDC items also need to be verified to make sure they’re working. When was the last time you turned on the flashlight on your keyring? Since virtually all smartphones have flashlights, you probably use that instead of your actual flashlight.

In addition, you may want to check your lighters, emergency radio, space pen and even your multi-tool to see if they all still function properly.

You’ll also want to make sure that you have enough cash and change for emergencies and that you are familiar with the vending machines in your area. If they don’t take the types of bills and change you have, then you won’t be able to get that bottle of water or that energy bar.

Mistake No. 4: Talking About It

The more thought you put into your EDC, the more you’ll feel the need to brag with it. Even if it’s just you wanting to use your micro multi-tool to open up the drink bottles before the waitress gets a chance.

Portable Device Restores Your Old Blades To A Razor’s Edge In Just Seconds!

Don’t do it. You don’t want to be labeled a prepper and be ridiculed. In addition, the odds of people asking you to let them borrow some of your gear will increase and, if you ever loaned anything to anyone, then you know sometimes, they keep that item for so long you have to borrow it back!

Mistake No. 5: Not Seeing the Phone as Part of EDC

You’d be amazed at what your smartphone can do for you besides allowing you to call people in case of emergencies. Check the list below to see why your phone may be the most important item in your kit:

  • Some of them have AM/FM radio that will allow you to hear the news even when the phone lines are down.
  • You can download a number of free survival apps that you can use in offline mode (the SAS survival guide, a compass, offline maps, first-aid apps and so on).
  • You can download books, ebooks and save blog articles using the Pocket app.
  • You have a flashlight.
  • And you can even use them as signaling mirrors.

In addition, you can find on the market the so-called rugged phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S5 Active, that are shock and water resistant.

Have you made any regrettable mistakes with your EDC? Share your experience with a comment below:

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

Survival Gear Review: C.A. Myers Sewing Awl

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Best Awl for Sewing

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

By Pineslayer, a contributing author to Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

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

Too Easy

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

Related: Sew What

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

Bug Out Bag Creep

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

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How A Wind Powered Sawmill Works

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Ever wondered how a wind powered sawmill works? Check out this amazing demonstration from Wranglerstar. It looks very much like an old 1800’s water powered sawmill in my area that was shut down in the early 1900’s.

Now, if you want to BUILD your own sawmill you can actually get some kind of plans showing how the sawmill in the video is constructed. Check them out here.

The post How A Wind Powered Sawmill Works appeared first on Walden Labs.

Weather has been less than optimal but we still got a lot done.

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We got hail this week but most of the plants seemed to do all right despite the pounding. Most of my plants are somewhat protected in containers, so damage was minimal.  We are sort of behind the power curve on planting the garden but so far that is not a bad thing as the weather has been a bit wonky this year.  So far the plants  seem to be doing well and my focus has been adding in grass, making my pathways and a backyard that works for me and Mom.  Mom and I are doing a lot of basic yard maint. and cleaning up the grape vines has been a challenge this year since I let them get over grown along with the lilacs and a couple of or bushes. We got a lot of of the overgrown stuff cut back but we still have a lot of work to do on cutting back the grape vines.  I’m a little behind on putting the garden and it is rainy so rototilling the soil is just not on until the soil dries a bit. I’m adding a new bed to the front yard for edible flowers and annuls that just add a bit of color. The flower bed will be done in red landscape timbers to sort of fit the “craftsman home” effect.

True Value hardware is having a great sale for most of the things I need. I’m buying up Semi-gloss paint for the house as that makes the walls easy to clean and they have tarps on sale that will finish up protecting the wood pile from rain yet the tarps can be folded up to let the wood pile dry. The wood overhead cover is rotting and boards that support the roof are warping big time.  Two more tarps will cover the firewood and I can start cutting out the the bad roof over the wood pile.  I will be able to afford enough paint to cover most of the house with colors that work with a Craftsman type house.

I just bought a 10 gallon air compressor/oil type from Harbor Freight and a basic tool set up. This air compressor should be a large enough for most basic jobs around the house. I bought a small paint spray gun for paint but until I test it, I’m not sure about trusting it despite the reviews.

Mom always see what has not been done. I see how much we have got done.  Actually Mom gets down on herself for not doing more around the place. I think she is outstanding in her work cleaning up the grape vines and helping me trim up trees and bushes.  I suppose it goes back to her being a recovering Catholic.  It’s guilt imposed via childhood. I see the glass always full, It just might be full of air which is not helpful at times. I think we are doing great! The little “Casa de Chaos” got a new roof, a lot of work on the yard.  Hell we can run my washer without running a garden hose to the shower. We have grass for the dogs and great paths that are a pleasure to walk rather than uneven dirt that could twist an ankle of knee. I think we are doing pretty well over all.

Neck Knives For The Masses

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Best Neck Knife

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

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

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

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

Related: Tops Brothers of Bushcraft Knife Review

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

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

Also Read: Fallkniven Jarl Knife Review

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

…And Eat It Too

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

Gallows Humor

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

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

Related: Benchmade Adamas Knife Review

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

All Photos By Doc Montana

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3 Strange Survival Items You Should Carry… (All-The-Time!)

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3 Strange Survival Items You Should Carry… (All-The-Time!) These 3 strange survival items may just get you out of a sticky wicket. When people think about prepping for survival, they most often think about bugging out, stockpiling food, travel routes, etc.  However, have you ever thought about how you’d survive the extreme initial stages of …

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The post 3 Strange Survival Items You Should Carry… (All-The-Time!) appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

Survival Gear Review: 3M Safety & Security Window Film

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how to secure windows

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

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

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

The Facts

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

Bar Time

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

Related: Home Security After TEOTWAWKI

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

Shutter Them Out

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

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

Board’em Up

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

A 4th Option

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

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

Also Read: Prepper’s Home Defense

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

Levels of Protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Proof

More Proof


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

Photos By:
Mark Puhaly

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9 More ‘Forgotten’ Pioneer Tools You’ll Need If The Grid Fails

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9 More ‘Forgotten’ Pioneer Tools You’ll Need If The Grid Fails

Artist: Jim Carson


To read the first story in this series, click here.

The modern homestead is heavily dependent on electricity and gasoline – for everything from lawnmowers to tractors to chainsaws to electric drills.

But during a power outage, particularly a long-term one, we probably won’t have any of those modern conveniences.

Fortunately for us, we have to look no further than our country’s history to find ways of doing things without electricity. While those aren’t going to be as efficient as our modern methods, they will allow us to do many things which we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. From carpentry to food preservation, the methods of our ancestors, including the methods of the pioneers, could end up becoming commonplace once again.

Of course, that means that we need to have the necessary tools and equipment on hand — the same ones those pioneers used so many years ago. In fact, you may find that you’ll want to use some of these unique tools right now, even with all the lights still on.

1. Shoulder yoke

Pioneers had a variety of ways of carrying things. It wasn’t uncommon for a homestead to have more than one cart, a wagon and means for carrying things in hand. Amongst these was the shoulder yoke.

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If you think of a yoke for oxen, you’ll be well on your way to understanding a shoulder yoke. The main difference is that a shoulder yoke is for carrying, not pulling. It’s also designed for human use, not the use of oxen. The yoke sits over the shoulders, with a cutout for the neck. Being wider than a person, buckets can be hung from both ends, allowing the user to carry two buckets and whatever is in them.

2. Hoof trimmers

For centuries, horses were one of the world’s most common means of motive power, second only to the feet.

But if you’re going to ride a horse, you’re going to have to take care of it. More than anything, that means shoeing the horse every four to six weeks. Even if you can’t shoe the horse (for lack of horseshoes), you’ll need to trim its hooves. That requires a trimmer. You should also have a horseshoeing rasp for trimming the hooves and a hoof pick for cleaning rocks, mud and anything else out of the horse’s hooves.

3. Sickle

9 More ‘Forgotten’ Pioneer Tools You’ll Need If The Grid Fails Horses tend to eat a lot. Of course, if your body was that big, you’d eat a lot, too. So if you’re going to have a horse, you’d better be ready to start cutting hay for it. For that matter, if you manage to get your hands on any livestock, from goats to elephants, you’d better have a way of cutting hay.

There have been a wide variety of sickle designs through the years, some smaller and some larger — each designed for its own particular use. At a minimum, you’ll need something that you can use to keep the grass under control, even if you aren’t feeding a milk cow in your backyard.

4. Bucksaw

You might be able to fell a tree with an axe, but once it’s on the ground, you’ll need to cut it into manageable sections, regardless of whether you’re using it for building or for firewood. That means having some sort of saw to use. While there are many styles to pick from, the bucksaw was one of the best. The bow kept the blade under tension, allowing it to cut in both directions. About the only thing you can’t do with a bucksaw is to cut logs into boards.

5. Wood-splitting wedges

Cutting logs into boards is fine — if you’ve got a sawmill to cut them with. But most people didn’t own their own sawmill. For them, there were two options: use a two-man saw, with one man in a pit to cut the logs into boards, or use wedges to split the log into boards.

Wedges were actually much more efficient for this, although the boards wouldn’t be all that smooth. But to make a split-log floor or to create a half log for use as a bench, splitting was the preferred way for most. Wedges could also be used to split wood for the fire, especially in cases where the chunk of log was too big in diameter to split with a maul.

6. Log jack

The log jack was the lumberjack’s way of getting a handle on a log and move it around. It didn’t matter if they were moving it in the river or just trying to roll it, a log jack made the job a whole lot easier. While not in such common use today, if you’re planning on harvesting your own wood, especially for building, this is a very useful tool to have around.

7. Gimlets

9 More ‘Forgotten’ Pioneer Tools You’ll Need If The Grid Fails When most people think of drilling holes into wood by hand, the first thing they think of is a brace and bit. That was a great system, and you would never find a carpenter without one in their kit. But the average person couldn’t afford to have a brace and bit around the homestead. Instead, they used gimlets (and no, I’m not talking about giblets in gravy).

A gimlet is a small hand-held and hand-powered drill. It has an oblong loop handle, with a drill bit sticking down from it, making a T with a fat-top beam. Only created in small sizes, these tools made putting holes in boards easy. While they were limited, they weren’t as limited as trying to burn a hole through a board with a hot ware (another method they used).

8. Adze

The adze is probably the first tool to grab when trying to move from the realm of logs to the realm of wood beams and boards. This is a cutting tool, used to square logs for homes, as well as making the beams used in building sailing ships. While the average person didn’t have one in their tool kit, you can be sure that any carpenter or boat builder worth their salt had one.

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The adze consists of a slightly scooped blade, mounted at a right angle to the handle. It was swung in a down and back motion, chipping off wood to square logs. An experienced carpenter or boat builder could square and fit a dozen such logs in a day’s work.

While this may not be the first tool you add to your kit, having one allows you to make a squared log home, rather than a log cabin. The difference is impressive, as properly squared logs will make a much warmer home, need less chinking and last much longer.

9. Spokeshaves and draw knives

Speaking of shaping wood, there are times when it is necessary to shape wood much smaller than what you can do with an adze. Simple chair spindles, wheel axles and even a handle for an axe need to be shaped by something. In those cases, draw knives and spokeshaves were the tools of choice.

The two are often thought to be much alike, but in fact they are quite different. A draw knife is an open blade, with handles at 90 degrees to the blade. That allows the user to pull the knife toward them, shaving off layers of wood. How much is shaved off is controlled by the angle of the blade. It actually takes a bit of practice to gain the finesse necessary to work a draw knife well.

The difference between a draw knife and a spokeshave is the same difference between a chisel and a plane. The plane’s body controls the depth of the cut, while the carpenter has to control the depth of the chisel’s cut. Likewise, the spokeshave’s body allows for a controlled depth of cut. That makes it a much better tool for fine work, such as making wheel spokes that are round.

What pioneer tools would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

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