Hello, my friend and welcome back! For those of you who haven’t seen these, they are a great tool and one every Prepper should have in his bug out bag. Take a look at…
Duct tape is one of those things that the the inventor got exactly right – just like hitting a home run. It is such a versatile product that it deserves a spot in any prepper supply kit. Duct tape can be used to patch up just about anything good enough to take care of an…
I got a great tool bargain at Home depot. Rather than buying the drill and getting a free tool instead I bought the 18 volt drill + impact driver set for $99.00 and got the 10% vet discount! So the price was only $89.10 for both tools. I got a 5/8 in. sheet of plywood cut into 2×8 ft.sections for $25.00 and add in eight, 1×3 inch boards to start the basement shelf building project. At this time I’m working to re-enforce and add new shelves to an existing frame work hence the smaller dimensional lumber.
One thing I noticed today is the cashier at Home depot was sort of defensive or tried to explained that the 10% discount did not apply to all items. I’m a disabled vet and I love how some companies give a vet discount but no company is required to give a discount to vets. No cashier needs to be attacked if a vet discount is not applied. If you don’t like the policy, write a letter to corporate or rant on the internet but, leave the cashier alone.
Most or the replacement garden veggies were available for the replacement plants that did not do great from my starts. I bought some sweet corn, celery and sweet potatoes that Mom wants to try growing. No luck so far with finding tomitillo plants but I know from last year those plant start off slow and then explode with growth so I have not given up hope yet! The worst thing that can happen is that raised bed lies fallow and I build up the soil so it is not a bad situation.
This may sound a bit strange but I am more interested in learning how to grow a garden rather than what food a garden can produce. Many people that never had a garden think growing a good garden is easy. It is not easy at all and requires a lot of effort. For me any veggies I get is a bonus, my focus is on building up a sustainable garden out of my own resources. Learning to work with my land and then improve it as much as possible before the need to grow a garden is upon us.
It is very easy for a government to mandate everyone must grow a garden, (ala Venezuela) for food but we all know that just tossing out a few seeds and hope for the best is a terrible way to grow a good garden.
Thursday and Mom does not have a master gardeners BS class to go to so the plan of attack is trim up and perhaps cut down the dead cherry tree and finish up building the stuff needed for the properly built compost pile. My carpentry skills/knowledge are mediocre at best but I have built a few simple things and now I can build “larger” simple projects. I can’t say you can succeed on trying new project. I can guarantee if you never try doing anything new you will fail.
The quest for a Goldilocks Knife, or one that’s just right, is less a journey and more of a marriage. To trust one’s fate to one single blade especially for survival situations, there must be a commitment to making the best of the situation regardless of the challenges. Thick and thin, sickness and health, and all that.
By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache.com
In additional to personal preferences, there is a small handful of knife characteristics that can be adjusted by blade makers including those addressing the grip such as size, thickness, materials, guard options, and shape. And for the blade there is steel type, length, thickness, grind, shape, and overall size. Of those eleven characteristics, even if each one only had two options, that would be 2 to the 11th or over 2000 combinations. But of course each option has many more than two possibilities, with some nearing an infinite number of choices.
Quest for Perfection
Goldilocks might be a fairy tale, but the Fallkniven S1 Pro Survival Knife is very real and very sharp. Even in its own lineup of Pro Knives, puts it right down the middle. Not too much. Not too little. Flanking the S1 are the larger A1 Pro and the smaller F1 Pro. With the A1 being noted for its large size and the F1 a designed for smaller cockpit carry, something in between should be just about right. But “just about” is not enough to be “right” when looking for the perfect knife.
Related: The SOG Banner
Looking at the features of the Fallkniven S1 Pro, it is clear that while this particular knife is smaller in some aspects, but no less potent. For instance, the blade thickness of the S1 is an amazing six millimeters or just shy of a quarter inch. And that’s on a blade only 5.1 inches long.
Speaking of the blade on the Fallkniven S1 Pro, it’s a cobalt steel convex edged masterpiece. The steel is amazing from both the standpoint of overall sharpness and durability. In the never ending search for the perfect steel, blade steel makers have been dabbling at the atomic level with chemistry, crystal structure and the optimum blend of edge shape and cutting performance. The best steel can be neutered by a poor choice of grind, and a marginal steel can be given superpowers with the right shape and grind. But ultimately, one wants the the best of all worlds; the best steel with the best grind, and the best performance characteristics. And it seems the Fallkniven S1 Pro has come as close to this Goldilocks formula as anyone ever has.
Fallkniven uses an enhanced convex grind on the Fallkniven S1 Pro as well as its other Pro blades. The convex grind is an advanced grind with no simple characteristics or ease of manufacturing which is why the convex grind is not a common option among knifemakers. The convex grind is a graceful arc from blade side to blade edge. Most designs transition the blade from flat side tapering linearly to a point where a sharper angle dives towards the absolute edge. It’s an effective strategy for 99% of the uses, but what about the 1% that really matter when it matters? That’s where the convex edge shines.
Check Out: Islamic State Barbarity
The heavy blade chops like a dream. A small dream, but one nonetheless. And the S1 Pro can slice all day long without a sharpener in sight. For a perfect sized knife, the Fallkniven S1 Pro as close to perfect as perfect can get.
If you live in a two or three story house, an escape ladder on each upper story of your house is an essential safety tool. An escape ladder allows you an exit point from an upper story. And a portable one offers you the additional flexibility to exit your house from any of several exit…
Hello my friend and welcome back! Most people’s morale varies from day to day and in some cases, hour by hour depending on what’s going on in their life. Just how important is morale…
The post The importance of good morale in a post SHTF world. appeared first on American Preppers Online.
This winter I bought a large 5 gallon shop vac for dealing with the flooding in my shop. With the addition of some bags and some brush tools the vac works great for getting up the mouse droppings, plus we don’t have to worry about the dust or spreading anything via the shop vac exhaust. I have a small 1.5 gallon Shop vac that has worked out great cleaning the laundry area and closets where the big shop vac is difficult to maneuver around in tight quarters. My only complaint about the Shop vacs is the power cords are too short and I have to use an extension cord for almost every job. I don’t think using your regular vacuum to clean up a vermin infestation is a good idea. Save that house vacuum for your everyday cleaning chores and get a cheap shop vac for around $20.00-$60.00 depending on the size and features.
Cleaning off the existing shelves I have been using a “Shop brush” ($2.00 Harbor Freight) and an oversized dust pan ($1.00) Dollar Tree. These tools work great for cleaning shelves that have open areas between the slats. You can place some newspaper below the shelf and just sweep everything onto the paper or into the oversized dust pan. I am looking into building some of my shelves with smaller 1×2 or 1×3 and painting all shelves with a semi-gloss paint so they will not absorb odors and will be easy to clean in the future.
Cleaning solutions: The Clorox urine remover is working out great! I bought a spray bottle to try it out ($5.00 Lowe’s) but I will be buying the large jug ($13.00 Lowe’s) for my cleaning supply. What I like most is this cleaner works on all surfaces and has not bleached or discolored my furniture or carpets. I’m using a mild bleach solution to clean the cement/concrete wall of my basement area. The mice don’t seem to care for bleach solution or it disrupts the scent pathways they establish. Mom and I are cleaning the buckets with the mild bleach solution and so far we have not found any mouse dropping on those cleaned buckets. The basement is smelling better overall and in the area we have cleaned still smells clean after 5 days.
Traps: Tom, I have added one of those Victor Tin cat traps in the basement and using a bit of grain rather than peanut butter as bait. In the last four days we have caught 10 adult mice. I’m using a lot of sticky traps in the house as Snap traps are difficult for me to set and use. Heck even the local Dollar store has those sticky traps though it may take laying out the traps in groups of 2 or 3 traps to catch the mice, they do work. One thing I have learned about sticky traps the more surface area the trap has the better it works for catching mice. Over all I think the Tomcat metal re-usable traps are a better solution for a prepper. I think adding sticky traps when you find them on sale are great and should be added to preps.
Last but not least clean up item, construction grade trash bags. These bags have a heavy mil of 2-6 depending on on what you buy and are great multi-taskers. This last winter we did not have trash pickup for over 6 weeks. I do have a bit of an advantage with the wood stove to burn most paper trash. While I had extra cans on hand for trash I was ready with those super thick bags to hold trash. I live in a small city and if my neighbors don’t contain trash properly the vermin will affect me and not just them.
Okay now the fun shopping stuff for the day. I bought a small under counter LED light that runs on rechargeable batteries for $20.00 at Home Depot. What is great, is the light is recharged via a USB cable and all of my power packs and my fold able 15 watt solar panel has USB connection for power. This a great way for me to start a solar powered light system for the kitchen via a solar panel/ power pack but still can be recharged via the electric company’s outlets. No direct wiring is need to install this little LED lamp. You don’t need a large solar array to take advantage of solar energy. A small solar panel system that charges a small battery bank can be a great start. I have a small power pack that that can jump a dead car battery though I have not tested it for charging via my little solar panel. As soon as the sun comes out in SW Idaho I will test it out.
In Part 1 of this Project Squirrel Pistol using a Smith and Wesson SW22 Victory .22 long rifle semi auto pistol, my focus was on the gun and its parts. For part 2, let’s take the Victory out for a spin. The Victory is not a light pistol. Not even of average light. The Victory is heavy. Out of the box, the Victory weighs in at 36 ounces. Compare that to the Ruger 22/45 Lite I used for my B.O.L.T. Pistol build at 25 ounces. So when I add an optic, suppressor, and 11 round mag, the Victory is approaching three pounds. That’s well over halfway to a lightweight .22 rifle.
By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache.com
My initial field tests of the Victory highlighted three main things. First, the Victory is accurate. Its heavy barrel balances the gun while holding the front sight on target easily. Second, it ate all the regular .22 ammo I threw at it. Whether rapid fire or slow and deliberate, the Victory cycled 100% of the time. No light strikes, no FTF, and no FTE with or without a silencer. However, when loaded with several different brands of subsonic .22 ammo, about half the time there was a failure to eject leading to a very predictable and easy to clear stovepipe. In fact, the odds of a successful reloading cycle with subsonic ammo can be improved by holding the ejection port down. Yes, gangsta style. Most of the time, the bolt was slamming down on an almost-ejected case. Put a little gravity in your favor and your odds improve. So much so I wondered if maybe the ridiculous sideways gang-style holding of an autopistol was a natural evolution of getting a cheap-crap gun to eject the spent round. Probably not though.
The factory sights on the Victory are excellent. In fact, they could easily be mistaken for an aftermarket upgrade. A green horseshoe fiber optic on the rear sight provide to bright zombie-green dots in which to center the front fiber optic green dot. Frankly, I think it would be a nice touch to have an orange front sight dot rather than another green one. Or even a fiber optic color kit like some Rugers come with. For precision shooting, a black front blade is sometimes more welcome than an in-your-face bright dot, but for this build I am going to leave the irons alone and move on to both a red dot and a scope. The Project Squirrel leanings of this project require more than irons can deliver consistently. Low light, long distance, and tiny targets all tax the irons. When shooting golfball sized objects at 30 yards, the target can disappear behind the sight, or be hard to see above the trio of green dots.
Related: The SW22 Part 1
For a red dot, the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro seemed a perfect match. Lightweight, low profile, simple interface, and rock solid. The Leupold DeltaPoint Pro also has the advantage of being able to swap the battery without tools and without removing the sight from the gun. Further, the topside sealed battery compartment allows the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro to mate with any mount without the need for additional sealing plates. Using a 2.5 MOA dot, it’s possible drill target after target with a simple accuracy one reserved for those with extensive shooting experience. The Leupold DeltaPoint Pro uses a steel housing shell over the core aluminium housing. The steel shell transfers the force of blows around the important parts of the sight. Another feature of the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro is that it has “Motion Sensor Technology” meaning that the red dot turns on automatically when the sight moves. So the DPP as it’s known will shut off when still, yet fire back up instantly when moved. Of course you can shut off the DPP completely if you like.
To run an optic on the Victory, you may need to replace the back sight rail with an included picatinny rail. The included S&W rail is polymer so there are aftermarket machined aluminium versions available to maximize a stable zero for competitive target shooting. I considered one, but then I havn’t noticed any issues yet with my optics on the Victory. The Leupold DeltaPoint Pro has zero magnification, and the scope is a 2x. Plus both are held at arm’s length from the eye. Now if I was using a 4x or higher rifle scope on a polymer rail, I would have serious concerns about zero retention. Another hesitation with an aftermarket rail is that the factory one has a notched rear sight so if you lose your optic, you can still use your irons with the rail as a traditional matte black rear iron sight. Given the growing number of aftermarket barrels for the Victory, and that the competition barrels have no front sights, I’ll probably upgrade the rail if ever upgrade the barrel. But for the moment, the factory match grade heavy barrel works perfectly for this project.
Check Out: Weaponized Nanotechnology
On the muzzle-end of this Victory is a factory-threaded barrel. It came with a heavy steel thread protector so when not running a suppressor, use a TandemKross compensator. While adding only three-quarters of an ounce to the mix, the compensator at four times longer than the factory option gives direction to the muzzle exhaust providing a reduction in muzzle rise and even some indexing potential. And I’ve experienced shooting with the TK compensator on the B.O.L.T Pistol on snowy surfaces only to have the “dust signature” of the snow be an issue without the compensator, and be a non-issue with one.
So if Project Squirrel Pistol matches your bug out needs, than the S&W SW22 Victory is a great starting point. And ending point.
Hello my friend and welcome back! To day we have a guest post from Paul Burton who is the founder of Perfect Blades. I think you will enjoy it, I know I did. Grab…
The post Guest Post: Survival Knife vs Hatchet by Paul Burton appeared first on American Preppers Online.
Tools and the act of building out a toolbox were a right of passage in my family. My grandfathers were both tradesmen – a welder and a naval diesel mechanic – and my father is a plumber. The ability to work with your hands was almost a requirement from the womb. All of these men
I’ll admit I never thought about scissors as a tool. I have to say having a several good sets of scissors has become very critical tool to have on hand around Casa de Chaos. So today Mom and I bought a couple of sets of Fisker’s everyday /craft scissors via BOGO free sale and gosh they are wonderful to use! Like a good sharp knife, sharp scissors makes your cutting jobs easier and faster.
I know that Fiskers is a quality mid-range brand and for specific applications they may not be perfect but when I can get them on sale they are great tools. I bought Fiskers Kitchen shears a year ago and love how I can cut herbs with them and the blades break apart for easy cleaning.
I’m using an older set of scissors to practice my sharpening skills. I am using an oil stone and have put a good edge on the first part of the blade but I will need to take the scissors apart in order to get the cutting edge sharpen for the entire length of the blade. I suppose what I’m trying to say is have good scissors on hand is a tool for my prepping. Being able to sharpen scissors is a skill I am trying to add to my prepping skill set.
Brushing and cleaning up the dogs for summer. I’m ashamed to say I did not keep up with the grooming of my dogs this spring when they are shedding like crazy. Pekes under coat is almost like down and mats like crazy when not combed out and I dropped the ball on brushing the little critters out. So how do I fix the problem?
- Get rid of the big mats of hair. I’m cutting them out as much as possible (hence new scissors) without hurting the dogs.
- Using brushes and combs in short time frames of brushing that get the dogs back in the habit of being brushed regularly.
- Cutting the hair between pads and cutting dogs nails. This is taking a bit more time to rebuild trust but Mom and I have had some some success. I use a a nail cutter that is not spring loaded and resemble scissors. Once I cut hair around the paw I simply cut back the extra nail that keeps the paw from resting flat on a solid surface. This is easier for me compared to finding the quick and trying not to cut into it. If you cut in in to quick Witch Hazel is great for stopping the bleeding.
- Using treats to reward good behavior of your pets getting groomed.
I won’t say it is okay to drop the ball in caring for your pets, but I do understand how it can happen. Start off slow and take care of the of the worst issues first even if the hair cuts look sub-optimal. Then start a normal grooming schedule slowly so the pups don’t fear but like the attention, and try and make it as positive as possible for the pet.
Jackson the terrier is very fearful of combs, brushes and scissors. We are going to try using rags to get him use to the motions of grooming. Thank goodness he has a short/wire haired coat so we have a bit of time to work on him.
The portable 8000 BTU AC unit is supposed to arrive on Friday and the temps are supposed to hit the mid 90’s F. I’m not sure how to “vent” a portable AC unit or how to deal with the moisture with the unit being inside. Gosh we are all going to learn new stuff! Even adding another 8000 BTU portable AC unit the wattage/ electrical use is still lower than my “Central air” power usage. But we shall see if the portable AC is worth the cost in electricity.
Last, but not least I think I can afford another Ryobi mister fan for the yard. In a dry climate these misters are wonderful for both humans and critters. I want to add some mulch and Mom has some offering sedum starts for the alley garden. With the people that are ignoring weed growth in the garden I need more plants and more mulch to stop the spread of bad weeds.
In June, we celebrate summer, Father’s, graduations, weddings and Flag Day. It marks the halfway point of the year and on the 25th, it will only be six months until Christmas! Maybe this is the month to start making a holiday gift list and begin looking for bargain-priced gifts, well before the shopping rush begins.
There are loads of great June sales and bargains. Here’s what we’ve tracked down for you.
June is National Dairy Month, which means there will be sales on ice cream, cheese, butter, milk, cream cheese, yogurt and popsicles. Most of these freeze very well, so it is an easy thing to stock up on. June is Turkey Lovers Month, so there should be sales on turkey deli meat (whole turkeys are cheapest to buy around Thanksgiving).
Cookout supplies are also on sale, such as hot dogs, hamburgers, buns and charcoal. If a charcoal grill is one of your alternate cooking options, it would be a good time to stock up on it. Soda, iced tea and bottled water also go on sale. Bottled water is a great thing to have on hand for almost every emergency. I keep a case in our vehicle during the summer months for when we are out and about.
Watermelon goes on sale during June, and there will be good deals on lots of seasonal produce. Consider going to farmer’s markets or researching what u-pick farms are near you to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. It can be preserved by canning, freezing or dehydrating.
TIP: Think about what desserts you might want to have in the winter months and get the fruit for it now.
Here is what is usually in season in June:
- Honey dew melons
June Household Sales and Bargains
Tools, tools and more tools: with Father’s Day, the typical gifts for dad are on sale. Cologne and menswear will also be on sale for this occasion. Dishes and kitchen appliances should be on sale to coincide with wedding season. Graduations start winding down in June, so the party supplies will be on sale, which can be used for future parties or for food storage supplies.
TIP: Paper plates are a very handy items in an emergency. They don’t need to washed, so you avoid wasting valuable time and water, and you can either shred and compost them or burn them in a campfire. The best thing is that paper plates from any past holiday or birthday party work just fine for this purpose!
For household items, some small electronics like camcorders and computers should be on sale. Both are good items to have on hand for keeping track of inventory for personal and insurance purposes. Carpeting and indoor furniture are usually on sale in June.
Women’s underwear, bras and lingerie are a hot item in June, since Victoria’s Secret holds its semi-annual sale in June.
And, as always, be on the lookout for gifts! Sooner or later, a birthday, bridal/baby shower, wedding, or some other holiday will surprise you, and when that happens, most of us usually go into the panic-shopping mode! That’s the mode where we don’t care how much something costs — we just need to get that gift today! Don’t be that crazy-eyed lady at the mall! Shop ahead and look for the bargains posted here in this article as well as the entire, monthly 52 Weeks Savings series on this blog.
Outside the home
Gardening items start going on sale in June. It is never too early to start planning next year’s garden. Stock up on seeds and gardening tools. Seed planters are handy along with organic fertilizer. June is Rose Month, since most are in bloom. This can mean lower prices for roses and rose bushes in June.
Sports and Fitness
Summer sports gear and swim gear go on sale in June. Many people tend to focus their exercise outside in June, so indoor exercise equipment goes on sale and some gyms may offer discounted memberships. June is hosts National Fishing & Boating Week and National Get Outdoors Day, so local parks and recreation departments may offer special and possibly free activities for those days.
Taking a staycation this year? Check out this link for a list of blogs for fun things to do in different states: .
June is also National Aquarium Month, so if you have a local aquarium, they may offer deals.
Some stores and restaurants like to participate in specific special days, so keep an eye out for deals on the following days:
June 5 – National Doughnut Day
June 7 – National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
June 10 – Iced Tea Day
June 18 – Go Fishing Day
June 20 – Ice Cream Soda Day
June 27 – Sunglasses Day
Flea markets and yard sales gear up this month and are a great way to find deals on almost any item. Here’s a list of 21 things to always be on the lookout for.
Activities for Children
Summer reading programs are in full gear in June as schools let out for the summer. Check your local library and local bookstores to see what they offer. For a list of stores, theaters and online programs, visit http://savingdollarsandsense.com/free-summer-reading-programs/.
Several stores also offer children freebies as a reward for a good report card. Ask your local stores if they do anything for report cards or, for a list, visit http://savingdollarsandsense.com/good-report-card-freebies/.
Check local hardware and craft stores for children’s make-and-take events.
Register at www.kidsbowlfree.com to get children up to 2 free games of bowling a day at your local bowling alley.
Some movie theaters offer discount movies during the summer. Check your local theater for prices and movie listings.
Money saving tips
In the summer, close blinds and curtains to keep sun out on hot days to reduce cooling costs. If possible, dry clothes outside on a clothesline to avoid running the dryer. Take a different approach to summer meal planning and incorporate meals that are light, such as salads that incorporate fresh ingredients, or that involve cooking outside on the grill or over a fire pit.
If you have a solar oven, Sun Oven, or want to make a DIY solar cooker, this is prime season and a great time to learn this skill before a power outage or some other disaster happens. Using a solar oven will help keep your kitchen cooler and you won’t be using any electricity at all.
By the end of June, you should have $325 saved if you’re following the weekly savings plan (25 weeks). If you have extra right now, perhaps going to a higher week in the chart and putting that money away would be a smart thing to do. Take things one day at a time and focus on what you can do and what you can enjoy.
If you’re on Facebook, it’s not too late to join our very active 52 Weeks Savings Club for tips and encouragement.
Saving money is a daily lifestyle and the key is having a good attitude. Take pride in what you have already saved up and learn from any mistakes.
Take advantage of June’s deals and start looking forward to a fun summer. Come back next month to see what deals July offers to help you save AND prepare!
An old standby “survival” skills game used to facilitate leadership development training forced participant teams to choose among a list of survival gear and supplies items. The game was posed as being cast on an isolated island after a ship wreck or plane crash (Hey, remember Wilson?), or in the jungle after a plane crash or some other fictitious peril. The teams were limited to picking only 10 items. It was fun, and very instructional.
The groups had to gather up individually and begin the process of the picking of their top ten survival gear items from the available list. Then each team had to present their choices to the other teams and explain their rationale for their decision-making. The instructional part was not only the communication and exchange of ideas among team members, but also the feedback and assessments provided by the entire group. What survival items would you pick?
Just to take a note as a sidebar such a game would be very useful for potential prepper teams in the formation phase to process survival information and to express opinions about various related survival tactics. This would not only reveal other’s survival knowledge base, but also their compatibility, communication, and sensitivity to the other potential team members.
Formulating a Minimalist Kit
In our reality based world, lucky for us, we are not really limited by any set list of survival gear, tools, supplies, or essential items. We can choose from the infinity of everything out there to include in a bare bones kit bag. The only primary limitation then for the assembly of this kit becomes the kit’s total weight, and a practical choice of just the bare fewest items to complete such a kit.
Related: 10 Bug Out Bag Essentials
For this kit, we are not even suggesting a backpack or indeed a fanny pack sized carry conveyance. We have to keep focused on the minimalist approach here. This kit then is not really an EDC bag nor is it any kind of a BOB either. It’s different. It goes in the trunk of the car or under the back seat of a pickup truck, in an office desk drawer, or some other place that is easily and quickly accessible. It is not intended for long term use, but a “get by” circumstance.
This kit may also not be something that is necessarily grabbed and carried during an emergency, but it could be. It might be a kit used during an office or school lockdown during say an active shooter situation or maybe a tornado warning or other emanate emergency condition or SHTF. It could get you by if the interstate highway was shut down by a wreck for an extended period of time or if you got caught in a snow storm, perhaps even overnight.
Depending on the SHTF situation, you might have to hunker down in the office or in your vehicle. You could have the option or decide to hike out a few miles to another safe location or to be picked up elsewhere. Naturally, the potential emergency situations are also endless, so think for yourself, what are the likely events you could encounter and stock your bare bones kit accordingly.
Bare-Bones Kit Parameters
For this exercise, I have volunteered as the Guinea pig. Of course, my personal situation and conditions are decidedly different than yours, so I will outline my own parameters. You need to do the same. It is important, no critical, that every person self-profile themselves so they build a kit that meets their exact personal needs for virtually any type of short-term survival SHTF. I am a senior citizen, retired, and of age for social security, but still quite active. I have health issues that require daily medication, hydration and minimal food intake. I am an avid reader, and writer with good mechanical and organizational skills. I am more of a hermit than a joiner, but am active in wildlife management work and serve on the executive board of a state wildlife conservation group.
Read Also: The Prepper Learning Curve
I could not run a hundred yards, but could walk for five miles, more if allowed to rest periodically. I actively hunt, fish, work my bug out camp, ride ATVs, and am a proficient shooter. I carry concealed with a legal permit. I work at home every day, but travel a fair amount. My Bare-Bones Kit would likely be used mostly via access in a travel mode, so they are kept in vehicles.
Are there some assumptions then? Yes, of course. Let’s assume you will have your iPhone with you at all times, ideally fully charged. You’ll have a wallet or purse with IDs, cash money, and credit cards. If you have a CCW permit, carry it. You may have with you a concealed carry weapon, or in close proximity to one and maybe at least one extra loaded mag. Have available or carry a lightweight rain jacket ideally with a hood. Accordingly these items are not included in your minimalist survival bag, because you should always have them anyway.
One Bare Bones Minimalist Survival Kit
Here are the items in my own Bare Bones Minimalist Survival Kit:
Quick bag. This would be a lightweight nylon pull cord top bag, small satchel zip bag, or some small military type gear bag.
Water and Snack. I would pack (2) bottles of water and (2) protein and power bars.
Medicines. 3-5 days of required meds. Small bottle of pain relievers.
Blanket or Cover. One fold up compact space blanket or similar cover/shelter.
Knife. A high quality folding knife or fixed blade camp/survival knife. Not a Rambo blade.
Firestarter. Box of waterproof, wood matches and (1) butane lighter. Small tin or med bottle with prepared tinder cotton balls.
Signals. (1) Signal whistle with lanyard.
Paracord. (1) Wrap of 50 feet of paracord rope.
Head and Hand Gear. One ball cap or hat with sun visor and a pair of durable gloves.
First Aid Kit. One micro first aid kit in tin or plastic container.
Now before you go crazy at ripping apart my selections for a bare bones kit, reflect on your own needs or make viable suggestions for other needed items. Undoubtedly, in my own thinking and planning, I have left out something. With practice and trial, perhaps I will change up my own bare bones kit to delete some items or add others. We want to learn from the readership, too. That is best accomplished by not criticizing, but by comparing and contrasting.
If you live in an area that is subject to intermittent but long duration power outages, a portable generator is a good way to get though the event in relative comfort. Depending on the size of your portable generator, it can keep your freezer cold, give you light, let you run TV/radio and maybe even…
Cutting to the chase, the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder works as advertised. So now that’s of the way, let’s consider the philosophy behind owning and using such an advanced handheld ballistics computer. And just to get it out of the way, the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder retails for $1700 and has a street price in bad breath distance of $1500.
By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache.com
As a lifelong hunter and one who was shooting iron sights out a hundred yards, and bringing down big game at two and three hundred yards with 4x scopes, I do find it interesting that the AR15 has enlightened many folks to the capabilities of shooting long distance. The weird thing is that our simple bolt action rifles in .270, .308 and my favorite 30-06 have been around for almost forever and have been capable of hitting targets well beyond 500 yards with minimal skill and out to 1000 yards with considerable skill. Of course, extreme long range, or ELR as the extreme long rangers like to say, has better options including the .338 Lapua and the .50 BMG, but regular old hunting cartridges can easily outshoot most shooters. Well, unless they are using the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder.
Spell Check for Long Range Shooting
A ballistics solution is the information you need to place your bullet on your target regardless of distance. angle, or atmospheric conditions. It is an adjustment in aiming that takes into consideration every realtime consideration worth taking into consideration. And when the ballistics solution is dialed into the profiled rifle, a scary degree of long range accuracy can be achieved by someone with more brains than skill. Kind of like spell-check for long range shooting.
The Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder really is a computer surrounded by a 7x optic and a laser rangefinder. If you pair your Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder to your phone using Bluetooth and the Sig App, you can view and enter data via the phone providing the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder all pertinent info to put your specific bullet on your specific target.
Where the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder deviates from traditional laser rangefinders, even the good ones, is that the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder has capabilities well beyond what most shooters expect from their rangefinders. By entering all necessary information into the onboard Applied Ballistics Solutions calculator, the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder will spit out the exact adjustments necessary to hit the target. If you miss, then bad info entered the equation because the equation is perfect.
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The Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder is a complete kit that includes a wind speed meter, a tripod mounting frame, an over-engineered case, three batteries, and tactical pen. Oh, and an App available for both iOS and Android. The Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder can easily work without the App, but the App allows an easier input of data, and the ability to upload rifle profiles into the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder.
So where’s the magic? It is in the ballistic solutions the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder provides to anyone who asks. I’ve long been a proponent for upgrading a firearm as much for the added performance as to learn how it works. After a few teardowns and rebuilds, you will have an intimate knowledge of the gun and feel comfortable tearing into it for whatever reason, or even fabricating your own parts if something goes south. So using or even just playing with the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder, you will gain important insights into ELR shooting whether or not you ever pull a trigger on a 1km shot.
I know it sounds like ELR blasphemy, but dropping a grand and a half on a ballistics computer with range finder is something you will not have a second chance at when the EMP hits, or the store shelves go bare. For those who don’t think much beyond their apartment hallways, or even the end of the block, shooting long distance is low on the preparedness checklist. The problem is that in a real SHTF situation, the environment changes. Flinging lead down the street or from rooftop to rooftop is not just for the movies. It is something that urban combat across the world has taught us is a realistic skill. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but in a real SHTF WROL, you just might want to have some ELR shooting skills whether by practice or by electronics; the target doesn’t know or care.
One of the odd things about extremely long range shooting is that that the firearms community believe that it requires specialized equipment and near superhuman skill. In reality, anyone who wants to lob bullets an eighth of a mile can do so. But to hit something requires just a little bit more. If you have an endless number of shots, you can walk something in even at five miles, but human threats are of human size and realistic encounters are at the limits of vision, optics, and even the curvature of the earth. But protecting one’s bug out location with a thousand yard shot is not out of the question, but certainly might be out of your plan.
The Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder provides near-instantaneous adjustment suggestions that when dialed into your scope or DOPE will do wonders even you have never ever attempted a shot over 500 yards. I know that’s a scary thought for traditional hunters who wander the woods with their 200 yard guns that can actually shoot a thousand yards, but the reality is that with the right information and understanding, few long guns are short range tools.
The Brass Tacks
Where the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder really impresses is with it’s ability to quickly provide accurate distances out to thousands of yards. Depending on the reflectiveness of the target, the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder can push the two mile limit with no problem, and exceed that where the physics allow. As if that kind of accuracy and precision isn’t enough, the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder has a hyperscan mode that gives a distance value every quarter second. The moment I first tried it, I thought of Jason Bourne. The optically absurd rangefinding monocular he scans with in multiple movies has a fast reaction output zapping range values as fast as he can move the monocular.
The Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder is powered by a single CR123 battery which is a welcome change (upgrade?) over the CR2 battery that many other high-end rangefinders use. Not only is the CR123 more powerful in advanced size, but is also a common battery size in many other quality field electronics including holographic gun sights, gun lights, flashlights, and night vision scopes. The battery life of the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder is an interesting question. The Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder ships with three batteries which can be taken several ways. It might be that the Sig Kilo2400 ABS Laser Rangefinder eats batteries, but I haven’t found that to be the case. However, if extended use of the Hyperscan mode is used, I would suspect that the battery will be exhausted rather quickly. This guess is based on a tidbit in my Leica rangerfinder instruction book that mentions that when the low battery indicator comes on, about 200 ranges are left. The Hyperscan mode would blast through 200 ranges in less than a minute of use. The Hyperscan mode ranges at four times a second but for no more than 20 seconds of continious use.
In real life, even if your training and shooting adventures don’t allow the long range stuff, you can count on the SIG Kilo2400 to take you to the next step when it really matters.
The single tool in a cook’s arsenal that will have the biggest effect on their performance is their chef’s knife. A good knife is required for consistent top level cooking, but this doesn’t mean that only professional chefs need a good knife. The difference between a dull and sharp knife is absolutely massive and cannot…
‘Bug out bags’ are put together to be grabbed in a hurry. Their use stems from the bags issued by militaries to their soldiers in field situations, and it should contain everything you need to sustain yourself in an emergency situation for at least 72 hours. Ideally, every member of your group or family should have their own bug out bag with their own supplies: The more you have as a group, the better your chances of survival will be.
By Alex Coyne, a contributing author of SurvivalCache and SHTFBlog.com
Most bug out bags are aimed at meeting the most basic survival needs: That is, they contain a bit of everything for when you need to grab and go, but what if you have some more specialized needs, for example access to technology or your family’s important documents stored separately?
Here’s a look at some specialized bug out bags to go with your main kit, customized for more specific needs. (Note: Most of these are just as useful for camping or hiking as they are for grabbing in an emergency.)
Oh, yeah, and take a look at this link on YouTube for what Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory keeps in his…
#1: The Medic Bag
The medic bag contains your group or family’s medical supplies. Include a laminated card with each member’s details and medical history; be sure to list their full name, blood type, next-of-kin with the most recent contact details and their allergies. Your kit should also contain antibiotics, painkillers, alcohol, bandages, stitches, burn gel and/or cream, clean wipes, surgical scissors, a scalpel, cotton wool, a syringe (and the knowledge to use it!) and any other medical supplies you would normally keep in your first aid kit or might come in handy where you’re going. Prescription medication (for chronic conditions) can be arranged in advance with your doctor or pharmacist.
#2: The Bag of Documents
Your family’s important documents can include birth certificates, passports, doctor’s reports, financial information and wills; this is by no means an exhaustive list. We highly recommend that documents like these are always kept organized neatly in the same place, with several digital backups. Consider backing up your information on DVD or Blu-Ray to keep in your bag of documents. Store hard copy documents in plastic sleeves. Make sure your bag can withstand elements like water, and make sure you don’t store your documents with (or next to) anything that can catch fire or explode.
#3: The Chef’s Bag
There’s likely someone in your group or family who’s been appointed the head chef, and a chef – especially one on the road – could do with some decent tools. The chef’s bag is customized to hold all the tools a chef might need in the field, and this will be up to personal preference. Be sure to ask them what tools they simply can’t do without. Many tools have a portable version. Take a look at the Glamping Fold Up Pan and the Camp Chef Knife Set. The chef’s bag should also contain other chef’s essentials like their most used spices and utensils.
#4: The Hiker’s Bag
The hiker’s bag should be taken if you’re planning on going on a hiking trip. Practicality is your main goal here, and you’re looking to cover all of the bases. Take enough food to sustain yourself on the walk and for a while after should you get stuck, take along your first-aid basics, a knife, a fold-up walking stick, plenty of water and purification tablets, a map and compass and a fire-starter kit. Again, this is not an exhaustive list, just the basics.
#5: The Mechanic’s Kit
The mechanic’s kit is great for keeping in your car by default, and it’s essential if you’re going to be stuck somewhere for a while. Put simply, it’s for fixing things. A wide variety of things. The mechanic’s kit should contain the most portable tools you can find – a simple online search on Amazon will give you hundreds of options for portable tools – and odds-and-ends like wire, cable ties, glue, duct tape, rope, nails, screws, nuts and bolts. Keep documents like your car’s repair handbook (or, say, a general book on DIY and car repair) with this too: Digital backups are available, will take up much less space and can be handy should anyone else who isn’t as handy end up with the mechanic’s kit.
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#6: The Herbal Healer
Ancient human groups consisted of hunter-gatherers, and modern humans are no different. The herbal healer’s bag is for the gatherer or natural healer, and should contain everything they need to gather, preserve and prepare herbs. Take this along for a hiking trip or when you go out to gather herbs, plants or fruits. A sharp, versatile knife is essential; some cords and clothespins (useful for drying), containers and bags for collecting samples; gloves; a fold-up camping shovel; seeds for starting a garden; plant nutrients; an empty spray bottle; sanitized water and wipes (for various and fairly obvious reasons); alcohol (for tinctures and sanitization). The herbal bag will likely also contain a collection of common herbs that have already been collected: These are up to you. Again, a disc with your library of plant books (with pictures for identification) should go with your kit.
#7: The Tech Junkie’s Kit
Don’t discount the usefulness of technology in a survival situation: As a journalist working online, I realize the value of connectivity. The tech junkie’s kit should be exceptionally well-padded and contain a laptop that can withstand some damage (laptops like the Sony Vaio are small yet durable), replacement cables, an additional camera (of higher quality), blank DVD’s, spare parts, an operating system on DVD (should you need to re-install your system on the go), a power bank or solar power kit, a screwdriver kit, a USB dongle (yes, even if you have a router), a mouse, backup batteries, a backup celllphone and a signal strengthener. (At the very least.)
What do you have in your bug out bag? Have you learned to add anything from yours by reading this article? Use the comments to let us know your thoughts.
Make no mistake about it: flashlight technology has improved leaps and bounds in these past few years, with the availability of powerful lithium-ion batteries, small circuits, and LED bulbs that last tens of thousands of hours and produce ridiculous amounts of bright white light, all while sipping juice from the power supply. Halogen and krypton incandescent bulbs, while still absolutely functional, have fallen by the wayside: they just don’t perform as well or last as long as modern LED bulbs.
By Drew, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog
However, some older flashlight designs are timeless and soldier on. For the purposes of this article, we’re looking squarely at the stalwart Mini Maglite, a tough, reliable little aluminum beast of a flashlight. At just 5 ¾” long and normally powered by a tiny incandescent bulb and a pair of AA batteries, you can still find these wonderfully rugged flashlights new in most hardware stores and Wal-Marts, soldiering on without any upgrades – the Mini Maglite you purchase at the store today is the exact same design you would have bought 20 years ago. Maglite has since upgraded the design with a modern LED bulb that has obvious benefits, but they cost almost four times as much as the krypton-running Mini-Maglite: at my most recent visit to a Target store, the incandescent Mini-Maglite (with two new AA Energizers and the nylon open topped belt holster we all know and love) was $7.98. The new Mini-Maglite PRO, with a modern 226 lumen output LED illumination system, ran $26.99.
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However, I don’t know any outdoorsman worth his salt who doesn’t have at least one or two of the original Mini Maglites kicking around in a glove compartment, tacklebox, or the junk drawer of the kitchen – the flashlights might even still have the spare bulb in the tailcap if they’re lucky. Personally, I have four of them kicking around the house, mostly with the batteries long gone to power remote controls or a kid’s toys. My veteran Mini Maglites have kind of fallen to secondary use after the adoption of more modern flashlights – I now usually carry a Streamlight Microstream with me everywhere I go instead of the older Maglites. But my tackleboxes still have Mini Maglites rolling around the bottom (they’re wonderfully waterproof) with a couple spare batteries, and my wife’s car has one in the center console. These Mini-Maglites are all old friends that I’ve had and used forever – and I was delighted to find out I could upgrade them.
Betterment by Nite Ize
Nite Ize, a company that hails from Boulder, Colorado, pays its bills by producing a wide array of products, ranging from magnetic dashboard cell phone holders to full-blown LED flashlights and glowsticks. Via some online surfing, I stumbled across Nite Ize and their Mini Maglite LED combo upgrade kit. Being the flashlight lover I am, I immediately geeked out over the prospect of pulling my beloved old Mini Maglites back into the daily use herd.
I searched on Amazon for the kits, and lo and behold, they were available, for dirt cheap. $7.57 per kit, to be exact. I figured for the price, I’d still be OK if I ordered one and found out they were less than stellar. I ordered a couple (my father wanted to try one out as well), and the pair of kits arrived on my doorstep a couple days later.
Initial impressions were pretty good; the packaging was nice, and the pictorial instructions were printed on a miniscule piece of orange paper. Included in the packaging were three items: a new LED lamp with two prongs on the back, a new revised reflector, and a push-button tailcap, made from plastic and machined anodized aluminum.
What The Nite Ize LED Upgrade Offers
The Nite Ize LED Combo upgrade offers a few benefits over the original dual AA-powered Mini Maglite. Per the company’s website, the original incandescent bulb Mini Maglite offered a low-but-still-useful 14 lumens of yellow-tinted light. Run time with fresh batteries is about 5 hours. The only method of turning the flashlight on and off was to unscrew the head bezel slightly to activate the light; the beam could then be focused to the desired intensity – from flood to spotlight.
The Nite Ize LED Combo kit boosts the light output to a comparatively impressive 30 lumens – over double the output – and boosts battery life to 25 hours from the same pair of AA batteries. The white light beam can still be focused – a nice feature – and the flashlight can be activated one-handed via the thumb-activated tailcap switch.
An important note to consider: installation of this Nite Ize product WILL void the limited lifetime warranty offered by Maglite.
Upgrading the Mini Maglite: How It’s Done DIY
After a quick perusal of the brief smiley-face emblazoned instructions (also available online here), I attacked my old Mini Maglite. The Mini Maglite is a very simple flashlight; very few parts and all very straightforward to work with…I’ve made repairs on them in the past and had them completely apart; so rest assured – the upgrade is quite easy. First, I unscrewed the original tailcap (the back end, where the batteries are installed) and set it aside. You’ll want to hang onto the original tailcap; you’ll see why later. I replaced the original part with the new Nite Ize unit that sports a button switch: it’s a simple screw-in replacement. Easy enough. Next, I removed the front bezel (the end the light comes out) by unscrewing counterclockwise completely off the flashlight body. This exposes, at the front of the flashlight body, the tiny krypton bulb that comes standard in Mini Maglites. I grasped the bulb with my fingers, and pulled it forward, straight out of the two tiny holes it lives in.
The new Nite Ize LED bulb has the similar two small contact wires like the krypton bulb; however, it also has a small black plastic disc that it lives on. This disc, which has the Nite Ize logo printed on it, along with “LRB2 3.0v AA LED” contains the circuitry needed to convert the power supplied from the batteries into retina-scorching white light. To install the LED bulb, carefully line the contact wires up with the holes you took the original incandescent bulb out of, and gently push the LED bulb into the barrel of the flashlight. It should sit all the way down; if the batteries are installed, it may have a tiny bit of “bounce” since the batteries it contacts ride on a spring in the tailcap.
Once the bulb is installed, you can move to changing out the third piece of the puzzle: the reflector. The reflector is a small, brightly polished or coated piece of plastic that focuses the light of the flashlight into a beam. The reflector lives under a face cap at the outside (all the way forward) edge of the bezel. Muckle onto the front face cap with one hand, while holding onto the tapering back half of the bezel with the other. Unscrew the front face cap off the back end of the removed bezel. It should come right off (be careful not to lose the clear polycarbonate outer lens!), and you will be able to pop the original reflector out, and install the new Nite Ize unit right in its place. Screw the lens cap back onto the bezel, then re-install the bezel head unit onto the body of the flashlight. You’re (likely) done – it’s maybe a three-minute process if you’ve ever had a Mini-Maglite apart before.
Okay, so you converted your old Mini-Maglite to this newfangled Nite Ize LED bulb setup and it doesn’t work. What now? Well, before you assume that it’s junk and broken and go kicking and screaming to Nite-Ize, there are a couple things you can try. First, and most obvious – put fresh batteries in the damn thing. Still not working? Okay, onwards to diagnostics!
First off, just like the original bulb, the bezel assembly needs to be unscrewed somewhat to actually activate the flashlight – just like every other AA Maglite. Give that a whirl. With the bezel at a position where the light would normally be on, try hitting the tailcap switch again. The unit should turn on.
If not, try removing the bezel assembly and checking the bulb installation. The LED bulb needs to have the two little contact wires installed in the proper holes; it does not work if it’s in backwards. Remove the bulb, spin it 180 degrees, and re-install the bulb and bezel. This should cure what ails your little flashlight – I had the same issue with one of my installs. You have a 50/50 shot – it’s a pretty good chance it’s backwards.
If your light STILL doesn’t work, try removing the tailcap switch and replacing it with the original Mini-Maglite fixed tailcap. Delightfully, the Nite Ize conversion is compatible with the original tailcap, meaning that you’re not required to use the push-button tailcap. If you have the original tailcap on, fresh batteries in the unit, and you’ve tried the bulb both ways, the culprit is quite likely the tailcap switch – if the old cap makes the flashlight work, you’ve got it narrowed down. This situation occurred with one of my kits. I emailed Nite Ize customer service, explained the situation and what I’d done to narrow down the possibilities, and a couple days later I had a new one in the mail that worked beautifully, no hassle or BS.
Wrapping It Up
All in all, this is a really great upgrade for your aging (or new) incandescent bulb AA Mini Maglite collection. The improvement is more than worth the few dollars you’ll spend on the combo kit; and the kit will save itself in battery expenditure along in short order. I like that the kit retains the focus capability of the beam and removes some “dead” spots that the incandescent bulb configurations was famous for – but it does not completely remove the spots. The upgrade also retains the water resistance and shock impact ratings, which was always a selling point to me – the Mini Maglite is a rugged little flashlight for sure.
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The ability to “tailstand” – unscrewing the lens bezel completely, placing it lens-down on a flat surface, and inserting the operating flashlight tail-end into the back of the bezel like a candle – is also retained with this Nite Ize LED Combo kit. This has always been one of my favorite features of the Mini Maglite; you can use the flashlight to illuminate a whole area like a lantern, as opposed to just a directed beam. This feature is a Godsend when the power goes out and you don’t have candles – you can illuminate a room to play board games, read a book, etc. It’s a great capability to have, and makes the lights worth their weight in gold once the power grid is down.
The one thing I don’t like about this kit – the loss of the lanyard loop when you replace the original tailcap with the push-button switch – can be negated simply by replacing the original end cap; so don’t throw out the original parts! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost lost my flashlight while nighttime fishing on railroad trestles – the simple addition of a leather cord lanyard through the tailcap hole has saved my bacon more than once, so you can bet your behind I’ll be changing out the push button tailcap on most of my outdoor adventures. The choice and ability to function in either configuration sure is great, though.
If you’re starting from scratch and are looking for a quality, tough-as-hell LED flashlight for under or around $20 (if you buy those cheapo gas station register multi-LED lights you’re asking for trouble), a great way to go would be to buy a regular AA Mini-Maglite at your local Wal-Mart or on Amazon, then purchase one of these Nite Ize kits.
For those possessing the bigger “C” and “D” cell full-sized Maglites, Nite Ize makes upgrade LED bulbs for those lights as well.
The brighter, white LED beam is much more useful than the order yellow incandescent beam, and this kit delivers the goods for a very small hit on the wallet. It’s a great upgrade to combat the unplanned obsolescence of a truly great, functional flashlight design. The company’s customer service is outstanding as well, and was a true delight to deal with. This upgrade to my old beloved Mini Maglites was worth every penny, and I’ll be buying more to upgrade the rest of the Maglite fleet. I can’t give you a better testimonial than that.
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Americans today have it made compared to the pioneers. When something breaks, we can just drive down to our local home hardware store and pick up what we need. We even can order online and wait for the item(s) to arrive on our doorstep!
It certainly wasn’t that easy for the pioneers. Whether they had just arrived in the New World, were traveling West in hopes of grabbing some land, or were settled on their farm, there were few “mercantiles” or general stores to be had.
How did they manage to survive? Good old ingenuity for one, a few working skills, and a few tools made all the difference.
Let’s examine 15 of their most useful tools.
Building and Construction Tools
No matter where they ended up, the pioneers had to build their own shelter. While some homes were made from sod, many more were made from wood. This made saws and axes both valuable and common. Of course, if you could afford to pay the mill to cut your logs, you were fortunate, but most people simply cut their own logs to make cabins to live in and barns for their livestock. Hatchets and axes did any work that saws couldn’t.
Hammers were vital. Hammers can split logs (with a wedge, which was another important tool), work metal, break rocks, and, of course, hammer nails. These ancient but super-flexible tools came in several types and sizes, depending on your need.
Shovels, or spades as they once were called, were another fundamental tool. Holes needed to be dug to support log cabins, turf was often used as roofing material, and a spade would be necessary to cut out those blocks.
Many of the early settlers had root cellars that would preserve food as the temperature was more stable. Even a small root cellar required a whole lot of digging! Pioneers also used shovels for the same things we do today — planting vegetable gardens, cleaning out stalls, and planting trees.
Farming and Planting Tools
Every pioneer would need to do at least some planting in order to survive, even if they only wanted to grow food for themselves and their livestock to survive through the winter.
Therefore, almost every farmer relied on his plow. Whether drawn by hand or pulled by an animal, a featured, pioneers, survival, tools, was an absolute necessity. John Deere invented the first steel plow blade in 1837, but long before that, people used wood or sharp rocks for plow blades.
Hoes were another invaluable tool for farmers. Crops involve much more than just seeds and water; weeds need to be removed. With a sharp hoe, a person can go at a slow walking pace and remove weeds.
Scythes were great for those who could not afford the mechanical horse drawn crop reapers. These slightly curved blades enabled a person to cut crops or clear tall grass and weeds from a standing position.
A tool that many people today are unaware of, which enabled grains to be removed from the husk, is the flail. It’s a simple tool, but quite effective. A flail consists of one larger stick that the person would hold, connected by a chain or hooks to a shorter stick. Harvested grain crops, such as wheat, were placed in a pile, and then the person would beat (thresh) the grain with the small stick, until the husk surrounding the grain fell off.
People of today have it made in the simple process of day-to-day cooking and cleaning.
Washboards were, for many years, exactly as the name implies — nothing more than pieces of rounded wood strips, nailed to a frame. It sounds very primitive, but it must have been in improvement over beating your clothing with sticks or rubbing them over rocks in the river!
Spinning wheels changed the wool from sheep or cotton balls into fibers that could be used to make clothing and blankets. Spinning wheels were used in Europe since at least the year 1250, so it was a common tool that almost every woman knew how to operate.
Once you had the wheat threshed, you needed to grind it into flour. This was done with a little device that some of us today think of as a meat grinder. Pioneer women used this same type of hand-powdered device to grind their grains to make flour.
Let’s not forget the lowly needle. While many of the needles used by the pioneer women are pretty much the same as the ones we use today, they had a much larger variety that was needed. In addition to the regular clothing that needed to be made or repaired, they had to sew their own blankets, in addition to sew horse blankets and leatherwork. Most saddles would be made by professionals, but the repairs to straps or bridles could be done if one had a large needle.
While most pioneers were very resourceful and independent, they cherished nearby neighbors who could be counted on in a pinch. Common tasks were often shared by neighbors or nearby family members, knowing that when the need arose, they also would benefit from this shared labor. It was not uncommon to see neighbors get together to help build a house for newlyweds or to help out with household chores when a family was sick or having difficulties.
Hunting Tools and Weapons
One of the most useful tools that every pioneer owned was a shotgun. A shotgun was used for protection and as their main source of killing animals for meat. Some of these hardy mountain men also kept pistols as a backup, but the shotgun or rifle was the weapon of choice.
A hunting knife also was an essential tool, and most pioneers had several of them. A good hunting knife was priceless, as it could handle almost every chore or need. It could be used to kill in close quarters, to skin and gut the animal, and to hack off a few branches for wood if necessary. Knives are one of the most versitle tools around, which would explain why many pioneers, like the indigenous people, had special places to store them so they wouldn’t be misplaced.
Hatchets also were sometimes used in self defense. Many pioneers kept both a hunting knife and a small hatchet on their person at all times.
What tools would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Things/Items to carry with you at all times when going bush: (1) A good winch, preferably a hand operated winch. (2) A post hole shovel. This shovel can be used to dig yourself out by creating ramps from the bog. It can also be used to bury your spare wheel to use as an anchor for winching your vehicle out of the bog. (3) Plenty of drinking water. You can survive for up to 3 weeks without food if you are fit, but you can only survive 3 days without water. Hotter conditions and exertion will shorten the time you can survive without water. (4) Food. (5) A 4 litre container of engine oil. (6) Extra fuel. (7) A good medical kit. (8) Tool kit. (9) Wool blankets. My Father always carried a wool rug in his car. This was a carry-over from the days when our cars had no heaters. It is however still relevant, because deserts can get cold at night, and if it is winter it can get cold wherever you are in Australia. (10) A good tyre pump. We have an electric one. If purchasing an electric pump, make sure you get a good one. This is a classic case of “you get what you pay for”! (11) A “snap-strap”. Just in case someone else comes along and is able to pull you out. (12) A high lift jack. We call them “wallaby jacks”.
SOG knives in general need no introduction, but there are three new players in the SOG folder lineup that do deserve some special attention. All three are solid black. All three lean heavily towards the tactical side. All three use springs to deploy the blade. And all three are made in America. There is a lone fixed blade in the American made SOG line and it is an outstanding knife named the Pillar and featured here.
By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache.com
Of the three American made SOG folders, the Banner is the only assisted opening knife, while the Tac Ops and the Strat Ops are both auto opening at the push of a button. The SOG Banner requires a nudge to fire the blade to attention, but after quarter-inch of movement, the blade fires out of the grip with force and determination all the way to it’s positive lock in the fully open position.
Many assisted opening folding knives have a spring mechanism in the grips that launches the blade from the handle but once the initial impulse is over, it is pure momentum that carries the blade the rest of the way. In fact some assists are more like a baseball bat whacking the ball. The punch is short and half-hearted leaving the blade to its own for more than half its journey. With the Banner, the mainspring is around the blade pivot point so there is a near-uniform amount of deployment force on the blade to the very end of its rotation.
Read Also: Let’s Talk Knives: 12 Things You Should Know
To wander in the weeds a little more, SOG calls this feature it’s SAT or SOG Assisted Technology. SOG describes it as a, “balance of opposing high-tension coil springs.” What this means in real life is that the blade only has two natural positions; fully seated in the grip and fully deployed. There is no in-between. Even when fully deployed, the blade remains under tension. The SOG SAT is a solid deployment mechanism that has proven itself more than enough times in other SOG blades including the famous SOG Flash.
Comparing the SOG Banner to the Zero Tolerance 0770CF I reviewed here, the ZT spring applies force to the blade for only one-half of its intended journey while my Benchmade assists are spring loaded to about three-fourths of their rotation. What this all translates to in terms of knife-feel at deployment is the SOG Banner doesn’t just have a satisfying click as the blade rolls to a stop. Instead the SOG Banner’s blade slams home more like the bolt on an AR15 or the slide on a Glock. There is absolutely no ambiguity about where the blade is on the deployment spectrum.
The SOG Banner has a pair of beautifully machined flat-black anodized aluminum scales with non-skeletonized stainless steel inserts. In another break from traditional conformity, the SOG Banner’s inserts appear to be screwed to the scales from inside the knife, and then the scales are screwed together with three torx bolts on the rear, and with the oversized pivot covers on the frontend of the grip. It’s almost as if the SOG Banner was built from the inside out. Perhaps it has to do with the dual-spring action of the knife, but the design is a welcome change from convention. And don’t worry, SOG hasn’t forgotten that the user may want to adjust the play in the blade so a T8 Torx driver will make any desired adjustments in the pivot. But like all auto and semi auto knives, do not disassemble them without eye protection and full knowledge that you will have to send in a bag of whatever parts you can find back to the company for service since there are often special knife-specific tools used in the assembly and reassembly of the knives as well as intimate knowledge of how they all go together and in what order.
Running the Numbers
All that aluminium and steel gives the SOG Banner a weight that SOG lists as between 4.5 and 4.6 ounces, but my scale says is actually 4.370 ounces. Not that anyone could tell the difference. Regardless of the weight, the SOG Banner has an open-spine design meaning you can look right through the grip. This design avoids the pocket lint scoop shape that collects all manner of debris into the blade shell. And should detritus find its way into the handle, the open action gives plenty of cleaning access. Additionally, the external strength of the handle does not require a standoff in the middle of the spine. A standoff is the fancy name for those little internal pillars that give support and structure to the grips. Instead the spine standoff in the SOG Banner is far back in the open spine.
The overall length of the SOG Banner is seven and three-quarters inches from blade tip to outside curve of the pocket clip. The usable blade length is about three inches, and the overall closed length is four-and-three-quarters inches, again to the far end of the pocket clip.
The average thickness of the handle is about three-eighths of an inch making this as svelte as the ZT in carbon fiber. Adding to the low-profile pocket carry stature of the SOG Banner is a deep-carry pocket clip. In fact, the catch loop at the far end of the pocket clip is a full eighth-inch beyond the nearest handle scale meaning not just the bulk of the knife rides below the pocket line, but the entire SOG Banner can disappear into the pocket while still securely hooked onto the fabric seam. Pocket clip depth varies, but many knives including Benchmade can leave up to half an inch of knife above the pocket clip. While having the knife ride high can speed deployment, it also makes it more noticeable, and even a little top heavy allowing for unintentional extraction from the pocket whether by active drift or inverted momentum (also known as falling down).
Also unlike most other blade makers, SOG has chosen a more complex reversible pocket clip design for the Banner that actually bolts on the clip to the inside of the knife rather than to the outside of a scale the same way a flagpole is bolted onto the side of a building. While certainly making the engineering of the knife more complex, the payback is substantial. So not only does the pocket clip lower the knife deeper, but it also takes itself out of the thickness equation leaving absolutely nothing between the knife handle and the inside of the pocket. Further, the SOG’s SOG logo is a prominent metal stencil machined into the clip providing just the right amount of texture on the clip to aid in retention as time and deployments smooth out the clip. But, of course, that same SOG logo announces to the world that you have a SOG in your pocket.
The anodized aluminum handle scales are smooth but not slippery. I own a handful of aluminum scaled knives and like to joke that the manufacturers should have applied a coat of teflon to really make the handle slick. I can see the need for a slick housing when the knife will spend almost all of its waking hours deep in the smooth lines of a gentleman’s slacks, but the SOG Banner is no gentleman and certainly won’t be happy in a pair of office trousers. I’d guess blue denim and Carhartt cotton canvas are about as soft a pocket life as this particular SOG Banner will ever have in my world.
A lanyard hole is on the spine-side of the grips base, but it emerges half under the pocket clip. As far as I can tell, the SOG Banner will run well with either the pocket clip or a lanyard, but not necessarily both.
The locking mechanism is single round button on the left side of the frame just above the pivot. The single button on the left is a for a right-handed thumb activation. So while the assist feature is activated from either right or left thumb-stud on the blade spine, the unlocking is natural in the right hand and a touch awkward in the left hand using the index finger to compress the button.
On the knife’s spine directly above the locking button is a secondary locking slider that will keep the blade from deploying. It will not keep the blade from retracting like many other lock locks do. This lock lock moves out of the lock position when the blade is being closed. But if the lock lock is activated while the blade is closed, the entire system is on hold until the lock slider is pushed forward. And like a gun safety, there is a red indicator painted on the slider giving a visual sign which way the lever is positioned. Red means unlocked.
Check Out: Tree Bark as an Emergency Food
One minor irritation I have with the lock slider is that it is a thin metal nub with three aggressive jimps for traction. However, due to the thinness of the metal, it is much easier and safer to manipulate with a fingernail rather than rubbing precious thumb skin over it. Add the fact that the switch rises a thirty-second of an inch above the spine proper, you will notice the lever under your thumb during normal blade use.
The blade on the SOG Banner is a lightly drop pointed and lightly reverse curved razor sharp slicer. A minor unsharpened swedge or false edge rides the top of the blade two-thirds of the way back to the handle. The blade had no thumb ramp to speak of, but does have some aggressive jimping just beyond the handle. The aggressiveness in not in size, but in sharpness and amount. The jimps are almost like mini saw teeth rather than ridges or notches.
The blade is a hair over one-sixteenth of an inch thick which is a fairly common size. But with the flat-black CeraKote finish, you could say that black is slimming because the blade looks thin. The flat grind gives plenty of wide open featureless space on the blade adding to the blackness, and it’s not until you reach the final business side of the edge that any shiny metal is exposed with nothing but a millimeter of secondary bevel reflecting light.
The mild reverse curve of the blade provides more cutting edge and workpiece focusing compared to a straight or convex belly. Which is exactly why reverse curves are used. They also come in handy when fighting by maintaining more contact with meat and bone during the slice. Yes, ouch.
The tip of the blade is a paper-thin surgical instrument that would have no trouble puncturing any softer material or getting the attention of anyone needing some encouragement to focus. However, the tip would not last long if used as a prybar or screwdriver, two common blade tip uses that really should be at the very top of your Knife Do-Nots.
All this blade goodness is made with a supersteel named CPM S35VN. In addition to all the bigger, better, and badder qualities of the supersteel, it is an American made product of exceptional performance. According to Crucible Industries, the steel’s maker, S35VN was designed to improve one of my favorite steels, the S30V by substituting niobium carbides for some of the vanadium carbides creating a tougher steel yet one that is easier to machine and polish. If all this chemical rebalancing and letter/number steel names makes your head spin, then just remember that like ammo performance, optics technology, cell phones, and flashlight LEDs, knives might look like their ancestors, but that’s pretty much where the similarities begin and end.
The blade is not designed for woodworking although the handle is exceedingly comfortable in almost all positions. Except for the locking slider on the spine, the smooth handle slabs and melted corners make the SOG Banner a joy to hold. The flat grind is a good choice for food prep, wood shaving, and general use. Plus it is one of the easier edges to sharpen especially in the field with minimal tools. Like nothing but a rock.
The single index finger groove in the handle profile has a stout forward lean providing added slip protection for when this knife is wet or your hands are cold. Aluminium is an excellent conductor of hot and cold so if using this outdoors in freezing weather with bare hands, you will notice its. Additionally the density of the grips with its steel and aluminum shells will hold the cold longer than more gentlemanly pocket knives. But in my freezer tests, the assist mechanism worked the same even when the knife was below zero.
The SOG Banner retails for $254 and street prices will of course be less. But it and its auto siblings are running with the other American big boys now so expect to pay for American made quality and American made performance.
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Several companies offer really interesting survival gadgets for free + a few dollars shipping. All of them are interesting single purpose or multi function tools. Many of them are quite useful. I’ve ordered several myself and have been pleased with the quality and the cleverness of the design. Take a look. You will probably find…
Alternate universes live just outside the wavelengths of light we can see with our eyes. Doctors use X-rays, astronomers use radio waves, and the more prepared folks can use infrared. IR, or infrared, comes in two flavors, reflected and emitted. Gen 1 night vision uses reflected infrared light to supplement any ambient light. By using an IR emitter or IR flashlight, a scene can be lit up when viewed with night vision optics, yet remain completely dark and invisible to the naked eye.
By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache.com
Thermal, on the other hand, uses a special camera to view the heat signature of objects, people, and animals. Those new to Thermal Optics or TO, are in for a surprise. Thermal imaging is like magic when needing to see inside, through, or across the wide open. And now Leupold has put a durable, versatile, and powerful thermal imager onto the market and into the hands of hunters, preparers, and anyone who wants or needs visual superpowers.
The Leupold LTO offers a six viewing choices, and a 1x-6x zoom. The LTO runs for 10 hours on a single CR123 battery, and is built like a tank. At a hair over five and a half inches, and a dense 10 ounces, the LTO (presumably Leupold Thermal Optic) is precision machined out of aluminium and has that rock solid Leupold scope feel. The uses for the Leupold LTO are infinite, and range from those anticipated and necessary tasks such as tracking injured game, or peering through brush for critters or people. And I do mean “peering through”. The Leupold LTO can see beyond and through brush that blocks normal vision, and it makes no difference if it’s full daylight or the pitch blackness of night.
Instead of a photograph, a thermal camera creates a thermogram by focusing the emitted infrared light (think heat or temperature) of objects in the field of view, and then digitally processes them. The end result is a image you can see on a monitor or display that converted the invisible (to us) temperature differences in the scene into a set of shapes and colors that we can see and understand. The set of options in the Leupold LTO’s color pallet provide various ways to interpret the heat signatures of objects. Some pallets work better than others with specific subjects.
A fun idea to consider is that rattlesnakes and other animals that use infrared information in their hunting could be viewing the world the same way you might with the Leupold LTO. It doesn’t take an excessive amount of mental gymnastics to imagine seeing temperature, and it certainly didn’t escape Hollywood with such movies as Predator. And whether or not a layer of mud would be enough to hide Arnold from the Predator’s thermal imaging is a discussion for later.
The Leupold LTO is ripe for a good padded case. I don’t know if Leupold has plans for one, but I found a Nitecore flashlight case to be on the right track. It holds the Leupold LTO in a way that it can be used while in the case, as well as being able to wear the Leupold LTO around my neck or belt, and deploy instantly and as necessary. The case uses a Velcro closure flap that covers the eyepiece, but also allows the thermal camera on the opposite side open for business like an old-school holster. If I were Leupold, I would consider a single Fastex buckle cover system that in one-buckle release flips open the two end covers and frees the optics for viewing. Given the hard-use environments that this Leupold LTO will thrive in, and the potential life-and-death situations that the Leupold LTO could find itself in, a dedicated padded case might be more than a good idea.
Now You See It
In the field, the Leupold LTO is nothing short of amazing. The Leupold LTO is simple to use. Hold down the on-button for a few seconds and the Leupold LTO springs to life. The LTO remembers its last thermal color setting, and fires up at 1x. The Leupold LTO can zoom to a higher digital magnification either by steps when clicking the zoom button, or holding the zoom button down and zipping up in magnification level at tiny increments from one to six then dropping back to one again in an infinite circle.
An odd feature that asks more questions than it answers is that when the on/off buttons is toggled, a set of crosshairs appears. Since the Leupold LTO is not recommended for mounting on a rifle even though it’s an obvious one-inch tube that would have not trouble mating with conventional optics mounts. The crosshairs are a helpful addition if you have the Leupold LTO in a tripod mount, or other fixed container, but unlike the FLIR Thermal Optic Cameras, placing the crosshairs on a target does not provide any specific imaging info. However, there is something known as software creep where extra coded and features appear on something not yet designed for the capability of the code. So if I had to guess, it’s only a matter of time before the hardware is durable enough to sit in front of a red dot like the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro giving the shooter a $10,000 experience through a $800 (street price) thermal optic.
Here are dozen uses for the Leupold LTO that will make a difference when it matters.
- When things go bump in the night. While night vision might be a go-to solution, but when the “bump” is hiding, thermal imaging may be able to see through the concealment. Remember when the Boston Marathon Bomber was found hiding in a sailboat? It was thermal imaging that give away his position.
- Locating dangerous heat sources, fires, and overheated electrical components.
- Finding people and animals in thick smoke.
- Identifying recently driven vehicles.
- Detecting heat leaks in your home or camp.
- Comparing body temperatures, fevers, and injury hot spots.
- Looking back in time to where someone or some animal might have been hiding.
- Looking through walls for hidden compartments and doors.
- Looking through clothes for the outline of a concealed weapon.
- Stalking game while hunting, especially when animals are bedded down.
- Tracking an injured animal or person by following the thermal signature of the blood trail.
- Identifying the living from the dead.
The Leupold LTO has six different viewing modes or color palettes as Leupold calls them: Red, Green, White-hot, Black-hot, Black-highlight, and White-highlight. Its field of view is about 21 degrees and it has a 6x continuous digital zoom. There is no focus on the Leupold LTO, nor is there a need for one.
Behind the Curtain
The single CR123 battery provides about 10 hours of continuous use, or 20 minutes per day for a month. To access the battery compartment, a knurled ring in the center of the Leupold LTO is spun unscrewing the two halves of the unit. A flexible circuit spans the gap and access to a battery pocket.
The operating temperature for the Leupold LTO is from -4 F to 140F, and it has a range of 600 yards according to Leupold, but I’m not sure what limits it. Likely it is that the resolution of the screen won’t provide much useful information about objects far away because the tiny screen is only 240 by 204 pixels. For reference, an Apple Watch is 312 by 390 pixels and an iPhone 7 screen is 1334 by 740 pixels. So out at a hundred yards, a human is only a few pixels wide and a few more than that tall on the LTO screen. Another technical consideration when presenting imagery on a screen is the refresh rate or frame rate. The Leupold LTO runs at 30hz. The human eye can detect the pauses in video if the frame rate drops below 20. So at 30, the Leupold LTO produces an image that mimics real world movement without jerks or jumps.
As mentioned, the aluminium shell is wonderfully strong, but the housing is also water resistant to IP67 standards which in English means IP=Ingress Protection, 6=total dust protection on a scale of 0-6, and the 7= “waterproof” to water immersion up to one meter. The IP67 is also the same rating of the iPhone 7.
The Magic Golden Ring
As a Leupold Gold Ring product, Leupold will stand behind the Leupold LTO with its excellent warranty for up to five years on the electronics. And frankly I’m not sure what else would need service except for the electronics. I know there will be blowback when suggesting battery powered devices for survival situations. Of course the electronics can break and the batteries can die, but if it doesn’t and they don’t you have some incredible superpowers in the meantime. And the way I look at it is that many survival situations are short term and you can use all the help you can get. But if things really go bad, possibly for a long time, the first few hours, days or weeks are a critical time where you need as many superpowers as you can get. The Leupold LTO really will give you superpowers.
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Back when I was working on Project Squirrel Gun, I was playing with the small game hunting concept, which unfortunately is the likely best case scenario if things go dark big time. So why not a Project Squirrel Pistol?
By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache.com
Rather than trying to find an inexpensive bolt action pistol to match the rifle, I decided to look for a semi-auto solution since a quality long-range shooting .22 revolver is as elusive as it is expensive. So once in the .22 long rifle auto pistol market, I only had about two dozen guns to choose from. But when looking for a real long distance tack driver over a concealed carry format along with some desired characteristics included a target weight barrel, a threaded muzzle, optics mountable, and a friendly aftermarket community, the selection rapidly narrowed to Ruger, Browning, and Smith and Wesson. Of the three brands, the S&W was the least expensive with street prices beginning at $350 and it had a fast-growing pile of aftermarket upgrades of both pistol parts, barrels, mag enhancements, and grips. Although the Victory was only a couple years old, and I’d never even shot one, the collection of companies supporting the Victory was enough to convince me that this thing was really a Thing.
The Road to Victory
The Ruger is an excellent choice and one I chose for my B.O.L.T pistol. And with the new easy-takedown Ruger Mark IV, it’s hard to ignore that as the go-to option. The problem is that the Ruger is still expensive, still without a threaded barrel, still without a healthy appetite for anything stuffed in it’s mouth, and finally, while running well when dirty, the Mark series of Ruger .22s are not known for being the most friendly when digging deeper than cracking open the case.
Check Out: B.O.L.T Pistol
The Browning Buckmark is a fine firearm, but lacks heavily in the aftermarket arena. If the pistol were perfect, than that would not be an issue, but like about everything except the Colt Python, is there definitely room for improvement. Bolt-on options are available for the Buckmark, but tweaking the innards is still left for the professional gunsmith.
One standout that is relatively new to the Ruger/Luger looking autopistol is the SW22 Victory from Smith and Wesson. Currently there are three versions. All have in common a heavy steel receiver and five-and-a-half inch target bull barrel, plastic grips on a mostly plastic grip frame. The only real differences between the three models is one has a Kryptek and blacked-out color scheme, and the other two are mostly satin stainless steel, one with a threaded muzzle, one without. So if you were blindfolded, all three would feel and operate the same.
With all the excitement about the new Ruger Mark IV with it’s one-button takedown, the one-screw takedown of the SW22 Victory seems mundane. An excessive amount of work in fact. But either way, the SW22 Victory almost falls apart once the single receiver bolt is removed using a ⅛ inch hex wrench. Unscrew one more hex bolt next door and you can remove the barrel from the receiver. So simple and quick that the SW22 Victory is just asking to be tinkered with.
Can’t Leave Well Enough Alone
The S&W Victory is plenty good straight out of the box. But like a base model AR15, the Victory is begging for customization. Smith and Wesson loaded up the Victory with an excellent trigger action, a target barrel, and fabulous fiber optic hard sights. But the grips, the mag release button, the magazine disconnect safety feature, and a few other things are ripe for upgrade. Some more seriously than others. And even the barrel has not escaped the option to upgrade. In fact, the ease of swapping the barrel and even some other components makes one wonder if this is what the boys at S&W had in mind from the beginning since the gun is rock solid from a foundational standpoint. So let’s get to work.
Ours go to 11
Starting on the magazine side, there are two mag upgrades worth noting. The first is a new baseplate. Why, you might ask. Because the tiny base plate on the factory magazines is small, smooth, and not the most talkative when it comes to answering the question if it is fully seated or not. The TandemKross VictoryPro extended baseplate. adds a little more bulk and a gripping surface, the VictoryPro makes seating and unseating mags ever more positive.
The factory mag only holds the standard state compliant 10 rounds, but an 11th round option is available with a shorter follower. TandemKross makes one of those too and it’s called the Maximus Plus1. By shortening up the follower an eleventh round fits in the magazine body just fine. Plus they made the follower bright red instead of basic black so it is vastly more obvious where the bullets stop and the follower begins.
Supporting magazines during activity involves roll pouches of some sort. TandemKross makes a modular mag pouch option called the Quick Grip pouch. Made of durable Zytel, and with adjustable retention the Quick Grips work with all major .22 mag options from Ruger to Browning to Smith and Wesson, and even Colt. So since a Squirrel Pistol is going to live in the field, magazine management is of consideration.
These upgrades are so easy, a nine-year old girl could do them. And that’s because a nine-year old girl shows you how in the TandemKross installation videos. And that same fourth grade girl probably has a faster tactical reload than you do. In fact the video of the install of TandemKross’s Titan Extended Magazine Release for the SW22 is a pleasure to watch and far more entertaining than most other dry monotone gunsmithing videos. Speaking of the Extended mag release, it is another go-to part. The factory release is both too big and too small. It’s too big for not having a secondary use as a rest, and too small to easily be reached by a smaller hand, say that of a nine-year old girl.
Another pistol-side upgrade regarding magazines is the magazine disconnect safety feature. This is a metal strip that runs underneath the left side grip panel. It detects the presence of a mag and prevents the gun from being fired without a magazine fully seated. The problem in a survival situation is that you may want to shoot the gun without a magazine in place. For instance if you lost your mags somehow and you loaded a directly into the breech. Or the magazine inadvertently was ejected in the heat of the battle or the hunt. You could push up on the magazine disconnect lever with your fingernail and the gun will fire just fine, but that’s pretty awkward. Or you could remove the disconnect lever all together, but then you also loose the spring that launches the mag out of the Victory with more satisfaction than most pistols offer. So a better solution is the TandemKross Magazine Disconnect replacement. This thin metal strip replaces the factor disconnect keeping the spring action intact, but eliminates the need for a mag to be present in order to fire the weapon.
He Bit Me
Pulling the slide back on the Victory can be a challenge. First of all, it takes a surprising amount of effort to begin the cycle. Second, if you don’t slingshot the bolt, you may get a bit of a bite from where the slide mates with the frame. Only a small triangular portion of the back of the receiver moves. More than a Ruger, but less than a Browning. And that little amount is enough to pinch your fingers if you let the slide down rather than just letting go of it. TandemKross addressed this with their Halo Charging Handle. The Halo is a thumb-sized loop that clamps to the existing jimping on the slide’s walls. Not only does the Halo make it easy to cycle the bolt, but it gives you additional options for grabbing and charging the pistol under conditions where it might be impossible otherwise such as, one handed, cold hands, wet or slick fingers, and weak muscles. Surprisingly, a full cycle of the Victory’s bolt actually takes quite a bit of effort. Yes, it is just a .22 but something about the leverage cocking hammer back requires a surprising amount of effort. A few times I’ve even thought something was jammed, but no, just in need of a healthy tug.
Related: The Ruger Alaskan
The SW22 Victory is known for having an excellent out-of-the-box trigger. Unlike most other sub-custom .22 auto pistols, the Victory has smooth take up, a clean break, and acceptable overtravel and reset. However the trigger shoe is old school and a little sloppy side to side. The Victory Trigger from TandemKross is an excellent upgrade providing a heavily textured flat face and micro adjustments allowing a drop in pull poundage, reduced and adjustable takeup and overtravel, and a second color option. While installing the Victory trigger requires a bit more surgery than the other upgraded parts, it is also a great time to learn how your gun works. And don’t worry, TandemKross also sells an extra trigger-side spring and detent kit for three bucks for when your factory one goes flying across the room. TandemKross does suggest, however, doing some of the gun work inside a plastic bag or box, and always wear safety glasses. I concur.
Same Bat Channel
In part 2 of this themed build, we will take the Victory outside with a choice of optics, carry options, and things to screw onto the muzzle.
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There has been an explosion of carry pistols and what I call “city variants” of guns over the past couple decades. From a Glock in every home, to more concealed carry permits that ever, to a wide choice of magazines about the topic in the grocery store. It’s no wonder that notable wheel guns seem a bit of an oddity these days. Especially the larger caliber “hand cannons.”
By Doc Montana, a contributing author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog
While I won’t completely dismiss the “Dirty Harry effect” on big muzzle wheel guns, I do find the .44 magnum a proper load when follow up shots might not be an option. Like with bears for instance. Now I’ll admit I am a fan of bear spray. I hear endless city folk and even plenty of suburbanites complain that pepper spray is ineffective, full of drawbacks, and nowhere near as good as a firearm. Basically that tells me that there are some holes in their knowledge about bears, bear spray, and firearms.
First of all, pepper spray is effective on bears. I find it a little funny that there seems to be plenty of survivors (mauled maybe, but living to tell the story) who sing the praises of pepper spray, and plenty that don’t. The one thing they all have in common is they lived. I’ve drawn down on bears with both pepper spray and rifle. Luckily I never had to fire the pepper spray, but I have the gun. One black bear took two 30-06 shots to the gut, and three more 30-30s to its midsection and hindquarter before I got a clear view to put a fourth 30-30 into its head. Bear and moose hunting is probably the closest to African dangerous big game hunting as you can get in North America. Hogs might fit there too in the cheetah/lion category.
Bear spray is a deterrent to an attack. I might not thwart it entirely, but the painful sting of cayenne in the bear’s eyes and nostrils is a pretty good start. And accuracy, while helpful, is not required. Just aim in the general direction and let the cloud do the talking. However, wind, distance, expiration date, and duration of the spray all set limits on the experience for the bear. And, of course, when the spray can in empty, it might be game over unless you have a backup plan.
A Little Big
Enter the Ruger Alaskan. A massive handgun stuffed into a small package. The Alaskan, or Super Redhawk “Alaskan” as its billboarded on the right side of the barrel, is an overbuilt stainless steel six-shot revolver of excessive proportions except in barrel length. At only two-a-half inches, the barrel is frightening from the shooter’s side. When Dirty Harry was bragging about the power of his magnum, he had about six inches more out in front to weigh down the recoil and keep the muzzle somewhat in the same direction as the target after the bang. But surprisingly, the Ruger Alaskan is quite manageable, and due to its weight, balance, and heavy rubber Hogue grip, the Alaskan is nowhere near the squirreliness of snub nosed .357’s.
Related: The Unappreciated 10mm Auto
When shooting .44 shorts, you can double-action all six cylinders in a row grinning all the way. .44 magnum rounds certainly remind you that they are not for the weak or fainthearted, but again nothing to be scared of. However, the +P+ Buffalo Bore heavy loads do send a tingle up your arm. It’s not that the muzzle flips, but more like swinging an aluminium baseball bat into a brick wall. It takes a second or two for the recoil jolt to transform into a sharp sting. But if you ever do “need” to fire the Alaskan, you won’t notice the recoil. I guarantee it.
When talking blunt force trauma, the .44 is an ideal cartridge. But unlike hollow point bullets popular for those unfriendly human encounters where you want to disrupt organs and bleed out the foe, the idea behind a hard cast flat nosed bullet is pure bone-breaking concussion. If a bullet fragments early in its journey through an angry bear, it will have little to no effect in any timeframe that matters.
As Isaac Newton penned 300 years ago, force equals mass times acceleration. That means that the force of a .44 magnum can approach that of a 30-06 rifle bullet if the .44 bullet weighs twice as much, say 340 grains compared to 165 grains, but only traveling half as fast, say 1400 fps compared to 2700 fps. So when playing at the upper tiers of pistol power, you are treading far into the realm of rifles.
The Ruger Alaskan is more overbuilt than the other Redhawks in a couple ways. One of the most beautiful aspects of the Ruger Alaskan is that the entire main frame is one solid piece of stainless steel that completely surrounds the cylinder and extends to the muzzle. Traditional revolver designs have the barrel screwed into the main frame. Not the Ruger Alaskan. Another visible feature is the thickness of the top strap that runs from rear sight to barrel. So beefy is the top strap, among other parts, that it is one of the very few listed handguns that Buffalo Bore suggests can handle it’s most powerful solid cast bullet +P+ cartridges. Don’t bother looking for a Smith & Wesson on the list. There isn’t one.
Packing the Heat
For Alaskan carry in bear country, I have three solutions. The first is the standard Galco Dual Action Outdoorsman belt holster made specifically for the Ruger Alaskan. It is a beautiful piece of gunleather and the first choice of most Ruger Alaskan owners.
My second carry solution is for more specific activities including hunting, backpacking, and fly fishing. It is the Galco Great Alaskan Shoulder System chest holster right for the Ruger Alaskan. A nearly identical holster to the belt version but with a trio of straps that snug the holster to your chest, belly or sternum depending on need. Often the belt space is hidden inside waders or under a backpack waistbelt, or occupied with other kit. And there is risk that you might not be able to reach your belt area depending on the turn of events. Plus with a belt holster you have to commit to a carry side, in my case on the right hip. Drawing the Ruger Alaskan with the left hand from a right hip is not easy under the best of circumstances, and if you “need” to do it, the circumstances are certainly not best.
Drawing from a chest holster with support hand is still not the quickest but much easier. The final solution I use is to plop the pistol into the Hill People Gear Recon Kit Bag. This critter is like a thin fanny pack that rides securely on your chest. I prefer this method of carry when on cross-country skis, snowshoes, or mountainbiking.
For extra ammo (being optimistic) I use the Galco 2x2x2 ammo pouch. Unlike auto pistols, carrying a handy 18 rounds of .44 magnum is quite a bit. Of course, if out in the sticks for more than a week, I would up the round count to at least a couple dozen bangs depending on my other guns. If rifle hunting, not so much. If my only carry, then very much yes.
Home on the Range
Once you get the hang of the sights, the Ruger Alaskan will shoot all day long making a hockey puck-sized group. That’s from a rest, of course. On a bench or table, anything works. But for the open field, I prefer the Primos Gen 2 Bipod Trigger Stick. It allows me to hold the Ruger Alaskan at eye level, and I can quickly put all six rounds into a five dollar bill at 25 yards which is plenty good for hunting. Of course, if I take my time, I can keep those shots around Abe. With a little work, you could probably feel comfortable deer hunting out to 50 yards with the Ruger Alaskan. And in a survival situation, the ethics of fair chase take a back seat allowing you to push your luck. There are plenty of reports of Ruger Alaskan owners keeping everything inside a dinner plate at 150 feet.
For bears, however, there is a different equation at work. But first a joke: Do you know how to tell if a bear is really charging you or bluffing? Answer: If it’s a bluff, the bear will stop. And within that joke lies the problem. You have very little time to decide if how you will respond. If the bear gets too close, it won’t matter how many shots you get off. If the bear is bluffing, or just curious but not an immediate threat, well then you can quickly mess that up. And having an injured bear running around is all kinds of bad.
Looking for Action
The trigger on the Ruger Alaskan is fine. Quite fine, in fact. In single action the trigger trips around five pounds. Expect a dozen or more pounds of pull to snap off a round in double action. But if you can hold this gun safely, you can pull a 12 pound trigger.
The cylinder on the Ruger Alaskan spins counter-clockwise so keep that in mind if you need to load one more round. I also played around with three different Ruger Alaskans in .44 before deciding on the one I liked. The cylinder play was a hair too much for my taste in the first two. Well one was quite a few hairs off. But the third locked up like a rock. When dropping almost a grand on a narrow use pistol, perfection is part of the deal.
Should the need arise to have a handgun with this kind of power be needed for chores other than dispatching pesky four-leggers, the Ruger Alaskan is up to the job. The list of guns for survival is as deep as it is wide. But there is a popular convergence around those calibers of the .22 variety and millimeters in the nine to ten range. Most lists would put the Ruger Alaskan outside the top ten so I would have suggest that this particular gun is more on the experienced preperation list, or for those living in the proper geography. Ruger’s naming this the Alaskan is no accident. But it works fine in Montana, Idaho, and parts of Wyoming. For those states whose bears are smaller than my dog, I would suggest something else. A 10mm perhaps. But when it comes to sheer firepower for close quarters combat in the wilderness, the Alaskan is in a class by itself.
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The 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
Remington 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
Long 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
In 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
So, 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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Hill 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.
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
It’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.
For 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.
On 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.
When 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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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
Made 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.
Council 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.
The 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.
As 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.
The 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.
Since 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
Compared 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
Finally 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.
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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The 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.
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.
The 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.
Unlike 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.
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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No 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.
Just 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.
Knives 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.
Ask 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.
Sharpening 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 Amazon.com 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.
Kitchen 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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Hello, my friend and welcome back! I harp a lot on having what you need to in your car in case of an emergency or you have to walk home. In today’ Video Monday…
The post Video Monday: Survival Gear you need in your vehicle | Part 1 & 2 appeared first on American Preppers Online.
“Hello…We’re the Preppers…” The “Prepper” movement has grown exponentially in the last few years, thanks to reality TV shows such as “Doomsday Preppers” (aka DDP), and all the knockoff shows and repeats on many other networks, as well as online TV show services like Hulu and NetFlix. Mainstream print and online media is following in […]
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 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.
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.
Few 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.
The 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.
In 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
To 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.
The 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.
Another 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.
Ruger 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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Just 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
Ever 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
Bryant’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.
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
For 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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SOG 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.
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.
On 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.
So 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
The 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
Although 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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I 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.
I 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.
Now 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.
But, 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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Hello, my friend and welcome back! My friends at Wiebe Knives recently sent me one of their Vixen Folding Knives to try out and review, so grab a cup of coffee my friend and…
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
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
When 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.
The 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
The 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
Don’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.
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
Many 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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It’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.
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
The 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
In 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.
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.
Finally 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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Wood 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.
Metal 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
A 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
In 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
The 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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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?
In 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.
At 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.
You 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
A 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
I 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
Kobudo – 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
When 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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There 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.
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
To 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.
Besides 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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As 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
Spotting 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
One 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
The 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.
I 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).
The 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.
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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.
The 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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A 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.
At 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.
The 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.
Rounding 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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Many 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.
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
The 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.
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 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
Setting 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 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.
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
Jeff 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
The 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
The 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
Today, 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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The 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.
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
Five 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
Not 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
Defensive 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.
Replace 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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Lets talk tools. Nearly everyone who is handy, or able to fix things, already has their own supply of various tools to get the job done. There are tools for every trade, many of them specialized for a particular task while others are general purpose. Many tools require power to operate – be it your […]
Definition of Paleolithic. Of or relating to the earliest period of the Stone Age characterized by rough or chipped stone implements. Merriam Webster Dictionary.
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 …
The post Genius Sundial that Displays Time Like a Digital Clock appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.
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.
While 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
Under 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.
My 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.
However, 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!
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
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
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
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
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 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.
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.
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
To 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.
The 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.
See larger image How to Build and Furnish a Log Cabin: The Easy, Natural Way Using Only Hand Tools and the Woods Around You W. Ben Hunt’s classic has earned a reputation as the” authentic Read More …
Hello, my friend and welcome back! In today’s post, we are going to discuss finding meat to eat in a Post SHTF world. In truth, it’s not going to nearly as easy as you…
The post Don’t be fooled, getting meat to eat will not be easy in a post SHTF world! appeared first on American Preppers Online.
One 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.
Just 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.
Let’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?
- Lower cost
- Lighter weight
- Smaller size
- Stable, solid fuel
- Fewer moving parts
The MSR, of course, has its own advantages:
- Gas power
- Larger, more stable cooking platform
- Made in the U.S.A.
Since 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!
But 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.
I 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.
All Photos Courtesy of: Derrick Grant
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As 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.
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.
Since 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.
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
But 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.
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.
Specialized 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.
Taking 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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How to make a survival bow and arrow Hello, my friend and welcome back! Today I want to talk about a skill that is essential for any long-term survival in the wilderness, which is…
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Hello, my friend and welcome back! In today’s post, I am going to do a review of the Survival Shovel from SurvivalHax.com . Now as many of you know, I am very protective of…
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 of 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 up 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.
I next wanted to test how well the filter filtered out chlorine. I used non-scented bleach. When purifying water with bleach, use five drops of bleach per liter of water. I decided to add four drops of bleach to the bottle. After taking the screw top off, it was easy to detect the smell of bleach. I screwed the lid back on and squeezed the bottle. I could not detect a bleach smell or taste.
Extra Features and Final Verdict
The bottle comes with a koozie wrapped around the middle of the bottle with stats on the effectiveness of the bottle. I think this is a nice touch for those unfamiliar with the product. On the neck of the bottle is an adjustable wrist strap so that you don’t lose your bottle while dipping it into water sources.
I have been using this bottle for about a week now and I am extremely happy with this system. I found it interesting that there is a noticeable taste difference between unfiltered tap water and Epic filtered water. For the price of the bottle, gallons filtered, filter refills, and ease of use, I am happy with my Epic Ultimate Travel Bottle.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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:
Hello, my friend and welcome back! I always see ads about these new power sources you need to buy… Hogwash! There is one, however, that you may have actually overlooked. One that was instrumental…
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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
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. This 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.
- 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.
- 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
- Tow lines, for vehicles and boats
- I have tied down loads in my truck bed
- Knife handles
- Bottle wraps
- Dog leashes
- 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 making 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!
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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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Hello, my friend and welcome back! I love to cook outside especially in the fall and early spring. In fact, I love it so much that at one time I used to compete in…
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The prepper survivalist can never really have too many knives. And of course, there are more knives to be had 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.
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.
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.
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?
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 blade. 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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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…
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Most quality bug out kits give a hefty nod to a petroleum powered stove. Whether white gas, compressed 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.
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 wonderful 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-inch 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.
I was equally surprised at how fast a half-quart of water came to a boil on the Vargo Hexagon Titanium 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. Under 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.
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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:
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.
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.
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
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:
Few things turn on a survivalist like a new piece of kit that has tremendous potential. And two of 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.
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.
As 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.
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 bends, 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 others 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.
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.
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 waiting 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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