Sunday, December 18, 2011

Food: Why It Is A Key Priority

Got food?  Like several years worth?

Really ought to be a priority for you & your family.  Might also consider acclimating your family to what you are storing.  If your bunch has never eaten hot cereal mush for breakfast on a routine basis, Winter is a good time to begin serving breakfasts like Oatmeal, BearMush/Farina, Cracked Wheat Cereal, MaltoMeal, and Rice breakfast cereals.   Hot cereals served with Molasses, raisins/dates/prunes, Nuts especially Walnuts & Pecans, and sweetened with Brown Sugar, Honey, or Maple Syrup  can be not only nutritious but also very filling and substantial source of energy to begin your day.  No refrigeration required.  Forgot to mention Yellow and White varieties of Grits.  Cornmeal makes some very tasty cornbread and a slab or two of cornbread with butter and honey is especially tasty with any meal.

Don't overlook Peanut Butter and Jelly/Preserves on homemade wholewheat bread as another breakfast that gives lots of protein and calories which spell energy.

Unless you have lots of refrigeration and freezer capacity, plus the AE to generate the power to run them; your diet and food prep menus will have to change.  If you own a ranch/farm or enough land to keep a few cattle, hogs, and other meat livestock, your protein supply will be limited.  Lots of guys figure to hunt their meat....   Not really viable, in my estimation.

Many armchair preppers and best-case scenario survivalists figure hunting will be a resource.  Not me.  Unless you live extremely remote and have formidable barriers that isolate your area from interlopers, there will be lots of folk pursuing their next meal in the woods.  Game tends to be quickly killed-off or leave an area with significant hunting pressure.  What you're likely to find in the woods is someone more stealthy than you who will follow you home and survey your situation, coming back at a time when the Surprise Visit they've planned has been coordinated and planned.

The first year and likely first 2 years, you'll need to be self-sufficient in every aspect of your food supply; just to maximize value of your time and be present to dissuade those Surprise Visitors...

The idea of "hunting" is really a pipedream.  What you're looking for is killing game animals, not spending time finding a track or trail and then stalking for the kill.  Gathering Protein is the name of the game.  All the illegal practices outlined in your fish & game handbook are going to yield results.  Baiting animals is a possibility.  Fish traps come to mind.  Actually, the best way to gather Protein is by trapping and snaring.  You set 25 traps out on a trapline and you've got 25 different likely spots being "hunted" 24/7.  Snares take game quietly.  Don't want to be firing weaponry unnecessarily in The Aftermath...

Before there is an Aftermath, there will be The Main Event.  Your food supply must be such that you're able to stay off the radar and Out Of The Line Of Fire.  Even a good idea to use oil or kerosene to heat your home, propane for cooking in that first year etc so you don't attract Surprise Visits who got wind of your homestead by smelling your woodsmoke.  Woodsmoke also provides a pretty visual picture, and if barometric pressure is low, it won't rise much above chimney level.  Hungry and desperate folk have nothing better to do than search out where their noses lead them.  Be sure it isn't to your back door...

In an earlier article, we discussed how home canning, home packed storage of whole grains, and using a dehydrator can combine to give you a dependable resource of high protein foods.  Sprouts and Wheatgrass offer a very high vitamin content and can be grown in small areas indoors.  Healthfood stores offer many varieties of sprouting seed these days.  Wheatberries will yield wheatgrass when planted in a tray of potting soil and kept in sunlight a few hours everyday.  Sprouts have more nutritional value than mature vegetables.

Learn now to make your own bread.  Breadmachines are excellent for mixing dough and saving you the time an effort of kneading dough.  For $10 or so at a resale, hard to go wrong.  Having 2 of the same type enables you to process that much more dough.  Easy to bake 4 loaves as it is to bake one, more efficient use of your oven also.  Takes 4 cups of flour to make a 2lb loaf.  Use at least 2 cups of Hard Red Winter Wheat flour, AKA Whole Wheat, to be sure your bread has a decent level of protein.  3 cups hrww to 1 cup white gives a good consistency.  Might look up the recipes for Ezekiel Bread to get even higher protein levels in your bread which will be a diet mainstay.

Brown Rice is The Primary Dietary Superfood.  More protein than any other whole grain and combined with beans it yields a Complete Protein.  You want to store a lot of Brown Rice, preferably Organic Short-Grained variety.

Meat can be used sparingly.  Stir fried and in stews, small amounts of meat are very filling and do not over-tax your digestive tract.  Eating whole grains will have beneficial effect on digestive and elimination tracts.  You want your food to build your body's health and immune system, not merely to taste yummy...

Eggs store very well when kept refrigerated.  Probably can hardboil them and keep them in a pickling solution for many years, but I have never partaken of such "bar food", pickled pigs feet included.  Still, if you got eggs and no way to keep them below 55F; you do what you can.  If you've got a chicken pen in the backyard then you are set, and fresh eggs keep several days easily at room temperature.  Might look into digging a root cellar, or if you have a nearby stream, doing a food submersion box for keeping stuff cool.

Gotta have a way to cook once your utilities are down.  Maybe you have a propane setup now, but will your stove work w/o electricity?  Many of the basic jobs these days use electronic ignitors and unless you have AC power, the stove won't function.  A 2 or 3 burner campstove with a 5gal bulk tank, hose and adaptor is a decent solution.  Maybe you want a couple of  campstoves and a Coleman camp oven to bake in?  Or maybe you have a BBQ-Smoker out on the patio?

Kurt Saxon in The Survivor discusses using a Stanley Thermos as a slow-cooker for morning cereal.  Couple ounces of grain, add in the correct amount of boiling water and tightly cap the thermos and in morning have warm, ready to eat cereal.  Easy to make soup or reconstitute jerky.  Can't have too many Stanley Thermoses...

Gonna need potable water for drinking and cooking, not to mention handwashing.  Coleman makes their blue plastic 5gal jug with a spigot tap and vent which is ideal for using on countertop and can be stacked 2 or 3 high.  A new or fairly clean 30gal trash can will also hold water reliably.  Fill with a hose and you can use a two-wheeler dolly to move around.  Put a clean trash can liner bag inside before filling, and don't forget the lid and a ladle or pump.  Can likely find 55gal soda syrup drums if you live near a softdrink bottling plant.  Clean out the residue and add a little bleach, then rinse and fill from your garden hose AFTER you've moved the barrel where you want it located.  Gotta have water stored and don't forget water for hygeine as well.

Need a place to keep your foodstuffs out of excessive heat and humidity.  5gal plastic buckest with gasket seal lids are very durable and don't admit moisture or conduct any condensation.  Gotta use the CO-2 packing method detailed earlier to be sure, but that is easy to do.  Plastic jars of gallon size are ideal for storying loose grains, pasta, beans and herbs & spices.  Honey is especially long-storing and much better in the nutrition dept than is sugar.

More to come on this subject....

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Quick Overview About Shortwave Listening

 Knowing what is going on at a time when internet has gone away/shutdown will be critical.  News in the USA media is so poor that shortwave offers much to consider.  There is alternative media, albeit questionable, and Amateur Radio net discussions, plus Pirate Radio and freecasters.  Not going to discuss transceivers in this comment, or scanners, nor satellite sideband listening.  There are many Ham Bands above the -0- to 30,000 Herz coverage range of the Shortwave Receiver.  No discussion of those here either. 

 What you can find in the airwaves using a decent quality, selective tuning and contemporary designed Shortwave Reciever include Utility Bands, Commercial Bands, AM broadcast, Amateur Bands, Military Transmissions, Time broadcasts by USA and Canada, and other Government functions and Agency Networks.   Many of the same functions from foreign broadcasters and users. 

Knowing when to listen is also important.  Shortwave propagation depends on skip and solar radiation to excite the signal and bounce it around the earth.  We are supposedly entering a Solar Maximum period again, so SWL will be good with many signals heard that otherwise could not be.  Basically, the 0-8khz spectrum is an evening proposition. If listening to 120 meter band 1,800 to 1950 hz, you won't get decent reception until after the sun has set.  The 40 meter band from  6950 to 7200 is good late afternoon until morning.  The higher spectrum bands come in during daylight, and need skip to be very active.  The long-band frequencies can be decent most any occasion, but have limitations. 

The American Amateur Relay League  ARRL has great amounts of information in their huge compendium of publications and especially the ARRL Handbook.  Lots of websites done by Hams that explain propagation and how-to make a proper antenna and setup a listening post.  Google is your friend, or look at your library and the publications cited below, especially Monitoring Times published by Grove Enterprises.

As to radios, none of the small traveler size World-Band radios are worth much in my experience.  I have broken 3 Sony radios over the years, back when I used them often.  Touch pads break or the computer chip goes defective.  They are just not made for regular SWL service.  Once in a while use, maybe they hold up.  For sure, if going this route, buy the AC adapter and some kind of earphone or set of headphones.

There are lots of inexpensive/cheap chinese radios sold these days.  Back in Y2K era, Grundig and others came out with crank-dynamo gizmo radios often incorporating a flashlight and other functions.  Avoid these like the plague.  The original BayGen handcrank radio may be an exception, but other emergency radios are just going to disappoint.  For the money, no big deal if a $60 unit (or cheaper) craps-out, but do you have a Real Radio and a Real Antenna, plus decent headphones to aid your listening?  A digital display Shortwave Receiver is what I'm talking about, or an Amateur Transceiver that covers all bands from 50-30,000 hz.  Don't need a ham ticket to own a transceiver.

Aside from listening to the international SW broadcasters, you'll need Upper and Lower Sideband capability.  A BFO or beat frequency oscillator was the high-tech means of tuning up/down on a given signal 50yrs ago.  Now electronic switching and mode selection do the chore way more effectively.  Great fun to tune-in a signal, but slow and demanding.  To my mind, you listen to Shortwave for information and you may only get one shot at hearing it.  Don't mess around with old gear.  There are enough challenges to hearing a weak signal as it is...

Even the big table-top consumer rigs are way more robust than the miniatures.  Talking a bout the Sony 2010 and various Grundig Satellit models from 500 to 800 series.  Supposedly some guy is selling refurbed Zenith Trans-Ocean radios on ebay.  They were cool in their day, but even the Panasonic 2800 from the 70s had a digital readout.  Really don't want the old BFO control if your in a survival situation.  You may only get one shot at hearing a message/broadcast in the clear.  As far as old Hallicrafters and earlier hobbyist gear, forget them.  Many are collectible, but not for ease of use or signal processing clarity.  Old Collins gear and other legendary receivers would be great for collector or to serve an advanced listener who knew the machine and how to employ it, but for our purposes we want fast signal processing, immediate access to clarity and ease of use.

If you take your communications needs seriously, you get something like a 90s era Drake R8, Icom, Yaesu, or Kenwood general purpose receiver and if it needs an adapter to run from a 12v battery you get it.  You also get a real antenna like a tuned dipole with a balun as your connection point and run PL259 terminated balanced feedline.  The best deal of all time was the Drake R8 series because of the standard 4 filter widths and other top-notch features like dual antenna inputs and dual vfo, 100 memories in the first models and variety of modes and search/scanning; not to mention, computer interface.

There are plenty of computer interface software which mimic a Shortwave Receiver, yet relying on one of these is foolish.  Pretty damn impossible to repair a motherboard or other computer component.  Ham type SW sets are more repair friendly.  If buying used, I'd recommend buying from a bonafide Ham Dealer that guarantees they've inspected and done a 24hr continuous play test of the gear to ascertain function.  Also specify you want any computer interface also tested and would like to acquire software and cabling with your unit.

The large table-top portables that Sony and Grundig, also Motorola and Phillips sold are also very decent; just not as serviceable and robust as the Ham Quality Gen Purpose Receivers.  Your gonna need a real set of quality headphones with full-size not a mini plug.  The lightweight stuff, even expensive senheiser, sony and other will not take the constant usage.  You want full-enclosure and padded ear cups, not the foam junk made for gizmo electronics.

Something else you might want is a tape recorder you can run while listening.  A VHS machine can be used to record up to 8hrs on extended mode using 160 tapes.  Maybe you have software to record to a RW DVD with a straight line-in function?  Even better.

Got a Frequency Guide?  Monitoring Times still publishes shortwave broadcaster time logs in every issue.  Kinda spendy these days, but worth it if you don't know who and where to listen.  Grove Enterprises used to publish a large bound book detailing all the General Coverage frequencies with a large section on Government Agency Networks and military bands.  Can probably find various frequency lists on the internet if you search.

To get an idea about pricing, ebay is pretty much a dead horse compared to years ago, but some still sell there.  Amazon might be another venue to watch, but ebay will give some idea of prices and show some obscure eqpt/accys.  Icom and Yaesu seem to be the strong ham-gear survivors.  An FRG 8800 or 7700 is a decent rig, the Icom R-71 and 75 series are better.  Kenwood R2000 and 5000 were in-between the Yaesu and Icom in their day.  Be sure of parts and continuity if buying Kenwood.  I have an R1000 and it has been dependable and robust.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Essential Cutting Tools

Probably not going to discuss Kitchen Cutlery in this article, but when it comes to knives you can use in the field, don't overlook a large Chef's Knife, Carving Knife, Filet Knife, or any Paring designs...  Other than for fileting or oyster shucking (sp?) you want a heavy spine, and full length tang under the handle/grips for best all-around use.  Of the many kitchen knives we own, Chicago Cutlery's basic, oak slab handle chef's knives would prove most durable in the field.  So, just because you don't have a ton of money to spend on Outdoor Knives, don't think you have to go without.

Before leaving the topic of Kitchen Knives, I will say that over the years, I have found dozens of Excellent and As-New pieces of survival gear and general quality kitchen gear at Resale and Thrift Shops.  Got time to look?  The Salvation Army, Goodwill, AmVets, Purple Heart, Value Village, St. Vincent DePaul and all the independent shops and church ministry resales are full of stuff you can use.  Will probably do an article on how-to shop these valuable resources soon.

Knives at the Resale:  You'll find literally piles of donated kitchen flatware, knives, whisks, can-openers and gadgets galore at Resales.  For knives that will do Dual Duty you want a heavy tang and full-length handle.  You want to see steel running full length of the handle with handles riveted or screwed in place.  The heavier the steel on the back, the more durable the tool.  Thinner blades will slice more evenly, but for prying and hacking you want a .20" or thicker backbone/spine on that piece of steel.  You're looking for quality made gear, also smooth-edged blades will be easier to sharpen.  Japanese steel can be very good.  Stainless steel will be common, but regular carbon-steel will take a better edge and be easier to sharpen.  The USA made Old Hickory style traditional knives are usually carbon steel.  Some of the best knives we've found resaling have been Farberware.  Good cookware for sure, but their knives are pretty well made.  Have 2 that are partially serrated, part straight-blade; for general slicing knives they are very good.  Saw edge knives are great for slicing bread.  Paring knives are good for any fine job and come in a wide variety of blade tip styles.  Steak knives make pretty good all-around field knives.

Nice thing about buying Resale knives is most will be in excellent shape.  Most people seem to not know how to sharpen their cutlery, so maybe that is why these good kitchen tools were given away in the first place?  If you are paying $1 or maybe $2.50 for a quality knife, pretty hard to gripe about how it is just not "perfect for the job".  Don't overlook HD items like cleavers or real long bladed knives...  With a dremel tool or some form of grinder, even a hacksaw or plain chisel and file; you can Re-Shape a good piece of knife steel into just the tool or blade style you want.

I have bought outdoor knives at the resale, also axe blades, also gardening tools like pruning shears, and seen chainsaws from time-to-time.  Best place to buy a quality chainsaw like Stihl, Husqvarna, or Echo which all make Pro-Quality long-lasting tools, is gonna be a PawnShop.  Gotta know how to recognize a good condition tool, but most Pawnshops will give you 24hr moneyback.  Can save plenty money on nearly new tools.  Add a couple drops of acetone to old gas, if present and see if it doesn't start right away.  If the motor runs, the rest is easy...

There are plenty of websites, books, and videos on using knives in the outdoors.  Hood's Woods Hoodlums is a discussion forum that was attached to Ron Hood's website and there was plenty of discussion there about primitive survival skills in the bush and discussion about best outdoor knives etc.  I understand Ron died recently and his passing is a great loss to all who ever became even marginally acquainted with his work in Primitive Outdoor Living.  The Hoodlums forum is worth a read as are Ron and Karen Hood's other books and videos.   Plenty of discussion there as to how a Large Bowie blade or other large utility knife can form the basis for wilderness survival.

While you can use a rock or heavy hardwood to pound on the spine of your  semi-custom Bowie, it makes more sense to use an axe, hand-axe, or a saw.  Pretty hard to beat a Swedish bow saw for price and speed of cutting.  With an axe you have a tool built specifically for chopping, but with the edge being so long, you can use an axe in other ways besides just as a chopper.  A hatchet works great when butchering large animals and for processing small wood into small fire portions.  Might want to carry a plastic wedge or two if you're going to be felling timber, or cut a wedge or two in the field.  Very handy when your chainsaw might get stuck as kerf narrows as the timber shifts on a cut...

Kydex is a very tough & durable plastic that shapes easily by heat application and can be molded for sheaths and blade protectors fairly easily (I'm told) by home hobbyist.  You want any exposed blade to be protected, to reduce danger to you or others.  Knives can be carried in a tool-roll arrangement.  Canvas or heavier material will work, just sew pockets for your various blades to fit in snugly and you'll find you can roll up your gear and tie it.  Great way to keep camp kitchen knives in one place.

In the field you can easily carry a sheath knife, but maybe not in town.  Always a help to have a pocketknife.  A medium sized Swiss Army Knife is an excellent all-around tool to carry.  I like the Super-Tinker which has scissors, file, Phillips screwdriver plus an awl and fine flathead blade.  Gerber and Leatherman multi-tools are also very useful.

A number of guys are into legal-carry defensive knives.  Thumb-assisted opening pocketknives, if equipped with a HD blade-lock may be an option.  In some states you can own automatic knives...  If I'm going to carry a tool to fight with, it will be a handgun.  No discussion here on knife fighting,  but maybe you need to investigate the option if you can't carry a pistol.

Rope saws are interesting, not too practical though.  Might be useful in a very tight situation.  The cutoff wheel on a full-size handheld grinder, a Foredom or Dremel hand tool is an extremely valuable resource.  Super for cutting hard steel, with a locking plier like a Vise-Grip, the cut-off wheel enables modifying hardware and shaping sheet steel or other metals.  The small, lightweight ones tend to break very easily, so keep a bunch on hand, but nothing beats one of these for fast shaping metal if you don't have an acetylene torch.

As far as a survival tool goes, the knife and all other specialty cutting tools are essentials to work safely and fast.  I urge you to evaluate your needs and begin looking at solutions.

As essential as your cutting tools are, you must be able to maintain the edges so they cut safely and quickly.  Chainsaws and other serrated edge cutters will need round, Swedish Files.  Must have the correct file radius to keep the saw cutters sharp, same way with other serrated edge blades.  Flat edge knives can be kept sharp with diamond hones, carborundum or Arkansas stones, and other hones.  For axes you want a file and round carborundum stone which keeps your fingers from the edge.  A grinding wheel and polishing buffer can also help fine-tune your edge.

Wood chisels also are edged tools that help in general carpentry.  Not really the scope here, but if you are assembling tools for outdoor living a variety of chisels and likely a plane or two will make your efforts more polished and professional in appearance.  Cold chisels for shaping steel and other metals also must be maintained.  A set of metal shears also works great if cutting sheetmetal or other light metals or heavy plastic.  Haven't talked about scissors.  A good set of outdoor scissors bound to be useful.  The cheap, orginal Fiskars with orange handle are a good all-around scissor.  Hard to beat gardening shears for cutting sappling size forest vegetation and doing it quietly.

One specialty tool will mention is the Nicholson Bow-Hack saw.   This is a 12" saw frame that takes both Swedish saw blades and hacksaw blades.  Compact enough to easily fit in a daypack, it is very versatile and affordable.

For outdoor knives, I own and use Gerber, Cold Steel, Blackie Collins, USAF Pilot's survival knife, and Victorinox Swiss Army knifes, Leatherman and Gerber multi-tools, plus Case, Buck, and a few customs.  Machetes of various sizes and Ghurka designs are also great for the versatility they enable.  Try Pawnshops for used outdoor quality knives, but know what you are buying and what the online wholesalers sell for.  Knives are an in-demand item so often are over-priced; from my experience.  Always offer 1/3 less than the asking price in a pawnshop...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bartering and Items To Buy For Barter

Maybe you remember the Johnny Walker whiskey advertisement showing the two Southampton mansions at night with one upper crust neighbor calling upon the other?  The caption was, "I was hoping to borrow a cup of Johnny Walker Black"...  Many of the prepper persuasion put great credence and faith in stockpiling tobacco an alcohol products which they expect will be items in great demand once retail vending of such items ceases.

Maybe they're right?  Maybe their neighbors and strangers they wish to trade with will trade items which they possess, but the intrepid prepper forgot to purchase, all for a couple of airline bottles of liquor or a few cigarettes?  Kinda doubtful....  See any holes in that rationale?

Perhaps the gentry of Southampton will trade their surgeon neighbor a case of Scotch or couple boxes of Partagas #10 churchills; but such doings will only be accommodations and an attempt to preserve civility.   On the more common level, barter will hopefully facilitate trade.  What will you offer the mechanic who can bypass a defective part and rig another salvaged from elsewhere to restore your generator or other important machine?  Gonna offer him tobacco or liquor?

Any man who is head of household in all aspects once the collapse aftermath has settled-in, will be doing his family harm by trading valuable services, gear, or supplies for garbage that brings no value to his family.  Does smoking or drinking bring any positive value to his family?  Pretty had to rationalize that it does.  Maybe you trade some oddball part you don't own equipment for and all the guy has is a bottle of Old Grandad?  Maybe you know some retired Major of Marines who has the fondness for Old Grandad???  If so, it comes down to are you likely to get a better offer, and what can you trade into if you've got the bourbon?

Still, those who intend to profiteer off their neighbors addictions will find themselves regarded as something of a scourge.  Imagine, the one chance in most smokers' lives to go cold turkey and the guy at the end of the block opens a smoke and bottle shop...  Not a good business plan for building goodwill among families you have to live with.

What does work for barter?  Things just about anyone can use and may need.  Thing like electrical wire, replacement parts like outlets and switches, lightbulbs, matches, sewing needles, thread, first-aid items, aspirin, sunscreen, bug repellant, work gloves, socks, underwear, soap of all kinds, bleach, clothespins and clothesline, buckets, funnels,  canned food, candy & treats, shoelaces and polish, used clothing like bluejeans and Carharrt dungarees, cooking oil and spices, dishpan sets with drying rack, DVDs and books, especially how-to and magazines.

Some of the most essential items might include flints and lighter fluid for Zippo lighters, a welding sparker and sparker fints, matches of all types, sharpening stones, files, Kitchen knives and utensils of all sorts, also flatware like forks and spoons.  If you live rurally, maybe you have topo maps and cheap compass.  Blank DVD and CDs  also along with plain, ruled, and paper in binders.

You can buy specific items that're gonna bring more in a public barter, like individually wrapped TP or boxed soaps.  Stuff in factory packaging shows item is original and not tampered with or shorted.  Worth more in such situations.  Yet, if you lay-in extra stock of most of the essentials you'll need, you'll have these things to offer others who might've not done so.  If you have a Printer Refill Kit, you're gonna be a real pal to someone whose last inkjet cartridge had only a few print jobs left.  Things like PVC pipe, plumbers glue, teflon tape etc enable much when needed and cost very little.  A selection of hacksaw blades, cold chisels and files will enable a lot of metalworking projects and salvage.  If you have a tap & die set or two you can be a real hero making screws and nuts that couldn't otherwise be replaced.
Buy good quality items and look for what is on sale or you can get savings by coupon.  JoAnn Fabrics often has shopper coupons for up to 40% off.  Maybe you buy a couple fabric wheel cutters and Gingher scissors and use one and put the other away?

Storing gasoline and other volatile fuels may be a concern, but you can buy extra oil, especially the high quality 2-stroke oil for chainsaws and other small engines, good synthetic grease and differential lube, along with brake fluid are also items many folks will have forgotten.

Not like you want to get known far and wide as a resource, but having extras and being willing to trade can be a real skill and blessing to your family and others.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Riflescopes And Other Riflesight Options

The riflescope offers a single sight alignment via internal reticle with various levels of magnification, thus enabling faster sight-picture acquisition compared to open or "iron sights" under field and match conditions.  Because of the single element alignment, a scope is easier to shoot with precision, but not necessarily "more accurate" than a set of aperture or target sights even aextreme ranges which can be as long as 900yds in Palma Competition.  Aperture match sights are wonders of precision and repeatability.  Once the competitor has his settings established for his ammunition, the rifle almost has a lock on targets chosen at that range.  However, the rifles are hardly field worthy due to the complexities of the aperture sight and the tall and relatively delicate ladder-type aperture design front sights.

While the US Army's M-24 sniper rifle system was originally equipped with Redfield International rear and hooded front sight, they were issued for field back-up purposes.  Did Army snipers carry them on missions?  I dunno, but they no longer issue backup irons to snipers, to my knowledge.   IIRC, the M-24 was issued with Leupold & Stevens 10x M3 Ultra sniperscope.  More on longrange precision scopes later...

Riflescopes have evolved greatly since the early 1970s.  Leupold and Burris remain in the forefront of hunter quality optics.  Several new makers have gained marketshare; notably NightForce and Vortex.  Weaver and Redfield are old-line names that have seen several reincarnations.  Since 2000, the sports of sniping and longrange hunting have grown exponentially in popularity.  1000yd benchrest also grew by many participants as ranges expanded.  NightForce began by offering their Benchrest Adj Objective in 8x32 56mm and 10x42 56mm scopes for longrange bench shooters.  Their NXS series became the de facto standard for longrange upon introduction around 2004.  Sightron is another new firm oriented originally toward bench shooters, but they produce a wide variety of scopes in three different price and features ranges.

Scope mount systems have shown great levels of improvement.  More shooters are opting for Picatinny rail specification bases and rings, especially for tactical and longrange shooting applications.  Longrange shooting will require
 a 20moa (or taller) canted base. Only exception is if your scope has high range of reticle movement like Leupold 4.5-14 Mk 4 which has 100moa elevation. Once zeroed, at least 30moa is minimum to deliver 1000yd capability with a high Ballistic Coefficient bullet.  Most scopes, especially older first model Leupolds will have about 45moa total elevation range, thus giving owner maybe 20moa elevation.

Best Advice I can give any really committed shooter is to buy a Bushnell #74-3333 Boresighter-Collimator.  The collimating grid allows you to verify scope movement over the 80 x 80 moa grid.  Testing at the range is the ultimate proving, but being able to keep records of where a zeroed rifle registers on the grid and prove its movements on the grid enables much versatility (swapping scopes between rifles) and gives advanced diagnosis and setup alignment with minimal effort.   If you own a few rifles & scopes, and don't already own a collimator; Get One!

The duplex reticle is most common for hunting and entry level scopes, a great choice for all-around use.  The Mil-Dot reticle offers rangefinder functions as well as holdover and holdoff aiming points.  Grid-line reticles like Leupold's TMR offer similar functions, but with finer aiming points and range-finding.  Wide Duplex, Heavy Duplex, and various German and other specialty reticles like fast response SPR and FC-2 circle-dot/duplex all function for fast-access.  Illuminated reticles also enable many minimal light possibilities and possible Bindon Aiming Concept employment with objective lens cap set in place.

With longrange and sniping sports growth, so too have expectations of shooters changed.  The optic performance of the longrange/sniping riflescope has improved dramatically.  The Schimdt & Bender, Hensoldt, Premier Reticles, U.S. Optics, and NightForce high-power variables have refined quality hugely.  Yet, the upper end of this spectrum has a $3500 acquisition cost.  To what level of perfection of optical performance does a non-professional shooter require?  The "great glass" scopes are commonly very heavy.  Scope rings and mount sets typically employed for them are 6 screw top designs or in case of Sako TRG a 3 ring setup.  These bring the scope and mount set to or over 3lbs, and often result in a 17lb rifle, perhaps more with ammunition, sling and other attached kit.

My perspective, having owned a NightForce 8-32x 56mm that performed with excellence but was heavy as a boat anchor, is that a scopesight is a sighting system and not a substitute for a spotting scope.  None of my precision rifles go over 14pounds, and lighter is better for all-around use.  I am not looking for resolution perfection at 1000yds.  I want to be able to discern the target and take clear aiming point, but being able to count the thread holes in a small button at great distance is not worth paying another $2500 for.  Were I a professional, then maybe.

What I have seen is that even moderate quality gear will perform better than typically credited, if a top-quality mount set is used.  Probably the best buy for the money is the Leupold Dual Dovetail mount set.  Undeniably, the DD is most durable.  For quick release Picatinny style, I've found Warne's vertical split maxima rings to be superb.  Leupold horiz split QRW & PRW rings have always marred my scope tubes unless a paper shim is put between them and the tube before removing.  For Tactical rings the TPS brand offers best quality for the money.  Burris' Zee rings are a fine ring choice but must slide onto the base so clearance could be an issue.   Weaver steel bases are a fine choice for low-cost tactical usage.  If shimming is necessary, I've bought .05" thick brass sheet stock at hobbystore and made my own.  Vary the thickness and measure with your collimator to be sure of your gain.  My preference these days, using scopes with 70moa or more elevation is to go with Leupold QR Quick Release system for interchangeability and rugged simplicity.  On AR-15 and AR-10 flat tops I like the LaRue 110 QD riser and TPS low rings.  Some guys like the LaRue integral QD mount w/rings, but the separate riser allows removal from base and placement on another picatinny rail w/o a ring change and remount.

Lester's Recommendations:

Leupold VX-II   1.25-4x:  Basic scope with mucho elevation movement.  Great for heavy recoiling hunting rifles and lever action carbines.  Has very short ocular lens w/minimal diameter making this scope an excellent choice for an Armalite A2 carryhandle mount.  Extremely durable with long history of proven reliability. 

Leupold Mark 4 4.5-14x 50mm with illum TMR reticle.  All Leupold 50mm objective models show great improvement in light gathering.  Very short oal scope design, unlike so many "great glass" tactical or longrange scopes.  Very short and small diameter ocular lens.  Superb 100moa elevation and windage enabling this scope to function for longrange w/o a canted scope base.  Very lightweight and durable. 

Nikon Buckmasters 4-14 and 6-18x 40mm models w/mil-dot reticle and side-focus parallax.  Excellent bargains for features and design.  Not the most compact scopes, but great performers for the money.

Leupold Mark 4 fixed power scopes:  6x, 10x, and 16x.  All excellent and long-proven performers.  6x and 10x were offered in M3 turret configuration which includes military ammunition calibrated elevation cams for .223, .308, .30-06, and .300win mag.  Extremely durable, glass etched reticles, relatively compact and lightweight.

In terms of handgun scopes  I own a leupold 2x and a Nikon 2.5-8x.  Both rugged and handle recoil of the .454Casull well.  If you own a .22lr pistol, look into mounting a scope; it'll enable a decent shooting pistol to do all a .22 rifle will out to 50 or 60 yds.  Always would prefer to carry a HighPower Rifle and a .22 pistol than vice versa.

As far as open sight, rear aperture type are much faster for sight acquisition and give longer sight radius than a buckhorn or other open type mounted on barrel ahead of receiver.  A lever carbine is capable of better precision when a Williams, or other aperture system is installed.  The AR-15  A2 integral aperture sight can be adjusted to be on-target out to 600yds with 75/77gr ammunition.  Garand and M14 rifles have range-marked sights that are precise with correct ammunition.  The ladder sights, flip up & raise bar to 1000+ meters are Area Impact sights which are used in WWI tactic of gang fire where a platoon or company would attempt to drop fire on a distant enemy without expecting aimed hits.  To be more clear most surplus rifles so popular now are not longrange propositions unless heavily modified and proven (proof-load fired) to assure modern pressure ammunition will fire safely.  Usually, much more cost effective to buy a new commercial sporting rifle than remanufacture one that was made 100yrs ago or longer.

This concludes the Optics Primer.  More to come in other articles about using your optics effectively....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Binoculars For The Survivalist

Good optics are preferable because of their high-quality scene rendition and even more critically for their minimal fatigue. Almost any tele-optic is useful for giving a distant open field or street a quick once-over. It is when you must study that field, street, or area of forest you want to navigate through that you will notice eyestrain and fatigue from mediocre optics.

The primary maxim of carpentry is "Measure twice, cut once". Get your measurement correct and you waste no lumber or materials. Even more apropos when haste or poor evaluation puts your life at risk. Quality optics are second only to your Defensive Firearms when it comes to tools that can safeguard your life.

Pretty easy to spend over $10,000 on "best glass" high-end optics. Zeiss spotting scope, eyepiece, Zeiss binoculars, Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25x riflescope. Actually, the Zeiss classic 8x56 binos at $1700 are the most affordable and most critical of all three pieces of gear. If you wanted to own a "best glass" optic the Zeiss 8x56 Dialyt binocular would be a fine choice.

I'm not a big-game or trophy hunter who might spend $30k to finance a sheephunting trip to Alaska or a safari. Gonna spend that kind of money on recreational hunting, may as well own a fine spotting scope. I'm also not paid as a law-enforcement or contractor-sniper. Can't see circumstances where I will lay in a hide several days or many hours to make one shot on an enemy or perpetrator. Our military snipers use S&B and Premier Optics riflescopes. Europeans likely to choose Hensoldt, the military/tactical division of Zeiss. Great gear if you got the funding...

I can carry my spotting scope with 2" neckstrap and be halfway comfortable for the first hour. The scope is heavy though, and bulky compared to a binocular. Also typically requires fine focus tuning constantly. Perhaps this is simply operator-error, but the high magnification tends to focus the eye on specifics and thus requires more steadiness and relaxed position to make most of what spotting scope can offer. Binoculars, the best ones, offer independent occular settings. I set mine for an intermediate range rather than close or far. In dense woods, or other short-range situations this would change, but the independent ocular focus means pick up the binos and use them without fiddling or uncertainty.

The versatility of the binocular gives you immediately a fast scan tool for quick survey of movement noticed, or an irregularity. Also enables very deliberate studies. The quality optic allows long periods of glassing without fatigue, headache or other maladies. Like a pair of poorly-fitting boots, mediocre binoculars will cause you great discomfort and distraction. Distraction or failure to discern a well-camouflaged threat could end your career then & there.

Several types of binoculars are worth considering. A small folding set which will fit in shirt pocket will always be with you; like your defensive pistol, holstered and ready. The standard field-glasses size which vary from compact to heavy. Finally, the low-light binocular with larger than 50mm objective lens.

Zeiss and Leica compact binos are top-notch, but if you don't want to spend $650+, the Japanese camera-makers offer great product at affordable price-points. I found an 8x28mm set by Olypus on Ebay years ago and they're very fine, compact, and sharply resolving. Even the cheapies from Tasco and Bushnell are worth having to stash in a vehicle glovebox or bug-out kits. Also make nice birthday presents for kids when you can find them for under $20... Monoculars are also great for shirt-pocket stashing. Most any binocular can be separated and voila; you've got two monoculars. Just be sure each lens set has occular only adjustments.

In deep woods and other lowlight situations, the larger objective binos really do gather light more effectively. Zeiss Dialyt's previously mentioned for Best Glass Awards, but the 8x56mm Nightstalker by Steiner have been highly regarded for years. I have a Pentax set of 8x56mm that has also delivered good results even though they are a bit longer than I prefer. For under $700, there are few choices in quality 56/60mm objective binoculars.

For standard binoculars an 8 or 7 power is about perfect; 10x if your AO (area of operations) is mostly open without dense woods or vegetation. Best value I've seen are the Fujinon M22 mil-spec 7x50mm. A bit large, and a trifle heavy, but you can use these for hours w/o fatiguing and the color and contrast rendition is excellent. Zeiss classics would be a step up, but if you watch Ebay or other used-outlet sources, you'll find these superb binos well under $400.

First quality set of standard binos I bought were Steiner Military-Marine 8x30s. Great optics, but they fogged when the Fujinon's never have. Also have Zeiss 10x42 and 8x30 BGTP. Superb quality and compact, but the Fujinon M22s are the real workhorse go-to binos.

Testing binoculars before purchase is a must. You are looking for both close and distant fine resolution and most natural contrast. Test only in full daylight and choose the bino that gives you widest range of quality response. Buying used is not particularly risky, if the brand you select has a long-lived warranty that transfers to subsequent owners and you avoid any product enscribed with "Made In West Germany" if you expect a warranty. Germany was reunified almost 25yrs ago. Zeiss warranty runs 25yrs. Just a heads-up...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Primer On Optics: Part One, Spotting Scopes

Optics enable you to study objects of interest from a distance without necessitating movement or revealing your presence. A quality spotting scope of 60mm objective or larger will allow intense study of an object from moderate to far distance. With a Kowa TS13 angle head 60mm scope fitted with variable 20-60x eyepiece I've watched mountainsheep at a distance of over 5mi... Not like you could discern excellent detail at the distance, but I was able to get an idea about horn length on the rams and tell lambs from ewes. Of course, this was on a sunlit mountain meadow and the white wool contrasted well. The low-end Kowa was not able to resolve at higher power than about 30 or 35x, but for a lap-cradled observation at such distance the compact and lightweight 613 was very good.

I've since upgraded to a Fujinon 60mm and find the larger diameter eyepiece resolves far better in shadow and does not degrade as severely at distance when higher limit magnification is engaged. The scope is significantly better while remaining light, compact and a strong bargain among lower priced quality scopes. Again, I like the angle-head design. The 45deg angle enables much more versatility when used from tripod for aerial observation and can be employed around corners or over cover if your position allows.

A spotting scope is best used from a tripod. As a shooting aid, the tripod should be capable of setting-up in low enough position to allow a prone shooter to roll on their side without significant shift of position. This takes a special shooting tripod or a pro-quality tool which has legs that extend almost flat. A hunter can use their scope rested on a daypack. A 45deg angled scope can be used cradled in the lap fairly effectively. For still-hunting and general woods walking, I carry an older Redfield scope on a strap around my neck. The armored scope is light enough to not fatigue but is instantly available to checkout distant objects or areas for reconnoiter.

Plenty of fine spotting scopes out there. Zeiss, Swarovski, Leica, Fujinon, Pentax, Kowa, and Nikon are among the finest. The older Redfield armored spotter kits which include fixed and variable eyepieces, shooter's tripod and carry case are often available in as-new used condition. They are a fine choice as are the various Bushnell Spacemaster spotting scopes.

Might give some thought to digi-scoping. This is the hobby of wildlife and other outdoor digital photography using a quality spotting scope in place of a large tele-photo lens. Having pictorial record of areas around you could be a great asset. Combine digital photos with topo map of 1:250k inch scale for critical areas of your surroundings and you have some excellent resources for planning and prediction.

Costs: A used Bushnell Spacemaster is a fine optic. Likely find one on Ebay or maybe in a pawnshop for $200 or less. The Redfield kits are in the $300+ range depending upon condition and completeness of kit. Older Kowa models like the 611/613 have been superseded, so may find a bargain, but these are worth the $400 you'll usually find them offered for. Any Zeiss, Swaro, or Leitz product will be superb, if only for the superior contrast and tonal control their lens systems feature. All the Japanese camera-makers that offer spotting scopes make a fine product. I gave Fujinon a try because I already owned a set of surplus M22 mil-spec 7x50 binoculars which are superb. The Super 60 has been better than I could have hoped for.

Observation is a critical skill for the Survivalist. Being cautious and avoiding trouble is the intelligent solution to situations that might be confrontational or violent. Being located Out Of The Line Of Fire has so many advantages; keeping out of the line of fire also will pay dividends.

A 60mm or larger objective is a big lens that will reflect sunlight, so... a lens hood may be critical to avoid giving notice to the whole world where you are. Many scopes have a built-in sunshade, but if observing almost directly into the sun, you may need a much longer tube to avoid reflection. Might also obtain screw-in filters like a polarizer or deep red photo filter for special situations. A cardboard tube or rolled sheet of construction paper can be improvised for a longer tube; perhaps even a very thin-walled section of plastic pipe. There are also special non-reflective honeycomb grid pattern diffusers which maybe accessories your scope mfr offers.

More to come on subject of binoculars and riflescopes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Bugging-Out is a term used by GIs during the VietNam war to describe a fast exiting action to avoid a firefight. In the context of Survivalism, it is a reference to city or suburban flight to more peaceful and serene surroundings where you'd prefer to be located during the expected collapse and aftermath scenario you're planning for.

To avoid the potential pitfalls of the Last Minute Bug-Out, early relocation is your solution. The way economic and political news looks around the globe as of this writing, probably a good idea if you and yours have already relocated. As discussed previously, in event of a Martial Law Declaration or other Crisis Event, you might have as much as 45min to put your city or metro-area in your rearview mirror. Not too likely that if the stuff goes into the fan during early morning hours, you will know about it in time. Not too likely that you have your Bug-Out Vehicles ready to embark and fully packed... Not too likely that things will happen the way you expect.

Maybe you live well out from the city and work your own business so you've planned long and well to enable a coordinated plan for dealing with the needs of the day. Yet, unless you have a family member or trusted associate living at your BOL, you might find when you get there that an interloper beat you to it. My concern these days is that plenty of folk understand what is about to manifest and are actively surveying unattended properties that might have pre-positioned gear or other supplies in storage; or in case of remote property without close-by neighbors, a place they can just move into and defend.

Aside from all the risks of last minute travel, why run an even greater risk you have no awareness of until your trip seems all but completed? Have to ask yourself, how much further can the economy deteriorate before it affects you? If a partner or owner of a business, you understand the circumstances of your enterprise. Middle-level salaried or hourly workers know how fast they can be let-go. While you have funds and cash-flow, if you've already made provision for a BOL; doesn't it make sense to relocate and find some cost-effective commute or rental to maintain the cash flow while your family and all it needs are relocated Out Of The Line Of Fire???

Better 10yrs too early, than 10mins too late...

The sooner you relocate the better your potentials for thriving in your BOL and getting to know your exposures and neighbors. There is never a "perfect time" for advance action. Maybe this is a gut-feeling you have to go with and trust your instincts? We did, some years ago.

A week or two back, Birmingham AL declared municipal bankruptcy. For sure that city is just in the vanguard for doing so. Many other cities are trapped in funding obligations they cannot meet while their citizens income is reduced by inflationary pressures and the world-market hype that put America in this jackpot of collapse. Essential services will be cut-back. Criminal activities and crimes of despair will rise. Already a new class of working poor is emerging in the older outlying suburbs. Imagine, citizens who cannot afford to buy new cars and must cook at home... When the melting-pot has become a witches cauldron, urban survival will take on a new flavor entirely.

Anyway, just some thoughts. The world has been running on credit for the past 100yrs, the bill is coming due and there isn't enough money in existence, even if all assets were seized, to pay the bill. The basic axiom of business is: YOU CAN'T DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAVE ANY MONEY.

American politicians serving their behind the scenes money-masters have put building the world over upon the back of the American Taxpayer and their progeny. War and major die-off is the only solution, and one the money-masters actively seek. When it happens, it won't take longer than an hour to transpire. Hope you and yours will be Out Of The Line Of Fire by then!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Principal Categories For Planning

Over the years, we've tried a few methods to organizing our approach to Survivalism. Having lived in a rural setting for a couple decades now, the lifestyle does much to organize the effort and perspective. All comes down to the 5 Principles: Dry, Warm, Hydrated, Fed, and Self-Defense. In many ways everything ties into the first four, and your Self-Defense Preparations and Efforts result from your instincts for perseverance.

There are a couple of cautions. Food Goals must be achieved the first year or two without necessity of hunting. If your plan for meeting your food and diet needs is dependent upon a harvest you cannot assure; your plan is defective. Trapping is far more effective than hunting. The snares and traps you set "hunt" for you, and enable you to harvest much more food than you could on your own. Traps also hunt silently. Yet, takes time and covering distance to run a trapline. In the first year possibly even the second, it will be dangerous to be on the move or routinely active in the woods or wilderness. So, you have your food supply at hand to maximize your time around your homestead and also to enable defense and other projects your needs will dictate.

A secure Food Supply intact and readily available relieves much stress and anxiety. Better to have food and worry about how to stretch it and maximize it than not to have it and be consumed by the worries and hard work of acquiring it. As far as heating your home or cooking, wood heaters and cookstoves will be a great resource, but for the first year or two you'd like not to put woodsmoke up the chimney which is going to be noted by anyone in the area. Maybe wood pellets don't produce smoke or aroma? Maybe you can burn coal? Yet, if those fuels produce an aroma signature, you want to avoid that for the first year, maybe the second also. Home heating oil and kerosene are very long-storing and high BTU content fuels. Our Toyo oil miser self-contained through-wall vented heater produces no aroma from 25yds or further. Takes electricity to run, but we have run it on inverter power, so have a plan and woodstoves to use later.

Major Categories I've found useful for organizing and brainstorming are these:
-Foodstuffs, herbs, and food-prep supplies
-Cooking gear, Water Filtration, and Food-prep tools & utensils
-Personal hygiene, cleansers, clothes washing supplies and gear
-First Aid kit, supplies, reference works
-Linen and bedding
-Sewing for fabrication and repair
-Personal clothing, footwear, outergear
-Communication and computing gear
-Entertainment, books, recorded media, games, reference
-Educational Resources for homeschooling and general library
-Camping, hunting, archery and other outdoor related gear & eqpt
-Tools for Carpentry, Home & Auto repair
-Gardening Tools and Supplies
-Alternative Energy and Power generation,
-Firearms, Handloading, Gunsmithing; Tools, Parts and References
-Blacksmithing and Metalworking tools and gear, plus materials
-Fuel Storage, Restoratives, & Common Parts for motorized gear
-Reference Library

Plenty of ways to organize within the categories. Defense being one of the main Principles, a Site Map and Kit including rangecard, optics for observation, topo and road maps; plus inventory of likely avenues of approach would be a great preparation to have ready. Appraising your home or BOL for its weaknesses and evaluating how an enemy would mount an action means you can put broken glass or punji spikes in ditches, clear out underbrush and rig alarms or other preventative measures.

Probably want to keep a Vehicle Log so you're sure of when and what maintenance was done. Good idea to keep a log on other motorized equipment as well.

Couple years ago, I bought a nice Stihl chainsaw at the pawnshop. Saw needed a new chain, so I bought a replacement pulley and bar so both Stihls we own could use same chain loops and replacement bars. Nice to have commonalities for salvage if nothing else.

Homeopathy and Naturopathy/Herbalism have really worked for our family. KENT'S REPERTORY, and THE MATERIA MEDICA are the standard reference works for Homeopaths. We also recommend PRESCRIPTION FOR NUTRITIONAL HEALING by Balch & Balch as The Best Reference for non-drug herbal and other alternative medical remedies and treatments. You can buy many medicinal herbs online or at your local healthfood store and make your own herbal tinctures using 100proof Vodka or Everclear. Worth learning all you can about homeopathy and herbs...

Why You Want To Own A Firearm...

Not because you have larceny or mayhem on your heart, or mean others ill-will; but because as even Rudyard Kipling recognized in The Jungle Book, it is a jungle out there and even Mowgli was ill-prepared to face its threats without a "tooth". When Mowgli got his "tooth", a sizeable knife that served him as both tool and weapon, he finally found confidence that he could defend himself, make things, and obtain meat.

Firearms are tools. Unless you live in some rural locale or subdivision that wildlife roam through, hunting won't produce much for you; unless vermin and varmints like squirrels, rats, snakes, and domestic animals gone feral are on your menu. Yet firearms remain valuable, likely invaluable, for securing your safety and enabling those who might mean you harm to reconsider. It is a sad fact that some humans are antisocial and will prey upon others, especially in time of chaos and danger. Read Shakespeare's Henry V... Some of Harry's drinking buddies died in midst of looting bodies in the midst of battle or were hung for looting. Men of low character (bankers & lawyers) mean you enough harm and destruction NOW; what will they do when the shit has come down and Goldman no longer sends the limo or serves lunch in the executive dining room?

The NRA and other self-defense experts estimate that for every citizen who had defended their life with gunfire in an armed aggression incident, that 10x as many situations transpired which were halted when the would-be victim drew a firearm or showed that they were capable of defense and the perpetrator might suffer wound or death.

Probably illegal to carry a weapon where you live, unless licensed or carrying it openly. Yet, prudence and wisdom should dictate the steps you are willing to take in being prepared to defend your life and property. In time of chaos, you are on your own. Not likely that gun vendors will be open to the public or have inventory remaining for you to choose from. As with all "insurance" type purchases, you buy when you discern the need because at the moment you need it, it better be ready to work for you.

Not encouraging you to live in fear, or take steps alien to your ideology or creed; but, if you know that you have God Given Right of self-defense then you best take steps to secure the most effective mode for promoting your self-defense and survival. A large caliber handgun that you can conceal and carry with you without bother is typically the Best Solution.

FBI statistics show most gunfights occur at 7' or less. These events are up close and personal. Most often, a larger male seeks armed intimidation and assault. Self-defense depends on stopping the perpetrator, not killing them. Knives, bats, and other makeshift weapons will not "stop" a criminal immediately. Takes a Heavy Bullet of .40 caliber or larger to reliably stop a large man with one round impacting center of chest. Takes a 200gr or heavier slug starting at 800 feet per second to deliver the Stopping Power needed.

A 10mm Auto, or .45 ACP semi-auto pistol is about The Best defense round going for self-defense and gunfighting. Make no mistake, anyone who assaults you with a firearm has gotten you into a gunfighting situation. Unless you can respond in kind and with greater speed, power, and control; you will likely lose...

If you would have peace, prepare for war.
An armed society is a polite society...
Trite cliche? No, just truth... Enemies don't attack those who are prepared to repel their attack and if you are armed and know others you interact with are also, you likely won't be mouthing off, acting to intimidate or engender fear, or bullying anyone. At least, not unless you are sociopathic; and then, most likely you'll cross the line somewhere and be taken to task... Not vigilantism, just fact; sociopaths don't go undiscovered very often.

In the midst of chaos, having a firearm displayed and carrying yourself with the confidence of and experienced user will likely encourage the sociopath to look for other victims and convince those who might be looking for weakness to deal with you fairly or not at all. Who knows how many lives this will save? It is said that "locks only keep the honest folk honest". Having a defensive weapon, or several, means you have chosen not to become someone's victim and have taken steps towards the means of stopping those who would kill or loot you.

The context of firearms ownership here is related to survivalism, not gunfighting, and not carry for self-defense. There is a difference. Survivalism is an active lifestyle first identified in the late 1970s and is adapted by those who recognize that society's continuation is a very tenuous and longterm impossibility due to nuclear war or economic collapse. Survivalists took action and relocated "out of the line of fire". This means moving to small town or village, or rural homestead property where hordes of unprepared persons would not have prompt access to them.

Mel Tappan wrote the definitive book, Survival Guns. In that lengthy work, he defined characteristics of Working Guns and Defensive Guns and made the point for owning each type. Tappan defines the Defensive rifle and pistol, both semi-auto and military use derived as The Basic weapons to own and acquire first. In the 32yrs since Survival Guns was published, guns have improved and been updated, but the premises and logic Tappan brought to this discussion remain very valid.

Don't own any firearms? Decide you might want to own one? Buy your Defensive arms first.

Probably buy pistol first. The 1911 colt type in 10mm Auto or .45acp is a Best Choice. Glock, Sig, Springfield Armory also make other platform semi-autos that are highly acclaimed. Still the .45acp Colt .45 auto is The Pistol to own. Kimber, Colt, Smith & Wesson, Springfield are basically The TOP Makers. There are many custom makers whose refined 1911s sell for several thousand, but such isn't of benefit to a beginner or person concerned with rudimentary self-defense.

Gun control seems to be a dead social and legislative issue. Gun bans are more likely, but what hasn't Government done recently to reduce our freedoms? No need to doubt they won't restrict our God Given Right to own weapons even further or abrogate The Bill Of Rights entirely. Anyway, pistol is about your most critical self-defense item because it is your weapon of last resort.

Rifle is your weapon of choice. Significantly more power and should be easily capable of accuracy to hundreds of yards. The Defensive Rifle is mainstay of defense. Rifle will "kill" a truck or bus with a round penetrating engine block. The Defensive Rifle will be semi-automatic and adapted from full-auto military versions and be charged with ammunition using detachable magazines of 20rds or more. The rifle will have a peep sight and be capable of fine accuracy and also be able to mount a scopesight very easily. Best rifles include Armalite designs AR-10 (.308) and AR-15 (.223), The M1a, H-K model 91 & 93, and FN LAR along with ancillary Gallil, Valmet, and other specialty rifles. Can't own a semi-auto? The British Enfield in .303 or .308 Ishapore conversion has a 10rd magazine and is a decent choice. Best choice for bolt rifle is an FNH Patrol rifle in .308 for modern action, scope mounting ability and target barrel that is chrome-lined for longest accuracy life.

Buy your pistol or rifle with 4 or more magazines, ammunition, and any scope or other accessories you want to own.

My personal favorite for value, lightweight, and versatile ammunition is the AR-15 with 20" barrel and 77 grain ammunition. These rifles weigh about 8lbs empty, ammunition is light and recoils almost nil, very accurate and with heavy bullets like 77gr handloads or match ammo features, the rifle will likely shoot w/reliable accuracy to 600yds or further. Easy to scope, or use the carryhandle iron sights for fine accuracy. The .223rem cartridge will kill deer and larger animals reliably.

You can always hunt with a defensive rifle, but using a bolt rifle with plain barrel and 5 shot magazine if you need rapid reloads and to fire many rounds will simply not work. If can only afford one rifle and pistol, the defensive job is paramount while the hunter can always get closer.

Johnathan Ciener and Kimber make a .22lr conversion unit that is a good training device for learning the 1911 type pistol. These cost $240 to $350 and are very good training devices. Pretty easy to learn to shoot the 1911 in .45acp once you are used to the gun's motion in recoil and have learned to shoot .22 ammo accurately.

Jeff Cooper wrote a short pamphlet called Principles of Personal Defense. In there, Cooper espouses a color-coded system of awareness. White, yellow, orange, & red.

White is the state you are in when have complete confidence of your security and well-being; no worries or exposure to variable factors, you're in a secure environ.

Yellow is apprehensive and aware, not yet anticipating trouble or confrontation but not going to be surprised when it happens. You watch your back, tune into those around you, leave yourself an escape route, and vary your actions so anyone watching will decide to look elsewhere. Can't be self-absorbed, have to put on your street-face and be aware and watchful.

Orange is ready and anticipating a confrontation. You are mindful of surroundings and others and position yourself so as to maximize your defensive capabilities. Might have your handgun at the ready if can do so unobtrusively and without notice. Can always re-holster, but weapon in-hand gains you seconds and can make ALL the difference.

Red is shoot to stop, in a fight.

Lots of good discussion in Principles. Cooper also discusses making a game out of being in Yellow and Orange to count the number of times other persons in a crowd surprise you with their sudden entry into your space or times you find persons in close proximity that hadn't noticed before... Be mindful of your exposure and posturing and minimize your risk and up your preparation and safety quotient...

Might as well discuss tactics...

Live out and away from the populations? Figuring that hunting is gonna supply your food needs? Probably not gonna happen like you imagine. Maybe if you know how to trap and can run a trapline every day, that is the way to "hunt", let your traps do the "hunting"... Probably gonna have way too much to do. Having a year or two's worth of foodstuffs on tap means your time value gets maximized used for other projects and skillset practice.

If anything, not gonna be doing much shooting at all because it alerts others in the area to your location, and raises alarm amongst your neighbors who will be stressed enough as it is. Same way you don't want to have to use firewood to heat or cook with, unless way outback located. Woodsmoke carries as do cooking odors. Kind of thinking that laying-low and in readiness like condition yellow/orange at all times will be what enables you to persevere.

Hunting is simply a waste of time at a time you have none to squander. Always having a capable rifle or scoped magnum pistol with you though at least means if a large animal blunders onto your place, you can take it then and there. .308win rifle, scoped and loaded with 168 or 180gr match bullets will be good out to 800yds and will take large game cleanly at decent distance.

Shotguns are fun and being a good wingshot is a good skill to cultivate, but shells are expensive and you'll want to bait your prey to take as many as you can with one shell. Ducks on a pond, river, or farm tank are better taken with a .22 rifle, or maybe scoped autopistol. Small game around your place can be taken with a 1000fps capable .177 pellet gun like the RCBS 34 or 36. Pellets are very cheap, but kill small game reliably with head shots.

Shotgun is too limited in range to be viable for defense. Works fine for intimidation or intruder defense. Number 4 buckshot or any kind of Duck or Goose load down to BB or #2 shot will work for defensive purposes at close range and that means within about 50ft. Heavy buckshot loads will carry and retain velocity, but before you rely on them for their legendary power and effectiveness, pattern a few rounds from your gun at 30yds. Patterning a shotgun means putting up a very large box or sheet of cardboard with a 12" circle to fire at, and pacing your distance then firing a couple shells to note how many pellets strike the circle... View your target and count the #pellets striking with your first shot, so you know how many pellets your load contains. Might be more pellets in the shell but if those won't hit a 3' square or larger target, they aren't of consequence.

Might also want to put up a piece of 3/8" plywood at 30yds and see if the pellets penetrate fully. Shotguns are horrendous at point blank range, but quickly lose effectiveness with distance. Shotgun is also cumbersome indoors although an 18" barreled gun w/pistol grip might serve; a pistol of adequate caliber firing a heavy slug is better.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Component Versatility

At some point, the Survivalist has to make-do with what he/she has available. If you live 20mi from the hardware store, or further; usually that happens at 4pm on Saturday afternoon when a pipe breaks or some other poorly-timed emergency manifests. Pretty much, you learn to anticipate and lay in basic supplies. Live really far out in the sticks and this is a way of life. So it is with the Survivalist. Self-sufficiency means adapting solutions you have on-hand or going without.

If you need ammunition, you need quality and performance, not just something that works. There are several powders that function with great versatility, and are also excellent in specific applications. Alliant, formerly Hercules, Unique is about the most versatile powder going for Shotgun, handgun, and light rifle or cast bullet rifle loads.

Unique works great in revolver or pistol loads. It won't provide magnum velocities but it will deliver high velocities in small capacity cases like the .45acp and smaller, and when used in magnum revolver cases with cast bullets or at moderate velocities, it performs with economy and excellence. The most useful velocity levels in magnum revolvers is between 900 and 1100 feet per second with a heavy bullet. Most guys can learn double-action shooting with moderate handloads. Being able to control your handgun and hit reliably with a heavy bullet will win the day over a miss with "the most powerful handgun in the world" as Dirty Harry liked to tout the .44rem mag... Usually a load from 8 to 11gr of Unique will deliver all the power you need. Even more functional is to load the heavy bullet in a .38 or .44 Special case, or a .45 Colt. The .454 Casull is primarily a hunter's cartridge so you don't load light loads in this one.

Unique does it all. See the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook, 3rd edition for all the cast bullet loads you could imagine. Most will include a recipe using Unique. Hard for me to imagine owning a magnum revolver without loading moderate power loads for it. Aside from Brown Bear defense loads, necessary in my backyard, what I want is 1000fps with a 200gr or much heavier bullet. My favorite Casull bullet is a 345gr cast Lyman design. With max loads it penetrates hardwood in terms of feet rather than inches. Huge knockdown power, but recoil prevents fast precision shooting; so the first shot usually must do the trick...

In terms of rifle powders IMR 3031 and 4198 are good choices for small capacity cases and use with cast bullets at fairly high velocities. Any of the 4350 powders is versatile for magnum or .30-06 series cases. I use XMR4350 for its just a bit faster burn rate. Some like the Hogdgons H4350 for its temperature stability. Years ago I bought a bunch of Accurate rifle powders for great price and am still using them. For .22-250 and .308 class cartridges, hard to beat Reloader 15 or Hogdgons Varget. Varget data is also compatible with many magnums, so there is that to consider.

While the competitor or hobby-handloader will choose one powder for a given application, if the Survivalist does this, you run the risk of great variety but no depth of inventory. My basic powders are: Unique, Win 296 for magnum revolver max loads, RL-15 for .223, Varget for .308, and XMR4350 for magnum & 06 cases. Also use IMR/XMR4064. Own one of the super-magnums? You probably want another very slow burnrate powder.

Gearing up? My advice is to study the loading manuals and note the common powders that perform well with your cartridges. Buy those that you can interchange between different applications and you save money and can buy in quantity and save.

If you buy powder and primers over the net, be advised that US Mail won't deliver these materials, so you deal with UPS and they charge a stiff haz-mat fee. Your dealer might combine packaging of primers and powder or they may not. A deal might not be so good if you pay several haz-mat fees on top of freight.

If buying local, look at the lot #s and production dates on the packages. If buying a carton or case of primers, or several cannisters or jugs of powder; you want the lot numbers to match.

Lot numbers are also important if buying precision bullets and expect the same results. 500pk or larger batches of bullets might be important if your aim is utmost accuracy. Nice to match the lot numbers no matter what if buying 2 or more boxes of same bullet.

As far as bullet designs and component interchangeability, there are several rifle and handgun calibers (bore diameter) that allow interchanging handgun bullets for light loads in rifle ctgs. The .357mag and .358win, .35 Whelen and also .358 Norma Magnum are a case in point. Can shoot handgun cast bullets as well. There are lots of .358 rifle bullets in many designs from 200gr flatpoint to 250gr roundnose. For longrange and accuracy, there are 225gr spitzer boattail designs. If you could only own one revolver and rifle for wilderness usage (not self-defense) a heavy framed .357mag and Whelen or Norma magnum would be The Ticket...

Similar combos are the .32H&R magnum and any .30cal rifle. Both shoot .308 bullets. There are no 85gr rifle bullets produced that I'm aware of, but the 85gr .32(handgun) jacketed bullets are .308 dia and would be really explosive on varmints at close range.

Other combos include the .40 cal rifles and either a .40/10mm pistol or .41 magnum. All depends on the bore of your rifle. The .44mag and .444marlin are another choice, but not such a good one in my book unless you go with a bolt rifle in .444Marlin and cast roundnose or pointed bullets which would take a custom mold.

Best values in rifle bullets have always been Sierra BTSP designs, these are marketed under their GameKing and ProHunter label these days. The BTSP, Boat Tail Softpoint designs have very high Ballistic Coefficients and tough jackets. Sierra MatchKing have especially thick jackets. These bullets will out-penetrate hunting bullets on game or other targets. Where I live, I load the Hornady, Nosler, and Sierra BTHP match bullets (not really a hollowpoint, more a hollownose tip) for best ballistic performance and most rugged jacket material.

Hornady spire points offer a great value, as do the non-premium Remington Core-Lokt bullets. I have also favored the Remington BronzePoint bullets over the years along with Winchester Silvertips. The Speer line of Mag-Tip bullets are also very strongly constructed and perform well. Remington's 55gr softpoint is a good tough bullet for non-premium hunting applications in the .223rem. Probably a good choice for whitetail deer in your AR-15 if you can't hunt per regulations with a match bullet like the 75gr hornaday bthp.

I am looking at my woods-walking rifle. A .338-06 loaded with 230gr Nosler Failsafe handloads to max. I am experimenting with a 290gr cast bullet at 2300fps for even better knockdown power and deeper penetration. For versatility the .338 bore offers huge range of bullet weights and highest ballistic performance at reasonable velocity. More bullet development has gone on in the past 15yrs for .338 bore because of the .338 Lapua Magnum and .338 Norma.

When you have a high Ballistic Coefficient bullet, velocity isn't the paramount concern. The .300 and .338 Whisper are .221 Fireball based wildcats often used subsonic for suppressed long distance shooting.

More later...

Handloading Gear Basics

Until you have some degree of self-sufficiency with your ammunition supply, you face owning a lot of useless tools once the ammunition locker runs dry. If you own some basic loading tools, a supply of primers, propellant (smokeless gunpowder), and bullets; you can reload your empty brass cartridge cases many, many times.

The classic tool since the 60s when Richard Lee of Lee Engineering introduced it has been the Lee Loader. Back then, a Lee Loader sold for $8 and enabled a shooter to deprime and size fired cases, install a new primer, and using a dip-measure with Lee's chart showing which powders the dip would function with, you added your powder charge and then seated the bullet. A bit time intensive, but for $8 it was a great deal. If you added a loading scale and a handloading manual, the world was your oyster~! All sorts of load potentials were yours. The Lee Loader still is made and sells for about $25-$30.

A Lee Loader and some components remains a great inexpensive way to reload your empty brass, but it's not a very suitable solution if you have lots of cartridges to process.

Lee also sells the handpress. This is a lightweight aluminum press that is compact and held in the hands. Any regular 7/8x14 threaded loading dies can be used with the handpress. Add a Lee Dipper set and you have a decent backpack portable loading solution. Another backpack solution is the Lyman 310 Tool. This is the classic Nutcracker loading tool, originally made by Ideal. The dies are smaller size than modern rifle and handgun die sets, but they are very capable tool and are much faster than a Lee Loader. Just be sure you buy a lot of spare decap pins. I always wind up breaking one it seems.

Loading tools can be portable, but most require a bench and a strong press. LE Wilson is one of many benchrest loading tool makers. Wilson dies are used with an arbor press and work with superb precision. They are a whole nother realm of loading tool and unless you use a 6mm PPC as your survival rifle, you likely are more interested in 7/8x14 threaded dies, and loading presses.

For fast processing of large quantities of ammunition a progressive loading machine is the answer. Dillon is the machine of choice, but RCBS, Hornady, and Lee all make progressive presses. Dillon offers 550b, 650, and 1050 models and they vary by level of automation. I like the 550b and use my machine to load match quality .308win and .223rem, as well as handgun ammunition. I tend to be methodical when I load and take time to adjust the primer seat function and powder measure. The Dillon measure will throw with great accuracy once you get your rhythm going. I tend to average 200+ loads per hour. Many guys claim to do over 300/hr.

A single stage loading press will require loading in phases. Phase one is lubing brass and depriming/resizing. Deprime all your brass in phase one. Be sure to use a good case lube because a stuck case is a real problem, slows you down, and ruins brass or maybe your die. With brass deprimed and sized, a bottlenecked case is next primed. If loading a straight-walled case, next phase is to expand neck for bullet seating (3 die set for straight-wall cases). Seating the primer is next phase. Lee and other firms make a hand press for primer seating. Seating primers by feel is very helpful. Once case is primed, next phase is to measure the powder charge on scale or measure and using a powder funnel, charge the case. Finally with case primed and charged the last stage is to seat the bullet. Might add another step if you want to crimp the bullet. Crimping is not often necessary unless loading magnum, high recoiling loads.

Lots of fine manufacturers of loading gear. RCBS makes good gear and has about the best warranty in the industry. Redding and Forster are the primary manufacturers for match quality gear. The Redding Ultra-Mag press is the finest heavy-duty single stage. Forster's Co-Ax press is highly esteemed. RCBS's rockchucker is a fine press and their Rockchucker supreme kit is a fine solution for the beginning handloader. Redding offers kits also, as does Lee on the low price-end of things. Hornady, Lyman, Pacific are other fine companies, yet if you buy RCBS, Redding, or Forster you likely have greater resale value in your gear; always a good thing.

Most quality loading scales have always been made by Ohaus. The RCBS 505 is a great entry level scale. Their 10-10 scale is the finest. Redding powder measures are top of the commercial tier. There are benchrest quality scales that sell for $300 or so, but a Redding with micrometer adjustment will serve until you need a perfect repetitive measure on every handle cycle.

Perfection in powder charge is not really worth the effort. As long as you are within .2 grains of your charge you won't see much variation in accuracy. Where perfection does count is in calibration. Without a Scale Checkweight set, you are guessing. Set your scale to -0- on its pointer with a checkweight set and you'll know your loads weigh what they should. This is extremely vital if you load maximum or magnum rifle loads.

There are plenty of techniques for loading better ammunition than the factories produce, even in their match tournament lines. Not hard to do if you have an aptitude for detail. More on precision loading techniques in another article.

We'll also discuss component selection and bullet casting soon also. Also intend to get into home gunsmithing and how to make your weapons perform their best.

Why Every Survivalist Ought Consider Handloading...

Commercial ammunition for centerfire rifles and handguns has always been relatively expensive. Because of this, few manufacturers or dealers offer much in the way of variety. To some degree this has changed with Federal and Winchester both offering Premium bullets in their popular hunting cartridges; but yikes, does that stuff cost!

If you have been shooting a while, possibly you have saved your empty brass cases. These represent the greatest expense in ammunition assembly cost and, IF Boxer Primed they can be reloaded and fired again for many loadings.

Want to own 100rds of .300win magnum with 180gr Barnes Triple X boattail bullets? Be ready to pay about $300 for 5 boxes of premium ammunition. Or buy two boxes of Barnes bullets for about $90, $4 for primers and $30 for a pound of powder. If you don't have fired brass cases, new ones are about $75 per hundred. Can save about $65 if you use Sierra GameKing btsp bullets which are also superb in quality.

Handloading offers you a means to assemble better ammunition than you can buy at any price, because it can be tailored to your rifle or handgun. Shotshell reloading is also viable, but won't be discussed here.

Most handloading manuals cover the basic handloading processes. Lyman is the oldest manufacturer of handloading gear and bullet casting equipment. They also make Blackpowder rifles and handguns. Their basic manual, shotshell manual, and Cast Bullet Handbook are classics. Not my first choice for loading gear, but their 310 tools are what I cut my loading teeth on, way back when. Lee Engineering, Sierra Bullets, Hornady Bullets, and The Accurate Smokeless Powder Loading Guide comprise what I consider to be the better loading manuals. Nosler and Barnes manuals are also out there and may be of interest if you shoot their specialty bullets.

If you don't Handload, you'll likely require a different rifle or handgun to perform the different jobs you'll likely need firearms to do. The .308win can be loaded with cast bullets or even .32cal pistol bullets at very low velocity. You might want such a load to hunt take small game without meat damage. You might want to load a jacketed hollowpointed pistol bullet to high velocity to kill varmints. Jacketed .30cal rifle bullets come in a weight range from 110gr to 240gr. Light loads to maximum power loads are all possible for the handloader. One rifle or handgun can serve many uses.

One term may be confusing: grain. Bullets, and smokeless powder is measured in weight unit of grains. One pound contains 7,000 grains. One hundred 70gr bullets will weigh a pound. One pound of Unique powder will load 1,000 .357magnum ctgs with a 7gr loading, if you don't spill any. Smokeless powder is not explosive, it generates pressure by burning. Powders are fast or slow burning depending on their burn rate. Generally, slow burning powders produce the highest pressure and therefore velocities; but this is an oversimplification.

Handloading is a primary skill for any survivalist. Unknown ammunition that may be acquired can be harvested for components with a bullet puller. A collet type puller is fast. Bullet pulling enables brass, powder, and bullet to be re-used, presuming you can identify the powder. Foreign loads might be problematic, but with a loading manual, scale and some study you could likely salvage the powder with confidence in a SURVIVAL situation...

If you are in process of learning the .45acp, handloads assembled with mild/moderate charge of Unique and 200gr lead cast bullets will not only be affordable, but enable easier familiarity with trigger and recoil of the piece. Might also try a .22lr Conversion Unit like the one by Jonathan Ciener. The 200gr lead bullet though is also a good choice for small game hunting.

The generic .45acp 230gr ball ammo is also fine for practice or carry. Remington or Winchester are preferred for brass quality. You can almost buy loaded ammo at WallyWorld for what the brass alone costs. Don't miss those deals...

The AR-15 becomes a very viable Assault Rifle when loaded with 75/77gr match ammunition. Costs about 40cents to load these yourself using once-fired military brass; or buy them new for $30-$35 per 20 from commercial sources. sells 600 Hornady 75gr boattail hollowpoint match bullets plus 600 prepared 1x fired military 5.56NATO (lake city or winchester) for $140 delivered. Hard to beat this, but you can find 77gr Nosler bthp match bullets in 2000qty and unfired Lake City at, Grafs & son, MidSouth Shooters Supply, Wideners, PowderValley, are other component sellers along with Pat's reloading you may want to shop with.

I am stoked on the AR-15 with heavy bullets. Much less expensive to by an AR-15 than a good .308 chambered mil-spec in AR-10 or M1a. Cheaper to load the .223 than the .308 as well, easier for a novice or expert to shoot the AR-15 well, and with 75/77gr bullets the rifle is capable of precision at great distance. Note that I stipulated "the rifle"... An M4 short-barreled carbine will perform much better with the heavy bullets, but can't deliver accurate fire much past 400/450yds. This may be enough, but a 20" AR-15 rifle with 7 or 8 twist barrel can be very accurate to 600yds or further.

The .223 remington in a bolt rifle with 6.5 twist has shown great accuracy to 1000yds shooting 90gr bullets. Contrast this to the 6mm bore which the .243win typifies and the heaviest commercial loads for hunting are 100gr, with 105/107 being heaviest match commercially loaded. The AR-15 is very capable when loaded up to its abilities.

Handloading? It just enables you to do about anything you want with your rifle or handgun. You can hunt with an AR-15. Might want to try the 60gr Nosler partition, or see what Barnes is selling, but if all you've got is a magazine full of 75gr match ammo, any deer you hit well with it will go down or leave a good blood trail. The defensive rifle is your first priority. Owning handloading gear enables you to make ammunition for any and all purposes. The AR-15 can be single-loaded with specialty loads that might be longer than magazine length. Many shoot lead bullets in their ARs as well.

Most rifles will deliver better accuracy when bullets are seated into contact with the rifling or just short of it. Unless you handload you will never know how your rifle might perform with just some minor tweaking. Bullet seating might change your rifle from a 5rds into 1" at 100yds to 5rds into .5" or less.

I loaded a bunch of .308 sierra 168 match bullets to be just functional in M1a magazines, used the Sierra precision load in the manual, and shot them from a plainjane rem 700 varmint special routinely with .4" groups at 100yds and under .7" at 200yds. Almost boring how accurate that rifle was from the bench... For best performance, handloading is the answer.

Berger bullets, Lapua, JLK, and other super-high Ballistic Coefficient bullets are not available in commercial loadings. Sure, you can own several rifles for many different purposes or you can own one and handload.

If you've got loading gear and components, you've got experience and ability that mean you have much to offer your friends and family for barter. Might think about investing in a quality basic kit like the RCBS Rockchucker supreme kit and then buy dies for your weapons and others your friends or buddies have. Advise them to buy their die sets and components so you can load for them.

Most popular rifle and handgun cartridges will include: .223rem, .243win, .308win, .30-06 Springfield, .300win mag, .270win, 7mm rem mag and maybe the .22-250 for rifles and .380acp, 9mm Para, .357mag/38sp, .40S&W/10mm Auto, .45acp, .44mag/.44sp and .454 Casull/.45Colt. In Alaska or Montana, might add the .338win and .300weatherby. And ooops, forgot the .30-30win, it is popular everywhere...

Lee Engineering sells aluminum cast bullet molds for about $25 with handles. These are a good value and Lee has many bullet and calibers to select from. Owning a mold for your rifle and handgun assures you of bullets if you have access to lead. Tire shops might be a good source for used wheelweights you can melt down for bullet casting alloy.

As far as Components go, best way to store primers and powder is as assembled ammunition. Yet, primers last almost forever if kept dry and out of humid conditions. Smokeless powder should be stored in original containers and in correct conditions will last 20yrs or longer. Never remove primers from orig packaging. If stored loosely, like in a jar or can, the potential for ignition is too great to risk, so keep them in their tray or loading strips and avoid a catastrophe...

From what I have seen on the internet, the days of cheap surplus ammunition which many guys blew down the range on weekends has ended. If you shot tons of the stuff, hope you had boxer primed ammo and kept your brass. Having the brass makes loading that much cheaper. Other than the steel-cased or easter European commercial stuff like S&B or PRVI, generic fmj American ammo is going for about $1ea. PRVI and S&B have good boxer primed brass, but their bullets are not very esteemed for accuracy.

There are sealants for those who worry about water immersion. These usually are the same type guys who choose an AK-47 because it will function fine if immersed in mud or gunk. Don't soak your ammo in the lake, or package it well if caching is your intent. Might also seal your primers and necks if concerned.

Handloading is a skill every gun owner ought cultivate. Undoubtedly, you will be glad you did at sometime in the future.

Got Food?

It has been a pretty lousy year for food harvests, all over the globe. America had the Mid-Western floods April to June. Drought conditions led to widespread slaughter of herds. Kind of a cool Summer in Europe. Most rice producing countries are not exporting any surplus these days. Do a bit of research and look at commodity prices and you can conclude supplies are tight and getting tighter.

Food is one of those gotta haves... You buy what there is and pay what you have to, or you go hungry. Go hungry long enough and you starve. With poor harvest, and minimal supplies in a world with 7 Billion mouths to feed, and inflation set to run wild on fiat money; you can depend on escalating prices for food, especially the items you prefer to eat.

Investing in food, or even just stocking up will soon pay dividends. When you begin to build a food supply you're enabled to shop aggressively and optimize your buying; plus you have food to eat or trade. Rather doubtful that in this economy that quality food will cost less in the future. So, how do you build a food supply to see you and your family through monetary or societal collapse?

Many sources for "survival food". There've been sellers of freeze dried meals in institutional pack #10 cans since the 80s. Nitro-Pak was an early source, and there was a firm in Utah that sold survival food and surplus gear of all sorts. Now with the internet and the Y2K concerns, there are many sellers of freeze dried foods, but few sources for Whole Grains, herbs, and other foodstuffs which really give you more options.

In late 1990, we bought some #10 packed grains from Arrowhead Mills in Hereford TX. At the time they had a subsidiary that packaged variety packs or sold whole grains packaged for very longterm shelf life. To a beginner Survivalist, these seemed like a good idea. A couple years later, we had adapted macrobiotics and learned much about using whole grains, so would have chosen other solutions.

Wasn't until 1995 that we really got into food storage. We'd been buying Organic Brown Rice for several years, and other grains, but not packing them for longterm storage. We'd lost several 50lb bags of grain to mold due to condensation and new there had to be a better way. We did soon learn how to use 5gal buckets with gasket lock lids and dry ice to keep our grains for many years.

Organic Short-grain Brown Rice is the finest all-around grain for a storage plan. White rice is polished, that is the husk is removed and only the starchy kernel remains. Tastes great, but has no nutritional value. May as well be eating corn starch. The husk is where the nutrition is.

Brown Rice combined with beans makes a Complete Protein. Beans and rice offer the best value and longest storing source for protein. Beans come in many varieties. Can't really endorse soybeans as overly tasty, but they are used to make a wide variety of high protein processed foods like Tofu, Miso, and other products. If you own soybeans you have the basis for many nutritious items, but they aren't much cooked up in a pot and served over rice...

Macrobiotics is a Japanese inspired diet that offers many restorative health properties. Many testimonials from cancer survivors who began the macro-diet when diagnosed. Also useful for building your immune system and optimizing your health. Might want to check your library and read a couple of macro books, especially the cookbooks. Lots of great recipes and ideas for those using WholeGrain Food Storage. Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims were largely restored to health by dark red and brown Miso Soup. Miso is a fermented soybean paste soup-base that stores almost forever. Probably want a few tubs of Miso on hand. Doesn't require refrigeration. Tastes great and can serve as a base for many meals.

Whole grains will store virtually forever. You may hear that Brown Rice will go rancid in short term storage. In 2009 we opened a 5gal bucket of rice put up in 1997 and the taste was perfect as was the grain. We have put up lots of buckets of rice and none seem to show signs of any problems.

Grains, beans, and legumes we've stored include: Short-grain Brown rice, Yellow Corn, Golden Wheat and Hard Red Winter Wheat, Oats, Soybeans, green & red lentils. Plus these bean varieties: Black, Red, Kidney, Navy/White, Anasazi, Adzuki, Black Soybean, and Garbanzo. We grind wheatberries for flour. If you are gluten intolerant, you can grind brown rice. Beans can also be ground for flour. Ezekiel bread is a very nutritious recipe every survivalists kitchen ought bring forth. We have a couple of Corona grain mills. Good quality item, but take forever to grind a fine milled flour. We use an electric grinder to mill rice and wheat. Highly recommend an electric grinder. There are quality hand-grinders, but the cost is usually more than a good electric. We have a Kel-Tec mill and can grind 25lbs of flour in under 30min.

To store whole grains we use new 5gal paint buckets and gasket lids from Sherwyn-Williams. Wipe these out with vinegar on a cloth or paper towel before you begin filling them. Many supermarkets sell Dry Ice/CO-2 these days. About $5 for a 2lb brick. Buy your dry ice after you have all your grains and buckets ready to go, because it will gassify unless you have a -110F freezer to store it in.

We don't use oxygen absorbers or mylar bags as so many tout as necessary. We fill all the buckets we are doing about 1/3 full and then wrap the Dry Ice Brick in a towel and smash it into small chips about fingernail size with a hammer. Then layer about 8 chips in on top of the first third of grain, add another layer of 1/3 fill, and add more chips. Do the same until reaching the top of bucket. Be sure to leave enough room for the lid to seal. The lid will press in so leave a gap. Add another 8 chips to the top layer and then place gasket lid Loosely over the bucket. In about 30mins the chips will have gassified and permeated the grain. This is when you hammer the lid down, firmly sealing the gasket lid. Probably a good idea to label your bucket contents before you seal the lid. Put date on your label and the origin of the grain. Note that the lids may be difficult to pry off. There are lid wrenches available that make it easy to pry up the gasket lid.

Lots of other ways to store food. The Excalibur Dehydrator, especially the 9 tray model is a superb tool for dehydrating vegetables, fruits, making jerky, fruit leathers and even using low temp settings to make yogurt. Vacuum packing dried foods is an option, but one we've had minimal luck with.

Canning in mason jars remains a proven technique. The Ball Blue Book is a great resource and you likely want a large or XL Pressure cooker or Pressure canner to really process food safely.

Canned vegetable, meats, fruits etc are also long-storing. Coffee seems to store very reliably, but we store whole beans and grind them for each use. We've found some institutional pack items at retailers, but Costco has a good selection of #10 130oz cans and other baking items like bulk yeast which we use.

Roast beef with minimal fat makes excellent jerky. Buy whenever you find it onsale and cook until hard as nails. Any oil or fat in the jerky means it will go rancid in a few weeks. We've made turkey jerky also, and eaten salmon jerky. Lots of ways to dry meats and fish...

We bought most of our grains from healthfood stores. Any dealer that sells bulk grains etc will likely order 25 or 50 pound bags of grain for you, and do so at 10 or 15% discount. Always ask, and shop until you find a dealer that wants your business. Always be there to pickup your grain same day it arrives.

As for spices and herbs, unless you really like the Spice Islands jars, buy your spices in bulk at your grocer or healthfood store. The savings are huge and you'll likely get fresher product. San Francisco Herb Co is a great resource as is Gold Mine Natural Foods for macrobiotic products, both are on the net. Hard to beat Arrowhead Mills for quality organic bulk grains and Lundberg Farms is our primary choice for Organic Brown Rice products.

As far as using your freezer or refrigerator, If you live where you have a cold Winter, you can move your freezer outdoors, or buy an old freezer off craigslist and keep it locked in a shed or in a shaded spot. If your power goes, you can likely use the outdoor freezer being watchful for extended warm-spells in ambient temperature.

If you have a generator and/or inverter setup, you can likely keep your food frozen by running the compressor an hour or so every day. Move the freezer to basement or other cold spot in your home and be sure it isn't in direct sunlight. Can also insulate the freezer box exterior with foam or blankets, taking care not to cover the compressor's air flow causing it to run hot and inefficiently. Be sure you run your fridge and freezer when you run your genset, like when using your washing machine or battery charger. If you have solar panels or other AE generation, be sure you can actuate your compressor with your inverters surge capacity.

The Chinese Peasant Farmers used to bury most of their food so as not to be faced with starvation after the Nationalists or Communists came through town. Might be a good idea for you too. 5gal buckets can be buried, but remove the handle-bails so they won't register on a metal detector. Replace with nylon cord for easy removal from their hidey-holes.

Now is the time to begin using wholefoods and cooking from scratch, so your family will be acclimated and used to the foods.

Will probably do an entry on menus and meal ideas. Great idea to have a number of cookbooks like Betty Crocker, Joy Of Cooking etc just to have the cooking from scratch recipes and detail on how to prepare.