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  • Prepper Body Armor & the .308 Winchester (July, 2013)

     

    Information regarding Level IIIA Body Armor

     

    I recommend an investment in body armor for any prepper who is concerned about violence in a post-collapse world. Furthermore, I recommend IIIA, soft-sided armor for the typical prepper.

     

    When shopping for armor, many folks look at the specifications (rating) and take that information at face value when making a purchase. While the rating is an important consideration, it is equally critical to know the how's and why's behind this classification.

     

    On this very web site, as well as some of my books, I’ve made the statement that IIIA “Will stop a .308 round (under some circumstances).

     

    This statement has raised several questions, invoked harsh criticism, and motivated more than a few eyebrows. I stand behind it.

     

    I make this claim based upon experience and math.

     

    Experience

     

    Some years ago a few co-workers and I were having a debate about body armor. At the time, level IIIA armor was just becoming available. It was so light and flexible (as compared to traditional plate armor) that we were having a hard time believing the manufacturer’s claims.

     

    If you’ve never worn armor for extended periods of time, I can testify that it’s not fun. In warm-to-hot environments, the heat retention can wear you down quickly. It’s heavy, which relates to the old soldier logic of:

     

    Ounces = pounds and pounds = pain

     

    The advantages of lighter, cooler armor were so obvious; we decided to test things for ourselves.

     

    Before I go into our semi-scientific methods, a little background is order:

     

    Body armor is rated at various levels, such as II or IIIA or IV. The higher the level, the more protection. Armor is rated using a set of parameters established by the National Institute of Justice, an organization that not only defines the calibers/velocity/mass of the bullets, but the environmental circumstances such as ambient temperature, material shelf life and other factors. Some materials used to distribute the energy of an impacting bullet won’t perform as well at -20F as they will at 72F.

     

    When level IIIA armor was introduced, one of the published standards was the ability to stop a .44 magnum bullet weighing 240 grains at 1400 FPS (feet-per-second). If you are a manufacturer of armor, you have to test that specific combination in various conditions, such as extreme cold or humidity and with components that are aged, as some materials become brittle over time.

     

    When my buddies and I read these standards, the first thing that came to mind was the ballistics involved. The stated .44 mag round delivered a serious amount of kinetic (terminal) energy, despite being a pistol cartridge. It didn’t take long before someone pulled out a calculator and figured out the delivered energy wasn’t that far off what was delivered by an AK round at some distance.

     

    We didn’t have an AK to test with; the closest thing in our arsenal at the time was a .308 Remington 700 with a 20” barrel. Since our primary concern was AK rounds, we chose a 150 gr. bullet, the lightest .308 we could find at the time. It wasn’t expensive ammo – soft point lead-heads, as I recall.

    With everyone chipping in a little cash, we found a distributor who would sell us a IIIA vest at cost, the promise of a substantial order to follow if the test were successful. We dressed up a tree with the unit, tightened the straps and began walking off various distances.

     

    At the time, there was a side debate over the amount of protection our chest rigs with magazines would provide.  It was decided we would settle that argument in the same test, so an old plate carrier was mounted over the armor, one side having two M16 GI mags full of 5.56 in standard pouches, the other side bare to the ladders.

    The first shots were at 50 yards (or so), and proved the point that the .308 would cut through the armor like a hot knife through warm butter. The magazines seemed to actually make things worse. The vest was no protection at that distance. We moved back to 100 and experienced similar results.

     

    At 150, things changed. The damage to the bark/wood under the vest was significantly less, and the side protected by the magazines actually stopped the round. I wouldn’t have wanted to be the guy wearing the vest as the damage to the tree beneath was significant – but it stopped the round.

     

    At 200, the bare armor stopped the bullet. Again, the guy beneath would no doubt suffer broken ribs, bruised organs, and be knocked on his butt, but there wouldn’t be any lead in his body.

    We were still skeptical. How could something designed to stop pistol rounds hold off a .308? Why wasn’t the armor rated higher? Sometime later, I did the math and our results make sense.

     

    Math

     

    Using the external ballistic formula of:

     

    Energy = Bullet Weight x Velocity (squared) / 450,437

     

    .308 Winchester

    Bullet weight = 150gr.

    Ballistic coefficient = .338 (SPs as I recall)

    Muzzle velocity = 2200 FPS (20” barrel)

    Velocity at 200 yard impact = 1752 FPS

    Energy delivered at impact – 1022 ft. lbs.

     

    .44 Magnum

    Bullet weight – 240gr.

    Ballistic coefficient = N/A (point blank)

    Muzzle velocity = 1400 FPS

    Energy delivered at impact – 1044 ft. lbs.

     

    You can see that our results weren’t so outrageous or a fluke. Now, debates can rage over the diameter of the bullet versus the energy disbursement of the two rounds. One can also argue that our conditions that day were perfect (it was close to standard as I recall). Non-standard conditions would lessen the energy delivered of any bullet. Our vector was straight-on frontal versus impacting at an angle, which would improve the resistance of the armor.

     

    I’m sticking with my recommendation of a level IIIA vest for preppers, and here’s why:

     

    1. A level IV vest is heavy, hot and expensive. Yes, it provides much more protection, but I don’t believe the average prepper will wear it on a daily basis because of the discomfort. This especially applies to family members who aren’t in the best physical condition.

     

    2. At close range no amount of armor is going to keep you in the fight against a large bore shoulder-fired weapon. Even with level IV protection, if you get hit at close range with a .308, you are most likely out of the fight. You may not have lead in your body, but the trauma, pain and shock will disable higher functions for some period.

     

    3. Unless you are preparing for urban combat, a large percentage of engagements will be at longer ranges. My biggest fear in a TEOTWAWKI scenario isn’t the guy who gets up close and personal – it’s the guy sniping me from 200+ meters away.  If someone is danger-close, the chances of impact to a non-protected portion of my body goes up – i.e. a head wound.

     

    4. Not everyone in a post-SHTF society is going to be toting around a .308. One could argue that AR15s will be the most common weapon if things get really, really bad. I won’t bore you with the math, but the energy delivered by the typical 5.56 round is significantly less than the .308.

     

    Should you walk around with a level IIIA vest and think you’re Superman? No.

    If there is trouble, should you be more aggressive because of your armor? No.

    Is IIIA armor a good compromise of weight, comfort and protection - that may save your life? Yes.

     

     

  • An often overlooked piece of important kit (January, 2015)

     

    Just because it isn't sexy, don't ignore your sling

     

    A Critical Firearm Accessory

     

    One extremely important accessory for a shoulder-fired weapon is frequently overlooked by preppers. It is unpretentious, cheap, readily available, and easy to install. It’s the sling.

     

    Suffering from a lack of sex appeal, lost in a plethora of available furniture, and definitely not the cover-girl of gun porn, the lowly sling often suffers from a lack of appreciation – until your body has paid the price.

     

    Through the years, I have conducted numerous training sessions and can now easily identify the guys and gals who have experience in the field… the folks who have carried a long gun for an extended period of time. Their slings are functional and comfortable – like an old pair of well-worn blue jeans or a seasoned pair of boots. They fit, function, and perform critical tasks without fanfare or ritz. Those who have ignored this critical component suffer – sometimes badly. More on that down-article.

     

    No doubt some of you are wondering, “Why is Joe ranting on and on about something as simple as the humble sling? It’s just a length of material that you use to attach a weapon to your body – right?”

     

     

    Not really. Not in a practical application.

     

    In the gun-candy store, it’s easy to get distracted by lights, lasers and fancy optical doodads. At the range, other shooters rarely stroll over and say, “Wow, what a nice sling.” In the gun safe, they tangle and annoy. But if you ever have to keep a shoulder-fired weapon on your person for extended periods of time, there is nothing you’ll appreciate more than a good sling.

     

    Many of the folks I work with haven’t spent a lot of time with a weapon in the field. That’s not a criticism or a sin; it’s simply a fact that few occupations or lifestyles demand the need or naturally deliver those experiences.

     

    Most of us do not walk into corporate America carrying a long gun.

     

    Even the gents who have served for years in the infantry may not consider that their military experience will likely differ from that of a post-event prepper. Protecting the homestead while accomplishing daily activities, chores and movements is different than the routine of a soldier who is a component of a fighting unit. I often challenge my friends to perform one simple task without leaning their rifle against a tree – set up camp. Pitch the tent, build a fire, and empty the packs while wearing your blaster. The experience can be a real eye opener.

     

    Take that exercise one step further; envision a typical post-event day from dawn to dusk with security as part of your plan. This mind-movie will help you realize the need for comfortably accommodating your weapon. Unless you find yourself surviving in a densely populated urban area, you’ll most likely spend a lot more time carrying your rifle than shooting it. This is a critical point. You probably won’t be fighting, sweeping, clearing, or defending all the time. (If your environment requires such diligence, it might be time to consider another location.)

     

    You will, most likely, be spending countless hours gardening, gathering, harvesting, and performing manual labor. If there is no rule of law, you’ll probably want a firearm close by, or on your person. You may spend considerably more time traveling by foot than you do now. There’s a reasonable chance you’ll be outside and exposed for significant portions of the day.

     

    All of this translates into the lowly sling playing an important role. The wise prepper will evaluate this humble piece of kit now, rather than later when it’s too late. Prove that you can carry that blaster comfortably, securely and in a manner that is “mission configurable.”

     

    Types of Slings

     

    For years, there were two basic types of slings: Single-point and 2-point. (For a short time, there was a 3-point sling, but it faded from the market quickly.)

     

    A few years back, the single-point sling was all the rage. It debuted as a cool accessory, and droves of shooters wanted to convert their battle rifles to accept this option. For most, this was a huge mistake. Single-point slings are for SWAT teams, hostage rescue units, and other outfits that are expecting short duration encounters of intense violence. Single-point slings are great for moving a weapon to the weak-side shoulder, close-quarters combat, and other tactics that require a lot of movement of a weapon. They, however, suck as a way to secure a long gun for extended periods while on the move.

     

    Infantry soldiers, hunters, search and rescue responders, and probably preppers need slings that secure the weapon tightly against the torso. This configuration allows running, jumping, climbing, walking, and picking berries without the rifle banging into knees, thighs, or more personal regions between a male’s legs. A hot barrel can make this capability even more critical.

     

    Consider that you may need to slide the rifle around to your back if you have to use your hands to carry something heavy or to climb. You’ll want to be able to tighten and tuck that fancy AK either in front or across your shoulders, and do so in a way that doesn’t rub off significant swaths of flesh.

     

    Recently, a new design has eliminated the need to make a choice. Several vendors now offer what I call “hybrid” slings that easily convert from single-point (when you’re expecting to fight) to a more comfortable two-point arrangement. This nifty invention gives us preppers the best of both worlds.

     

     

     

     

    When shopping for a sling, consider these factors:

     

    • Be aware of the strap width and thickness. When you have a pack, body armor, load-rig, jacket or other paraphernalia on your shoulders, strap-pollution can be an issue. Wide and thin slings are typically the best option.
    • At least one connection point should swivel. This avoids tangles, twists and hang-ups.
    • Metal rings, clips, and buckles will hold more weight than their plastic counterparts.
    • Look for quick adjustment straps. These are extremely handy.
    • Quick Detach (QD) connectors are also great innovations. Over the years, I’ve been in numerous situations where I wanted to get the weapon off my body in a hurry. QD mounts work well.
    • The company Magpul probably offers the most configuration/options: https://www.magpul.com/products/slings-and-sling-mounts

     

    But wait. Carrying the weapon is only part of the equation.

     

    Have you ever read those great articles on a gazillion uses for paracord? Well, a good rifle sling has its own list of secondary applications. Not as many as 550-cord, but more than many people realize.

     

    A sling can be used to provide a brace for several different shooting positions. Used correctly, it can steady a shooter’s aim.

     

    Or how about an angle indicator for non-level shots? If you live in mountainous or hilly country, you know that making a shot 40 degrees down into a valley requires some adjustment. Often, it’s difficult to judge the correct angle. This handy little accessory can help you with the estimate by creating a plumb line.

     

    Properly selected, a sling can form a tourniquet, elevate an injured arm, tow something, fashion a stretcher or drag bag… the list could go on and on.

     

    Essentially, a sling is a fancy 4-foot section of very strong rope. What could you do with that in an emergency situation?

     

    Consider a scenario where you have three people in your group and need to climb a tree in order to scout. Three of these cords attached end-to-end would yield a 12-foot section of climbing rope.

    In my fictional series, Holding Their Own, the protagonist uses his rifle sling and backpack straps to make a safety harness for a dangerous climb.

     

    I’m sure many of you are even more creative.

     

    What I have come to respect most about preppers is a mindset of adaptability. I’m sure if you put 50 like-minded individuals in a room, they would devise dozens more innovative uses for this simple piece of kit.

     

    Acquire a good sling for your favorite model of post-collapse blaster. Adjust, test, and train with it in place. You’ll be glad you did if things ever slide over the edge.

     

    All the best!

    Joe

     

     

  • Why does anyone need a high capacity magazine?  (January, 2013)

     

    You had better be able to answer this question

     

    Or a high capacity semi-automatic firearm?

     

    I write instruction guides on defense and security for the average, everyday Joe Nobody. My readers are typically law abiding, peaceful folks who believe in self-reliance – a lifestyle and mindset more closely resembling that of our pioneering forbearers than anything remotely political or radical. In addition, I have taught countless hundreds of people from all walks of life the proper usage of a firearm for their specific need. I always recommend a rifle, such as the AR15, for home defense over a handgun. My reasoning for this recommendation is based on experience, logic and cold, hard facts.

     

    Like most of you, I’ve watched the ongoing debate over gun control with a keen eye. In some aspects, I’m proud of the discussion – a clear indication of a republic at work. While the ebb and flow of arguments and political counterpoints has fueled considerable frustration from my perspective, one single question conspicuously repeats, apparently the fulcrum of the issue:

     

    “Why does anyone need a high capacity semi-automatic firearm?”

     

     

    In my writings, I recommend such a weapon for home and ranch defense for several reasons. The primary justification for any high capacity firearm (a lot of bullets in the magazine) being the proven inaccuracy of someone under life-threatening stress.

     

    To understand what I mean, you need look no further than statistics for the New York City Police Department. According to data published in the New York Times (hardly a mouthpiece for the NRA), the well-trained, professional police officers in the nation’s largest city only hit their target with 1 out of every 5 shots fired in anger (or fear) – a ten year average of 18%.

     

    That’s right, 1 of 5 for alert, on-duty, capable lawmen, and 77% of those shots occurred when no one was shooting back. What type of accuracy can a sleepy, poorly trained Joe Nobody expect when awakened in the middle of the night and scared to death for his family’s safety? How will Joe’s accuracy be affected when one of those intruders returns fire? How many rounds does the average citizen need when being confronted by 2 or 3 intruders? I guess we all should learn to re-load those 10 round “clips” quickly.

     

    The accuracy equation is compounded by stopping power. Have you ever heard the phrase “double tap?” It originated from the British Special Air Services, one of the most elite Special Forces units in the world. You see, our cousins from across the pond found that their 9mm weapons often failed to disable the average bad guy with a single shot. They learned this lesson the hard way, and thus adapted their training to fire twice in quick succession. What many people don’t realize is that handguns commonly don’t stop a threat with a single hit. A frightened homeowner has a far better chance of successfully defending his family with a rifle – one that has a lot of bullets.

     

    Even if you aren’t worried about stopping an attacker, there are still a lot of very valid reasons for owning a high capacity weapon.

     

    I’m unsure what the farmers in rural NY are going to do when the feral hog epidemic finally reaches their state. According to Mississippi State University, these pests already inflict 1.6 billion dollars’ worth of damage to farms, ranches, forests and parks annually. They are spreading rapidly. In the south, we’ve been fighting them for years, mostly with high capacity magazines in military style weapons – and we’re losing the war. Wild pigs aren’t like deer – you don’t just shoot one for sport. These aren’t cute little potbellied porkers released into the wild. We are talking about swine that are extremely aggressive, can weigh north of 150 pounds, and sport razor-sharp, bacteria-infested tusks. You have to eradicate the entire herd (normally 10-20 animals), which requires a lot of bullets. They scatter at the first shot, and adults can run with a horse. Most feral herds I’ve seen would snicker at seven rounds.

     

    Both sides of this debate should also consider the tens of thousands of private professionals who play a vital role in the security of our great nation. These folks aren’t police officers or associated with any government agency. Yet they guard nuclear facilities, federal institutions and even parts of the United Nations. I guess in New York they’ll be restricted to carrying a 6-shot revolver? You know, extremists watch cable news, too. And you can bet that your average terrorist already knows security at nuclear power plants is private, and with the new legislation, they can’t have more than seven rounds in their weapons. It wouldn’t surprise me if some enterprising lunatic just established the nuclear power plants operating in the state of NY as a higher priority on his target list.

     

    What about the tens of thousands of private military contractors who serve our country? These professionals work for the Department of Defense, Department of State and dozens of other federal agencies. The incident at Benghazi, Libya has been in the headlines lately. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans lost their lives in a terrorist attack there on September 11, 2012. Two of the four men killed that day were private military contractors. During 2012, more private contractors were killed in Afghanistan than U.S. military personnel. These patriotic Americans are typically required to purchase their own individual weapons and are responsible for their own training. They hold no law enforcement license – they are just private Joes who happen to carry a rifle for a living. They work in some of the most dangerous places on earth, faraway lands where our government and corporations need them. They must own and use high capacity weapons in order to train for their job. I, for one, appreciate their help as more of our sons and daughters serving in the military would be at risk if not for these individuals.

     

    Speaking of education, I need to point out the vast firearms training infrastructure that exists in the United States. Hundreds of private facilities, employing thousands of professional instructors, train and educate our military and law enforcement personnel every day. The average person probably isn’t aware of these institutions because they rarely have accidents or generate newsworthy events.

     

    These private businesses train police departments, domestic and foreign military, and even employees of federal agencies. It will come as surprise to many, but the U.S. military doesn’t have the budget or facilities to train all of our troops. The Pentagon contracts out some of this work to private firms, such as Gunsight in Arizona, CSAT in Texas, or ACADEMI in North Carolina. The list could go on and on.

     

    Unless you live in a major metropolitan area, chances are your local law enforcement officers were trained at a similar private facility. A small town or rural county can’t afford its own dedicated location and instructors – they save your tax money by using private enterprise. When we call 911, we expect a well-trained, competent professional to answer the call. No one wants Barney Fife rolling up, nervously trying to pull a single bullet from his breast pocket.

     

    These instructors are often required to own and maintain their own firearms and skills. Don't we all want the very best for our first responders?

    So when someone makes the statement, “There’s no good reason why anyone needs a high capacity, semi-automatic firearm,” they are simply wrong.

     

     

  • The One Hour Bugout (August, 2013)

     

     Are you really ready?

     

    Consider this scenario…

     

    7:20 a.m. – Two enterprising, young jihadists calmly roll up their prayer mats, satisfied with their final words to Allah. They stroll to a warehouse, rolling up the oversized freight door just as the first light of day debuts in the eastern sky. The elder man tosses two heavy boxes into an already stuffed cargo hold of the truck they’ve been preparing for days. He turns to his friend and remarks in Farsi, “The special sauce.” Both men chuckle nervously.

     

    8:20 a.m. – The next-day parcel delivery truck rolls down the off-ramp; the early morning shadows of the downtown skyscrapers accenting the driver’s melancholy mood. Dressed in a counterfeit, brown uniform that is so detailed it apparently sports nationally branded logos, the driver parks the van outside of a towering office building and rushes inside carrying a small package. A police patrol car rolls by, paying no attention to the truck. Such vehicles deliver packages at this time of the morning every day.

     

    8:21 a.m. – The driver exits the opposite side of the office building where his friend is idling in an old sedan. When the two have traveled about five blocks, the passenger opens his parcel and pulls out a cell phone. He presses one key. Another cell phone inside the still idling delivery van answers the former driver’s call. Instead of sending a ring tone to the speaker, the electrical current has been rewired to a detonator. Over one ton of high-grade explosives erupt, launching a blast wave that travels at the speed of sound, tearing through the downtown streets and rush hour traffic. The explosion is felt over 20 miles away and is so violent that a mushroom cloud forms over the devastated area.

     

    8:35 a.m. – The first fire department trucks arrive on the scene. It’s already clear to the police officers and other first responders that a bomb has exploded. Protocol, established by the Department of Homeland Security, calls for nuclear, biological, and chemical testing of the atmosphere.

    The two boxes of “special sauce” added to the truck’s deadly cargo contained waste product from nuclear-based medical treatments, gathered by the older terrorist during the months he worked at a local hospital. Harmless, the radioactivity still accomplished its mission, sending the Geiger counter held by a nearby fireman into the warning zone.

     

    8:37 a.m. – A news reporter, standing behind the firefighter, notices the instrument’s reaction. He then hears the man broadcast over his radio, “Captain, I’m getting radioactive readings over here. I think we might have just been hit with a dirty bomb.”

    The newshound dials his cell phone. Before his editor answers, every police and fire radio within 20 miles carries the frantic orders, “Get back… everyone pull back from the blast zone. Pull back!”

     

    8:38 a.m. – A local news channel interrupts its already frantic coverage, the announcer’s voice filled with nervous energy. “I’ve just been informed that first responders are being pulled back from the area of the blast, reports of radioactive air samples coming from our reporter on the scene.”

     

    You can guess the rest of the story. Weather forecasts indicate a wind direction that will carry the cloud of supposedly deadly air directly to your suburban home. The news report hits the internet and immediately goes viral, blowing the entire story out of proportion. Cable news is having a field day.

     

    Within minutes, panic and paranoia begin feeding on each other, propagating exaggerations, false reports and terror-based reactions from both the public and law enforcement. You’ve seen it before… The Washington Navy yard massacre – three men with AR15s. The Boston Marathon bombing… Newtown… 9-11… and so on and so forth. You don’t want to believe it; your mind calling BS as the hyperboles build. Yet, you and your family remain glued to the television, bombarded by news clips of Chernobyl, Fukushima, and Three-mile Island.

     

    Then the dreaded map is broadcast all across your beloved flat screen. The evacuation zone. Your castle is now directly in the path of what is being described as a “poison cloud of deadly radiation.” Some jerk in the newsroom even found a skull and crossbones icon to display in the middle of your neighborhood.

    You have one hour to get out. Already, there is a police car moving up and down your street, blaring the order to get the hell out of Dodge. Six-zero minutes.

     

    Can you do it?

     

    Sitting here surfing the internet, you lean back in your chair and say, “Sure, Joe. I’m a prepper, and I have a bug-out bag all packed and ready.” You may also be cynical over the odds of a dirty bomb impacting your home. I fall into this category as well, but what about floods? Forest fires? Tornados? Hurricanes that change direction at the last minute?

    All of these disasters can lead to hasty departures. Many of these events occur with little or no warning. Really think about it. Keep reminding yourself, “I have to leave in one hour, and I may never be able to come back.”

     

    Do you still believe you’re ready?

     

    Going back to my fictional scenario, your mind would become your worst foe. Most likely, you would start having visions of those Japanese towns where the citizens had to leave with dinner still on their plates, never to return - those communities where the residents still haven’t been allowed back. Or perhaps your mind-movie would flash the video of the recent Oklahoma tornados, where in some cases, residents had about an hour’s warning.

     

    And that’s where the problems start.

     

    What do you take? How long are you going to be gone? Are the roads going to be grid-locked, like Houston during hurricane Rita? I was there. It was absolute chaos.

     

    During your brief stint of analysis paralysis, you recall the Katrina survivors and the conditions at the sports stadiums. You don’t trust the government, and even if you did, that’s not for you and your family. You fully understand the difference between a refugee and a transplant is nothing more than assets. You’re a prepper!

     

    But… seriously… are you really ready?

     

    I thought I was. After all, I’m Joe Nobody – right? I write books and articles on the subject. I do broadcasts and consulting on the topic. I’m an expert in some people’s opinion. If anybody should be prepared, it’s me.

    So I did this test, ran this gauntlet myself. I didn’t even include the wife and kids, just a solo exercise to see if I could get out in one hour. Let me tell you, friend – I was not nearly as prepared as I thought I was, and that failure led to several changes in my plans and equipment.

     

    At one hour, I wasn’t even close to mobile. The yard, next to the driveway where the bug-out buggy is parked, was littered with boxes, bags and rifle cases. To add insult to injury, many of the containers were unpacked on the spot checking for critical pieces of gear I was pretty sure was included. No doubt my neighbors had a good laugh. If a real radioactive fog had been heading my way, archaeologists would have found my bones 10,000 years from now. I can just picture them, chuckling heartily at the dig site over the prepper who died surrounded by all that gear but couldn’t manage to get out.

     

    What follows is a brief list of tips and techniques that enabled me to be perpetually prepared for an emergency.

     

    Six Tips to Get Out Faster

     

    Store your bug-out ammo in magazines.

     

    The most efficient method of storing ammunition that I have found is in loaded magazines, especially for those who want to take both items. While internet debates have raged for years over the wisdom of using this method for long-term storage, there is no way to beat the space savings. The concern by some folks is the negative affect on the pill-box’s internal springs. Opinions vary. I’ve spoken with factory reps at trade shows, and even they can’t agree.

     

    So, after failing the 60 minute evacuation trial, I’ve taken to keeping some number of rounds for each bug-out weapon (pistols and rifles) in magazines, stored in a water-resistant, plastic box. To hedge against degrading the springs, I cycle through these a few times per year.

    In the picture (right), I have an $8.00 watertight plastic unit I picked up on sale at a local sporting goods outlet. In it, I can store:

    - 18 AR15 magazines @ 28 rounds each = 504 rounds

    - 7 AR10 (.308 Win) mags @ 20 rounds each = 140 rounds

    - 12 1911A (.45) mags @ 8 rounds each – 96 rounds

     

    Two of these stackable boxes are now primed and ready to go. They don’t scream “AMMO!” to anyone who might catch a glimpse, and they are lockable, although it wouldn’t take long to defeat the plastic.

     

    Mark your storage containers.

     

    When I did my evac-drill, it dawned on me that I might not know where to take my family. If harm is barreling down on the homestead, that might not seem like a big deal. You would probably be focusing on just getting out of town with as much as you can carry.

     

    But for me, a mystery destination caused a time-burning pause. If my family and I were heading west, into the Texas desert, then I needed different clothing, ammunition, and equipment than if we were going to be forced into the Great Piney Woods in eastern Texas. If you live somewhere with more pronounced change of seasons than we do in the Lone Star state, the destination and time of year should be taken into consideration as well.

     

    During my rush around the house, I had to unpack the bug-out bags (backpacks) to see which kit had which clothing. The same with the plastic storage bins (see below), as Mrs. Nobody uses them for non-bug-out items as well. Accidentally packing two cases of diet soda would be a poor substitute for the container of dehydrated meals when we finally reached our destination.

     

    Now, everything is labeled and inventoried, including my magazines. You’ll notice in the picture above, my mags are different colors. This can help, but in addition, each is numbered with paint. I have a small notebook that tells me what type of round is loaded via this index. If I need long range pills, then I can find them. If I need anti-personnel projectiles, I don’t have to guess in a stressful situation.

     

     

    Store your bug-out food in boxes.

     

    Most preppers have a pantry, or other location where their cache of food is stored. The Nobody family is no exception. Now this arrangement is fine and dandy for a shelter-in-place strategy, but in the above example, I found myself searching for a container and spending precious minutes packing. We had boxes, but I couldn’t tell what was inside of each without opening the lid.

     

    Most department stores sell plastic storage boxes, and they’re not expensive. Pick a number of days, figure out your calories and fill up a box or two with your favorite prepper foods. If shelf life is a concern, mark the outside of the box and cycle through the contents as needed, just like the ammo discussed before.

    Make sure your containers will fit in the trunk, hatch or bed of the bug-out buggy. Mrs. Nobody and I searched for a few days before we found these examples, which can be stacked two deep in the bed of my truck. Space and time may be critical. Four of them will feed my family for about 20 days.

     

    Always keep a spare case of water.

     

    This is not a huge expense and is just plain old common sense. I, like many of you, have large storage cans for water, rain catches and other sources – but it’s just not the same during a panicked exodus. Most cases contain 24 to 32 plastic bottles, enough for a family of four to survive 4-7 days depending on the environment.

    They can also be separated, stored in nooks and crannies and used for barter. Grabbing the plastic wrapped case off the shelf is much quicker than filling a five-gallon storage container and toting it to the trunk. Finding room for such a large, single container may be an issue as well.

     

    Keep important documents in one place.

     

    In a full, grid-down collapse of society, having identification probably won’t be a necessity. In the scenarios described above, it could become critical. Most of us have our driver’s licenses in our wallets or purses, but what about the kids’ official papers? Social Security cards are normally the primary identification for children. Also, many of us collect marriage license(s), insurance papers, CHLs, and numerous important documents during the course of our lifetime and want to keep them safe. Given flood, tornado, radiation, or forest fire, you may need some of these documents.

     

    We have a small, locking, fireproof box. It’s a smart idea to store official papers inside of a protective container regardless of your perceived need to bug out. My suggestion here is to purchase a size that is portable, and keep it current. Rummaging around for Mark and Sally’s Social Security cards at the last minute isn’t a wise use of time.

     

    You can also just store documents in an envelope and keep them in the gun safe. Before the purchase pictured above, that was where my critical papers resided.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The Ageless Duffel Makes Bug-out Quick and Easy

     

    Want a cheap, robust, large capacity bug-out bag? One that is anonymous and can be carried on your back if necessary? Head to your local army surplus store and grab a couple of duffels. They come in all sizes and can handle just about anything you need on a bug-out.

     

    I keep my body armor, load vest, Camelbak, holster and spare MOLLE pouches in one. This is kit I may not want to unpack at the campground or shelter, but necessary from my perspective. In reality, you could keep food, ammo, clothing… whatever you want… in one of these tried and true haulers. I prefer some of the solutions listed above due to transparency (food boxes) and separation (ammo and papers), but for a few bucks each, it’s hard to beat a surplus duffel.

     

    Unlike inexpensive, soft-sided luggage, duffels typically come with shoulder straps. This might be handy if you have to abandon your vehicle and head out on foot.

     

     

    What Slowed Me Down the Most

     

    In my drill, deciding what to take was the most difficult part. As an example, I hesitated on which of my weapons to pack. I have always had a fixed list of rifles to take, but a recent purchase was nosing ahead of one of the old standbys. In addition, the thought of leaving any of my precious weapons behind was gut wrenching, to say the least.

     

    The same brain freeze occurred with clothing, food, and medicines. My mind continued in the worthless, time-consuming cycle in this scenario. I kept repeating, “I can never come back.”

     

    By the time I was actually carrying things out to the truck, I began to worry I’d forgotten something critical. Did I grab the pistol mags? What about the medications? It was maddening.

     

    All the while, my mind was working against me. The flashlight on my shotgun needs a new battery, and it is an odd size – did I pack batteries? My much-boasted-about bug-out backpacks are hanging on the hooks, ready to go. Or are they? The contents of my daughter’s bag are spread out on the closet floor, a victim of her retrieving a sleeping bag for a recent overnight event.

     

    Oh, Mrs. Nobody and I had a list, but it was outdated. I got caught red-handed right in the middle of a hurt-matrix comprised of new equipment, replacements and experimental gear.

     

    Making matters worse is the fact that we constantly use our stuff. Camping, training, classes and just going plinking for fun are all common activities around the Nobody household. We were slack in keeping everything on the edge or ready. Had we really needed to get out in one hour, I would have paid the price for this lack of discipline. Now, I’m more conscious of making sure things are put away in the right place after normal usage.

    Then there was the actual loading. A long time ago, everything had fit just fine in the bed of the pickup. I had tested it. But I had bought new stuff, acquired different boxes and rearranged bags. There wasn’t time to do a practice load, like our typical vacation. Don’t fall into the same trap; make sure everything will fit in the bug-out express.

     

    So now I have an inventory list attached to the strap of my BOB, which is always the first item to be packed. Now I can check off the contents as they are loaded in the truck, just like a professional freight hauler uses a bill of lading.

     

    I’ve learned several lessons from this little pretend drill, and I’m glad I invested the time now, rather than suffer later.

     

    The threat of becoming a victim of the “special sauce,” is real, be it weather, a man-made disaster, or a terrorist’s attack. Practically every month you hear of people having to abandon their homes due to such a scenario. Be ready.

     

     

  • Biological Night Vision (November, 2012)

     

    No NVD? No problem.

     

    We humans are not natural night stalkers. Unlike many animals on the planet, our vision is severely limited in low light conditions. In a grid down situation, it’s not unreasonable to assume we will be required to perform at some level in low light conditions. It doesn’t take much to expand this scenario further and imagine a lifestyle where we have to do so without other people being aware of our activities.

     

    These days, technology is often used to enhance our capabilities at night. As I have stated in numerous books and articles, I believe night vision devices (NVDs) are one of the best investments any prepper can make. They are, however, expensive and like any piece of equipment - they can fail. This article concentrates on our natural, issued-from-God night vision.

    Does anyone remember the SCUD missile hunts on the First Gulf War? Saddam Hussein was launching SCUD missiles at Israel from mobile launchers. These semi-truck sized units were randomly moving around the vast deserts of western Iraq, and the allies had a heck of a time finding them.

     

    Several Special Forces teams were sent in to hunt SCUDS. One of the most famous roles of the war was played by the British SAS (Special Air Squadron, similar to our Green Berets). Small teams of these elite warriors were inserted behind enemy lines where they hoped to go undetected by resembling the locals. The average Iraqi citizen didn’t have night vision, so for that reason among others, they decided to leave their high-tech NVD behind. After several nights of hunting in the desert, they all reported that the lack of NVD equipment wasn’t an issue, and many were amazed at how well they could see at night.

     

    To begin with, it helps to have a basic understanding of how our eyes receive, react to and process light. As most 5th graders know, our eyes absorb light via the rods and cones that line the back of our eyeballs. These tissues transfer light energy to electrical impulses which are sent to our grey matter (brain). What most people don’t know is how our eyes react to various levels of brightness. The cones, for the most part, handle bright light and can differentiate colors and provide depth perception. The rods handle black and whites. The following facts should be known by anyone wanting to maximize their natural ability to see in low light conditions:

     

     

    1.  Night vision, primarily through the rods, does not provide for color separation. What you see at night is mostly shades of gray.

     

    2. The rods, at best, can provide 20/200 vision by themselves.

     

    3. The rods are thickest along the edges of the eye, as opposed to directly behind the pupil. Cones are more prevalent directly behind the pupil where the lenses of our eyes focus the most light.  This is why you are taught to avoid looking directly at oncoming car headlights at night. If you look slightly away, the light is striking the less sensitive rods.

     

    The rods have a group of chemicals generally classified as photopigments. Bright light causes these chemicals to decompose - almost instantly. It takes the average person between 30-45 minutes of low light to replenish about 80% of the photopigments. It can take several hours to reach 100%. This is the reason why adapting to the darkness takes a while – your eyeballs are building up these chemicals used to process low light. The SAS soldiers mentioned above found that the longer they were operating in the desert at night, the better their vision became.

     

    So what does all this mean to the typical prepper? The science of how our eyes work can help us function better in the darkness, which is about half of our life.

     

    To begin with, there are several unscientific “tricks” to improve both the speed and level of photopigments, thus improving our capability to operate nocturnally:

     

    • Soviet SPEZNAZ Special Forces (like our Green Berets) were reportedly trained to push the edges of their hands into their eye sockets and push gently until they begin to see white. After a few minutes, most of the black turns to white, and night vision should be somewhat restored. I have tried this method, and it actually works to some degree – at least for me. Others have claimed it has no effect on them. Give it a try; just don’t push to the point of pain.

     

    • American Special Forces are taught to squint their eyes, as tightly as possible, for about 10 minutes. This technique is used to improve the speed of photopigment regeneration - no doubt similar to the SPEZNAZ method above. Again, I have found this suggestion works for me personally.

     

    • We all know pirates wore eye patches, right? No doubt they suffered grievous injury during adventurous swashbuckling activities. Well, some historians believe the patch had nothing to do with battle wounds. Many now believe the patch was more likely used to preserve night vision when traveling from above to below decks, or from bright light to the dark innards of their vessels. The popular television show Mythbusters did an episode on this topic and proved that the eye patch did indeed help preserve night vision. Medical science concurs, given that the generation of photopigments is independent for each eye.

     

    • When trying to see in the dark, look slightly away from the objective. To refine even further, focus a little left or right. This action causes your pupils to concentrate the available light into the area of your inner-eye where more rods are located and should improve the image.

     

    • Red light does not cause the decomposition of photopigments. Air Force pilots, before proper cockpit lighting was installed in war planes, wore red filtered goggles so as to preserve their night vision. If you know you are going to be going from a light area to darkness, wearing red filtered lenses of some sort will accelerate the adjustment of your eyes.

     

    • Speaking of red light, having a flashlight that is capable of illumination in a color other than white is a good tool for the average prepper. If you find yourself in the dark, but need to read a map or navigate a gully, using red light will not hurt your night vision. Blue and green light is almost as effective.

     

    • A retired Secret Service agent once taught me a handy trick. To increase peripheral vision, tilt your head forward a few degrees. The geometry of most male eye sockets is such that a slight downward angle allows for a wider range of view. This also works at night. Let’s say you are trying to watch an area directly in front of you in very low light. Look right/left about 30 degrees and then tilt your head forward another 5-10 degrees. You should be able to discern a clearer image.

     

    • I’ve spent my fair share of time in the woods at night. One of my least favorite experiences is to walk into a spider web. In some parts of the world, this can be downright dangerous. Some years ago, I took to walking with my rifle barrel held vertically in front of my face. Purely by accident, I found out that if I held the barrel about 10 inches directly in front of my nose, it improved my night vision. It seems as though my eyes having to “focus” around the barrel causes them to misalign just slightly, and that results in ambient light hitting more rods than cones. Give it a try.

     

    • Vitamin A is known to help with night vision. Nicotine is known to degrade night vision.

     

    • The U.S. Air Force recommends pilots who are going to be flying night missions wear sunglasses during the day as much as possible. There is some empirical evidence that photopigment levels and recovery are enhanced if not entirely depleted during daylight hours. I think I look pretty cool in shades anyway, so this was a no brainer for me.

     

    • Some people believe that a sugar rush helps generate photopigments. I’ve never had good results with this, but if you want to shove a candy bar into your pie hole before heading out for nocturnal activities, give it a whirl.

     

    Night Moves

     

    In addition to how our eyes process low light, there are other factors involved in night operations. One of the most obvious is to avoid bright light once you have adapted to the dark. If you spend any time at all in the field after dark, you will be surprised at what can mess with your night vision.

     

    Most modern battle rifles have a device on the barrel called a flash hider (or suppressor). Almost everyone knows this is intended to subdue the bright cloud of expanding gas that exits the barrel when the weapon is discharged. This keeps the soldier from being silhouetted to the enemy while fighting at night. Most, but not all, flash hiders will help protect the shooter’s supply of photopigments. You should test your weapon. This is all well and good for military grade weapons. What may be an unhealthy surprise is the resulting effect when discharging a pistol (no flash hider) or shotgun (rarely a flash hider). Most hunting rifles are not equipped with any sort of flash suppression either. Even if the action is to engage a burglar in your house at night, you are going to be blinded after the first shot. This is why I don’t mind students closing one eye to aim a pistol, and another justification why my go to weapon is still a military grade carbine.

     

    Butane lighters, lightening, a passing car, flood lights, explosions and even a campfire can ruin night vision. The one guy in your group who forgets to put a red filter on his super-duper-megawatt flashlight can render you practically blind for 30 minutes or more.

     

    If you study the history or WWII, specifically the Pacific side of the war, you will find that the Japanese initially schooled our forces, on both land and sea, in night fighting. In reality, Nippon’s military was one of the first to embrace night operations and had a long history of such tactics. They routed the Russian army several times during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), in part by successful implementation of nighttime maneuvers and attacks. One of the first military manuals on the subject was written by a Japanese officer of that period, strongly advising to train as much as possible at night. I have found this to be sage advice especially for preppers. Get out at night and practice. If you wait until things fall apart, it might be too late to develop this skill.

     

     

  • How to shop for Night Vision (April, 2012)

     

    It's a big expense, but well worth it.

    The marketing of Night Vision Devices, or NVD, can become complex for the average Joe Nobody. Like computers or big screen televisions, the manufactures have layered a bunch of jargon and combined it with technical specifications that could make even an engineer’s head swim.

     

    It helps to have a little background into how these little wonders are made. Without initiating a major yawn-fest, it is enough for us simple preppers to know that the manufacturing process results in materials that are inconsistent – or vary in capability from batch-to-batch. This results in a major component (the intensifier tube) having to be sorted into groups and graded like eggs. Some of these tubes are laid by the factory-chicken as grade A, while others are AA and so on.

    Unlike eggs, the grading of these tubes is dependent on several factors, and that’s where all of the complexity comes in. The manufactures of these devices have tried to simplify the whole enchilada for us dumb soldiers, which has resulted in even more confusion. Throw in a healthy dose of competition and marketing departments trying to separate their product from the pack and you end up with the fog of shopping-combat.

     

    First, check the basics. If a NVD is not “gated,” then move on. Early devices, as well as some inexpensive imports, often suffer from a “fried tube” if the device was exposed to regular levels of light. I remember looking at a Russian import some years ago while in a big-box-store. The clerk, before handing me the unit, pulled the lenses caps off. The manager, standing a few feet away almost suffered a coronary and terminated the clerk right then and there. The $800 device was ruined by that simple, accidental act. When an NVD is gated, it has a quick, automatic shut-off capability that protects the unit from sudden exposures to bright light.

     

    You should also verify that the unit is waterproof and has the mounting options required for your intended use. Battery life is another significant factor, with most quality units lasting 35-45 hours without new cells. Once those qualifications are out of the way, it’s time to determine what level of NVD is right for you.

     

    There are two basic measurements or specifications that the average prepper needs to consider when researching NVD. Most novice shoppers learn quickly about the “generations” of these devices, such as GEN I, GEN II and GEN III. It would be great if that was all you needed to know, but alas there is a huge difference between capabilities within the GEN mantra. This has resulted in more marketing separation, with GEN II+, GEN III A – P and other confusing hype.

     

    The first and most important measurement is called the LPM, or Lines Per Millimeter (sometimes noted as LP/MM). At a high level, this is a similar rating to the dots-per-inch of a television. The higher the number - the better. Just like our modern flat screen TVs, a 1080P picture is better than a 780P. The same applies to NVDs.  Unfortunately, this specification is often noted as a range of values within a Generation. GEN III devices, for example, fall between 64 and 72 LPM. That is a big difference! Most GEN II devices range between 54-66. This measurement alone does not qualify the device to fall within a specific Generation, but is a major factor.

     

    Every GEN III device should have a quality test sheet inside the box. This all-important piece of paper shows the actual results for THAT specific unit. I don’t purchase NVD’s from the web unless I can call someone and see this sheet. When I shop for a GEN III device, I won’t purchase one with less than 70 LPM. I can tell the difference, and the price is the same.

     

    The next most important factor is called Signal to Noise Ratio, or SNR. Some experts believe this rating is actually more important than LPM. At minimum, both should be considered by the wise prep-sumer. SNR is a measurement of how clear the picture is to the human eye. A low SNR will produce snow in the image. The higher the SNR, the clearer the picture. This is not to be confused with how bright the image is – just how clear. Most GEN III devices have an SNR of between 22 and 26. Again, I won’t buy less than a 24. I can tell the difference.

     

    There are dozens of other specs that determine a devices quality, but at a high level these are the two most important. As with most high-end purchases, there are several web-sites that explain all of the ratings if you want to dive deeper. One of the best I’ve come across is http://www.morovision.com/terminology.htm.

     

    The prepper also has many configuration options from which to choose. Examples would be goggles, dedicated weapons sight and a monocular. I have found the monocular the most flexible as it can be used independently or mounted behind a weapon optic such as a holographic sight. Head/helmet mounts are also available.

     

    Some people are happy with a GEN II+ device. Others believe it is worth the extra cash for a little better quality. I fall into the latter category.

     

    A good quality PVS-14 (there are numerous sub-models, just look for the number 14 in the model names) should run about $2800. The very best can top $3600 for a Pinnacle tube (very high LPM and SNR).

     

    You will also see the term GEN IV bandied about. Technically, there is no fourth generation of technology; these are units that have electronics that enhance several factors. Personally, I would go with a thermal (FLIR) device before investing in a GEN IV light amplification unit, but that’s just me.

     

    You will also see the acronym WPT, or White Phosphorus Technology on PVS14-type models. This is a new type of light amplification tube that displays black/white versus black/green. I have been testing one for several months and I must say that I'm impressed so far. My example seems to provide a wee bit more depth perception than my traditional green tubes. You can read the specifications here:

     

    I hope this helps some of the good folks out there considering this investment for their preps.

     

     

     

  • Train at home with your weapon (June, 2013)

     

    Ammo is expensive, time short. These drills can make you a better shooter.

    I once had the privilege to shoot with a couple of Delta Force operators. If you are not familiar with Group Delta, they are an elite unit that reports DIRECTLY to the President of the United States. They are considered by many to be the finest combat shooters in the world and after what I saw; I sure would not want to come up against them. One of them made a comment about “dry firing” and that caught my attention, so I began to explore the concept in depth.

     

    Dry firing is exactly what it implies – you operate the weapon with a “snap cap”, empty chamber or even a spent round. A cap is a “dummy” round that keeps the firing pin from “slamming” into an empty chamber, which some experts believe can harm the weapon over the long term.

    I also use a baseball bat practice weight that I purchased. You can get them at most sporting goods stores for a few bucks. The one I have is Velcro, soft and weighs about 2 lbs. Baseball players use them while in the on-deck circle to warm up.

     

    I found out that many Special Forces operators execute a daily ritual of dry firing their weapons and swear that it improves their capabilities. Some years ago, I decided to give it a try and it works!

     

    Here is my weekly routine:

    1.       Follow all firearm safety rules!

    2.       Double check that the weapon is unloaded.

    3.       I load two magazines with a few plastic “caps” that I purchased for a few dollars.

    4.       I do 20 repetitions of bringing the weapon up, acquiring a target (normally a picture on the wall) and firing. Pick an angle or target that even if the weapon fires, you won’t shoot the family in the other room watching TV.

    5.       I do 20 more “reps” left handed.

    6.       I do 20 reps of firing, then switching magazines and chambering a new round (cap).

    7.       I repeat, left handed.

    8.       I place my baseball bat weight onto the barrel and do 10 reps, with each hand, of bringing the weapon up and firing.

    9.       Keeping the bat weight on the weapon, I then hold the weapon in firing position for a count of 20. I do this 10 times with each hand.

    10.   Keeping the bat weight on the weapon, I then hold the weapon in firing position with ONE HAND and count to 20. I do this 5 times with each hand.

     

    While this may sound easy to many shooters, I suggest you try it. What I found out was that I start “shaking” as I get tired. A first, it was difficult to hold the weapon on target with the bat weights. I also found that doing the exercises one handed was a chore at first. After about two months, I could accomplish it without too much pain. After a while, my 7.5 pound rifle feels like a feather.

     

    Later, I started timing myself on the mag changes. If you follow a tight routine, it goes something like this:

    1.       Click timer on wrist watch (or whatever).

    2.       Bring weapon up and dry fire.

    3.       Eject the mag and let it drop to the floor.

    4.       Clear the weapon.

    5.       Insert new mag and chamber a round.

    6.       Bring weapon up and dry fire.

    7.       Eject the mag, bend over and pick up the first one.

    8.       Repeat 4 – 7.

     

    This exercise will help with several skills, not the least of which is that in a gunfight, you probably won’t be standing straight up, so bending over simulates movement, balance and helps you get familiar with your sling and how it feels.

     

    Timing adds stress, and while it is not the same stress as a real fight, any stress in training will help later.

    If you have friends who you shoot or train with, doing a timed competition can be fun to “wager” on, which adds even more stress. I know some guys who would prefer to be shot than have to buy dinner.

    Why shoot one handed? Over 70% of the injuries Police Officers suffer in gun fights are too their hands or arms. If you get hit or have an arm you can’t control anymore, you either know how to continue one handed, or you are out of the fight. Another reason why you should become skilled one handed is that houses have doors, drapes and other obstructions that you may need to use a hand to open. What if you have to hold a flashlight?

     

    Doing dry fire exercises improved my shooting time by over 20% when running drills. That can be the difference between life and death in a gunfight. The weight training helped my offhand shooting considerably.

    Another “fun” training exercise involves lasers. I don’t use lasers on my long guns, but my pistols have lasers built into the grips. The laser turns on and off by squeezing the grip. I run a little drill where you have someone pick five targets, like a vase, mirror, picture, or fencepost.  You simply bring the weapon up to firing position and engage the laser to see if you are on target. The laser won’t lie. This helps with acquisition shooting skills. Again, use a timer, and have competitions to add stress.

     

    One last note is about load vests or chest rigs: If you plan to use some sort of equipment to carry your spare magazines in, practice with that. Train how you fight.

  • Could it happen here? (February, 2012)

     

    A short study of where a modern day collapse has occurred.

     

    A case of TEOTWAWKI and Human Behavior

     

     

    We Preppers are constantly asking ourselves about post-TEOTWAWKI life. What would it be like? Will the government (FEMA) help? How will people react? You can drive yourself crazy asking questions about a situation that never been a reality - or has it?

     

    From a certain perspective, our race has experienced several periods of complete break-down. Some of these situations have been caused by war and famine while others can be directly attributed to religious and political ambitions. Regardless of the cause, the condition is actually not that uncommon throughout history.

    Somali is probably the closest reality of a TEOTWAWKI environment that we can study. For those of you who are not familiar with this little country (well, it was a country) on the horn of Africa, it has been the victim of years of civil war, brutal dictatorships and general anarchy since 1991.

     

    Somali is probably best known to most Americans from the book and movie “Black Hawk Down” where 19 US Military personal were killed in a single operation. The United Nations has been in Somali in one form or another since 1991.

    The similarities between Somali and any TEOTWAWKI situation are many. In fact, were it not for thousands of tons of food being shipped to the area by international relief agencies, it would probably be the perfect example. One has to assume that given TEOTWAWKI, no one will be shipping us food.

     

    The State Department report on Somali reads like a horror novel. Slavery, kidnapping, beheadings, piracy, rape, summary executions, suicide bombers, amputation as punishment, and so many other horrific acts I can’t even list them all.

     

    It also notes so many different organizations, governments, terrorist groups and clans that I could not follow the cast of players and don’t believe anyone really can. What is important to note is that they are ALL FIGHTING EACH OTHER.

     

    So what does Somali have to do with with a self-reliance lifestyle?

     

    I believe than humans are humans regardless of where they live. Our behavior, when stressed, will be more or less the same. In a TEOTWAWKI world, there is a strong chance that our population will act like the population of Somali.

     

    Sources of information by which to study that troubled African nation are available - some are quit detailed. While it paints a bleak picture, it is still worthy of study by Preppers who are curious about how people will react in this type of environment.

     

    Let’s look at the historical time-line from a Prepper point-of-view:

    ·         Government corruption lead to economic stress

    ·         Government collapses

    ·         Famine occurs

    ·         Civil War erupts

    ·         Massive population displacement

    ·         Complete Anarchy

    ·         Small Organizations re-form

    ·         Control of Territory constantly shifts causing population shifts

    ·         Continued civil war among several smaller groups

     

    My attention was initially drawn to the number of refugees, or displaced population. We have all read the opinions of various “experts” who claim that people will not leave the cities. They predict that rural Preppers will be relativity safe from roaming gangs of city dwellers scouring the country side looking for food and plunder.  This has not been the case in Somali. The various factions fighting for power either follow, or are embedded with the refugees.  The refugees will do ANYTHING to escape the violence or find food.

     

    A Danish study found that 74% of the Somali households had weapons. Only 50% of U.S. Households own weapons. To me, this dispelled the concept that “We Americans will be civil to each other because we are so well armed”.

     

    I found it very enlightening that most of the organized groups were either ethnic (clans) or religious in nature. I have often wondered if the underlying racial and ethnic tensions in our country would result in post-TEOTWAWKI groups being formed along those lines.  What about our religions? Will the Baptist unit against the Mormons? I know this sounds a little silly, but open conflict between radical religious elements has happened in recent times – think about Northern Ireland.

     

    The provisional government, backed by the United Nations, has holed up in a hill top Alamo and has little to no control. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4076011.stm) Many Preppers believe that federal, state or local governments will maintain control of at least the cities. While I have to somewhat agree with that perception, Somali gives evidence otherwise. The largest city, Mogadishu, is by far the most violent area of the country – and the home of the government.

     

    Another item that interested me was the sheer number of Orphans, with over 5,000 in Mogadishu alone. What struck me odd about this was that many were cited as being abandoned or “separated” from their families.  What kind of mentality provokes a parent to “abandon” a child? What kind of situation allows for the “separation” of a child from the family? This statistic, while heartbreaking, gives me a strong indication of how DESPERATE things must have become.

     

    The United Nations Commission on Human Rights report on Somali estimates that in 1991, when the civil war broke out, there were over 400,000 deaths in one year. This equates to 5% of the estimated population at that time. If the same occurred here, we would suffer 16,000,000 dead.  What I take from that “projection” is that there will be a lot of people left. This again displaces the thought that if TEOTWAWKI were to occur, there would not be very many people left to “fight” over the remaining resources. While it is true that half of the people in Somali receive their food from international support, wouldn’t our situation be even more “violent” if that support did not exist?

     

    In summary, I believe that several assumptions that can be made for TEOTWAWKI planning:

     

    - People will leave the cities and go where they believe food, or security exists.

    - The simple possession of firearms is not going to be a deterrent.

    - Human beings can become pure animals if stressed enough. Starvation, war and hatred can make us      become a lot more primal that any of us want to admit.

    - Organizations will pop-up even without a government. They always have and always will.

    - These Organizations will most likely compete – and the odds are good that they will fight each other.

     

     

  • Hiding in plain sight (January, 2012)

     

    An old idea that really works.

     

     

    After Holding Your Ground was released, someone emailed me a link to a website that put a smile on my face.

    It seems that in WWII, the Army was concerned about a Lockheed Martin aircraft plant in Long Beach California. The Corp of Engineers decided to “hide” the plant using large scale camouflage.

    We are talking about a VERY large facility.

     

    You can see the pictures at:

     http://www.amazingposts.com/2008/08/world-war-ii-lockheed-burbank-aircraft.html

     

    They basically built the facade of a neighborhood OVER the top of the entire plant. They even hired people to ride bikes and walk around on the “streets”.

     

    While this camouflage was designed to protect the plant from airplanes (bombers), it still validates some of the concepts in HOLDING about diversions, hiding in plain sight and large scale camouflage.

     

    Take a look at the referenced site. I think you will find it very interesting.

  • How to shake pursuit by a post-apocalyptic dog (February, 2012)

     

    During evasion, dogs can be an issue. Improve your odds.

     

    My book, Without Rule of Law, contains a limited section on dogs, specifically on how to avoid or evade them if they are being used in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.

     

    One of my favorite blogs is ramrodded by Enola Gay and Sir Knight over at Paratus Familia Blog. The primary subject matter concerns their family, (I don’t think those are their real names) who actually practice what they preach. They live a lifestyle that is part prepper, part homesteader with a pinch of survivalist thrown in. Enola is one of the best writers you will find on any subject, and I’m often jealous when I read her work. She has also has authored a very well researched book, which you can purchase on Amazon, called The Prepared Family Guide to Uncommon Diseases. Not long ago, Enola and Sir Knight read and reviewed Without Rule of Law. It was a few days later that the email below popped up and I thought the information was invaluable for those interested in the topic. If you aren’t familiar with their blog, please keep in mind they are avid dog lovers as you read the information below.

     

    I had some information on being pursued by dogs that I thought you would find interesting.   Our oldest daughter trained one of our Newfound's for SAR (Search and rescue) and we learned a LOT about being hunted by dogs.

     

    First: Nobody really knows what scent is. A good dog can sniff out the difference between identical twins which would tend to make the case that the smell they follow is DNA based, but again nobody really knows

     

    Second: The dogs love what they do. When the handler puts on the harness the dogs go into "Search mode" and get real focused. In fact when searching in an urban area the dogs will run head first into cars that are parked over the scent that they are following. Also, the handlers tend to watch the dog and NOT their surroundings.

     

    Third: Food is used to train them. We used hot dogs (Kind of ironic). You place a small piece of food in every foot print and the dog eats and learns to follow the sent that way. You spread the treats farther and farther out and soon they follow the scent only getting the treats when the person has been found.

     

    Your section on dog pursuit was DEAD ON. Your scent stays on top of cold streams and creeks and the dogs can follow you over the water (The thought that only fish can track you in the water is true BS), every time you stop to rest or make a sharp turn you create a "Scent pool" the dog will slow down and find the strongest scent and continue to pursue you.

     

    So how does this information help us? The only way to stop the dogs is to make them lose interest or eliminate them. (Please note I am assuming that we are in a life and death situation, I don't take these techniques lightly). One way is to carry treble fish hooks in your kit. Tie some together and place them in a bush that you have rubbed your arms on. The dog will go into the scent pool and get fish hooks in their nose and by the time the handler gets them out the dog will have lost interest for sure. Another way is to carry wire snares with locks. They are cheap easy to get. Use the same technique as above but place food in your foot prints every so often the dog will get so focused you can lead them into a snare on the trail, (Concealed), and by the time the handler gets the snare off the dog (He will need to have VERY good side cutters ON HIM) it will be too late for the dog. And since the handler will be focused on the dog it may be possible to get him into a snare (Especially at dusk or dark) and he will not be able to get off in time and his buddies will watch him strangle,(I'm not sure if this will cause them to rethink their pursuit or make them madder). The same technique can be used with dead falls or pit falls, it is up to your imagination from here.

     

    Joe: I like our pet's. We would track our kids miles into our woods, they would hide and radio in and we would search for them - it was a blast! The information I have given here was very hard to write but when your life or your family's is on the line information is king.   Thank you for the books and keep writing!!!

     

    Sir Knight

    Paratus Familia Blog

     

    As he stated in his email, this was no doubt difficult for him to think/write about. Many thanks go out to Sir Knight and the family over at Paratus Familia. If you get a chance, you should visit their site and I’m sure you will become a regular visitor.

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