Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Stash Guns- Man Vs Zone

Paw Paw and Tamara talked about this awhile back. I have been meaning to address it for some time.

While I don't disagree with them I look at the issue a bit differently. Given the people I am disagreeing with one might go as far as to say I am wrong. I don't really care.

When it comes to guns in the home we have two fundamental options. To steal basketball language they are Man and Zone.

Man would be the gun is on you. This works great if you legitimately do it all the time. Also if you have a small number of handguns (like 1) or little kids in the house this is really the only way to go. It also will give the bestest/ fastest deployment times. The rub is many if not most people will not do it consistently. Either they get home and take off their clothes to put on comfy stuff or they want to get that heavy gun off their hip.

One interesting option here is to have a small, LIGHT, little piece to carry around home. The Ruger LCP and all manner of light weight J frame .38's come to mind here. This is nice because it is also a good low profile carry piece as well as a 'run to the corner store for a quart of milk' gun. My LCP fits this role.

Tangent. While there are certainly other valid options the LCP has a lot going for it. Prices have come down so they are commonly in the $250 range at local gun shops and 220ish online. At that price it is easy to justify owning one. I am planning to get a spare myself. End tangent.

Recognizing this natural laziness the zone plan is an option. Say a gun in the living room, one conveniently stashed by the front door, whatever. In a normal average house smartly stashing 3-4 pistols means you are always pretty near one.

A real belt and suspenders approach would be to do both. That way you have one on you all the time but for the occasional walking to the bedroom in a towel moments there is coverage.

Whatever plan you choose just have it in place. Be prepared to defend yourself with lethal force at a moments notice in your home at all times.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Vehicle Gear #1 A Conceptual Discussion

Our recent post Urban E&E/ Get Home Kit got me thinking about this. It also works conveniently because that is the current push in my personal preparations. My initial goal was to beef up the first aid kit there but I decided it was as good a reason as any to re look all the stuff in my vehicle.

I say 'all the stuff' instead of implying it is a cohesive system because there are multiple somewhat independent systems in play instead of one large system. This is complicating for at least three reasons. First because we have to figure out what all we want this stuff to do. Second instead of being sub systems we really end up with different systems that live in the same place instead of say sub systems in a larger cohesive system. Third we have to be cognizant of unintended redundancy/ duplication between the largely independent systems that live in the same place.

In a most basic sense the stuff in our vehicles can be broken down by vehicle stuff or people stuff.

Vehicle stuff would be spare fluids, tire and jack, tools for basic repairs, etc. Depending on your automotive skill set, vehicle reliability and access to repair assistance this could be a little or a lot. If you have some skills and drive a less than reliable vehicle on empty roads a lot a very comprehensive kit would make sense. On the other end of the spectrum a not so handy person with a new ish car might just have jumper cables, a spare tire/ jack, a couple road flares, some fluids and a few basic tools.

People stuff is a bit more nebulous. Personally mine is roughly broken down to the following:
Overnight bag-  A change of clothes, sleeping gear, shoes, toothbrush, etc. Alternate title is 'ho bag'.
First aid- A mix of emergency first aid trauma stuff with everyday type things like band aids, pepto, aspirin etc.
Get Home Bag- Kind of a bug out bag that lives in my car.


Misc- There is some stuff in there that defies ready categorization. For instance a ziplock bag with a spare Glock mag, 50 rounds of 9mm, probably some .22lr an maybe even a .38 speed loader.  Also a set of bolt cutters and a big ole crow bar. I could arguably say it is part of one of the 4 general systems I laid out but I don't really care to.

There are other plausible systems a person could have. They might have a long gun with ancillary stuff or a robust wilderness survival set up. Folks who are often in wild places in cold winters need a sleeping bag, heavy coat, gloves, hat, boots, etc. Nothing else comes directly to mind but other options could certainly exist.

Now we have to talk about constraints. What are the constraints to stuff we keep in vehicles.
-Space. Obviously less of an issue if you drive a full sized truck with a canopy or a Suburban but more problematic in say a little sports car. In any case space is still finite and using it for emergency and preparedness stuff competes with your normal everyday use.
-Cost. If you need to purchase stuff for these systems it obviously costs money. If you pull stuff from elsewhere it is a loss there. Anyway stuff costs money.
-Risk of loss. Vehicles get broken into regularly. An awesome bug out bag with all the coolest gadgets like night vision, FLIR, sat phone, cash and weapons could easily cost several thousand dollars. For all but the richest the loss of that would be very hurtful. 

My intent is to look at all of these systems. First alone and then together. I intend to do posts on each of them.

Your input is welcome now and later if/ when I do future posts on the topic.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Urban E&E/ Get Home Kit

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cash As A Survivalist Tool

I don't think we put enough emphasis on cash.

I carry a knife and a lighter and a gun pretty much all the time. I use the knife and lighter for everyday tasks but the gun just kinda sits around. Odds I need a couple hundred bucks cash all of a sudden are probably higher than needing the gun.

If we look at realistic emergencies that are likely to befall us most of them will go a whole lot better with cash. Are we more likely to need a few hundred bucks during a regional disaster or a dozen buckets of wheat? Sorry folks but it is the cash.

Of course everything needs to be in proportion to your life. For an average guy a couple hundred bucks in his wallet, a few hundred in his BOB/ GHB and several hundred or more (say a months cash expenses) in the safe at home is realistic and covers a lot of bases.

Those numbers were for an average type income. For a lower income person cut those amounts in half. For a person with higher income and expenses add more money accordingly.

In most realistic situations cash is the way you will buy the goods and services you need.

Someone is inevitably going to say "cash will be worthless in a hyperinflation scenario so I use precious metals/ beads/ etc all". This person is ignorant. First because you aren't going to be able to readily trade those things in MOST REALISTIC SCENARIOS. Second of all cash is essential in the beginning of that type of situation, read some FERFAL. You just spend it. Third we are talking about a relatively small amount of money. Say add it all up and maybe a months income. If you wanted to keep however much gold and silver put back with the cash I would say that is fine.

Got cash?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Movie Night: Range 15 For The Win

Check out a review here. Definitely adult language and sexual content. If you are ok with that it is a hilarious movie that in many ways catches the modern veteran and shooting/ gun enthusiast groups.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

How Much Stuff Do We Need- A Rational Systems Based Approach 2- A Comment and the Cost Of Not Using This Approach

Yesterdays post

How Much Stuff Do We Need- A Rational Systems Based Approach 

received a comment I thought should be addressed. It also lead to a larger issue. The comment was:

What's the causative event? Duration? Any secondary or cascade failures? What geographical area? Season? Localized, regional, or nationwide? Just John, or does he have his young son for the weekend or aging parents to care for?

Whatever you guess you're most likely you're going to be wrong, so "P for plenty" here. Can't make a plan until you can define the problem(s), but once the problem(s) are known it's often too late to stock up on the gear/supplies to execute the plan.

My response is as follows:  First of all thanks for taking the time to comment. To the first paragraph I was attempting to do something fairly generic. By region we can take a pretty good swag at what the threats are. The gulf coast has hurricanes and the west coast has earthquakes. In the middle are some mountains and a lot of rivers that flood. Obviously if John lives in the inland PNW say in Spokane, WA his winter gear will be very different than if he lives in south Texas. We know what family members we have. I'm not saying every person has the exact same needs though I think if we really look at it aside from regional weather and family size needs differ very little. The question of how much we can and want to prepare is an open ended one. 

To the second paragraph I have to disagree.

 Look at it like this. You are going to the grocery store but forgot the list. You need to shop now for some reason so you can't go get the list from home. Do you 1- try to remember the list? 2-Make a new list? Or 3- Do you just throw random shit in the cart and to make up for it being totally random buy a lot of it? No sane person would do #3. If you would not grocery shop that way why would you possibly prepare that way?

To paraphrase Eisenhower 'plans are useless but planning is indispensable'. What are you buying? Why? How much? How did you decide how much? The honest answer is most people are pulling it out of their butts.

More to the point I want to talk about the downside of haphazardly buying more and more stuff.

Everyone has limited resources and space. 

 If you spend money on stuff that does not fit into cohesive and logical systems you are not using your resources as efficiently as possible. Either you are buying one thing when you should be buying another or you are unable to afford something because you bought another thing instead. Two examples here.

First is an older Southern Man I know. He is a serious survivalist with an enviable set up. The thing is he doesn't have body armor or modern night vision. He described them as ruinously expensive. This is ironic to me because the man has a massive gun collection. He has to have 50k in guns, probably more like 100K. He could sell a Colt 1911 he never shoots, an M1A he wouldn't miss and one of his HK 91's and buy a NOD for him and body armor for his whole family while still having way more guns than he could ever use. His resources are miscalculated. This is partly because he just kept buying guns instead of building cohesive systems.

 The other is anecdotal to me working on my own systems. The things I need multiples of are often unexpected ones. I DO NOT NEED a bunch more guns but I do need another couple of gun belts and weapons cleaning kits. Footwear is also a theme that keeps coming up but not usually Army boots, actual stuff I would wear in real life that I can comfortably walk all day long in. Hygiene kits as well. These are all things I would not have thought of unless I started looking at systems.

 That new FLIR Scout TK is $600 (I want to see some reviews vs the normal Scout model and stuff but in principle I am really excited as its solidly affordable) and I want one. Instead of buying some items I might not actually need I could add this really cool capability to my BOB. 

Even if you have a lot of them its still limited. To paraphrase Jim Rawles of Survival Blog "For $500 I could fill my garage with toilet paper". Obviously if your garage is full of TP you can't store 5 years of Mountain House goodness in it. 

Finally it is not that I am against having a lot of stuff. By all means keep developing systems to suit your worries as far as your finances and space allow. If you want and can afford a fully stocked doomsday bunker then get one. My concern is about using the money and resources you have as efficiently as possible. To get the most out of your dollars and space by planning instead of just going about it haphazardly.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

How Much Stuff Do We Need- A Rational Systems Based Approach

I have been working, albeit slowly, on trimming down the amount of stuff I have. Eventually the elephant in the room of survivalist stuff has to be confronted. Otherwise it would be like talking about the US budget without touching entitlements, totally pointless.

Part of the first look will be easy. Unnecessary older junk. What may have been a better than nothing back up for a college kid may not be necessary for me now. Also if I just toss the random junk in a dozen boxes it might go far enough to eliminate a box. You get the idea.

What to do with the significant accumulation of stuff is a more pressing issue. This made me ask myself "How do I figure out how much stuff I need?"

I want to have the right stuff in the right quantities. Space is limited and will be a real issue for some of my upcoming plans. So the P for plenty plan doesn't work. If you have a big house with a barn and a shop then then space not likely a concern. However even if space isn't an issue money, to some degree or another, almost surely is. So while you might have a lot of space to store stuff that doesn't fit into your plans it would still be better to spend your limited money on the right stuff.

What I realized is that I was looking at this from the wrong angle entirely. Instead of arbitrarily deciding how many of a given item I need to keep around what if I look at it from the other side.....systems.

The realization I had was that I should decide what systems I want to have and then figure out what stuff is needed for them. This way instead of a wild assed guess on how many pistols or multi tools or knives or backpacks I need I could actually have a number that comes from somewhere.

I am still working on this one for myself. Honestly I'm not sure how much of it I would wnt to share anyway so lets instead discuss a hypothetical persons set up.

Lets say John is a survivalist. A pretty normal guy who lives in a mid sized town. He has a normal job and makes decent money. 

EDC light- concealable pistol, folding knife, light, etc.
EDC heavy- full sized pistol, robust folding knife, spare mag pouch, light, etc.
Fighting Load- EDC heavy plus rifle, body armor, chest rig, hydration system and light day pack.

Get Home Bag- lives in vehicle. Usual get home stuff. May include a hand gun.

E&E set up. Change of clothes, cash, pistol, day pack, etc.

Light bug out set up- Bug out Bag plus fighting load weapons. Suitable clothing and footwear.

Heavy bug out set up (vehicle based)- Think car camping on steroids with stuff to sustain for awhile.

Operational Cache- A rifle and pistol, chest rig, hydration system, medical gear, day pack.

JIC go to war set up- One EDC light pistol, two full sized pistols, two rifles, a pump shotgun and a precision rifle. Decent amount of ammo, mags and all the usual nylon, leather, etc. This would ideally be at some sort of bug out type location.

JIC survival set up- Think mountain man. A deer rifle, shotgun and a .22 pistol with ammo. Ax, shovel, saws, seeds, salt, shelter like tarps, cordage, etc. Buried where you can see your self going for a Plan D if things go all Zombie Apocalypse.

Another persons systems might differ. They might have 2 E&E caches and no JICC go to war set up. The exact quantity and make up of their systems could differ based on their needs/ wants. Also obviously I did not try to list the entire composition of every system.

The point would be to decide how you want to be set up and make that happen instead of just getting more and more stuff.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Election Prep- Just In Case

I talked about this awhile back. The election is closer and Hillary Clinton is in it. We all know her ability to blatantly cheat and get away with it so she could very well win the presidency. Also she is running against a giant offensive ass hat. So I wanted to prepare. For the next 2 or so months I am going to put my investment money into precious metals, specifically steel and lead.

I built the rifle and bought some AR/ G19 mags. Also ordered 2 cases of 5.56. Next month I will buy some other ammo probably 7.62x39 and the FAL mags. The month after that if its available I will buy 7.62x51. Ammo availability at current prices may not happen again so it could be a major savior for me and mine. Absolute worst case (best case overall but worst for this choice) nothing happens and I'll still have the ammo.

It isn't too late but the time is getting short. You may want to look at your own stuff as well as your finances and fill in some holes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Concealed Carry and Self Defense Discussion/ Observations

These are interesting times. I have seen normal people who are neutral about guns arming up. The kind of mid western women who grew up around guns and were ambivalent about them. I suspect men are doing the same but the kinds of men I interact with socially are usually already gun people so I can't say it from personal observation.

A young woman I know recently took a CCW class. She recently got stuck in a traffic jam caused by the BLM crowd and it worried her. So she took a CCW class. Later that night we talked about it and some various related topics.

One of the biggest points that was driven home was minding your own darn business. Anecdotal stories mentioned were about this where CCW holders who were foolish but well meaning ended up shooting people who didn't need to be shot. The grungy looking guy pointing a gun at another guy might be an under cover cop.

This fits pretty directly with my opinion. I am not getting involved in other peoples business unless it is really clear life/ limb/ eyesight are at risk. Two guys fighting isn't my issue. Guy beating up a girl (who I don't know reasonably well) isn't my issue. Guy starts stabbing girl I'll get involved. If I see a crime like say a robbery I am not inclined to get involved.

This is where I have a big issue with that whole sheep dog idea. I carry a gun to protect myself and mine not the whole world. For a whole host of reasons I do not feel the need to act like a non paid cop. Clearly for me and arguably for society people doing that causes more problems then it solves.

Another excellent point came up in the inevitable what if discussion. When it comes to employing a handgun if you are not sure you need to use it then you shouldn't do so. The point was that the kind of situations where a handgun can legally/ ethically be used are pretty clear cut.

Mixed feelings about this. I agree though at the same time I believe in being proactive within reason. Think about  South Narc stuff and Street Robberies and You. First and foremost you potentially have criminal encounters not become full bore crimes against you. Second if things go sideways I would rather be in the best position to win possible. I can draw from concealment in about 1.5 seconds. That drops considerably if my hand is on the gun, also more importantly there is a lot less that can go wrong. Now have the gun out and I'm around .75 of a second without anything (employment of the firearm wise) significant left to go wrong. This is a pretty big grey area. There are lots of potential variables. What makes sense in an empty parking lot with 3 shady guys at 2 am would be completely overkill for a pair of tweener kids who probably just want you to buy them beer in the Safeway parking lot at 7 o'clock on a Friday.

They talked about guns a lot. It was a SIG vs Glock thing with one each older male representatives of teams wheel gun and 1911. This brings up a couple significant points.

Firstly most guys worry about things in exactly the wrong order. We think guns/ gear then skills then legal stuff and prevention. It should be the exact opposite. We should care about avoiding problems/ knowing the right response then shooting skills and after that the gun we carry. A bad ass like Paul Howe or John Mosby is going to win a gunfight with a rusty Charter Arms snubby. Heck a moderately trained guy like me probably will. On the other hand a person without a clue what is going on who can't use a gun can have the best gear and they are next to useless.

Second she showed me a picture of them all sitting around. The reason this was noteworthy was the handguns on the table. Full sized double stack pistols, some of them with lights. My general observation is this is almost intellectually dishonest. Most people simply will not regularly carry one regularly. The joke that when someone says they carry a full sized handgun to ask them to show it to you NOW (and they will mumble an excuse and probably be carrying nothing) comes to mind. I worry some people have an all or nothing idea and instead of being like cool guy John Mosby and carrying a G19/17 with 2 spare mags, medical stuff, etc which is a hassle they instead carry nothing.

I'm done writing for today. Maybe more will come out tomorrow.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

State of Myself, Preparation and Lastly The Blog

Hey Folks, I figured it was time to touch bases. I am doing pretty decent. Some time for reflection was good. As to where life is going I have a better idea then before so that is good.

I have been sober for a minute now. Won't say that has been a magical solution to all of my problems but it certainly helps. If nothing else I am creating life problems at a much more sustainable pace. Figuring out what makes me happy now has been interesting. I like live music and ice cream a lot.

Some of my time and energy is going towards getting my body back to where I would like it to be. That mean weights and running, also eating better. Working on my skills also. Regular dry fire and after my time with the kids is done I will get back to combatives and a regular shooting regimen.

Most of my preparations and energy towards that is the stuff listed above. The rest of the energy is really going to solidifying my systems. In an incremental way I am working on setting up EDC (light and heavy) then my fighting load, get home bag, heavy bug out set up etc. This is moving pretty quickly as I am really just rounding things out, not totally reinventing them. My EDC is done and the fighting load only needs a couple things (I think a single double taco and the belt that will come from replacing the EDC one). The GHB can use a phone charger and I think that is it. Beyond that the issue is mostly organization. Small holes will likely come up when things are organized but the right stuff is generally around.

I am also working on organizing normal life stuff and getting rid of excess. I hesitate to use the word minimalism as it doesn't exactly apply. Maybe getting rid of excess stuff is a better way to put it. This applies to all sorts of stuff that is not regularly used without a valid purpose as a back up or contingency. I have considered some alternate housing options and to make that kind of thing work I would need to have a lot less stuff.

As to the blog. Consistently posting a couple times a week is the plan for now. As to focus I want to catalog my efforts to focus on realistic preparations for likely survival related events. I think we can get too focused on very unlikely events at the expense of much more likely ones which is a big mistake. I hope to get people thinking in the right direction.

The commercial side of the blog is in limbo. I am toying with setting up a much more automated model. This way I can eliminate or at least minimize administrative hassles. Also I won't feel like I owe an advertiser something as much as I did in the past. If I get busy and blog a bit less it is fine.

So anyway that is where things are. Your input is always appreciated.

From Survival Blog: Is Being Prepared Getting In The Way of Living?, by M.

What are you preparing for? Are you getting ready to survive an EMP attack? A financial meltdown? Flu pandemic? Nuclear holocaust? Regardless of what we are preparing for, sometimes it is healthy to ask ourselves how we are living in the meantime. Those of us who feel a need to prepare do it with a passion, but are we preparing in sensible ways that allow us to enjoy life each day, or are we so busy watching and waiting for the chaos of life to justify the time and money we’ve spent on our “preps” that we miss a lot of the important business of living in the moment?

I was born in the late 50’s and grew up just outside of Washington, D.C. The Cuban missile crisis happened while I was in kindergarten. To this day, I remember it vividly. We were sent home early from school wearing name tags. When my sister and I walked up to our house, my father was loading up the car so we were ready to flee at a moment’s notice. Around that same time, I remember touring a fallout shelter, which my parents were considering buying and burying in the backyard. Living where we did, they thought long and hard about that one. Lots of our neighbors did, too. A few years later, I remember standing on the porch of our suburban D.C. home with my father after Martin Luther King had been killed. Riots quickly erupted. We could hear the explosions in downtown D.C., only a few miles away, from the rioting and devastation. The experience was chilling. Then Richard Nixon resigned after Watergate. I was in college at the time and working a summer job at the Pentagon. I listened as people I worked with, who came from all different backgrounds, actively talked amongst themselves and wondered if the government was going to fall and if the guidelines provided by the Constitution were gone forever. I remember sitting in line for gas during the gas crisis of the 70’s and creeping along mile after slow mile (on odd or even days, according to your license plate number) for a turn to fill up the tank. When I married a career Army man, we spent years living overseas, mostly off-base in German and English neighborhoods. During the first Gulf war, while my husband was deployed to the Gulf, military families living off base were given very specific safety instructions. One of the things I had to do every morning was get down on my hands and knees to check under the car before I drove our children to school to see if there was anything suspicious under there. I would always keep the children inside while I turned the key in the ignition, just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything and the car didn’t explode. Sound to you like maybe I was overreacting? My husband was the duty officer of the day when the Red Army faction tried to blow up the NATO school in southern Germany with a car bomb in the 80’s. He only survived because of a faulty timing mechanism on the bomb. 

So what else is new, you might ask. You say that you already know we live in an unsettled world. My point in rehearsing my little history is to share the fact that, although I grew up in a home where we were always prepared and my husband and I continued to practice always being prepared, I never felt like a prepper. I applaud prepping. I respect independence and self-sufficiency. However, I see too many people today who are so busy prepping that they seem to have forgotten how to live happily in the here and now. I offer up the following guidelines as examples of my own benchmarks. They are my mental safeguards that help me to be prepared but keep me from crossing over into an unhealthy obsession with prepping. And yes, there is such a thing as an unhealthy obsession with prepping. Any virtue carried to an unhealthy extreme becomes a liability. 

Rule #1: Prepping supplies cannot spill over into the comfortable living areas of my home. I don’t care how valuable certain items might be for bartering after the SHTF, if they interfere with my ability to provide a comfortable living environment for my family, then they have no place in my home. Making memories in the here and now is important, and I don’t want my child’s predominate memory being that there was never a clear path to walk between rooms and that she was embarrassed to invite a friend over because the clutter was so bad. I believe in stocking up; I really do. I have a tower of TP out in the shed and buckets of wheat in the downstairs closet to prove it. However, my family members feel like they live in a clean, comfortable home, well, at least most of the time.

Rule #2: Every spare minute cannot be devoted to prepping. Prepping takes time and careful thought, but every hour spent prepping is an hour that you will never get back with your family for family memories. We combine the two when it makes sense. Working in our garden together as a family teaches many valuable lessons. However, if the kids are endlessly waiting around to play football with their dad and he is always too busy because it is more important to organize his bug out bag, then the wrong lesson is being taught. I have watched parents justify all of their time spent prepping by saying that they are doing it for their family. In my experience, children would rather have their parents’ time than just about any other resource. Okay, so maybe they won’t have the coolest gadgets or the greatest variety of foods in a crisis situation. But if they have good memories with their parents in the here and now, most will consider that a more-than-fair trade-off. There is also a much greater likelihood that they will function more effectively as a family unit and know how to support each other. They will also probably be happier and more adaptable.

Rule #3: Prepping decisions need to be jointly agreed on by both spouses. Otherwise, resentment simmers and eventually boils over. The biggest argument my husband and I ever had (and this is the truth) was about shipping empty Clorox bottles I had saved for water storage from Massachusetts to England during a military move. He was livid that I would even think of expecting the U.S. taxpayers to spend their hard-earned dollars on such folly. My position was that it had taken me two years to save up that many empty bottles. I made enough sacrifices as a military spouse already. It wasn’t fair that every two years I had to go back and start from zero again. In the end, we compromised. Mostly, I gave in. We shipped a few empty bottles– just enough so I could start a water storage plan as soon as our baggage arrived. The rest were thrown away. Prepping decisions always involve time or money, and both are important resources. Both parties need to be equally invested in those decisions. Even if one party is willing to do all of the gardening chores, both parties need to be in agreement on the amount of lawn to dedicate to the garden as opposed to, say, a hot tub and pool.

Rule #4: Specialization is smart. Be grateful for the skills of others. They save you boatloads of time and effort, which allows you more time to enjoy the genuine pleasures of life. None of us is good at everything. I am really good at sewing, storing and preserving food, and gardening, but I am hopeless at figuring out solar energy configurations and options. In fact, pretty much anything having to do with energy seems to slip right out of my brain, no matter how many times I try to get it to stick up there. Luckily for me, my brother helped me to set up a very efficient and functional off-grid solar system that would power our freezer, fans, wheat grinder, lights, and other small electrical appliances if the power went out. I am now looking for a smallish fridge that will work well given the capacity of the system. My brother is my best source of advice. Likewise, he was thinking there was no point in his trying to garden at his cabin, which sits above 8000 feet in the Rockies. I was able to share with him some tomato seeds I had that were developed in Russia during Soviet times for a short, cool summer growing season. He hasn’t planted them yet, but the growing seasons aren’t that different, and I think there is a good chance that they will work. Being able to share your individual areas of specializations with those you trust can save everyone valuable time, which can then be spent on simply enjoying life.

Rule #5: Keep the Sabbath Day holy. I find that if I focus on worshiping my Savior on the Sabbath, my time during the rest of the week is expanded to compensate. My financial resources also seem to stretch further. It has to do with the economy of heaven, and it really does work. My husband and I never prep on the Sabbath, and we feel that we have been blessed in our preparedness efforts as a result. Try it for yourself. If there is a particular area of being prepared that challenges you, or if you are short of funds for a particular purchase and you can’t see where the money is going to come from, or if your spouse or other family members are not as supportive of your efforts as they could be, try simply keeping the Sabbath day holy; test the Lord. He always comes through. I can say that miracles have happened in my own life by following this simple principle.

No matter how many years we are blessed with, life is short. While there is no denying that we live in a dangerous world that challenges us with a multitude of different scenarios to prepare for, we always need to be mindful of the need to live our lives each day with gratitude and joy and to set the example for other family members in this as well. Peace comes from being prepared, yes, but joy comes from living. Here’s to finding a sensible balance.

From the excellent Survival Blog managed by Hugh and owned by JWR. I think they are OK with stuff being reposted as long as it is attributed to them. 

My thoughts:
I wish I would have read and internalized this excellent article a long time ago. I would write a rule very similar to the one about not spending every minute on prepping that says not to spend every spare dollar on prepping. Balance kiddos. Figure out a reasonable amount of money to put towards preparedness. Also put money towards entertainment, travel and whatever other stuff you enjoy.

The part about relationships, heck if I know. For me this wasn't a huge marital issue. Preparedness relate conflicts were mostly about space with stuff trickling into living space. Beyond that I am 0/1 for marriages so I do not feel qualified to give advice there.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Foundational Precious Metals Post 2 of 2

Foundational Precious Metals Post 1 of 2

Our friends Peter formerly Bayou Renaissance Man and Jamie of My Adventures in Self Reliance have both recently mentioned precious metals. I got to looking and realized I did not have (or could not readily find) a good foundation post on precious metals. So my intent is to write one.

Before getting started it should be noted I am  not a doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial adviser or anything like that. I speak solely of my own experiences, observations and beliefs. You should check with whatever sort of people, officially licenses or otherwise, then make your own decisions. Consider yourself officially disclaimed.

First we should narrow the scope of this post. My intent is to talk about the purchase of physical precious metals. So immediately I am excluding ETF's and various places that offer to store PM's for you in terms of purchase options. Next I intend to focus on bullion metals. Bullion being various bars, coins, etc that are purchased for the value of their physical metal content. This is different from 'numismatic' or collectible type coins. Numismatic coins carry a value based on their age/ history and condition; a rare 300 year old coin in excellent condition might have a bullion/ melt value (the actual value of the precious metals in the coin) of $300 but a collectible value of $5k. Numismatic coins are a whole different ball of wax and outside the scope of this discussion. We are also not really talking about jewelry. The primary reason we are not talking about jewelry is that it tends not to be a good deal in terms of bullion value and a lot of stuff floating around is fake. The one exception I can think of is for countries where the purchase of non jewelry precious metals is heavily restricted. At that point I would buy simple jewelry like plain wedding bands, bracelets and necklaces but I digress. So we have narrowed the scope of this discussion. Also I guess to further narrow things down I am talking about silver and gold. I am not talking platinum, palladium, copper or my favorite precious metal lead.

As to buying precious metals you can primarily go to a local dealer or an online one. Both have advantages and disadvantages. That is a long conversation. I will note that it is important to consider the complete out the door cost of a given item. Online guys charge for shipping, etc sometimes at high rates. Brick and mortar guys can be a real asset, especially if you want to make a big purchase today. Also the local PM guy can be a pretty handy 'grey market' asset. Their downside is often these folks do not treat smaller, normal Joe Everyday purchasers, very well. The premiums some of them charge are ridiculous. As to putting my money where my mouth is on buying PM's. For the last 3 years or so I have been buying from Montana Rarities and have no complaints though if a local dealer would treat me square he could earn my business in short order.

The pricing of precious metals is a little weird. They are traded on the open market like any other commodity such as wheat or pork bellies. This is called 'spot price'. That being said spot price does not tell the whole story in terms of precious metals for physical delivery. This is called a premium. It is probably a touch more complicated with a wide array of fees, long term contracts, etc all but we will keep it simple.

Theoretically an ounce of gold is worth spot price when it is a bunch of little flakes in a tiny container. The folks at the South African mint making Krugerrands or any other coin have costs to turn those flakes into the shiny coin we covet. Also they have this crazy desire to make money. Those folks sell the coin along with a bunch of its friends to a dealer. That guy also has costs and a desire to make a profit. Depending on the size of the operation there may be a couple progressively smaller dealers between production and the point of sale to Joe Everyday. In fairness to the people involved in this chain they obviously should be compensated for their efforts and they operate on razor thin margins.

These costs generally represent the premium between spot and the real physical price of a given item. Generally premiums are pretty level. Say it is spot plus 5-10% depending on the item involved. This baseline part of the premium is theoretically static or at least pretty consistent.

However sometimes premiums go crazy. At times we can see significant gaps between spot prices and the actual price of a coin in your hand. Why does this happen?

In general I can see two real reasons. One I know and one I think I have seen some evidence of and tend to believe. They both tend to flow together.

One piece is good old economics 99. The reasons large institutional investors buy (largely paper/ electronic) gold is different than the reasons people buy physical precious metals. If the indicators for institutional investors are down and the indicators for buying physical PMs are up you can get a gap. Think of it like this. The Jim Beam factory had a fire so they are having a rough week but it is Friday night and bottles of the stuff are flying off the shelves inn your town. Also physical PM's are a surprisingly small market. A modest increase in demand will mean shortages. Pretty quickly this new demand will get built into the market, maybe within a week or two.

The other piece is that arguably there is considerable evidence that big banking interests, specifically Goldman Sachs manipulating gold and silver prices. With those resources it would not be hard to do but this manipulation would not necessarily cross over to the physical PM market.

Why would a person choose to buy precious metals? In my mind there are four readily apparent reasons.

-First is some sort of speculation. Buy low/ sell high, that sort of thing. Though most people do this with ETF's or such maybe a person might want to physically hold the metals because they are a contrarian investor, have some sort of worst case concerns or something. I am neutral about this sort of plan. It has worked out well for some folks so I am not against it per se, just that it is outside the scope of this discussion.

-Second is some sort of tangible investment but in a more buy and hold kind off way than the first option. I generally like this plan. PM's do not grow via compound interest the way some other investments might. On the other hand when you look at compound interest and factor in inflation the tale is a bit less favorable to those 3-4 percentage points a year. It is said in the time of Shakespeare an ounce of gold would buy a fine men's suit and it still does. If you wanted to stash say a few grand (or more) for ten or twenty years especially if the local currency is unstable or you see bad times coming PM's would be a good way to go.

-Third is as a hedge against inflation or a currency collapse. We will get to it later but I really like PM's in this context. A situation with high inflation or maybe even a currency collapsing but where the fabric of society doesn't entirely break is where I think PM's thrive.

-Fourth is for some sort of mad max type scenario. I do think silver and gold would be traded in this type of scenario but that their value would pale in comparison to say fishing hooks, AA batteries, condoms, etc or especially .22lr, various 12 gauge ammo or guns (purchased for good prices and thoughtfully sold with a decent holster/ sling a few boxes of ammo and if applicable a few mags). In this scenario a person would be most prudent to be thinking past the immediate event a year or two to the recovery which of course implies you have put considerable energy and resources into getting to that point, then put some money into a big ole bag of silver or 5 and as much gold as they can afford.

Maybe we could say there are some other reasons but one could probably generalize them under one of the ones I mentioned at least for the purpose of this conversation.

Something The Money Changer said is worth mentioning here. I think he stays heavy on silver for longer than I would but still generally good advice to consider.

So we have talked a bit about precious metals and briefly described the reasons a person might choose to purchase them. Those reasons matter because different purposes are best suited by different kinds, or at least quantities of silver and gold.

Let us talk about the pro's and con's of silver and gold in general, before getting to specific products.

Silver:
Pros
- Affordable. Right now spot is around $15 which puts a generic 1 ounce silver round a shade under $18 and pre 64 US Coinage 90% is at about 16x face. (This is slightly skipping ahead to specific products but my goal is to illustrate affordability here which necessitates it.) Assuming you are not a homeless junkie these are prices at much anyone can get into precious metals. Buy an ounce or two every payday and over time it will add up.

-Divisibility. The smaller dollar value per bar/ coin make silver the small bills of the PM world. If you wanted to trade for a weeks groceries either strait across or, more realistically, by selling some coins to a dealer then using the cash to buy the groceries a few ounces of silver are the ticket, not an ounce of gold.

-The small dollar amounts involved let you start off small. There is a reason a baseball player doesn't start with the NY Yankees, a lawyer doesn't argue his first case to the supreme court, etc. This way when you screw up, which you will (spending way too much on shipping, pay a silly premium to a local pawn shop, etc) the real dollar amounts involved are negligible. Ten percent screw up factor in a couple hundred bucks of silver purchased while you are learning is the cost of a pizza. 10% screw up on a 10k USD purchase after you unload those jet ski's hurts.

Cons
-Heavy/ bulky. You do not need to have too much money in silver for it to get heavy and to a lesser degree bulky in a hurry. A decent normal guy stash of 3-4 grand in silver is going to be heavy. Much more than that and it gets quickly into wheel barrow/ pick up truck territory. If your goal is to have a whole bunch of silver to trade for things over the long run this is a good thing. The downside is if you have to go somewhere.

I know a guy who has a lot of silver. He is well past wheel barrow territory and deeply into pickup truck territory. If he needed to move in a hurry, say to avoid a natural disaster or some sort of crime thing, a good chunk of the weight his truck could take would be silver. Obviously if he could only leave with a backpack the vast majority of that silver would have to be left behind. Now if he had half or two thirds of that value in gold it could fit in a small pouch in a day pack.

Gold
Pros
-Compact. An ounce of gold is worth about $1,200 bucks. A little tube holding 10 ounces of gold would be worth $12,000. You could fit that in a pants pocket.

-Recognizably.  Gold has a weird almost magical attraction. A fractional gold coin might just get you through a checkpoint you are not supposed to get through or convince a crooked official to look the other way.

Cons
-Compact. Think being in a store that only accepts bills under $20 with a hundred. In some scenarios making change could be very difficult so at a minimum your negotiating power is bad and at the worst the price of the thing could just become the coin in your hand.

You probably noted that the pros/ cons of silver and gold are polar opposites. Both have valid roles and they compliment each other well. For pretty much every scenario a person will end up with some mix of gold and silver.

As to the ratio between them.

On the lower end it favors silver. A guy who has a few hundred bucks to put into PM's should probably jut buy silver.

Long term trading favors silver.

If portability and extreme compactness are issues then gold is the way to go.

On the high end it favors gold. If a person had a bunch of money, either in one shot or over time, to put into PM's the compactness of gold is needed.

I am going to break this into a 2 part post because I am tired of writing and need to get something up since it has been a few days. In part 2 I am going to talk about specific types of gold and silver products and throw out some recommended ratios/ products that might fit different needs.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

RE: Pistol Mounted Lights

In reply to my recent post Fighting Load Evolution a comment came up that I wanted to address.
Anonymous highdesertlivin said...
As I have kids, I'm not a fan of weapon mounted lights. If I'm clearing my house in the middle of the night, my light hand is supporting my gun hand. However I maintain my muzzle down and left of my center illumination point. I know that's not text book, but with kids in the house it is how I roll. With the weapon mounted light, if you light something up you are also muzzling it as well. Unless I'm missing something here? Glad to see you are in better spirits Ryan.
Ryan here:  I can not say if you are missing something as I do not know what ideas you are aware of and have for some reason discarded. There are so many variables with the use of lights and room/ structure clearing that we could run hypothetical scenarios forever. I will give you a couple of things from my perspective to consider.

In my mind there is a continuum of aggression when it comes to the use of lights and weapons based on the situation. On the more peaceable side would be investigating a generic noise with a flashlight and a holstered pistol. Somewhere in the middle the pistol might be out but pointed in a progressively less safe direction. At the more aggressive end I would have both ends on the pistol using a weapon mounted light or just night sights. (Yes this is a really complicated conversation and I am really simplifying.)

The specific case for a weapon mounted light on a pistol (and for using the pistol over a long gun) is that you can operate it with one hand. While not optimal I can use the light and shoot one handed. This is significant if (as is the case now) the kids are with me. Hard to use a light in my off hand if that off hand is full of eighty pounds of little kid.

 The thing about a weapon mounted light is that you can always choose NOT to use it. The added bulk/ weight is negligible in a home defense set up. Once a holster is purchased (lack of said holster is the reason I do not have one on my G19 today) a pistola with a mounted light can be treated like any other holster.

A weapon mounted light is always in addition to a stand alone hand held light. If forced to have just one it would be the hand held. Yes it is belt and suspenders but it gives option and the word every survivalist loves redundancy.

The people who clear buildings to save lives and kill bad people have lights mounted on their weapons. The similarly experienced people I personally know are using lights mounted on their weapons. Just saying......

Right now due to the cobbled together nature of my set up there is not a light on my Glock. I would like the change that. The need to adjust things anyway has me re looking the light situation and considering a move to something with IR to kill two birds with one stone. Before long I will probably have the gear to use the same set up with or without a light.

 Well those are my .02 cents on the subject of weapon mounted lights for home defense. As always the comments section is open.




Friday, August 12, 2016

Fighting Load Evolution

I took a kydex OWB holster and put it on a pair pf cargo pants. Stuck a cheap folding knife in the pants pocket. Put some medical stuff on the cargo pockets. A flashlight in the off hand front pocket. On the weak side I put a condor double rifle pistol mag pouch. Put it in the bottom of my nightstand with a pair of boots.

Good: Now I could wake up and throw on a pair of pants n boots in a hurry. Open the quick access safe to grab the Glock 19 and or AR and I am good to go.

My new set up and a slight change in my light/ summer EDC means my handgun and knife are always in the same place. This obviously has a significant benefit in terms of simplifying my life.

Made entirely of stuff I had on hand. 

Bad: Generally that it is all cobbled together and not necessarily with components that are fit for prime

The belt sucks. It is just a generic nylon web belt. I need to put a dedicated gun belt on there. That means I need to replace the one I am currently wearing and retire it to this rig. The new Magpul belt looks promising. Though I may just replace the one I have with another Blade Tech. The one I am wearing has been my only belt for 3 years and still works good. Just aging past every day wear for cosmetic reasons (mostly because I spilled some paint on it). As I write this it is clear I will buy the blade tech belt.

The knife isn't great. I have a serious case of missing knives in my residence. At least 3 good folding knives are MIA in my residence. Honestly I don't plan to do much cutting with it so the Wally World knife is fine for now.

I am going to think about the mag pouch situation. Maybe to make it lower profile I could put a double pistol mag pouch on the belt (I have a good TT one somewhere) and stick a spare rifle mag in the cargo pocket. Honestly I'm not too worried about doing rifle mag changes in my house.

The flashlight needs a more secure situation. It is just flopping in the pocket. It probably came with a pocket clip which I might still have. 5.11's have a pouch that would work if I could find a pair in my place.

I can probably fix most of these issues by spending a day digging through my house.

Holster- It probably won't work well with a ruck. However realistically I can't see myself carrying a ruck much. If I do I'll probably stuff the pistol in a rifle mag pouch or something. Also I could just use the old belt for that unlikely scenario.

Also my current holster will not accommodate a weapons light. I have mixed feelings about this.

I will play with scientifically tactically test it some and let you know how it goes.

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