Friday, October 24, 2014

From Around The Web

Aesop has been putting out some good stuff on ebola over at Raconteur Report. I have not personally talked about the Ebola because honestly, aside from knowing it is bad and a big problem, I am not too smart on the topic. In that regard it is better for me to keep my ignorant mouth shut.

John Mosby, who now writes more regularly at FO Magazine did an excellent piece titled: The Four Pillars of Individual Proficiency. Excellent stuff.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Carry Guns

Do you carry the same gun all the time? Do you switch to a larger/ higher capacity one sometimes, like say for a trip to the nearby decent sized city or major urban center?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Assault Packs, Rucks and Sustainment Loads Revisited

I tend to break down these different loads into the fairly well recognized 3 tired system (level 1 survival, level 2 fighting and level 3 sustainment). The primary reason I do this is that due to a lack of common vocabulary different names such as get home bag, assault pack, bug out bag, etc all mean drastically different things to different people. The end result is that unless a common terminology is established we are talking apples, oranges and potatoes instead of apples and apples.

The day pack/ assault pack arena really muddles the waters. Personally I bend convention and call them level 2.5 because they do not cleanly fit in either category. Depending on the use they may be an extension of a fighting load to carry stuff that does not fit in a LBE/ Chest Rig/ whatever or special equipment. This might be machine gun ammo or a spotting scope or whatever. On the other hand this might be a light sustainment setup with a few snacks and a jacket, some extra water and a poncho/ poncho liner to roll up in. Often the load in these bags is some combination of the two or a
murky in the middle item. Anyway right or wrong I call this assault pack range level 2.5.

In recent discussions I have talked about overall tiered gear and specifically my level 2.5 bag a couple of notable comments came up. Specifically I recall comments by River Rider and Alexander Wolfe of TEOTWAWKI Blog.

The main point of their comments was that both ended up going with smaller lighter sustainment setups more akin to my level 2.5 'assault pack' than a larger more traditional rucksack. River Rider mentioned weight as an issue and that he was not as young as he used to be. Alexander Wolfe mentioned the speed of lighter systems and leveraging modern technology to get similar capabilities
(to larger/ heavier items) in smaller and lighter packages. Note I do not mean to disparage either of these fine individuals or their ideas even though we might not agree on everything. It is more that I want to talk about the pro's and con's of lighter vs heavier sustainment loads in no small part because the idea has been stuck in my head for two days.

Personally I went through this struggle myself about 2 years back. I was trying to come up with a 'be all end all' system that covered the capabilities I needed yet was still relatively light and easy to carry. I ended up with more or less the worst of both worlds in a pack that weighted close to 30 pounds but did not really fill all of my goals. To complicate matters I tried to do it in a frame less 'assault pack'. It just didn't work.

The end result is that I personally moved to two different sustainment systems in the form of the level 2.5 assault pack/ get home bag and a true level 3 Rucksack. Furthermore for my concept of use these bags need to be more independent than purely tiered. So instead of items existing in my BOB
and flexing to the assault pack as needed, the pure tiered approach, there is a decent amount of redundancy between the two systems. The reason for this is the lighter level 2.5 bag is compact enough that it often comes with me and is not a hassle to haul around. If I were to start using them together I would likely need to do a marriage style combining of stuff then leave behind/ trade off/ etc the left over redundant items. [I suppose another option would be to treat the level 2.5 bag as an offset of the ruck and get a simple little backpack to roll up and stick in my level 3 bag as it's companion assault pack. Not a bad idea really. Might just do that next time I see a cheap but decent earth tone day pack. Think Chris mentioned something like that] Basically in realizing a system could not meet the top end of capabilities and stay within a weight range that was conducive to moving as fast as I might want to in some situations.

This brings up an interesting point. Weight gives you (at least the ability to have) more capabilities but it also slows you down. If this push pull relationship is not handled carefully you can get to a feedback loop where you are slower so the trip will take longer and since the trip is longer you
need more stuff.

It can be said that you want to pack a certain system/ bag with a specific scenario in mind. In the survivalist speak you could say a bug out bag needs to be designed specifically for the scenario in terms of range, climate, etc it is to be used in. Obviously a long distance trucker driving across the
northern Midwest needs very different gear than a person who lives in Florida and works 4 blocks from home. An individual scenario needs to be taken into account. However I have some concerns that 'if it fits your scenario' can be taken in silly directions and becomes the system equivalent of 'shooters preference' run amok or the tactical equivalent of "everyone gets a trophy" no matter how uninformed or even stupid their setup is. Generally speaking right answers from different smart people look a whole lot alike which sort of goes against the "whatever fits your scenario" argument.

For a specific discrete event it would make sense to look at your kit to add or remove items as needed, obviously within reason. However I find that, especially for kits/bags/systems regularly carried for contingencies, this could rapidly become onerous. I am not going to dump my level 2 bag every day based on the days plans. "Well, I will need to add 2 granola bars for today because I am going an extra 5 miles from home, it is warm outside so I do not need a jacket, yadda, yadda, yadda." That is just not realistic. Honestly if I replace stuff that gets used, make sure nothing goes bad and do the seasonal gear shift I'm doing well. I find that coming up with a solid plan that fills my general perceived needs and just sticking with it is probably the best option for normal every day stuff.

To the discussion of your more assault type bags vs a full sized ruck/ hiking backpack:

In general it is important to prepare not only for the conditions you plan to face but those you could reasonably face. This means more food, clothing, tools and equipment than you know you will need.

Case in point: The winter before last I was hiking up in the Huachuca Mountains kind of a scenic work out as I was carrying my BOB. At the time I was alone in the house and it was a Saturday afternoon. It started to rain then snow. As I was jumping rock to rock across a tributary I casually wondered "what will happen if I break my ankle right now?" There was no way I could get out on one leg. The answer was that in two or three days I would have be found. They would have found me with a nice shelter set up laying in my sleeping bag by a fire, probably sipping a hot beverage and playing solitaire. With a 20 pound assault pack I would have been alive but cold, hungry and pretty unhappy.

Bigger heavier systems are going to have more capabilities than smaller ones assuming you make semi reasonable choices for stuff. It is true leveraging newer lighter items and dual use stuff helps.
However without ridiculously gaming the scenario those gains are not that enormous. The gaps I find most problematic in smaller systems in order are lack of cold weather clothing/ shelter, lack of provisions and lack of tools. Along this line you can get away with a lot lighter systems in warmer
areas. Valid points can be made about the need for some of this stuff. However there is danger of going down the 'capabilities' slippery slope where folks say 'well I have a cutting tool' and somehow convince their self a razor blade has the same capabilities as a full tang 8" survival knife and an ax or that a little tin foil emergency blanket 'shelter' the equivalent to a Swack Shack and a military sleep system.

The consideration of speed/ ease of movement certainly favors lighter systems. I agree with this if it makes sense for the scenario (vs a bigger system with more capabilities). To me in this context making sense would be that the lighter bag meets your perceived needs with a reasonable margin for
error.

I guess my biggest reservations about the smaller sustainment load are a) it is not a replacement for a heavier sustainment load for a variety of realistic situations, especially in cold weather and b) that it could be chosen not because it is the right fit but because it is easier to carry around.

We should not discount the idea of using a larger bag and leaving it in camp, an ORP or caching it for the times we need to move faster. This might let you use a smaller bag in more of a traditional assault pack role filling it up with the items you will need for that day or maybe overnight scout.
Inevitably the 'but a ruck is heavy!" whine comes out. The answer is physical fitness in general and with a particular focus on moving over ground in general and carrying a load. Also while it is not nice to say if you lose 20 pounds of excess butt and or belly that 20 pounds of food/ clothes/ gear you could carry for the same amount of effort. Unfortunately less fit people do not somehow magically require less food/ clothes/ gear than fit people do. Bear this in mind when considering your body weight and physical fitness level.

Like I mentioned earlier I ended up with sustainment type systems in both of these loose categories. To which one I pick for a specific situation there is sort of a loose decision making/ risk assessment, most of the time I choose the smaller of the two. The bigger bag tends to come out when I am
going way out into the hinter boonies or in winter. 

Thoughts?

Repost: Book Review: Liberators by Jim Wesley, Rawles

Today I will be reviewing the new Jim Rawles book Liberators: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse Before getting started in case anyone has not read some (or all) of his previous works let me talk about some unusual elements of these books. This book is the 5th book of his 'series' that started with Patriots. I use the term series loosely because of the contemporaneous nature of these books.
The different books cover more or less the same time period from different perspectives and locations. There is some inter twining between characters and events through the books. The nature of these books is that unlike a more conventional series you could, in theory, pick up book two or four and read it as a standalone without being behind or confused about the story. Another feature of these books is that they move between characters/ groups throughout the book. I do not mean simply shifting point of view from Bob to Tom but essentially entirely different stories in different areas that may, or may not come together. For example the last book Expatriates: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse was split between central Florida, Australia and the pacific in general. This part of the Rawles books has taken some criticism, including from me, for making things a bit disjointed but in the last couple books those kinks have been ironed out.

For the sake of full disclosure I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher with a loose agreement that I was interested in reviewing it. Of course there was no talk, let alone pressure, about the content of the review. I also fundamentally like Jim Rawles as he has been good to me and my blogging efforts. This does not mean I would be consciously biased towards his works. However arguably there could be some unconscious bias, sort of how you are less annoyed when the cool guy or cute girl you casually know at the local coffee shop flubs your order than if it is a person you don't know.

So onto the usual format.

I will do my best to avoid spoilers but if you genuinely want to have no clue about the contents of this book then stop reading now, buy and read it then come back and see what I think. However if you do not mind having a little bit more of an idea than reading the back cover but a lot less than say, a kids
500 word book report, then continue reading.

Begin potential spoilers.

The general outline of the story is that it follows two groups one an older couple living on a remote ranch in British Columbia along with their children (the sisters from the last book) and the second a family living in Virginia. It follows them through the beginning of the collapse through the UN invasion and the subsequent conflict. The ranch group has some folks who travel to get to the ranch and the other group had a loose plan at the start that led to a very long bug out type scenario. They all ended up resisting the UN troops in different ways. While the books run more or less contemporaneously this book tends to be more focused on the latter part of that period than the initial part.

The Good: The trend of an easy to read book that flows continued. Earlier books issues with short chapters and lots of jumping around are not present.

I am pleased to say people, even survivalist types were portrayed in what I feel were very realistic ways. The types of situations and levels of preparedness of both survivalists and non survivalists meshed with what I have seen to be accurate.

Along these lines the situations characters were in seemed much more representative of our society at large and arguable as such realistic than previous books. There was a divorcee facing home foreclosure and a writer toiling away at a half done work who cut wood for a living. Folks were
meeting each other and sometimes finding love during a chaotic situation, in other words being actual people not survivalist automatons.

Furthermore the groups people formed into were much more organic along family  and friendship lines than the much spoken about but rare (in actual implementation and rarer in success) survivalist type group. Folks were trying  to get by with their loved ones and friends, some of whom were survivalists.

Additionally it was a pleasant breath of fresh air that characters were equipped with a wide variety of gear, weapons and vehicles. There was never totally unauthentic moment where only a 1911 .45 from X manufacturer, some  specific rifle or vehicle was the cure all to a situation. More like "Tim had  a pistol, rifle and shotgun with some ammo so he was reasonably well armed."

Of course the huge pool of free research assistants the massively popular Survivalist Blog offers gives Jim a huge advantage. He can talk to three people who live near the Whatever Forest, Any County, Anywhere to find a nice location that has the  sort of caves/ roads/ permissive border the story needs. This brings a huge level of authenticity and arguably actionable information not present in other books of this type.

That people were portrayed as an active part of the overall guerrilla/ counter insurgency situation was excellent. Fence sitters can be spurred into action based on something bad being done (by either side) to their loved ones.

Also a significant part of the action being intelligence related folks brought the book more into Jim's (former) area of expertise which let him write realistically and with some authority. In fairness we will revisit this topic later from another angle.

Surely more stuff was good but I cannot think of it specifically right now.

The Bad:

JWR's military background is in Intelligence which was a not insignificant part of this book. However that experience is pretty dated and I strongly suspect more along Cold War lines than the guerrilla/ counter insurgency lines of the book. At times he wrote at some length about various topics that are arguably not that applicable to the type of fight going on. I know it is tempting to talk about your area of knowledge but sometimes that can lead to talking more about what you know than stuff that really applies to the situation, also it can somewhat detract from the story. These parts would have been better served by being adapted more to applicable guerrilla/ counter insurgency situation, potentially with some help, or snipped down.

[Without getting into my background I know what I am talking about with this stuff.]

The Ugly:

I was frustrated at the end that the book seemed to end too fast. Some individuals from the last book arrived on the scene with considerable build up  then it just ended. It felt like when someone has to write a minimum 5 page paper and is cranking away then realizes they are at 4.5 pages and throws in
the cliche restate the point ending paragraph to close it out.

The book would have been well served by being 20 pages longer (or if X pageswas the goal snipping a bit here and there from other parts to free up the space) to do service to that part of the plot line.
.
To me some of the connections between characters from different groups from previous books (Specifically the sisters from the last book and the original group from the first book )was forced yet for what did not really lead anywhere.

It is confusing to me that forethought (at least a book or two back) was put into inter twining characters in different areas to come together but it almost seems like the planning on how to do it was deeper than the planning on what they would do, or why the thread of connection added value to the bigger story.

In this book I would probably have had one group in this book who was not really connected to the previous books fight the good fight supporting different resistance cells. That would have seemed less forced and also given a good platform for different TTP's and lessons learned (good as well as bad).

I should note the bad and ugly are very relative and did not significantly detract from the overall book. Sort of like if the waitress is a bit slow bringing your second beer/ cup of coffeee so it arrives less than optimal temperature at an enjoyable meal with friends, and everything else is good.
It is a minor annoyance but a few days later you remember the dinner and have forgotten the less than optimal beverage.
My overall assessment is this book was excellent. I tried not to get into spoilers but there is a lot on bugging out by vehicle as well as by foot. Additionally many interesting lessons for potential insurgency situations as well as more general survivalist ones were present. Furthermore I found it a
very enjoyable read with characters you can really relate to and root for as they go through the events that unfold. This is probably the best book in the series. Buy a copy of Liberators: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse to read and get another to give away or loan to a friend and not get back.


There may well be a second more free form thoughts and lessons post on the book down the road. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

What Did you Do To Prepare This Week?

Wifey started a fall garden
I am working on updating my level 2.5 assault pack/ get home bag
Working on our family fishing skills
Packet up a ready to go set of hygiene stuff
Acquired a new holster for the Kahr CW9
Physical fitness has hit center stage. We are working on getting healthy and
fit by eating better and moving more.
We went camping this weekend. Along this line of effort we put together some
stuff that will likely evolve into our camping/ heavy bug out setup.

Next week my plans are to:
Fill up the BBQ propane tank
Get some more water containers
Order some more long term storage food
Get to a tentative revised plan for my level 2.5 bag
Keep hitting fitness hard

What did you do to prepare this week?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tueler Drill Revisited and AMERC's Thought on Condition Three Carry

AMERC talks the Tueler Drill. I spoke about the Tueler Drill and it's various associated misconceptions some time ago. To rehash the major take away is not knife vs gun but action vs reaction. Before getting to the main point of condition three (empty chamber, loaded mag) carry we should hit a key point. At the initial jump action has an advantage, every single time. There is a reason the person who swings first wins the majority, probably the vast majority, of fights.

The way around this is to use your understanding of the dynamics of personal violence and crime to act appropriately. This is, within reason, probably more important than sheer draw (or whatever other movement) speed. Let me explain with a hypothetical scenario as fought through by two people.

Scenario: Walking out of a grocery store at 10pm on a week night. In the dark parking lot two individuals approach you and go for the classic talk to close distance 'can I bum a light/ get a jump, etc all'. They intend to rob you and are armed.

[I made them both LEO's not because it really matters but to even out the potential argument that a cop will act more aggressively since they are dripping qualified immunity. Just makes for an easier scenario to explain Old Guy's situational awareness without the immunity argument.]

Timmy Tactical is a young LEO in his mid to late 20's and a competitive shooter. He is in good shape and works out regularly. He is part of the small departments part time SWAT team and goes to a variety of different shooting/ tactical type classes for work and on his own time. Timmy carries a Glock 23 off duty and can draw it from concealment (Kydex IWB holster with open cover garment) in 1.7 seconds.

Bob is an older LEO. He started in patrol, spent a few years doing drug stuff then went to robbery. Bob is now in the last couple years of his career training young officers in the finer points of filling out various administrative documents. It is a simple job and he likes it that way. Bob has never been a big shooter. He goes to the range bi monthly at work and once or twice a year with his now young adult children. Bob has a bad back and knee from various injuries which are compounded by being 50 pounds overweight. Bob carries a Model 60 stainless steel S&W J Frame .357 in a pocket holster. During the summer that holster goes in his Levi's pocket and in the fall/ winter in the pocket of his jacket. His draws are in the 4 second range.

Let us run Timmy Tactical through this scenario. Timmy might or might not see what is happening and the bad guys might or might not peg him for having a piece or being a cop. However since Timmy is thinking more about the girl he met the other night and his new copy of "Sh&t to Bolt on a Piccany Rail Magazine" than the parking lot lets say the robbery goes down. Around cigarette time Timmy draws. It was touch and go but the guys ran instead of getting into a fight.

Bob has all the usual thoughts but is pretty decent at shutting the off during more dangerous times like moving from a store to his truck in a dark parking lot at night. When he sees the two guys 50 feet away Bobs hand went into his jacket. He didn't know these guys but knew enough like them to have a fair guess what might be happening. Thirty feet away Bobs hand came out of his pocket with the .357. Suddenly our two bad guys had something else to do.

The point I am trying to make is that despite Timmy being able to draw a full 1.3 seconds faster than Bob, that Bob drew 5 seconds earlier meant he was in a much better place and avoided a fight all together. One could argue a weekend worth of South Narc combined with a little bit of research on criminal behavior in your AO and paying attention are more important than pure gun handling.

To speak tacticool if you PWN Observe, Orient and Decide you have a lot of space to develop the Act part. Conversely all the Act in the world will not make up for waiting too long to get going. 

So I do agree that situational awareness is, within reason, more important than the specific gun you are carrying or the holster it is in.

Now to the discussion of not chambering a round in your handgun. Here are some of AMERC's thoughts, and here are some more

Without arguing we can look at two facts of empty chamber carry that are both negative:
-Your time to draw and prepare to fire the weapon WILL BE SLOWER. Simply put you are adding an additional movement at some point between grasping the firearm and being ready to fire. Adding the additional movement of racking the slide to the draw means it will take more time than simply drawing the firearm.

-Second and more concerning to me you need two hands to rack the slide of a firearm. Carrying a handgun loaded and ready to go you could in theory have one hand occupied but still draw and employ your firearm. Carrying a semi loaded firearm you need two hands to get it into play. Sure one can try to snag the sight on a belt or something and rack it one handed but A) that is a fairly advanced maneuver designed as a last ditch option and B) it is still another motion. [Additionally there is the subjective C) that the population carrying a handgun without a round in the chamber are probably not the kind who will get special higher metal sights put on their handgun and practice the ole snag the slide to rack the slide thing a lot.]

On the subjective side I will humbly submit that if there is a well recognized legitimate defensive firearm instructor of the .mil/ LEO or serious (vs mandatory CCW class type stuff) defensive instructor who recommends carrying your handgun with an empty chamber I have not heard of them.

My opinion is that as a general rule if you are not comfortable carrying a pistol with a round in the chamber you either need to get a different gun, a different holster or some training (or maybe all 3). Some folks psychologically need a physically accessible safety to be comfortable actually carrying their gun loaded. If that is what folks like then I say rock on.

To combat the finger F then the gun goes boom problem I would get a holster with positive retention (thumb strap most likely, you can get them on IWB holsters) then keep the gun in it. Take the gun off, in its holster then put it away. Take it out, put it on and repeat as needed.

The exception I can see to this is some sort of carry where the trigger is arguably exposed, either to being obstructed or unintentionally touched. The odd time you end up slipping a handgun into a back pocket or off body carry like a backpack is what I am thinking about. With anything short of a DA revolver, which ain't gonna fire by accident, I would keep the chamber empty for these odd events.

Additionally the defensive weapons I store ready to go do not have their chambers loaded. My G19 sits on a shelf in the Home Defender. Since it wouldn't work to keep it in the holster I have chosen there I keep the chamber empty. When I take it out I rack the slide and either go check on whatever or put it in the holster. Honestly of I need that extra quarter second in the bedroom I'm probably hosed anyway.

So that is what I think of that. Thoughts?


Friday, October 17, 2014

Ebola: Understanding and Preparing for an Outbreak

Ebola: Understanding and Preparing for an Outbreak Available on Amazon. Kindle editions are currently .99c and will stay at that price for several days before rising. I haven't got a chance to read it yet but for the price of a snickers bar it is almost surely a good deal.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Guest Post: Ebola Observations From a Lowly Nurse

Hey Ryan, It's been a while.

As you may recall, I am a nurse and have been an active participant in mass casualty drills. I would like to impress upon the readers a few of my observations.

One. Take a look at the pictures of the workers in Africa. Most hospitals  don't even have that level of PPE gear hanging around. A post from AM said it best. Our gear is made to not spread it between compromised patients, not keep you from actually getting a disease with a 70% kill ratio.

Two. Third world countries are third world countries. They don't have as far to fall as we do. Mass casualty events in West Africa tax a system that already sucks. It just sucks more. America sits on a fine honed point of logistics and systems. Once we take a step off of the point, it's a long way to the sudden stop at the end.

Three. The very thing that we have going for us will be the thing that has to be controlled. The massive numbers of healthcare workers coming in to contact with potential carriers will exponentially increase the likelyhood of spreading the disease. In Africa, there is one doctor for 100,000 patients. That sucks if you're a patient, but it reduces the likely hood of passing it to the CT Tech on the first floor because some doc decided to check on your spleen. WE will actually have to throttle that very thing which makes our health system great. Resources and trained people.

The novel One Second After is a great resource for the health care outcomes of a disaster. It describes nurses going to work for a week and then reporting to quarantine (in this case for 21 days). 


I think that this is an event that bears close watching. Also, remember, small children can't use gas masks. Their respiratory system isn't strong enough to pull through the filter. Start looking at fire safety hoods and the like that are made for young ones.


Thanks gang,
Chadow

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Assault Pack/ Get Home Bag AKA Level 2.5 Load- Including New Comments and Discussion

Awhile back TEOTWAWKI Blog did an everyday carry bag contest. Both to support that excellent blog and provide something I felt was lacking to the conversation I participated. Have been meaning to cross post that discussion here and today seems like as good a time as any.

 This is the bag I carry basically everywhere. It is a merger of my everyday carry bag, survivalist 'get home bag and military assault pack. It has plenty of room for the usual civilian EDC lunch, laptop, paperback book, etc all for when I go someplace. Admittedly the ratio of stuff in there to spare room is pretty high but the stuff in there already covers many of the anticipated needs I would be putting stuff in there to fill the bag with anyway.
This system presumes I am carrying my normal EDC stuff and have servicable clothing/ footwear. I keep some clothes and footwear in the vehicle in case I get caught in swim trunks and flip flops.
My system is carried in a Tactical Tailor backpack. It is about a decade old so names and models have changed but I think they still make a similar bag. This thing has been used and abused and just keeps kicking. There is something to be said for buying nice once. I attached a water bottle holder, want to say Maxpedition brand.
The whole system is shown on my HPG Serape.
Generally from left to right, grouped by rough system:
Food: I set this system up with the home made MRE day of food (oatmeal, ramen, tuna, granola bars, peanut butter) in the ziplock bag but ended up puttiing a bunch more stuff in there, plus an MRE plus a small baggie of granola bars and snacks that sits in the front pouch for easy snacking access. Without doing calorie math this is probably enough food to replace energy/ calorie loss in a high output environment for roughly 2.5 days. There is also a 5 hour energy shot in there. Also pictured are a plastic spork and a metal spoon.

Clothing: 2 pair of boot socks, a pair of nomex fliers gloves, a t shirt and underoos. Also there is a lightweight poly pro top and a fleece beanie. In putting this together I toyed with taking them out as well it is June in Louisiana but they are pretty light and small. Might be good to have in case I get wet and the temp drops a bit or something. The clothing currently rides in a white plastic trash bag in case my backpack gets moist.I would like to replace this with a USGI wet weather bag or similar civilian equivalent.
Over on the other side rolled up is a multicam soft shell type jacket. They are comfortable, breathe well and are good for wind as well as moderate rain.
Lighting: Shown is a Petzl headlamp and a little LED light. In making this my daughter got to messing with the small light and I found out it doesn't work..Next to it is a small bag with a variety of batteries (AA, AAA and CR2032) plus a bic lighter.
Tools: Ka Bar. I wanted a good fixed blade knife for this system and it seemed like a decent candidate. Certainly it was the best candidate already in my inventory. It is there for heavier survival type tasks my folder might not be ideal for. Also it is sharp and could hurt someone if needed. Given that this bag is often lying around here or there I want to stick to tools that are fairly low priced. Would be hesitant to keep a $400 Busse TGLB in here but a $50 Ka Bar is an acceptable risk.
I am looking at shifting up to a slightly beefier more survival (vs fighting/ general) type knife specifically one of those beefy British MOD Sheffiield survival knives or some sort of Ontario offering.

First Aid: I have a 'boo boo kit' with band aid's, tylenol, moleskin, liquid bandaide and athletic tape. The goal is to keep me walking and treat minor injuries. There is also a chapstick in there. Next to it are a pair of spare glasses and some ballistic eye pro.
Weapons Cleaning: A small cleaning kit plus a ziplock bag with an old toothbrush and some pipe cleaners. This is mostly because I use the bag for military applications as well as general/ survival use. Still being able to clean a weapon is a handy thing.
Honestly I dislike this kit and prefer the older ones with solid metal rods but well this one was handy.
Shelter: The system is shown on my HPG Serape. It is expensive but a real useful do a lot of things piece of kit. There is a generic casualty/ thermal type metalish blanket in the  middle and a survival solutions OPSEC poncho over on the right. Next to the poncho are 4 lightweight metal stakes wrapped with a wad of 550 cord and 2 bungie cords to aid in shelter making.
Between the poncho, serape and casualty blanket I have a decent 3 season solution for the South.

Communication: A couple 3x5 cards and a variety of writing implements. Also a piece of VS-17 panel for signaling.
Navigation: Compass, a Silva base model I've had for half my life. It still points north and is light n easy to stick anywhere. The 1 gallon bag has my navigation stuff which consists of a couple maps, a protractor and a couple pencils.
Water:a 1qt steel bottle with nesting lid. For resupply I have a Sawyer Mini water filter and a bottle of purification tablets.
Hygiene: I have a roll of TP for obvious reasons. 
Cordage: There is a wad of 550 cord in a small ziplock bag.
Self Defense: This system presumes I have my normal CCW pistol. Shown are 2 33rd Glock magazines and a G19 mag. They are empty currently. Also 100 rds of 9mm ball is there. I'm still sort of feeling this one out. Honestly I'm not too concerned about firepower but the idea from Ed's post to keep a couple extended mags seemed sound, the G19 mag is just in case I forget to bring a reload or otherwise need a normal sized mag. The ammo is enough to load the Glockamole mags and the spare G19 mag plus reload my 2 edc mags.
Honestly in my area if things developed in such a way I needed them there would be plenty of time to load them. I carry 2 mags for CCW so this is not a huge concern.Got to figure this part of the system out.
To Do (at some point or another):
Replace small LED light
Purchase USGI WW bag.
Get mag pouch to hold 2 extended glock mags. Probably load said mags. Figure out how I want to carry any extra ammo.
Replace plastic spork and metal spoon with 1x metal spork.
Replace cleaning kit with a better one.
Relook food and maybe remove some through attrition.
Add an IFAK for trauma. I have the stuff, just need to put it together and toss it into the bag.
Add a pair of cheapo foamy ear plugs.
Put a bit of cash in there. I typically carry $150-200 USD in my wallet but $40 in mixed bills with a few quarters wouldn't hurt.
Get a stuff sack for the stakes, cord, etc.
I am toying with putting a hydration bladder into this system. It would boost the water capacity a lot and be handier on the go. I have a minimalist camelback and a couple spare bladders so it will not cost me anything to try.
Discussion:
My concerns in rural Louisiana are not the same as many peoples. As such you can see it is far more outdoor survival oriented than on more urban concerns of riots and such.
This bag is rather militaristic and full of multi cam as well as various USGI stuff. That is because I am in the Army and A) this setup is dual use for comparable military and civilian applications.  B) It was largely put together of stuff on hand. Aside from duplicates (headlamp, water bottle, etc) the only stuff purchased intentionally for this kit were the bag (about a decade ago for Army stuff) and the HPG Serape. The rest was already on inventory.
If I was a civilian the bag would likely be a quality Kelty/ REI type day pack in an earth tone. Ditto for the multicam being replaced with green and the USGI stuff with civilian equivalents.
If folks were interested in setting up a similar system I would recommend they focus more on type/ capabilities of stuff than exact make/ model. No real reason you should get a basic Silva compass like mine over say a comparable Brunton model that is on sale. 
Edited to include:
Part of the reason I wanted to to do this is because this bag is going to receive some attention in the near future. My goal is to make it a bit more versatile to a wider variety of more modern concerns. As such I wanted to document the original and then look at/ talk through the changes that will be made. More to follow in coming weeks. 

As always your thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

Edited to include:
I was going to write a couple of lengthy replies so it made sense to bring them up to the main page. Comments will be in italics and my replies will be bold.

Anonymous Commander_Zero said... (note Zero replied to my thoughts so my original words are normal, his are in Italics and my reply to his reply is Bold.
"Purchase USGI WW bag." - Whats a WW bag? Wet weather bag.
Get mag pouch to hold 2 extended glock mags. - I use the Maxpedition MP5 mag pouches, or the Blackhawk 3x MP5 pouch.
Noted, Though the 2x melee mags might be a casualty in the new revision.
Replace plastic spork and metal spoon with 1x metal spork. - I went with the Titanium spork. Practical yet tacticool. I have a Light My Fire Titanium Spork  in the BOB. Reviewed them awhile back. Actually I think there are a couple floating around our various kits. The downside of multiple fairly redundant systems is that I end up needing a few of the same thing. Another will get tagged onto an order in the near future.

I am toying with putting a hydration bladder into this system. It would boost the water capacity a lot and be handier on the go. I have a minimalist camelback and a couple spare bladders so it will not cost me anything to try. - Im playing with the military ones from Source and am so far pleased, esp. with their little 1-liter that will fit in a GI canteen pouch and lets me refill without taking the bladder out of the pouch.

Tossed a  CamelBak Hydrobak 50oz Black that was already on inventory into the rig. That way I could take it with and have the option to put it into/ on the bag or use it independently. Will fiddle with this system more to see how well it works.Those Source ones are nice. I had one at some point but think it got thieved by an Army buddy.


October 14, 2014 at 12:40 PM
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Blogger TEOTWAWKI Blog / Alexander Wolf said...
Ryan -

Thanks for the kind words about T-Blog. Looking forward to seeing where you're taking your bag.

October 14, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Alexander, The general trend will be adapting it to have some more urban type capabilities. A full set of clothes in a naked bag, burner cell phone, maybe some little E&E gadgets and potentially a multi tool.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Good article!

We have been working on our get-home bags, recently.

There is always room for improvement. I am still adjusting the food element/clothing element of our bags. It is an ongoing process.


I find our systems are rarely static. 

October 14, 2014 at 9:26 PM
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Blogger tweell said...
I've added a bit more hygiene for mine - a hotel soap and a couple wet alcohol wipes, along with a comb. The comb is handy for combing cactus off - here in the SW that can be a problem.
There's just hard candy in my bag for food. Empty calories, but non-perishable and doesn't require extra water. 3L water, because this is a desert. A multi-tool, since I can't carry one at work. 


Tweell, I often rock wet wipes exclusively for hygiene though a tooth brush would be a good idea. The multi tool I am really on the fence about. In the woods not that awesome but in town a pair of pliers and some screwdrivers can be darn handy. May include one if I can find a place to trim some weight off.

October 14, 2014 at 10:50 PM
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Anonymous riverrider said...
nice setup. this is pretty much what i was talking about using with my enhanced lbe setup. been looking for a knife sheath that drops a couple inches to clear the pistol belt and/or ruck belt. i liked it better when there wasn't any choice of gear. it was alice, suck it up. now there's too much out there to choose from i suffer from decision paralysis.
October 15, 2014 at 9:25 AM

RR, Great minds think alike. For your knife problem it is hard to give a good answer without knowing all the variables (knife, sheath, what it is attaching to, etc). Generally speaking SPEC OPS makes a pretty decent looking Spec-Ops Brand Combat Master Knife Sheath 6-Inch Blade (Coyote Brown, Short) or for Ka Bar length knives the Spec-Ops Brand Combat Master Knife Sheath 8-Inch Blade (Coyote Brown, Long). Of course they are one size fits most but if it's along fairly general utility/ fighting knife lines it'll probably fit. Another option is a dangler to go on your existing sheath. A third option depending on your budget to gear snob ratio is to rig up something with either 550 cord or zip ties. Hope that helps.
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Monday, October 13, 2014

From Around The Web

Weapons Man talks physical security. Excellent stuff.

Hat Tip to Claire Wolfe for pointing out: Breaking 43 Years of Silence, the Last FBI Burglar Tells the Story of Her Years in the Underground. 

Her story is certainly interesting. While the woman's politics are pretty far from mine and I suspect most of yours there is certainly something to be said for people who have strong beliefs and follow through on them.  She only receives partial credit for staying under the radar since nobody was looking for her but some things she did in terms of getting away with something as well as staying 'underground' were solid and deserve mention. In no particular order those are:

1) Keep your mouth shut.

2) Continue to keep your mouth shut.

3) Stay off the grid. This means living in a place that is not in your name, working under the table, Today this also means no electronic communication or social media.

4) Stay away from co conspirators and people from your old life. This is probably the biggest single thing people do wrong.Lumped in with #3 no social media, email, etc.

Things she (and to some degree that group) could have done better.

1) While the woman in question did leave her immediate social circle she stayed within the same general community. Some kept right on with the same causes in the same place. For the gal in the story she moved in similar groups out west under an assumed name. Cops might look for a liberal (communist/ whatever) activist in a lesbian farm compound but are unlikely to look for one say, cleaning stables at a ranch. This could extend to all manner of  interests and hobbies, especially obscure ones. like say benchrest shooting, falconry, etc. 

Casual individual hobbies, especially common ones for a person's age/ gender/ social group/ area would likely not be an issue. Think about how many white men between 18 and 60, especially in the south go fishing. On the other hand if you used to be a competitive fishermen who did tournaments all over going back to one, even as a spectator would be full of danger. 

2) They talked. In this particular case the statute of limitations was long past and the political winds were such that no consequences came from it. However if a person had died or national security interests were evoked they could have been punished. Furthermore something vague like "Denying constitutional rights" or some sort of conspiracy charge there are always work around methods for the government if the will is there.

3) Building a new ID and just moving on was relatively simple in that time. The old 'paper trail' method was definitely an option at that point in time (and probably was until the late 90's-2000ish when computers really started to be common. 9/11 certainly compounded that problem) so instead of living as a nomad working under the table she could have built an ID and had a whole lot more options.

4) After a decade or so the gal went back to just living under her own name. There were not warrants or anything. Heck after a year or two she could have just gone home and had a normal life. Depending on the situation a year or 5 can clear up a lot of problems. That being said if an organization/ group has any sort of memory it is not that hard to find people living semi normal lives these days with a computer. A group with a list of enemies might just have some well constructed search queries they run on a regular bi monthly schedule just to see if anything pops up.

5) The operation could have been compartmentalized. Specifically setting it up so the crew doing the job did not know each other's names would have been prudent. That would have meant one individua getting caught did not automatically mean the whole group would.

Along these general lines our old post Disappearing For a Bit is worth reviewing.

This is why people record conversations with the police. Or better yet, do not talk to them.

I recently stumbled in the the Raconteur Report via back links. Cool blog I will have to check out more often.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Headshots with Walking Dead Weapons: Featuring Jerry Miculek



Pretty cool little video. That being said I have two reservations. First you will note that while the shooter was moving the targets were stationary. When BOTH THE SHOOTER AND THE TARGET are moving the difficulty level is significantly compounded.

Second saying 'Well Jerry Miculek can make that shot" is kind of like saying "Well Alton Brown could salvage this meal" or "Kate Upton can pull off that outfit". The kind of things these top tier professionals do are not able to be consistently replicated by normal practicing enthusiasts, let alone laymen.

That being said we can certainly just enjoy the cool video.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Range Report: .308 Bolt Gun and Kahr CW9 Impressions and Trigger

I went out too the range today. The primary goals were to give another shot to my problem bolt gun and put some rounds downrange with the Kahr CW9 in an intentional way. An ancillary goal was to confirm zero on Project AR. I have not shot it for awhile and in that time also put a free floating rail on it.

 The problem bolt gun was brought back out of the safe. Shortly after the last time I shot it that gun got a good cleaning and I double checked that the bolts on the scope mount and rings were all tight. Also tightened the action screws and gave it a solid once over.

Why that gun did not shoot well with Remington Premier Match King 168 grain BTHP ammo I do not know. Maybe it was a bad day, I do not know. Maybe a bolt someplace was loose. Maybe it was hot or maybe it was the humidity. Who knows.

Also to whichever folks recommended trying 150 grain soft point ammunition I am quite grateful. Took a couple different loads to the range.

First up was .308 Remington Core-Lokt SP ammo of the 150 grain variety. This stuff was pretty good. It shot solidly decent groups.

I need to come back with more time and back off to 100m to confirm but this gun is shooting well.  The gun is accurate and has potential to continue an existence in my battery as a viable general purpose sporting rifle.

Next up was some Winchester 150 grain SP ammo, whatever that particular line is called. That stuff was great. Real consistent and grouped great in my rifle. Multiple groups where two where right on top of each other and it was obviously me who pulled the third. The last three groups were two horizontally even three shot strings where the rounds struck on top of each other and the third was more of a triangle. I'm not super into groups or whatever but if the bullet holes are touching that setup is probably a keeper. I plan to get some more of this ammunition. A couple hundred rounds would be an excellent start.

From a budgetary angle I would like to get a box or two of Prvi Partisan 150 grain SP ammo, Fiochi 150 grain SP ammo and some 150 grain American Eagle ball just to see how they shoot.  The goal would be a slightly more economic load that is acceptably accurate to have set away for some sort of contingency SHTF scenario. The kind of thing you stash 500 rounds of just in case.

Put a couple rounds through Project AR and it was way off. I'm talking 4" low and 4" left at 25 yards. Obviously that needed to be adjusted. A couple groups later my AR was back on. Decided to put the rest of the mag into the target to see how many would stay in the little orange circle, did 10/12 with the other two straddling the line. I like that rifle a lot. Goodness gracious I should considering what it cost but still it is  a darn nice rifle.

Onto the Kahr CW 9. I opened up with some Wolf 115gr 9mm. My pistol shot a few inches below point of aim. WTF. Wondered if it was the ammo. Wolf is not precision ammo but I've found it solid for training, plinking, etc. Maybe the sights were set up for a higher velocity ammo?

Next up was Winchester 9mm 115 FMJ AKA White Box. Pretty much your most unambiguous plinking/ training round out there. It was not quite as low but was still low. WTF. I KNOW THIS AMMO IS GOOD.

What I came to realize is that I was shooting the gun all wrong. It's DAO trigger really needs to be treated like a double action revolver. The vast majority of my semi auto centerfire handgun experience is with Glocks, 1911's and the Beretta M9. I have shot a variety of other guns but not enough to really build muscle memory. What I was doing is that I was subconsciously squeezing a bit harder at the point where Glocks 'stack' which was somehow throwing my shots low. A slower and more consistent (vs the stacking Glock and other striker fired pistol triggers) pull brought my shots back to where they should be. Acknowledging the Kahr CW9 is not a target pistol I think it is plenty accurate for reasonable defensive work. The more I shoot it the more I like it.

Put another mag of 9mm Federal Classic Personal Defense 115 grain JHP through it. They shot well. I really need to rotate most of my loaded mags in the not so distant future. Some of those rounds have been sitting in mags for awhile. I'll have to get a box or two of the stuff now or wait till maybe they have another sale and pick up a whole case. Another case of defense rounds would be really nice.

75 rounds in and no failures.

 It was a great day at the range.



Friday, October 10, 2014

Battle Belt and Level 2 Thinking Revisited

I am reviewing a battle belt package setup for a guy. More info will come about that later and for the sake of the rest of this post it isn't really important, except that it got me onto the topic of battle belts.

The MOLLE fun and comfort of these has taken off in recent years. Some folks run a battle belt like a big foamy pistol belt with just a couple mags on it. Others like Max Velocity use them as a new school LBE. Mine, which I am too lazy to find a good picture of is sort of in the middle.

Carrying your equipment around the waistline held up mostly by the shoulders is probably the most comfortable overall option. However it comes with couple real limiting factors. This option is, in all but the lightest pistol belt like configurations, is unanimously voted to be a an uncomfortable, and in some cases even physically impossible option for vehicle based operations. It is difficult to get in and out of a vehicle, buckle up, move inside, etc with a huge ole tire of gear around your waist.  Not something you would want to do then spend hours in a vehicle day in, day out. Less frequently mentioned is the disadvantage in urban operations. Try climbing through a window with a big ole LBE/ battle belt around your waistline. Additionally the added width makes you more likely to get snagged/ caught up on stuff moving through buildings.

Another issue with the battle belt is that, for most people, it limits your options in terms of backpacks that can be carried.  For level  2.5 day pack/ assault packs pretty much any option works fine.  However for level 3 sustainment loads the only real widely available option is the ALICE. Note that I said for most people here; obviously individual load out's and body types matter here.

So while I really like the battle belt, or as I prefer to call it war belt, for dismounted patrolling and with a level 2.5 load it sucks for being in and around vehicles and is at a disadvantage if you are truly living out of a ruck. The more I think about it the more I am less and less certain this should be my primary fighting load. Honestly it sort of feels like it could be more of a nitche piece of gear.

 We talked about this awhile back. In the meantime I built a battle belt. What has made me rethink previous potions?

Honestly I am really tired of trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. To be more clear I am tired of trying to jerry rig and work around the inherent limitations of the ALICE pack. Not saying they are exactly a bad pack, lack of comfortable aside, just that they are what 1960's technology? Lots of things have come a long way since then in terms of materials, fasteners and ergonomics

So what does that leave me for options. I can't claim credit for this concept as I stole it from John Mosby.

-Something along the way of a pistol belt with a couple reloads and a knife. This is really the wild card. I have a cobbled together setup now. If I were to have a system show up at my door tomorrow it would be an Endom MM belt, a Costa Leg Rig (reviewed by TEOTWAWKI Blog), a  Safariland drop holster or at least for awhile the Safariland 6125 I already own and a pair of very light/ thin suspenders.  Somehow or another I will slap a knife on there. The concept is to have what I would call an enhanced level 1 load in a package that can work with a real decent backpack. I don't think the suspenders would be needed for weight but to let me drop the belt an inch or so and to hypothetically prevent the darn thing from maybe falling around my ankles if I moved a certain way or whatever.

-Chest rig, probably the Blackhawk one I already have.

-Stripped plate carrier

-Some sort of a new, yet to be purchased, backpack to haul my sustainment gear.

The end result would be a scalable, vehicle compatible setup that allows the use of a quality modern pack. Or that is the goal anyway. It is good to have goals.

So that is where I sit with all of this stuff today. Likely in the near future I will put some money where my mouth is. Thankfully I own many of the components listed so this setup could be elevated from pieced together to fairly intentional for $150ish.

Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

Finished cutting the wood in the yard

Pulled out the generator, fired it up and let it run for a few minutes with a small load

Did some maintenance on the wood cutting tools

Ordered a holster

Started paying better attention to my diet

Did some testing on a battle belt rig for a guy

What did you do to prepare this week?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Stocking Up Causes Shortages?

My post Ammo is Back: Stock Up If You Need It! received a comment today. I do not moderate comments on recent posts but do on older ones. I do this to become aware of them so I can see them and respond, also a high percentage are spam. The comment was:

"People who "stock up" on ammo because they see it in a store are the cause for the shortage. It's like the toilet paper shortage long ago, people make the problem and it's an endless circle."

 Fundamentally this comment is seriously flawed. People who stock up on an item, even to quantities some would consider excessive, during normal times do not cause shortages. These are, minus .22lr totally normal times in terms of gun and ammo availability. Let us try a little exercise.....

Say I purchased all 47 cases of of Tula 124 gr 7.62x39  JHP Lucky Gunner currently has in stock at the excellent price of $219/1k. What impact would me purchasing all that Tula 124 gr JHP ammo have? They would be out of that type of ammo for a little while. Say for the sake of this discussion they did not have cases of Tula FMJ, Wolf and Red Star in abundance all under a quarter a round. 

Impact? For a couple days or a week people looking to purchase 7.62x39 ammo by the case would have to hold off or go through one of many other online vendors. In short while the other guys do not offer live inventories (so you KNOW they have it in stock) and fast shipping there would be no real impact. This type of stocking up does not cause or contribute in a meaningful way to any shortages.

The panic purchases during a shortage can certainly on a large level in fact cause shortages. It is a self perpetuating cycle. People think an item is rare so when they see it they buy a bunch, even if they do not need any. This leads to more empty shelves and more folks feeling desperate and buying all they see of the item. It is a vicious cycle.

However a guy who bought ammo BEFORE THE SHORTAGE does not cause it and arguably makes it a tiny bit better by not being part of the herd of folks looking for a rare high demand item.

Thughts?
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