Showing posts with label Camping Survival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Camping Survival. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Bug Out Trailer #1 of ?

So after much deliberation I purchased a cargo trailer. It is a single axle 6x10 enclosed trailer with a side door and a ramp in back. Like most trailers in that size range it is rated for a ton of cargo.

On a related note Peter of Bayou Renaissance Man did a  couple good posts on trailers 1 and 2 that are worth reading.

I wanted the larger option (vs a 5x7-8) with moving various longer objects than with additional supplies. While weight is definitely a concern, especially since the tow vehicle is not entirely optimal the extra space could come in handy for lighter bulkier items like clothing or a couple of mattresses. Also my general observation from using trailers is that floor space is at a premium. A trailer will often, especially with odd items, have the floor fill up and only be packed halfway to the top. While not with trailers I have experience packing in a hurry and know we are always less efficient than when packing in a deliberate manner. As such it is probably wise to plan on having more cargo room than you really need.

Also the ramp will be very handy for moving heavier items.

I thought about doing some sort of travel trailer conversion setup but, at least for the time being abandoned that idea.  What we would like will not work in the space available so that idea is indefinitely postponed. For it to be feasible we would need to adjust expectations downward to say sleeping everyone but still storing stuff in tubs, cooking outside, etc.

Note to self: I might be able to figure out a way to set up some short (usually you can do say 1 6 foot high shelf or 2x3 footers) shelves on the sides  then put a piece of plywood with some 2x4 reinforcement down on top then put some foam or something on top to sleep on it. On a really budget side gas cans and or ammo cans would work till I could buy shelves. So this project could get in play for maybe $40. That is in my budget so it is a lot more actionable. If I put that in the back half the side door would still be accessible. May have a solution here.

On a semi related note a small travel trailer is a great option if you have the cash to afford one. A 'toy hauler' with the ability to comfortably sleep, cook, etc plus a dedicated cargo space would be awesome for this. You could use that space for a 4 wheeler or all sorts of sweet bug out stuff.

USNERDOC recently purchased a sweet trailer that looks to be totally set up for a bug out situation.


Seems like a sweet set up. The wood stove and solar being ready to go are pretty awesome. Nice work if you can get it I guess.

What are the next steps?

1- Really firm up my vehicle based bug out setup. Basically a cushy car camping setup along with food, the coleman stove and lantern with propane, pots n pans, some water, the Berkey water filter, the genny, chainsaw, fuel, solar and medical plus of course some guns n a half dozen cans of ammo.  May include my sun oven and some other things, will have to play with it.

2- Have this stuff ready to go in big rubber made type tubs. This stuff might potentially be stored in the trailer. I'll have to play with that one.

3- Figure out how I am going to put that stuff in the trailer in an organized way. Toying with the idea of shelving. Kind of want to have my cake and eat it too here as I want to be able to use shelves yet get them out of the way when they are not desirable. The best idea I have come up with yet is to get some of those pre fab metal shelves and strap them into the trailer.

4- Be much better prepared and happy.

Thoughts?


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

Over the last week or so I have....

-Bought a case of XM80 Federal .308 FMJ.

-Bought 100 rounds of .380 ammo.

-Rotated 10 gallons of gas. I promptly stabilized the new gas.

-Picked up some zip ties and rebar tie wire.

-Replaced various consumables, 3 cases of TP, some canned goods and the like.

-Learned to field strip the FAL. Man that is a simple weapon. I can see why it was so popular.

What is up for this week:

-Got to fix a better solution to protect my tomatoes.

-Mark the date/ fuel/ add in's for the cans I just rotated.

-Rotate some more gas.

-Be better about dry fire. Today was session 1 of the week and I want to hit at least 4x this week.

-Burn up some 7.62 NATO ball at paper and get the FAL zeroed.

-Confirm zero on another rifle.

-Do a short term grid down test run. Cook with non grid power, dust off the Berkey water filter and purify my water, utilize non grid communications, etc.

-Reengage working on the ham license.

-Probably order some silver.

-Probably order some more FAL mags.

-Maybe get some ammo cans and put away a bunch of ammo for the long term.

-Maybe go cargo trailer shopping. Then again I doubt that will happen unless the range trip falls through. They are both in nearby big towns in opposite directions. The trip to go shoot the FAL near Alex is going to burn most of weekend day. The other weekend day will probably be used to go to grocery shopping and do house keeping/ chores. Trailer shopping may be part of my fun weekend day (maybe hit Academy to look for .22lr, a nice meal out, etc) for the weekend after next.

Today's dry fire
Weapon- FN-FA
Drill- 1 rd from low ready
-Par Time- not established
-Average time window: roughly .68 to .99.
-Extreme low: .64.
-Extreme high: 1.13.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Book Review: 299 Days Book Three

Here is what Hoss USMC thinks.



Now my thoughts. Book three starts where book 2 (previously reviewed together with book 1) left off. Without getting too deep into spoilers at the beginning of book 3 Glens family and 'the team' arrive. Grant starts working to get everyone settled in. The broader community's reaction to the events as they unfold. Also the group takes a trip to town.

Also in book 3 we see how events unfold for people from Grants conservative workplace.

Onto the usual format:

The Good: As with the rest of the series this book portrays realistic situations and interactions.

The lack of body armor came up again. I say this as a good thing because it drives home the point that you need this stuff.  Lots of folks have a ton of guns but no body armor and that is real dumb. Body armor is just not that expensive. I get how not everyone owns a NOD. The good ones cost about as much as a decent used car. Maybe they are just too expensive, for a young family making 30k a year with 5 mouths to feed spending a tenth of that on a NOD is not realistic. Also maybe a person just isn't there in their individual preparedness yet. Still body armor is not in that category. For the proceeds of say a 30-30 that was gathering dust in the safe you could get a set of body armor.

When the group went to town dividing up into groups to go to different places was a sound idea. Instead of say each family/ household trying to go to the grocery store, the hardware store, etc all having one person with the master hardware store list, another with the grocery store list, etc makes sense.

A lot of the book was about the political posturing Grant was doing within the community.  Maybe social posturing is a better way to put it. Trying to set the place up to take care of their selves and build the type of robust community needed to survive the mess they find their selves in by properly guiding and framing the conversation is a lot of what this book is about.

Also the way a local guard force is started by a respected local person, in this case Rich the Sheriffs Deputy, makes a lot of sense. This seems to be the way things unfold in emergencies. The community sees a need and fills it led by the most capable willing individual present. I think many places would find that Officer Anderson, Retired Deputy Johnson, 1SG (Ret) Smith or some other capable individual would find a leadership role in the group of residents that guards the community.

People have a way of looking after their selves. In America there are so many guns in the hands of normal citizens.  I think people in most places will find a way to look after their own security against most small time threats. They could deter small groups of bad guys and could put up a pretty good fight against say a dozen or dozen and a half  semi trained bad guys. 
 
These small groups of bad guys are certainly the most likely threats in any situation and I would say the most dangerous threat in a regional disaster like say Hurricane Katrina. Granted in a nastier/ larger/ longer term situation the most dangerous threat is going to be worse. If the local guard forces thing they can beat a smaller group of legitimate professionals or a larger group of serious hard core criminals they might not be looking at things objectively. I would not want to bet on the U Loot We Shoot boys against say a a professional Infantry Squad or a 30 man professional violent criminal group such as the Zeta's, a roving biker gang, etc.

The Bad:

Grant didn't stock ANY feminine hygiene supplies at the cabin. He was too embarrassed to buy any. The guy has a cabin and a pretty sweet setup but not a single box of tampons. You have got to be kidding me.

This can be a touching subject. Being the crazy guy I am I brought up the issue of stocking feminine supplies with Wifey. She said she would keep a 90 day supply and for me to stay out of her business. That seemed fair enough to me.

Regardless of how it could be handled the total lack of a plan was completely inexcusable.

That 'the team' showed up with basically no food seemed real dumb to me.  They had case upon case of 5.56, 7.62x39, 9mm and such but didn't think to get a couple cases of canned food or even a few superpails of rice, potato flakes and such. Heck even a big bag of rice and a big bag of beans is something.

Also none of the characters had much fuel stored. Grant was stocking up a cabin for the collapse of civilization and, if I recall correctly, stored 2x 5 gallon gas cans. We could certainly have a conversation about how much fuel a person needs to stock but these guys were way short.

I think that while the overall scenario laid out in the book series is realistic the power and water staying on all the time is probably rather optimistic. It just doesn't match the scenario. A more realistic scenario would be that while power worked sometimes there would be intermittent black out's some of which lasted an hour or two but others for multiple days.

The fanboyism about how 'the team' looked like military contractors was a bit deep.

Also it is clear 'patriot' was the buzz word of this book. If you want a work out read this book and do 10 pushups every time they say patriot.

The Ugly:

This book is sort of dull. Aside from the brief trip to town it is pretty dull. It makes sense and is necessary within the context of the series but looking at it in isolation this isn't exactly an overly action packed and exciting book.

[For the sake of full disclosure having read further on in the series this book sets conditions for the rest of the series. As such, while the stand alone value is arguably lacking, it has a value within the context of the series.]

Overall impression: It is an OK book and going from book 2 to book 4 is hard so if you liked the first two you should read this one.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Scenario Discussion: Greece June 28 2015

When I solicited for input somebody mentioned doing scenario type posts. I thought Greece today (well more this general period not the specific day) would be a good one.

So what is the scenario. The Greece economy is a mess with high unemployment and a boat anchor of debt. It is clear in my mind Greece will never be able to pay their debts off. Whether they are written off by choice or when Greece simply does not pay is a separate discussion and not really relevant to this post.

Greece recently elected an anti austerity government. This government has the unenviable job of trying to placate their creditors/ neighbors and delivery some sort of a win to their people to get the economy moving.

This is significantly complicated because Greece is part of a common currency, the Euro. The good is that they have been able to exploit being linked to much stronger neighbors. The flip side of the coin this is bad (for the government) is they can not simply inflate the currency; lowering its value and making their goods/ services cheaper giving the country more competitive and giving it an economic boost.

Even more troubling the country is in what I call the 'IMF Death Spiral'.

My current working definition of the IMF Death Spiral is "The situation where a country is deeply in debt and continues to receive loans on the conditions that it will follow certain conditions set forth by the IMF or other national/ international organizations. The conditions of the loans typically include cutting government spending, laying off government employees, raising taxes across the board and various social policies that suit their agenda. The stated goal of these reforms is to improve the economy of the country. However at least in the short term it has exactly the opposite effect. High unemployment inevitably follows and the increase in taxation crushes what is left of the economy."

Now one could argue once countries reach the point of the IMF Death Spiral they are a lost cause anyway. On the other hand we could look at results and say the IMF intervention certainly does not help matters any. One could argue the IMF, etc all's goal in lending out huge sums to countries that cannot possibly pay it back is about extracting a profit, offloading the losses to the citizens of first world countries and having a measure of control over the debtor nations. The little I have read on the IMF was pretty eye opening.

I confess to be almost hopelessly stalled halfway through but this book is a good place to look at the business of big banking.

Anyway back to Greece.

There is a distinct possibility that Greece will A) default on it's debts by failing to make their payments. This would be bad. Another possibility is A) and B) Exit the Eurozone AKA Grexit. This would lead to Greece moving back to their own currency which would be valued on the merits of their economy AKA not worth very much.

Basics-

Of course the basic preparedness stuff of long term shelf stable food, water filtration like a good Berkey, first aid gear, alternate cooking like a Coleman stove, etc apply.

Greece gun laws are fairly European (stupid and strict) so legal modern defensive weapons are out but shotguns are allowed for hunting. A double barreled shotgun and a case of buckshot or large game type shot that is legal and stored in your home would be darn handy if/ when things go sideways. Now on the less legal side I am sure there are plenty of AK's floating in from the Balkans and Romania. If a person had the connections, could afford and didn't care about the laws a concealable pistol and a AK with a dozen mags and a couple cases of 7.62x39 ($220 for 1k of Tula 122 gr FMJ at Lucky Gunner) in some hidey hole sure would be darn nice if things went worse than expected. However I would still want that legal shotgun. It will probably be sufficient and a self defense option on the right side of the law is a good thing to have.

I would look to stock up on normal easy to cook shelf stable foods my family ate. Pasta, canned soup, rice, crackers, PB&J, etc. If/ when the Grexit happens inflation and short term shortages would almost surely follow. About 3 months of normal food your family ate and some long term emergency type food/ big buckets of bulk staples would be a good place to be.

Also the possibility of a job being lost now, and especially if/ when things get worse is higher.

Money-

I would seek to get as much of my money out of the banks as possible. Might leave enough in the bank for convenience to pay a couple small bills with a card or order a thing from amazon, etc. Max $500.

Money in banks would almost surely be converted to Drachma at the official conversion rate which is laughably unrealistic. So hypothetically Greece moves to the Drachma with an official exchange rate of 1 Euro to 2 Drachma. A Greek persons 20,000 Euro's would turn into 40,000 Drachma. The problem is things that used to cost a Euro actually cost 4 Drachma which is functionally a 50% loss in purchasing power overnight. The Greek Government would take all the Euro's it stole and use them to buy things they need or to pay enough to their creditors to get a little but of breathing room.

So Joe Greek goes to the bank and pulls out all his Euro's. What to do with this money?

The basis that we mentioned earlier come to mind. As does the shelf stable food. If those bases are not already covered I would put some money towards them. However for the sake of discussion lets say those issues were already addressed.

If I had between one Euro and 20,000 Euro's (the exchange rate right now is 1 dollar to .91 Euro so for normal people amounts we can speak of them as about the same value) I would find a good place in my home, bolt down a compact but quality safe and put my money in it.

If I had more than 20,000E I would take the first 20k and put in a good safe in my residence. This would be my money to buy food, fuel, etc in the short term if/when things go downhill. I figure for most people 20k E is at least 3-4 months cash expenses (food, fuel, etc not rent/ mortgage, eating out, cable/ internet, car insurance, health insurance, taxes, etc) to ride through a rough time. If your family/ lifestyle is such that 20k E is not sufficient for 3-4 months cash expenses adjust the amount upwards accordingly. Maybe a multi millionaire with 7 kids would need 50 or 100K to ride out a few rough months.

For money beyond that 20k/ 3-4 month cash expense level up to say 200k. I would go to a different country for a long weekend of sight seeing and visit a bank. To the best of my knowledge a country defaulting has not been able to confiscate foreign held bank accounts in different (than the defaulting countries) currencies. I would probably go to Switzerland but Cyprus, England and Luxembourg might be good candidates also. Since I have never had enough money to need to look into it I can not say specifically which countries have the strongest protections of bank accounts for in Europe. If a person could get some interest then a savings account is worth thinking about. Then again if a bank in a stable country is going to pay less than 1% and I did not foresee needing the money soon (Say I have an income and am not retired relying on this money to pay my bills.) I might just toss it in a safe deposit box in a stable country like Switzerland.

Of course if I could swing stashing a bunch of alternate passports and a handgun in that safe deposit box that would be cool. The Jason Borne safe deposit box is to safe deposit boxes what the Sara Conner connex is to caches.
A safety deposit box to envy. Only way it would have been any cooler would be some sort of an SBR like an MP-5K and a black velvet bag full of diamonds.
Don't see any food but the Sara Conner Terminator Cache has guns and ammo covered.

As to cash beyond 200k. Honestly a person with over 200k in liquid assets is not going to be looking at some yahoo on the interwebz for advice on financial stuff. At this point you talk to an accountant and a lawyer then posture your financial situation accordingly. Best do it now as big moves take time and there might not be much time left.

Debt-

-If I were Greek my biggest concern would be Euro denominated debt. If we look at different economic collapses the trend is that the government screws the people and the banks help, if just to come out OK. So it is government before banks and banks before the people. A scenario that has plaid out more than once is suddenly all accounts are in the new, less valuable currency at an artificially high exchange rate (say the official rate is 1 Euro to 3 new Drachma but the street price is 1 to 6) but euro denominated debt might still be in Euro's.

Honestly we have not seen this play out with a common currency. The best I can do for actual facts is to look at Argentina's collapse and the recent mess in Russia as their currency has gone down like a desperate aspiring actress on a casting couch with a big name producer. Loans in dollars (in Argentina) and Euro's (in Russia) were fine and dandy till the exchange rate went crazy. Put it like this. Say Joe Greek makes 90k a year and has a 3 year car loan for 30k.  Not the way my family handles money but still pretty reasonable. Lets say the Grexit happens. Now overnight Joe's $30k car loan in Euro's might functionally turn into 60 or 90k value since he is suddenly paid in Drachma which are significantly less valuable than Euro's, far beyond the official exchange rate. Joe's reasonable car is now eating up a quarter or more of his income.

-Of course interest rates in Greece would go through the roof if any of this happened. I would run, not walk, away from any variable interest debt that you did not have the resources to pay off at any time.

Contingency Plans

-If I lived in Athens, and in particular it's downtown/ historic and or financial districts, I would find a friend or family member who lived elsewhere to stay with for a few days if things got weird. I would look to position some food, clothes, etc there. You probably would not need to leave forever but a place to lay low for a couple weeks could come in handy.

For the sake of full disclosure I have lived in Europe but never been in Greece, somewhat ironically because they started having all the money problems and riots. My general sense is that things could get pretty ugly in Athens but a person who lives in a medium sized town or little village is unlikely to have any contact with riots and such. I believe the general security situation would deteriorate if things went downhill but mostly the bad stuff would play out in larger cities. A village of 300 or town of 3,000 is going to fair better than a big city, let alone an urban center.

-I would look hard at what my financial situation would be after a significant loss in purchasing power, say two semi arbitrary numbers 30% and 50% respectively.  Could I pay my bills? Would it be prudent to sell the fancy car (with a loan to match) and downsize to a more modest but decent paid off car now, before other people are trying to do the same thing?

-What is my plan if I (or we in a dual income household) lose my job in an environment where there is very high (say over 30%) unemployment and many well qualified people are out of work? Do I have an in demand or easy to get into (family business, etc) back up gig? Maybe you are in sales but were the best bartender in town and still have a bunch of contacts that would give you a job tomorrow? Sure welding in one's parents or Uncle's shop is not what a mechanical engineer wants to do but if it pays the bills till a better job can be found it is what people do. A union plumber probably does not want to fix clogged toilets for $100 but that is a constantly in demand job. Point made.

-Presuming Joe Greek, like most people including yours truly, does not own his residence free and clear. Since t is very realistic that he could be unemployed for a long time Joe should be working hard on a back up plan. Say Joe loses his job and is unemployed for a year (not unrealistic, Greek youth [which might be a pretty wide group I can not recall actual ages to go with the stats.] unemployment is about 50%.) and thus are not going to be able to pay the mortgage/ rent. If Joe has some money a modest little cottage or just a piece of land would be great. Depending on where Joe is located camping after the collapse might be an option. However a much better option would be to stay with your parents or relatives in their paid off modest, avoiding high property taxes, home.

For this problem let us look at  a variety of options for different  financial situations:

'I have resources'-A little cottage on the coast in a small village/ town with enough room to put in a garden and host  a few relatives or friends  would be awesome. You could enjoy it for vacations during good times and be ready if bad times come.

'I have some money'- A piece of land that is paid for free and clear where you could put a travel trailer or at least set up some sort of decent camp would not be a bad setup at all. Things would be kind of rough but at least you could pre position supplies and nobody could hassle you for living there on your own land.

'I can scrap up a few bucks' - A travel trailer you could park at a relatives or move from place to place as needed. Living at a relatives is going to be a lot more palatable for everybody if you all have a self contained space to live, or at least sleep in.

'Resources are very limited'- A good 3 season tent with a tarp big enough to cover it, a Coleman stove, some sleeping bags and good sleeping pads. Maybe you can live or at least camp at a relative or friends place.

'Broke as a joke'- A cheap tent and a tarp.

 I feel the need to reiterate these are worst case back up plans. Obviously Joe Greek, and more importantly the Mrs Hellena Greek, would prefer to stay in their normal residence but having a plan in case that is not an option is prudent.

Well I hope this gives some insight on how I would handle the localized but really bad situation that might unfold in Greece.

As always I am eager to read your comments.






Monday, June 15, 2015

Keeping an Edge- A Review of the Lansky 3- Stone System

DTG did a review of the  Edge Pro Apex 1 Knife Sharpener Kit not so long ago.
It genuinely looks like a really cool system. Flash back to 18 months ago. I remember having a serious gear crush on this system after seeing a NUTNFANCY video on it. The downside is they are expensive starting at $165 for the Edge Pro Apex 1 Knife Sharpener Kit and going up to almost 255 for the Edge Pro Apex 4 Knife Sharpener depending on the range of stone grit and other various accessories. I was saving up for one and actually had the cash to do it but was not quite ready to pull the trigger.

On one lazy Saturday my family was casually shopping/ looking around in a local outdoor store. This particular store is pretty cool because it has outdoor stuff for the guys (and girls who like that too) and type stuff for women, kind of country/ redneck lifestyle stuff and the pink shirts with a tiny bit of cammo women here like. Anyway we were just looking around and I saw a Lansky Standard Coarse Sharpening System with Fine Hones in the store for (IIRC) $25. It looked like a pretty nice piece of kit. Lanksy is a good company and I have a couple of their diamond sharpening rods which, within the limitations of that system, are good pieces of kit. With a price point around a case of cheap beer I figured why not give it a shot. Now 18 months later it is the only sharpening system I use and our household knives are sharper than ever before. I did not see a need to shell out big money for an edge pro and am pretty darn happy with this little system and need to get a second to put in our camping/ heavy bug out stuff.

The Lansky Standard Coarse Sharpening System with Fine Hones comes in a nice little compact box. Inside the box there is a big clamp on thing that ensures you sharpen at a consistent angle, which is very important. Here is the manufacturers description:
- Alumina Oxide & Ceramic

Key Features:

-Easy to Use, Precision-Engineered, Multi-Angle Clamp to hold the blade
securely

-Guide Rods are provided: One for every hone

-Coarse Red Hone (120 grit) for edge reconditioning

-Medium Green Hone (280 grit) for sharpening and less frequent touch-ups

-Fine Blue Hone (600 grit) for most frequent touch-ups to keep your blade
paper-slicing sharp

-Honing Oil Specially Formulated for Sharpening (not recommended for use
with diamond sharpeners, use water instead)

The Ultimate in Knife Sharpening Systems Technology! Safe, Easy and Convenient to Use; The Lansky Controlled Angle Sharpening System.  Designed to give your blade a professional, razor sharp edge, every time. All systems include:
•Color-coated, finger-grooved safety holders mounted to every stone
•One guide rod for each honing stone
•Extra long knife clamp screws for thicker blades
•Custom molded storage/carrying case to hold all system components

Onto the usual format:

The Good:
-Affordable. Everyone reading this can pay about $25 (the site says $35 but street price is more like $25) for a system to keep your knives sharp. It is also priced so you could have a backup or even a backup and one in your bug out location.
-It works. I use it to sharpen steak knives, butcher knives, my EDC knife, and camping/ field knives.
-It is easy to use. Took about a minute to figure it out. You might need to play with the angles on longer knives or ones with a pronounced sweep (like a butcher knife) the first time you sharpen it but after that it's easy to get to work.
-Compact. Small enough to keep in a drawer in the kitchen or slip into a tuff box you take car camping.
-Durable. I've been using mine for 18 months and aside from mild discoloration on the stones it looks brand new. I expect to get at least another year out of it, which is pretty good for what it is. I am still on the original little bottle of oil.
-The three stones really work and the grits are well thought out. The 120 grain is plenty to reprofile a blade or fix an edge and the 600 is good for finishing an edge. They make a 1k stone I keep meaning to get but haven't ever remembered to follow through with.
-Quick. Touching up an edge after normal use takes maybe 15 min of leisurely semi focused effort. I do this while watching tv or youtube videos.

The Bad:
-Fixed to 4 angle options. Company description:
17° Angle - A severe angle recommended for razor blades, scalpels or similar tools. Provides an extremely sharp but delicate edge.
20° Angle - A commonly used angle for higher quality blades and provides an excellent edge for kitchen cutlery and filet knives.
25° Angle - The recommended angle for most knives that need a durable, sharp edge. Ideal for hunting and outdoor knives.
30° Angle - An outstanding angle for knives that see the heavy use of cutting cardboard, wire or carpets. Recommended for heavy duty use.

Not that these angles are bad but it is kind of a hassle as many knives seem to have 19 or 22 degree angles. Instead of fighting that I've re profiled all my kitchen knives to 20 deg duty knives to 25. The one exception is, if just due to blade width, my big camp knife at 30 degrees. It takes 15-20 minutes to re profile the blade and get it sharpened up.
-The edge guide (big clamp thingie) attachment is a bit of an awkward affair with two bolts. It needs to be adjustable (I use it for thin steak knives all the way up to my camp knife with a 1/4 inch (or a touch more) thick blade. Generally it works OK but if for some reason one gets messed up it can throw the whole thing off and you could waste a couple minutes figuring it out. Not a deal maker, just occasionally annoying.

The Ugly:
-I struggled trying to make due with hand angling the knife on a stone, or overly relying on those little pull through sharpeners (great for what they ( a quick tuning up) are but not a full solution) for far too long.

Discussion:
Is this enough of a system for your needs? Maybe a professional butcher or someone else who uses lots of knives all the time and needs them very sharp might benefit from a more robust system such as the edge pro. If a dozen people needed to use a system this one might not be up to the task. However
for a normal family with the standard kitchen type knives and a person or two using EDC or field knives this system is plenty.

Recommendation: Buy a Lansky Standard Coarse Sharpening System with Fine Hones then either use it as a primary or if you have a better system stash it as a back up.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My Level 2.5 Get Home Bag Update 4/11/2015

I talked about my level 2.5 system awhile back and did a full breakdown. Since then I acquired a new bag and have trimmed the system down to a more manageable size/ weight. Anyway somebody asked for a full breakdown so here it is.
 From top to bottom:
-Burner phone with charger. I keep this as a back up to my normal phone. I'm not worried about the Gubmint listening in on me but like the layer of anonymity when buying/ selling things. 
-Little tan bag with some cash in it. Enough to buy a tank of gas and a few meals as well as to have cash to flash to buy a ride if I need to. "I will pay you a hundred bucks to take me in the general direction you are already going" type thing.
-Glock 19 with 2 spare mags loaded with Federal 115gr JHP ammo. It is in my trusty Bianchi 100 professional but there is a little Raven Vanguard 2 just in case some time I put it in the bag and forget the holster.
-IFAK. TQ, Israeli bandage, compressed gauze, nasal breathing tube and needle.
-Boo boo kit. Band aids, mole skin, athletic tape, liquid bandage, etc. Recently added some caffine pills and peptol bismol.
-Benchmade Bushcrafter knife. 
I ended up putting this knife back in. I think a full tang knife that can be pushed pretty hard has value that makes it's additional weight worthwhile.
-Piece of VS 17 panel and a whistle for signalling.
-Headlamp and extra batteries.
-Nalgene bottle and stainless nesting cup.
-Compass, map, protractor, notecards and pencils
-Sawyer water filter.
 -TP and spare socks. Not real sure why they share a bag.
-Nomex flight gloves.
-Fire kit. Lighter, matches and a couple little candles.
-Food. A couple things of tuna, some peanut butter, a bag of M&M's, some instant coffee and 5 cliff bars.
-My Tactical Tailor Removable Operator Pack.
-ECWCS wind jacket
-Poncho with stakes and 550 cord.
-The woobie this photo is taken on is also part of the system.
Not shows
-A small bag of 550 cord I overlooked in the bottom of the bag.

 The bag fully loaded.


Of course no system is ever completely finished.
Things I need to add:
-A larger (smaller scale so bigger coverage) map
-A couple freeze dried meals to beef up the calorie count a bit.

 Things I am considering doing:
-Swapping out the woobie for a thermal/ casualty blanket at least for the summer. This would save some weight and considerable bulk.

Things I would like to do but have not yet funded.
-Titanium cup
-Snugpack jungle blanket. Smaller and a bit lighter than the woobie and I suspect warmer.
-Potentially a lighter knife that is still full tang.

On an unrelated note out advertiser Lucky Gunner has Glock 23 magazines on sale for $22.95 instead of the usual 28-30. Glock mags practically never go on sale so if you have a G23 jump on this deal.

So anyway that is my bag. I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Level 2.5 Get Home Bag Lighter and Faster

I started out with a fairly heavy bag. After the transition to a new bag and some lightening it was sitting at 17 pounds dry. I wasn't thrilled with that. Did some more lightening tonight. Off hand I ditched a thermal blanket (since it's in the 60's at night now), a couple bungee cords, some batteries and a fleece cap. I also swapped out some bulkier food. I'm going to replace it with lighter/ smaller more calorie dense stuff, probably 4 of those ridiculously high calorie protein bars and a freeze dried meal of some sort. Also ditched my Benchmade bushcrafter for a stainless Mora. The last part was the toughest decision but it saved some bulk and 6 ounces. Also honestly for the concept of use for this bag I am not going to be doing more than a small bit of moderate wood processing and more importantly I need that knife to do the job for a couple days in an extreme and unlikely situation. I might still end up flip flopping that one.

In any case my bag is currently 17.9 pounds wet with a bit more than a gallon of water! I am psyched about this. There is probably a pound of stuff I need to add to it, specifically some more food,  another map and a burner cell phone but coming out under twenty pounds is very realistic.

Will post a full breakdown and picture when it is done.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bucket Cache

I am planning on putting together another cache. In looking at lightening up my get home bag and larger get home plan it became apparent to me that consumables could be an issue if the absolute worst case happened and I had to walk the entire way or even walk in a less direct route. With weight of consumables one can get to a catch 22 place where carrying enough consumables means you will move slower and use/ need more consumables.

The concept of use is a pre positioned resupply of water and some food en route. Sort of a logistical speedball that is sitting ready to go. Water is darn heavy and you genuinely need it to survive.

I plan to put a gallon or a gallon and a half of water in the cache.

Also mostly because I'm putting something together anyway I want to include some food, medical stuff and other basic survival doo dads. Since weight/ bulk is not at a premium the food will probably be a few MRE's as well as a couple cans and some granola bars or something. The medical will likely be some ghetto trauma stuff (think tampon and duct tape) as well as a few each of pepto, benadryl and Tylenol and some baby wipes. The survival stuff will probably be a couple contractor bags, a hundred feet of 550 cord, a Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife with Sandvik Stainless Steel Blade, Black, 4.1-Inch , a lighter and a couple ranger bands.

My intent is to put this mostly together from stuff I already have. I'll have to purchase a thing or two but the total cost should be under $25 most of which is the knife.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

On Gear Consolidation: Stocking Deep n Caching vs Churning



T Blog wrote a post On Gear Consolidation that I have been thinking about.


Also a few years back I sold off a few guns to fund Project AR. They were either oddballs or outliers from the rest of my collection. I do not miss any of them. Selling stuff you no longer have a use for makes sense.

Now selling something useful I have a bit harder time with.

If you can afford it there is a lot to be said for keeping the servicable rigger belt with the clip you don't love as a back up belt, especially if it will fetch a negligible price.

Ditto for that $400 AK you bought a decade ago when such things were available.

It is worth considering if these items have a purpose. Do they fit into some part of your plans or is it just more junk?

It is also worth considering what the cash is going to purchase. Is it fundamentally making our situation better, neutral or arguably worse. If you want to sell odds n ends to buy super pails of food then rock on. On the other hand if you are selling that AK to spend on $400 tactical urban operations Crye Precision pants so you can look like some 'operator' on youtube that is stupid.

Something to consider is what sort of loss you take by selling that item. Some items like guns hold their value pretty well, especially if purchased used. Other items, with any degree of use, have values fall my a third or even half. These items I would have a hard time selling if they had any use because what you'll get out of them might not be worth it. Especially if you are a person always chasing the coolest new thing selling kit for a 30% write off to buy new stuff all the time will add up in price.

Alexander mentioned the false economics of holding onto stuff because it means you cannot cash out that value to acquire new stuff. I would agree but at the same time the economic power of already purchased gear cuts both ways. I could not have afforded to go out and set up my operational cache in one shot. That being said while it did theoretically represent value it was all stuff purchased years before sitting in closets and storage bins. I just about put that together from stuff on hand. Now I have a pretty good setup that really didn't cost me anything. In the next couple years I plan to set up another cache or two the same way. These are in my mind a great way to use serviceable stuff that is lying around, especially if you would take a decent write off by selling it.

While I do lean more towards the backup and cache side of the house I am planning (if I ever get off my butt) to sell some stuff I either no longer use or have in excess of my (redundant and paranoid) needs. This is mostly about clearing up some space and leveling out my stuff than anything else.

What do you all think?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Get Home Bag Revisited

 A few day ago I talked about my get home bag. It was bloated and a bit too heavy. It was 17 pounds dry and that due to an oversight (weighted it part way through the set up) did not include my HPG Serape in a pouch jerry rigged on top or some off my survival stuff in my HPG kit bag. So the total weight was probably closer to 23 pounds.

I went back and looked at it. Took out some stuff. There were a few more batteries than I probably need in there. Replaced a full roll of toilet paper with a half used one. Took out redundant baby wipes. Took out some bulkier food like an MRE and a couple things of top ramen. They will be replaced with lighter food. My food plan is to have about half eat on the go stuff like granola bars, peanut butter, etc and half dehydrated. Took out some 550 cord, that stuff is important but for this kit 20 meters or so is plenty. Took out a couple 5 hour energy shots. Took out the straps to hook the bag to body armor or a MOLLE vest. They will be stored elsewhere and added if I think there is a realistic chance of using them.

The hardest decision was replacing my HPG Serape with a wooby. The wooby is significantly less bulky and I suspect lighter. It isn't as warm but one does what one can. Between all my clothes, a fleece cap, wooby and a casualty blanket I will live through most typical winter weather down here.

I added my sawyer mini water filter, an extra lighter and a few candles.

As it stands now my bag weights 17 pounds with a quart of water in it (so 15 dry) which is right about where I want it to be.  That includes the wooby and survival stuff which was in the kit bag and moved to the backpack.

Need to add
-Silk weight top
Need to purchase
-freeze dried food in pouches 3-4 meals worth of it.

That stuff will add a little bit of weight but it will still be around the weight range I want to keep it in. Will post pics and a detailed breakdown when I get motivated to do so.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Book Review: 299 Days Books 1 and 2

Today I am going to be discussing the book series 299 Days By Glen Tate . I will be discussing the first two books in this post. Really I think the line between them is artificial so for the rest of this discussion they will be treated as one book.

Overview: This series of 10 books follows a man named Grant Madsen, his wife, family and friends living in the PNW through a partial collapse. It starts with the main character’s youth then goes through his childhood through college. His childhood was in a rural town in coastal Washington. He learned lots of skills but it was pretty bad growing up poor with an abusive alcoholic father. From different things I have heard that roughly mirrors the authors childhood which is unfortunate and I feel for the guy.

In college the author meets a girl and falls in love with her. They end up getting married. He becomes a lawyer and she becomes a doctor. They get jobs and settle into a comfortable upper middle class to kind of rich type life. Some years go by and he becomes a fat comfortable suburban guy. He refers to this period as ‘the Docker years.’

At some point the conservative lawyer realizes our system is quite vulnerable and decides to start preparing. He does so without the knowledge of his wife. The main character continues preparing for bad times. He is stashing food and buys a gun. He ends up becoming a regular at a local gun shop and buys a decent stash of guns and plenty of ammunition for them. Eventually after getting close with some of those guys he ends up meeting a group of people who shoot regularly together. He becomes friends with them and ‘the team’ shoots together regularly. The team also gets some training and advice from ‘SF Ted’ a Special Forces soldier stationed at nearby Fort Lewis.

At some point in his preparedness journey the main character ends up basically having a cabin fall into his lap through an early inheritance. He purchases a small but nice cabin with an unfinished basement on the water in a small inlet on the Puget Sound. His cabin is about 45 minutes from town.
The collapse happened very slowly at first over a few years. It started with economic problems. Eventually the stock market crashed, debt ratings were downgraded and the government couldn’t borrow any more money. They actually had to make cuts. Not trimming growth by 2% or vague cuts in the future but actual tangible cuts now. The unions got pissed and so did people on various benefit programs. There were large protests. The economy went into a death spiral. States started having diverging outcomes. California got particularly ugly but Texas was managing some of the same issues with much better outcomes. As fuel became more expensive goods were not moving so stores became empty. That part was pretty standard but it stopped there, short of a full on collapse. Things were bad though the power stayed on and some businesses were still open. Overall I think this is a very realistic scenario.

Onto the usual format

The Good:
A very realistic scenario is laid out. In fact one could argue some of the things mentioned in the book are already happening. In fact I heard in an interview with the author he had to slightly change some parts of the book because events he talked about did in fact occur. In particular the author highlighted the different outcomes rural and urban areas as well as different states will face. This is extremely valid because a collapse would have very uneven outcomes in this regard.

The characters were very plausible. First of all their skills, finances and the percentage of income they put into preps is realistic. They did not have a Special Forces medic or a master machinist whose hobby was running an organic hobby farm. 30 year old couples are not buying 40 acres with a nice house and a barn in cash then somehow making 100k a year out in the hinter boonies. Second of all they are flawed, Grant Madsen is preparing in secret because his wife wants nothing to do with any of that, one guy is really fat, older people cannot quite perform like younger ones. People have feelings and emotions and tempers.

Stepping away from characters but staying along the lines of realism I think the characters levels of preparation were far more representative of the overall preparedness/ survivalist community than many other fiction books. In books it seems that people are either super prepared or just normal folks who might happen to have some useful items around. It’s like all survivalists have a years worth of food, lots of guns and all this other cool stuff. In reality many people’s preparations are uneven as their resources were spent in areas they enjoy the most. It is not uncommon to see guys with a few grand in guns n ammo but not a month worth of food or women with huge stocks of buckets full of food but no way to protect their selves (of course these are stereotypes’ and don’t apply to all).

Relationships are also portrayed realistically including the honest fact that some spouses are not on board.

Every survivalist fiction book has to balance putting out some meaningful lessons through the story with the risk of turning into a disjointed half nonfiction ‘how to’ book. In the worst of these I have seen several pages of various military survival manuals and or standard ‘100 items to survive’ or ‘food storage guidelines’ stuff put in word for word. This book did a good job of straddling the line by giving some good core points yet not letting it detract from the book or break up the story.

The Bad

There was cheesy use of words like ‘gunfighter’ and ‘military contractor’ to describe members of ‘the team.’ I found it a bit cheesy and tacticool. Maybe it is me being a military guy and being long over those sort of things but it just irked me.

The break between books one and two was pretty artificial. It is almost like the author was writing one big book and said ‘We’ll split it at page 350’ with little thought to a logical breaking point. As such a person would get a weird impression if they only read book one not like a cliff hanger per se but of the book just ending.

Every character in the book seemed far more worried about other people’s feelings than I think folks are in real life.

It concerns me a bit that the impression was given that somehow a bunch of guys who don't know what they are doing going out to the range and shooting a bunch somehow means they are trained. They referenced getting a bit of help from 'Special Forces Ted' but unless it was pretty organized I am uncomfortable saying that replaces quality training by someone like Max Velocity or another organized type class.

Coming back to the preps the characters in the book had made. I hesitate to critique this too hard because Glen Tate the author did what I think was an accurate and honest portrayal of many prepared folks. That being said there were some significant holes in their plans.

First almost nobody had body armor. The characters had ‘tactical vests’ though I’m not sure if they really meant the cheese vests of late 90’s and early 2000 vintage or plate carriers or chest rigs. Anyway if I recall only one character Bill ‘Pow” had any actual armor. These characters, especially ‘the team’ spent a bunch of money on guns, lots of gear and ammo cans full of 5.56, 9mm, 12 gauge and 7.62x39 but couldn’t drop a few bills on plates. Guys on ‘the team’ had spare rifles and a couple had expensive shotguns like Benelli’s. The thing is rifle plates are simply not that expensive any more. For $450 or so you can get a setof AR500 plates in a plate carrier. At that price point with a bit of planning they are solidly in a normal middle class guy’s budget.

Their lack of plates was inexcusable. To illustrate the point Grant had 2 AR's, 1 AK-47, 2 AK 74's, a Remington 870, 2 .40 Glocks, a .38, a .380 and a 10/22. For the cost of one redundant rifle or pistol he could have had plates.  The characters were also universally without night vision capability. Given the much higher price point of anything better than Gen I this hole is still understandable but a couple characters seem like people who might have that sort of gear.

Water filtration/ purification was only mentioned briefly, IIRC Grant purchased a Big Berkey at some point. There was no mention of water storage in the books.

The medical preps they made were quite light. In the book it was excused as Grant Madsen (the main character) ‘Didn’t know how to use that stuff so he didn’t buy it.’ The explanation made a lot of sense to me till I put that together with the fact that HIS WIFE IS AN ER DOCTOR! He could and should have stashed all sorts of stuff. That is one of the few situations where the ’32 piece Czech surplus Stainless Surgical kit’ from Sportsmens Guide actually makes sense.

The biggest single hole I identified was ‘the team’ showed up with basically no food. On one hand this is accurate as a lot of tactical (or tactical wanna be) folks aren’t really survivalists/ preppers so they would not store food. However not even having enough food for an ice storm or power outage is just silly. It also seems the group had no stored fuel (except 2x 5 gallon cans Grant stashed at the cabin) or and very few gas cans.

Overall impression: I enjoyed these books and think you will too. They definitely spurred some thoughts that might lead me down productive roads. I will review book 3 as soon as I get around to it.


Friday, January 30, 2015

1k Cache: Some Options That Make Sense To Me

Urban Escape and Evasion
Glock 9mm or .40 if that is your thing($400)
Mags n ammo $100 (500) I'd like to have 3 mags and 100 rounds of ammo.
Burner cell phone $30 (530)
Knife, folding. A basic CRKT or Kershaw. Anything decent at that price $25 (555)
Backpack day/ kid school bag sized either cheap new one or better used one $25 (580)
Boots, surplus $20 (600)
Flashlight, small $20 (620)
Belt and holster $40 (660)
Good will clothes and hat $40 (700)
Cash in small bills $300 (1k)

Rural Escape and Evasion/ Minute Man back up
Military pattern rifle $500. Whichever AK or AR you can find first at this price point. Something like a Mini-14 would suffice. 
Mags and ammo $150 (650). I'd like to have at least 5 or so mags and enough ammo to load them at least once.
Carry system for mags n such$30 (680). Probably ALICE though maybe you could piece together something with a FLIC MOLLE vest.
Basic gun cleaning stuff $20 (700). Probably a toothbrush, a rag and some lube.
Gently used boots, probably USGI issue. $20 (720)
Decent set of used clothes from the good will. Ideally good durable stuff in earth tones. Includes a hat and belt.$40 (760)
Poncho in earth tone. $30 (790)
Fleece, jacket and hat used or Wally World. In earth tone. $20 (810)
Grab and go food. Granola bars, a couple tuna pouches or whatever. $20 (830)
Cheap binoculars. $20 (850)
2x water bottles and 2 bottles of water purification stuff. $30 (880)
Backpack to put all this stuff in. $30 (910)
Medical kit. Very ghetto IFAK and a few feel good items like ibuprophen, bandaids, etc$20 (950)
Mora kniv $15 (965)
Remaining $35 can pad the gun and ammo budgets a bit.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reflections on My 14.5in BCM Mid Length Carbine "Project AR"

Alexander Wolfe of T Blog is thinking about upgrading his AR-15 to a BCM upper. I started a comment at his place then decided it was going to turn into a post of it's own. I built a BCM 14.5in mid length a couple years back. It's a great rifle and I love it. Some reflections on the overall experience of setting up and using this rifle might help my buddy out, plus also everyone, myself included, loves to talk about their cool toys.

What worked out well:

-The choice of a BCM upper and bolt carrier group. It's great. BCM is IMO a producer of legitimate professional grade rifles on par with Colt. That being said they hit that mark without getting into the stratospherically expensive boutique semi custom range of Daniels Defense, Knight, Noveske and Larue with 2-3k plus price tags.

-Standard weight 14.5in barrel. I toyed with the lightweight barrel idea but decided against it after a couple very experienced people (former SOF NCO's) said to go with a standard weight. Upon reflection after a couple years with the gun I am glad I did it. I can shoot all day long in 100 degree temps without barrel heat being an issue. There are lots of places to shave weight on an AR but A) the barrel is not the place to do it and B) fundamentally it's a light rifle anyway.

As to length 14.5in is as short as you can get without  treading into the (now especially nebulous) AR pistol territory. This is good for moving in and around vehicles as well as structures. Before the barrel length and velocity argument starts our guys in Iraq and Afghanistan have killed enough bad guys out past 400m with M4's that, at least as far as this guy is concerned, any debate about this not being an effective fighting rifle is moot.

-Upgrading the muzzle device. Call it a flash hider, call it a comp, call it a break, whatever. There are a lot of really good options out there at a variety of price points. The BCM comps look good and come in at a wallet friendly price. The only reason I can see not to upgrade the muzzle device for a pinned/ welded barrel, where it is a lot harder to do it later, would be for a really budget conscious build.

What I have mixed feelings about:

-Mid length gas system. It's a bit softer but not like these things are shoulder busters anyway. It makes replacing parts a bit more complicated. I like it but from both the accessorizing and scavenging parts angles a standard carbine length has advantages. My half hearted current answer to this problem is that I'm keeping the one I have but do not plan to get another mid length system on a future rifle.

-Battlecomp. Don't get me wrong I like it a lot but it is worth noting my concept of use for this rifle was 'build it so I won't go back and do it again in a couple years' so budget was not a primary driver. Also looking back I'm not sure those funds wouldn't have been better spent going towards an upgraded trigger or a rail (we'll get to that). Then again I wanted the BCM comp but they were between versions or something so it was perpetually out of stock at the time.

What I'm not so sure about:

-Not buying a rail right away. I was trying to keep the price sane and the fixed front sight of a normal A2 style gas block appealed to me. That combined with a pinned receiver made putting a rail on it down the road a problem. Combining that with my rail preference (free floating and not a quad rail) made it a downright hassle. I ended up with a nice and surprisingly affordable free floating MIDWEST INDUSTRIES S S G/2BLACK 12rail but it was a big hassle that could have been easily avoided. 

To the specifics of Alexander's situation:
- You can't go wrong with a BCM build though I do recommend a standard weight barrel.

-If you choose to run with this plan I would build a whole rifle. The upper is at least 75% of the cost, more if you factor in rails, optics, lights, etc. Would you have two trucks and swap a set of rims and tires between them.

-I am solidly in the 'keep the old rifle for a rainy day' camp. Use the older cheaper rifle as a 'truck gun' or make an operational cache.

-As an outside of the box idea if the only thing that really bothers you about the current rifle is the carbine length handguard why now just change/ cut down the gas block then put on whatever length rail you want?

Don't get me wrong, the last thing I'm trying to do is talk him out of buying a great AR. I have a very similar rifle and love it. If there are other reasons, including just wanting something shinier, to purchase the new rifle then roll with it. However if the hand guard is the only problem with the current rifle that is an easy fix. Instead of being a several hundred dollar project it would be 2 or 3 bills.

Anyway I hope it helps Alexander with his project.

What do you all think?

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Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Few Months Without Power In Your Current Location



Pastor Joe Fox put out another excellent video. It has a lot of interesting thoughts on his last 2 years of living off grid. Also when he is honest and mentions propane being the 'dirty little off grid secret' as well as lamp oil, batteries and of course gas. Anyway that is not the point that caught my interest. Pastor Joe said something to the effect of "...at some point the grid is going to go down, most of you are not going to 'bug out' but will instead stay where you are. Think of the things you would want to live for a few months without power." That stuck in my head. Of course I got to thinking.

-Another 55 gallon water barrel for storage along with 3 more 5 gallon jugs.

-A rainwater cachment system.

-Three more 5 gallon propane tanks. Also a couple dozen of those little green propane tanks.

-More 92 octane non ethanol gas. (I plan to fill up all my cans with it when I rotate them.) Another 6 5 gal cans would be perfect.

-10 gallons of kerosene.

-A case of oil for various lubrication needs.

-Lots of lamp wicks.

-Ancillary chainsaw stuff. Lots of 2 cycle and bar oil, spark plugs, a spare chain, sharpening stuff, chaps.

-About a hundred dollars worth of eneloop rechargeable batteries (in addition to what we have now).

-The only real expensive item (though the total cost is adding up fast) is a Goal Zero 32201 Boulder 30M Solar Panel  and a more robust battery setup probably also by Goal 0. Something like the Goal Zero 23000 Yeti 400 Solar Generator

-Maybe a serious antenna set up for my Grundig 350dl. If I was relying on it for regular news and needed to reach further, more consistently, it would be handy.

-A better grinder.

-A dutch oven. 

-Condiments, particularly stuff that goes with bread, rice and beans. Stuff like cheese and butter would be great also.

-100 pounds more each salt, sugar, and oatmeal.

-200 pounds each of rice, beans and wheat.

-3 cases each of chili, stew and peanut butter.

-About a dozen cases of canned fruit.

-Several things of both kid and adult multi vitamins.

-250 pounds of chicken food. A metal trash can or two to store it in.

-250 pounds of dog food. A metal trash can or two to store it in.

-A full spool of 550 cord.

-Various structural repair stuff: screen material to fix screens, a couple (above what I've got) rolls of clear plastic, a couple (above what I've got) 10x10 tarps, a couple packages each of small and large zip ties, 3 rolls of duct tape/ 100 mph tape, 4 rolls of generic/ bailing wire, 5 pounds of various screws, 10 pounds of various nails. If I could conveniently find the space about 4 sheets 4x8ish of 3/4 inch ply wood would be nice.

-Various shoe/ clothing repair stuff: Some shoe laces, a couple dozen spools off various thread, 2x shoe glue, some mink oil,  a few yards each of cotton, denim and flannel.

-A pick axe.

-A spare shovel.

-Another machete.

-Another knife sharpening set.

-A gallon of mineral oil.

-Chimney cleaning stuff.

-4x FRS radios.

-More various hygiene stuff. Soap, shampoo, conditioner, feminine stuff, etc

-A few boxes of band aid's. They are so handy and my kids love em.

-A stash of antibiotics.

-You could note a lack of gun and ammo stuff in this post. Don't get me wrong in this situation I would like to have 500 rounds of .38 special, 500 rounds of .308, a thousand rounds of 12 gauge split between #4, buckshot and slugs plus another case each of 9mm and 5.56. That being said I am sitting on a pretty decent stash of ammo. Honestly aside from .22lr and small game shot for hunting and just maybe a rifle round or two for a deer or hog I do not see going through much ammo. Sure fights could happen but if I dip a notable fraction into my stores things are going very badly and I am realistic enough to know a guy is only likely to win so many fights, especially when medical attention is lacking.

-As to guns I would really like to have an AR pistol with a 10.5-11in barrel. About when the grid dropped a person might just say to heck with it and put a real buttstock on one but the sig arm brace's largely negate the issue. The concept of use would be as a bedside CQB gun and general PDW.

Beyond that we are pretty OK in terms of firepower. We could trade/ loan/ give some guns out if needed and still exceed our core needs by a good margin. 

There are probably some other things but none of them really come to mind. I am going to weigh this exercise very heavily in my 2015 New Years Resolutions.

Thoughts?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Camping Survival Weekend

Most of us take more time to plan our vacation than to plan for the survival of our family or friends during an emergency. We wait too long or for Black Friday or Cyber Monday hoping to get the best deal. This year we are presenting

Camping Survival Weekend! 

Starting Today - Friday November 21st
You now have the chance to get ahead of the madness and chaos. The fact that we promote preparedness, this weekend we are going to be having our SALES before Black Friday. Now you don't have to wait for some other retailer to tell you when you can save and instead have this entire weekend to stock up. Best of all you will be prepare before any unforeseen disaster that comes calling and enjoy the time you have with your family throughout this holiday season.


Best Regards,
Camping Survival

On a personal and entirely unrelated note:
To MM1, Dude I just saw your comment(s). Would definitely like to get my hands on that Kelty for T&E. Please drop me a line at theotherryan@yahoo.com.

-Ryan

Monday, November 17, 2014

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

Cleaned out the garage and organized a bunch of stuff. Working on eating better.

Bought those Baogeng radios and a water barrel. Also 180 pounds or so each of white rice and beans plus a big thing of sugar.

Also got a set of the very affordable AR500 body armor and a plate carrier from JRH Enterprises and 100 pounds of chicken food.

It was a particularly good week here. What did you get done?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Productive Saturday

This morning I took the rug rats out shopping and doing errands. Wifey was able to get a bunch of cleaning done while we were gone. Got back and cleaned the garage. It was a big mess and I have been putting off dealing with it. Well today was the day. Put some nails up to hang folding chairs and strollers on. Organized a bunch of stuff. Threw junk away. Reorganized my ancillary gun gear. Also split my general mag storage from one huge container to two large containers. This will make them easier to move around (a 30 gallon tote full of mags and spare parts is pretty heavy) and if/ when I work out the details to store them separately. The garage is now a well organized useful space.

Wifey did some much needed landscaping.

Fired up the chainsaw just because. Going to do the same with the generator tomorrow.

The way things have worked out right now the prep fund is flush with cash. Sadly not FLIR kind of money but I guess I could buy a rifle, if that's what I needed. However since I am preparing not just buying guns I'll probably get some #4 shot in case I need to hunt little stuff, some buckshot for two legged predators and those Baofeng radios if just to finally get them off my list. Of course I plan to order a month or two worth of food also. Also toying with a knife purchase.

Put a couple items up for sale. 

Given that we usually get nothing done on Saturday this was an excellent and productive day.

Additionally I found a source of some more wood so tomorrow I'll probably do that. Also got to rig the tarp over the chicken coop up better. Water is pooling in low points and putting stress on the structure. Given the roof is a redneck setup I made from free components stress on it is sub optimal. Definitely something I need to fix before winter really sets in.

Anyway lots of stuff got done today. Did a little shrimp boil for a late dinner now I'm sitting by the fire. Going to read for a little bit then go to bed.

Hope you all had a great day.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Open Lines Friday 7 NOV PT 2: Preparedness Challenges in the Military

Open Lines Friday is sure making for some interesting blog fodder. Think it is a feature worth trying out with an eye towards becoming a regular thing. I'll play with frequency over time to see how many questions you are all interested in hearing my opinion on. A higher the numbers of questions/ comments/ links will push for it to be be more common, maybe even weekly, while less interest will make me lean towards less often. So if you like this feature chime in with questions next time it comes up and throw links to the posts up on your blogs/ sites/ forums.

Today's question is:

"Hi Ryan...been a regular follower of your blog for the past few years now. Great work, love your opinion/perspective. I'm glad you posed this topic. I'm a military officer of about 6 years now, and the issue I face with preparedness is PCS-ing every 3-4 years. I haven't been able to find a good blog or posting about the difficulties of a mandatory military move every couple of years. I would love to see a post or series about the constraints of having to relocate vice being permanently located at your retreat. What has your experience been with this as a member of the military?"

"Pineslayer replied: Jamison Vincent, think storage lockers, off base, if stateside. A bike that can set up quickly to haul 'stuff' shouldn't gather much attention. Maybe donate food stores when relocating. Any vehicle gives you an edge. Good luck and thank you. "

Ryan here: 
 I haven't specifically hit on this topic though some posts sort of danced around it. Some time ago Commander Zero asked about Preparedness and the Military but it does not specifically apply here.  Some time back I did a post on moving with guns and ammo which does cover part of the question so is worth touching on.I also did a post on Military Families when SHTF that one might want to read.

It is worth noting that while on average I do believe military members move more often, and further, than most other folks the issue of moving is not specifically a military problem. For example in recent years Alexander Wolfe of TEOTWAWKI Blog has moved almost as often as I do.

Specific problems are going to be capitalized. After talking the problems I will touch on potential strategies for mitigation.

PHYSICALLY MOVING: Survivalism inherently leads to the accumulation of gear, tools, and guns as well as bulk/ heavy items like bulk ammo and food.  It doesn't take many cases of 62 grain M855 5.56 ammo (on sale for $359/1k at Lucky Gunner) to get heavy in a hurry. However at least ammo is fairly compact. Using the rough Pastor Joe Fox formula of a 5 gallon bucket full of food being enough for 1 person for 1 month even a 1 year supply for 2 people is a significant weight and bulk consideration. Moving all your stuff sucks and there is no way around it. However in my experience this is overall the least problematic of the issues we are going to discuss. This is because while it is a significant hassle it is over after you get to the other end and unpacked.

On the plus side you mentioned being an Officer so at least your weight allowance should be pretty decent. Get smart on what movers are required to transport so they don't bamboozle you. They have to move commercially packed food which is significant for a survivalist. On the other hand for ammo, fuel, etc you've got to haul it on your own. While you do not control how often or when you move from post to post you do control how often you move within a specific area so get there and figure out a good place to live then stay there. Movers will hold your stuff for (IIRC) up to 90 days then deliver it. That should give you time to learn the area a bit so you don't want to move ten minutes away in a few months.

INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS/ COST AMORTIZATION: Folks who stay in one place can build a nice garden with raised beds and call it good. Every few years they might need some more soil but their setup is there and ready to go. Ditto fences, chicken coops, rainwater catchment, etc all. Additionally since they do not need to redo these costs over time those areas cost per output (cents per egg, dollar a bushel of produce, etc) go down. If you move frequently a lot of efforts will need to be duplicated and there are costs associated with that.

I really don't have many answers for this. Honestly I'm struggling with the problems myself.

SYSTEM REINVENTION. It is not too hard to have four different awesome routes all planned out for each of your three potential bug out locations for a person who is settled in one area with a solid network of friends and family (we'll hit that next). However redoing all of that work every couple years (say 1ish for a PCS school and 3-4 for a duty station) would be downright difficult. Around the time you put up the last alternate cache in your last location it would be time to move. That is to say nothing of the expense involved in redoing these efforts every couple years. This could also be said about gardening, bartering, getting into the gun crowd, etc at your new location. Basically you have to hit reset on a bunch of stuff every couple years.

Putting effort into systems that can be moved easily is the best idea I have to offer. No huge answers here. In many ways our efforts are far less developed than they would be if we hadn't moved several times in the last few years. My system of caches and potential locations would be far better developed if I was able to put money and effort in knowing it would solve problems over the long term instead of just for a couple years. Honestly the best way forward I can see is setting up a fixed location near home and shifting some efforts to that location.

SOCIAL NETWORKS: Since I do not live near home I am not working on relationships or contingency/ MAG stuff there. Also contacts I develop in a location are potentially nice to have for the future but only really good for that location. It is a potential advantage that I am developing contacts, albeit shallow ones, in different places.

The best mitigation here is that I am currently part of the biggest baddest gang in the world, the US Army.

Anyway this post is a bit shy on solutions and for that I am sorry.  My intent is not just to admire the problem. Hopefully I have at least partially helped frame out the problem and offered some solutions to think about.

I'm open to other peoples thoughts, especially if they have struggled with survivalism while living the military life.

Thoughts?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Open Lines Friday 7 NOV Answers PT 1

Note my answers are bold and in italics

wildbillb said...sure, lots of questions.

plans for long-term food production and storage. no store food for 2-4 months.


As to production we have 6 chickens and do our best at gardening. Not going to make a huge dent in caloric needs but we are producing something and learning. The goal is sort of a gradual increase in production each year towards the end of production being a decent percentage of consumption.

As to storage. We TRY to keep a good bit of normal shelf stable stuff we eat around. Peanut butter and jelly, canned stuff, rice, flour, mac n cheese, cereal, oatmeal, oil, etc all.  For the longer term we have a decent bit of long term food stashed in mylar sacks in buckets. Given my lack of real dedicated focus on the details of X jars of this and Y cans of that I'm sure we would have some gaping holes but we would definitely still be eating at the 4 month mark.


short-term: what if property tax goes up to 10x or even just 5x.


This is an interesting point. Generally speaking I do not see property taxes exploding. However I do see them rapidly adjusting up when values rise and failing to drop when they go down. If suddenly your place goes from being valued at 150k to 250k taxes almost double. Add in the economy going to hell and maybe losing your job and that is a real problem.

In the great depression a lot of people lost very valuable land because they couldn't pay the taxes on it. They sold good productive land for nothing to pay the taxes on the plot with the house. I would submit on general principle this means it is worthwhile to consider not only the cost of a home/ ranch/ retreat but the taxes. It is better to buy a smaller place you know you can pay the taxes on no matter what then a bigger place where the taxes would be a stretch.

I would rather have a normal house on 20 acres I could pay the tax on by working part time as a greeter at Wally World than a 250 acre ranch with a huge house and 2 guest houses that had taxes equivalent to an average salary in the county. The reason is I could figure a lot of ways to come up with say 3k a year in property taxes but 30k would be a lot even if things go OK.


short-term: what if banks freeze savings, or charge interest? cash storage options.

I generally suggest keeping a month's worth of cash expenses (food, fuel, medicine, etc) in mixed bills at home. A month's INCOME is even better. If your situation is high risk for a banking freeze, running, etc more money makes sense. If you have a lot of cash just siting around by all means keep some more. Keeping cash covers you for a power outage or a hurricane or a banking holiday.

As to storage options. Commander Zero made a great point awhile back that your biggest enemy in storing cash is generally yourself raiding it for pizza or to buy a new shiny gun, etc. Your scenario matters a lot as does the amount of money we are talking about. If you live alone in a safe place putting $500 in an envelope in your desk drawer is just fine. If you want to keep several thousand dollars at home and have a lifestyle where a variety of people are often in your home it would be smart to get a decent safe and bolt it down. Various cache options are also worth considering. It is worth considering complication here. Say you stash the first $500 in mixed bills in the desk then a couple grand in the gun safe. Go beyond that and you stash the balance in 2 ziplock bags inside a coffee can buried someplace.

short-term: level of crime increases, how to ensure wife/kids are safe during errands, in the home, etc. concealed carry vs escort.

This covers a lot of ground so I will do my best.

You can do some analysis within the general area you live in about crime. With all the databases and information available these days it is not too hard to do a pattern analysis and threat wheel on crime in your AO.

Pattern analysis simply looks at given activities and locations. For the sake of this conversation say we look at vehicle theft, home break in's (no occupants), armed robbery, assault, home invasion, kidnapping and murder. We would then plot the occurrence of these events within the area we are looking at, say maybe a city and greater suburban area or a couple counties.   In the most simple way red pins on the map would be vehicle theft, brown assault, black murder, etc. Obviously more pins in an area is bad.

After that we would take those same occurences and look at time. First would be the day with a 24 hour clock. Next we would look at the week and month. After that we could focus in on other potential variables such as pay checks (1st and 15th for many people), welfare payments, lunar cycles, sporting events, etc.

When you put the two of these together it becomes apparent that while anything can happen anywhere a very high percentage of crime happens in certain areas during fairly predictable time periods.Obviously you do not want to go to those areas much at all, especially at those times.

 In terms of crime where you live matters a lot. If you live in a dangerous place then it is prudent to make financial choices that allow you to move to a safer one. This is especially true in a slow slide scenario where every neighborhood takes a step down the ladder of safety. Live in a slightly less posh place in a safe neighborhood instead of a nicer place where bad stuff happens.

As to keeping the fam safe above what I already said.

 When it comes to homes like anything real estate, location, location, location. Also avoiding displays of compact wealth is prudent.

Even way back when she was my GF I strongly recommended Wifey didn't go to certain places alone, based on an informal threat assessment. If she needed to go there or just wanted to I would tag along.

Also I tend to handle riskier business such as moving around decent amounts of cash or buying and selling stuff.

Wifey has a valid CCW and owns a revolver though she does not carry it regularly. At least she has the LEGAL option and a piece so if she wants to it is doable. Obviously if we had just one reasonable CCW pistol and were going different places that would be an issue.

This last section lacked focus and got to rambling but I hope it gave you some things to think about. Please leave any and all comments for me to respond to.
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