Showing posts with label G. Show all posts
Showing posts with label G. Show all posts

Friday, August 10, 2012

Body Armor, To Buy Or Not And When To Use


The topic of body armor has come up again recently. I have talked a bit about it in the past. Anyway here we go, some of this will probably be new and some will be rehashed.The first question is if you should buy body armor. I would say that folks who think they might end up on the two way range some day would be well advised to acquire body armor. It saves lives and gives a useful advantage. It broadly comes in two types soft armor (like cops wear)  and rifle plates. Soft vests can sometimes be had pretty cheap. They will stop most pistol rounds and buckshot. It comes in class 2A, 2 and 3A. Each successively heavier type stops larger/ faster bullets but is also heavier and thicker. A lot of folks recommend class 2 as a good compromise. One of these might be handy if you have to make large cash transactions or otherwise function at increased risk in a normal non mad max world. Rifle plates are solid ceramics or steel plates that stop heavier/ faster rounds including most common rifle rounds up to the .308/30'06 range. They are relatively heavy, cumbersome and expensive. Then again they do stop rifle bullets. While a stripped plate carrier could theoretically be concealed under a coat or sweatshirt they are not something most folks would wear outside of a war zone or situation where a gunfight was likely. When to buy it is however a practical question. Once you have some basic weapons w/ ammo and ancillary stuff, some food and other gear it might be a good time to look at body armor. The subject of cost comes up here. My experiences as a consumer and brief google research show the following for prices. A soft vest will probably cost as much as a decent used revolver (around $300) and a plate carrier with rifle plates costs about as much as a mid shelf AK or lower end AR ($600ish or more). This is honestly something folks on really low budgets may have a hard time affording. I wouldn't fault somebody who was doing their best to slowly work through their families needs in a logical way and had to put off the purchase of body armor indefinitely.That being said if you have several nice pistols and a half dozen military pattern rifles but no body armor your priorities are skewed. I would recommend that you stop collecting guns. Delay the purchase of your next toy vital survivalist tool, consider maybe selling a safe queen and get the stuff you need to have every possible advantage on the two way range. Personally I would place body armor before gen III night vision. This is simply because of cost as body armor costs about 1/5th as much as a PVS 14 monocle. [While night vision is another topic most of the things said about body armor could be amplified about night vision. Very useful but very expensive.]When to use it. Personally body armor is part of my home defense plans. I want every possible advantage, fighting fair is for idiots and losers. Lots of folks talk about how body armor is not useful for insurgents or  guerillas or generally in modern "4G" warfare. I have to observe that most of them have not been a boots on the ground (vs say a senior FG officer in some redundant "command") participant in one of these conflicts. Lots of lives are saved by body armor. There is a reason that historically speaking fatalities are down (though amputees are up by percentage) in our recent conflicts. Body armor saves lives. A plate carrier will typically weigh around 20 pounds (plates at 7-8lbs each, a couple pounds for the carrier, potentially side plates, etc) give or take. A full up IOTV weights more and to be blunt I would not recommend it for most civilian or G applications.Some folks talk about how the added weight slows you down. Some argue this is a significant factor in recent conflicts, particularly Afghanistan. I read a great article about this called Bring Back The Light Infantry which I linked to in an old but if I do say so myself pretty awesome post.For me if things went all Red Dawn and I was playing guerrilla with remaining parts of my unit, buddies or whatever I would be inclined to wear body armor far more often than not. The decision would be a trade off between the protection body armor offers and the decreased mobility it brings. Mostly this would be an issue if we needed to carry a particularly heavy load to sustain ourselves for a long period or due to heavy items needed for the mission. Also if speed was important and the risk of contact was quite low I might consider ditching the armor. Certainly I would wear armor if conducting any sort of planned operation such as a raid or ambush. Basically unless there was a really good reason (or reasons) not to I/we would wear our darn body armor. Not too long ago I found myself doing a timed run in interceptor body armor, a uniform, boots and a helmet. Two miles took me 16 minutes plus a few seconds but I do not remember exactly; so about a minute to a minute and a half longer than it would in shorts and running shoes. Of course adding a chest rig with a bunch of magazines and a rifle would be an increase in weight but you would have that stuff either way. The point I am trying to get at is that body armor, especially a basic plate carrier with 2 rifle plates, just ISN'T REALLY ALL THAT HEAVY. If you have a strong core, a bit of muscle and run/ ruck regularly like you should be doing anyway wearing body armor, though it does increase the suck a bit really isn't an issue. I have to humbly submit for consideration that if a person who isn't fit enough to go play war wearing body armor isn't fit enough to play anyway.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Azimuth Check

I have stolen this title from Lizard Farmer who runs an excellent newish blog that focuses on retreat/ farm/ ranch defense. His post was more a check on how folks thought his blog was doing. I will head in a different direction. My azimuth check is more about the direction from where my/ your overall situation was to where we want it to be. I will break it into a few categories.

Finances:
How is your debt situation? Do you have any debt with an adjustable or otherwise particularly high interest rate?

Do you have some savings for if something happens?

Do you have some money accessible to buy things if there is an event that interupts normal banking (this means cash on hand)?

If you can afford it have you considered putting some money into precious metals? There isn't a right or wrong answer to this one. Folks differ widely on this topic.

Health:
Are you and your family of a reasonably healthy body weight? If not are you making tangible progress towards getting there?

Do you have any health/ medical/ dental issues that could be improved but have not been? Maybe you need an elective surgery or have been putting off dental work or need to get into physical therapy to get something worked out. Bringing us back to the last question it is utterly amazing how many medical issues decrease or go away if you get to a reasonably healthy body weight.

If applicable do you keep a stash of essential perscription meds on hand? Keeping 30 days on hand is ok, 90 days is pretty decent and will cover a lot of issues but of course more is better. It may mean paying out of pocket but consider the alternative which is, to varying degrees, very ugly.

If applicable do you have at least a pair of spare glasses in your current perscription (two or three would be better)?


How are your chompers doing?

How are you doing at physical fitness? Can you walk long distances with a load? Run fast for short periods and slower for longer ones? Control your body weight through a variety of tasks and obstacles? Lift heavy things or carry another person?

Skills and Training:

Can you make a fire? At night? Can you do it when it has been raining for a week strait?

Can you find your way around with a compass and a map?

Can you make or improvise some sort of shelter to be as comfortable as possible in a variety of situations?

Can you turn basic staples like flour, rice or wheat into a decent or even tasty meal?

Can you grow or raise your own food?

Can you find or gather food from fishing, hunting, plant gathering or something else really cool I have never heard of?

Can you fix stuff? Mechanical things? Small arms? Brick and mortar? Wood? Plumbing? Electrical?

Can you engage targets with personal weapons in realistic circumstances?

Can you organize a defense be it at home or in some sort of hasty situation?

If the Chinese invade or whateveer can you plan and execute small unit Red Dawn/ partisan/ G style offensive operations?

Stockpile and Equipment:

How is your food storage doing?

Do you have personal weapons as well as the stuff needed to use them? Do you have some spare parts, cleaning stuff and ammunition to keep your guns running without a trip to Wally World or the local gun shop?

How are you doing at storing all of the other stuff like medical supplies, batteries, fuel, cleaning and hygiene stuff, spare parts, etc all to keep on keeping on as well as you can without outside assistance?

Is the stuff you have put together into kits or packages or systems that will meet your needs on short notice?

I am sure there are some good questions that I missed. This covers a ton of ground so do not be ashamed if there are some areas where you fall short. My goal is to give you some areas to think about and see where you are at. Every one of these questions is not equally applicable to all situations. Like many things you would be well advised look at these questions with brutal honesty, action what is applicable and disregard what is not.

Hope you all had a great weekend!










Monday, May 14, 2012

Reader Question: SHTF Hygiene and Clothes Washing

Hi,
I have an idea for a blog article-or several- that I think you may be uniquely qualified to expound on. There are a vast majority of us that have never, or are unable to, serve in the military.
You're active duty military; what I and many others would like to know, is how you do your day to day maintenance while out in the field, away from all the comforts of home.
I think it would make a good read if you could tell us the necessities of our life if TSHTF and we are suddenly without water, electricity or heat. We know much about sponge bathing, washing in tubs with a wash board and making our own soap, but how do you do it while trying to stay out of the field of fire/ being discovered?
How do you wash your personal clothing(skivvies, socks, BDU's, etc.) when out in the field?
If you do these things, what do you use to wash them in and what do you use for detergent? How do you clean yourself, and with what?
So please give this some thought and see if it is an idea you would be willing to tackle.
Thanks,
Iron Tom Flint
TOR here, I wrote a couple posts that give us a place to start. This post on field hygiene covers part of the topic pretty decently. Also this post on Dysentery, while a bit light hearted is worth checking out. Also here is one on primative laundry.  Now onto the specific questions.
Q: We know much about sponge bathing, washing in tubs with a wash board and making our own soap, but how do you do it while trying to stay out of the field of fire/ being discovered?
A: Staying out of the field of fire is easy, if people are shooting at you or immenently going to shoot at you it is not the time to do laundry. Sorry if that was a bit short, from here forth I will try to answer the questions as I believe they are intended, not word for word.
For short term stuff I would use my field hygiene advice from above. Typically military operations are short enough in duration that laundry isn't a huge issue; though that is a relative term as I have worn a single uniform for a month without washing it. Another option is that things are so crazy that you have bigger stuff to worry about. Delaying washing is easier when weather is relatively cold. You would be pretty nasty after wearing the same clothes in the South or Middle East in the summer.
As to avoiding being discovered. If I was really worried about someone discovering me I wouldn't be doing laundry. I definitely wouldn't do laundry in some sort of escape and evasion situation, a hide or a patrol base.  That being said a really small fire made of dry wood (especially in the woods or down in some micro terrain) is pretty hard to see from beyond 50-100 meters. All you would really need is enough to heat up some water which doesn't take a bonfire.
However to make it easier lets say you are in a fairly quiet but non permissive enviornment. Maybe you and the spouse are trying to get somewhere on foot or using forest service roads and obviously don't want any attention. Maybe you are some sort of G and folks are sort of passively patroling your area, doing recon patrols to check out movement, signs of people like fires, etc. Whatever, it really doesn't matter. The point is that you aren't imminently worried about people trying to kill you but do want to keep a low profile.
One simple and old school option is to take a bar of soap and your clothes into a body of water and wash them. This has the benefit of washing your body. Obviously your situation would have to be reasonably secure and this is a lot more fun in 80 degree sunshine than 30 degree snow. I have seen socks washed in canteen cups, I suppose the same could be done with underoos. Also the good old bucket or a dedicated water jug (the military ones have pretty big mouths) works.
Q:How do you wash your personal clothing(skivvies, socks, BDU's, etc.) when out in the field?
A: Often the answer is to stash the dirty stuff and wash in after the operation is over. Other times we scrounge up some big tubs or whatnot. I have seen organizations where leaders bought some old school type laundry stuff to fill urgent needs.
Q: If you do these things, what do you use to wash them in and what do you use for detergent?
A: I have seen and used normal commercial detergent and plain old bar soap.
Q:How do you clean yourself, and with what?
A: Baby wipes are a great way to go. If heating up water is practical a washcloth and a bar of soap is nice and makes you feel a bit more human. As to how it is pretty much laid out here.
Anyway I hope that is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions. If you remember one thing take care of your feet.
-Ryan

Saturday, February 25, 2012

E and E Baby- Fun Watching Mantracker

Yesterday I watched Mantracker for awhile. I talked a bit about the show some time ago. Today I have some more basic thoughts:

First be in shape. This means being able to run fast for a short period, at a moderate pace for awhile and walk carrying a moderate load for many miles.

Second have good broken in boots. I know it is easy to say a splurge is worth it if you have the cash but low quality books cause all sorts of problems and generally fail to live up to basic expectations.

Third condition your feet to walking carrying a load while wearing boots. This is admittedly sort of a synthesis of the first two but it is it's own beast because running wearing light shoes (which would let you be in shape) does not translate into properly conditioned feet. Feet are a place where some folks are lucky and others are not. If you are lucky then just keep up with your general PT and wear broken in boots. Thankfully I fall into this group.

If someone using a higher speed form of transportation is following you there are really three options. First you can go where they cannot follow. This is a pretty desirable option though it only works if there is a widespread area sufficient in size to lose them or hide. A couple acre swamp or a single nasty ridge probably won't do it as a single exit point or two can be watched. The second option is to level the playing field. A horse or an ATV or a car is not hard to put out of action but armored vehicles are a lot more problematic. The third option would be to just hope that you can lose them. Think needle in haystack or a field full of haystacks. This is probably more of a hope than a plan. If there is a good line of sight or they have dogs this option really sucks.

Lastly knowing how to navigate and having the basic tools (compass and appropriate maps) to do so is essential. Hard to get away from somebody and get to wherever you are going without knowing where you are or in which direction you are headed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Books Worth Reading: Guerilla War and Insurgencies

I was talking to a fellow recently who asked me about potentially putting together some sort of book list. I guess this is the first in the series though if you dig through past book reviews you could get some ideas. Maybe at some point I will make a stand alone page or something.

I really enjoyed On Guerilla Warfare by Che Guevara. Yeah the guy was a Commie but he fought a successful guerilla war. I have nothing in common with his beliefs or goals but I got a lot out of his writing. Now that I have a bit of a sense of the man (assuming he wasn't dead) it would be interesting to sit on a patio with a good bottle of run for an evening and discuss all manner of things. Definitely some lessons to be learned here. It is a quick read and I got a lot out of it. Definitely worth reading.

I also read Mao Tse-tung on Guerrilla Warfare. A total pedo and generally a terrible person but he did execure a successful insurgency against the Japanese then took control of China and kept it. This one is relatively long at 128 pages. It has that Oriental way of talking in a circular fashion around subjects. All the same I got some stuff from it.

Over the deployment I read and really enjoyed The Other Side of the Mountain. At some point you will see a review on it (I think it got stashed for a rainy day). The book is a sort of Soviet after action review from the side of the Afghan guerilla fighters. These two Soviet guys tracked down and talked to a bunch of former Afghan guerilla fighters and leaders. It is pretty long, some of the vignettes are redundant or boring and the maps are next to useless (I have absolutely no artistic skills and could make better maps after drinking a half bottle of Whiskey) but it is very worth reading. The insight of highly motivated and poorly equipped guerillas fighting a well equipped mechanized fighting force that has way too much ground to cover and varying motivation is very interesting.

The first book in the "series" The Bear Went Over The Mountain is also worth checking out. The guy I borrowed it from said it was best read while drinking vodka in a smoky bar. It was very interesting to me when I read it prior to deployment to Afghanistan. Maybe less interesting to most folks who read this site than the second book but reading one probably helps to gain understanding of the other.

Anyway that is some of what I have been up to in terms of reading. If you are interested in insurgencies or have been thinking G thoughts then checking some of these out (all PDF and thus FREE!) would be a good idea.

Friday, February 10, 2012

But I Dowanna

Today I am going to talk about two very foolish things that a lot of otherwise well prepared people do. The first is not implementing a vigorous exercise program that involves some form of heavy resistance/ weight training as well as jogging/ running/ ruck marching. The second is failing to carry a decent fighting handgun with a reload.

There are a lot of reasons people fail to implement a quality exercise program. Laziness is the first reason that comes to mind. Either they don’t do anything or they do 20 minutes at a lethargic pace on a cardio machine. In both cases the results are pretty bad. Due to having an exercise program that pretty average elderly people can follow these folks are either fat bodies or they are “skinny fat” which is a curious blend most often found in women and metro sexual men where they are of a reasonable body weight but lack any semblance of strength, speed or endurance.

There are a lot of ways to skin the exercise cat so to speak and I am trying to be more tolerant of different methods and techniques. However if your goal is functional fitness you need to include jogging/ running/ ruck marching and lifting heavy things.

Why do you need to include these components? If you can’t figure out how running or walking fast carrying a load could be useful I don’t know how much more I can help you. As for strength it is a more complex but equally fundamental answer. All things being equal a stronger person will fair better in everything. I sort of hate that saying because all things being equal the prettier person will fair better but it is really the only way to isolate individual traits or characteristics. Strength helps in a lot of ways. It builds and hardens your bones and ligaments. Also muscles truly make the best pads. Furthermore it helps in so called endurance activities of a muscular nature. Let us say we have two weight lifters. Both can bench (or squat or whatever) 135 pounds. Jimmy Powerlifter progressively builds up so he can lift 200 pounds. Bobby keeps lifting 135 and trying to do more reps. Jimmy will be able to lift 135 as many or likely many more times than Bobby because it is a far lower percentage of his total capability. Also Jimmy can lift 185 pounds or 200 pounds and Bobby can’t.

Now don’t get me wrong I love body weight exercises but they do not replace weights any more than weights can replace them. (Yes I have heard of and read convict conditioning. I have a post on it in the que) This is particularly true for the lower body. All the air squats in the world won’t build the muscles in your legs like getting under the bar and squatting.

The second reason is that folks mistakenly think that because they do something or another slightly physical they don’t need to actually exercise. I walk around at work or I do work on the “farm”. There is a big difference between moving around a few hay bales a day and doing the kind of brutal work that occurred in an 19th century working farm. With the exception of people like park rangers who walk 10+ miles a day carrying a load or carpenters, blacksmiths, masons, etc who do heavy physical labor on a regular basis (multiple times a week) you won’t get the kind of exercise you need incidentally. Even then the ranger needs to hit the weights and the carpenter needs to do some cardio.

Look at it this way. If you had a to choose a partner for a physical challenge would you want one that ran and lifted weights or one who walked or used an elliptical and the ab roller? What about if you had to fight a random person? I would fight the weakling who malingers on cardio machines or whatever other pseudo workout junk because there is a decent chance I could break him in half because I regularly lift heavy things.

Now we will transition to the topic of carrying a handgun. (Yes there are places where you can not legally carry a handgun. Most of the regions of the US where you can’t carry a gun suck and I would not recommend living there. However if you work or frequent places where a handgun is not legal then there are some decisions to make. In particular if we are talking about a place with actively enforced (searches, metal detectors) laws like government buildings versus a place with passive laws or regulations, like a parking lot, there are not great options. Other times it is just not practical to carry a gun like for example if you are swimming. However it is prudent to carry whenever it is legal and practical.) I wonder a lot about people who are really into preparedness and tactical stuff but don’t carry. Odds are high that violence will come when you least expect it and are not at home. All the sweet rifles and custom 1911’s in the world won’t help you if they are locked in a gun safe at home. However I guess they just aren’t worried. Folks living quiet lives in sleepy little towns might just not feel the need. I have heard “I carry when I go into the city” before. I won’t say I agree with that idea but I can kind of see where they are coming from.

An animal that interests me more is the person who carries but chooses a totally impractical weapon. These folks carry guns that are very difficult to shoot well and hold a small number of weak bullets. Yes technically a 5 shot .22 caliber revolver the size of a zippo lighter is a gun. However if you can shoot a gun with a ¼ inch barrel and no sights well you are a better person than I am. If you are confident that a .22 round out of a ¼ inch barrel will stop an attacker from harming you then I would call you an optimist.

To complicate matters these folks often carry their undersized, difficult to shoot pistol in places that are not easy to get at in a hurry. Pistols are on ankles, in pockets and purses or otherwise buried under clothing that can’t readily be moved. One system for women basically requires ripping ones shirt off to access their handgun. It is important to consider that you will need to access your concealed weapon in a hurry, quite possibly while fending off an attacker.

I once heard “every time somebody says they carry a full sized 1911 I ask them to show it to me, right now and inevitably get some excuse that boils down to the gun being in their truck or nightstand or safe” and that saying bears a lot of truth. I am a practical person and have observed that most people will not carry a full sized handgun. However fortunately these days we have a lot of good options.

There have been huge strides in the last few years in compact pistols that not much bigger in size than snubby .38’s or Walther PPK’s. Pretty much every full sized modern handgun has a compact sized equivalent. These guns hold 10+ rounds and shoot like their full sized big brothers. You can get a compact Glock, a Sig, HK, XD or Beretta and more 1911’s that you can shake a stick at. Pick one and carry it with you.

Since you asked personally I carry a compact Glock 19 because I can conceal it with minimal changes to my wardrobe.

Also bring a reload. You might run out of bullets or the stupid thing might jam. A spare mag or speed loader (though you would need 5 of them to equal the round count of 2 mags for most double stack pistols) isn’t that inconvenient.

So in conclusion do the right thing. Run and lift weights. Carry a decent fighting handgun and a reload. In short be awesome and hard to kill.
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