Showing posts with label TEOTWAWKI blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TEOTWAWKI blog. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Gun Safe Discssion: Options I Have Used

TEOTWAWKI Blog asked about gun safes in a recent bleg. I thought it would be a good bridge to discussing different options for securing firearms (or I suppose other valuables). To keep the discussion more bout my personal experiences than something conceptual we will discuss mostly options I have used.

Before we start it is important to have a common foundation. In no particular order here we go:

-There are many reasons for wanting to lock up/ secure guns. The most common are to prevent them from being accessed by unauthorized users such as young children, preventing theft and protection from fire and or water damage.

-The reason you are looking to secure guns matters considerably in the methods and type of containers that make sense.

Case in point; when Walker was a tiny baby we went on a family vacation. Naturally a pistol, in this case my trusty Glock 19 came along. I needed a way to keep him from potentially getting his hands on my pistol while I was not wearing it when in the place we were staying. I purchased a small plastic case that closed tightly with two zippers you could slip a small lock through. Simply placed my (unloaded) pistol in this case, locked it and put it on top of a tall piece of furniture. A fine and very affordable solution for that specific situation. Honestly just putting my pistol 4 feet off the ground would very arguably be sufficient but I wanted an additional barrier in case say I took my pistol off and set it on a bed while changing and forgot to move it.

[Furthermore fundamentally in houses with small kids my fundamental belief is that guns need to be under the control of an adult or secured to prevent children from inadvertently accessing them. I know there are a multitude of viewpoints on this topic and what exactly constitutes 'small kids'. There are certainly a range of reasonable viewpoints. This is really all I plan to say specifically on this topic.]

However a couple years later with kids who can walk and get into all manner of stuff that option would obviously not work.

The solution for preventing unauthorized access may be entirely insufficient for preventing theft.  A solution that prevents theft might not work for fire.

You get the idea.

-In securing anything there is a give and take relationship between accessibility and security. More accessibility means less security and visa versa. This has to be balanced depending on your needs. In my mind this relationship leads itself to a split between primary defensive and very regularly used sporting firearms and whatever else may be in your collection.

-The hard truth is in the vast majority of violent crimes around the home you are not going to have time to go to the big ole gun safe, open the combination lock you probably mess up about half the time (when not under pressure), get a gun and load that gun. This already unlikely scenario is even less likely if your safe is in a less trafficked part of the home like a basement or garage and even worse if all ammo is stored separately. More on this later.

-When it comes to criminals of the burglar type or whatever. Typically they are not in a house for very long. If they can't carry it off strait away the odds they will bother are minimal. Of course sometimes they know you are gone for a week and the house is secluded or they know something particularly valuable is present at which point they will break into safe's, tear up walls and floors, etc all. Along these lines it is important to remember that people can break into anything if given sufficient motivation. Crooks regularly break into jewelry stores and bank vaults which have far better security than any normal person can afford.

- A sense of proportion both to what you want to secure in a safe and your overall financial situation is important. An average guy getting a several hundred dollar gun safe to secure several thousand dollars combined value in guns, jewelry, precious metals and cash makes sense. A well off enthusiast twenty thousand dollar safe to secure a high 5 to low 6 figure Class III collection makes sense. A twenty thousand dollar gun safe to secure Joe Everyday's 7-10k in stuff fails the common sense test.

- As a general rule it is smart to buy a bigger gun safe than you currently need or anticipate needing in the immediate future. The reason for this is many, if not all, gun collections grow over time and you cannot really add more capacity to a safe once it is full. Many people end up selling a smaller safe to fund a larger one or picking up an additional safe to close the gap.

I use the 'buying beer to take to a party' rule. If you(r group) want a 6 pack bring a 12, if you want a 12 bring an 18 or a case, you get the idea.

-Generally speaking I dislike electronic locks. The exception is if the speed of access they offer is needed for defensive weapons. Don't buy electronic locks from cheap manufacturers. Make sure there is a back up combo or key.

-The biometric (finger print) safe's are a nice idea but I dislike depending on a fairly cheap electronic device to read a finger print AND myself to present my finger print onto the scanner the same way as I entered it at 3am when men are talking in the living room. I'd rather have a combo type electronic lock. 

Now that we have that stuff out of the way lets get to some specific products.

For readily accessible defensive use:
-The GunVault NV200 NanoVault with Key Lock, Fits Full Size 1911 Style Pistols as well as many similar products is a little locking metal box that holds a handgun and some stuff like a light and a mag or two smaller handguns.

My GunVault NV300 NanoVault with Combination Lock (several manufacturers make very similar products) opens with a 3 number dial combination lock akin to a bike lock. This is handy to me because it avoids the 'where is that #*$*#*' key' problem which could be devastating in a crisis.  Access is fairly quick. Security is good for small children and keeping from getting shot with your own gun though a crook would likely take the whole thing and sort it out later. I find these quite handy for traveling. Their affordable cost and compact nature makes these ideal to securely stash in a hall closet, behind some books on a shelf or in a drawer. A couple of these paired with your back up .45 and the J frame you got for a great deal are an excellent way to have some defensive options around the home.

In our bedroom we keep a Sentry Safe HDC11E Home Defense Center 2.1 Cubic Feet with my 870P and Glock 19 with a light as well as Wifey's revolver. This is an excellent product that lets you have a long gun and a pistol (or two) very quickly accessible. The downside is it's expensive. If a long gun  being secure AND very accessible is not a deal maker for you the expense would be hard to justify.

There are lots of small quick access type pistol sized gun safe's like the Sentry Safe Biometric Quick Access Pistol Safe that can be mounted by the bed or whatever. These can often be mounted to a floor or piece of furniture. These can be easily concealed or obscured due to their small size. If money was less of an object I would have one in every room of our house.

There are other products available but these  are generally representative of  the general types of containers I like for securing primary (grab at 3AM, etc) type weapons.

For a more bulk storage of guns you do not need to access immediately a larger container is the answer.

For smaller collections and budgets a 'gun cabinet' is a good option. These are basically steel cabinets (think industrial filing cabinets) with a lock that can be screwed/ bolted in place.

In college I purchased a Stack-On GCG-910 Steel 10-Gun Security Cabinet, Green when I lived with a couple guys and there were often people over. These are a good option to keep several guns locked up away from unauthorized users and have some theft deterrent, A normal sized guy can carry one, even full of guns, but especially if secured to the wall/ floor, it is a lot harder than shoving a handgun in your pants or a few handguns in a pillow case and wrapping a couple long guns in a blanket. Still I would say the primary benefit of these is security from unauthorized users with theft a distant second.

The biggest benefit of these is cost. As a broke college kid when the local 'Mart had em on sale for $88 I crapped up the cash. Today at $130ish to secure a few long guns and as many pistols as you can shove in these are a smoking deal. With a little bit of prioritization anybody can afford one of these. cabinets and prevent small kids from accessing their guns while also deterring theft.Also being (relatively) small and light these can fit discretely in a normal sized closet and are easy to move which is handy for young people as well as folks who are semi nomadic or in transition.

For a bigger and more expensive collection a real safe makes sense.

It is worth mentioning a gem I found on ARF.

Safe threads are always fun, I'll give you the cliffs notes for the next twelve pages:

1> Someone will post that you need to spend $25k on a real safe, everything else is just a big coffee can
2> He'll be plus one'd for a few posts
3> Then someone will post a video of that $25k safe being broken into by a toddler with a toothbrush in 13 milliseconds
4> He'll be plus one'd for a few posts
5> Someone will post that you need to spend $50k on a real safe, everything else is just a big coffee can
6> He'll be plus one'd for a few posts
7> Then someone will post a video of that $50k safe being broken into by a toddler with a toothbrush in 13 milliseconds
8> He'll be plus one'd for a few posts
9> Someone will post that you need to spend $75k on a real safe, everything else is just a big coffee can
10> He'll be plus one'd for a few posts
11> Then someone will post a video of that $75k safe being broken into by a toddler with a toothbrush in 13 milliseconds
12> He'll be plus one'd for a few posts
13> ...

End quote

I ended up with a few hundred dollar  Field and Stream 24 gun safe. It has a manual lock and a 30 minute fire rating. This safe is big enough to hold a pretty decent stash of guns, especially if you really organize it well. I will get a few G.P.S. Pistol Soft Foam Cradle Holder to help with that as the safe fills up. Beyond that when the safe gets full I will likely set up another cache someplace.

You can certainly spend more money on larger and fancier safes. Personally the 500 pound range is about the top limit I am going to be able to move with a good dolly and a buddy so I do not want a larger one. At that point I would likely just get another safe.

The last option if you are pretty permanently settled is to build a gun room. If you are going to have 2-3 big heavy duty gun safe's the cost is not really that different. 

So those are my thoughts on that. What do you think?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Libertors, Emergency Funds and Random Thoughts

I finished the new Jim Rawles book Liberators: A Novel of the Coming Global Collapse . It was excellent. Started working on the review and should have it done in the next couple days.

TEOTWAWKI Blog wrote an excellent post on Emergency Funds. This utterly non sexy part of preparedness is equally important and ignored in survivalism. The honest truth is you are going to need $500 to pay for a car repair or an unexpected doctor visit or cover a short paycheck than you will need a case of Tula 7.62x39 hp ammo (on sale for $229!) for the family AK or fish antibiotics.

You, yes you, seriously need an emergency fund. I do not care what sort of preps you have put back you need cash. Buckets full of rice will not put a new transmission in the family hauler a hundred and fifty miles from home.

As Alexander Wolfe noted it is prudent for some of this money should be in physical cash and readily available. It doesn't take much for the credit card system to fall apart in a disaster as there are a lot of potential points of failure. How much physical cash should you have on hand? I think for most people a months cash expenses (typically food, fuel, incidentals) is a pretty decent starting point.

It was not an accident that I picked a months cash expenses over a $$$ amount. The reason is dollar amounts do not factor in your situation. Jamie of My Adventures in Self Reliance is single and lives disability [Due to a medical issue, not the point of this post. Only mentioned it because it speaks to her income and applies to this situation]. $500 would last her a whole lot longer than Justin C's family of 8.

As of late I have started putting a little bit of money into different kits. $40 in various small bills will help in a lot of scenarios. I keep a fair bit of cash in my wallet shooting for around $200 and using $100 as 'zero' but maybe somehow I could end up with my bag but not wallet.

The idea of an S&W Shield is popping into my head again. Maybe next month.

Anyway I've got to go read some stories. Should have the Liberators review out for you tomorrow.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers Day and My EDC/ GHB/ Level 2.5 Bag Post At TEOTWAWKI Blog

Well it is Fathers Day. Cheers to all you fathers out there. Taking care of and raising children is a heavy and at times thankless job for sure.

My fathers day was nice. Had a quiet morning, well as quiet as you can have with two little milk drunk Anarchist Rioters anyway. Went to Wally World to check for ammo. They had plenty of different stuff but I was just cruising for .22lr.  Didn't see any of it.

Had a quiet afternoon then Wifey made a really nice dinner. While she was cooking I relaxed outside with the kids. Dinner was excellent. After that I had a good talk with Pops. We have a good relationship but don't talk enough. Turns out if neither person is any good at picking up the phone and making a call there are not a lot of conversations. We both recognize the problem and are at least conceptually trying to work on it so that is something.

My  EDC/ GHB/ Level 2.5 Bag post is up at TEOTWAWKI Blog. You might want to check that out.

Anyway Happy Fathers Day.

Friday, June 13, 2014

RE: Deep Thoughts: EDC Bags At TEOTWAWKI Blog

TEOTWAWKI Blog is running an EDC Bag Contest. In this post he discussed the issue at a conceptual level. I find it interesting and honestly am too worn down (seriously I think it is the humidity) to put in the effort to do one of the posts I have in the pipeline so you get my thoughts on his post. So in no particular order here we go:

1) Obviously the exact makeup of a bag type kit is going to vary from person to person based on their situation and what sort of concerns they have. A college student in Vermont will not need exactly what a cop down in Ole Mexico like Ed Wood needs any more than a subway commuter in a massive urban center will need all the things I carry down in empty Central Louisiana. You get the point.

2) While #1 is true the real variance in well thought out decent kits is a lot less than you might initially think.Any well thought out methodology such as E&E or SF Survival Doctrine (John Mosby mentioned SMOLLS-E or something, I cannot find the post though) or Dave Canterbury's 5 C's is going to have a lot in common. An EDC type kit (on body stuff plus bag if applicable) is going to include a knife, a way to make fire, a container to hold water, some food, some first aid stuff, etc. It is sort of like recipes for say wheat bread. A dozen good recipes will all be slightly different but it is in small ways such as the ratio of wheat to white flour or seeds added or exact amounts of sugar and salt, the addition of butter or raisins, etc. The point I am making is that at their core good kits are going to be a lot more alike than different. So if your kit looks radically different from that of smart, capable people with a generally similar concept of use I would recommend you rethink it and potentially consider further education/ retraining on the topic.

3) The ratio of space allocated to preparedness type items is something worth discussing. I think this depends a bit on your bag needs and a lot on your worst case scenario combined with the bags concept of use.

If you want a normal sized backpack to carry a lunchbox, a big thermos of coffee, a water bottle and a book there is not going to be much room left for preparedness related gear. So you can either be happy with a modest but well thought out kit in the smaller pouches on the bag, downsize the non prep stuff you carry daily or get a bigger bag.

4) Generally speaking for whatever amount of space I chose to allocate in said bag the categories of stuff are going to basically be the same type of stuff with larger kits getting bigger items or more stuff to meet the same basic needs. A personal survival kit could fit in any bag and I would have a water bottle for general use. A box of granola bars or comparable food plus a pair of socks and a fleece watch cap could easily fit someplace in most bags and is a pretty decent setup in and of itself. 

5) Personally to the maximum extent possible is to use preparedness functional items for everyday type use. Instead of a cheesy plastic bottle I use a stainless steel one with a removable lid. I keep some food in there that could be used in an emergency or just to replace a forgotten lunch.

This is admittedly a lot easier for me as a service member because 1) Overtly tactical type stuff is acceptable as well as common place and 2) My military as well as generally wilderness/ rural movement type concerns largely overlap. A lot of the stuff I would need for a no notice long day or overnight in the field is pretty similar to what I would need for a day and a half to two day long forced march home or a couple days stuck someplace. We could debate the exact place one type of bag or system stops and another starts. Honestly this is somewhere Alex and I see things differently.

As you will see when my entry hits the TEOTWAWKI Blog EDC Bag Contest mine is a bit more comprehensive in some areas than most. That being said.

6) Alexander is absolutely right there is serious potential for 'mission creep'. I personally had this the first time I really set up my current EDC bag for preparedness. It weighted 40 pounds, was absolutely jam packed and I was looking at tying a darn sleeping bag onto it!  Quickly I realized that while 40 pounds of stuff fit into my TT glorified day pack it would carry like doo doo. I ended up putting that stuff into an internal frame pack and it became my BOB.

While I fully recognize the problem I am not entirely sure I have an answer to it. Personally I solved my problem by establishing, or trying to anyway, a tired system of everyday carry, fighting load, level 2.5 assault pack/ GHB/ EDC and my BOB. Eventually I would like to firm up a heavy vehicle based bug out system. Knowing there is a kit that meets a more comprehensive specific need lets me accept that another system is a bit lighter in certain areas.

7) Multi functional gear makes a lot of sense here given the relative size and weight constraints. When space is limited items, especially bulky and or heavy ones being multi functional is ideal. That is why despite the expense and relative bulk I love the HPG Serape.

8) #2 and #7 being said you have to look at potential (or actual) items for what you use in the field or whatever type situations your bag is set up for while keeping items needed for contingencies. Example, After some consideration I decided not to include a multi tool in my EDC bag (or on my person). I simply do not use them often enough to justify one in these systems. Many folks look at that problem differently and I do not fault them for it.

9) Talking about gear, kits and systems is fun.

10) I am bored of writing so it is time to end this.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Fighting Load Contest Voting and A Weeks Preps

The voting for my Fighting Load Contest has officially begun. Look just to the left of this and you will see the poll where you can vote for your favorite setup. Voting will run for a week with winners announced next Monday or Tuesday.

This last week sort of got away from me. A few good things still happened though. I caught up on some admin stuff here which isn't exciting but helps fund stuff that is. Went over my level 2.5 Backpack/ Get Home Bag/ Assault Pack to do my entry for the TEOTWAWKI Blog EDC Contest. Identified some issues that need to be addressed ASAP and others that can wait a bit.

Finally started reading The Creature from Jekyll Island about the Federal Reserve. It is not as dry as I feared it would be for such a heavy topic. Still not exactly a quick and easy read.

Signed up for an Appleseed Clinic later this summer. Very excited about that. Was looking and found one in my general neck of the woods. Got to get my 10/22 decked out pretty soon. It needs new sights and a USGI web sling. Thank goodness I do not need to try to find .22lr  in order to attend the class. Would be nice to find some but it is not essential. I have the ammo, heck I have the ammo allocated for training, but it'd be nice to set some of that away for just in case. All survivalist annoyance at digging into stocks aside it is a good cause and I will bring extra to spot folks who are short.

Crushed the gym which was cool. Also the transition to minimalist running is getting to the point where I can start doing it for more normal work out's.  Even went for a barefoot run this weekend. Yeah I am crazy like that.

In the near term I am looking at picking up a few things: A spare parts kit for a rifle, a British MOD Sheffield survival knife, a Marine ILBE ruck and some various doo dad's. Sort of got to prioritize, in the interim I think the knife and pack will be most useful but some part of me says to buy rifle parts now since knives and packs will not be involved in the next round for gun hysteria. In any case some purchases will likely be made this week. Along those lines I'm going to try and get off the fence and make a decision then potentially buy a bolt action rifle.

Still got to fill up the last 2 gas can's also.

So that is what I have been up to and what I'm trying to get done next week.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Bag DIscussion and TEOTWAWKI Blog Contest

Alexander Wolfe is running a Everyday Carry Bag contest over at TEOTWAWKI Blog that should be fun to watch. I plan to watch the development for sure. Don't really have a bag that fits that bill anymore. Given the nature of my work the get home bag/ assault pack and the bag that might carry a lunch and water bottle from my vehicle 20 yards into work ended up divorcing. I got tired of hauling my half full TT bag into work every day full of stuff I did not need. On the same token since I was trying to keep it light I had a bunch of stuff in the vehicle anyway. Around a year ago I was garage saleing and found a nice almost new fancy name brand backpack for sale in Army palatable khaki/ light tan. Dude wanted forty and I think we settled at thirty. Bag was $100ish new. So I carry that from the vehicle to work with a book for lunch time, my lunch, coffee cup and the other various small things it is awkward to carry in my hands.

The TT bag goes with me in situations where I leave my vehicle, go into the field, spend a day driving around with someone, etc. Times I am more than 100 meters away from it are few and far between. It is set up for a pretty comfortable spring/ summer night or surviving a winter one with enough chow to eat decently for a couple days or a bit lean for 3.

Admittedly at just under twenty pounds my bag is pushing the limits of being comfortable for an uuber rugged glorified childs school pack. I would upgrade to one of the MOLLE II multicam medium assault packs which are slightly bigger and have a frame but am loathsome to pay the money. I do not need the additional space and would guard against filling it just because and suffering BOB mission creep but for a long walk the comfort of better straps and a light frame would be nice.Those things are just expensive though. 

Do you have an EDC bag? What sort of stuff does it carry? What about a slightly more survival oriented bag of similar size?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Hill People Gear Mountain Serape Other Peoples Impressions

Commander Zero asked some questions about my HPG Mountain Serape. While it is far too early for a full review I can give some initial thoughts to help answer his questions. In putting that post together I did some looking on the HPG forum to grab some stats then ended up finding some good stuff to bring over here. It turned out the stuff I got is lengthy enough that I thought it would be best to differentiate what others said from my thoughts. So you'll get this today and shortly I will follow up with my initial thoughts.

I should also note that Alexander Wolfe of TEOTWAWKI Blog reviewed the HPG Mountain Serape a couple years back. His favorable review was a considerable part of my decision in purchasing the Serape. [At the risk of muddling the waters between other peoples thoughts here and mine later I should add the later version, which some call the second generation, has a couple changes. First the quilting is only to the back (inner) side giving the stability of insulation but letting the outer fabric retain it's full moisture resistance. Also the changes in material quality when they moves to the US version reportedly upped the weight to closer to 2.5 pounds.]

Onto stuff snagged in their forum. I am alternating fonts to show different authors. 

What are the dimensions in sleeping bag mode?
33"x88" laid flat.

Conditions Tested- 40F, Cloudy, Light Drizzle, Wet & Soggy Ground, 10-15 mph Winds.
The 4 Modes:
  • Serape- no brainer, works awesome. Glassed some whitetail on my property and some squirrels panacking for winter. Stayed warm toasty and dry, cinching up the waist shock cord helped keep in core warmth from wind drafts. Felt no wet spots when sitting.

  • Blanket- my dog and I headed out to our ground blind for a few hours to check on activity. I laid out the MS like a blanket and he claimed it pretty quicky, we both enjoyed an afternoon siesta on it. I did not notice any appreciable conductive heat loss while sleeping on the gound in 40F weather.
  • Sleeping Bag- I am 6'3 around 210lbs and was pretty shocked that the MS actually had full overhead coverage for me as advertised. I have very broad shoulders so the top half was a bit snug, but the bag doesn't zip up all the way which makes things more comfortable for bigger guys. One thing that I never saw mentioned that I found out was the zipper ends at the foot area,  opening it a little allows you to use sleeping bag mode while keeping your boots on, which is a great no mess feature.
  • Great Coat- I think I have this down based on the photos posted, but would still like to see a video tutorial. To be honest it felt a bit awkward using the MS in this mode, that was until I dawned my Tara over it which cut the puffy bulkness down significantly. I overheated rather quickly in this configuration but I am anxious to try it when the temps drop here and in a open landscape exposed to the elements.

Craig Robertson wrote
Gentlemen - I have a Kifaru woobie, does anyone have one that they can offer a comparison between the mountain serape and K woobie?  I am talking about warmth and weight, I know the MS outclasses the woobie in terms of versatility.  I am a complete HPG convert.
  Someone replied:
    Well, I traded my Mountain Serape (thought the new ones would be available sooner - oops), but I had one and also have the Kifaru Woobie as well. They're not really comparable items in a lot of ways, but if you're looking strictly at warmth and weight:
    The M.S. is considerably heavier than the Woobie - by about 14oz IIRC, and doesn't pack near as small. I can fit either in a Kifaru Large 3-String stuff sack, but the Serape will be stuffed to brink whereas the Woobie fits pretty easily and compresses very small. I haven't slept with either item outside more than a handful of times (although I sleep with a Woobie/Doobie every night at home) so bear that in mind. That said, my impression is the Woobie is a little bit warmer, though not drastically so. I can't say for sure, but I think the quilting on the Serape might be a factor... it just seems to let cold leak in more than I've experienced with the Woobie. My understanding is the Serape v2.0 eliminates the quilting though so that may even things up a bit.
    If I just wanted a blanket that was relatively lightweight and warm and I wasn't bringing my down JRB quilt, the Woobie would be my choice. The strength of the Mountain Serape is the versatility and that it replaces a jacket AND adds a sleep insulation layer, either alone or to boost a sleeping bag rating. That's why I owned both and will in the future, when the M.S. is available for sale again 

     Consensus seems to be it works as a stand alone sleeping bag to 45 degrees F or so. 
    Ryan here. Hope you got some value out of that. 
     So to recap other peoples answers to Zero's questions are:
    Is it long enough to fold some material under your feet to keep them warm and still be long enough to cover your neck/head when used as a blanket? Yes if you are within the average height range there is plenty of room for that. How small can it compress? Roughly the size of a 2 liter soda bottle, How noisy? Quiet. How does it drape? Pictures probably answer this question best.
Here is Alexander Wolfe wearing his Serape in 'poncho mode' as part of it's product review.
     Evan Hill wearing an HPG Serape in 'greatcoat mode.'
     Coming soon are my initial thoughts on the Mountain Serape 

Monday, April 14, 2014

What Did You Do To Prepare This Week?

I was pretty late with this last week so not much this week. Also we had guests which was big fun but didn't lend itself to getting preparedness oriented things done. Anyway since I want to get back onto the more regular schedule you get this post again today.

Filled up some gas cans in the ever continuous struggle to ensure all our stored fuel is reasonably fresh.

Restocked some disposables.

When getting some admin stuff done I realized there was some unexpected cash in my Paypal account. Probably going to get a poncho and a Mountain Serappe like Alexander Wolfe's. Also looking at making a substantial food storage purchase. So not much happening this week but lots coming down the pipe. Also we'll have the last few posts from the Fighting Load contest to wrap it up.

What did you do to prepare this week?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State of the Union and Linkeage

So it is about state of the union time. Currently watching the count down to it but don't see myself finishing it. Want to get a long nights sleep tonight. Do you plan to watch it?

A couple good articles came out recently I want to highlight:
Some notes on Sentry Neutralization by John Mosby

Reader Question: Do you have your Load Carrying Gear figured out? at Teotwawki Blog

Note: The way things cracked out I missed the SOU then caught some replies from various republican types. Am ambivalent about the whole thing.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fighting Load Contest Entry #3 Alexander Wolfe of TEOTWAWKI Blog

Today I am proud to bring Entry #3 of our Fighting Load Contest by none other than Alexander Wolfe of TEOTWAWKI Blog.

We'll be talking chest rigs and battle belts as well as guns and get home bags/ assault packs. Get yours together to win some great prizes including:
1st: Blackhawk 3 day Assault Pack ($90) AND a $50 gift certificate from ($50 value) plus 2 copies of The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby.
2nd: HERC stove from Titan Ready Water ($169 value) plus The Reluctant Partisan by John Mosby.
Note: Prizes 1 and 2 are really closely matched. As such the overall winner can pick the Lucky Gunner stuff OR the HERC. 2nd place gets what is left. 2 books will go to #1 and 1 book to #2.
3rd Place: 3 Sport Berkey Water Bottles donated by LPC Survival ($69 value)
4th Place:  A Lifestraw donated by Camping Survival ($20 value)
5th Place: A pair of Gyver Gear survival tin's
6th Place: The Western Front (hardcopy) or 3x e books by Archer Garrett.
Wildcard: This one goes to whoever I want to give it to for whatever reason I feel like. It will be a grab bag donated by yours truly. The exact makeup is TBD depending on what I have lying around  and may include books, gear, medical stuff or even a couple silver dimes. ($30+  value).
For a good example of a post reference my EDC Contest entry. Those should give you a good idea what type of thing I'm looking for. I will probably do a full fighting load post some time after the new year. 

The contest is going to run from today 16 December to  around 1 February. Voting will start after the last entry is shown on the blog. Voting will run for about a week and will decide the winner's who get the prizes.
Read all the details here

This is taking off a bit slower than I wanted. Depending on demand maybe it will last longer but you should still get your entry in ASAP.

Onto Alexander Wolfe's Entry:

Not shown are his AR-15 with an Aimpoint and Glock 17/19 (a 17 with the grip cut down to 19 dimensions) shown here. He might also be packing an S&W 642.

Criteria for the rig:

  • Carbine support + IFAK and water
  • Vehicle-friendly
  • Single-stack only & comfortable when prone
  • Able to wear with/over a vest or plate carrier
  • Compatible w/ an 'Assault pack' for a scout/overnight load or extra gear
Components (pattern is PenCott Greenzone):
Not pictured:
  • In-line Sawyer water filter on the hydration pouch + chlorine dioxide tablets. I have the old style Sawyer, but would probably buy the $20 Mini now.
  • The RAC has small velcro pockets on either side - they contain spare batteries (Aimpoint battery, CR123As), Bic lighter, SAR signal mirror, cordage and a couple other odds-n-ends.
Color Commentary:
I really like the Greenzone pattern for my area (woodlands), though at present, the selection of pouches is more limited. Very effective. These pouches are available in a variety of patterns if you prefer/need something different.

In my opinion, the RAC is a good starter/all-purpose rig that can grow with you. A few reasons:
  • Full MOLLE, so you can figure out what load works for you or change things up as needed, versus being stuck with a single pouch layout. Can be scaled up/down as needed.
  • Designed to be worn over armor, so it will still work if/when you get a plate carrier down the road
  • Very adjustable, very comfortable and stable even with a good amount of weight on it
Since the chest rig is designed to be worn over armor and opened or taken off if one needs to go lower profile (e.g. lying prone or crawling through a hole), a slick plate carrier underneath and a belt with a light fighting load would be a good companion to this rig.

A pistol could be added to the chest rig (lose a carbine mag) or carried separately on the belt line. At present, a drop leg holster is needed clear the med pouch. 

Tinkering is of course part of the game. The med pouch may be moved and a head/helmet light may be integrated. The mag pouch pull tabs will likely be switched out for the S&S Precision tabs. Black plastic will be rattle canned something brown/greenish.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the rig. The RAC is probably the best chest rig of this type today and Tactical Tailor in general is hard to go wrong with.

A very comfortable, versatile and functional set up, and (as far as tactical rigs go) fairly affordable for high quality, made in America gear.

End Entry.

First of all a big thanks to TEOTWAWKI Blog for participating in our contest.  As to my thoughts on this setup.

-I like Tactical Tailor gear. Have a bunch of pouches from them that are well over 10 years old and still going strong. My assault pack is also TT of a similar vintage. I have used and abused that thing all over the world. Short of theft, fire or some sort of terrible accident with a wood chipper I anticipate getting at least another 10 years use out of it. Their stuff is not cheap but it is American made and hell for stout.

-Working under the assumption that a pistol is going to be on your belt, along with it's magazines I don't see anything big it is lacking. Mags, knife, water, IFAK are the big ones for sure. That being said personally I would probably put at least 1 admin pouch on there (not the IFAK) to have a bit of space to store a bit of food as well as some survival gear and small ancillary stuff (ear plugs, maybe a glow stick, etc) but that is just me. That the assault pack will presumably be worn or handy can arguably cover that niche.

-The color seems suited to the eastern woodlands. I use multicam because it is pretty good in most places but if I didn't move around so much I'd lean towards a more regionally specific pattern.

-The adaptability of MOLLE is just so awesome. Not too many years ago we had the limited modularity of ALICE and even then we were zip tying and 550 cording things together redneck style and the purpose made "tactical vests" where you weren't moving a thing. Being able to move a medical kit, try it out then move it back is so nice for assembling a setup to work for you.

-I appreciate that it is American made.

A big final thanks to Alexander Wolfe and TEOTWAWKI Blog. Check out their awesome site regularly, I do.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Project 870P Soliciting Input

I got a little bit of money so it's time to dust off the 870P and finally finish this project. Leaning heavily on TEOTWAWKI Blog's Project 590A1 here is what I am looking at:
Paint- DIY flat black. The finish on this gun is terrible so I'm going to rattle can it flat black. Honestly I don't care what it looks like but need a reasonably (more than exposed metal) corrosion resistant finish to be able to use the gun. Will keep the wood, well wood colored for aesthetic as well as social/ legal reasons. I want the gun to look as much like the same pump shotgun every Louisiana resident seems to own 5 of if I have to go to court.
Sling- Single point as of right now till I get a better plan though I may just stick with it. For a house gun honestly a sling isn't THAT important other than that I want one.
Light Mount- Elzetta ZMS
Light- Either a Streamlight or a Surefire G2. A good basic pretty bright light
Ammo carrying (on gun)
Sidesaddle- Essetac shotgun cards.
Buttstock- shot shell carrier generic type
Total this will be something like 21 rounds on the gun.
Ammo carrying (off gun)
2 more essetac cards in my Costa Leg Rig along with 2 pistol reloads and a hand held light. This will probably go on a duty belt with a holster, an IFAK and some zip ties to become the "bump in the night belt".
This will bring the round count to 35 shotgun shells and 3x pistol mags. Plenty for an HD setup in my mind.

A bag with about 35 rounds of loose OOB and 3x 5 rd boxes of slugs. I would like to replace this with a claymore bag (they have 2 pouches and would be perfect for this. If anybody has one to spare I'd love to trade something for it. I would grab this if I was going outside which admittedly is a point where I would think hard about switching back to my AR but who knows, this would be a nice hurricane setup. My shotgun has ghost ring sights so after I confirm zero for slugs it could reach as far as I can see myself shooting anyway.

To the ammo discussion. There are lots of options but as I've discussed before keep the birdshot for little birds.  I favor #4 BUCK because it gives a whole lot of sufficiently sized projectiles. More holes= more blood loss and more chances to hit the vital die right now body parts. If carrying this gun in the wild I tend to throw in some #4 or #6 shot just in case I need to do a Wilderness Walk Out.

Anyway before I pull the trigger I wanted to get your input. Maybe I'm missing something.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tripple Barreled Shotgun PF Edition Intro

TEOTWAWKI Blog teased it now we get a better look

Honestly an 8 pound short barreled shotgun seems like a hard sell to me. That you cannot select the firing order, to fire load A instead of load B based on conditions is also problematic. Heck an 870 with a 28" barrel that HOLDS MORE THAN 3 ROUNDS weight's 7 and change. They haven't mentioned MSRP but last time Chiapa tried to sell the triple threat the MSRP was in loony tunes land. I greatly admire Dave Canterbury and enjoy most of his gear but this does not seem like a winner to me.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Devils Advocate No Armor; My Thoughts

 Devils Advocate: a devil's advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, for the sake of debate. In taking this position, the individual taking on the devil's advocate role seeks to engage others in an argumentative discussion process. The purpose of such process is typically to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure, and to use such information to either improve or abandon the original, opposing position.

Too often we get into an echo chamber type group think so it can be good to take a step back to examine the underlying ideas of a given technique or strategy. I worry any time a group considers debate on a specific subject to be entirely closed to the point they refuse to consider alternative perspectives, especially ones based on new information or technology.

I linked to this excellent series a couple days ago. In that post I asked for your thoughts which were interesting as always. Now it is time for me to share my thoughts. For rules of engagement I am going to call it as I see it with an emphasis on adding value to the conversation and keeping argument to an acceptable level.

No Armor: Let's look at the up and down points for armor.
-It can literally save your life. The drastic decrease in lethal wounds over post 9/11 conflicts could be largely attributed (along with modern trauma training/ equipment) to the proliferation of hard body armor.
-Weight. Body armor weight's something. As a generic figure a plate carrier weights about 15 pounds and a full on tactical setup closer to 22. This means an individual fighter is carrying a heavier load which makes them (marginally) slower and is weight that counts against the total a fighter can carry.

-Cost. Body armor costs something. As of the last couple years a lot of new players have gotten into the game producing body armor for the civilian market at much lower prices than it used to be available. A solid setup of a plate carrier and rifle plates can be had from the under $500 range all the way up to 3-4 times that for state of the art ultra thin/ light stuff.

Max Velocity wrote about this awhile back. Our thoughts generally mesh.

My Thoughts: Throughout history we have seen weapons and various forms of armor designed to protect against them. The sword and the shield, lances and suits of armor, etc. With the advent of firearms it took awhile for armor to catch up. However now that there is viable armor to protect against small arms it is foolish not to utilize said armor.

As a general rule if I am carrying a rifle for social purposes I will be carrying spare ammo in a war belt, chest rig or whatever and wearing body armor. The only exceptions that come to mind are 1) In and around water when I assess the risk of drowning if I fall into the water with the extra weight is higher than the risk of being shot. In this case I would ideally bring body armor with me then put it on when I get onto land. 2) For longer duration missions where the weight of body armor needs to be replaced with food and water in order to not die. Maybe surface water is not available, such as in the desert, or we will be lying up in one place on a recon mission for awhile. If my basic fighting load and sustainment load weight 85 pounds total I'm not going to add armor on top of it. Those two scenarios or ones very similar to them are the only reasons I can see not wearing body armor along with carrying a rifle.

As to the cost of body armor. These days body armor is just not THAT expensive. An entry level setup in the four hundred and change range is doable for most folks with a bit of planning. I do not look down on somebody who hasn't got to purchasing body armor yet due to the prep money going for food, water, basic weapons, etc or those just plain can't afford it. That being said if you have a $1,500 Kimber 1911 and a $2,500 .308 (or a safe full of guns) but whine that armor is expensive I would submit your priorities are about collecting not being ready to fight. We discussed this awhile back.

As to the weight of body armor.
Some folks mentioned a lack of physical fitness, particularly cardiovascular conditioning as a reason not to wear body armor. By that thinking why don't you switch out that big heavy rifle which makes your arms sore for something smaller, maybe a nice little pink Cricket .22?

Don't carry the right gear because you're too fat and out of shape? You have got to be kidding me.  What the hell kind of feel good everybody gets a trophy and you all all special crap is that anyway? I am calling bull spit on this one. How about we use that as a motivator to get to eat better and exercise more to fix the actual problem.

Body armor slows you down but not that much. Awhile back I did a 2 mile run on a rolling course in boots n utes plus body armor. IIRC my time was 15:45. At that time my 2 mile run in shorts and running shoes was in the 14:45 range. The time difference is pretty negligible for the protection armor gives.

Consumer Reports says the average 6th grade student carrier a backpack that weights 18.4 pounds. If a little kid can carry that amount of weight while flirting and dodging bullies in the halls at break I would submit a healthy adult should have no problem carrying it.  If you are in such poor physical condition that the equivalent of a little kid's school napsack kicks your butt then it may be worth revisiting your potential as a fighter. Not everybody in the tribe fights enemies and hunt the meat, some folks cook the meat, some clean up the camp, some watch the children, etc.

As a final thought reasonable people may look at this issue differently. Overall we are probably too psychologically reliant on body armor anyway. People can look at body armor from different perspectives but the primary drivers should not be that you would rather buy something fun than spend money on armor and are in terrible shape.

This got a lot longer than I thought so we will talk "Rifle Only" another time.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Devils Advocate: No Body Armor and Rifle Only

An interesting series going on at TEOTWAWKI Blog.

No Body Armor questions the role of or arguably over reliance on body armor.

Rifle Only questions whether you really need a pistol in a full on kinetic/ WROL scenario.

Read the posts and tell me what you thing. Tomorrow I will share my thoughts.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

RE: What To Do With Extra Firearms

This came up in the comments for the latest chapter in You Took Away Tomorrow:

One question I've had off the top of my head is arsenal wise. If you were a guy that had hunting bolt and lever rifles or extra pistols laying around, would you take those? Say your .243, .270, .30-30? For me I can't imagine leaving them somewhere, but taking 5-10 non tactical weapons that wouldn't help a lot seems like a lot of space and weight to carry! Thoughts? Click to read the rest

My response:
I would recommend spreading your proverbial extra eggs out. Cache them or leave them in convenient locations. [EX if you always meet up at Jim's to go hunting leave the .243 and your big .357mag there with some spare ammo. This means you have couple guns in a place you regularly travel to away from home. Maybe they'll help you and maybe they'll help Jim. Either way it beats them sitting as extras you couldn't move in a bad situation.]

They key is doing these things, to some degree, now before you need to.

General diversification strategy aside I would not underrate non tactical type guns. A good .22 and a hunting type shotgun are some of the most practical guns out there and a scoped deer rifle can be pretty handy also. Not tacticool but really useful for game gathering.

What are you doing with firearms beyond your basic needs? There are lots of viable options but I would submit that putting them all in a big gun safe at home is  probably not the right answer.

On another note this evening somehow vanished so you get somebody else's stuff with my thoughts on it. Good news I ordered a bunch of stuff to complete various systems today; a couple metal sporks, another steel water bottle, a streamlight flashlight and some other things. Had craziness with amazon but eventually I got it to take the right payment and hopefully to ship to my current address. Expect a normal post tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Building a Financial Safety Net Part 1

TEOTWAWKI Blog talks this important topic

Short of physical fitness, financial health is probably the most under discussed topic in survivalism or it's better dressed cousin preparedness.  Everyone wants to be a cool guy and have guns, stash a bunch of food, etc but nobody pays attention to the novel concept of saving.

The brutal truth is that you are far more likely to need five hundred bucks right now than any preparedness item, certainly any preparedness item beyond your basic week long power outage type kit.  It could be many things from injuries, vehicle breakdowns, to job loss or whatever.

You need an emergency fund to prepare for all manner of potential financial emergencies. Amazingly once you have one emergencies seem to come less often. Maybe it's more accurate to say if you have the $500 to fix the family hauler it's an inconvenience, when you don't it is an emergency.

There are a ton of ways to establish an emergency fund but they all boil down to spending less than you make and saving the difference. As noted in the article I think it is very important to be smart with new money be it a raise, inheritance or whatever. We've gotten into a pretty decent financial spot largely because every time new money comes in we make intentional choices with it some to saving for this, some to saving for that, some to lifestyle, some to fun.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ammo How Much Is Enough? How Much For Training?

Alexander Wolfe asked about Minimum Ammo Levels and I replied there but it seems worth discussing today. Also I'm in a bad mood today so am going to do what I feel like even though it is not gun porn Friday.

I talked about ammo levels some years back:
defensive rifle- 3k
defensive pistol- 1k with no formal breakdown mine is half hollow points and half FMJ due to economics
shotgun- 1k split between target shot, game shot, buckshot and slugs
rimfire- 5k
hunting rifle- 1k

Looking at those levels now I have softened a bit on the last 3. For shotgun and rimfire it is mostly that I feel OK slipping below these levels if you are going to accumulate more than 2 guns in a category. Since these guns are affordable it is easy to accumulate them. 1k between 2 shotguns or 2k in various shotgun shells spread between 3 or 4 shotguns would probably be fine. Ditto 10 or 15k in .22 ammo between a few guns. As to hunting rifles I sort of re looked the economics of the issue. Putting a grand into ammo for a $300 30-30 seems like a bit much. This is especially true if you have a defensive rifle like 5.56 AR or an AK in 7.62x39 with ammo stacked deep to fill that fighting role. Used only for hunting or once in a blue moon precision use 500 rounds would probably last a couple decades. For the sake of full disclosure I am there on a couple things and between 65-75% on the rest.

As to training ammo. This was my biggest take away from Firearmagedon. I didn't really have a dedicated stash of training ammo. Either shot some from the stash and put money away to replace it in the next bulk buy or just went to the store and grabbed what I wanted. When ammo stopped being available/ got really expensive this was an issue. My take away was that I needed to keep a dedicated stash of ammo for training that was distinctly seperate from my operational stash.

My training stash (separate from and in addition to the op stuff) goal is as follows:
12 gauge-500 rounds mostly target shot with say 100 each buck and slugs.
.22- 2k.
.38 spec-250.
Hunting/ precision-100 rounds per caliber. Just 30-30 now though I would like to add a .308  next year.

The last two are low because I do not shoot them very much.  (This is total rounds, not per gun.) I figure that will get me through several months of normal operations if there is another dry spell and let me take a short course if desired. 

How much ammo do you think is enough? How much do you keep stashed for training?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Three Knifes For......

It seemed like talking knives would be fun so here we are. I got to thinking about which knives I would want if only a few could be had. I discussed a five knife scenario awhile back and wanted to update it to include some new purchases and be a bit more limiting. Decided on three knives partly because it is the number most of these type discussions seem to go for.

Concept of use/ generic type of knife:
1- EDC Folder
2- Belt knife
3- Large camp/ survival/ fighting knife

I intentionally did not consider multi tools. The primary reason for this is they fall more into the tool category than the knife category. Sort of like a leatherman is not a bottle opener just because it has one on there. The secondary reason is I simply do not find much use for them. It's a nice tool and a nice idea but I rarely find use for them in a place I could not have a whole box of tools. Sure there is one in my BOB and another in the car kit but I do not feel the need to carry one every day.

The EDC folder is my Benchmade auto. The belt knife is a Pathfinder trade knife. The camp knife is my camp knife from JP's Custom knifes. After a semi gratuitous picture of the knives closed I will talk about the decisions I made and some sticking points that came up in them.

I really like the Benchmade so it was an easy choice though really any quality folder could fill the roll. The belt knife is where I had to do a lot of thinking. I was totally up in the air between the Pathfinder and my Ontario RAT 3. The RAT 3 is pretty handy with a nice sheath but is just a bit too short to fill this role. When testing the RAT 3 I found myself jamming part of the handle into a roast or large piece of meat to get the blade all the way through. While the Pathfinder Trade Knife narrowly wins I am not entirely thrilled with the choice. A slightly larger RAT like the 4 (reviewed at TEOTWAWKI blog) or 5 would probably be a great option, for more money the new Benchmade Bush Crafter would be great also.

My camp knife was an easy decision, it is pretty awesome. Recommend JP's Custom Knives for your premium cutlery needs. One could argue my Cold Steel kukuri fits in the same niche but I disagree. That machete on steroids is great for brush and small wood but that's it. My Camp Knife can do light brush or small wood tasks but is still handy for cooking or general use which cannot be said of the kukuri. To me the debate would not be between the Camp Knife and the kukiri but between the kukuri and a hawk/ hatchet/ small ax.

With these three knives I could complete every semi normal knife type task readily imaginable. Aside from Wifey not liking me taking a knife off my belt to cut dinner with there would be no real downside. That makes my inner (he rarely wins) minimalist want to start getting rid of stuff and my paranoid side want to start caching stuff. 

What would your three knives be? I am curious about broad type/ concept of use as well as specific make/ model. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Random Tuesday Thoughts

-It might be time to re read the Matthew Bracken novels as they seem to be playing out in real life.

-This whole discussion about the NSA, Verizon, etc all data gathering is interesting. First that stuff called 'meta data' matters, modern computers using well designed programs combined with various other open source stuff can come up with huge amounts of information. Think pattern and link analysis that is largely automated based on huge amounts of information. Along these lines the idea that has been posed "it is legal under our law but may not be constitutional" says a lot about the current problems in our country.

-Silver is at 21.5ish right now. If you have a few dollars to spare that is definitely a buy. I cannot say why gold is down either but if you can afford it that is another fine place to park a few dollars.

-Ammo prices seem to be coming down (except .22lr which is going up) but availability is still spotty for sure.

-TEOTWAWKI Blog's post on Resupply Caches is worth checking out. 

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