Archive | July, 2012

The One-Gun Prepper

30 Jul

Cleaning a bookshelf, I came upon an older book: Totally New 2nd Edition Pistol & Revolver Digest published by DBI. It must be old; the copyright date was listed as MCMLXXIX. A Colt Combat Commander cost $276 back then. I’m sure I bought it new, which makes me feel old.

I flipped to an article I enjoyed reading years ago: “For the One-Gun Man” by Charles A. Skelton. Skelton, a devoted handgunner, chose the 357 magnum revolver. With it he included a portable Lyman 310 reloader and even a bullet mold to be carried afield.

We’re never limited to one gun, but it gets the brain cells turning to think about what gun we’d choose and why. What would a one-gun prepper go with? What are some common choices?

Outdoorsmen who hunt big game and are concerned mainly about wilderness survival might select a big-game bolt action hunting rifle with a scope and a sling. A 30-06 could reliably take any animal in North America. They like the simplicity, reliability, and ruggedness of the bolt action.

Hardcore survivalists, especially the old-timers, might select a 7.62 mm NATO military-style semiautomatic rifle, like the M1-A. These guns are usually fed with detachable 10 or 20 round magazines. Their reasoning is that this is the best caliber for self-defense under WROL battlefield conditions. Plus, in a pinch, it could be used to secure big game. The downside is that these weapons are heavy.

Other preppers, especially younger guys, might feel the need for a defensive rifle, but be satisfied with a 5.56 mm AR-15. Even if the 5.56 mm isn’t ideal for taking big game, they’d say personal defense is the paramount concern. More 5.56 mm ammo can be carried than for the heavier caliber. The AK-47 is another popular choice among rifle-toting preppers.

Some will choose the 22 LR. It’s low in power compared to the weapons above, but ammo is cheap and tiny. A thousand rounds can easily be carried in a backpack. If small game is abundant and big game rare, and hunting a primary concern, the 22 rifle makes a certain sense.

Although it lacks the range of a high-powered rifle, the 12 gauge shotgun might be the most versatile weapon. Many preppers love their Remington 870s or their Mossberg 500s. With rifled slugs, it can be used to secure deer or bear. With birdshot, you can secure small game. With buckshot, a 12 gauge is a formidable close-range self-defense weapon. A major drawback to the shotgun is the bulk and weight of the shotgun shells.

The above weapons are great choices under certain circumstances. They all suffer one limitation: they’re bulky. An urban prepper couldn’t walk down the street with any of these weapons without drawing attention. After many disasters, there isn’t a complete break down of social order. After a hurricane or tornado, a few looters might be present, but so will be police. If you walk down the street with a 7.62 rifle, the police might confiscate it. It’s not that they’re trying to take away your gun rights. They don’t know what you’re up to. They’re enforcing the existing law.

For self-defense and daily carry, a reliable defensive sidearm, like the Glock 19, is a popular choice for urban preppers. It’s unobtrusive. You’re more likely to have it with you when you need it in a self-defense situation. In an urban setting, hunting for food might not be something you could count on anyway, so the pistol’s weakness in the area might not matter. And, if you have a concealed weapon permit, you’re on strong legal ground to carry your gun after common disasters like hurricanes.

For many preppers, one gun isn’t enough. They’d say you need a complete battery, capable of serving many functions. Many could happily get by with a collection of three to five weapons. Going through the thought process of selecting only one weapon forces us to prioritize and evaluate our needs.

If you could only have one firearm, to serve you for the rest of your life, what firearm would you select? What if you could have only two? Only three?

Charlie P, author, The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning.

Forest Fires & Floods: Recent Disasters Show The Importance Of Making Simple Preparations (& Teach Basic Survival Lessons)

27 Jul

Record setting rainfalls of up to ten inches in Duluth, Minnesota led to massive flooding. Across the country, massive wildfires in Colorado forced 30,000 residents to flee their homes. If preppers are asked about fire and water, they’ll probably look upon them as resources—we learn how to make fire, and we learn how to store and purify water. But, when nature hits us with them, they can be major disasters.

Even if we’re far removed from a disaster, watching it unfold shows us the importance of making fundamental emergency preparations. We can use the disaster as a jumping off point to educate our friends and family about the need to prepare. Here are just a few lessons from these disasters:

► Have a basic bug out bag and be prepared to flee. Some Minnesotans could only reach their homes with boats and chose to stay with family or at a motel until the waters receded. Colorado’s fire doubled in size in a day, forcing a mass evacuation. These residents didn’t need hardcore bug out bags, but having a few basics ready to go makes life easier.

► Keep in touch with authorities with radio or TV. Many preppers keep small radios, like the Baofeng UV-5R, in their bug out bag. Public updates on changing conditions can help us decide our best course of action—flee or stay put. The authorities provide important information about what resources are available to help us during a disaster and what resources are available to help us clean up after a disaster.

► Store drinking water and learn about water filtering and purification. Authorities in Minnesota warned residents that their well water might be contaminated from the flood. They advised drinking bottled water or boiling water to kill bacteria. They offered free well testing kits to test for bacteria.

Having a few cases of bottled water and moving them to the second floor is only prudent if a flood is imminent. While stored potable water is best, if it runs out, preppers know how to boil, chemically treat, distill, or filter water to make it potable.

► Learn about respirators and N95 masks to protect your lungs. Colorado residents fleeing the fire had water-soaked bandanas around their mouths and nose to protect their lungs from smoke. Even residents far away noticed the smell of smoke. Forest fires can suspend ultra-fine particles into the air, which can travel hundreds of miles. These particles are often classified as Particulate Matter 2.5 or PM 2.5, because they’re less than 2.5 microns or micrometers in size.

N95 masks filter out 95% of particles greater than 0.3 microns in size. N100 masks filter out 99.97% (HEPA). These are not a perfect solution, because many smoke particles are below 0.3 microns. More effective filters or respirators put more stress on the lungs, because you need to suck air through a stronger filter.

► Learn skills, become adaptable, and know that you can only really rely on yourself during an emergency. OK. This lesson’s maybe a reach, but when the flood hit Minnesota, many zoo animals perished under the rising water. Two notable survivors were the seals and the polar bear, both of which are known to be very good swimmers. Six sheep, four goats, and a donkey that counted on others to keep them safe didn’t make it.


Just Some News, Documentary Links (sites and stuff I’ve been reading/watching)

Arizona Dust Storm Hits Phoenix Area (storm word of the day “haboob”)

99% of Nebraska is in a drought

“Will Drought Cause The Next Blackout?”

I’m familiar with the idea of “peak copper” and rising copper prices, but I think this is the first I heard about “penny hoarding.”

Surviving The Dust Bowl (an American Experience documentary on youtube; 50 minutes; might want to have young children avoid the brutal jackrabbit hunt at 23:31. A great historical documentary.)

Propagation of Shrubs from Softwood Cuttings (a bit late in the season, but good info for next year)

A good step-by-step instructable about propagation from cuttings.

A good youtube demonstration of UCO Stormproof Matches (

In the chapter about personal-self defense, I discuss the pros and cons of taking up boxing. On the medical downside, I forgot to list the risk of memory loss.

Top Ten Lists For New Preppers

24 Jul

Demcad ( has a new youtube video (Top 10 Items For New Preppers) about his choice of items a new prepper should get. It’s a response to sootch00’s video of his top ten items for a new prepper. Another top ten survival video list is by eNosArmory “How To Start Prepping: Top Ten List.”  These are all excellent videos and well worth watching.

As a youngster, I was drawn to thinking about lists. If I could only have five guns what would they be? If I could only own ten, what would they be? Lists can help us focus our priorities and clarify our thinking. What is the most important to us? What can we do without?

Lists can force us to think about other ways to do things. What are ten ways to start a fire? If we find ourselves listing matches, wooden matches, book matches, and really long wooden matches as four options, we’ve obviously run out of ideas! If you know four or five ways to start a fire, you’re all set, but the longer list got you to contemplate more options. Maybe we’d add friction from a fire bow, striking a rock to try to create a spark (really tough!), using a flint steel, or using a magnifying glass to harness the sun’s rays to our tinder.

Checklists assure us we haven’t forgotten something important. Pilots use checklists because failure to check something prior to takeoff could be disastrous. Do-it-yourselfers fixing their car benefit from writing down a “list” of what they did so they don’t forget to reconnect something. Almost every mechanic at one time or another needed to remove a just reinstalled part because of forgetting something else that had to be put back first.

The above prepper lists are excellent with many key supplies: water, food, flashlights, radio, etc. Demcad expands the list with a fire extinguisher. That’s something every prepper should have available not only for a major disaster affecting many people, but for a daily personal emergency. It illustrates the importance of planning for the most likely scenarios first.

When making lists, it’s easy to take things for granted because they’re part of our everyday life. We tenderly wipe off our Bosch jigsaw and carefully store it away. We only use it once a month at best. The contractor who uses it daily tosses it in his truck and doesn’t give it a second though. We wake up in the morning, put on our glasses, and put our wallet and keys in our pocket. Those items don’t get any special attention from us, but we fawn over our new Cocobola-handled Buck knife, which will be seldom used.

Preppers like to be self-sufficient and want to deal with emergencies themselves. They don’t want to rely on others. But in many emergencies, we must. My number one survival item wasn’t on any of the lists. It’s the cell phone. If we’re driving down the road and somebody slams into us from the rear and our legs are pinned to the dash, and we’re conscious, but nobody is helping us, the cell phone can get us help. If somebody suffers a heart attack, the cell phone gets professional help quickly.

When I grew up, we didn’t have cell phones. The closest thing resembling them were the high-tech “communicators” used on the sci-fi TV classic Star Trek. You knew it was going to be a good episode when the crew teleported to some primitive planet but had their communicators taken from them. They were on their own. No help from the mother ship. The cell phone gives us access to that mother ship of emergency professionals. When he got his communicator back, you knew Captain Kirk was going to kick some #**.

In the documentary Surviving Alone in Alaska a man living isolated in the wilderness says his biggest fear is his cabin burning down leaving him exposed to the elements in a harsh winter. To offset this risk, he has a tent with a stove, warm clothing, and bedding a distance away from his main cabin. He keeps a satellite phone just for that scenario.

Why don’t preppers list cell phones as a key prepping item? They don’t always work. That’s true of everything. We might not be able to get a signal or professional help might not be available. Then again, it might. Are we taking them for granted? Do they compromise our sense of self-sufficiency? Maybe, they’re just not macho enough. Every ten-year-old girl runs around talking on a cell phone.

The other day I watched a video featuring a prepper I respect and who has written much great information for preppers. His daughter was in a gunshop saying she wanted a pink pistol. She said if she got it, she wouldn’t nag dad for a cell phone. A bit later in the show, the dad is concerned about his children being abducted and wants to prepare them for that. That’s as far as I watched; the video was getting lengthy. It dawned on me that there was a real irony here.

A cell phone is a powerful tool to put children in contact with parents or police. Just a few days before, the news carried a story of a child who was abducted by a stranger. The child secretly texted her friend who called the police who thwarted the abduction. If the child didn’t have a cell phone, the situation could have turned out far worse. If somebody is supposed to pick up a child after a school event, but is delayed, a cell phone puts the child in contact with parents or an older sibling.

So my number one prepping item is the humble cell phone. Purchase an extra battery.
Charlie P, author– “The Prepper Next Door”

What Kind of Prepper Are You?

21 Jul

On Youtube, the expression “gun prepper” has become common. It refers to a “prepper” who emphasizes acquiring firearms. Some preppers criticize “gun preppers” because they aren’t making other basic preparations. They won’t have food stored. They don’t learn how to purify water. While firearms are a key preparation, as I emphasize in The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning, having forty pistols won’t make you forty times better prepared than having one pistol. The law of diminishing returns applies. Some guys like to use “prepping” as a reason to purchase many nice toys. The term “gun prepper” got me thinking about what other kinds of preppers are out there.

Food Preppers. “Food prepper” sounds like somebody who works at a restaurant. Many preppers are big into preserving foods. They can; they dehydrate; they vacuum seal; they preserve jams. Fortunately many gun preppers marry food preppers, or they’d starve.

Homesteader Preppers. These guys and gals are big into learning outside pioneer skills. They love gardening. They might take up beekeeping. They have a chicken or two running around somewhere. A few will raise grain, goats, and cattle.

Homemaker Preppers. These preppers like learning indoor pioneer skills. Sewing is popular. They might make their own laundry detergent. They’ve probably upholstered a chair.

Wilderness Survival Preppers. Guys usually. They want to live off the land. They love their bug out bags. They know at least three or four ways to make a fire. They hunt. They fish.

Fitness Preppers. Younger guys usually. They’re big into fitness. They do crossfit and study Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. They lift weights or do body weight exercises. They own more Captain of Crush grippers than an octopus would need.

Mechanical Preppers. Guys usually, often older, who associate do-it-yourself mechanical skills with prepping. They repair their own cars. They might generate their own energy with solar power. They have an attraction to melting metals. If they’re also gun preppers, they reload.

Heat Exhaustion, Heat Stroke

19 Jul

Most Americans know it’s not a good idea to leave small children alone in a car during the summer months because the high temperatures inside of a car can lead to heat stroke. The elderly are susceptible to heat exhaustion. Pets are subject to heat exhaustion. For those who want a refresher about the topic, here are some links:

Mayo Clinic on heat stroke
May Clinic on heat exhaustion
Heat stroke in dogs
Heat stoke and kids in vehicles (
Pets and heat
Heat and aging (pdf)

U.S. drought biggest since 1956, climate agency says (CNN story)

Stephen Colbert makes fun of “Doomsday Preppers”

Surviving Alone in Alaska (a 52 minute Youtube documentary; shooting a bear, trapping a rabbit, not for the squeamish.)

A nice site ( devoted to winter camping … to take your mind off the heat wave.