Archive | August, 2012

The Maligned 5.56 x 45 mm NATO (& AR-15)

29 Aug

For an old-school prepper, it’s borderline heresy to say you prefer the 5.56 mm to the 7.62 mm NATO. The heavier caliber is more effective in stopping vehicles and penetrating barricades and body armor. Expert marksman can hit targets at a greater distance.

When the military adopted the 5.56 mm, one of the surprising reasons was that at greater distances, aimed fire was found to be no more effective than randomly taken shots. Military marksman didn’t like hearing that. But it was statistically incontrovertible. In the hands of the average soldier, a battle rifle could be effectively employed to about 300 yards max. Being within 100 yards was even better.

It’s true; benchrest shooters and snipers can shoot groups as tight as 1.5 inches at 1,000 yards (the last I heard the record was about 1.4 or so inches for a five shot group). But, that’s exceptional and has little bearing to most of us.

As preppers, if we can use a defensive rifle out to 100 yards, that should cover nearly all WROL situations, short of war. Within that distance, the 5.56 mm is adequate.
Terrain limits range. As small groups, it’s impossible to know if a stranger hundreds of yards away is a threat. Even if you had the rifle skill, you can’t just start knocking off strangers 600 yards away.

“But, it can’t be adequate! It’s not adequate for deer! How can it be OK for defense?” some ask. That the 5.56 mm is considered acceptable for defense, but inadequate for deer hunting is something to ponder. There’s no question the 7.62 mm NATO is an adequate deer round.

With deer, the worry is that the light high-velocity 223 bullet will disintegrate on impact, causing a horrible surface wound, but fail to penetrate deeply enough to humanly kill the deer. This is most likely to happen if the bullet hits heavy bone, like a shoulder.

Some big-game hunters like a quartering shot that goes though the shoulder to immobilize the animal. It’s crucial that the caliber be adequate. This is why some Alaskan hunters who shoot moose and really big bear like the 338 Winchester Magnum with heavy bullets. It will reliably smash through the shoulder.

Deer run around on four legs and can present a broadside shot where the shoulder is hit. A human attacker is on two legs. If they’re coming right at you, they’re pretty vulnerable, unless they have body armor. What if you do hit the shoulder with a side shot?

As with the deer, the bullet will probably fail to penetrate into the vital organs and you’ll only wound the attacker. Very few people shot in the side of the shoulder with a 5.56 mm will continue to attack you.

There are rare people who could have their shoulder blown apart who would use their remaining arm to sling their rifle over a log or other support and shoot you. It could happen. But it’s not very likely.

Offsetting the lack of absolute stopping power, the 5.56 mm has some big advantages. The ammo is lightweight, so more can be carried. The smaller caliber is more shootable. It’s easier to get off more accurately aimed rapid shots.

Some old-timers were quick to criticize the M-16s reliability. That doesn’t apply as much to today’s AR-15s. In Vietnam, the M-16 got a bad reputation for failing to function. Many shooters chalk that up to those soldiers not knowing how to properly maintain the rifle. Another factor: the chambers rusted in the jungle conditions. Many modern weapons have chrome-lined chambers and barrels to keep rust at bay.

The one thing I agree with is that “plastic” rifles just aren’t as good-looking as rifles built out of solid wood and steel. Even some old-timers like their bolt action rifles stocked in fiberglass now, because fiberglass stocks are impervious to weather.

For those who like Mini-Maglite flashlights, there is a new “Mini Maglite LED Pro” which is getting good reviews:

Here’s a story about prepping your pets for a hurricane

In some hurricane areas, the government is offering free pet microchips. If your pet becomes lost, the microchip will ID him and see he is safely returned to you.

Want to be on Doomsday Preppers? Eat an Iguana.

Prepper Cooking: Dutch Ovens, BBQs, and More.

27 Aug

One topic I didn’t go into detail about in The Prepper Next Door was cooking. What are your options for cooking during a disaster?

One option is the good old charcoal grill or bar-be-cue. Used outside, all you’d need is the BBQ itself, charcoal, and lighter fluid. You can purchase charcoal BBQ grills or if you’re handy with metal, you can build your own.

To build your own, find a metal barrel in good condition and cut it in half, lengthwise. Use angle iron to weld together some legs and a frame. Use angle iron to cover the nasty sharp edge around the cut and to strengthen the barrel. The grill will close angle iron to angle iron. Add a handle on one side to the top half and add hinges on the other. Inside, you’ll want to build a removable box for taking out the ashes. Use a heavier metal.

Add a removable grill over the top of the bottom barrel (set down slightly, so the top and bottom close together) and a tiny chimney at the top. You can drill some holes through the top, so a spit steel can run through and allow you to cook turkeys. Build a holder for a rotisserie motor. Add some wheels on the legs.

When I was a kid, my dad built many of these. I couldn’t find any online designs as nice as his, but here are some other designs:

Instructables BBQ Barrel

Barrel Barbecue (

Another option is a camping stove. I had one of the Coleman Liquid Gas stoves, but gave it away years ago. It’s a good way to cook. (Giving it away is one of my prepper hall of shame decisions). Here’s a discussion about them on

If you bug out, a grill with folding legs are great. These come in larger sizes that are nice too. Wood would be your fuel.

To learn about cooking outdoors, we can turn to campers and woodsmen. In one of those Blast From The Past moments, I dug out a book I had: Backcountry Cooking by J. Wayne Fears. It was published in 1980 and isn’t published today. But, I bet you can find a similar book.

Many outdoor cooks love Dutch ovens. To select a true Dutch Oven, you’ll want one with a flat lid with a rim. Turning the lid over gives you a skillet. Because it sets under coals, it should have legs. The rim allows you to put coals on top of the Dutch oven. Dutch ovens are heavy cast iron, so they spread the heat uniformly to cook.

Here’s a nice discussion of selecting a Dutch oven. The site has some good-looking recipes too.

Outdoor cooks like reflector ovens. They use the heat from a fire to bake. Here’s an Boys Life article about reflector ovens.

Here’s a Youtube video of a guy making Bannock bread with a reflector oven:

For cooking in cold climates, the same sheet metal stoves mentioned in the book for heat are one option. They’re called Sheepherder’s stoves.

One useful thing the really-old-timers didn’t have was aluminum foil. Wrap what you want to cook in the foil and place the foil on top of your grill with the folding legs. Or you can toss it in your fire if you’re feeling Grizzly Adamish.

If you’re making steaks on your barrel barbecue, clean some baking potatoes and wrap them in aluminum foil. Put them on the grill around the edges.

Here are some other youtube cooks using aluminum foil:

“Hobo” meal:

Cooking A Fish In Foil:

Tilapia in Tin Foil on the Grill:

Although it would run out in a long-term disaster, having a roll or two of aluminum foil is a great plan for intermediate-term disaster cooking.

As long as we’re talking about woodsman cooking, we might as well talk about some of the old standby survival foods used by Native Americans and settlers in North America. Everyone is familiar with venison jerky.

As we go over in the book, man can’t subsist on lean protein alone. If that’s all you have, you get sick and die. The American Indians developed a way to carry and store animal fat. It’s called Pemmican.

To get vitamins and make it somewhat palatable, berries, nuts, and jerky are added to it. Nobody really much likes it anyway. Pure animal fat and lard isn’t all that tasty. (My favorite source of fat in the modern world is deep-dish pepperoni pizza.)

“Modern Pemmican” did away with the animal fat and used peanut butter. Here’s a good video about making Peanut butter Pemmican

Here’s one more article about pemmican.

Some modern campers just carry their nuts, berries, and jerky separately and add a jug of crunchy peanut butter as another staple.

While pemmican stored fat as a portable food source, another important cooking ingredient is yeast. It’s useful for baking bread. Old time prospectors in Alaska used Sourdough as a yeast source.
Here’s a nice discussion ( of starting a starter dough.

Here are two good videos about Sourdough:

Making Sourdough Starter:

Dan’s SourDough Bread:

There are many options for getting your daily coffee fix today.

Many people think coffeemakers have complex pumps and other gizmos to brew coffee. They’re actually quite simple, but clever. This video I found on youtube explains how a coffee maker works. As you see, heat is the only requirement:

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


Win a free copy of The Prepper Next Door on The Total Survivalist Libertarian Rantfest (which is a great blog for preppers)

OpSec, Prepper Stigma, Privacy, Face Recognition, & Facebook

26 Aug

Let me begin by saying I don’t like the term “opsec” which stands for operational security. That’s the sort of term you’d probably never want to drop on a neighbor. It’s like calling your place in the country a “retreat.” If you clarify that it’s a vacation retreat, that’s great. But don’t use the term “bunker” or, God forbid, “The Compound.”

It’s your country place. Your cabin in the woods. The place you go when you just want to get away from it all (not mentioning that “it all” includes mutant zombies). You’re not hardening your house’s security, you’re renovating. Your concrete pillbox is shooting for that WWII retro look. It’s an aesthetic-artistic thing.

Many preppers feel opsec is about protecting your stash of supplies from desperate neighbors during a long-term WROL. I don’t worry too much about that. Maybe, it’s because, unlike many preppers, I don’t stockpile several years’ worth of food. If hungry neighbors showed up at my door during a true disaster and I had the resources, I’d help them. I have just enough weapons to make trying to take them away from me a miserable experience for a gang.

I want to address an aspect of opsec that doesn’t get as much attention in the prepper community: Protecting your job. Only a few years ago, I would have said the term “prepper” didn’t have any stigma attached to it. But, I fear that’s changing.

Shows like “Doomsday Preppers” portray preppers as more radical than most of us are. Other social or political elements want to co-opt the term “prepper.” That can lead to preppers being classified inappropriately, in ways that aren’t reflective of who we are.

If the word “prepper” takes a lexical turn for the worse in the future, it might be a label you want to avoid. If your Facebook page shows you holding a gun saying, “I’m a prepper!” that’s a label that could follow you through your lifetime. It probably will be harmless, but in some areas, it could conceivably cost you a job.

If you’re applying for the head maintenance position at a small school and the person evaluating your application sees the picture, he might worry you’re a nut who’ll shoot up the school. Even if he thinks you’re fully sane, he might worry that hiring you could cast him in a bad light. What were you thinking hiring this guy? In today’s tight job market, something as simple as a Facebook photo can be the difference between getting a job or being rejected. First rule of survival in the modern world: Don’t lose your job.

In my time, people might have a bad day at work and come home and vent about their boss who was a jerk that day. Some might even write in a diary. Youngsters today go to Facebook and post online. They share their feelings with their friends and the world. Some then get fired.

As a rule, the students you teach aren’t “germ bags.”  You don’t “like” your boss’s political opponent.  Don’t call your job “boring“, and accept your crummy tip and shut up.

I understand people want to assert their freedom of speech and express their opinions, but being able to pay your bills is nice too.

There’s a saying that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Just smile and nod. Even smiling and nodding can get you into trouble today.

Facebook purchased, a facial recognition software company. Facebook is creating the largest face database in the world. Originally the plan was to make an interface for all software developers, but that plan got axed. There were too many creepy possibilities.

Stalkers could take an iphone picture of somebody and instantly know all about them. It could be a nuisance for attractive women. This should give those considering a career in undercover security/police work pause. Do you want your photos on the Internet?

If a somebody snaps a picture of you sitting with two police officer buddies, that photo could compromise your opsec. Most surveillance cameras today don’t have the resolution to identify a face, but that will change in the future.

Face photo searches could turn up every photo you’ve ever been in and could identify the other people in the photo. If you live or work in an urban or suburban environment, you’re being photographed regularly by security cameras. Most of that video footage is destroyed and recycled, but what happens when advertisers start offering businesses money for the video?

I agree with Demcad: “In my opinion, Facebook is just a hub to sell customer information to corporations.” One company (Face Deals) is using cameras at stores to capture photos of customers as they enter. That information allows the store to know what special offers and deals might appeal to the person. As one commentator posted, the problem with “opting out” of such a program is that the camera is still snapping your photo and storing it in a database. You’re only opting out of being given special deals, not being photographed and tracked.

There are some upsides to all this face tracking. Lost children at amusement parks might be quickly found. Dangerous felons can be identified and taken off the streets. If nothing else, face recognition is in its infancy and there are some amusing face recognition fails to give us a good laugh. (my favorite: The Pumpkin)

Here’s a nice article about protecting your privacy on Facebook. Don’t post your place of birth or age. Computer scientists at one university successfully predicted many people’s Social Security numbers from public information. The same people are now linking pictures to SSNs (not for any malicious purpose, but just to show they can).

One writer speculated Facebook’s ultimate goal is to become the “driver’s license of the Internet.” To use your cell phone or computer, you’d need to log on with a face-recognizing video camera.


Face recognition reality is only one aspect of how privacy is changing in the modern world. The FDA was caught spying on employee’s e-mail.

The end of privacy.  An interesting editorial talking about license plate tracking.

Google Android devices  like to know where you are.

The new totalitarianism of surveillance technology

While we’re talking about faces, here’s an interesting 60 Minutes special (on youtube) about people who can’t remember faces. There are super-recognizers who remember every face they ever see.

On other topics:

Forrest fires continue to be a problem throughout parts of the country. Idaho just had its worst forest fire season on record.

‘Preppers’: Ready For Anything (A Buffalo News article about preppers)

Gerber is recalling Bear Grylls Parang Machetes because they might be a laceration hazard. They’re included in Gerber’s Apocalypse Survival Kit. I walked by a TV the other day and thought I saw Bear Grylls selling deodorant.

Prepper Book Reviews

23 Aug

The Prepper Next Door: A Practical Guide For Disaster And Emergency Planning was recently reviewed on these two great prepper blogs:

Book Review: The Prepper Next Door  (

Book Review: The Prepper Next Door (

Other stuff in the news:

Saltwater From Gulf Invades Mississippi River

Remedial Prepping & A Craigslist Murder

19 Aug

Burglars prefer to burgle cars and homes with unlocked doors. It’s easier than messing with locks. It offers the advantage that the victim has been careless, and a careless person is less likely to have taken other security measures. In my book, I couldn’t bring myself to explicitly tell readers to lock their doors. After all, this was a book about prepping! I didn’t want to insult readers. I wrote about door reinforcement and more advanced things.

A few days ago, I came upon a video from a youtube prepper. Obviously a successful man, he has a nice home and truck and tons of guns. He knows a lot about prepping. What was his video about? Having his truck broken into. It was unlocked. This isn’t to put him in the prepper hall of shame or anything. It shows even knowledgeable people make mistakes. We’re only human.

In a tragic news story, a three-year-old girl wondered away from her home and fell into a shallow canal and drown. I don’t mean to be critical of the parents, who are suffering horribly already, but shockingly, the news reported the child had already wondered off and was brought home by a neighbor the same day.

Lock your doors. Watch your small children. Don’t forget the basics, the small things. Some might call this common sense. As the old saying goes, “Common sense isn’t all that common.” The human difficulty isn’t knowing it, but doing it without exception. It should become part of the routine of life.

A mechanic was struggling with a rusted bolt by a gas tank. He knew the dangers of using a torch near the tank. He went ahead anyway, when spraying the bolt liberally with Liquid Wrench didn’t loosen the bolt. He was fortunate; everything turned out fine.

If you find yourself saying something like: “Well, I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but it will probably be OK,” it’s time to slow down and look at other options. Reconsider what you’re doing. Is your frustration in removing a 50-cent bolt so bad you’re willing to die in a massive fireball to get it out?

Accidents happen because people just want to get things done. They’re frustrated some little thing is taking so much time. They want to cut corners. We’ve all been there.

In a news story, a guy met a stranger from Craigslist to purchase a cell phone. The guy worked two jobs and was studying computer programming. He volunteered at a local nursing home. He sounded like a great fellow. The person selling the phone was actually a criminal (four time serial felon) who lured his victims with Craigslist.

The guy wisely met the stranger in a public place, but when he asked to see the phone, the “seller” said he had left it at home and that his home wasn’t far away. Could the guy give him a ride to his house where they could see the phone?

Moment of truth. What do you do? The guy said he didn’t conduct business at people’s homes, but the guy’s girlfriend urged him to just get the deal done. They all jumped in the car. In most scenarios, the guy probably would have purchased a cell phone or decided not to. In this case, he got shot in the head.

When we meet strangers on Craigslist, how can we keep from getting shot in the head by a serial felon? There’s an app for that. Or at least there will be someday. Computer programmers and security experts are working to use facial recognition software so that a person can snap a picture of a stranger with their cell phone. The app will match the photo to the vast collection of photos on the Internet to learn more about the person. Cell photo to instant background check will be consumer reality in the next few years.

Police suggest meeting Craigslist strangers at a public place, or even at the parking lot or lobby of the police station. Some preppers would call this man’s decision to transport the stranger in his car a violation of opsec or operational security. It was OK to meet a stranger in a public place, but he shouldn’t have driven with him.

In an upcoming post, I’ll write about privacy and facial recognition and my thoughts about opsec.

Here’s a video about dryer fires (Don’t allow lint to build up; don’t surround your clothing dryer with flammable materials; and don’t run your dryer when you’re leaving the house):
NBC TODAY Show: Dryer Fire Prevention (2008)

Here’s some more information on topics related to electrical fires:
FEMA on electrical fire prevention

From Fluke, an article about counterfeit electrical products. We’ve all seen stories about counterfeit jeans and designer handbags from China, but counterfeit electrical products can pose a threat to safety. If you do your own electrical work, purchase your supplies from reputable suppliers.

Mike Holmes: Faulty wire can be dire

Here’s a blog I stumbled on (, about urban farming and beekeeping.

I don’t know what’s going to happen to food prices next year as a result of the 2012 drought. One article  says grocery prices for a family of four is expected to rise by about $600 in 2013.

An editorial said the current drought is the largest natural disaster (by area) in America, encompassing half the country.

When I think “disaster,” I imagine people dying or being perilously close. So, is the current drought a real disaster or just some dry weather? How would you classify it? What comprises a “real disaster”?