Archive | September, 2012

Coagulation & Flocculation For Preppers

29 Sep

With water purification, the two sources I look to for information are always backpackers and those working as aid workers in Third World Countries. Their well being depends upon adequately purifying water.

One product that impresses me (which I recommend in The Prepper Next Door) is the PUR Purifier of Water, which uses iron sulfate as a binder particle to attach to impurities in the water. Then the impurities can be filtered out with a simple coffee filter. The product was developed by Procter & Gamble.

The binder removes all sorts of horrible things including lead, arsenic, DDT, and PCBs.

You almost have to see this stuff in action to believe how well it works. You start off with water that you’d look at and say, “No way in Hell am I ever going to drink that.” Then you mix the stuff in the water and it kinda looks worse. In time, you can filter the water and you end up with water that looks really clear.

There are other commercial products that use this binder concept, which is also called a flocculant. (I like “binder particle” better). Chlor-Floc is one. Instead of using 5 gallon pails, this has tablets for treating one liter at a time.

Here’s a Youtube review of Chlor-Floc by colhane:

The downside to these commercial products, outside of Third World Countries, is expense. I got to thinking that any prepper who got a solid C in high school chemistry can probably figure out what is used as a binder particle and have a go at making their own water-purification flocculants. For do-it-yourself flockers, Alum (aluminum sulfate) seems to be the binder of choice.

Here’s a nice demonstration by CrazyTaileZ (“The Southwest Backpacker”) of using alum to treat murky water.

Here’s a good discussion about an issue that arises, the pH of the water.

One concern is that too much Aluminum might dissolve into the water. In addition, I’d hit the water with a chlorine-based treatment, like the commercial products do. This could easily be done in a second step.

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


Just a link to slickdeals 7.62x39mm ammo deal

28 Sep

Over at,  I came upon this.  $4.29 for 20 rounds, free shipping over $49 (with code given), of  7.62 x 39mm ammo at Cabelas. Herters brand. Not familiar with Herters, but looking on Google says some of their other calibers aren’t good, but this Russian ammo might be good for AKs.

Miscellaneous (Sort of) Deep Thoughts About Guns

26 Sep

Stumbling around the Internet, I came upon this interesting post by Massad Ayoob. He talks about reverting to carrying the 1911. Ayoob is one of the leading authorities about defensive pistol shooting. I highly recommend his self-defense books.

A few comments were made (by people commenting on that article) that I thought deserved attention. One was the use of side-by-side shotguns for self defense. Preppers who want defensive shotguns probably should avoid side-by-side shotguns. It’s true, in many confrontations, you’ll only need one shot. The problem with a side-by-side for defense is how to keep the weapon at the ready.

If you have a shotgun with internal hammers, breaking open the gun and loading it means the weapon is now only relying on its safety. That’s not the ideal way to keep a shotgun stored. If the safety fails and something jars the gun or trigger, it could fire. Compare this to keeping a pump action shotgun with a loaded magazine, but an empty chamber. That gun could bounce around all day in the back of a Jeep and it wouldn’t fire.

If you can load the side by side quickly, you could keep it unloaded and quickly load it when needed. That’s not ideal, because maybe you’ve just woken up or are under stress. Pumping an action is easier.

Recognizing this and loving the good old side-by-side shotgun, some like “coach” style shotguns with external hammers. For a modern defensive gun, this is a horrible choice. After loading the shotgun, you now need to manually cock the hammers before you can fire. That’s time wasted.

Another poster mentioned the Dan Wesson revolver. I had one of these, a model 15-2 357 Magnum. I thought the interchangeable barrels was a cool idea. The action wasn’t as nice as a Smith & Wesson. The gun had a unique cylinder latch in front of the cylinder.

The two things I remember most about this gun: A few times, when I drew it from a holster, that silly cylinder latch opened. It didn’t actually spill the bullets onto the floor, but I imagine that might have been the next step.

If you can defuse a bad situation with non-aggressive humor, that’s great. But having the bullets fall out of your gun like some sort of Western comedy is going overboard. Because of this, I wouldn’t carry that gun for defense. It would be fine to keep as a “nightstand” gun. Perhaps, I just needed to get a better holster.

The other thing I recall about the 15-2 was once when I pulled the trigger, the hammer jumped straight up. I don’t know if the hammer actually broke or if it just lost is moorings. But it didn’t go bang.

My point is that not all weapons of a certain type are equally reliable. When somebody talks about the reliability of revolvers, this doesn’t apply to all brands all the time. In fairness to Dan Wesson, I do like the 15-2. I just wouldn’t carry one for defense. I don’t think it’s the best gun coming out of a holster. That’s only my opinion, of course.

Another poster wrote, “The Seal who shot OBL should have carried…” I must admire the guy. I’m a pretty egotistical fellow, but I won’t tell Navy Seals what weapons to carry. They’re far more adept at that sort of thing than I am. But the poster made a great point. The 45 ACP has less muzzle blast at night. This is a real downside to full power loads in the 357 magnum and one more advantage to the 45 ACP.

As part of my prepper homework, I watched Revolution last night. Not too bad. Small groups of good-looking people walking around thinking about the past and talking about the mysteries of life while seeking out danger. They explained that yes, by golly, people should be able to restore power. There must be some malicious group of people trying to keep us in the dark.

I guess the one possible use of an EMP attack would be as a false flag attack. No sane country in the world would dare attack America with a nuclear bomb. If they wanted to spread terror and had the ability to make and deploy a nuclear bomb, they’d probably just nuke a city. But if malicious forces inside a country wanted to scare the bejesus out of their citizens, turning off the power and chalking it up to some enemy probably would do the trick. But, how then, would they make use of the mass media to further their agenda? Oh, well, the best laid plans…

Back Woods Home magazine has a nice article about small-scale solar power for preppers. If you’re just getting into solar, using a 25 Watt solar panel to charge some small batteries is a good place to start. is one place to get solar panels.

Here’s an interesting discussion of EMP. It mentions the risk of “fly-by-wire” planes which aren’t protected from EMP. “Fly-by-wire” means that computer electronics control things between the human operator and the physical device, like a wing flap, that does something mechanically. Even though I don’t worry too much about EMP, I don’t like drive-by-wire cars where a computer and electronics system controls acceleration and braking. How often has your PC frozen up? There’s an expression “Drive by wire, die in a fire.”

Bullets & Laundry

25 Sep

There are many rifle calibers called 7.62 mm times something. There is the powerful 7.62 mm x 51, which I just call the 7.62 NATO. There’s the 7.62 x 39 mm, the caliber of the AK-47. There’s the 7.62 x 54R, which is used in the Mosin Nagant, which judging from youtube videos, is surprisingly popular among preppers. The R doesn’t stand for Russian, but for Rimmed. There are other calibers commonly designated with a 7.62 mm size, but we’ve hit the main ones preppers use. The 30-06 is also a 30 caliber, obviously.

For rifle buffs, the plethora of 6.5 mm calibers was always fun and confusing. There was the 6.5×55 mm Swedish, the 6.5x54mm Mannlicher, and the 6.5x52mm Mannlicher-Carcano (Lee Harvey Oswald). There is also, apparently, a Dutch 6.5x53mm which I’ve also heard called the 6.5x53R, and the Russians contributed the 6.5x54R, which is the 7.62x54R necked down, although I’ve never seen one of those. Many newer 6.5 mm calibers exist.

My point: We need another 7.62 mm chambering. When the 7.62 NATO was developed, the goal was to equal the power of the 30-06. The project started with the 300 Savage. The neck was improved for automatic rifle feeding and the case made longer.

What I think would have been neat would have been a shorter version of the 7.62 mm NATO, made to match the overall length of the 300 Savage. Instead of aiming for the power level of the 30-06, accept a new autoloading caliber with the power level of about the 30-30. Just improve the neck. That would be a U.S. equivalent of about the Russian 7.62×39 mm. It would be adequate for most things.

The advantage of this new caliber (let’s call it the 308 Palmer) would be reduced recoil, the same reason so many rifle shooters love the family of 6.5mm rifles. I started thinking about this while leafing through the Grizzly ( catalog. If you spend a few thousand dollars to purchase one of their high-quality gunsmith lathes, they’ll toss in a free DVD about how to make a match grade barrel.

Making and rifling a barrel would be no small undertaking, but if I had the time and money, this would be a very cool project. Many preppers said they wanted a take-apart Ruger 10/22 years before Ruger came out with one.

In a world where you had complete design freedom, what ultimate survival gun would you design or like to see made? What features would you want to see incorporated into an existing design?

Although most preppers, myself included, won’t be building barrels anytime soon, for those who want to learn more about gunsmithing, the founder of has a nice Youtube channel. He has videos showing how to make and fit small gun parts.

In the book, I said some machinists make their own AR-15 receivers. A project that looks much easier (almost embarrassing easy for a serious metal smith) is bending and drilling a AK-47 receiver. This guy started with a blank that was already bent.

Gunsmithing skills aren’t necessary for a prepper who plans for short- and intermediate-term disasters. For many preppers, if half their weapons broke down, they’d have plenty of firepower left. But for long-term preppers, it’s one more thing you might want to study. It can be a fun hobby.

I stumbled upon this interview. A kid interviews his mom about her favorite preps. When asked what her favorite preps are, she replies: “…my dutch ovens, my 16×20 tent with a stove and water heater, the WonderWash, porta-potty and a tent to put it in, a way to shower with warm water, the Volcano II cooker and dutch oven table.”

You had me at porta-potty. How many preppers have twenty rifles, 10,000 rounds of ammo, and can generate their own electricity with solar power, but they plan to rely on a seat with a hole in it and a pair of folding legs as their main toilet?

The “WonderWash” was new to me, so I got to googling. It’s a tiny camp washing machine that is hand cranked. Here it is on youtube. It looked a bit fragile.

Other preppers on Youtube were busy planning for how to deal with laundry in a long-term crisis. LDS Prepper has this video. TNgun has this post.

When I get work clothing really grimy, greasy, and full of oil and other car fluids, I put it in a bucket and add Tide. Let it soak and then turn it over several times by hand. Then, ring it dry. Ringing it dry is a great forearm workout. I’d never put clothing that greasy into a washing machine. This wouldn’t be my preferred method for cleaning reusable diapers.

In a true long-term situation, I’d try to rig up something like this with an exercise bike. Pedaling your laundry clean would take far less energy than hand cranking it.

I must confess, I had a manual washboard and some sort of contraption that wrung water out of clothing, but in my plan to de-clutter, I tossed them out.

Buckshot & Bullets

24 Sep

Looking at the ads in the newspaper, Gander Mountain has 175 rounds of Federal 00 Buckshot (12 gauge) for $99.99. It comes with a free military ammo can. I’m not sure if Gander Mountain exists outside of Minnesota. That’s $0.57 per round. Mills Fleet Farm has a box of five 00 buckshot for $3.99. That’s $0.79 per round.

Years ago, a friend, who was big into hunting deer with rifled slugs, went out before every deer season and purchased 50 to 100 boxes of five rifled slugs. I always remember them being $2 a box. Anything more just feels too expensive to me now! For preppers who need to stock up on ammo, stores catering to hunters often have good sales before hunting season.

The standard 12 gauge loading of 00 buckshot has 9 pellets. That’s more than adequate for home defense. In the day, some shooters liked the smaller number 4 buckshot better. They felt the larger 00 buckshot wasted too much space inside the shotshell. You could cram in more of the smaller pellets. If I recall correctly, Mel Tappen, a popular survivalist author years ago, liked number 4 buckshot.

These guys reasoned that multiple hits were significantly more effective than fewer. So 27 pellets of number 4 size beat only 9 of 00. The guys who favored 00 felt the larger pellets had better ability to penetrate and disable. Size 00 is the standard used by police.

Even 00 isn’t perfect. I recall one police officer saying he knew of a case where a suspect was hit in the forehead with a 00 pellet. Don’t recall the range, but I’m guessing it was at least 40 yards. The pellet didn’t penetrate the skull but just bounced off. Don’t know if the story is true.

For comparison:
No. 4 Buckshot has a weight of 20.5 grains, a diameter of .24 inches, and a muzzle energy of 77 foot pounds. No. 00 Buckshot has a weight of 54 grains, diameter of .330 inches and an energy of 211 foot pounds. Both loads exit the barrel at about 1,300 feet per second. This data is commonly available, but I took it from an older book I had called The Shotgun in Combat by Tony Lesce. (There’s a lot of BS in this book too, like using “poison loads” in your shotgun.)

Two things the book does that I like is that it pattern tests some loads. If you wonder how well your shotgun patterns buckshot, you can take your scattergun and some big sheets of paper and test it. For home defense, expect the range to be ten feet to maybe 10 yards. The book’s author constructs some temporary walls with sheet rock to show that 00 buckshot will easily penetrate two sides of 1/2 plasterboard.

I looked at the shotshells I have near my 870 and they were the 12 pellet magnum loads of 00 buck. All these loads are for the standard length 12 gauge. You can purchase even more powerful loads that come in 3″ length shells. If I remember correctly, the 00 loading has 15 pellets and the No. 4 buckshot load has 41 pellets. The downside is the recoil.

Another choice is to get the rarer No. 1 buckshot which is a size between 00 and number 4 buckshot. It’s diameter is 0.30 inches. Then you have either the best of both worlds or the worst of both worlds, depending upon whether you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty sort of guy.

If you hate recoil, several options exist. You could omit the shotgun entirely and rely on a defensive handgun. For most self-defense situations, that’s an acceptable choice. Otherwise, you could move to a 20 gauge shotgun. A few feel the 20 gauge is under powered, but ballistics don’t bear this out.

A 20 gauge rifled slug weighs 282 grains and exits the muzzle at 1,600 feet per second with a muzzle energy of 1,555 foot pounds. The big slug does loose velocity rapidly. This is why many areas require slugs for hunting deer: it’s safer. By comparison a 44 magnum might fire a 240 grain bullet at about 1,400 feet per second with an energy of about 1,000 foot pounds. (I don’t actually remember this stuff: I looked it up in Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia by Outdoor Life Books published in 1980)

Another option is a recoil-reducing autoloading shotgun. Many shooters say an autoloading 12 gauge has about the recoil of a 20 gauge pump shotgun. How much recoil you feel depends upon many things. How heavy is the gun? Does it have a good recoil pad? Are you holding it properly and does it have a correct length of pull for the shooter?

Nothing is wrong with seeking out an autoloader in 20 gauge.

I planned to write more about rifle calibers, but this post is getting long. I will mention that Gander Mountain’s “Gun World” has a neat looking Sig Sauer 716 “Flat Dark Earth” rifle in 7.62 mm NATO. It’s a bit out of the budget for many of us: Price: $1,999. It looks like an AR-15 on steroids (i.e. the AR-10). The ad says it’s chambered in 7.62 x 54 mm, which I think they mean 7.62 x 51 mm. But maybe it’s in 7.62 x 54R or some other caliber. There are a huge number of different 7.62 rifles. But that discussion will have to wait until next time. (Just googled it and, yep, it’s good old 7.62 NATO)

Charlie P., author The Prepper Next Door.

I don’t plan to make this blog at all political. I have nothing against unions or teachers. But this caught my attention: Chicago teachers are on strike. They earn an average of $72,000 per year, have full benefits, have the summers off, and work the shortest school day in the country, six hours. They will get a 16% salary increase over the next four years. Only 8% of the graduating students are considered prepared to enter college. At least to me, it seems there’s something wrong with this picture.