Archive | February, 2013

The 1911 (1911-A1) 45 Automatic Pistol Gunsmithing

23 Feb

Many older preppers own 1911-A1 pistols. I dug out my copy of an older book, Survival Guns, and noticed it gave a short parts list to stock. Noticeably absent were two parts: The plunger tube and the ejector. Maybe these were omitted because it takes a bit more gunsmithing/fitting to replace these parts. But, it’s not beyond the skills of the average prepper. Here are some great Youtube links to show you how:

Ejector replacement on the 1911

Plunger tube replacement on the 1911 (does require a special tool)

Some shooters braze a heavier plunger tube to their 45s. Others use green Loctite on these parts.

Here’s an entertaining series of posts about fitting all the parts to a 45 receiver. Well worth reading for anybody building their first 1911.

Youtube has many videos about assembling\disassembling the 1911 style pistols. Here is one:

This short video (Youtube) shows how the 1911 trigger works.

Here’s a good discussion of the 1911 trigger.

For those who prefer books, you can look up the 1911 gunsmithing manuals by Jerry Kuhnhausen. Do preppers really need to know how to service a 1911 to this extent? No. But if you’re a shooter who likes tinkering with mechanical things and you like the 1911, building a 1911 might just be a future hobby project for you!

Oh, my: This guy build a 1911 receiver on a mini mill.

Charlie Palmer -author, The Prepper Next Door

Common Prepping Supplies that Don’t Last Very Long
This is a great post. It reminds us to take our batteries out when storing electronic devices and discusses the longevity of some items preppers stock. Sometimes we’re taken by surprise: Things we think will last, don’t. Sanding belts are one. Old sanding belts fall apart. Some electrical tape turns into a gooey mess given enough time.

Using an old-school razor…for shaving. I like the concept of saving money by eliminating consumables.

Here are some great tips about personal awareness for self defense.

Some great money saving tips on
I’ll put this under the category “Don’t try this at home.” Here’s a guy who is using a 3D plastic printer to make AR receivers. This technology could be great for making small plastic parts for things that won’t explode on you. Note: like the receiver on an 870 shotgun, the AR-15 receiver doesn’t take the force of the pressure inside the barrel. The bolt locks into the barrel or “barrel extension.”

Another article on this new hobby of making plastic things with 3 D printing technology.

The Chinese are hacking into computers running America’s crucial infrastructure:

Radon Mitigation & Filtering Air

15 Feb

This post will expand upon a topic I cover in the book in the chapter about air: The dangers of basement radon and how to deal with it. Radon is a natural product in the decay of underground uranium. In short, certain rocks create this crap, which then decays into other crap, which eventually emits alpha radiation.

Alpha radiation is a lot like a big 45 slug. It doesn’t penetrate deeply, but does quite a bit of damage to whatever it hits. The problem is that when you spend a lot of time in the basement in a high radon area, these alpha particles constantly bombard your lungs. Much of the damage to your lungs is repaired naturally, but every once in a while, your DNA gets messed up and the damage becomes lung cancer.

One of the best explanations of radon I’ve found is here (pdf). It illustrates the points with nice pretty pictures.

What should you know about radon?

1) It’s a regional problem. Inspect a radon map to see if you live in a high radon area. If you do, continue reading. If you live in a low radon area, congratulations. One less thing to worry about!

2) The effects of radon are determined by level of exposure over time and by statistics. Everybody knows one old codger who says he smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for forty years and didn’t get lung cancer: Ergo, smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer! What he misses, of course, is the huge number of smokers who died with their lungs draining out into a plastic bag.

It’s the same with radon. High exposure doesn’t mean you’ll get lung cancer. It only increases the probability you’ll get lung cancer. Low exposure doesn’t mean you won’t get cancer. It only means you have less likelihood of getting it.

3) If you live in a high-radon area, you can get test kits to measure the radon level in your basement. These are available from many sources. I’d suggest you google “Radon” and the name of your state, because many state governments provide low cost (or even free) radon test kits to their residents.

Radon is measured in pico curies per liter of air (pCi/L). We don’t really need to understand what pico curies are to understand the test. Just know that average outdoor levels are about 0.4 pico curies per liter. Consider that a baseline. You can’t do any better than this. Indoor air levels will vary. The experts deem that ten times this exposure or about 4.0 pCi/L or more is a level for concern.

If family members sleep in the basement and you have 16 pCi/L, you probably want to look into reducing radon levels. If you rarely go in your basement and you have a reading of 5.0 pCi/L, it’s not as big a deal.

4) If you decide that radon levels are too high for your family, you can have a radon mitigation system installed or install one yourself. Professionals usually charge between $1,000 and $2,500 to install an active sub slab depressurization system.

What seems like such a high cost to install some PVC pipes with a fan has led some to call radon mitigation a scam or a ruse.
There are many real conspiracies and scams. Radon mitigation isn’t one of them.

If you’re a do-it-yourself type, you can find some good information about installing one of these systems here. Scroll down to “Radon Reduction Techniques for Existing Detached Houses: Technical Guidance (Third Edition) for Active Soil Depressurization Systems” and then click on the text and there is a link to convert it to pdf. This text is about 300 pages and will provide more information than you really need.

The first step to minimizing the level of radon is to paint bare concrete surfaces in the basement and seal any obvious cracks. If you have a sump pit, you might use that as a starting point for designing your own mitigation system.

After sealing the basement as best you can, you could test again to see if you have reduced the level of radon. But I probably wouldn’t. Caulk alone usually doesn’t do the job, because air from the ground has a way of finding its way into your basement!

To understand an active mitigation system, think about the air below your house’s foundation. That air wants to go somewhere and will seep into your house. This is for several reasons. There is often a natural draw of air from lower levels into a house heated during the winter. This is called the Stack Effect.

Heated air rises and leaves the building from the top of the building. Air from lower levels must come in from somewhere. If it seeps in from tiny cracks in the basement, it will carry radon with it.

Sub slab depressurization means that we suck air out from underneath the foundation’s slab and exhaust it, usually above the roof. This carries the radon-laden air away. Just as importantly, it depressurizes the area below the foundation’s slab. So air is less likely to want to flow into the house from below. Think of this as offsetting the stack effect. The air beneath the foundation isn’t being pulled aggressively into the home anymore.

When building one of these systems, one thing to note is how easily air flows under your foundation. If you get lucky, you might not have to install any piping at all. If you have a drain pipe feeding into a sump pit, that might provide all the piping you need. Then, it’s just a matter of sealing the pit and running some PVC piping and a fan to exhaust the air. Call this your X1 system. Test the radon level to see if you need to do something more involved.

Keep in mind that you’ll win in the end. You can test, and if you’re not happy with the level of reduction, you can try something else. A successful system should reduce levels well below 4.0 pico curies per liter. Many achieve readings of under one pico curie per liter.

Filtering Air

As long as we broached the subject of the Stack Effect and sub slab depressurization, it’s only natural that we should say a few words about the daily effects of air pressure in the home and how this relates to some prepping situations.

The air pressure inside a home can be greater than or less than the outside air pressure. With exhaust fans, you can create a relative depressurization inside your home. This can be used to find air leaks increasing your energy bills.

One test is to use a powerful fan attached to the front door to depressurize your house (air blows outside). Then you can measure the level of depressurization you achieve or use smoke candles to seek out pesky air infiltration leaks that cost you money.

If you were to turn the fan around and blow air into your home, your house would be under relative positive pressure to the outside air. In this case, the smoke from the test candle would exit the house through cracks and other openings.

This technique is used for so-called “clean rooms.” If you want to assemble microchips and other sensitive components, to create a clean room, the room can be just slightly over pressurized relative to the outside. This way contaminated air isn’t drawn into the room from small imperfections in the building envelope. The air entering the room can be filtered and you can control it. A HEPA filter will help remove small particles.

A prepper can envision several scenarios. If you’re hit with a dust storm or smoke from a forest fire, a simple HEPA system like this will remove some of the offending material before it enters your home.

This advice of creating a slightly positive pressure inside your shelter is given for dealing with nuclear radiation too. (The link is to a page from a book on Google books titled Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Terrorism: Emergency Response by Mark E. Byrnes, et. all., Page 108.) The Radiation is carried by small contaminated particles.

I’m not so sure how such a system would work against a chemical or biological terrorist attack, because of our limited ability to filter these agents. But if you had an adequate filter, with a powerful fan and power source and some PVC pipe you could create a basic system.

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

Here’s a pdf about building a new home with radon in mind.

EPA’s Consumer Guide To Radon (pdf)

Here an news article about radon in Minnesota.

Here’s a great blog post on about the difference between negligent and accidental discharge of a firearm.

Prepper Next Door Book Interview On

12 Feb

Just a quick post to let readers know I was interviewed on Check out the full review here:

Proposed Minnesota Gun-Magazine Ban (MN Prepper Alert)

8 Feb

Just a quick post. I stumbled on this article “Minn. Legislature: Assault-weapons ban heats up gun hearings

I figured no big deal. Talk, talk, yada, yada. Then somebody commented that if this bill 242 goes through, Minnesota would join New York in disallowing magazines greater than ten rounds. I googled the proposed legislation  myself …yikes e mikes e….the commentator was correct.

Here is the legislation:
Any person who, on August 1, 2013, is in possession of a large-capacity magazine
2.30has 120 days to do either of the following without being subject to prosecution under
2.31Minnesota Statutes, section 624.7133:
2.32(1) permanently alter the magazine so it cannot accommodate more than ten rounds;
2.33(2) remove the large-capacity magazine from the state; or
2.34(3) surrender the large-capacity magazine to a law enforcement agency for

Notice, no grandfathering in of old magazines currently owned. If this law passes, Minnesota preppers with “high capacity” magazines would be in legal peril. I’m glad I never switched away from the old 1911-A1. If I have it and my 870 I’d feel well protected.

The proposed ban on “assault rifles” would impact DPMS Panther Arms, based in Minnesota.

If you find yourself subject to this sort of thing and you want to comply with the law, look into selling your magazines on an online gun auction site, like Given the amount of money people are paying for these today, if you have extra magazines, now might be the time to sell them and pocket the cash.

Oh, well, if they take away our guns, at least we’ll have our knitting needles and cooking.

Here’s a depressing story: Hundreds of thousands of people with advanced degrees are on food stamps.

We’ll classify this one under: “Who Knew?” It turns out during drought you should water your home’s foundation.
In Minnesota, foundations are cracking at record levels because of ground dryness.

Here’s a nice article about rainwater collection in Texas. There is a link to a pdf about harvesting rainwater (This is the same pdf I recommend in The Prepper Next Door.)

The drought is harming owls in Texas.

10 Urban Survival Skills

7 Feb

This is a brainstorming post. These skills are in no particular order.

1. Learn to identify exit routes. Here “exit routes” is a general concept. Mice and rats are great at surviving in urban environments. Unfortunately, for them, they often succumb to traps. They go in one way and can’t get back out. Raccoons too go in one door and can’t get back out. As humans, we should at least have one leg up on mice and raccoons.

A major fire in a Brazilian nightclub killed hundreds of people. There was only one exit and a security guard refused to let patrons leave. Panic caused people to stampede the exit clogging it with bodies.

Whenever you enter a building, find out where the exits are. Look around. Try to have at least two ways to leave. Is there anything preventing you from using the exit? How would you overcome it?

If you’re driving down the road, same concept. If the car in front of you suddenly stops or crashes would you have an empty lane to enter if you needed it? Always have an exit route.

2. Learn to collect rainwater from your roof. You’ll probably never need this skill and your stored water will see you though most disasters. But if you had to provide your own water in an urban environment for an extended time, rainwater is heaven sent. No pushing and shoving at the nearest river.

Many wilderness survival experts focus on securing food. It’s often assumed a source of water, like a stream, can be found and that it will be relatively clean. In a city during a disaster, rivers can be quickly polluted.

3. Learn to pay attention to what’s behind you. Again, a general concept. Unlike flies, humans don’t have a good perception of what’s going on behind us. This makes us vulnerable. Criminals could come up from behind and punch us. Crazy people could push us onto subway tracks.

Even if we gave ourselves adequate braking distance, the car behind us might not have. In a true story, a school bus driver about to let children off his bus noticed the car behind him wasn’t slowing down. Rather than let the kids off the bus he decided to move forward. By doing so, he reduced the impact speed when the car behind him crashed into the back of his bus. This action was credited with saving the young lady’s life who plowed into the back of the school bus. How many of us can honestly say we pay that much attention to what’s happening behind us?

4. Learn to jump start a car. In cold winters, especially, batteries die. You’re likely to be the good Samaritan on this one, helping others. For extra credit, learn how to load test a battery. I assume you already know how to change a tire.

5. Learn to pay attention to where your hands are. I watched a video with one of my favorite Youtubers cooking. For a second I saw him reach into a plugged-in blender. Moving machines mangle fingers. Be especially careful of things that were once moving, but have come to rest unexpectedly, like snowblowers. Pay extra attention to things where some other person could start the thing moving unexpectedly.

This point is just as important to those operating farming equipment as urban preppers.

In another video, a fellow somehow got one of his fingers in front of a gun barrel while target shooting. He shot his own finger off. If you’re unfamiliar with some dangerous device, follow the general rule given to kids in museums: Don’t touch.

For those with long hair who work around machinery, tie your hair back. In a horrible accident, a young engineering graduate student got her hair caught by a lathe.

The general concept is just to keep body parts away from danger. This is why we stay away from really bad neighborhoods. All our body parts are in danger!

6. Learn to earn extra money. In many emergencies, cash is king. It’s not as romantic as trading gold Krugerrands after the apocalypse, but if you lose your job, you can pay your electric bill.

Money is a lot like football. There is offense and there is defense. Most preppers are outstanding at defense. They’re naturally frugal. They’re often hard-core do-it-yourselfers. But, for any given lifestyle, you need a certain amount of income. Fall below this, and you’re on a path to financial ruin. In an urban environment, it’s nearly impossible to live without adequate income.

Can you invent and sell something? Jeffrey Nash invented the juppy, which is like clothing with handles to help parents teach babies to walk. Do you have a juppy-idea floating around in your brain?

7. Learn to think on your feet. This is easy for some people, harder for others. Try to quickly come up with multiple possible solutions to any problem. Look at options and try to find the best one.

Thinking on our feet is difficult for many of us, because we’re stressed because we lack a lot of time. Being able to think while highly stressed out is a valuable skill.

8. Learn there are bad people out there…violent criminals, mentally ill people who want to harm others, sociopaths, etc…. In the book I write about how our own safety can be compromised by others living very near us, because they don’t pay attention to fire safety and the possibility of arsonists.

If an arsonist sets fire to a pile of bush and it burns down several garages and homes, a common response of those affected is: “Who would do such a thing?”  Who knows? Some wacko… You don’t need to know which wacko, only that there are wackos.

9. Learn to notice anybody paying attention to you. This skill falls under a general category of surveillance and counter-surveillance. In a recent post about burglaries, I wrote about how criminals will look for homes without vehicles around. They’ll look in your garage to see if your cars are there. Higher-end robbers are even known to place GPS tracking devices on a family’s cars to see when they leave home.

Some security experts suggest you go to Google Maps, enter your address, hit the “report a problem” link, and ask to have your house’s street view blurred. This data isn’t in real time, but it can give a stalker the layout of your grounds.

Now, I’m not suggesting you purchase a slew of expensive counter-surveillance stuff or try to shoot down Google satellites. But do pay attention to unknown vehicles with people sitting in them or to people hanging around your house. Seek to deny wrongdoers information about your habits and schedule. Feed them false information with an automatic light timer or by leaving your TV on when you leave home.

Information will usually proceed action by both good guys and bad guys. In a recent hostage situation, a bad guy in an underground bunker was defeated because the police were able to place a hidden camera inside the bunker. This alerted them to his position inside. When they were able to get him to approach the bunker’s door, they blew it open and stormed in. Without adequate information, the hostage might have been at the door.

If a true long-term WROL happened and a gang wanted to assault your domicile, they’d first gather all the information they could before making their attack.

I’ve never understood the interest in purchasing shipping containers and burying them underground as a survivalist shelter. If assaulted, you’d be trapped like a rabbit in hole. Without some surveillance system, you’d have no knowledge of just what was happening outside.

Even before the successful police raid, people on news websites suggested police try putting sleeping gas down the PVC air pipe to the small bunker. If mutant zombie bikers discovered your PVC air pipes, they could plug them up or toss gasoline and a match inside. That would be a dismal end. Digging yourself into a box underground violates the first rule above: Have exit routes.

10. Learn just a bit about small unit tactics. Again, this is something you probably won’t need. But learning a bit could help you if WROL happened. Unless everyone in your group is military or police, detailed plans and methods are just too much. I’d keep it simple. Keep these three things in mind.

First, seek cover and concealment. Unless you must change position, sit tight, hopefully behind something that will stop a bullet and will conceal you. You’re more visible when you’re running around. It’s safer to hide behind things.

Second, don’t get bunched up. This violates the basics of Lancaster’s law. If you and your buddies are in a clump, an attacker can shoot in your direction placing you all at risk. If you’re a bit spread out, attackers must at least decide who to shoot at. This makes their shots less effective.

Third, don’t shoot the guys on your team. This is obvious, but important. Even professionally trained military have many friendly fire casualties. Those of us who aren’t professional military would be even more at risk of these accidents.

If you and your team must move in a line and come under fire from the front, the tendency is to want to shoot back. But if you’d be shooting past six of your own guys to reach the enemy, that’s likely to lead to disaster. You must learn not to shoot when it places your own people at risk.

For learning more about defending your home, I recommend Prepper’s Home Defense by Jim Cobb. If you want experience with small unit tactics without joining the military, look into the sport of airsoft or paintball.

Well, this post has become way longer than I originally wanted. This is my brainstorming of ten urban survival skills. What skills would you add?

Charlie Palmer -author The Prepper Next Door

The idea for this post came from a “ten things to learn for life” post, which I think was very well written.

Here’s a nice discussion about what other preppers consider “urban survival skills”

Another good take on urban survival skills.

I’ll classify this one as “if you can’t beat them, join em.” A man outsourced his own job to China and sat at work watching cat videos.

A really good post about shotguns and prepping

A good post about the good old snub nose revolver

A short pdf about military patrols.