Archive | April, 2013

The Prepper’s Rimfire (22 LR)

28 Apr

Ingrained in my brain is that a box of 50 22 Long Rife shells should cost a buck. A brick of 500 should cost $10. Two cents a round. Those are the prices I remember most. I had a friend who loved getting good bargains. Whenever a brick of 22 LRs went on sale for $8 or $9, we’d head to the store and “back up the truck” buying as much as we could afford.

Recently, prices have risen. Some have even used the expression “The Great Ammo Shortage.”

The 22 Long Rifle was relatively inexpensive. It allows more practice. Its low recoil make it the perfect caliber for new shooters. A staple for small game hunting, the 22 LR can be used for defense, if need be. The Ruger 10/22 is a prepper favorite.

The ability to “stock up” huge amounts of 22 LR ammo made it popular with old-school survivalists. Some even talked about ammo as a future currency in a world gone awry. I never fully bought into that belief and still don’t.

In the future, growing world demand for metals will drive up the price of all ammo. That’s a bummer for serious target shooters, but shouldn’t affect your survival.

Think about the pioneers. These guys weren’t blasting off thousands of rounds a year. They made every shot count. When hunting, they got close enough so they knew they could bag the animal they stalked.

One load that deserves special mention is the 22 Long CB cap. The 22 Long is a shorter version of the 22LR, but it’s not as short as the 22 Short, which is, a…, short. You can fire 22 Longs in the 22LR. What makes the 22 Long CB caps nice is that they’re quiet, especially when fired from a longer barrel. If noise is an issue, give CB caps a try.

The other unique thing about 22 LR brass is that it can be used to make jackets for 223 Remington bullets. I’ve never attempted this myself. But, it’s an option for somebody who shoots a lot of 223 Remington and who wants to recycle their 22 LR brass.

Many people wonder about the adequacy of the 22 LR for self defense and deer hunting. It’s not the best cartridge for either, and illegal for big game in many areas. But if you imagine a time when everybody else has run out of ammo and all that remains is the humble 22 LR, having a 22 is much better than having no gun. Because you don’t want the bullet to break up, solid bullets are a good choice.

The 22 Long Rifle is common in pistols as well as rifles. Professional assassins and spooks are said to favor a silenced 22 semiautomatic pistol. Because it has low recoil, several shots can be quickly fired into the target’s head at close distances. This isn’t the same as depending upon the caliber to stop an amped-up attacker with a torso shot. We, as preppers, aren’t likely to have the icy coolness of a professional killer in precision shooting when our lives are in danger. Military types employ the 22 LR in this way too.

If you’ve read any military hand-to-hand combat manuals, you’ll recall a chapter or two about “silencing sentries” or the guys who are standing watch before they can sound an alarm, scream, or shoot their weapon.

In these military manuals, the methods are nearly comical. Sneak up behind the soldier and yank at his helmet. If it’s not strapped under the chin, spin it around and smash him in the head with it. Really? I mean: Really? The old K-bar to the back while holding the mouth so he doesn’t scream is another dubious technique.

The people who train in this unpleasantness like the 22 LR. A silenced Ruger pistol or even a silenced 10/22 rifle is used for head shots. A sentry shot in the head won’t alert others. No other shot will immobilize as quickly. This isn’t the same as relying on the 22 LR as a defensive rifle. As preppers, we aren’t going on any stealth missions. The only defensive application we have for the 22 LR is that it’s a backup if we completely run out of ammunition for our other weapons.

The best use for the 22 LR is that it allows significant practice. So get out and shoot!

Charlie Palmer -Author The Prepper Next Door

Discussions of making 223 jackets:

Prepper Mistakes & Limitations

26 Apr

I want to start this post with links to two good prepper videos. The first on talks about common mistakes preppers make. I completely agree, one thing we see a lot: “Hyper-focusing on one specific survival ‘hobby’ at the expense of other prepping areas.”

Three big “hobbies” are guns, outdoor survival, and HAM radio communication. There’s nothing wrong with these fields, but a well-rounded prepper needs to learn many other things too.

Another hobby is buying new gear. With the growth in prepper blog readership, I’ve noticed many blogs and Youtube channels are inundated with new gear from manufactures. They have largely become gear review sites. There’s a dizzying array of fun things to purchase!

I don’t know if I’m lucky or unlucky to be at an age where I pretty much have all the survival gear I really need. Sure, some of the newer stuff interests me.
But, I don’t need it.

If you’re a newbie prepper who worries you’ll need to spend $25,000 to be prepared, my advice is take a deep breath and put aside a two week supply of water, a two week supply of food, one or two defensive firearms, and assemble a basic bug out bag. Keep a few emergency supplies in your vehicle. You’ll be set for 80% of the disasters you’re likely to face.

Another huge mistake young preppers make is believing they’ll be going it alone. This brings us to our second video (Youtube).  The story told there is quite profound, and I’ve heard of multiple similar stories, where one person is ill or away from home and their home is ransacked. No matter how much of a lone wolf you are at heart, you need family or friends to cover your back.

One of the biggest limitations to preppers being as well prepared as they want to be is money. This is a huge factor for some. If you’re unemployed, putting food on the table might be a challenge, let alone putting aside a three month supply of food. If money is a problem, you only have two choices: Earn more or find ways to spend less of what you earn.

The other big limitation is a lack of time. It’s difficult to learn everything you want to learn before you eventually croak. You have to pick and choose. This is where younger preppers have an advantage. If you’re young and single and have fewer obligations, take advantage of the free time you have to learn new things. Take an EMT-Basic class or a land navigation class. Take up a new hobby.

I’ll end by asking readers and fellow bloggers to write about what they see as the biggest mistakes newbie preppers make and what limitations and hindrances preppers face.

Charlie Palmer -Author The Prepper Next Door


Commentary About Boston Marathon Bombing, Terrorism, Privacy, & Big Brother

23 Apr

After the attack at the Boston Marathon, I was going to write a bit about what you, as an individual, can do to help prevent terrorist attacks. Alert people notice things that are out of place. Unattended packages. Suspicious behavior. As I read about the bombing, a citizen made a remark that he’d be willing to submit to a “cavity search” today to increase security. Me? Not so much.

No government can keep its citizens safe all the time. Too often throughout history, governments have shown no regard for the well being of their citizens. Because of this, citizens should be wary of giving up some of their rights to be better “protected.” Rights, once lost, are difficult to regain. There can always be another threat to demand more right’s sacrifices.

After the attack, the FBI and others mobilized to track down the culprits of the attack. You don’t need to be a security expert to immediately realize some of the basic steps they’d take. Start with the area of the bombing, work your way out, and seek out all surveillance video captured of the area. Ask citizens to inspect any videos or pictures they took for clues. If the terrorist keeps to the cities, it’s quite possible they’ll be able to construct a video trail of him right to his home!

What’s amazing today is how surveilled the typical urban dweller is. What’s downright mind blowing is how powerful computers allow this data to be collected, filtered, and analyzed.

One company providing this service to the FBI and local law enforcement agencies is Palantir Technologies, a company partially funded by the CIA’s In Q Tel. In Q Tel helped bring us Google Earth. Google Earth and Bing allowed TV reporters to show the house where the terrorist suspect had taken refuge under a boat tarp.

Privacy advocates worry about companies like Palantir, because “…the FBI can now instantly compile thorough dossiers on U.S. citizens, tying together surveillance video outside a drugstore with credit-card transactions, cell-phone call records, e-mails, airplane travel records, and Web search information.”

These private companies aren’t subject to the same accountability rules that the government is. The private companies aren’t subject to the same freedom of information requests. As citizens, we simply don’t know what they’re up to or what information they’re collecting about Americans.

We don’t know to what extent these companies will go to silence legitimate freedom of expression, protest, dissent, or whistle blowing. We don’t know if ordinary peaceful citizens could be labeled “terrorists.”

Even if we fully trust the American government, these private companies can profit by selling this technology to foreign powers, like Russia, which have shown little regard for the rights of its citizens. How will this technology be used in the future?

To eavesdrop on overseas conversations, the NSA is building a data center that can store zettabytes of data.

A good essay about privacy and video cameras everywhere.

A good article about apartment hardening.

Two interesting gadgets over at One is a commercial portable distiller which doesn’t require electricity, which can be used for desalination.
The other is a homemade PVC loom.

For exercise buffs, PBS had an interesting program “The Truth About Exercise” which you can watch here. It has a good discussion of how genetics relates to the ability to build cardio endurance and VO2 max. Regardless of how much they train, genetic non-responders won’t show athletic improvement with exercise. It talks about high intensity interval training.

Do It Yourself Skills, Hoarding Versus Prepping, & Upholstery

16 Apr

I saw a video where a prepper talked about paying off his mortgage and how this was a “prepping” decision. It’s good to be debt free and have financial reserves. That’s just good personal finance. But is it really “prepping”?

In the same vein, when I save money by doing things myself, I can divert the savings to buying things I want or prepping items. I don’t purchase expensive items that won’t contribute to my life. Is that related to “prepping” too? I don’t know. It’s a lifestyle choice.

What I do know is that like many people I have an old rocking chair that’s losing its stuffing and looks pretty worn. Being cheap, I don’t want to buy new. I’m not a fan of used furniture. You could be inviting bed bugs into your home. When younger I would have had at the chair with an axe and disposed of it. I like it though. I want to keep it.

I’m led to reupholster the chair. Knowing the costs of professional reupholstery and being an avid to-it-yourselfer, I started learning about do-it-yourself upholstery.

Is saving a ratty-a** chair essential to surviving cataclysmic world events? Probably not. But for the cost of a professional reupholstery job you might be able to build a small bomb shelter.

As I learned more and more and inspected the chair, it became clear I’d need a sewing machine to replicate the way the chair is constructed. That was frustrating.

Several years ago, I went on a cleaning rampage and got rid of four sewing machines I inherited. I wasn’t interested in ever becoming a seamstress. I can use a needle and thread to make a basic repair, but I didn’t foresee a need for a sewing machine. I totally overlooked its usefulness for upholstery. You don’t need one for the simple things I’ve upholstered. I didn’t know at the time I’d be more interested in learning more advanced upholstery.

Hoarders, they say, don’t want to get rid of things because they think they might need them in the future. But if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you never know whether or not you’ll have a future use for something. You can upgrade your skills. Your interests can take new directions. I should have given away three of the machines and kept one! Oh, well.

I have a curious interest in hoarders. What turns people into pack rats? I watched a video on Youtube about hoarding. A lady picked up some discarded umbrellas and said they worked fine: Why should they be thrown out? I silently found myself agreeing with her.

The show said she had an irrational fear that people would take away her stuff. That made her more clingy of it. The City entered her apartment, dumped all her stuff into a dumpster, and hauled it away. Kind of ironic.

I’m not a hoarder. I do have almost a compulsive obsession with learning how to do things. I don’t like not knowing. I like knowing how to do my own plumbing, electrical wiring, HVAC, and auto repair. If I use a mechanical system in my daily life, I want to know how to fix it myself.

This link has good advice about paying attention to your surroundings to minimize the danger of a personal assault.

Here’s a good discussion about the difference between a hoarder and a prepper. I think the two pictures about sums it up.

Another great essay about preppers versus hoarders.

Hoarding gold? Don’t we all wish we could be $7 million gold hoarders?!

Hoarder or Disorganized Prepper (Youtube):

If you have a ratty-a** old chair (& a sewing machine!), the best chair upholstery tutorial I found online is here (four parts).

This site has some great info about upholstery too.

One final upholstery link for those who like reading about other people’s projects.

How To Prep For Top Five Disasters, Emergencies, And Life Events: Job Loss, Pandemic, Earthquake, House Fire, & Home Invasion

12 Apr

I can’t tell you how to survive any disaster. Nobody can. But over the years, as preppers, we’ve all learned some information about surviving various nasty situations. These are just my thoughts about what I consider five of the most likely emergency situations we’re likely to face.

1. Job loss. Not the zombie apocalypse or a nuclear war or even total economic collapse, just mundane job loss. Prepping is about making preparations before something bad happens. Once it happens, if you haven’t prepared, you have fewer options. This is especially true if you’re living paycheck to paycheck and you lose your job. Suddenly, life is difficult.

There are many good resources on the Internet to help you prepare with job loss. As with anything, use the power of Google to learn more. If you have a month’s supply of food, to save on your grocery bill, you can invade that. Having financial reserves is best. Keep your resume and references current. If you suddenly lose your job, reduce unnecessary expenses right away. The sooner you act, the more likely you’ll keep your head above water.

2. Pandemic. Now we’re prepping! Why pandemic? It represents about the worst disaster where our preparations can make a difference. Those who have read my book know I’m a prepper from way back. I actually own and read one of the earlier editions of Nuclear War Survival Skills (link to online edition above) back from the 1980s. Do I think I can survive a nuclear war? No way.

Do I think I’d have a good chance of improving my survival odds in a pandemic? Absolutely. The key is to isolate your family from contact with others as much as possible. Your supply of food, water, and cleaning products can make a difference. If you don’t have to venture out, there is less likelihood of contacting any socially transmitted illness.

Concern of pandemic is in the news today, because of events in China. An editorial in The Star Tribune  and others contemplate why tens of thousands of dead pigs and thousands of dead ducks  are showing up in China’s rivers.

They speculate this could be related to a virus. The Chinese government says it’s no big deal: Dead ducks just happen. Most of us know we can’t trust the Chinese government. The worry is that such a virus could mutate into a virus which could be transmitted from person to person. It could then spread worldwide.

If a pandemic hits, there are extensive preps you could have taken. You could wear protective gloves, wear a respirator or air filter, seal a room in your home with plastic and duck tape and filter air into it. You could even wear a simple hazmat suit when you venture out and establish a decontamination zone prior to entering your house.

Me? I’d probably just stay inside and bake cookies. Being able to hunker down for a month or two buys important time. Viruses don’t survive long when they kill off their hosts. They mutate into less harmful ones. Scientists would be scrambling for a vaccine.

If you can hold up for a month or two, you have a good chance of surviving. If you don’t meet a lot of strangers, you live in the country, and you have a three month supply of food and water, you’ll almost certainly survive.

3. Earthquake. This is largely a regional problem. If you live where earthquakes are a concern, there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself. My motto of earthquake prepping would be: Construction, construction, construction.

If you’re in a modern building up to code, the building probably won’t collapse. The advice then is to drop to the ground and cover yourself up as best as possible.

I get a kick out of the people taking cover under an IKEA table in the link above. The idea is that if you’re under a table, a broken lamp won’t smash you in the head. Still, an IKEA table doesn’t instill confidence!

Hiding under a table during an earthquake is common in modern areas.  Most people survive, but they do get…ah…a little shook up. The link above is to a nice first person account of surviving an earthquake.

Another nice account of the Christ Church earthquake is here.  This site has a nice list of things you might want to secure.

I don’t live in earthquake country and the table I’m at right now has pressed wood for legs. Furniture today isn’t built like it used to be. It’s much lighter. It’s seldom strong hardwood. Old growth dense-wood forest isn’t used for new construction of furniture. If you need to take refuge under a table, it should be a good one!

If you can’t find strong tables, consider making your own. If you’re not handy with woodworking, but you know how to weld, maybe make one out of strong tubular steel with a heavy wood top. That could offer considerable protection.

If you happen to be in a part of the world where shoddy construction is the norm, ducking under a table likely won’t save you from tons and tons of concrete falling on your head. Because you don’t want to get buried for a month, sipping sewage for sustenance, try to get out of the building and get far away from all structures. If the building density is high, you probably won’t be able to get to safety. Even if you make it to the street, buildings can fall on you.

4. House Fire. There are many great articles about what to do in a fire:

I don’t think you need to draw up a floor plan: You should know where the exits are in your own home! But the last two points in the second article are critical. In a fire, you might find you’re unable to open your eyes. Can you exit your home blindfolded? Keep low to the ground because that’s where the lowest concentration of smoke will be.

In the book and in blog posts here, I’ve written extensively about preventive fire safety. That all applies. The best way to survive a house fire is not to have one!

Fire safety applies to your home garage too. If you’re not careful, simple things can become serious, like this fellow who took his vehicle to a fast-oil-change-place and had his fuel filter replaced. His car burst into flames.

5. Home Invasion. This short Youtube lecture has some good advice about what to do to prevent/survive a home invasion.

A home invasion occurs when undesirable people enter your home—murderers, robbers, in-laws. As with home fires, the best way to survive a home invasion is not to have one.

Simple things like keeping your doors locked and not letting unexpected strangers into your home can minimize the dangers of this happening. Common advice is to have a “safe room” to retreat to. Have a weapon there so you can defend yourself. Have a phone so you can call the police. I would suggest you don’t rely on a chemical defense spray inside your own home, unless you have tested using them in confined spaces.

As with most prepping advice, you need to adjust it to your own situation. If you’re ex-military or police, you might feel very comfortable moving around inside your home, even if there are intruders present. If your family is dispersed throughout the house, getting everybody to a “safe room” might not be easy.

Some of the scariest home invaders masquerade as law enforcement officers. Others pose as repair people. If you have a bad feeling, don’t open the door and let the person/people on the other side of the door know you’re calling the police. You’ll open the door when you see police cars outside and when the police arrive.

It’s easy to understand why violent home invaders pose as police. If a bystander sees what’s going on, it creates doubt in his mind. Maybe these are real police just doing their job. The bystander won’t call the police. It creates doubt in the mind of the defender too.

If you see three guys in hoodies kicking your door, you’re not going to hesitate to grab your shotgun. If it looks like three police officers are trying to kick in your door, you’re much more likely to think they just made a mistake and have the wrong house.

In other posts we wrote about information denial. If somebody casing your house can see through many open windows, they have a good idea of how many people are in the home. In a story about a home invasion, a lady was accosted by a guy with a gun outside her home. He asked her: “Who else is inside?”

She said her children. He entered the house. I’m not a big fan of bluffing. But, maybe if she had said, “My husband, and my cousin who’s living with us. He’s a Marine back from the war and you know, he’s having problems with PTSD and he has these anger issues…please don’t hurt his pit bull.” that might have created just enough doubt to send the invader away.

I’m not saying that’s the right or wrong thing to do. I wasn’t there so I couldn’t judge the guy’s demeanor. The most important thing in any disaster, emergency, or stressful situation is to try to keep calm and keep your wits about you. Think on your feet. Then roll with your decisions.

Charlie Palmer  -author The Prepper Next Door