Archive | February, 2014

Prepping Lessons From The Ukraine (& Demagoguery 101)

28 Feb

If you pay attention to world events, the trouble in Ukraine is a major concern. Ukrainians, fed up with government corruption, protested when their president failed to live up to his promise to allow more economic freedom. Overwhelmingly, Ukrainians want more trade with the West and less bullying by Russia. They want an end to corruption.

The president felt economic opportunities were more than adequate, at least for him: In his few years as president, he built homes worth $75 million dollars on his salary of about $25,000. He sat on a golden toilet, literally. Corruption and greed dominated his presidency.

When the kettle boiled over, the president couldn’t get the protesters to shut up. They just kept protesting. Darn citizens. Going to plan B, the president armed selected of his police with rifles and started shooting protesters.

* Here’s a good lesson for would-be dictators and corruptacrats to remember: It’s the Internet age and young people just don’t give a &*!*. If you start knocking off protesters with snipers, for each one you get, you’ll turn 10,000 against you. When your security forces are outnumbered 100 to 1, they’ll cut and run. You’ll need to pack up your golden commode and flee.

I wrote in the book about how the Internet is changing the nature of revolutions by allowing the quick mass assembly of protesters. We saw this in the Middle East. It’s not good political PR for a president when a government sniper shoots a protester through the neck and the cell phone video goes viral.

Make no mistake, this crap worked in the 1900s. Shooting a few protesters dead could stop a riot or protest. Today, not so much. It just fans the flames of dissent.

Even as the Internet revolutionizes revolutions, good old-fashioned prepping values matter. There are bank runs in the Ukraine, as people seek to stock up on food given the huge uncertainty in their future.

Lesson 1: Lay in your stock of essential supplies before trouble happens.

Because of the behavior of some of the police, many police have fled and citizens patrol much of the capital.

Lesson 2: If society collapses, don’t count on the police or military to stick around protecting you. You’ll need to protect yourself and your family.

Russia has tried to keep an iron grip over the Ukraine. When the pro-Russian Ukrainian president fled, Russia announced military exercises at the border.

We’re hearing Russia might need to intervene to “protect” ethnic Russians inside Ukraine. BS. Make no mistake, this is historical propaganda: You always tell the population they’re in danger and that intervention is necessary to save lives. That’s how you launch foreign wars. It’s how World War II started.

Lesson 3: Wars will always be started under false pretences by political scum. Never trust anyone in elected or appointed office! I don’t care if they’re capitalist, communist, Republican, Democrat, or Bolshevik, there’s something about positions of power that attract the worst dregs of human society. Once in power, these political scum have the ability to harm countless people through their actions.

If Russia does intervene in Ukraine, all bets are off as to the future. Ukraine isn’t like many of the politically isolated areas where conflicts drag on for decades. It’s between Eastern and Western Europe. In some ways it’s more instrumental than other troubled countries in the region, because Russian oil and natural gas flows through Ukraine to Europe.

The $10,000 question: If Europe winds up without oil will it intervene? If America and Europe are asked to help the cause of freedom, will we get involved in Russia’s “backyard”?

Lesson 4: We live in a connected world where events far off can have far reaching effects. We never know what could start WWIII.

If it can help it, Russia will not allow a truly free Ukraine, anymore than Russians have real freedom today under Putin. There is one thing Americans should know: Much of what you’ll hear on the Internet about this conflict will be Russian propaganda posted by paid propagandists. If Stalin lived today, he’d be on Facebook. He’d have lots of Facebook friends.

Lesson 5: Never blindly trust anything you see on the Internet. There are powerful forces at work trying to corrupt the minds of the gullible. Those gullible become a problem when they push the rest of the world toward destruction. Even if you’re not gullible, you’ll be affected by their collective action.

There is dangerous nationalism in Russia today that echoes too much of history’s big conflicts. Misdirected nationalism and aggression lead to a country’s downfall. That’s exactly what happened in Germany under Hitler.

Lesson 6: As a society, we’re technologically at the height of human achievement to date. That doesn’t prevent emotional stupidity, prejudice, greed, and a whole host of human emotions from destroying society. Don’t assume because society is so technologically advanced that people are smart enough to avoid WWIII. They aren’t.

Interesting Fact: The Cyrillic alphabet used for both Russian and Ukrainian was introduced into Russia by Christian missionaries. The Ukrainian alphabet included a letter “gey” with a little curl which doesn’t appear in Russian.

In 1933, the Soviets banned the single letter gey from the Ukraine. They saw the letters’ use as a sign of rebellion and a lack of conformation to Russia.

Underrated Weapons And Tactical Equipment

27 Feb

In the last post, I shared my opinions about what I see as overrated weapons. This post will look at what I see as underrated tactical equipment.

1) Body Armor. A big part of my last post was about the limitations of many weapons against armor. I’ve heard several preppers say something I agree with: If you expect to be in a combat situation, by the time you own a defensive rifle, a pistol, and a shotgun, you should purchase body armor before you add more weapons. Body armor saves lives.

In way of honest disclosure: I don’t own body armor. If I had any armor left, I’d sell it because I have more pressing needs for the money. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t run out and purchase armor. If you can afford it and are concerned you’ll be in combat, then look into it.

2) Good Optics for your defensive rifle. This gets to shootability. How well can you shoot your weapons? Good rugged optics makes target acquisition faster. If you have great eyesight, you can get by with a good peep sight.

3) Binoculars. Fits in with the optical sight theme. In some areas these aren’t useful. In open terrain, good compact binoculars let you scout out an area. These are useful for spotting game. Is that a rock or a deer? The sooner you identify a threat, the more preparation you’ll have to deal with it or avoid it. The worst situation is where you’re suddenly taken by surprise. Stumbling into adversaries is deadly. Just don’t let a reflection from any optical device give your position away.

4) Camouflage. If you live in woodland areas, woodland camouflage makes you much harder to see. This could allow you to avoid inadvertent confrontations. Be sure your clothing doesn’t stand out in your environment. Woodland camouflage in the city sticks out like a sore thumb.

To remind you of the kind of freaky world we live in, I saw an article about experiments that successfully bent light around small objects, making the small object invisible to the eye. Invisibility cloaks are a long way off. In 20 years, it’s possible they’ll exist. They’d be exceptionally complex, calculating incident light from every direction and redirecting it around the object. If this comes to pass, somebody could be standing right in front of you and you’d never notice. How freaky would that be?

5) Ammo carriers. This is something that isn’t underrated by many preppers with military experience. They want a way to carry several magazines for their rifle. At a minimum, do you have a reliable way to carry two spare pistol magazines on your belt?

6) Stripper clubs. I mean clips. Many magazines are the fastest way to reload. The downside: Expensive. If you had to defend a position for an extended period, these little metal strips and an adapter allow you to reload magazines quickly. Important to save your fingers.

7) Night vision equipment. Liked by professional soldiers. Too expensive for the rest of us.

8) Silencers. These aren’t so much important for silencing sentries as they are to protect your hearing. The trend today is for weapons to have shorter barrels. The result: Without hearing protection, your ears are in trouble. The problem: If someone is skulking around inside your home at night, you don’t want to be wearing ear muffs. Your ears can alert you to the position of an intruder. Without ear protection, if you’re forced to fire, you can temporarily lose your hearing. There is ear protection designed to allow normal sounds to pass while cutting off loud sounds.

One issue with silencers is that they are illegal in many areas. Many of us will need to do without. Another big problem with silencers is the length and bulk they add, making weapons far less maneuverable. This is necessary for a traditional silencer, because of how they operate. Three sounds must be dealt with when you want to silence a weapon:

A) A sonic boom sound created when the speed of sound is broken by the bullet. This is why there is subsonic ammunition. Subsonic means lower-powered lower velocity, so shot placement becomes paramount. The bullets are usually heavier.

B) Hot expanding gasses under high pressure propel a bullet down the barrel. When the bullet leaves the barrel, these gases rapidly expand into the surrounding low-pressure air. This creates a powerful pressure wave, known as muzzle report.

Silencers operate on the simple principle of allowing the gasses inside the barrel to expand into a larger chamber before the bullet exits the silencer. This reduces the pressure difference between the outside air and the pressure directly behind the bullet as it leaves the weapon. This is why silencers are long and bulky. The longer and bulkier, the quieter the silencer.

C) This third sound isn’t usually dealt with and only applies when you have the very best silencers. It’s the clickidy-clackidy sound of the weapon’s action. Much less noisy than the two points above. In some situations even the cycling of a Ruger 10/22 action is too much noise.

Even if a silencer can’t completely reduce a gunshot, it changes the sound enough so it isn’t easily identified. Many cities have shot tracker technology today to locate the position of gunshots. This is an effective police tool. In the future, it’s possible if a gunshot is fired anywhere outdoors in a city, the police will instantly know. This is probably a good thing. It shows how technology can change policing and get us help sooner.

9) Reinforced doors and strong house locks. The above items are for combat situations. Most of us are at far more risk of being attacked in our home than needing to confront an army. Strong doors achieve two important purposes. It delays an intruder from getting in, giving you more time to prepare. It forces the intruder to make more noise, giving you more chance of being alerted to the break-in attempt.

10) Yappy dog. Dogs sense intruders sooner than we do. Not only are we alerted. Many burglars avoid houses with dogs. Downside: In a hard-core situation, it’s possible a yappy dog could alert somebody passing by to your well-concealed location.

11) Pens, toothbrushes, and everyday objects. Again, this isn’t for combat against an army. For personal self defense, a pen or toothbrush could be used to attack the eyes. When in a room, look around: What makeshift weapons are there? Just because you don’t have a gun doesn’t mean you’re defenseless.

Protestor Bonus Items. This Post has grown far too long. I’ll end with two bonus items for protestors.

12)  Protective headgear to keep your skull from getting cracked.

13) Gas masks.

Overrated Combat Weapons

25 Feb

I feel some weapons are overrated in military combat situations by preppers. A few weapons preppers overate:

1) Submachine guns. SMGs. If you’re a buff of old war movies, it’s always a hero with an Tommy Gun or German SMG holding off the enemy. Why do they even make rifles? Why not give all soldiers SMGs?

SMGs are just so cool. They’re cute. They’re sexy. They’re bad-a**. The problem is they fire pistol calibers, nearly all in the 9mm Parabellum. Against well-armored soldiers, even a 9mm fired from a longer barrel isn’t going to cut through body armor.

Many soldiers don’t even like the 5.56mm NATO because they worry the bullet will hit magazines or so much of the other crap modern soldiers wrap around their body, before even getting to body armor. This is why they like heavier calibers like the 7.62mm NATO or even the 6.8 SPC.

The 45 Tommy Gun is even worse. It’s not fair to say it’s only a super fast rock chucker, but during prohibition, 45 Automatic Tommy Guns regularly failed to penetrate car doors. In the book, I tell the story of an ambush on famous outlaws Bonnie and Clyde to illustrate this. BARs cut through car doors, big slow pistol bullets don’t. On the other hand, they don’t build cars like they used to.

In countries like Israel, where a threat of personal attacks by multiple attackers is a realistic possibility, you see citizens armed with SMGs. It’s not uncommon to see a UZI on a beach or in a car. These are much more personal defensive weapons than hard-core military weapons.

One application where SMGs make sense is guarding prisoners. Prisoners don’t wear body armor. The SMG is a compact weapon with a lot of firepower, against unarmored opponents. The lack of penetration can even be an advantage when you don’t want to injure somebody behind your target.

2) The shotgun. I risk flamming by preppers for saying this! How dare I say a shotgun is overrated?! I’m not talking about personal home defense, against an unarmored attacker. I’m talking about combat where we must assume opponents have protective armor.

The shotgun is even worse than the SMG when it comes to penetration and lack of range. At 60 yards, 00 buckshot has about the penetration of a 25 ACP “mouse gun.”

I know many people have taken deer successfully at this range with buckshot and I know the stories about how awesome fighting shotguns were in the jungle. It doesn’t change the fact that even modest body armor stops buckshot.

For personal defense at home, a shotgun is great. Going off to war, leave the shotgun at home.

3) The handgun. It’s not fair to criticize a pistol for only firing a pistol cartridge, but everything I wrote about SMGs and shotguns applies to most pistols. Pistols are a last ditch weapon in the military.

For preppers, I believe a good defensive pistol is the most important weapon to own. It will serve you well for personal defense. Soldiers in combat never want to rely on a pistol. Not only because of lack of penetration, but handguns are notoriously difficult to shoot well at a distance.

It drives me crazy to watch old episodes of Gunsmoke, where the heroes take out their sixguns and head up the side of a mountain to confront the bad guys, leaving their lever action carbines behind. If you must engage in combat and you know it ahead of time, you want something that’s more shootable than a handgun.

4) The “fighting” knife. Even soldiers and ex-soldiers who should know better spend a lot of money on expensive blades. There’s nothing wrong with liking quality, but realistically, if you must rely on a knife as a last ditch weapon in a war, you might just want to say a quick prayer and ask for forgiveness for anything bad you did. Take a minute to think of your wife or your family. Your life is about to end. Or you’ll be captured.

Knifes are lethal. Even an untrained crazy person with a knife can kill somebody. Something I’ve heard so many times is that within about 21 feet a knife is more lethal than a pistol. I’m not going to go into detail about why I don’t believe that, but will say this: Personal awareness is paramount to self defense because people have surprisingly slow reaction times. Up close, a prepared attacker has the advantage against somebody taken by surprise, regardless of weapon choice.

The same argument that a knife is more effective at 21 feet than a gun applies to the fists of a trained middleweight boxer. Before you can react, he could charge you and knock you out.

5) Throwing knives. The above weapons are serious. An SMG, shotgun, handgun, or knife isn’t the best choice in battle, but they’re effective in many situations. Throwing knifes cross the Rubicon into absurdity. Professional exhibition knife throwers work at fixed distances. Even making a throwing knife stick into a board at a variable distance takes exceptional levels of practice. It’s impressive, not practical.

Conclusion: A prepper armed with a shotgun and a pistol is well prepared to protect his family in nearly all situations. Perhaps, it’s all you’d ever need. But compared to well-equipped soldiers, you’d be badly undergunned.

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

Metal Work For Preppers (As A Hobby!)

25 Feb

In the last post, we talked about stocking spare parts and general purpose hardware. Metalwork is a topic I touched on in the book. For most preppers, it’s not essential, and maybe not even desirable. The costs are high and are out of proportion to the material benefit received.

There is a certain beauty to being able to fabricate your own parts. I’m going to steal a quote from Thoughtfully Prepping:

“Survivalists understand that spares and supplies only go so far thus train and equip for a time when they will have to resupply by their own means. Thus their whole ethos is built on flexibility not just a plan A or B.”

For survivalists this refers to procuring absolutely essential supplies like food through hunting or animal husbandry or gardening. A similar ethos built on flexibility applies to anybody who wants to be more self-sufficient today. You want flexibility that goes beyond plans.

In the last post, we wrote about stocking parts and hardware. It’s not possible to stock every part that could fail for every machine you own. The ultimate ideal is the ability to make any part we could possibly need. That’s no small thing, and most of us won’t fully achieve it.

One approach to this is to reduce your reliance on mechanical things.
This blogger suggests giving up your vehicle to simplify your life. The less reliant you are on complicated machines, the better. Many of us cling to our machines. A car is essential in many areas. Few of us want to give up our modern appliances.

For better or worse, machines and tools are seen as a proxy for modern civilization. Tools and machines are what separates us from the animals, who don’t use sophisticated tools. When society collapses, manufacturing stops. The machines stop. Industry and agriculture is what separates us from remaining hunters and gathers struggling to put food on the table.

When I started writing this post, I thought of a line from one of my favorite prepper films, The Omega Man.

As the “family” tries to take down Nevil, they lament they’re powerless to bring him out of his “funky paradise.” He wouldn’t forget the old ways, the ways of the smell of combustion and the aroma of oil. Nevil kept his generator going not just to provide light to keep the family at bay, but to connect to his civilized past. He checked his generator and dressed for dinner.

Even the hero in The Last Man On Earth had a lathe.

It was a wooden lathe and he used it to make stakes to kill vampires. There he stood at his lathe holding off society’s complete destruction.

I’m sharing those movies because I find them amusing. They’re great flicks. Practically speaking, as much as I love metal work, it has limited application to survival. Nevil as one of the few survivors didn’t need to spend his days at a lathe making parts. He foraged and scavenged for what he needed. That was a practical approach to the problem. It was easier to find a different car than to repair the old one.

In a long-term break down of society and massive death, I know all my metalworking tricks will fail. We won’t have electricity to run a drill press. Welding gasses will run out. Repair capability will grind to a halt.

I offer metalworking not as a practical prepper skill, but as a hobby preppers could derive satisfaction. Be warned. It’s an expensive hobby. Painfully expensive. A well-equipped shop has several horrendously expensive tools:

* Bandsaw
* Quality Drill Press
* Lathe
* Milling Machine
* TIG Welder
* Solid Bench Vise

The tooling for the milling machine and lathe is super expensive. It’s a weighty hobby. If you move, you don’t want to move a milling machine. It has a pretty steep learning curve. If you can take some classes at the local technical college, that helps. If you have the time, money, and plan to stay put, check out metalwork as a hobby!

Here are some good videos about basic machine shop skills from a robotics lab. Three videos talk about basic shop skills. Two series talk about the milling machine and lathe.

If you develop a bit of skill with the above tools, you’ll be able to fabricate many small metal parts, make many machines, and repair many things. You’ll still have limitations, because of a lack of heat treating and other things.

Sitting is lethal. Downright deadly.
So…Get off your duff and …get off your duff.

If you want to get some exercise when you stand up, how about Shadow Boxing?

We think hotels are well maintained for safety. In this sad story, two families suffered deaths because of Carbon Monoxide at a hotel.

Pack your own CO detector when you stay at hotels?

A major problem is that big fundraisers for politicians get appointed as foreign ambassadors. The job isn’t taken seriously. It’s a political payoff.

Nothing like a representative of America ragging on our allies behind their back. This conversation was captured by Russia’s surveillance. Just remember…everything you say or write online or on a cell phone is watched by all major countries…America knows, Russia knows, China knows…They all know… They don’t care about us peons, but they know. A good thing to remember if you ever get appointed ambassador.

Don’t worry about Russia: Russia is sowing the seeds of their own destruction. They’re banning sexy lingerie. To arms, men! To arms!

There is a good post about putting together a car survival kit over at Apartment Prepper.

Will America be done in by…squirrels?

Story: Ammo is back on the shelves.

Sad story about a basement fire. If you have family sleeping in a basement, do you have a smoke detector down there? Do you have an egress window to escape if your steps are ablaze or unreachable?

Have you closed off the underside of your steps with rated sheet rock to give more time before they burn up? Without an alarm, toxic gasses and CO can kill before a person has a chance to wake up, let alone escape. All sleeping areas should have two exits.

If you have a basement bedroom, have you checked your basement for radon? Many basements are unsuited to be bedrooms because of radon.

Spare Gun Parts and Hardware for Preppers

21 Feb

There is a good post over at tslrf about the importance of spare gun parts.

This post will add a few thoughts to that. I’m uniquely qualified to talk about spare parts, because I’m a borderline hoarder when it comes to parts and tools. If you stock gun parts, follow these simple rules:

1) Keep parts organized by little ziplock bags which are labeled by the weapon the parts go with. For things like springs, it’s good to have even smaller bags and label the part number on the bag. If the parts come in labeled bags, keep them in those bags. Some small parts can look like each other and still be different.

2) Print out a schematic of the firearm in question and fold it up and keep it with the parts.

If you fail to do either of these, years down the road, you won’t remember what parts go with what guns. Trust me. I’m right.

3) Whenever a part fails, purchase a spare in addition to the replacement part. Certain parts have a higher likelihood of failure. If something fails once, be suspicious it will fail again.

4) Just because you fixed something once, doesn’t mean you’ll remember how to fix it again in the future. Time leads to forgetfulness. It helps if you keep a small diary of more complex repairs. Did you need to fit the part or was it a drop in replacement? Were there any hang ups with the new part? A little note can jog your memory in the future. I’m not talking about basic field stripping, which is second nature to you, but about those parts that you rarely remove and can cause confusion.

One way to have a better chance of having parts is to stick with common weapons and even purchase a second weapon of the same model and caliber.

Even if the outer surface of a gun is rough, the internal parts might not have been subject to much wear. For the popular 870 Remington and other weapons issued by police, police auctions and sales are one place to look for a less expensive backup.

If funds are tight and you’re a recreational shooter who wants different guns, I wouldn’t buy multiple guns for parts. It’s more fun to have different models! If your 870 breaks, you’ll have an 1100 as a backup. If your 45 1911 fails, you have a 357 revolver.

Some shooters question if today’s parts are as good as the parts of yesteryear. Many small parts today are made by MIM or Metal Injection Molding. The process is briefly described here.

Some shooters defend MIM parts and others dislike them. Just because parts are made differently today doesn’t mean they’re made better.

When a part is modified or made differently it’s frequently done to reduce manufacturing costs and ring more profit out of the sales. This has a long history. A popular example is the beloved pre-64 Winchester Model 70s. The guns functioned well, but were expensive to produce. The bolt was modified to streamline production. The goal wasn’t to make the best gun. The goal was to make an acceptably good gun with less cost.

The same is true of hardware. All bolts aren’t created equal! I’ve had especially bad luck with longer wood screws from the big box retailers. I’ve had some rip the heads off. Others, more commonly, strip out. This is in softwood with predrilled holes. If you can afford it, purchase quality. If not, big box budget fasteners are better than nothing.

One way to acquire assortments of bolts, nuts, nails, and other hardware is to purchase mixed assortments which are swept up and tossed together. Like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates, you’re never quite sure of what you’ll get.

If you’re looking for assorted stainless steel nails, for example, Mcfeely’s has a five pound box for $26. Be sure to get their $1 shipping special. Mine were American made, but I don’t see them advertised that way, so YMMV. Stainless steel nails are great because they won’t rust like regular nails. They can be used outdoors, on treated lumber, pretty much anywhere.

Grab a few more plastic bags and divide your nails into three general sizes: Small, Medium, and Large. That way you don’t fumble through as many nails looking for what you want in the future.

Bolt grade and quality is especially important for bolts critical to safety, like the bolts attaching your engine to its motor mount. For mission critical bolts, unless you’ve educated yourself about bolt grade, try to purchase the replacement bolt directly from the vehicle maker. You’ll pay more, but you’ll be safe.

It helps to have a bolt gauge, English and Metric, to help you identify thread pitch and bolt diameter when you’re looking for a replacement. As a final check, hold the two bolts up against one another. The threads should match perfectly. This will keep you from mixing up close bolts, like 3/8-16 and Metric 10mm x 1.5.

If you toss out an old appliance or other machine, if you have the time, you can strip it of its old bolts, nuts, sheet metal screws, clamps, and other hardware. This will build your hardware collection at no cost.

Some people score good deals purchasing bolts and nuts from estate sales.

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