Monday, November 30, 2009

Binoculars & telescopic sights for Survival?

"What do I need binoculars for? If I really need to see something up close I can just get closer." While it's true you can get by without many pieces of equipment having the right gear at the right moment can give you a big advantage.

What do you need binoculars for? Recognizing friend or foe as a person or group approaches your position. Discovering what's going on 'over there' without exposing yourself and/or revealing your position.

But best of all binoculars are great for seeing into the shadows, binoculars gather light from their large objective lens and focus it down to the smaller exit pupil lens thus "amplifying" the available light making binoculars extremely advantageous in low light situations like around sunrise, sunset and on moonlit nights.

Short version: image magnifying optics give you an observational (intel) advantage over those without them.

The first thing you'll notice when looking through binoculars, telescopes or telescopic sights is that the image, although bigger, seems to shake. The greater the magnification or 'power' of the optics the more pronounced the perceived shaking. Really powerful optics need to be steadied to be useful. Note the mount for the naval (or artillery) binoculars in the picture

As a surplus dealer I acquired many binoculars (both military and civilian) over the years. Most I resold, but I hung onto four of the best; three new military equivalent ("armored") Steiner's and a Fuji M24 in near new condition. I almost didn't keep the Fujinon's because it's so light, small and looks so plain. In fact, if it weren’t for their sturdiness you'd mistake them for those cheap things they sell on late night TV until you looked through the lens and saw the quality of the image. The Fujis have become my most used binoculars.

From a web site selling the Fuji Apache (civilian version of the military model) binoculars:

"After the Gulf War, the U.S. Army decided that it wanted more "eyes" on the battlefield. The Army developed a specification called the "M-24" which was designed to be a compact binocular that would fit in the pocket of a battle dress uniform (BDU) and be as rugged, have the same magnification, and nearly equal the optical performances of the bigger binoculars. The 7x28 Apache is built to the same tough standards as the M24 binoculars. The new M24 is the first "pocket-sized" military binocular ever issued on a large scale. The optional reticle (left view side) allows for easy range or distance estimation."

It's an apt description; I've carried my M24's in my shirt pocket a couple of times. Note the civilian version is marketed as the "Apache" rather than as the M24 military model. The difference being in the placement of the carrying strap lugs on the Apache and the existence of anti-laser lens coatings on the lens and the reticle (ranging grid) in the left lens of the M24 military model.

In normal civilian use and after TEOTWAWKI the likelihood of your needing to protect your eyes from laser beams (anti-laser coating) or call in artillery (reticle) is slight so for our purposes here the M24 and the Apache are virtually the same since both have anti reflective and anti glare lens coatings.

As of this writing Weems & Plath list the Apache for $439.99 which is a good deal considering the quality involved.

Fujinon currently has the contract to manufacture the military's M24 model. They sell a civilian version (which they market as the "7 x 28 M") in Europe, but I've not heard of it being available over here.

Of my armored Steiner binos the 6 X 30 is the smallest, but it would take a pretty big pocket to carry them in. As of this writing they retail online for about$239.00

The next two Steiner's are both 7 X 50 Military Marine armored binoculars with the larger of the two having a reticle on the right side lens. However it seems Steiner has discontinued these models in favor of 10 X 50 models so I won't go into mine here. Suffice to say any Steiner binocular is among the best in the world.

Telescopes (á la spyglasses like Long John Silver and the Pirates of the Caribbean used to use) are generally about as bulky (longer rather than wider) as binoculars and don't have the depth perception advantage of binocular vision. Unless you've already got a good one, or are offered one at a fantastic price, eschew them.

Telescopic Sights
Probably easier to steady than binoculars, but without the advantages of binocular vision, rifle scopes serve a dual role as observation tool and aiming device. Be aware that anyone seeing you observing through a rifle scope will assume the worst. Actually, if you're going to be doing any hunting, having scopes on your rifles helps you get more and cleaner hits.

The ability to more closely observe something without getting closer to it is an advantage to sports fans, bird watchers, hunters & snipers that shouldn't be overlooked by survivalists.

Quality optics will give you good resolution, contrast, color fidelity, brightness, and overall image quality so spend as much as you can afford keeping in mind the pre-TEOTWAWKI fun applications you can put them to as you pencil them in on the "survival" side of the home ledger so as to keep the family budget under control.

[G writes:]
When using binoculars offhand, steadying the image can be a challenge. My uncle taught me this method – maybe it will help someone else.

Grasp the barrels of the binoculars with your ring and pinky fingers of both hands. Rest the tips of your middle and forefingers on your temples, and rest your thumbs on your cheek bones. Works pretty well, if you do not have a more secure rest to steady the view.

[I tried this technique and it works, thanks G!]

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

WD-40, Duct Tape & 550 Cord

“All of life’s problems can be solved with two things—duct tape and WD-40. If it moves and it shouldn’t, you need duct tape. And if it doesn’t move and it should, you need WD-40.” – Unknown

OK, that's a slight exaggeration, but not by much. Throw in 550 cord and the statement is almost true. Few things in our universe are as versatile as these three and two of them should be in your Bob (Bug Out Bag) while the third has earned a place in your vehicle's kit.

WD-40 is a water-displacing spray originally designed to repel water and prevent corrosion and later found to have numerous other uses. I use it to lubricate my guns, loosen rusted locks & bolts and as an insect repellent. Sprayed on electric circuits WD-40 protects them from moisture. WD-40 in the distributor cap displaces moisture allowing a car to start. It seems to attract fish to lures The company claims 2000 uses for WD-40 but there are many (like the fish lure) unofficial uses. WD-40 should be a part of your vehicle emergency kit if for no other reason, than it removes all traces of duct tape.

Duct Tape "(sometimes called duck tape [or 100 mile an hour tape]) is a [water resistant] vinyl, fabric-reinforced, multi-purpose pressure sensitive tape with a soft and tacky pressure sensitive adhesive. It is generally silver or black in color ..." You can also get it in OD green and various camouflage patterns.

On the road you can duct tape broken vehicle hoses or hold a bent bumper off the road, make field expedient bandages and splints and use it as make do electrical tape. The MythBusters patched a fist sized hole in a boat with Duct Tape. Then they made a sail boat out of it. Duct Tape should be a part of your emergency vehicle kit and a small roll should be in your BOB.

Like The Force, duct tape has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together. -- Anonymous

550 Cord or Parachute Cord "…is a lightweight nylon kernmantle rope used as a general purpose utility cord by both military personnel and civilians." It comes in many colors, but OD green, black, brown & tan will blend in with surroundings better than red, yellow or orange.

As one web site puts it 550 cord possesses …"great strength, durability, [is] quick drying, [and has] rot and mildew resistance. 550 Para Cord consists of seven separate nylon strands inside a sheath to provide strength. The individual strands can be removed for other uses and the sheath can be used by it's self for lanyards of all types."

In addition to its usefulness as cordage 550 cord can be used for field expedient belts, boot/shoe laces, rifle slings, climbing rope (Careful with that one. We once used 550 cord to slow our decent down a very steep slope, but I'd hesitate to rely on a single strand of 550 cord to repel down a cliff.), tie downs, tie ups (I once tied a fallen something or other on the underside of my wife's car up off the road with 550 cord until we could drive to the dealership), snares as well as trip wires for alarms & booby traps. The inner cords can be removed and used as sewing thread, sutures or fishing line. Use 550 cord as a lanyard to insure you don't lose vital items like your Swiss Army knife, Leatherman Multi-Tool or compass.

Wherever possible melt the ends to prevent fraying. Buy MIL SPEC MIL-C-5040 cord. Real parachute cord has a tensile strength of 550 pounds. Authorized manufacturers change over time, but two of the current ones are: E.L. Wood and Gladding Braided Products

550 cord should be a part of your emergency vehicle kit and a small hank of it should be in your every day carry BOB.


Dave, I like the blog, and I like it a lot. I just wanted to pass along the feedback to encourage you to keep writing it.
Don from Kansas

Thanks, Don, encouraging words are always welcome because notes like yours tell me people are reading (and hopefully getting something out of) the blog.

Of course everyone can't remember everything they read here, but if each person takes away one or two ideas from each article there preparedness level will be that much higher. In the case of this article the "action step" would be to go out and buy a roll of duct tape, can of WD-40 or 100 foot length of 550 cord.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hide and Seek or King of the Hill?

Putting aside for the moment the question of whether or not you'd want to remain in place immediately after a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) event because every situation will be different, I'm going to tackle the question of what steps you might want to take to remain viable and invisible in your own home.

If you have a Neighborhood Watch in place it wouldn't take much for it to metamorphous into a Home Guard. Neighbors banding together to form a highly visible (cars parked across access roads, guards) organized response would tend to discourage those with bad intentions from entering the area.

If you don't have or can't organize a pick up squad of neighbors you'd be on your own. So, how to keep the bad guys out of your house?

It occurs to me that the same deterrents that discourage burglars and home invaders now would be effective in discouraging looters in some future scenario.

My current burglar deterrents (fence, clear yard, barred windows and metal gated doors) could be augmented by cacti under the windows (or thorny bushes for those of y'all in the northern zones) if time allowed. The deterrents speak to a would-be intruder saying: "This place is going to be hard to get into. It'll take a lot of work and noise to get inside. Why not try that other house with no fence and no bars?"

(To clarify, cactus or thorn bushes shouldn't block the view from the windows.)

Whether they be looters or refugees people tend to seek shelter in manmade structures so in a survival situation a little house on the open prairie would draw people seeking food, water and shelter like a magnet.

In my surplus dealer days I drove up to surplus dealer conventions in Las Vegas a couple of times. Along the route, in the middle of the desert, there was a house near a very large very deep gorge. By the gorge, within sight of the freeway, was a small house. The owner had evidently tired of being a Good Samaritan. The place was surrounded by a high barbed wire topped chain link fence and a HUGE (readable from the freeway as I drove by at 65 miles an hour) sign that announced there was "NO food! NO water! NO phone! NO NOTHING!" available there. I don't know how well that tactic worked during peace time, but I doubt the sign and fence would keep desperate refugees out after TEOTWAWKI or during a WTSHTF evacuation.

In the suburbs where "magnets" are abundant it would be sufficient, I think, merely to make the place you lived in look lived in and stronger than the other lived in houses on the block. OTOH in a scenario where people are foraging for food amongst the ruins of an abandoned city making your house look lived in is the last thing you'd want to do.

Other Tactics and Ruses
Quarantine Sign: If the event that caused you to pull in your horns involved disease a quarantine sign might effectively discourage visitors. Everybody "knows" the Health Department has Quarantine signs that they tack up on quarantined buildings, but few people actually know what the signs say so you could print up your own on your computer.

Blessings and Curses
Of course if there was no local epidemic the signs would be less effective. You can expect the neighbors to stand clear of you and yours after posting such a sign, even after you tell them it's just to discourage looters. Marauders might think the inhabitants are weakened by disease or dead and so an easier target then the house next door. Also if there is any remaining government they may be irked by your assumption of their authority.

Standard warning signs: Beware of Dog, Beware of Owner, Insured by Smith & Wesson, This House Patrolled By Armed Guard Three Nights A Week – You Guess Which Three, etc cetera aren't all that effective now and may not be any more so in the future.

Blessings and Curses
Such signs may discourage casual crooks and non-desperate refugees, but they may caution the more determined to be extra careful when sneaking up on you.

Making the place look Abandoned
Boarded up buildings are magnets for bums, transients and drug users now, what would make you think a boarded up building would be any less attractive to refugees?

Scattering furniture, bric-a-bracs and old clothes in the yard to make it look like the house has already been ransacked and then boarded up and abandoned indicates the owners couldn't properly secure the premises and so boarded it up. I.e. it'll be easier to break into.

How's about smoke marks appearing to come out of the tops of the windows and doors? Easy to do with a smoky fire in a can on a stick but you'll have to be very careful not to burn down the very thing you're trying to protect via subterfuge.

Blessings and Curses
Plywood over windows prevents you from seeing what's going on outside and loopholes in the very bullet penetrable barriers only hint that the place isn't disserted. Also, unless the other houses in the neighborhood are boarded up too you may be attracting people who want to steal the plywood.

Also keep in mind that these home desecration methods are saying: "Don't rob me, rob him!" a message that may not be well received by your neighbors.

If your neighborhood is intact being organized will discourage attack. Failing community organization, looking like the strongest house on the block may make you less of a target without antagonizing your neighbors.

In the initial shock after a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) event those who choose to remain in place will need to choose between playing Hide and Seek or King of the Hill.

So, bottom line:
The little house on the prairie better look like and be a fort with enough armed adults inside to repel boarders.

A bungalow in the 'burbs will want to look like all the other occupied houses in the area, but stronger.

If the area is abandoned a house that looks lived in will act as a magnet (see little house on the prairie above) to any and all who come close enough to see it.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Surviving 2012 in 12 Easy Steps

By now, no doubt, you've heard that the world is coming to an end in the year 2012 or maybe not.

"The forecast is based primarily on what is said to be the end-date of the Mayan Long Count calendar, which is presented as lasting 5,125 years and as terminating on December 21 or 23, 2012."

So Where's the Playboy 4012 Calendar?
Great metaphysical and cosmological significance is placed on the fact that the Mayan calendar supposedly ended on that date, but tell me how many calendars for any year 2000 years in our future have we printed up? Maybe the Mayans figured they had plenty of time to get around to finishing the job later?

OK, so predictions or not you want to be prepared anyway, just in case. Good for you !

After all the Earth could become the victim of a strike by a large asteroid at any moment. Or a regional Thermonuclear War could break out and spread à la WWI.
Or maybe the whole world could be invited to a surprise party à la December 7th, 1941.
Or you could get all shook up an earthquake à la the 1994 Northridge quake.
Or terrorists could set off a dirty bomb in a major industrial or population center.
Then there's the ever popular national or international depression, pandemic or economic collapse (à la the USA in 1929, Spanish Flu in 1918 or Argentina in 2001) that cripples governments and leaves you largely on your own. So, yeah 2012 or not, you've got reasons to prepare so let's get started.

First, unless you have reliable information that makes you believe your house is located at ground zero you'll probably want to stay home and watch the whole thing on TV, Twitter, MySpace or Facebook after all, when something like that's happening it's much better to watch events unfold on FOXNews than to be on FOXNews. Right?

Second, having decided to skip the tailgate party in favor of watching from home you'll need refreshments. About a weeks worth, maybe a months worth of canned goods should stand you in good stead for your average WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) crisis. Of course if 2012 turns out to be TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) you may want to increase those canned goods. Buy foods you like, store them in a cool dry place, and watch the expiration dates on the cans. The whole thing can be a money saver for you if you buy by the case at one of the big box stores like Costco or Sam's and rotate the food eating the oldest cans first. Oh, and if the power goes out, it's easier to open cans with a manual can opener than your teeth.

Thirdly you'll want something to drink while all this is going on and here's where our sports party analogy gets all wet because instead of beer you'll want water for this one. Trust me. Water, about one gallon per person per day for drinking and cooking is the minimum you'll need if the catastrophe knocks out your water supply. How many gallons you keep on hand is up to you. If the earthquake or nuclear seismic shock hasn't broken the water mains you can use that water for washing and flushing.

Fourth if this whole 2012 End of the World thing turns out to be a home game you'll want to dress to egress. If you have to head for the hills you'll want to blend in with the other refugees. Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts in late December? What were you thinking? You should have a GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge) bag packed for each member of the family with warm (for your climate) clothes in it.

In the winter of 2012 a well dressed refugee will want to wear (or at least have) a Tuque or watch cap, wool sweater, wind breaker or rain jacket, wool socks and hiking boots or walking shoes.

Fifth, whether you make like the good shepherd and get the flock out of town or dig in for the duration of whatever comes (or doesn't) in 2012 you may want to have some trading goods on hand. If 2012 brings severe disruptions in the distribution system things like gold, silver and toilet paper may be very much in demand. A fifth of booze or a bottle of medicine could be worth their weight in gold.

A six pack of beer falls into the same category as a fifth of booze, but takes up more space and doesn't store well long term so think in terms of small, inexpensive (now) things that store well if you decide to become a catastrophe entrepreneur.

Seven You can't eat a gun, but a guy with a gun can get pretty much all the food he wants from a guy who has food but no gun. Speaking of life as we know it now; John Connor once said: "When seconds mean life or death the police are only minutes away." If 2012 turns out to be all that the alarmists claim it will be then that little homily will become: "When seconds mean life or death you are the police." Got gun?

Our eighth easy step to survive 2012 is to know the password or in this case the pass phrase which is: "I'm just passing through." The media like to make a big deal of the neighbors helping neighbors in a crunch scenario, but if you study the record closely you'll find that outsiders often don't receive nearly as nice a welcome.

If TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) comes and everybody knows government help (and law enforcement) aren't coming you can expect the locals to be a whole lot less accommodating to refugees coming to consume their finite resources. How then will you travel to your sanctuary in the woods? Use an old trick hippies used to get through hostile small towns. The locals didn't want the hippies, but they didn't want trouble either so savvy hippies made it a point to announce their destination was somewhere else and they were just passing through. Make it believable, give a specific goal; somewhere off in the general direction of where you want to go. That reassuring message, and any news you may be bringing should help you through checkpoints and barricades.

Ninth: Knowledge is power. Have a portable radio that can be powered by battery, solar or hand crank like the Solar Shortwave Dynamo Flashlight AM/FM/TV Emergency Radio with 6 Way Power Supply that can receive AM, FM & Short Wave signals. If the crisis turns out to be only a WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) event which disables only local utilities and government (i.e. help is on the way) the AM & FM bands will help you keep informed of (at least) the official report of the situation. If the crisis turns out to be truly TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) in scope the short wave bands will provide information from sources like BBC World Service.

The tenth 2012 tip is: Don't go it alone. Whether it's WTSHTF or TEOTWAWKI the macho man tendency is to head for the hills, live off the land and civilization be damned, but the truth is that you can't surveil 360 degrees nor stay awake 24/7 so it makes sense to team up with trusted family/friends so as to divide rewards and responsibilities.

Our Eleventh easy step to surviving 2012 is efficiency. Humans didn't evolve to our present place on top of the food chain by being inefficient. All of the steps you take to stave off 2012 will come in handy for any old crisis, catastrophe, calamity or disaster if the end of the world doesn't come about in the manner those soothsayers say it will

Our twelfth easy step to surviving 2012 is to keep in mind that no one knows what's going to happen in the year 2012, least of all those who claim to know what's going to happen in the year 2012. True we've had a couple million years of earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, floods and tornados so it's a good idea to be prepared for stuff like that anyway.

Plus in our own short time on Earth we humans have added our own technological four horsemen of the Apocalypse: Biological warfare (germs), Chemical warfare (gas), Nuclear warfare (mushroom clouds) and Radiological warfare (dirty bombs) Of course, I left out mankind's old fashioned favorite plain old war (Cain's murder weapon through broadswords, bayonets & bombs to lasers and laser guided bombs) in the interest of brevity. So your 2012 preparations will stand you in good stead if those eventualities come to pass.

But past performance is no guarantee of future results so in 2012 we may well be invaded by little green zombie ninjas in flying saucers so keep that light saber lightly oiled and handy!

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Foraging for Food

On the joys of foraging or why you'll need stored food for short term crises and farming/ranching skills for long term cataclysms.

Foraging i.e. wandering in search of food cannot be planned on as a viable option for either short term emergencies WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) or long term cataclysms TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) because, at best, foraging provides sufficient food for only small groups and requires constant relocation.

City slickers whose experiences "roughing it" in the wild consist of weekends in National Forest campgrounds without cable TV will be surprised to learn wild flora and fauna are harder to find and catch in sufficient quantities to feed their families than is shown on the television survival shows. Just how many days will a half tame park squirrel feed a family of four?

Besides that wild things aren't anxious to jump into the cooking pot requiring the expenditure of energy to gather them. Expending more energy catching, cleaning and cooking food than it gives back is slow starvation.

To get an idea of just how hard it is to forage for food in the wild watch Survivorman or Man vs. Wild sometime. Both shows illustrate just how unsanitary and grubby (pun intended) eating grubs, gophers and gulls can be in the wild.

Les Stroud of Survivorman is the more responsible of the two showing how everyday items can be turned into field expedient tools. Bear Grylls, on the other hand, is prone to preface survival demonstrations with phrases like "This is very dangerous, you should never do it" before jumping in and doing the very thing he just warned you against doing.

For the purposes of this article it's sufficient to note that both men barely survive on the food they forage while losing weight and constantly moving to find more food. They are experts. They are feeding only one person; don't expect you'll do any better feeding your family.

Try to maintain a weeks worth of food, a month would be better, in your home. Maintaining a stock of canned goods, of the foods you normally eat, with expiration dates printed on them is a good way to do this. Try to rotate your stock eating the older stock as you replace it with new. Got a manual can opener?

In the event of a crisis WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) where you expect power may be disrupted eat only frozen and or refrigerated food until that food is gone or the crisis is over. If the power does go out, plan refrigerator raids with a list of the foods you're going to take out so as to keep the door open for as short a time as possible.

If the short term crisis turns into a long term catastrophe TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) your food stocks will enable you to remain (hidden) in place while chaos reigns around you. You'll have a better chance of survival after things have stabilized.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Survival Knives

I'll bet the image that popped into your mind when you read that title was one of foot long razor sharp black blades with needle points and names like Randall, Cold Steel, Ka-bar and Gerber. Truth be told if I was going to be dropped into the middle of nowhere and allowed to take only one tool I'd opt for my Randall, my Cold Steel Tanto or my Ka-Bar knife.

Sometimes called combat knives or fighting knives these fixed blade knives are just the thing for cutting down or whittling up small trees or big branches. Sure an ax is better and a chainsaw quicker, but when you've nothing but a sheath knife and night is falling I'll take the Ka-Bar in the sheath on my hip over the wished for chainsaw back at camp any day.

But a survival knife can be many things under many circumstances. In populated places a big sheath knife hanging from your hip or dangling upside down across your chest may be looked upon as aggressive and, let's face it, there's not all that many trees needing to be made into kindling in cities.

Once again the best survival knife (like the best survival kit and the best first aid kit) is the one you have with you when you need it. For urban carry I leave the Randall sheath knife at home and put a Swiss Army knife on my belt. Truth be told, I use the scissors, tweezers and toothpick on my Swiss Army knife more often than the largest (almost three inches) knife blade on it. But Swiss Army knives still give you an edge, I once used the saw blade on one of my Swiss Army knives to saw a 2 X 4 in half.

If I'm feeling mechanically inclined I might opt for my Leatherman Multi-tool which is essentially a pair of pliers with other tools stored in the handles, generally knives, saw, awl and screwdrivers at a minimum.

No doubt you're asking yourself: "What's all that got to do with survival?" Good question and here's the answer: This blog is about survival after TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or in the immediate aftermath of WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) so here's why you may find a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman multi-tool as useful in some of those survival situations as a Randall or a Ka-Bar.

WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan)
In a WTSHTF environment the authorities may permit you to keep a Swiss Army knife while sleeping in one of their shelters, but they most certainly will not knowingly let you in with a Ka-bar.

TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)
In the backwash of TEOTWAWKI you'll probably find you have most of the tools you need at home IF you remain in your home.

On the other hand if you leave your home you will be faced with the not inconsequential problem of deciding what to take with you and what to leave behind. If fleeing by vehicle extra pounds matter because of the extra fuel needed to move them in a fuel deficient environment. If you (or someone in your party) are proficient in auto repair some wrenches and screwdrivers may be justified. You'll probably want to leave the wood saw, keg of nails and claw hammer behind.

If fleeing on foot your options are much more limited. (Also keep in mind that any evacuation begun on wheels may well end on foot.) Monkey wrenches and ball peen hammers are out of the question, but what about a hatchet? Is it worth the weight?

A sharp, well wielded, hatchet will cut down a sapling faster than a Ka-Bar (place middle of sheath knife blade against sapling; strike back of blade directly over the blade's point of contact with the wood with a small log about the size of your forearm. Cut a "V" into the sapling just like you would with a hatchet always being careful to strike the back of the blade directly over the place where it is against the sapling.) but you have to bear the burden of the hatchet all day to get a few minutes work out of it. A sheath knife weighs less and is more versatile.

It's not for nothing that Mountain men like John Johnson carried large sheath knives when venturing into the wilderness. (Note: I have a copy of the original 1958 edition, reprints may vary as to content.)

Most of us live in cities so, at least initially, part of our journey will probably be through built up areas. When sheltering for the night in the ruins of some building you'll probably find the screwdriver on your Swiss Army knife or Leatherman multi-tool is more useful for removing screws than the tip of your Ka-Bar. But keep in mind that when it comes to whittling 2 X 4's into kindling the sheer shearing power of a sheath knife beats a folder (folding knife) every time.

Despite the image of "survivalists" 'heading for the hills' and 'living off the land' in most cases most of us will probably opt to stay home or "shelter in place " as the government likes to put it, in which case you'll probably find the knives, saws and screwdrivers in the garage and kitchen drawers more useful than a Ka-Bar or Swiss Army knife. But those specialized home tools are both bulky and heavy. Enter the need for small, relatively light, generalized tools such as the Swiss Army knife and Leatherman multi-tool for on the go repairs.

Bottom Line
Tools are designed to perform different duties. You can pound a nail with the butt of a pistol, but you won't do a very good job of it and will likely damage the pistol. Likewise the tip of a Ka-Bar can be used to twist a screw, but you risk breaking off the tip. Better to use the screwdriver bit on your Swiss Army knife or Leatherman multi-tool.

Quality sheath knives and folders are meant for different jobs. There is a place for both of them in your survival gear.

Randall Knives
Randall Wiki

Ka-Bar Wiki

Gerber Wiki

Swiss Army knives
Swiss Army Wiki

Liver Eating Johnson Wiki

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Notes on Camouflage, Cover & Concealment

Surviving TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) will probably be more about building self-sustaining communities in the aftermath than gun fighting, still you'll need to know how to defend yourself, your family and your community. This crash course in tactics won't make you into a gunslinger, but it will give you a better chance of survival.

Here are the definitions of Camouflage, Cover and Concealment along with a few tips that could save your life.

• CAMOUFLAGE is the art of blending in with surroundings. Those big blotches on camo uniforms are meant to break up the outline so the wearer blends in with whatever s/he’s amongst. Camouflage in blending in it isn't necessarily being behind something else.

• COVER is something that will stop a bullet: a rock wall, telephone pole, metal mailbox, etc. Please note that what may be cover from a pistol bullet may be only concealment from a rifle bullet.

• CONCEALMENT is anything that hides you, but won’t stop a bullet. A bush is concealment. A big tree is cover. Those blue metal mailboxes are cover. Cover by definition is concealment, but concealment is not necessarily cover.

Fear and movie emulation incline us to hug whatever we’re hiding behind if someone is shooting at us. Tree hugging may have been an advantageous adaptation millenniums ago when dodging lions and tigers and bears, but we’ve got guns now so leave tree hugging to environmentalists and take advantage of the opportunities technology offers.

If you’ve taken tree-hugging cover behind one of those blue U.S. mailboxes, your field of fire is roughly 90° unless you peek over the top and expose your eyes and brain to harmful flying objects. Instead, take a step back.

By stepping back, you give yourself room to bring your weapon up to firing position and point it toward your adversary’s position and align the sights BEFORE exposing yourself to bring front sight to bear on target. Once an aimed shot has been delivered to the identified target, simply leaning back places you behind cover again. Your foray into the land of ricochet is much shorter.

A helpful hint from Rick O’chet:
If someone’s going postal in your vicinity those big blue boxes aren’t necessarily the best cover. The chink in post office armor is the legs, which allow an adversary to see/shoot under the big blue box. If no other cover is available, just hope your adversary isn’t an advanced student of weapon craft and send him a special delivery before s/he can post any more airmail.

In upcoming articles I'll discuss TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It), preparing for it and other emergencies. You'll learn what foods to buy/store, water requirements for you and your family and how (and where) to shelter after disaster.

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How to Survive and Thrive in 2012

December 21 or 23, 2012 is claimed to be the end-date of the Mayan calendar and some people are claiming the Mayans were predicting the end of the world in 2012. Whatever your opinion of these metaphysical and cosmological predictions this article is intended to show you how to prepare for the end of the world in 2012 or maybe just an increase in our normal level of global chaos. We'll use the Rule of Threes here.

One: Whether the cause is earthquakes, asteroid strikes or global thermonuclear war the average person can only survive three days without water before dying or becoming seriously disabled. Earthquakes could break water lines so you'll want to have some water on hand in containers. Those plastic one gallon jugs they sell at the supermarket are a good compact (reusable) storage option. You'll want one gallon per person per day for cooking and drinking. If no catastrophes occur on December 21 or 23, 2012 you can always drink the water later. This is survival water; in the event of disaster it's not for washing or flushing.

Two: The average person can only survive three weeks without food before dying or becoming seriously incapacitated. Take advantage of grocery store sales to buy canned goods by the case. Although you may normally drain the liquid from cans before cooking the food, in a survival situation you'll want to save/drink/cook with that liquid so as to increase the length of time your water supply will last.

Three: Shelter can be anything from the clothes on your back to a house on the hill to a bunker underground. Shelter keeps you warm enough to survive. Shelter keeps you out of the wind, rain, snow, sleet and hail. Shelter helps keep the sun (or radioactive fallout) off your skin. Shelter is good. If your home survives whatever happens on December 21 or 23, 2012 it will provide shelter for you and your food and your water.

Tips: Buy foods you normally eat so you will eat them if nothing happens on December 21 or 23 of 2012. Canned goods are good because they store easily and most now have expiration dates printed on them. Store canned goods and all food and water in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight.

Warnings: If you quit your day job to prepare for December 21 or 23, 2012 and nothing happens you'll feel foolish asking for your job back on January, 1st 2013 so prepare in moderation.

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2012 is it the End of Time or Just TEOTWAWKI?

December 21 or 23, 2012 is claimed to be the end-date of the Mayan calendar which some people claim will be the end of time. Since time is nature's way of keeping everything from happening at once the end of time would be the end of the world. No exceptions. No mulligans. No time outs. We'd all be dead.

But what if it's just TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It)? Then the world would continue to exist, but the changes would make it hard to recognize as the world you knew. TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) would mean Governmental collapse: there would be no governmental help coming.

You and your family might still be alive but living without the everyday governmental services you've come to rely on. No tax bills, but no trash collection. No utility bills, but no utilities. No water. No electricity. No gas. No phones.

Worse yet, no fresh supplies of food will be available until you find or grow your own.

If you're planning on going to the grocery store when the disaster is announced keep in mind that most supermarkets carry only enough food on hand to last for from 48 to 72 hours of normal sales volume. Everyone else will probably hear the disaster announcement at the same time you do. How long do you think the supermarkets will have food on the shelves after the disaster announcement?

If there is no government will money have value? For how long? If the world falls into chaos and governments collapse how long before legal tender becomes just tinder?

The end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) means the end of government and the end of all the services governments provide. Your first task will be to survive and feed your family. Here are a few tips on surviving the first few weeks after the disaster.

If you're NOT planning to head for the hills it makes sense to stock up on the canned foods you normally eat. Look at the "best if used by" dates on canned food and buy the freshest you can find. When it's on sale, instead of buying an extra can or two buy an extra case. If you ARE planning to head for the hills make sure you can carry the food you plan to take with you.

If your water supply is gravity fed (water tanks on hills or towers) and there are no breaks in the water mains you'll have water for a few hours after the disaster. Use that time to fill everything you own that'll hold water.

Unless there is some real danger, staying in your home may be your best move. All those people heading for the hills will clog the roads and get stuck in the middle of nowhere when they run out of gas. The first few thousand cars will buy up all the fuel at roadside gas stations. Everyone coming after that will be stuck.

Tips: Buy foods you normally eat. You don't want to be "stuck" eating a ton of stored food you don't like.

Warnings: Preparing for disaster is like salt. A little is good. Too much can ruin everything.

If you devote all your time and energies to preparing for the end of the world will you be disappointed if it doesn't happen?

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