Thursday, December 7, 2017

Gifts for Preppers

The winter holidays are upon us and this is a time for giving gifts to family and friends, but what do you get a prepper? The beginner is always easier to buy for because they don't have much and anything that they can use will be appreciated. Those of us who have been in the game for a while can be a bit harder to shop for unless you have a budget that will cover cars and real estate. As has been pointed out in the past, "blue collar" doesn't mean broke but it does mean we work for our money.

Here are some suggestions for this Christmas/winter holiday season.

  • Nobody ever has too many batteries, especially the common AA size. With most brands now advertising a 5 to 10 year shelf-life, they store well and will get used in flashlights, radios, toys, and all of the other things that we buy that use batteries. Prices will vary by brand and the size of the package, generally from a few bucks for a 4-pack to just under $25 for 100.
  • Rechargeable batteries and their chargers are always a good option, especially if you get a solar charger. Make sure the batteries and chargers match, since Ni-MH and lithium batteries use differing chargers.
  • If you know the recipient has something that takes an odd or uncommon battery (CR123, 2/3N, CR2032, etc.) they would probably enjoy getting a few spares for their flashlight, red dot scope, or whatever. 

If you know a prepper who wants to start reloading their own ammunition or wants to expand their set-up, there are lots of choices. Since reloading is a very precise undertaking, you must know exactly what the person receiving the gift needs or uses. Getting the wrong brand, size, or type of supplies will make your gift worthless or potentially dangerous!
  • Lee loader kits. Caliber specific, very easy to use, cheap (~$30), and small enough to fit in a pocket of your backpack. I explained how they work in a post a while back.
  • Reloading accessories. From primer pocket brushes to case-length gauges, there are all kinds of little things to litter a reloading bench, with prices running from a few dollars to as much as you want to spend. I like the case-length gauges that a friend got me years ago; they can't be beat for doing quick QA checks on the ammo you're cranking out. Lee Precision makes a lot of neat little toys that help make reloading easier or faster and some of them are fairly cheap.
  • Bullets. Cast bullets can be found in most common, and a few uncommon, pistol calibers. $30-40 for a box of 500 will keep a reloader busy for a few days. I have had good luck with the products from Missouri Bullet Co.
  • Jacketed bullets are needed for rifles and high-velocity pistol calibers. Hornady, Barnes, Sierra, etc. make a wide variety and they can be found for as little as $10/100 for common sizes, with the more exotic or large calibers  closer to a buck a piece. Online prices from shops like Midway or Natchez Shooters Supply will probably be cheaper than a local gun store, but watch the shipping costs.
  • Primers and powder. These are best gifted in person, since shipping them requires a Haz-mat fee that will take a big bite out of your gift money. Primers are running about $30 for a thousand, or $4 per pack of 100; powders vary in price but the common ones are under $30 per pound and some are under $20 a pound.

  • If your budget is tight, candles are cheap and store well. I've found 50-packs of tea light candles for less than $5 at various dollar stores, and my tests have shown that they will each burn for about 6 hours. (Be warned that they normally use soy-based wax and mice love the taste.)
  • At the other end of the price spectrum, the UVPaqlite series has held up well in our testing but is expensive. 
  • In between the two are more types of flashlights and lanterns than you can count. If you know the recipient has liquid-fueled lanterns, those fuels store well and are like batteries in that you can never have too much of it on hand.

Food and Water
  • Everybody should have some way to treat their water, even if it's a $5 bottle of iodine tablets from your local Army surplus store. 
  • Water filters come in many shapes and price ranges, from the $20 Sawyer Mini to the $300 Big Berkey. A filter takes up less space and weighs a tiny fraction of the water it can provide.
  • Food is worse than water when it comes to variety and prices. You can get everything from  emergency ration bars to freeze-dried gourmet meals in a pouch, and prices range from $5 to $50. Use your judgment on what the recipient needs and wants to pick out food items. 
  • A relative of mine who used to make fun of my prepper ways got a box with three MRE's in it for Christmas one year, he laughed and tossed it in his locker at work. It came in really handy when a snow storm stranded him there for two days a few years later (and he quit laughing at me).

Firearms, tents, sleeping bags, and such are big-ticket items that show you really love someone and need to be picked out with care. If your budget allows and you have someone that needs something like this, there's no reason you can't help out a fellow prepper. They might be able to return the favor somewhere down the line when you're in need.

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