Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Have A Plan and Practice It

I'm holding off on the firearm selection posts for a week, to address something particularly timely: it's the beginning of fire season here in Utah, and things are already getting rough. As I type this, there is a 10,000+ acre wildfire burning in the county just to the south of me, and over 3,000 homes and 13,000 individuals have been evacuated. One home has been destroyed so far, and about a dozen have had some minor damage, thanks to aggressive efforts from local fire crews.

The evacuation was a grand mess, however. Part of this is due to the area having only one road out, and part was due to less-than-ideal planning on the part of both the residents and the municipality; the area in question has had no less than 7 major wildfires in the past decade. Some are naturally caused, and some caused by human stupidity. They happen enough that anybody but a first year resident has experienced one. Sadly, many have not learned much from their experience, but we can.

Everywhere in the USA that people live has some kind of disaster that happens frequently enough to plan for: northern blizzards, coastal hurricanes, midwestern tornadoes, fires, floods, and other events happen with regularity, enough that building codes and city planning are engineered for them, and hopefully local authorities have them as part of their public works and community response plan. Local residents also need to plan for these events.

The Basics of a Plan
  • A plan needs to be detailed and specific enough to act upon, but flexible enough to adapt to the circumstances at hand. 
  • Without details, you're left spiraling out of control, grasping for direction. While 12% of a plan beats 11% of a plan, it's not enough. 
  • Too rigid a plan, on the other hand, falls apart quickly, giving rise to the adage "No plan survives first contact with reality" or, more gutterally, "Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face." 
  • When Plan A fails, you need to be able to shift to Plans B, C, D, and on down the line. This may involve having several routes of travel, or a backup ending point, or allowing for any number of other variables.
Plans don't have to be huge, either. They can be as simple as a fire drill, which was something we practiced when I was a kid (being the son of a firefighter leads to certain things.) We also learned to stage hoses, buckets of water, and other supplies when we were setting off fireworks. Plans can also be as simple as knowing where emergency exits are in a building, and prioritizing which order you'll attempt them in.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Having a plan isn't enough, though. You need to practice your plan, and practicing your plan just during convenient times isn't enough, either; you need to practice in a variety of circumstances.
  • If it's an evacuation plan, run it at different times of day and evening, in varying weather, and in all seasons. Summer traffic, or schooltime traffic, or winter weather can dramatically effect travel times and available routes. 
  • If it's a bug-in plan, figure out what it takes to be comfortable in your home for extended periods in every season. If one good thing comes of the current global pandemic, it's that folks are getting some firsthand experience with this.

It all boils down to this: Make a plan, test your plan, amend your plan. Lather, rinse, repeat.


Monday, June 29, 2020

Friday, June 26, 2020


Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
As I said previously, Dunbar's Number is the number of active relationships humans can sustain, and therefore anyone within that number is someone we care about. and is effectively part of our tribe. Anyone outside that number is at best someone we don't care about, and at worst is regarded as a competitor for scarce resources. It therefore follows that humans will find ways to relate to those people within their monkeysphere, and we do that in a manner known as groupness.

What Is Groupness?
The term was coined by social psychologist Henri Tajfel who stated that various animals, including humans, form in groups with common characteristics. Among humans, these characteristics are:
  1. People within the group share common rituals and norms. This means that there is a shared sense of what is allowed within the group and what is not, and that there are some tasks which everyone does and some tasks which fall to certain people, like elders.
  2.  A common understanding of history and purpose. The group has been together long enough to have shared stories or in-jokes that outsiders are not privy to or wouldn't understand, and everyone within the group shares a common ideal. 
  3. The ability of members to sustain the group through challenges. Not only does this mean group effectiveness in overcoming obstacles, but it also means that the group pulls together under stress and members look out for one another as an example. 
Let's examine the groupness of preppers.
  • We all have emergency supplies which we own and maintain, and we have disaster plans which we refine and practice. That's our norm. 
  • When we see someone in our group making a mistake, like engaging in unsafe behavior or buying improper gear or giving bad advice, we correct them. If we see an incorrect depiction of preppers in the media, we ridicule it. That's one of our common rituals.
  • Some of us are very vocal about preparedness and we all have strong opinions, but we generally leave the task of teaching to those of us who are eloquent, responsible and have some degree of respect within the group. 
  • Our common purpose is, of course, to prepare ourselves and others for emergencies so that we can all survive.
  • Our common history involves us making jokes about how the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 wasn't an inconvenience to us because we already had all we needed, laughing at the unprepared people who stood in line at Costco for hours, and how we suddenly weren't as crazy as the media depicted us. We use words like BOB, TEOTWAWKI, INCH, WROL, and other in-group jargon terms.
  • Our common ideal is, of course, to weather a disaster with as little disruption to our lives as possible. 
  • The entire purpose of a prepper's Tribe is to create a group which pulls together during stressful times where we all look out for one another. We even saw this to a lesser extent here, on this blog and in our Facebook group, where we supported one another during the rough spots and exchanged advice, hints and tricks that worked for us in the hopes that they would help other people. 

Is It Good or Bad?
It sounds like groupness is a great thing, doesn't it? Well, it is and it isn't. Groupnesss can accomplish a lot, but with it it comes the risk of becoming insular. It's all too easy for members to stop listening to anyone not within their group and an echo chamber emerges where challenging thought isn't permitted.
As Laurence Gonzales said in Mob Mentality: the Failures of Groupness,
When the in-group encounters individuals from outside the group, the default response is hostility. People protect their group from outsiders and from outside influences. For example, we will reject information, habits, and culture from other groups.

The power of groupness is not to be underestimated. If a group invests a lot of effort in a goal and succeeds, its boundaries become stronger, and it tends to become even more hostile to outside influences. This may not be overt hostility. It may simply be a subtle and unconscious tendency to reject anything from another group.
We preppers do this a lot as well. Some of us make it difficult for new members to join, or for new modes of thought to be accepted. (For example, see the division between primitive survival skills enthusiasts vs. those who want to use the best, most advanced gear possible.) In worst-case scenarios, an entire culture develops around not allowing dissenting thought or not challenging the elders, and this becomes groupthink.

As an example, consider NASA in the 1980s. They had put men on the moon multiple times over the past decade, and so they weren't open to any suggestion that how they were operating the Space Shuttle was dangerous. The thinking was "Don't tell us how to do our job. We know what we're doing." This culture became so pervasive that even though there were multiple failures within a launch, these were defined as 'acceptable' simply because the launch was successful. Groupthink from groupness blinded them to hazards until something happened that they couldn't ignore: the explosion of Challenger in 1986.

So in other words, when groupness is bolstered by a few lucky victories, it can blur the line between actual success in achieving a goal sensibly and a close call that fortunately didn't turn into disaster... this time.

How Does This Apply to Prepping?
Preppers need to understand how groupness works and must be able to recognize the signs of isolation and groupthink when they appear. This is important because preppers already form into circles, groups or tribes of like-minded people -- groupness in action -- and so when disaster strikes, we need to be wary that we don't fall into the trap of groupthink.

Additionally, we need to realize that post-disaster, other people will form their own groups as well and will likely regard us preppers with the same hostility and other-ness.

Finally, preppers need to realize that just because we got away with something once doesn't mean that it was a good idea. Similarly, just because something worked in the past doesn't mean it will continue to work in the future.

For more information on groupness in a survival situation, I encourage you all to read this three-page PDF Groupthink in Outdoor Adventure Settings. It's a fast, easy read full of useful information for all of us.

In Conclusion
Dunbar's Number means that human brains are inherently wired for tribalism. Those within our monkeysphere are seen as human and are valued; those outside out monkeysphere are at best seen as faceless things to interact with and at worst as "the other" which must be destroyed.

Because of this tribalism, we practice groupness. In so doing we surround ourselves with like-minded people with similar values, shared goals and a unifying history and language. This reinforces "us vs. them" and "we are right, they are wrong" thinking.

Groupness leads to groupthink, where outside ideas are seen as dangerous to the group and are rejected without consideration in favor of "we've always done it this way." Unfortunately, this can lead to stagnation or even disaster.

Thursday, June 25, 2020


Being somewhat of a gun nut, I pay attention to the newer offerings from the various manufacturers. This week, one caught my eye that demanded a bit of research and led to the idea for today's article.

Firearms require ammunition; that's a basic fact. In times of crisis, finding a ready supply of ammunition can be a problem. Most of us get around that potential problem by stockpiling ammunition and/or components to reload our spent brass, but there are some who choose a different path. They want a gun that can fire a variety of different calibers so they can take advantage of whatever they can find. There are several common calibers that have interchangeable partners, like firing .38 Special in .357 Magnum or .22 LR in a .22 WMR (don't try to go the other way! They won't fit, and if you do manage to insert one and fire it you will damage your firearm or yourself!), but a few enterprising people have come up with ways to make guns capable of firing more than just two or three calibers from the same frame.

Medusa M47 Revolver
Based on the venerable S&W K-frame revolvers, this pistol has a unique extractor system that would work with rimmed or rimless cartridges. Advertised to work with around 25 current cartridges, you could feed it another 50 or so obsolete cartridges if that's all you have.

Since the .38 Special/.357 Mag family uses 0.357 inch bullets while the .380/9mm family uses 0.355 inch bullets, the Medusa uses a 0.357 inch barrel. The slightly smaller 9mm bullets don't bite into the rifling as much, but they at least head in the right direction.

Introduced in the late 1990s, this handgun didn't fare well in the market and production ended after only 500 were made. The price was twice that of a comparable .357 Magnum, and poor accuracy from the smaller bullets not engaging the rifling, and a sometimes sticky extraction, led to poor reviews. They are now a collector's item, and prices are well over $2000 for one in good shape.

Scavenger 6
This is the new gun that caught my eye. Advertised as a survival gun, it is basically a standard revolver frame with a very long cylinder and a barrel extension to make the collapsible butt-stock legal*. The long cylinder is referred to as a “Cylinder Barrel” in their ads, which tells me that the front portion of the cylinder is the only part that has any rifling.

The “Cylinder Barrel” (CB) is available in a few different combinations of calibers (21 to choose from), but most of them are 6 different caliber choices per CB. Priced at roughly $1700 for the basic package and $8000 for the deluxe kit with additional CBs costing $300-400, this is not one for someone on a tight budget.

Just off the top of my head I can see several potential problems with this gun:
  • Advertised as being able to shoot common calibers from .22LR to .308/7.62x51mm, you're going to need their special cylinder case just to carry all of the extra parts.
  • I have my doubts about the comfort, reliability, and longevity of the collapsible stock they chose. It reminds me of the wire-frame stocks found on submachine guns of the mid-20th century, but those SMGs fired 9mm rounds and were blow-back operated, so the felt recoil would be a lot less than any rifle cartridge fired from a single-shot (fixed action) “rifle” like the Scavenger 6. That oval of steel tubing for a butt-pad looks like it'll be painful with a rifle cartridge.
  • Yes, I said single-shot. Each CB has 6 chambers, but each chamber is for a different caliber. This might be suitable for hunting if the accuracy is good enough, but I can think of several much less expensive single-shot rifles on the market that would be quicker to reload for a second shot.
  • The CB is the barrel, so you're looking at maybe 6” of rifling to stabilize a bullet. This is sufficient for most handgun calibers, but nowhere near enough to get any accuracy out of a rifle cartridge. Good luck hitting a deer-sized target at any range past 50 yards with a 6” barrel and a bullet that normally gets at least one full revolution in a rifle barrel!** I've seen a lot of large-game handgun hunters, but they're using hand-crafted ammunition in exceptional handguns to hit what they aim at.

T/C Contender
My choice for a multi-caliber firearm would be the tried and tested Thompson/Center Contender or Encore. The Contender is the older style, introduced in 1967, but there are still plenty of companies making barrels for them. The Encore is an updated version, with a better trigger and stiffer frame for better accuracy. 

You can find, or have made, barrels in any caliber you want from .17HMR to .45-70 Government so the variety of choices is much wider than the options above. Barrels are quick to change, have their own front and rear sights (or scope), and the simple break-action design is quick to reload after some practice. Accuracy from a quality barrel is often better than what the shooter can do; I've seen half-inch groups at 100 yds from a bench. Stocks and barrels from 6” to 20” may give an overly-zealous law enforcer some room to hassle an owner, but I've never heard of any major problems.

Priced around $400 for the frame (which is the serial-numbered part), you can add barrels as your budget allows. Barrels vary in price by popularity and condition; I usually see at least one table full of used Contender barrels at the larger gun shows and new ones in common calibers are selling for $300-400. Custom-cut barrels in “Wildcat” chamberings can get expensive, but that's for the true gun nuts who demand the best they can get.


Like most things in life that try to do everything, none of the multi-caliber guns does all of them well. You will be trading speed, reliability, accuracy, or cost to get more functions stuffed into a tool. I've used and carried a variety of multi-tools over the years and they mostly worked at a “fair” level, but never as well as the tool that was designed for that task. Guns aren't much different.

* The government has silly rules about putting a butt-stock on a pistol; they call such combinations Short Barreled Rifles which require a Tax Stamp and a $200 fee, if your state allows them.

** Rifling is expressed in “twist”', the number of times the bullet will make a complete revolution in a given distance. .223/5.56mm is usually 1:7 or 1:9 inches, with heavy bullets using 1:12. .308/7.62mm is usually close to 1:10 inches. That means that a common AR-15 with a 16 inch barrel will spin a bullet twice before it leaves the barrel. The spinning motion helps keep the bullet flying in a straight line, pointy end first, making it more likely to hit what you're aiming at.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Prudent Prepping: An Unexpected Wake-Up Call

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping. 

It wasn't the wake-up call I wanted, but it definitely woke me up!

BeepBeep! Fire! Fire!
My smoke detector went off last night, complete with computer voice and flashing lights. There's nothing like coming out of a sound sleep to see the detector in my bedroom flashing and squawking. Since I don't have any habits that might set off a detector and I saw nothing burning, that meant it could only have been set off from outside my bedroom.

Which is on the second floor.

I have related my experience of being in a structure fire and how I plan to exit a 2nd story if there's a fire where I live, and last night I thought it might be the time. My housemates and I have practiced how to evacuate, but each time we did that it was done in the daylight. Last night, we were all looking at bailing out of a real burning building, at night, half awake but full of adrenaline. Fortunately, I was awake enough to feel the door -- it was cool -- and I then opened it carefully to check if things were really burning or if there was any smoke.

None. All Clear. None of us are sure why the alarms went off randomly, but they did. We even called our utility company once when the carbon monoxide alarm went off, only to find out that things were fine.

What Now?
I don't have a good answer today, since I got about 3 hours sleep, but my housemates and I are going to talk more this weekend on what happens if it's dark when the real emergency happens. After three cups of coffee this morning, it hit me that even though I've got important papers in a box ready to be dumped into a bag, what about some of the other things I have? I need to think about grabbing computers, firearms, and ammunition if there's time... but only after several nights of calm, relaxing sleep.

Recap And Takeaway
  • If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that we all have written about bugging out and the importance of good planning. I know what happens when there isn't a good plan, so practice, practice, practice your plan so your actions are automatic. That way you will know what you have to do, even if you are half awake.
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Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!

If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Picking the Right Gun, Part 2: Handguns

Last week I covered the basics of why you might choose a handgun, rifle, or shotgun. This week I explain the different types of handguns and why you might choose one over another.

(Please note: all firearms in this video were cleared and verified safe by both my wife and myself, and were left in an action-open state whenever possible. Please be attentive to safety when handling firearms.)


Monday, June 22, 2020

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Monkeysphere

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
The Monkeysphere. That's a heck of a word, isn't it? But despite how silly it sounds, it's actually a very important concept that helps explain why humans are callous to some people and care deeply about others. If you're a prepper you need to understand what it is and how it works, because not only does it inform us how society as a whole works, but also explains how our own prepper group dynamics operate.

What It Means
The term "monkeysphere" was coined in 2007 by David Wong of Cracked magazine, and as much as it pains me to give Cracked credit for anything, it's actually a very meaningful and catchy way to describe the concept known as Dunbar's Number. In the 1990s, anthropologist Robin Dunbar was studying how primates interacted with each other and found that average social group size corresponded to brain size. On a lark, Dunbar applied this number to humans (who are also primates) and found that the correlation remained true. Dunbar's Number, aka the monkeysphere, describes the number of social relationships a primate can indefinitely maintain.

What we call Dunbar's Number is actually a series of them, with a variation of plus or minus 50% due to some humans being more social than others. As explained in The Limits of Friendship, these groups are:
  • 5: the Close Support Group. These are your best friends (and often family members) and you care deeply about them. 
  • 15: the Circle. These are the friends that you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, and the ones you can confide in about most things.
  • 150: Casual Friends. This is the baseline of Dunbar's Number and the most well-known of the series. Some people can only manage 100 casual friends, and the very social can handle up to 200, but either way this represents the number of people who you like being around and whom you would invite to a large party. 
  • 500: Acquaintances. These are the people you sort of know, but not very well, like co-workers, neighbors down the street, and so forth. 
  • 1,500: Tribe.  This is the absolute limit of the human brain, and it represents the people whose faces you can recognize on a regular basis. 
What's interesting about the monkeysphere is that the number shows up as the optimum size for many large units. For example, the average group size of modern Hunter-Gatherer societies is 148 people, and so we can postulate that our ancient ancestors used groups this size as well. What's more, militaries from as far back as the Roman Empire to as recently as today use units within Dunbar's number: the U.S. Army's operational unit diagram lists a company as being between 100 and 200 soldiers.

Why Do We Have One?
Our brains are just wired like this to prevent us from mental exhaustion. Here's an analogy to help explain.

My Daisy Girl
  • I have a dog named Daisy. She's my adorable puppy and I love her lots, and I take her for walks and I play with her. 
  • If I add another dog to the family, I don't love Daisy any less, but now I have to exert energy to maintain a relationship with this new dog, and I probably have to exert more energy with Daisy so she doesn't feel left out.
  • Add another dog. 
  • Add two. 
  • Add a dozen. 
  • Eventually, I will hit my limit where I say "No more dogs. I can't take care of any more, and the ones I have are driving me crazy with all their demands!" The dogs have finally exceeded my monkeysphere, and I simply can't care about any more of them because it is literally making me crazy. 
The same goes for humans. This is why we care deeply when a friend breaks an arm or gets a divorce, and why we only care on an abstract level, if at all, that people we don't know and will never meet are starving or dying of a disease or being slaughtered. And further, this explains why so many human actions look like tribalism: it's because they are. Outside of our monkeysphere, people stop feeling like people to us because we don't interact with them socially. Instead, they're either things we have to interact with to give what we want, like fast food servers or bank tellers or shop cashiers; or they're competitors for resources, like all of those people who take up space on the road and prevent you from getting where you want to go because they're in your way. Rush hour frustration is a perfect example of our brains' relational capabilities being overwhelmed.

In summary, the monkeysphere is a good explanation for humanity's "Us vs. Them" attitude, and the reasons for this lie within another social characteristic known as Groupness. I will explain groupness next week, and you'll see why it's such a pervasive influence in how cultures think and act.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Rewriting History

Many of you who have read this blog for a while may have noticed that I am a fan of history. I see no good reason to “reinvent the wheel” when I run into a problem or foresee a possible hardship; humans have been dealing with such things for thousands of years, and they've tried a lot of different ways of getting around them. Even before we invented writing, we had oral history passed down from one generation to the next in the forms of songs and poems that were easier to remember than prose. Not everything they tried has worked out well (there has been a lot of trial and error over the years), but we should be able to learn from the mistakes of others and move ahead to make our own, new, mistakes. 

The last few generations of “important” people have been working hard to rewrite or erase history. I don't care what their reasons are; they all think that they are wiser than our predecessors and that by ignoring the lessons of the past they can make the world a better place (for them). Time passes and their immodesty eventually bites them in the ass, but they do a lot of damage and ruin a lot of lives before they are exposed as just another flawed human being who should have never been given any power over others. I'm not talking about politics -- this goes much deeper than the elected idiots -- I'm trying to point out that leaders at all levels can be guilty of this. Have you ever had a new boss “clean house” and get rid of every sign that there was a former boss?

Carlos Santayana was right when he said“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. Winston Churchill paraphrased that as, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it”, which shifts the action from passive “cannot remember” to the more active “fail to learn”. This idea, the rewriting of history to make it match the current events, was one of the main parts of Orwell's 1984. The push to eliminate parts of history is a way to keep future generations from being able to learn from the mistakes of others in order to provide a path for those mistakes to be repeated.

If you dig into history deep enough, you'll find that this, too, is nothing new. Erasing the acts (good, bad, or indifferent) of preceding leaders or generations is a way to make oneself seem better or more intelligent when you trot out the same, often failed, solution to a recurring problem. Ancient leaders would deface or destroy statues of previous leaders (sound familiar?), scribes would be instructed to remove all mention of predecessors when they copied texts (compare textbooks from today with those written 20 years ago), and religions have been especially atrocious in destroying anything that contradicts the “new” faith.

Do what you can to preserve history. I collect old books and pass on the knowledge that I have gained as a way to keep some part of the past alive. The old man and his “back in my day...” stories may be funny, but if you find yourself in a situation that resembles life when he was younger, those stories may give you some hints about how to get through it. Read more history, and pass along the lessons that we have learned over the years. Resist the idiots that are trying to “remake” our world into their version of paradise. Remember that the people who are willing to burn books usually end up burning people, and treat them accordingly.

Water, food, shelter, companionship: these are all basic necessities to human life and that hasn't changed. Learning how your ancestors provided those things and then applying a dose of modern technology and common sense is a good way to grow as a prepper. There truly is very little new under the sun; it's just new to us and we need to find a way to deal with those new things. Our ancestors may have a clue or two for us.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Prudent Prepping: Cleaning Up After Squirrel Attacks

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping. 

Here is another useful item I found in my daily trudge through Big Box stores.

SNAPS 75-ct Cloth-Like Wipes

I'm always looking for additions to my camping/BBQ/ general cleaning gear, and these seem to be a good addition, especially since they can be carried dry and cleaning products can be added at the time you need them. With news reports of wildlife moving into areas that were closed due to a hysterical response to the Covid virus, there exists a need to do extra cleaning, and wiping surfaces is a good idea even if born of an overabundance of caution.  

Home Depot pic
From the Home Depot ad for Snaps!:
SNAPS cloth-like wipes from Intex is 5 times stronger than paper towels and designed especially for use with leading disinfectants for safe and effective surface cleaning. Use SNAPS cloth-like cleaning wipes with your favorite brand of disinfectant to and make your own wet wipes.
  • Super absorbent dry wipes
  • Pour your favorite cleaner into the resealable bag to make your own wet wipes
  • Resealable packaging
  • Extremely durable
  • Wet or dry use

I have friends that have used make-your-own disinfectant and baby wipes over the last three months, and I think there are many many different workable wipe recipes on the Web. I do know this recipe for wipes was used by one friend when the popular bleach brand of wipes were unobtainable. Scrolling farther down the wipes page are formulas for many different types of wipes. The baby wipe formula looks like a good general use wipe, to be followed with a plain water rinse if you don't want to smell like that.

SNAPS seem suitable for anti-rodent cleanup on most surfaces, but not cloth or fabric. This might be an improvement if used on rodents, but I'm not certain how a squirrel would feel about a soothing wipe-down and I don't have access to any for testing purposes. Perhaps an owner might weigh in?

The fact that the wipes come pre-packaged in their own resealable container and do not require cutting a paper towel in half offsets, in my mind at least, the increased price of the dry wipes. However, a more rigid container would substantially increase the resistance to rodent attacks.

I have four packages going into my camping gear that I'm hoping to use this year, assuming the weather and arsonists cooperate by not burning major portions of the state. Wish me luck, and a lack of squirrel attacks.

Recap And Takeaway, Minus Rodents
  • 4 packs of Snaps! Wipes were purchased from a local Home Depot for $2.88 each. This particular manufacturer does not seem to offer this item to Amazon, which is a pity since rodents can carry diseases that wipes could help prevent.
  • Nothing else was purchased this week.
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Just a reminder: if you plan on buying anything through Amazon, please consider using our referral link. When you do, a portion of the sale comes back here to help keep this site running!

If you have comments, suggestions or corrections, please post them so we all can learn. And remember, Some Is Always Better Than None!

NOTE: All items tested were purchased by me. No products have been loaned in exchange for a favorable review. Any items sent to me for T&E will be listed as such. Suck it Feds.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Picking the Right Gun, Part 1: Rifle, Shotgun, or Handgun

In recent months, riots and civil unrest have opened a lot of eyes to how bad it can get in a hurry and untold masses of people across this nation have come to realize that they are the only person truly responsible for their security and that of their family. In addition, this week was the four year anniversary of the terrible Pulse massacre, the founding event for Operation Blazing Sword. In light of these two things, this seems a good time to offer a basic primer on selecting the right kind of weapon for your needs.

There are two big considerations when you start to select a defensive weapon:
  1. How do you intend to use it?
  2. What are the laws concerning ownership, possession, and use in your area?

We'll start with the easy one, the law question (this is probably the only time I'll call the law 'easy'.) If you can't own it or effectively use it, time spent considering it is wasted. You can contact your local police or do a Google search for firearms law in your area, but probably the easiest way to get good information is to contact your state's firearms advocacy group. For me, it's the Utah Shooting Sports Council. I can think of a couple others off the top of my head, and if you need help finding yours, ask in the BCP Facebook group and we can certainly point you in the right direction.

Once you know what you're able to own, it's time to look at your intended uses. Are you simply looking for a gun to keep at home, in case danger comes to your doorstep? Are you planning on getting a CCW permit and carrying your weapon with you? Are you looking for a defensive tool, but don't think a firearm fits your needs? Take some time to seriously consider these questions, as the answers will tell you what kind of gun you need:

  • Handguns: If you're planning to carry, a handgun is the only choice. They're a bit less accurate than long guns, with lower power and shorter range, but their size makes up for it.
  • Rifles: Rifles offer extreme accuracy and very good power up to long range, at the cost of portability and concealability.
  • Shotguns: Shotguns deliver devastating power at short to moderate range, with a reduced capacity and concealability akin to rifles.

In the coming weeks, I'll delve into the particulars of these types of arms, what to look for and what to consider between them.

The only security you can count on comes from you. It is up to you how you provide it.


Monday, June 15, 2020

Coffee Storage Ideas

Coffee. Life blood of America. I discuss some simple storage ideas and some results.

Godspeed to you all.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Summer Vacation

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
Hi everyone! I've given all the authors here at Blue Collar Prepping  a week off to relax and enjoy their summer.

All except for David Blackard, of course:

Regular posts will resume Monday, June 15.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Potassium Iodine

Not actually Erin.
& is used with permission.
Every prepper needs a supply of Potassium Iodine (KI) in their supplies or Get Home Bag in the event of a nuclear incident such as an accident at a nuclear power plant or the detonation of a nuclear warhead. While it is not proof against all forms of radiation poisoning, it is an affordable, lightweight prep that is better to have and not need than to need and not have.

Rather than attempt to use my layman skills to explain to you why this is, I will quote freely from various authorities. Any emphasis is mine.

From the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's webpage on KI:

What is potassium iodide? 
Potassium iodide is a salt, similar to table salt. Its chemical symbol is KI. It is routinely added to table salt to make it "iodized." Potassium iodide, if taken in time and at the appropriate dosage, blocks the thyroid gland's uptake of radioactive iodine and thus could reduce the risk of thyroid cancers and other diseases that might otherwise be caused by exposure to radioactive iodine that could be dispersed in a severe nuclear accident.

What is the role of potassium iodide in radiological emergency preparedness?
Potassium iodide is a special kind of protective measure in that it offers very specialized protection. Potassium iodide protects the thyroid gland against internal uptake of radioiodines that may be released in the unlikely event of a nuclear reactor accident.
The purpose of radiological emergency preparedness is to protect people from the effects of radiation exposure after an accident at a nuclear power plant. Evacuation is the most effective protective measure in the event of a radiological emergency because it protects the whole body (including the thyroid gland and other organs) from all radionuclides and all exposure pathways. Administering KI can be a reasonable, prudent, and inexpensive supplement to in-place sheltering and evacuation.

What is the benefit of taking potassium iodide during a radiological accident?
When potassium iodide is ingested, it is taken up by the thyroid gland. In the proper dosage, and taken at the appropriate time, it will effectively saturate the thyroid gland in such a way that inhaled or ingested radioactive iodines will not be accumulated in the thyroid gland. The risk of thyroid effects is reduced. Such thyroid effects resulting from radioiodine uptakes due to inhalation or ingestion, or both, could result in acute, chronic, and delayed effects. Acute effects from high doses include thyroiditis, while chronic and delayed effects include hypothyroidism, thyroid nodules, and thyroid cancer.

Supplementary note from HealthPhysicsSociety.org:
The only possible sources of large radioiodine releases are from a nuclear weapons denotation and a catastrophic accident in an operating nuclear reactor. Therefore, KI has no protective value from a "dirty bomb" or a dispersion of spent nuclear fuel.

Can individual members of the public obtain potassium iodide?
The FDA has approved potassium iodide as an over-the-counter medication. As with any medication, individuals should check with their doctor or pharmacist before using it.
Erin says: You can buy packs of 14 KI tablets from Amazon for $10 with Prime shipping. 

Is it safe to take KI tablets with an expired shelf-life?
Yes, potassium iodide tablets are inherently stable and do not lose their effectiveness over time. Manufacturers must label their products with a shelf-life to ensure that consumers purchase safe and useful products.
According to FDA guidance on Shelf-life Extension, studies over many years have confirmed that none of the components of KI tablets, including the active ingredient, has any significant potential for chemical degradation or interaction with other components or with components of the container closure system when stored according to labeled directions. To date, the only observed changes during stability (shelf-life) testing have been the failure of some batches of KI tablets to meet dissolution specifications. Some tablets tested required slightly longer than the specified time to achieve dissolution. Even in the case of a failure of this sort, the product remains usable. In such cases, instructions can be provided to crush the tablets and mix them with a juice or other liquid prior to administration as suggested for emergency pediatric dosing.

From the CDC webpage on KI:
How often should KI be taken? 
Taking a stronger dose of KI (potassium iodide), or taking KI more often than recommended, does not offer more protection and can cause severe illness or death.

A single dose of KI (potassium iodide) protects the thyroid gland for 24 hours. A one-time dose at recommended levels is usually all that is needed to protect the thyroid gland.

In some cases, people can be exposed to radioactive iodine for more than 24 hours. If that happens, public health or emergency management officials may tell you to take one dose of KI (potassium iodide) every 24 hours for a few days.

Avoid repeat dosing with KI (potassium iodide) for pregnant and breastfeeding women and newborn infants.

What are the side effects of KI?
Side effects of KI (potassium iodide) may include stomach or gastro-intestinal upset, allergic reactions, rashes, and inflammation of the salivary glands.

When taken as recommended, KI (potassium iodide) can cause rare adverse health effects related to the thyroid gland. These rare adverse effects are more likely if a person:
  • Takes a higher than recommended dose of KI
  • Takes the drug for several days
  • Has a pre-existing thyroid disease.
Newborn infants (less than 1 month old) who receive more than one dose of KI (potassium iodide) are at risk for developing a condition known as hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone levels that are too low). If not treated, hypothyroidism can cause brain damage.
  • Infants who receive more than a single dose of KI should have their thyroid hormone levels checked and monitored by a doctor.
  • Avoid repeat dosing of KI to newborns.

How is KI given? 
The FDA has approved two different forms of KI (potassium iodide), tablets and liquid, that people can take by mouth after a radiation emergency involving radioactive iodine.

Tablets come in two strengths, 130 milligram (mg) and 65 mg. The tablets have lines on them so that they may be cut into smaller pieces for lower doses. For the oral liquid solution, each milliliter (mL) contains 65 mg of KI (potassium iodide).

According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:
  • Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg (¼ of a 65 mg tablet or ¼ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants.
  • Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg (½ of a 65 mg tablet OR ½ mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children.
  • Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution). Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
  • Adults should take 130 mg (one 130 mg tablet OR two 65 mg tablets OR two mL of solution).
  • Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.

In Conclusion 
While Potassium Iodine will not protect you from every nuclear event, it is lightweight, portable, affordable, is shelf-stable indefinitely, and fits easily into any first aid kit. I recommend every prepper who lives in a big city or within range of a nuclear power plant stock up on KI. 

More Reading

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Cleaning After Corrosive-Primed Ammunition

Lots and lots of people have bought or are buying ammunition made somewhere in Europe, mostly 7.62x39 and 7.62x54r, sealed in ‘spam cans’. This ammo is generally quite reliable, reasonably accurate, and sealed up in that manner it’ll store for years without problem. If you use some of it, though, you will need to clean your arms properly afterwards. It’s not referred to as ‘corrosive primed’ for nothing, after all.

One detail first: the ammunition itself is not actually corrosive. One of the chemicals used in the priming compound leaves traces of salt behind in the barrel (and the action of a semi-automatic) when it ignites. The salt attracts moisture, and that is what causes the corrosion. Most modern cleaners are not designed to remove that salt, so you can clean, oil, and still get rust in very bad places.

What does clean out this salt? At its simplest, water. People used water to clean black powder muzzleloaders and cartridge firearms for a long time. Fortunately, we now have some things that work better:
  • If you want to buy stuff, any cleaner designed for black powder will work (Thompson Center #14 for instance).
  • Windex makes a window cleaner with vinegar; some people dilute it with three parts water and say it works very well. (I pour straight Windex down the barrel of my Mosin and I've never had a problem with my barrel corroding. -- Editrix)
  • Want to make it yourself? Household ammonia (many people recommend the sudsy variety) mixed with one part ammonia to three parts water. You can dilute it further if the smell is too strong. 
  • You can also mix some vinegar with water (there’s no hard & fast answer to ‘how much’, all I can find is a ‘weak solution’).
My favorite is Ballistol. This stuff was developed in 1904 as a cleaner / lube / protectant for the German army, with one aim specifically being to clean out the residue from corrosive primers. Its use is simple: take a bottle, put in one part Ballistol and add ten parts water, cap, and shake; this gives you a milky-looking cleaner that cuts that fouling beautifully. Use this solution to clean the bore and any parts exposed to the fouling, then dry it and lube with your favorite oil (yes, Ballistol is now a lube as well, but there are better ones now).

How to Clean After Corrosive Ammo

For cleaning a barrel:
  1. Get a patch wet. Not drippy, but wet
  2. Use a cleaning rod and a proper fitting jag and push it through the barrel. 
  3. Let it sit for a few seconds, then repeat. 
  4. Run a dry patch through, then an oily one. 
That’s it. If you want to really scrub it out, after the dry patch run another couple of wet ones through, then dry, then oil.

For cleaning the other parts of a firearm:
Bolt-action and single-shot rifles are easy because the cartridge case keeps the fouling in the bore.
  1. Use a damp patch to wipe off the bolt face, then dry it, then wipe with an oily one. 
  2. Clean the rest of the bolt and action same as you usually do.
  3. If you’re worried about the chamber, take a bronze or brass brush, wrap a damp patch around it, and use it to scrub, then dry and oil.
Semi-auto firearms are a bit more involved because the gas that operates them can carry traces of the primer fouling. Use a damp cloth to wipe the gas tube or piston down, then dry, then oil where appropriate.

And that’s it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Prudent Prepping: Life During Curfew

The dust has settled and the First 72 Hours have passed. Follow along as I build a long term plan via Prudent Prepping. 

In this post from almost two months ago I was joking around by quoting a Talking Heads song. From the first part of March until now, the first part of June, what originally looked like a short-term limited response to a virus has turned into a large-scale disruption to our country. The news from the last two weeks makes being prepared for any change to your surroundings important, but the changes in the last 4 days have really made preparing for anything not just important, but required. Right now I'm making sure that everyone in my group is equally prepared.

What's Going On
I have friends living in what was considered a safe area... at least until the protests turned into an excuse for looting which has begun to be exported into the suburbs. These folks are older than I, and if anything happens in their city their  closest prepper friend is 20 minutes away, so the plan is for them to stay in place and friends will come to them. Due to health and mobility issues, keeping them in their house until things become really serious is the best plan so far. We hope it never comes to that, but keeping them safe is our priority.

If Things Change
At that point, getting out of their neighborhood could be a problem. In fact, getting to them could be a problem, since they live on the other side of town from all of us and have the usual targets for looting near them. They have supplies for several weeks, and we all have enough to add several weeks more to the total. Luckily for all of us, a friendly neighbor has an amazing camera setup and a couple are pointed at the house for protective surveillance.

Closer to my home is the local destination mall, with the usual anchor tenants you have seen targeted in your local news. On Monday night, about 40 cars bypassed the flimsy barricades blocking the entrances. Fortunately, no damage was done, several arrests were made, and not long after that serious water-filled barricades were placed at the entrances. Even closer to me is a  national used car chain that advertises late at night, and across the street from there is a Target.

I'm not necessarily worried by all this, since with all the fires the past 2 years, this household has had practice getting out of Dodge. Any civil unrest in my neighborhood can be seen coming from a long way off, decisions on what to do will be made calmly because everyone has talked this through and some of us have had practice leaving places in a hurry.

I don't have a snappy or funny wrap up to this post and, like Lokidude said in yesterday's post, if you don't figure things out calmly when you have plenty of time, you likely won't be making good choices under pressure.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Why I Bug In

My city, like so many other cities across the USA, experienced rioting this past weekend. The overall scale and destruction were less brutal in mine than in larger cities, but it remains a terrifying event that occurred only five miles from my doorstep.

While discussing these events with Erin and the BCP staff, the question of bugging out has come up and how this may differ from a natural disaster. Considering the circumstances, in these events, I'm almost mandated to bug in.

My biggest consideration in how to handle unrest is familial. My mother-in-law lives alone, about 2 streets over from us, and my brother-in-law lives about a quarter mile further away. In a natural disaster, we could round up my mother-in-law and the dogs and head in a safe direction, and let my brother-in-law and his wife do similar. However, in a time of unrest when strength comes from numbers, there is no way my mother-in-law would leave her son to fend for himself, nor should she. I'm plenty happy to have them along in any case; he has skills and tools and they're both smart and capable, so in a time of emergency he's one of the best people I could have around.

In an evacuation, though, they also bring a headache. They've got three dogs, which added to mine brings us to 5 humans and 6 dogs, and this is a huge issue for transport and lodging. My brother-in-law's wife is also going to be reluctant to leave without her father, stepmother, and sister, who also has a dog. That raises the count to 8 humans and 7 dogs, three of which are large and very energetic. Moving that many beings necessitates an entire convoy, which is something I'd rather not attempt during an uprising.

The other issue with bugging out is where we would end up. My brother's house is too small to house that many people, and my parents are renting their home to some family friends. They could probably accommodate myself and my wife, but the rest of the mob would make it an unreasonable request. I could possibly call in favors from extended family on the other side of the mountains, but again, it's a massive request to bring the whole clan.

If the neighborhood is quite literally burning down around my ears, I'll have no option but to leave, call in any favors I have, and make do, but short of smelling the smoke I'm pretty much anchored. My people are here and hard to move, my supplies are here, and I'm able to hold things down at least as well as anywhere else.

Don't go looking for trouble. Actively avoid it if you can. But don't go running from it without a plan and serious thought to all your options.


Monday, June 1, 2020

Smart and Simple Redux

You know how I like it. Smart and Simple. And made in America. I’ll buy that for $1!

Godspeed to you all.

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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